U.S. Expat Murdered In Italy

[UPDATED: January 18: see below.]
[UPDATED: January 13: see below.]

Struggling to outline the next novel and how I am going to attack the tale and its scope, I spent most of this morning and early afternoon reading and tapping tapping tapping preliminary notes – all while trying to take myself back to the 1790s.

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U.S. Kids Need To Be Taught About India

Beating someone up is bad enough. Beating someone up while hurling bigoted abuse at them is even uglier socially. Beating someone up for bigoted reasons and sounding like an absolute moron while doing so is simply peak stupid.

Screen capture of Twitter.
Screen capture of Twitter.

His assailant is hardly the only dimwit. Days after September 11, 2001, a Sikh was murdered in Arizona in “reaction” to the attacks. In 2012, in Wisconsin, another idiot shot up a Sikh temple, killing six, after having reportedly mistaken it for a Muslim mosque. Sikhs in the U.S. have caught all sorts of other stupid nonsense, and likely most of it never gets reported.

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U.S. Servicemen Help Prevent Murder Spree

Their bravery cannot be commended enough. They should be invited to the White House. Yesterday these men – 2 U.S. servicemen (one not pictured), a long-time friend, and a British man – sensed trouble on a high-speed Thalys train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris. In Belgium, and unarmed themselves, they reacted decisively:

Screen capture of Twitter.
Screen capture of Twitter.

Reports state one of two servicemen involved (the one not pictured, presumably because he had been sliced with a boxcutter during the melee and was under medical attention) in subduing the assailant is based at a U.S. air force base in Portugal’s Azores.

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Hunted By The Internet

Many years ago, I was lucky enough to glimpse – from a vehicle, a good distance away – a snoozing lion in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. It was a sunny mid-morning, he was partly hidden by high grass, and I recall him being utterly indifferent to all of the attention from the ever-increasing numbers of parked cars and tour vehicles desperate to see him. I also remember the guide saying it was unusual to see one so close to a road at that time of day.

The idea of shooting him? The 19th century is long gone. Frederick Selous and Theodore Roosevelt are dead nearly a hundred years now.

For some, though, a fascination with “big-game hunting” remains:

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

Exile was also once a common form of punishment. The ancient Athenians used it. So did ancient Rome. More recently, Britain and other European countries put “outlaws” on ships and packed them off to Australia or “the New World.”

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“There never will be anything more interesting in America than that Civil War never.”

Following the murders of nine African-American churchgoers in South Carolina, old social media photographs of the white supremacist arrested for it naturally surfaced almost immediately. In one, he’s wearing jacket patches of the apartheid South Africa flag and the white minority government Rhodesia flag. In another, he’s posing on a car displaying the Confederate States of America emblem.

His embrace of the latter has revived arguments inside the U.S. about the post-Civil War tacit understanding under which the United States became one country again:

Screen capture of Vox.
Screen capture of Vox.

That Vox piece is the sort of thing that leads one to wonder if supposedly well-educated members of the media have ever read a serious history book?

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The Cult Of The Naked Tourist

You may have heard about this band of thoughtful world travelers:

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

At least for once there wasn’t an American involved. Nor are they facing long prison terms. That BBC article goes on to explain:

They were jailed for three days, but their sentences were back-dated to reflect time already served.

Evidently snapping naked pics at tourist vistas has become “the thing” lately. Because there always has to be something. The respected British travel writer, the Independent’s Simon Calder, has also pointed out:

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The Lovely Canines In Our Lives

Our friends’ 11 year old female black labrador collapsed the other day. They got her to the vet. But before the vet could do anything, she was gone.

Hearing that sad news, I immediately thought of her as a puppy on a 2005 Isles of Scilly holiday she’d been on with us all. Funny how on hearing such bad news one instantly recalls that sort of thing. I have photos of her on a PC in America during that trip. She was an absolute little star.

Our own 10 year old hound (half English springer spaniel/ half labrador: a “springador“) is now living with my in-laws in London. We’ve moved and traveled so much in recent years, they had him for months at a time and eventually just took him in “semi-permanently.” Although he has been twice to France on holidays with us, that is the extent of his foreign travel; he couldn’t be packed up like cargo flown back and forth repeatedly to America with us: we wouldn’t have ever subjected him to that “treatment.” (I’ve read Air France allows dogs in the cabin, but they can’t be more than 10 kilos. We have thought, hmm, maybe a strict, pre-flight diet? ;-) )

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An American Embarrassment Is “Concluded” Too

Please pardon a very serious post, but I wish to address this in one “summation” and be done with it.

You may know by now that one Amanda Knox of Seattle, Washington, has had a successful appeal in Italy’s highest court. Her murder conviction has been quashed. As no further appeal by the prosecution is permitted, the case is now concluded.

Screen capture of the BBC web site, March 28, 2015.
Screen capture of the BBC web site, March 28, 2015.

So it no longer matters whether she did what Italian investigators claim. The BBC has reported the court has promised to release its reasoning for the decision within 90 days. Given the circus that has prevailed around this, and the roller coaster “justice” the victim’s family has endured, many of us out here are indeed very interested in reading it.

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#JeSuisCharlie In Corsham

Monday, news outlets here in the United Kingdom reported that Wiltshire (our English county) police had “investigated” a newsagent in the small town of Corsham. The shop had sold copies of Charlie Hebdo, and an officer had visited and requested the names of customers who’d bought it. The Guardian explains:

Wiltshire police confirmed that one of their officers visited a newsagent in Corsham, Wiltshire, to ask for the names of four customers who ordered the commemorative “survivors’ issue” of the magazine.

The incident came to light when Anne Keat, 77, who bought the special issue from that newsagent, wrote a letter to the Guardian to warn people that wearing badges emblazoned with je suis Charlie may attract police interest….

We live just down the road from Corsham. We have to drive through it to get to London. It’s a rural, even picturesque, place.

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On Location: Long Island And The Catskills

It’s finally back here in Britain. Last night, we watched the second episode of Revenge for 2014-2015. (We saw the opener last week.) I’ve written about that escapist show before, although not in this context.

The program does accurately reflect aspects of the incredible wealth (often “weekend wealth”) seen on Suffolk County’s “South Fork” – in east end towns such as Southampton and East Hampton. But when I write of “Long Island” in the novels, it’s about the “middle class” island. In one exchange in Passports between Uncle Bill and Joanne (James’s mother), I decided to slip in this reference to the dramatic difference in lifestyles:

As her brother gave her a long look, Joanne added caustically, “You know, we were always imagining Lake Ronkonkoma as the sublime setting.”

“Really? What? Not East Hampton?” he joked.

“Oh, yeh, us Brookhaven billionaires,” she smirked.

Brookhaven is a large town (that would probably be better described as a “township” – encompassing many hamlets and villages) in central Suffolk that runs the width of the island from north shore to south shore.

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