Friday, December 02, 2016

Carnival Princess Cruises Cover Up on High Seas

Here is a reason why we need government oversight and a strong Environmental Protection Agency instead of the erroneous agenda of Trump and the GOP to weaken and dismantle government watchdogs. For eight years, Carnival's Princess cruises have been dumping hazardous pollutants into the oceans. They illegally altered the plumbing in their ships to send oil, etc into grey water tanks that include shower and bath water that can be legally discharged into the ocean. They did so to save costs. And when caught, they said they are sorry for their mistake. It was fraud not mistake.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Seamus Heaney Center, Bellaghy, Northern Ireland

I grew up in Northern Ireland and now I'm giving all lovers of poetry, especially lovers of Seamus Heaney's poetry, a superb reason to visit the town of Bellaghy in County Derry, NI where he grew up if you're planning to visit Ireland. My connection to Bellaghy is that it's the town where I learned to ride a horse--unbeknownst to my father. As a 16-year-old high school student, I worked for Dad one summer when he had a contract to do road construction in Bellaghy and I used to sneak off and take lessons from a girl I'd befriended who practiced gymkhana at her home farm. All went well until Dad came back early from a meeting in Belfast (he'd warned me to show the men a good example by working hard) and caught them, including hsi foreman, watching me jumping on a gray mare very proudly. I got fired until Mum intervened but lost a day's wages as punishment. As an aside, my youngest brother was lucky enough to have been taught by the poet's wife while at primary school, though of course he was far too young to appreciate her connection to the poet. Behold the Seamus Heaney Centre

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The wisdom of author Robert D. Putnam set forth in his book Bowling Alone has never been truer. I read it years ago for a novel I was doing research for a novel I was writing and was astonished. He predicted that intolerance and hate would rise because of our growing disinterest in getting involved in civil institutions, local government, etc. We're too busy on our cell phones and other distracting toys to get involved. Until that changes, nothing will change. https://www.amazon.com/Bowling-Alone-Collapse-American-Community/dp/0743203046/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1478967724&sr=1-1&keywords=bowling+alone

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Sexism and the different generations.

Pretty depressing reading. Donald Trump's rampant sexism is pervasive in every generation--babyboomers, Generation X, Millenials, and Harvard and other colleges are not immune. At least Harvard takes swift action. Will the electorate?

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

On Paying it Forward

Just came across this great 2013 post by Caroline Leavitt in author David Abrams great blog, The Quivering Pen. She is a New York Times bestselling author whose latest novel CRUEL BEAUTIFUL WORLD is attracting critical acclaim and buzz. But more than a successful author who has a penchant for chocolate, Ms Leavitt hasn't forgotten her long climb to the top and goes out of her way via her own blog and social media to encourage other writers on the path. In this feature, she talks about her serpentine course toward success in which she showed determination and grit. It should serve as a beacon of hope to other authors, published and unpublished. Here's the link.

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Rut is on

The bucks are going crazy around the property this morning. They're chasing one another through the woods and clearings. Dried leaves are crackling and being kicked into the air. Antlers are getting caught in briars as they thunder through thickets. One massive buck, the oldest and most senior, is limping as they've probably all ganged up on him. I don't think he'll make it during the looming hunting season. Younger bucks with puny antlers are trying to get in on the act but are ignored. Yes, the rut is on and it's fantastic to watch.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Arlene foster, Northern Ireland's monster

I am incensed and bewildered. This is the same kind of shit the minority population have been putting up with from the DUP under the guise of religion for generations and it is no loner acceptable. Why could't the Church of Ireland (Anglicans) be the largest Protestant group in the province? If they were today, Catholics and Protestants would be governing in unity. The DUP's ranks are filled with nothing but a bunch of paranoids who adopted the belief and religious system of Southern state evangelicals in the US. Their divinity degrees come from Bob Jones and other third-rate US universities, etc. The United States government must refuse Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster permission to enter the US when permission is caught to enter. She is a white Mugabe. She is a bigot and supports hate. Her position against LGBT rights is untenable and her speech is full of vengeance because they dare to seek equality. This woman is quite simply a monster and must be replaced with someone who is enlightened and human.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Brexit and London's financial world response

Court of first instance in Northern Ireland rejects attempt to overturn Brexit vote. Undoubtedly the case will arrive at the UK Supreme Court. But much more interesting is that The City (UK's financial capital in same way Wall St is in US) reports many financial corporations are exploring a move to mainland Europe. This makes sense as the large trading blocs are not interested in individual treaties with standalone countries in todays complex word. Another ominous sign for UK economy is the large uptick in UK corporations approaching the Republic of Ireland governmental authorities inquiring about relocation. The pound is now only worth $1.21. Fascinating times.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The enigmatic giraffe

