Sunday, December 9, 2018

My May 1968: Part Two (letter to my mother)

University of Lyon during 1968 student occupation. Photo by George Garrigues

  Part Two  (letter to my Mother)

by Carol Rose

                                                        May 12, 1968

Dearest Mother,

You have, as usual, been very faithful and I not.   Nothing from you,  however, since the postal service has closed down.   Actually I need to find some way to get this letter mailed.

This city has been going through a week of great excitement much of it centered here in the  neighborhood… (many parents of adult children have been calling to quiet their fears which were groundless.)  Last evening about 6 big demonstrations culminated in a mass demonstration of  around 600,000 workers  and students which filed by our house 15 abreast for hours straight, singing the International  and shouting slogans such as CRS - assassins (the riot police force), DeGaulle assassin, libérer nos camarades!  Among these comrades were the numerous neighbors in the courtyard who have small children such as mine.    Just behind our friend Marianne”s house, on the rue St. Jacques,  there were two story barricades consisting of cars, taxi signs and general debris built high by the students under the impatiently watchful eyes of the CRS police, chaffing at the bit as the students manufactured homemade weapons such as clubs and boards studded with nails.  Leaning against supports, the pointed ends of the nails marked off spaces for ordinary pedestrians to walk   No workers amongst this crowd!  The CRS police looked like black beetles armed as it were with black shields, wearing shiny black slickers, the whole topped with black helmets, shotguns hanging on their shoulders and machine gun like weapons slung over their backs to be used to shoot tear gas bombs at the rioters. 

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Paris: My May 1968

author Carol Rose

 My May 1968  Part One

by Carol Rose

Today it is May 1998,  my hourly companion, the faithful France Culture radio station, has begun to speak of May 1968 in reverent tones; an historical event, without any doubt, which had changed France irrevocably.  
First of all the awareness of time having passed likitysplit’ — thirty years had gone by — then it hit me that the manner I had lived this string of events did not jibe with the reverence in the speaker’s voice.  It struck me as odd as I had not been particularly aware at the time of having lived closely through any major event and yet there I had been in the midst of things I barely understood.  

I understood the excitement of the daily marches taking place on the Avenue in front of our courtyard.  I longed to be out there to join in the upsetting fun.   The pharmacist at the corner on the Place Denfert Rochereau was very mocking of me for he realized how I was longing to be free to join the crowd.  He was appalled by the chaos, the total disorder of the meetings of workers and students which usually originated or ended in front of his shop.  People shouting slogans would climb up onto the Lion de Denfert and wave red anarchist flags.  

Meanwhile, in the courtyard where we occupied an old house with two little children, the concierge, Madame Libé, was fearful and scandalized by the goings-on.  We would stand on the sidewalk of the Avenue, she dressed in purple, wringing her hands at the events taking place before us.  I, a little child on each hand,  was not seeing any danger whatsoever in the quite orderly demonstrators marching by with their slogans and banners.   One child wanted to know where all the people were going..  

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Suddenly I remembered I had left the gas burner on

I had just finished lunch with my daughter. There was time to run a couple of errands before I had my next appointment. The day was brisk but sunny, the remaining leaves shimmering golden over the bustling sidewalk. Shop windows beckoned, but, eager to complete my tasks, I did not pause to admire the new winter coats with mock fur collars, but hurried to the entrance to the subway instead. I had just passed through the turnstiles when the thought hit me: I hadn’t turned off the artichokes. I had only turned the heat down, not off.
Three hours. That’s how long it had been since I left the house. With luck, if I dropped everthing else, it would take another hour to return. There had been four inches of water in the pot, more than I would normally put to steam artichokes. But three hours? It would have boiled out long ago. In my nostrils I felt smoke. The train pulled into the station and the doors flew open. I jumped inside, but knew that I was already too late.

