Category Archives: Viva!

How dare a woman breastfeed her baby on a plane! She might offend the bigots | Nell Frizzell

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When Dutch airline KLM says it may ask nursing mothers to cover themselves if passengers object, misogyny is winning

Well, I for one welcome the news: as of this week, anybody asked to cover up while breastfeeding on a KLM flight can now walk, bare-breasted, across the plane, milk firing into the air, their baby howling at their shoulder, and immediately hand that screaming, hungry, suffering child to the person who made the complaint, who must then look after that baby for the entirety of the journey while the previously breastfeeding passenger lies back, watches a film, reads their book, has a glass of wine or enjoys a much-needed nap.

Because, my friends, that is precisely what I would do if someone asked me to cover myself while breastfeeding. This week, the Dutch airline KLM garnered a lactic tonne of deserved criticism after it put out a tweet stating that “to ensure that all our passengers of all backgrounds feel comfortable on board, we may request a mother to cover herself while breastfeeding, should other passengers be offended by this”. This was itself a response to one customer’s complaint, posted on Facebook, that she had been asked by a flight attendant to cover herself with a blanket – you know, like an actual fire – while breastfeeding her baby because someone else on the plane had complained.

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Donald Trump is the archetypal far-right charismatic leader. But his magic won’t last | Paul Jackson | Opinion | The Guardian

The appeal of Trump will ultimately be dimmed by his own failures to achieve his mission, which is ridiculous and unattainable. This will lead his supporters to lose interest, when he can no longer appear as the magician figure they thought he was. We are not at this point yet, though, and it is difficult to known how long his “magic” will last and what further damage will result.

Source: Donald Trump is the archetypal far-right charismatic leader. But his magic won’t last | Paul Jackson | Opinion | The Guardian

Vínarterta

Handmade vínarterta at the Hnausa General Store in New Iceland, Cnada.

Vínarterta is a traditional, multilayer Icelandic cake made by alternating thin layers of buttery shortbread with a cardamom and dried prune filling. It was popular in the late 19th and early 20th century in Iceland, but is hard to find there today. However, for the descendants of Icelanders who immigrated to North America, the white and dark purple cake is more than a coveted treat. It’s a potent symbol.

Vínarterta has its origins in Vienna (the name is Icelandic for “Viennese torte”). In the late 1700s, layered cakes made with almond flour and dried fruit were highly popular in Austria. In the 1790s, an Austrian recipe for the cake was translated into Danish. The recipe became the height of culinary chic in Copenhagen, and in the elite circles in Iceland (which, at the time, also meant Danes, as Iceland was then ruled by Denmark). The scarcity and cost of ingredients would have put it out of reach for Icelandic farmers and fishermen. Even for the upper classes, most of the ingredients were luxuries: Goods shipped to the small island were limited. The original recipe was tweaked as a result: Dried prunes, for example, were shipped to Iceland, so they became incorporated into the Icelandic recipe. 

In 1875, a devastating volcanic eruption caused such a strong economic downtown that it sparked an exodus to Canada. By the late 1890s, some improvement in imports were a small victory at a time when Iceland as a country was still struggling economically in many other ways. As ingredients such as flour and sugar grew more accessible, vínarterta became widely popular. Still, waves of emigration continued until the turn of the century. When Icelanders arrived in Canada, they brought the fancy dessert, or, at least, the aspiration to make it. In their new home, it was a symbol of wealth and success.

While it has fallen off the radar in Iceland, to this day vínarterta is a popular treat in Icelandic Canada. (Though people like to talk about how labor intensive it is, and tend to make it for special occasions.) In New Iceland, as the region in the Canadian province of Manitoba where Icelanders settled is known, residents are committed to preserving vínarterta. Twists on the recipe are usually met with contempt. According to Canadian historian Laurie Bertram, an expert on immigration and vínarterta, for even fifth- and sixth-generation Icelandic Canadians, the cake is “both a powerful and culturally significant way of connecting to the Icelandic past and asserting that identity in the present.”

Slow learner

George Conway, husband of the Mouth of Sauron, has just figured out that Donald Trump is like, really racist:

To this day, I can remember almost the precise spot where it happened: a supermarket parking lot in eastern Massachusetts. It was the mid-1970s; I was not yet a teenager, or barely one. I don’t remember exactly what precipitated the woman’s ire. But I will never forget what she said to my mother, who had come to this country from the Philippines decades before. In these words or something close, the woman said, “Go back to your country.”

