David Bouchier

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Jane Austen wrote about a world that was, psychologically and socially a million miles away from present-day America, in the kind of stately, exact English that nobody speaks or writes any more. She seems an unlikely candidate for media celebrity in the twittering age, more than a hundred years after her death. Yet her works are still enormously popular. Some people have even read the books. But the real boost to her celebrity has come from a flood of movies and TV specials. Austen’s characters and plots have been all over our screens these past few years, with nice costumes, beautiful settings, and lots of soft-focus photography. There have also been pastiches and parodies like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and Pride and Prejudice goes to Bollywood. Now there’s yet another Jane Austen pastiche on public television, a confection called Sandtion, with yet more pretty clothes and picturesque landscapes.

Voting stickers for election
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The fateful year 2020 is rapidly running out. It’s time to stop obsessing and whining and making futile guesses about the COVID virus, and start obsessing and whining and making futile guesses about the presidential election.

An elderly couple
Image by Mabel Amber from Pixabay

Today is Respect for the Aged Day in Japan — but not here. On this special day the Japanese return home to visit and pay respect to their elders, and volunteers help out in their neighborhoods by making and distributing free lunch boxes to older citizens. Entertainments are provided by teenagers and children, and special nostalgic television programs are broadcast.

Image by Couleur from Pixabay

It’s now more than six months since most of us started re-arranging our lives for the convenience of the COVID virus — cancelling meetings, vacations, work, school, and much of our personal lives. It feels as if summer ended before it began, and here we are sliding towards winter.

Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

Labor Day always seems like a paradoxical holiday – dedicated on the one hand to the history of work and labor unions, and on the other had to fun and idleness. But on the first Labor Day in 1852 the two things came together: first the parade and serious speeches from union leaders, and then a big picnic and concert to round the day off. This year just about everything has changed. The Trade Union movement is all about solidarity, and that’s just what we don’t have with millions out of work, or working at home or in the so-called gig economy. They are, quite literally, on their own. As for the picnic and the concert, social distancing has put an end to them. So today is just a date on the calendar, when the post office will be closed and people will take advantage of the three-day weekend to stay at home and not visit their relatives.