Monday, November 12, 2018

When the loved one is a Trump supporter

Political disagreements are never easy. But for those who view Trump as a dangerous, treasonous despot bent on destroying democratic institutions, it’s getting harder every day to convince oneself that the right thing to do is to listen politely to his defenders - even when they live under the same roof.
So you disagree. Fight. And now, every evening, you who have been married for thirty years, are arguing about politics. Remaining quiet feels like a betrayal. Speaking up is horrible and painful.
And Thanksgiving is just around the corner.

Monday, October 1, 2018

How Dare You Remember That I Attacked You!

Matt Damon  perfectly captures Brett Kavanaugh's Trumpian outrage at being held accountable.

I like beer! I got into Yale!  Brett Kavanaugh's arrogant attack strategy failed to convince this mature woman that Trump's nominee was anything but a liar, and a vicious one at that. Many commentators have reviewed the evidence which all points to a heavy drinking environment in which humiliating and even mauling a girl could be considered good fun. The fact that Brett's bestie and main witness published a book about being a blind drunk alcoholic with a vomiting sidekick with a name like Kavanaugh does not really enhance his credibility, either.

Brett's calendar.
Had a women yelled and cried and sniffed and carried on like Brett Kavanaugh did at the Senate hearing she would have been told to calm down and get her emotions under control. But the attack strategy was obviously deliberate. Outraged man victim of....his own past. Supported by other powerful men outraged that a victim would even dare to remember, much less speak about an attack carried out by a protected class - theirs.

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was composed and cooperative and ultimately entirely believable. Even before her testimony, Dr. Blasey passed a lie detector test and requested an FBI investigation.

Kavanaugh, on the other hand, showcased his disrespect. Asked about his drinking by Senator Amy Kobuchar, Kavanaugh interrupted her and counter-attacked: "You're asking about blackout. I don't know, have you?"

 He wasn't at the party. He never drank to the point of  blacking out. The words he wrote in the yearbook did not mean what they mean. He had no leg up at Yale.

Brett Kavanaugh's lies, under oath, are piling up.

Mature Women, who have spent years trying to forget their own Brett Kavanaughs, are speaking out.

It is clear who the liar here is. What is not clear is why the Republican Party thinks this arrogant frat boy who can't own his past is the best person for the job of Supreme Court Justice. Ultimately, as many commentators have pointed out, what we witnessed not a criminal trial but an interview for a job. And one in which Brett Kavanaugh clearly revealed that he lacks the temperament  or character to fill.

John Oliver has some pretty good insights.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Profiles in courage: Samantha Fuentes

The bravery of the young survivors of the Florida shooting forces our respect and admiration.
Somehow, after the horror, they found the strength to lead.
May it inspire all of the rest of us to step up too.
There have been many, many, many mass shootings in America. But this is the first time we see a movement like this.
The strength of these young people is inspiring. It is the first time since the election that there is reason for hope.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Monument to children killed by guns in America

We need a wall.
A glowing black wall of names,
the names of each and every child whose life was ended by a gun in America.
First name, last name, chiseled in white.
To stand in our country’s capital,
Where we can come to run our fingertips over the letters etched in stone as cold and dead as the child it names,
And weep,
And remember
And regret,
And vow to do better.
For the innocents
whom we failed to protect.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Experience Gift

The Experience Gift

by George Sampras

Jeanie loved Christmas. The tree, especially, with its foresty smell and twinkly lights , magically conjuring beauty and life out of winter gloom. And the children: round eyes, round mouths, round cheeks so kissable in their little round faces mad with excitement and desire and hope. Every year, the same tradition: the selection of the tree, the layering of the decorations (garlands, then lights, then crystal birds and horses and snowflakes, then the shiniest gold and silver ornaments, then, to top it all off, the Christmas angel), the acquisition, wrapping and installation of the presents, the hanging of the green and red embroidered socks (“Sam”, “Trish”, “Mom”, “Dad”), the night of little sleep, as a succession of Santas tiptoed in, to secretly contribute a small wrapped trinket or two to each sock, then the morning, first long and slow then short and fast, with a mad jumble of sweet and salty foods, flying wrapping papers, and instances of joy and disappointment, more or less well concealed according to the maturity and blood sugar levels of the recipient. It was something they had done together, without fail, every year since entering the world, as miraculous as Jesus, one starlit night.

