Freedom Of Speech, Until…

You never know who is reading you. Something I wrote about the Catskills a couple of years back attracted a response from a Turkish woman. She wrote to me that she knew the area well: she had attended (of all places) the State University of New York at Binghamton!

We had a laugh. She had also left the US recently and was living once again in Istanbul, but remained interested in south-central New York state, where Binghamton is located, in particular. Occasionally, she’d ask me about the snow and frigid temperatures – she didn’t miss either in Istanbul! she always said – and inquired harmlessly about other aspects of life thereabouts. She also knew I-84 pretty well, and we’d joked about that “endless” and “dull” highway.

Free Stock Photo: Flag of Turkey.
Free Stock Photo: Flag of Turkey.

We ended up following each other on Twitter. She tweeted mostly in Turkish, which left me mostly at a loss. But she did offer an occasional observation in English and/or a link to something in English; usually it was innocuous and apolitical. Often what she shared was humorous.

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“Retro-Fittings”: Not Creativity In My Book

We have learned that Star Trek’s “Sulu” is to be “re-imagined” as gay. Believing that to be “right…for our times,” Guardian writer Ryan Gilbey is clearly pleased by that writers’ decision. Interestingly, however, LGBT activist, and original “Sulu” actor, George Takei, is clearly not:

Screen capture of the Guardian, July 10, 2016.
Screen capture of the Guardian, July 10, 2016.

Mr. Takei’s disapproval obviously disappointed Mr. Gilbey and quite a few others:

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Tell It To Elizabeth I

The contest to be Conservative party leader in the House of Commons, which almost assures succession currently to the prime ministership, has now come down to a choice between two women. So it is almost certain now that the United Kingdom will have its second woman in that highest government office. You may also have read about the debate in British media set off this weekend over comments made to The Times newspaper by one of them.

Both women are in their 50s. Andrea Leadsom, challenging presumed frontrunner Theresa May, stated to the paper that she, Leadsom, has “a very real stake” in the future of the country because she had children. (May and her husband did not.) Leadsom doesn’t attack May directly, but if you listen to the recording of her observations, Leadsom’s inference is plainly obvious: she holds that she’d be a better prime minister because she has had children:

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Starring Not That Louis

Caught up in writing and other life matters, I had somehow totally missed promos for this new BBC series. I learned of its existence only last night just after the opening episode was underway on BBC 2. So I didn’t see it:

Screen capture of the BBC web site.
Screen capture of the BBC web site.

I had just gotten back from Luton Airport with the Mrs when I happened to stumble on it mentioned on Twitter. Initially glimpsing only that it was called Versailles and centered around Louis…. briefly my heart sank. “Oh, no,” I thought, “my novel?”

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A World Without Internet?

A conversation – in person – the other day prompted me to wonder about this: Suppose I just stopped right now and never again did another thing on the Internet?

And that would include giving up even basic email.

Free Stock Photo: Close-up of an enter button.
Free Stock Photo: Close-up of an enter button.

We all know how uptight we can feel if the net is unavailable for even a short time. (“What? No wifi? Arrgh!”) So what a strange feeling it would be if you knew you’d never use it again? You’d never post another thing?

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“Somebody throws a Brick against the Door of my Carriage”

Last night, the BBC’s “Grand Tours of Scotland” series focused on women travelers. It included a look at walking in the countryside and even took us to Gretna Green – where couples still “run off” to for marriage. It also briefly reviewed the time when women did not normally travel alone because they usually weren’t allowed to.

Screen capture of BBC iPlayer "Grand Tours of Scotland" page.
Screen capture of BBC iPlayer “Grand Tours of Scotland” page.

At one point, the presenter shared how 19th century women needed male chaperones, and in explaining that did so including a clear inference at how unnecessary and sexist that was, a “need” concocted by men purely to keep women in their place.

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“Remain” Vs. “Leave”: All The Arguing

We don’t see this sort of thing happen in our lives too often. These next few weeks? Remember them:

Screen capture of Twitter.
Screen capture of Twitter.

For American readers, “luvvies” is British derogatory slang for….

a person who is involved in the acting profession or the theatre, esp one with a tendency to affectation

As you may know, on June 23 British voters will be asked to answer this referendum question, Yes or No: Should the United Kingdom remain a part of the European Union?

The arguments for remaining vs. leaving are now all over the airwaves, filling newspapers and the net. British voters are being deluged with opinions. As with those entertainers Sky presenter Kay Burley tweets about, it seems most every figure is voicing a view.

Taking no public position either way myself (I’m not British, so I don’t feel it’s appropriate), I will say I’ve noticed two major tendencies that broadly underpin both sides’ arguments:

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Remembering The IHT

We’ve been catching up on Madam Secretary episodes. In “The Middle Way,” the Secretary of State’s husband, Professor Henry McCord, is momentarily glimpsed reading the International New York Times at the breakfast table. (McCord is the sort of lecturer I had always wanted to be; and I suspect one most students also want to take.) That newspaper is meant for an overseas audience, not for the U.S. domestic market.

I have a yellowing copy of its forerunner, the International Herald Tribune (IHT), filed away somewhere. In January 1988, it was the first one I’d ever bought. Place of purchase: Why, France, of course.:-)

Iconic Paris landmark. [Photo by me (1994, I think).]
Iconic Paris landmark. [Photo by me (1994, I think).]

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Welcoming All Readers

I’m discovering that joining Instagram was one of the better social media moves I’ve made. It’s quick and visual, and we all do like that. I should’ve signed up to it ages ago.

Screen capture of Instagram.
Screen capture of Instagram.

Thus how we learn. Using Instagram has also reinforced something else to me. Instagram is mostly photos, whereas a blog like this is naturally mostly words.

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One Writer’s “Romance” Genre Dilemma

We ventured yesterday to La Caleta. It’s a village here in Tenerife above Los Cristianos, and it has some pleasant restaurants. It was well-worth an afternoon:

La Caleta, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. [Photo by me, 2016.]
La Caleta, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. [Photo by me, 2016.]

While we were eating, a twenty-something guy and (presumably) his girlfriend (they didn’t seem like husband and wife) caught our attention when they stopped along that fencing briefly. He snapped her picture repeatedly as she posed “model-like” – hand in her hair, or gesturing with her hat, or leaning her head back dramatically….

Presumably, they ended up on her (or his?) Facebook or Instagram?

After they walked on, my wife laughed, “Should we go down there next and you take my picture that way?”

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