The Cultural Attaché
On 24th October 2018, Meghan Markle Sussex gave a speech at University of the South Pacific's Suva campus in Fiji, whereby she claimed to have paid for her own education at Northwestern University In Evanston, Illinois. Whilst we applaud ALL efforts made by individuals who show initiative in their lives, Markle somehow created a fantastical story that is not based in reality.
I know the challenges, first hand, of committing to higher education whilst striving to fund it on your own, as a scholarship and financial aid programmes graduate myself. A scholarship is an extraordinary benefit to have, but it does not pay ALL the tuition costs of a 4-year university education. That is where financial aid comes in. The challenge of financial aid, however is to PROVE you are worthy of its full benefit. Every university student can qualify to receive financial aid if they meet the basic eligibility criteria; but not every student receives the same dollar amount.
One of the key factors of receiving the full benefit of financial aid is to claim yourself as an "independent," meaning you are not being supported by your parents and your parents do not own any property, the equity of which could help fund your education. In addition, it is based on need and tax documents are also reviewed during the application process. You also have to prove you are living on your own, not just occupying a dorm space whilst attending school. This includes proof of having a job as a means to support yourself financially.
The issue I have with Markle's speech was the cost of tuition at Northwestern University at the time of her attendance in early 2000's. It was widely reported the tuition was around $30,000 a year. Markle's speech also mentions no DEBT she would have accumulated as a graduate since NEITHER scholarship or financial aid programme would FULLY fund a $30,000 a year university education. She also claimed to have done "work-study where my earnings from a job on campus went directly towards my tuition." The minimum wage for that period was $5.15 an hour, so, even if Markle worked a full 40 hours a week for 52 weeks that would only yield $10,712 per annum, not calculating the taxes she would have paid on her earnings. Note she mentioned "on campus" in her speech, not modeling or acting or other gigs where she might have yielded a bigger pay.
Did Markle also pay for her dorm or on-campus or off-campus living quarters? Did she also pay for her own text books? Here is a screen shot from Northwestern University on the EXTRAS that students paid for 2017-2018 year, in addition to their tuition cost.
Markle's speech makes great effort to erase her father, Thomas Markle Sr. from her life. This is unfortunate because I do not believe that Markle also paid for her PRIVATE SCHOOL education at Immaculate Heart High School and Middle School, who listed their tuition for the 2018-2019 school year at $16,850 plus fees. Whilst inflation plays into the current costs and fees, one can do a calculation to assess what it would have been at the time of Markle's attendance.
Here is the FULL transcript of Meghan Markle Sussex speech VIA Daily Mail Online.
Bula! It is a great privilege to be with all of you today. As a university graduate, I know the personal feeling of pride and excitement that comes with attending university. From the moment you receive your acceptance letter, to the exams you spend countless late nights studying for, the lifelong friendships you make with your fellow alumni, and the moment you receive your diploma.
Originally posted: 18th May. Reposted to The Cultural Attaché : 19th October
Royal Ascot (pronounced "Ascut") is more than just fabulous horse racing, it is a fashion spectacle. Royal Ascot expands five days, from Tuesday 19th to Saturday 23rd June.
Whilst most British society events have an "implied" dress code, unless specifically written into the invitation, Royal Ascot mandates their style guide to every patron, regardless of which enclosure they are assigned. This is to ensure the uniformity of presence and to maintain their high social standards. The dress code does update from time to time to reflect the modernisation of fashion. Last year, they allowed the jumpsuits for the first time.
The high society culture in Britain is about "fitting in" and they rarely like change. It is a social class structure that is MORE about BREEDING than it is about money. In America, money can buy you not only a Penthouse in Manhattan, but "social" acceptance. In Britain, money might buy you a title, but it cannot buy you social acceptance or even membership to the Royal Enclosure at Royal Ascot. Regardless of breeding, you may put forth your best appearance with a bespoke morning dress from Saville Row, but if you have no social graces, all your efforts were for naught.
Most Americans who were not educated within a certain class structure or do not understand cultural mores of a certain social group will have a difficult time "fitting in" to this world. For this reason, I would highly recommend training in proper etiquette, as if you were meeting The Duchess of Cambridge. The chances of meeting a member of the Royal family is greater when attending these high society social events. Americans do not necessarily have to curtsey to Royals, but they should know the appropriate greeting to offer.
In addition to proper table manners, one should completely eliminate the fashion faux pas mainly associated with novices making their entrance into British high society. Whilst I am no "fashion police," I do cringe at "noteworthy" fashion "misses" in CERTAIN social settings. It is always best to "check yourself, before you reck yourself." Prior to an outing, please do read the fine print of the invite. It is also perfectly fine to consult a "reputable" stylist. The culture of the "elites" in Britain is all about "fitting in" and "uniformity." A square peg in a round hole just would not do.
Argument FOR and AGAINST Meghan Markle’s attire at Trooping the Colour ceremony.
I recently came across a tweet in which I did not agree with the argument. Thus, I had laid my own claim as a rebuttal. The response I received was more than “venomous” to say the least. The User characterised me as a “pathetic hater” and called our website “trashy.” She later denied having said this, when the EVIDENCE was clearly against THAT claim.
