Alan Waldman :
TELEVISION | ‘A Place to Call Home’ is good, soapy Aussie drama series

Upper-class matriarch has prejudices that create conflict for her whole family in small-town ‘50s Oz.

Marta Dusseldorp stars in A Place to Call Home.

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | January 9, 2017

[In his Rag Blog column, Alan Waldman reviews some of his favorite films and TV series that readers may have missed, including TV dramas, mysteries, and comedies from Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Scotland. Most are available on DVD, Netflix and/or Netflix Instant Streaming, and some episodes are on YouTube.]

A Place to Call Home (2013-2016) is a smart though soapy Australian television drama set in rural New South Wales after the Second World War. It follows nurse Sarah Adams (Marta Dusseldorp), who has returned to Australia after 20 years abroad and ends up clashing with wealthy matriarch Elizabeth Bligh (Noni Hazlehurst) and becomes dramatically enmeshed with her family and neighbors.
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Ed Felien :
Rethinking our revolution: A proposal for a
rural strategy

Tuition-free education, universal healthcare, and legalized pot are pieces of the puzzle.

2016 presidential election by county. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

By Ed Felien | The Rag Blog | January 9, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS — What happened?

Clinton lost Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. She almost lost Minnesota.

Why?

When people were interviewed they said she and the Democratic Party were not speaking to them. Trump talked to the people who were hurting from lack of jobs and from small town economic collapse. He spoke their language. He lied to them. But he was reaching them, and the Democratic Party was sadly out of touch with their reality.
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James McEnteer :
Why Ecuador is choosing to sabotage its
top universities

Above all, it is a move by Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa to consolidate his power.

President Rafael Correa, November 15, 2012. Image from Cancillería del Ecuador / Flickr / Creative Commons.

By James McEnteer | The Rag Blog | January 9, 2017

QUITO, Ecuador — On December 13, Ecuador’s National Assembly passed a law compromising the independence of its public universities. The mandate, in this small country, where everything is personal, is aimed specifically at the two institutions of higher learning that offer only post-graduate degrees: Andina University and the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, aka FLACSO.

The new law relieves those universities of critical financial decisions, ceding that power to the National Secretariat of Higher Education, Science and Technology. Instead of university faculty and administrators choosing how best to deploy funds for research and allocate student aid, those decisions will be left to ministry bureaucrats.
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Margaret Randall :
VERSE | Two poems

Nezahualcoyotl, the poet-king of Texcoco. Photo by Kurt Bauschardt /
Flickr / Creative Commons.

 
Words

Have we moved beyond word time, beyond the poet’s terrain
where words describe events or pull us into new orbits
of wonder and release?

Words: those beautiful evocations strung together to
birth ideas, whispered as comfort, sung as praise,
perhaps even change the world.

The Divine Word has long since fallen into disrepute.
Words of judges and advertisers fail miserably,
bully promises groveling at our feet.
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Ed Felien :
Putin’s puppet and the really big deal

All Trump has to do is help the Russians build their pipeline through Afghanistan.

Putin carried Trump across the finish line; now it’s Donald’s turn. Art by DonkeyHotey / Flickr.

By Ed Felien | The Rag Blog | December 20, 2016

It’s the biggest deal he’s ever done.

If he gets this done, he’s the richest, most powerful man in the whole world.

It’s worth a trillion dollars.

And it wipes out the billion dollars he owes the Russian Oligarchs and Gazprom for bailing him out of his casino bankruptcies.
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Henry Mecredy :
Camaro: Successful, but a waste

What possible need was there for another car
like the Mustang?

1967 Chevy Camaro. Photo by Bull-Doser / Public Domain.

By Henry Mecredy | The Rag Blog | December 20, 2016


This is Henry Mecredy’s second Rag Blog article about design, function, and the social good in automotive engineering. Also see Mecredy’s March 24, 2016 article, “The Edsel Tragedy.”


In the mid-Sixties a huge innovation took place in automotive history: The Ford Mustang was introduced. Technically little more than a Falcon, the Mustang with its long hood and sporty appearance found a ready market.

Assuming briefly that the human creativity and effort expended on the Mustang project had a valid and important result; that it satisfied transportation needs as well as artistic and emotional desires for the millions who bought and still buy its various iterations and configurations, what is to be made of the Camaro, the second “pony car” and essentially a Mustang clone?
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Alan Waldman :
TELEVISION | ‘Reginald Perrin’ novel spawned two pungent, witty UK series

Leonard Rossiter shines in 1976-79 original gem and Martin Clunes is brilliant in 2009-2010’s update.

