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  1. #9076

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Quote Originally Posted by MJ2004 View Post
    I don’t think that’s the case in Switzerland, where suliso lives. He’s most likely really eating almost all European food.

    Remember too that Europe retaliated against our first round of tariffs last year with their own tariffs against US foods. So this new tariff is one more step along the path of insanity.
    Yes, I know where he lives. Also, I'm not talking about just what he eats, but what is sold in Switzerland. I haven't studied this kind of stuff in a while now, but I used to and Switzerland definitely did import food products from the US. Hard to believe that's come to a screeching halt.

    Now, that doesn't meant they import as much as others, population by itself is a large factor. But there are certain food products like soybeans, walnuts, and almonds where the US is the place to get them if you have a good trade agreement with them, so that's just where you get them. But I'd put a large bet down that more than just that is currently imported to Switzerland.
    Last edited by JazzNU; 01-15-2020 at 05:10 PM.

  2. #9077

    Re: World News Random, Random

    I think you're both right. We don't import maybe so much food from US, but we do more than I've noticed. Not meat I think - in the shop it has to be labeled with a place of origin. It's usually Switzerland. Could easily be soy and wheat or indeed almonds.
    Roger forever

  3. #9078

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Quote Originally Posted by JazzNU View Post
    But there are certain food products like soybeans, walnuts, and almonds where the US is the place to get them if you have a good trade agreement with them, so that's just where you get them. But I'd put a large bet down that more than just that is currently imported to Switzerland.
    Just for fun I explored the dried fruits and nuts section of the supermarket I usually shop at. Our laws state that the country of origin has to be shown either on the package or on the label if sold by weight. As you can imagine us being a northern country most of this stuff is imported and not necessarily from obvious places (I saw products from Sri Lanka, Moldova, Burkina Faso and Brazil), however the two major exporters are Spain and Turkey. Almonds I just bought were Spanish, forgot to look at walnuts but likely also from Spain or Italy.

    Fresh subtropical fruits are mostly from Spain, less often from Italy or Morocco. Only full tropical ones (bananas, mangoes etc) as well as stuff entirely out of season is from further away.
    Roger forever

  4. #9079
    Everyday Warrior MJ2004's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Simon Kuper's article in this weekend's FT:

    Why Donald Trump is proving George Orwell wrong
    ‘Orwell had me convinced that clear speech was an auxiliary to truth, until Trump came along’

    The last person to see George Orwell alive was probably the poet Paul Potts. Finding his friend asleep in his sickroom in University College Hospital, London, Potts left a packet of tea for him.

    Orwell was planning to take it on a restorative trip to Switzerland. That night, January 21 1950, an artery burst in Orwell’s lungs and killed him.

    Seventy years after an author dies, the copyright on their fiction expires. Expect an explosion now of rights-free versions of Nineteen Eighty-Four.

    When the novel first appeared, it was read as an anatomy of totalitarianism; after Edward Snowden’s revelations about the US government’s spying programme in 2013, it was reread as a prophecy of digital surveillance; and in the Trumpian era of “alternative facts”, it has returned to the bestseller lists as a defence of truth.

    I’m an Orwell nut — aged 18 I could quote verbatim from, say, a 1935 letter to Rayner Heppenstall — and the work of his that I think about most nowadays isn’t Nineteen Eighty-Four but his 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language”. I’m forever pressing it on people as a primer for how to write.

    The essay expresses one of Orwell’s main ideas: clear speech enables clear thought and prevents lies. But I have come to think that he was wrong. What Donald Trump has shown is that clear speech can enable lies.

    Orwell’s essay attacks debased 1940s political language. Demagogues of all shades were using euphemisms, fancy Greek and Latin words, and the passive voice to “make lies sound truthful and murder respectable”. Instead of saying, “We have massacred people,” they’d say, “Opposition elements were liquidated.”

    Marxists favoured awkward jargon translated from foreign languages: “hyena”, “petty bourgeois”, “flunkey” etc. None of these people were funny; Hitler’s go-to insult was “joker”.

    Orwell ends his argument with his famous rules for writing: avoid clichés, foreign, scientific or jargon words; cut words whenever possible; use short words and the active voice; and, finally, “Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.”

    He had me convinced that clear speech was an auxiliary to truth, until Trump came along. In both speech and tweets, Trump adheres to all Orwell’s rules except the one against barbarism. He prefers one-syllable words (“Build the wall”), can keep it snappy (140 characters) and avoids lapses into Greek.

    His tweets approach Orwell’s ideal of prose that sounds like speech; in fact, social media blur the very distinction. Trump has even mastered a rhetorical genre that Orwell didn’t have: huckster’s utopianism.

    Like Orwell, Trump understands the rules of communication: the audience is bored before you’ve even said anything; style trumps substance; and facts don’t persuade people (there’s a reason Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four as a story, not an essay). If you say something important and true in wooden prose while wearing the wrong clothes, nobody will listen.

    Like Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four, Trump also knows that the most powerful story is a nightmare with a hero: immigrants are coming to kill you, but I will protect you.

    And Trump dispenses with euphemisms for violence. He promises to “totally destroy” North Korea, encourages police officers to bump suspects’ heads, muses publicly about murdering 10 million Afghans and tweets that 52 Iranian cultural sites “and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD”.

    He enjoys describing graphic violence, perhaps because in his mind it evokes TV shows and films rather than reality.

    Above all, Trump demonstrates a chilling truth: politics today is communications. Speaking persuasively is no longer just a tool. It’s the whole game. Just as you win the high jump by jumping highest, you win elections nowadays by communicating best: “Get Brexit done.”

    I admire the professionalism of today’s politicians who have emerged from television, journalism or comedy, because I’m in the communications business myself. I do what they do, just much less well.

    Orwell believed that clear language enables clear thought. But Trump demonstrates something quite different: simple language can encourage simple thought. Unburdened by complex ideology, he can take a multifaceted policy with endless trade-offs and paint it as unequivocally good or bad: “The Iran deal is a disaster”, “insane”, “terrible”.

    Simple language also makes lies more persuasive: if you can sound like a human being rather than a script written by committee, you’ll be better able to deceive people, especially if you use Trumpian repetition.

    Orwell, for all his faith in clarity, intuited that. That’s why he equipped the regimes in Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four with homely phrases: “Four legs good, two legs better” and “Big Brother is watching you”.

    Just as Trump has made me suspicious of clear language, Boris Johnson has weaponised something else I used to revere: British humour. I had always vaguely assumed that humour could pierce high-blown lies. (Orwell himself could be pretty funny.)

    Since Brexit, I’ve realised that, especially in Britain, humour can allow a politician to pose as a harmless jokester and distract people from boring, painful truths.

    Demagogues used to rely on force. But in a democracy, language is more effective.

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