The world is a melting pot or salad bowl of opinions; AND people have a right to argue their respective positions. We don’t all agree and it is quite fine to “agree to disagree.” Unfortunately, passions do run high amongst those who can not see past their own opinions and in turn resort to “name-calling” when an argument is presented that goes against what they believe.
Social media is an interesting vehicle that allows varied opinions to be posted without filter. It is used by many to express one’s “position” and sometimes done behind the “safety” of one’s electronic device. In this world of “make believe,” you can also call yourself whatever you wish and don masks that are not true representations of yourself. For every “Duchess Kate” Twitter handle, there are probably an equal amount of “Duchess Meghan” Twitter handle and so forth.
Most people, it appears, expound upon things they know nothing about. That is perfectly fine, since they draw from their own experiences, how they “feel” about the subject, i.e. Meghan Markle and what they “bloomin’ hell” think about the situation.
But how should you RESPOND when you are so passionate about the subject and want everyone to see it YOUR WAY. You simply can’t. For EVERY argument, there will ALWAYS be a counter argument. That is the fact. That is LIFE. For every evidence you can find to support your argument, there are probably an equal amount of evidence to counter that argument. THAT is the basis of DEBATE.
When we argue in this manner, we remove ourselves from the subject-matter and LISTEN MORE. It is in the listening that we begin to LEARN and have a GREATER respect for differing opinions, arguments and debates.
In a rather disgusting turn of events, the husband who admits to living separately from his wife, now "spills" on her "mental health" issues. Contrast this to how other family members, including his own brother, David Spade and Ms. Valentine's niece Rachel Brosnahan remembers the fashion icon. The most "tell" signs that something was amiss in the Spade-Valentine partnership-relationship was the cryptic note Ms. Valentine left for her daughter: "Bea - I have always loved you. This is not your fault. Ask Daddy!"
Mr. Spade characterises his wife as someone who suffered from "depression" and "anxiety." He continued to overshare his wife's very personal journey, by writing that she was also battling "personal demons." He freely revealed that she took medication and was "working closely with her doctors to treat her disease," for the last five years.
Of himself, he states: "There were no business problems. We loved creating our businesses together. We were co-parenting our beautiful daughter. I have yet to see any note left behind and am appalled that a private message to my daughter has been so heartlessly shared with the media."
T.E.A.M. Conclusion: You do not have to be a psychologist to know a classic "deflective," shift-the-blame to the victim statement. In his attempt to garner the public support for a "grieving" husband, Mr. Spade is airing "dirty laundry" on his wife, in a classic shifting of the blame. His attempt to make himself more than, or appear more genuine to the public, he states the love they had for each other and how they were raising their daughter together; however, he also stated "There was no business problem." Absolutely none? Then he unleashed his anger by stating how "appalled" he was about the "private" note left for his daughter that was made public. He said "I have yet to see any note left behind." Here, he tells the "audience" and readers that the note the police did find was not valid, in his view.
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On 29 May 2018, ABC made it clear that they were definitely parting ways with Roseanne Barr and cancelling her sitcom reboot. In a statement by Channing Dungey, President of ABC Entertainment Group, she called Ms. Barr's Twitter statement (about Valerie Jarrett), "Abhorrent, Repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show."
Wanda Sykes, a consulting producer, had previously tweeted she was leaving the show. Sarah Gilbert who also starred along side John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf, called Ms. Barr's comments, "Abhorrent" and added, "and do not reflect the beliefs of our cast and crew or anyone associated with our show." Barr's own management company ICM Partners dropped her as a client. Hollywood had sent a clear message to Barr: 'You are not welcome here!'
Rosanne Barr is a "crass" showman from a bygone era where her antics included screeching of the Star-Spangled Banner, crotch holding and spitting on the ground, in the most vile display of disrespect for the National Anthem of the United States. She walked off the field to a crescendo of boos and horrified on-lookers, including President George H. W. Bush. Despite the bad press, Barr torpedoed onwards from Nazi salute to circulating "fake news" and spreading conspiracy theories that had no basis in truth. Barr's recent "targets" included George Soros, Chelsea Clinton and Valerie Jarrett.
Rosanne Barr returned after 20 years to a world that had changed. A world that was more vocal, more aware and more empowered through social media. It was also a world that gave rise to "Black Lives Matter" and the "MeToo" movement. Whilst the world had changed, Barr had not. Instead, she found a new forum on Twitter to spread her hatred, twisted values and mangled sense of "entitlement." She must have been emboldened by the likes and retweets, because for years since starting her Twitter account in 2011, she continued to kick up the storm of controversy with her grandiose sense of self in one narcissistic rant after another. Valerie Jarrett was the "nail on her coffin."
Barr could have been a role model, but now she will forever be a footnote for racial hatred and bigotry.