I remember the incident well, but it never bothered me all that much. Nor did racial slurs, which, thankfully, were rare. None of it was troublesome, to my mind, because most Americans weren’t like that. The woman in the parking lot was just a boor, an ignoramus, an aberration. America promised equality. Its constitution said so. My schoolbooks said so. The country wasn’t perfect, to be sure. But its ideals were. And every day brought us closer to those ideals.

That’s sort of OK for a 12-year-old I guess, but apparently 20 years of schooling (Harvard BA; Yale JD — great work there again Ivies!) didn’t lead Conway to put aside childish things:

And how naive an adult could be. The birther imaginings about Barack Obama? Just a silly conspiracy theory, latched onto by an attention seeker who has a peculiar penchant for them. The “Mexican” Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel incident? Asinine, inappropriate, a terrible attack on the judiciary by an egocentric man who imagined that the judge didn’t like him. The white supremacists’ march in Charlottesville? The president’s comments were absolutely idiotic, but he couldn’t possibly have been referring to those self-described Nazis as “good people”; in his sloppy, inarticulate way, he was referring to both sides of the debate over Civil War statues, and venting his anger about being criticized.

No, I thought, President Trump was boorish, dim-witted, inarticulate, incoherent, narcissistic and insensitive. He’s a pathetic bully but an equal-opportunity bully — in his uniquely crass and crude manner, he’ll attack anyone he thinks is critical of him. No matter how much I found him ultimately unfit, I still gave him the benefit of the doubt about being a racist. No matter how much I came to dislike him, I didn’t want to think that the president of the United States is a racial bigot.

Sunday’s tweet storm has thrown Conway over the edge though, and now he’s finally convinced that somebody who talks and acts like a racist would talk and act pretty much all the time, AND GOT ELECTED FOR PRECISELY THAT REASON MORE THAN ANY OTHER, is, like, a racist.

Let me tell you about my mother: She first came to the US (temporarily) from Mexico to go to college at the University of Texas about 70 years ago. Practically the first thing she saw when she got off the bus was “whites” and “colored” drinking fountains. She was genuinely shocked, and luckily never got over it.

The only time I can remember her slapping me was when I told her a story about an Arab girl in my first grade class, who had said something to the class about how bravely the Egyptian soldiers were fighting during the Six Day War. I said I didn’t like her. She asked me why, and I said something like “her skin is brown.” Wham. “Do you not like me, because my skin isn’t white?” she asked. This was weird. My mother was born in Spain, and has always coded, more or less, as white in this culture. But she obviously didn’t feel completely white in Texas in 1950.

Another memory: the seven of us — two adults and five kids — had gone out to Yellowstone in 1971. I remember reading about the Pentagon Papers case in the Rocky Mountain News in the lounge of the Old Faithful Inn. One evening my parents decided to have sandwiches in our rooms instead of eating in the hotel restaurant. They called down for ice, and my mother told us boys to stand at the door when the ice was delivered. We didn’t do it, probably because we didn’t understand what we were being asked to do, which was to keep the college kid delivering the ice from coming into the room.

After he did, my mother was — again inexplicably to 11-year-old me — angry with us. “He’s going to think we’re just a bunch of Mexicans having sandwiches in our room” she said, or something like that. I was the oldest child, but I bet I wasn’t the only one of my siblings who was thinking “um . . . isn’t that what we’re doing?”

Anyway, enough misty water-colored memories.

George Conway’s purported epiphany is pretty sad. (Needless to say this may all be a well-thought out grift, as opposed to agonizing personal journal of discovery). The thing is, it focuses on the wrong issue, which is his supposed discovery that Donald Trump is “really” a racist. I mean to the extent Trump is really anything besides a narcissistic sociopath he probably is a racist, but whether he personally is a racist is totally irrelevant to the real issue. The real issue is that Trump is more than willing to act like a real racist in order to get real racists — as well as people who are racist-adjacent, infused with racism, lightly buttered with racism, fond of an occasional amuse-bouche of racism etc. — to support him.

Those people make up enough of the electorate to get someone like Donald Trump elected. That’s the real problem — not whether Trump is “really” a racist, since Trump isn’t really anything, except a bundle of insatiable needs.

The other real problem is that George Conway is married to one of this generation’s many off-brand Joseph Goebbels’.

Hey George: Your wife isn’t just somebody who voted for Trump. She’s a key piece of the fashy-racism-enabling propaganda machine. What’s your next column, One Day I Found Out My Wife Was Really a Fascist?

Or maybe that’s a book. Next on Oprah.

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