The black comedy of the Reggie Perin series.

By Alan Waldman | The Rag Blog | December 13, 2016

[In his Rag Blog column, Alan Waldman reviews some of his favorite films and TV series that readers may have missed, including TV dramas, mysteries, and comedies from Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Scotland. Most are available on DVD, Netflix and/or Netflix Instant Streaming, and some episodes are on YouTube.]

David Nobbs wrote a funny, satiric novel originally titled The Death of Reginald Perrin in which a depressed, unsatisfied sales executive fantasizes about his secretary, hates his oppressive boss and idiotic yes-man subordinates, writes insulting letters to customers, and fakes his own suicide. Then things get strange.
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Ken Wachsberger :
Reflection on the election: The Yippie
Puke-In of 1972

‘They can’t beat us. We’re having too much fun.’ — Stew Albert

yippie-poster-miami-beach-1972

Yippie poster. Image from Gotta Have Rock and Roll.

By Ken Wachsberger | The Rag Blog | December 6, 2016

I’m trying to be positive but I’ll be honest. I get queasy sometimes.

Trump called himself the law-and-order president. He was clear about his intentions. He’s already attacking the First Amendment. If he’s going to bring back the Nixon years, we’ll have to dip back into our sixties’ attitudes and remember how we beat Nixon — because, although it took a long time and a lot of us suffered, we did beat him.
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Margaret Randall :
Fidel Castro, ¡presente!

For half a century Cuba stood as a beacon for
other countries suffering from poverty and neocolonial domination.

fidel-castro-article

Fidel Castro speaks at the International Book Fair in Havana, February 10, 2012. Image from Cubadebate.

By Margaret Randall | The Rag Blog | November 29, 2016

Fidel Castro, longtime leader of the Cuban Revolution, died on November 25th at the age of 90. He withdrew from public office in 2008, when his younger brother Raul took over. Raul has said he will step down in 2018. An era will end, and younger men and women will take the reins of a political process that remains unique in modern times. At the Cuban Communist Party congress in April of this year, Fidel voiced an awareness of his impending death: “Our turn comes to us all,” he told the assembled delegates, “but the ideas of Cuban communism will endure.”
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Alice Embree :
Remembering Richard Jehn

Richard Jehn, 1950-2016, was the founding editor of ‘The Rag Blog’ in May 2006.

Photo from Richard Jehn Memorial page on Facebook.

Photo from Richard Jehn Memorial page on Facebook.

By Alice Embree | The Rag Blog | November 28, 2016

Richard Jehn, founding editor of The Rag Blog, passed away on November 2, 2016, at the age of 65.

Richard was born in Austin, Texas, on November 14, 1950. His father taught meteorology at the University of Texas. In October 1967, Richard was kicked out of McCallum High School for failing to cut his hair short enough to please the school administrators. He made his way down to the UT Student Union where he met staffers from The Rag, Austin’s underground newspaper.
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James McEnteer :
Vultures over Havana

Fidel Castro and the Castration of U.S. Latin American policy.

fidel-castro-salutes-crp

Fidel Castro. Public domain image.

By James McEnteer | The Rag Blog | November 28, 2016

When Fidel Castro died in his sleep at 90 on November 25 in Havana, American news consumers might have been forgiven for thinking he was slain in battle.

“Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades,” said Donald Trump, according to CNN.

“Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights. While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long…” Trump promised to join with the Miami Cubans toward a future in which “the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty.”
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Mike Davis :
Reflections on the election

Even the Cato Institute believes that the election was Clinton’s loss, not Trump’s win.

trump-victorious

Trumpus Electus. Art by DonkeyHotey / Flickr.

By Mike Davis | The Rag Blog | November 17, 2016

We should resist the temptation to over-interpret Trump’s election as an American Eighteenth Brumaire or 1933. Progressives who think they’ve woken up in another country should calm down, take a stiff draught, and reflect on the actual election results from the swing states.

National returns, of course are not yet complete, with millions of California votes remaining to be counted, the pre-election polls were flawed if not worthless, and authoritative statistics on the composition of the turnout must await the Current Population Survey’s reports over the next year or two. Nonetheless the Pew and Edison exit polls (the latter is the supplier of data to the AP and The New York Times) combine a more trustworthy array of survey techniques than the earlier polls and usually yield productive insights.
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