On 29 May 2018, Executive Chairman of Starbucks, Howard Schultz penned an open letter to customers informing them of store closings to "Discuss how to make Starbucks a place where all people feel welcome." In 1983, he wrote of his trip to Milan where he saw "cafés and espresso bars on every street." He added, "When I ventured inside I experienced something powerful: a sense of community and human connection" He continues, "I returned home determined to create a similar experience in America—a new ’third place’ between home and work—and build a different kind of company."
The problem with this story is that it is too little...too late and Starbucks' attempt to put a band-aid on a festering wound, in order to sway public opinion, is disingenuous. Starbucks has never been about "community" or inclusion. Whilst they had dominated every street corner, sometimes, right across the street from each other, it was obvious that Starbucks catered to customers and; the bathrooms were off limit to non-customers. Some stores even had key pad access to the bathroom and signs posted discouraging its use by the general public.
In addition, Italy was one of several stomping grounds in my early years. I also lived there for six months. Starbucks is a "glorified" coffee house, similar to Americanised Chinese cuisine or inventions such as General Tso's chicken, Kung Pao chicken, Chop Suey and the fortune cookie. Howard Schultz has built Starbucks on a fantasy, using fancy Italian names for VERY Americanised beverages, then sold the concept to an unsuspecting public who probably never traveled much outside their communities. In the process, he made LOTS of money! He even got credit for creating the "Latte Factor" a term used by Personal Financial author David Bach to explain how much consumers could be saving if they skipped the "latte." To Howard Schultz's credit, he built a global brand and I think even sold Italians on his made-up American coffee beverages.
The issue I take with corporate "apologises" is that it mostly happens when they are caught doing something and publicly called out for it. Of the incident in Philadelphia, he writes, "The incident has prompted us to reflect more deeply on all forms of bias, the role of our stores in communities and our responsibility to ensure that nothing like this happens again at Starbucks. The reflection has led to a long–term commitment to reform systemwide policies, while elevating inclusion and equity in all we do."
This is what they are planning to do today, "More than 175,000 Starbucks partners (that’s what we call our employees) will be sharing life experiences, hearing from others, listening to experts, reflecting on the realities of bias in our society and talking about how all of us create public spaces where everyone feels like they belong—because they do." THAT'S correct, they are going to just talk about it and express their feelings. Can a training process be more BORING? What's next? Videos on how to treat people of colour?
What Starbucks should have done from the VERY beginning was to get the "right people on the bus and in the right seats," a reference to Jim Collins, "Good to Great."
On 24 May 2018, Observer broke the story that Scott Brunton’s recount of his 1981 incident, where he alleged to be “drugged and assaulted” by George Takei, the actor and activist, might all have been a “misunderstanding.” The author, Shane Snow, continued by adding, “What happens when an activist’s legacy is tarnished by the story of an old friend who later says it could have all been a misunderstanding? And how do we process such an anomaly in an era of overdue social justice?”
Whilst I support the #MeToo movement for exposing the pervasive culture of perversion, sexual assault and coverup among Hollywood elites and corporate executives, it is not without its detractors. The long-awaited justice for victims of Harvey Weinstein and convicted sexual predator, Bill Cosby, should be applauded; but I wonder if we also need to “dial back” our attitude toward “Social Justice” at all cost.
What price do we pay to jump on the band wagon and group ALL citizens in the same manner, BEFORE the truth be known? When I first read about the accounts of Scott Brunton in November 2017, the investigative/researcher side of me wanted to know the story behind the headlines. The feminine side wanted justice. The human side wanted clarity. Instead of taking sides on the Takei-Brunton debate, I became “reflective.”
On the one hand, I admired Mr. Takei and the successes he achieved which, I am sure, was not an easy undertaking for an Asian-American actor of his generation. I also applauded the love he found with his husband, Brad. On the other hand, I wanted to believe the victim, Scott Brunton. Why would anyone make up such a fantastical tale? In addition, others who have been accused in the same manner, i.e. Kevin Spacey, were dully exposed for their true nature and rightly so. Was this another case of aggressive tactics and “power-play” by a gay actor and why were we hearing about it now, 36 years later?
After the story broke, George Takei took to Twitter to express his relief and thankfulness. He wrote on 25 May 2018:
“As many of you know, this has been a very difficult period for myself and my husband Brad as we have dealt with the impact of these accusations, but we are happy to see that this nightmare is finally drawing to a close.
In doing so, Mr. Takei took the high road:
“It is in that spirit that I want folks to know, despite what he has put us through, I do not bear Mr. Brunton any ill will, and I wish him peace.”
Whilst we do not know the circumstances leading to Mr. Brunton recanting his original story, in the scope of public opinion, does it really matter? Since the revelation last year, Mr. Takei was vilified on social media sites, under the #MeToo "banner" and in the press. Mr. Snow did what other qualified journalists should have done from the beginning, “follow the story.”
I believe, as a society, we should FIGHT for better news coverage. Arm-chair reporting is just as dangerous as an accusation full of holes. It negates the very institution of human decency. The falsely accused do carry the stigma, sometimes for life. Even if you are vindicated, there will always be a “hint” of suspicion. I hope Mr. Takei is one of the few exceptions.
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