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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Our Varied Heritages

Ancestry.com is after me again. This below is from an email I received this morning:

Screen capture of Ancestry email.
Screen capture of Ancestry email.

A few years ago through Ancestry, I found one of the ship manifests that included my maternal great-grandmother as a young adult sailing to America. She had traveled with about a dozen other people of varying ages, all from the same village in Sicily. My great-grandfather was in America already, awaiting her arrival.

She was born near Syracuse (as was he). She departed Messina, stopped in Naples, stopped next in Marseille, and from there journeyed to New York’s Ellis Island. It was typical for the time and their nationality.

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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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“In My Life”

We’re off later to see what will be our latest house starting on Friday. Another moving week ahead.

As I told my dad the other day on FaceTime, “It’s in Hertfordshire, which is pronounced Hartfordsheer.”

“Is that near Midsomer?” he joked.

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When “They” Spoke “Olde English”

I loved Cas Blomberg’s post: “What do you like in a story?” She lists the sorts of things – her personal “likes” and “dislikes” – that should make any author think. As her take would apply to any reader, it is worth reading her post in full.

This “dislike” naturally grabbed my attention:

Difficult language — Victorian, Venusian, the Tyk’gkt’der language, etc.

“Victorian?” Uh, oh. Well, I’m not using “Victorian,” but I’m definitely employing what might be termed “Georgian” and “early American independence” – the later 1700s mostly – in Conventions.

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To “The Honorable Ezekiel Gilbert”

Yesterday’s post was depressing. The present day isn’t exactly doing it for me lately. I thought let’s have a retreat to the past for this one….

Main entrance. George Washington's Mount Vernon. Virginia. [Photo by me, 2011.]
Main entrance. George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Virginia. [Photo by me, 2011.]
But naturally there were troubles back then, too. Moreover when it came to communicating with our representatives back in the U.S. as to what we abroad were witnessing, there wasn’t even email! And we definitely couldn’t “@” them on Twitter!

We would have sat down and composed an ink-splotted letter by candlelight that we hoped might get to its destination in two or three months if we were lucky….

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As Nationalist Walls Go Up Still Higher

This is quite a serious post. There is no levity in it. Based on what I’ve seen – we’ve all seen – in the last week and a half, I simply want to say this.

United Kingdom voters, as you probably know, voted on the 23rd of June by 52 percent to 48 percent to leave the European Union.

That EU referendum, we all also know, has bitterly divided politics here in Britain.

It’s decidedly one thing flinging insults at total strangers you disagree with – “insane,” “idiots,” “racists,” “Hitler,” “old white trash” – on social media. But this? We’ve discovered friends of ours – she, a non-British EU national and staunch “Remainer,” married to him, a British national and vocal Brexit “Leave” supporter – are practically on the verge of divorce over the referendum’s outcome.

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That Terrifying Word: “History”

That I wrote in yesterday’s post how after I’d completed it I was returning to [writing] “Robert,” “Henry,” “Carolina,” “Marie-Thérèse,” and others in the late 1700s, pushed my mind to thinking on that word so many university students fear: history.

The Obelisk, Trent Park, London. [Photo by me, 2016.]
The Obelisk, Trent Park, London. [Photo by me, 2016.]
I thought it was worth “attacking” this morning. As a lecturer, I saw “the look” in so many students’ eyes. The mere word “history” is enough to terrify even the best of non-history majors:

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Back To Britain

Hello again from London! Once more I’m “home” in the United Kingdom….that is also evidently on course to leave the European Union eventually: how our world changes unexpectedly. Incidentally, my Atlantic crossing reading….

[Photo by me, 2016.]
[Photo by me, 2016.]
….from back when the world was dramatically changing in another way. In yet another sense, we are also so privileged to be able to fly the Atlantic in about 8 hours. In the 18th century, it took weeks by sea – if you even managed to survive to get across it.

For Friday evening’s flight from Newark, I got lucky. I was upgraded to a window seat in premium economy – a benefit of being a frequent flier and of perhaps flying alone. I suppose it’s just easier to move you around when alone than if you are in a party of two or more.

For a time, I also thought I had hit the lottery in another way: I had no row-mate in the other seat. That didn’t last, though. About fifteen minutes after take-off, a flight attendant escorted a Finnish woman from behind in economy to the previously empty aisle seat next to me.

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