Jeanie hated Christmas. The rawness of the emotions. The vulnerability of so much desire. Expectations, high in childhood, had risen even higher. Of course they were still a family, but it was at Christmas, that they came together, atoms touching, in the same physical space. Here they crowded, like expectant concert goers, in a preordered spot at a preordained time, their hearts tremblingly exposed, exit doors unmarked and too small in case of attack. Where to take cover? There was no cover. It was an act of faith, this communion, an invocation of the spirit of childhood, of family, of love. But such powerful forces, once stirred, never come alone.

Jeanie picked a torn piece of shiny silver wrapping paper off the carpet and placed it in the Hefty bag. Three armchairs had been pushed awkwardly together to make space for the tree, leaving the room off kilter.  We are sitting ducks here, she thought.
If lucky she had – what - maybe twenty Christmases left on her celestial time clock? Time, she resolved, to make them count.

George Sampras lives in California. His, novel, The Experience Gift, will be published in 2018. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Hope for heath care from Amazon

Amazon Disrupt: Has Jeff Bezos only just begun?

Can one of the world’s most innovative companies actually do good? Amazon’s announcement that it was turning its attention to healthcare caused panic in the bloated, inefficient, and vicously greedy market that is American health care. In other words, a market ripe for total disruption.

Books, clothes, household items, groceries, films, TV, music and cloud services - the logistics and IT geniuses at Amazon have nothing more to prove.  They could just sit back and let the profits roll in. Perhaps even pay out dividends to shareholders.

But what if, what if, all this innovation was just prelude? What if the real, ground-breaking innovation is only begining now, in 2018, with Amazon’s foray into the debacle that is American health care?

As a multinational with offices in all kinds of countries, Amazon management has experienced first hand the nearly unbelievable disparity in health care access, quality and cost throughout DEVELOPPED countries.

Presumably its employees in France can give birth and navigate accidents with excellent care and no cost, like everyone else in France. Multinationals like Amazon know that their French employees do not worry about losing their homes because of a health crisis. They are not innondated with dozens if not hundreds of separate, terrifying bills from an inexplicable array of doctors, labs, suppliers, catering services, and God knows what else itemizing blood tests, cotton swabs and pots of yoghurt consumed, all at prices that defy commmon sense. They do not stress because some life-saving procedure turns out to have been performed by an expert « out of network » and so will cost the equivalent of three years salary....

Amazon, like other global firms, knows well how perfectly awful the American health care system is, combining the unjustifiable administration cost of the most bloated bureaucracy with monopoly-style price gauging and airline level abuse of customers.

How can a system in which vultures like Shkreli make fortunes jacking up drug prices out of pure, unbridled greed not be ripe for disruption?An industry so exaggeratedly evil that Pixar studios created a superhero whose first act of defiance was to whisper to an elderly lady the secret for getting an insurance company to pay out on a justified claim?

Charles Dickens would find a worthly subject in the American health care system, so filled with corruption, greed and cruelty it is.

Enter Amazon.

Amazon knows a thing or two about innovation. About customer care. About logistics. About value for money.
Amazon knows how to streamline a process. Meetings to coordinate, Bezos knows, are a sign that the process is flawed. In a truly well designed process, coordination should not be necessary; communication should flow naturally.

We at Mature Women welcome Amazon to the health care industry. Disrupt has never been more needed.

Let Amazon succeed, not with gadgetry and picking just a few obviously low hanging fruit, but by a complete revolution. Why not, for that matter, a French revolution?

France does a pretty good job of delivering on the promise of free universal health care. Let that be a starting point. The French system, though not perfect, serves 60 million people, and has the merit of existing.