And Where The Heck Is That Accent From Exactly?

At Swiss border control at Geneva Airport yesterday, I ended up within earshot of a “middle aged” American woman as I heard her explaining herself to the border agent. Apparently he had questioned her as to why she was in Switzerland. She stumbled a bit over words as she replied that she was here for a week’s vacation and lived in London.

Before she even said “London,” I’d had a feeling that was her “home.” For years I’ve heard her “accent” on most Americans long-resident here. The exception seems to be if they hail from the Deep South: that American accent seems to take a little longer to “Anglicize.”

Corner of my UK driving licence. [Photo by me, 2016.]
Corner of my UK driving licence. [Photo by me, 2016.]

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Geography Questions (With No Incorrect Answers)

Good morning! A group participation post. Don’t you just hate those?

Don’t groan, I won’t be going around “the room” looking to each of you individually, putting you on the spot. No need to avert your eyes or slide down in your chair; there are no wrong answers to these two simple questions. You may share your replies in the comments if you wish – which would seem obvious, I suppose, given naturally I can’t compel you to answer, of course. ;-)

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How “Powerful” Is Your Passport?

This is an interesting web site, and it got me thinking. It’s called the “Passport Index.” It ranks the world’s passports by “power”:

Screen Capture of Passport Index.
Screen Capture of Passport Index.

The “most powerful” are not too surprising. That ranking is due to how many countries you can visit as a tourist on that passport without needing to obtain a visa. In the case of the U.K. and the U.S., their passport holders (as of today) may enter 147 countries without needing to apply for a visa.

The “least powerful?” South Sudan’s. A South Sudanese passport will get you entry into only 28 countries (again, as of today) without a visa.

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Some Risk Death Seeking What Others “Joke” About

When I first read a few days ago about what she had “joked” about, I knew immediately she would have to walk back the comments. And she did:

Screen capture of the Guardian.
Screen capture of the Guardian.

That Guardian piece also notes:

She joked that British people tend to look down on Americans….

I find it really irritating that she “joked” about that on U.S. national TV’s Jimmy Kimmel, because millions of Americans will take what she says as “lightheartedly” accurate. True, no one ever knows what people say about you behind your back. However, I can say that I have not experienced a sense of being “looked down on” by British people.

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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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“May I see your passport, please?”

The tens of thousands of people tragically trying to reach Europe from North Africa and Syria has – I’m sure you know – been much in the news in recent days. I am also sure you have by now seen “The Picture” (of the Syrian 3 year old who drowned just off Turkey and washed up on the beach). So this CNN piece from a couple of weeks ago is sadly timely:

Italian photographer Valerio Vincenzo has spent the last eight years photographing the EU’s internal boundaries: that’s 26 countries and 16,500 kilometers of borders that can be freely crossed.

His serene images of abandoned customs houses and quiet beaches and woods raise questions about the authenticity of geographical boundaries and national identities.

His project “Borderline, the Frontiers of Peace” will be exhibited at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris in September….

The photos shown are worth seeing. He’s an excellent photographer:

Screen capture of CNN.
Screen capture of CNN.

But he’s NOT an historian. He tells CNN:

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What Would Abraham Lincoln Say?

The U.S and Canada are said to be the only two major developed countries to grant automatic citizenship to the offspring of foreign nationals whose parents are in the countries without legal authorization. Regarding the U.S., Rasmussen polling noted on August 19:

Fifty-four percent (54%) of voters disagree with the current federal policy that says a child born to an illegal immigrant here is automatically a U.S. citizen….

It is not just “federal policy.” It is a right that stems from nearly 120 years of legal practice based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment. That amendment was ratified in the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865).

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a globe.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a globe.

The Washington Post tells us as well:

Donald Trump’s call for doing away with birthright citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants has once again focused media attention on the idea and led some of his GOP rivals to signal openness to it….

The pressures of an ongoing, mass immigration, particularly from Mexico and Central America – and especially foreign nationals entering and staying without official permission and having U.S. citizen children – has become a contentious issue among many Americans. It is certainly driving this new debate on birthright citizenship.

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What’s Going On At The Channel Tunnel

The Channel Tunnel is a remarkable engineering feat. I’ve been through it several times. I couldn’t resist writing about it – and did in Frontiers:

Excerpt from "Frontiers," on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.
Excerpt from “Frontiers,” on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.

In recent weeks, there has been a great deal of media reporting about “migrants” (I use that word purely for shorthand description) from outside of the European Union (E.U.) who have been attempting (mostly nightly) to breach the tunnel entrance area’s security fence in France. They do so because they are usually attempting to stow aboard coaches or trucks – usually 18 wheelers, or lorries as the British say – that are waiting to be loaded onto the vehicle-carrying shuttle train to be transported to Britain. If they can somehow hide in one, they can get into Britain.

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Getting To Know Each Other

I got some proofing done over the weekend as hoped, but didn’t get close to finishing the manuscript. I discovered with the first two novels that proofing always takes longer than I think it will. It seems Distances will follow the same path.

As I wrote yesterday, I use the iPad to “read” the book aloud and I follow wearing my headphones. To do so, I upload a .pdf of the novel onto the Kindle app. While I’m listening, as well as reading along myself, I mark up necessary corrections too.

Listening to the book being read helped me catch – just yesterday – at least half a dozen overlooked words, such as “the,” “an,” and “but”; they are the sort of words you may accidentally omit when writing, but which your eye doesn’t necessarily spot as missing when you proofread. Ah, but you definitely HEAR when they are missing: their absence is jarring to the ear.

It’s a new writing universe.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of people in front of a store.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of people in front of a store.

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Sneak Peek: Our Grandparents

If you are partly “Italian-American” (as I am), and that ancestry stems from you being a product of immigrants who arrived in the U.S. between about 1870-1914 (as I am), it’s likely you grew up with a complicated relationship with Italy.

My maternal great-grandparents were all Italian immigrants. My grandparents were born in the U.S. Some in my mother’s U.S.-born generation were reared to be utterly indifferent to Italy.

Free Stock Photo: Italian flag in blue sky.
Free Stock Photo: Italian flag in blue sky.

Perhaps World War II had an impact. Benito Mussolini had been a difficult, divisive subject in families like mine pre-war. However, after he joined the war in 1940, and particularly after he declared war on the U.S. in late 1941, he became America’s enemy who needed to be smashed and that was that.

Yesterday I realized it has now been over a month since I’ve shared any of the Distances rough draft here. I worked more on this part yesterday also, and thought as I finished that it merited a “sneak peek.” It all “happens” in “James’s” mind shortly after he has landed in Italy for the first time and is being chauffeured to a Rome hotel along with three rather familiar women.

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