Although I did some writing on the plane over, I’ve decided to give “Robert,” “Carolina,” “Henry,” and “Marie-Thérèse”, and the others a rest for a few days. They probably could use a short “break” from me, too.😉 While it’s said you should write constantly, you do have to pause now and then and clear your head.
Moreover I don’t want to veer into “killing off” any characters accidentally because I’m feeling briefly somewhat “off” myself. With my mother’s one year death anniversary on the 26th, I’m trying to find a real-life “happy place.” I suppose these Catskills are one of them:
I snapped that photo yesterday afternoon. It doesn’t look like that outside now, I assure you:
The highly regarded political polling and prediction site FiveThirtyEight reported the other day that if only men voted, Republican nominee Donald Trump would overwhelmingly defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton and win the U.S. presidency:
However, the outcome would be vastly different if ONLY women voted. In that scenario, Clinton would, uh, thump Trump:
A well-regarded children’s author on what “kids need to see” in books:
And who could really take issue with that? It seems reasonable enough. And not being a children’s author I have no opinion about what children’s authors believe “kids need” – kids are their audience after all.
Yet as I thought about it, something about that sentence bothered me. If that declaration may be made so definitively about what “needs” to be in youngsters’ books, one would think something similar may be asserted about books for everyone older than that. Indeed I have here and there seen that “need” raised about books for “oldsters” as well.
Well, my absentee ballot has arrived here in Britain. The election is almost upon us. I vote in New York state, in the 19th congressional district, which is located upstate partly in the Catskills where our house is:
Let me offer a quick explanation of that ballot because this fact might baffle some people. The United States does not have a presidential election as such. It has essentially 51 presidential elections simultaneously – separate elections in all 50 states and the District of Columbia (meaning Washington city, which is not in any state but is the national capital named after, OF COURSE, HIM!).
As I vote in New York State, I vote for electors – locals whose names one rarely knows – who gather at Albany in early December. They are pledged to cast THEIR ballots formally for the pair of candidates who had received the most votes back on November’s Election Day.
I think this is one of the things I’ve heard the most when I was in the U.S. : French people don’t like Americans. Well, let me tell you something. THIS IS NOT TRUE. I’m French, I’ve spent all of my 21 years of life in France, and I have never heard more than two or three persons maybe saying that they didn’t like Americans…
This issue is always hovering around out there. It has been a source for a great deal of literature as well as for uncounted plots in movies and television episodes. As an American who has spent a lot of time in France since, uh, the 1980s (yes, good grief, I’m now THAT old!), and read tons of Franco-American history, I’d like to take a crack at this one briefly.🙂
America’s top official in France from 1785-1789, forty-something Thomas Jefferson, came to believe U.S. diplomats should not be overseas more than about eight years at a stretch. He felt if they (and they were then only men) were, they would lose touch with events and opinions at home. As a result, they would eventually be incapable of representing America properly.
He grew concerned also about young men “without attachment” becoming “involved” with European women, and felt their being overseas too long made such “intimacy” almost inevitable. The young women they encountered in diplomatic and social circles (and who, in France and elsewhere on the continent, could speak English) were overwhelmingly aristocrats. He believed “relationships” with those women could damage those “impressionable” young men’s “republican” sentiments and alienate them from the outlooks of most of their fellow Americans at home.
A few years before, a 16 year old future U.S. president became rather “enthralled” by young women he met while visiting Sweden. Yes, it’s a shocker: An American teenage boy loose in Scandinavia notices girls. Yet in that he demonstrated Jefferson’s concerns were perhaps not groundless.
Then lacking the television, internet, etc., that we take for granted, one could see Jefferson’s point about being too far removed from home as well. It took three months minimum for a letter to travel from Europe and to receive a reply from America; and that was usually during the summer months. Far fewer ships risked crossing the Atlantic between December and March – and even navies weren’t keen on it if they could possibly put it off until spring.
I like to joke occasionally that I consider the eighteenth century the beginning of everything. That’s an exaggeration, I know. But by that I mean the second half of that century sees the beginnings of “ourselves” in a myriad of ways that we today would easily recognize.
We have moved well-beyond what nearly all of those people living then would have imagined the future to be. While, for instance, Thomas Jefferson, who owned enslaved persons, held that African men in that degraded position still possessed an innate human equality with white men, he also wrote (privately) that he could not abide the idea of any woman in government. (A “woman’s trade” was to produce children and maintain “domestic felicity.”) It was still widely accepted that a man should own a goodly amount of property (usually land) in order to vote (because owning property meant you had a true stake in the society). The likes of LGBT equality would have simply been unfathomable to them.
Yet Jefferson’s noting he believed women were unsuited to government also meant that he had at least thought about it. It was by then among the many other no longer “unthinkables.” He, and so many others of that time, helped get “a process” started.
With France’s defeat by Britain in America in 1763, we see the beginnings of the “modern” Great Britain, France and United States that we all live in today.
You may have read by now that former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has had his email hacked. In emails dumped out for public consumption, various strong and private opinions are there for all to read. What has most caught media interest naturally are his personal views on the current major candidates for U.S president, and especially his, shall we say, “colorful” use of the English language several times.
We all write at times stupidly and unguardedly in email as if it were a private conversation. Happenings like this are reminders some say that we should perhaps save such opinions for the telephone (assuming that’s not being tapped). A quiet corner of a room whispering into an ear might be safest of all – although arranging that may prove difficult with someone who is NOT in that same room, of course.
Or we might also consider penning letters again as in… the eighteenth century! But even letters then were sometimes intercepted by third parties and published in unfriendly “news”papers. And governments read letters, too.
Richard Montgomery was born in 1738 in County Dublin, British Ireland. He attended Trinity College, Dublin, for two years, until his father, insisting on a military career for him (as had been common for men in the family for generations before), bought him a commission in the army. (One did not achieve officer status in the British – or French or Spanish – army in that era unless one was both gentry and usually well-enough off to be able to “buy” an officer’s commission.) He became a junior officer in an Irish Regiment.
He fought against the French in America between 1758-1763. After the end of that war, his unit was sent to the frontier (what is today Michigan), and on his way through the Hudson Valley in 1765 he briefly met his future wife, a just out of her teens Janet Livingston. It seemed a cordial encounter, with no romantic overtones.