For years, I've wanted to see a detailed nature program about the giraffe. These enigmatic creatures always seemed to draw the short straw among the larger beasts. They've always been in the background of Nature programs, munching on leaves or spreading their sinewy legs to drink at a lake.Last night PBS's Nature ended the drought when they ran a program about an Australian, Dr. Julian Fennessy, who's spent the past twenty years studying and living among the regal creatures. He wanted to be a stockbroker but decided against it when his father died when Julian was 16 and he decided making money wasn't the be-all-and-end-all of life's meaning. He and his wife have dedicated their lives to working in Namibia with giraffes. And their two kids love it. Through his research, it's now known that there are different sub-species of giraffe including the rare Nubian. Moreover, there are only 94,000 giraffes left in the wild as man is encroaching into their habitat. Here's a link too his foundation.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Congrats to HachetteUK's Tim Hely Hutchinson

Kudos and Congrats to Tim Hely Hutchinson, CEO of HachetteUK Need more people like him in corporate world. http://www.thebookseller.com/news/tim-hely-hutchinson-listed-among-2016s-leading-100-lgbt-executives-416981
Just listened to Lincoln Caplan, visiting law lecturer at Yale law school, talk about the future of the Supreme Court under Clinton or Trump presidency on Marty Moss Coane's Radio Times show on NPR. The current Robert's court is overwhelmingly favorable to corporations and moneyed interests. Something most of us know and dislike. Since Citizen's United case was decided, money is regarded by SCOTUS as free speech. Interestingly, Caplan states there should be a Constitutional Amendment to restrict SCOTUS appointments to 18 years, not life. I agree fully with that. No SCOTUS Justice should have a life time appointment. It's just wrong as well as undemocratic, given SCOTUS is political.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Interview with Sarah-Jane Stratford

I'm returning to guesting occasional interviews with authors.
I'm delighted to introduce Sarah-Jane Stratford who's written the novel Radio Girls about a powerful woman, Hilda Matheson, who helped establish BBC Radio in London.


Thanks for coming on the blog to answer a few questions, Sarah-Jane.

Thank you for inviting me.

RADIO GIRLS is set in London in the late 1920s and early 30s and explores Britain’s venerable BBC. As an American writer, what interested you in exploring something so quintessentially British?

I’m pretty attached to Britain, having gotten a Masters degree from York and grown up watching a lot of British comedy and reading British literature. I’m a history buff, and like my fictional character, Maisie, I like to be where history has lived a long time. But what whetted my appetite for this story was Hilda Matheson, whose own interests and influence are universal.

Also, good stories are good stories, no matter where they come from. I’m always drawn to stories of fearless women breaking down boundaries and seeking to create something, to speak their true voice. Ultimately this is a women’s story and a human story and where it took place was secondary to the draw of the characters and the story.

What made you decide to use an actual female BBC producer to explore the work ethos, bigotry and foibles of the period?
This whole venture would not have happened had I not stumbled upon Hilda Matheson’s name when I was doing research on women in journalism. So there you go, another reason to conduct regular research. Hilda was one of those gifts a writer always hopes to come across but you don’t expect to actually find. Of course, I could have invented her – that is what fiction is meant to do, I realize – but I love writing historical fiction that is grounded in real history. It’s a nice way to bring my two obsessions together. Or possibly it’s my means of assuaging my guilt about never completing my PhD. In any case, there I was, reading about Hilda, mouth hanging open, being more and more astonished that such a woman existed and was mine for the taking. The comedian Sandi Toksvig had cited Hilda in an article on women who ought to be more known and I was determined that was going to happen.

Right up to their last scene together, Maisie and she addressed each other by their last names even though they’d worked for some time together. Was that intentional?
What I love about this observation is that in fact it feels that way, but it’s not the case – they still address each other as “Miss Matheson” and “Miss Musgrave,” which would be standard for the times and women of two different ages who weren’t related. But I’m delighted that the mutual respect and friendship comes through, even with the formality. In fact, there’s only one instance where Hilda uses Maisie’s first name and it’s a moment of high emotion, a rare moment when Hilda forgets herself because she’s overwhelmed. And what’s overwhelmed her is the information that the Equal Franchise Act is being passed, guaranteeing universal suffrage. This was one of my favorite sequences to write, because there was a lot of history to think about. So many women who had worked for this and never got to see it – never even got to see the suffrage granted to a select group of women in 1918. Hilda, a staunch progressive, must have savored this moment. It was exhilarating to write her emotion here and, hopefully, convey the weight of the history behind it.

I’ve read you’re keen to see an historical blue plaque erected at her former home to acknowledge her life and work. How’s that going?
We shall see! “Onwards and upwards,” as I have Hilda say. She only finally got her own Wikipedia page! And it doesn’t mention Radio Girls, not that I noticed (*cough*). I’m really hoping that as people get to know about her, they’ll only want to know more. Because really, how could it be otherwise? She was extraordinary – and revolutionary.

Beanie’s a thoroughly aristocratic English character who’s clever, witty and great fun. One can easily see she was a bit of a rebel at her school. But she realizes she must put duty to family before her work? How did you set about developing her so beautifully as a memorable secondary character?
Thank you! She certainly was a fun character to write. I love characters who have no filter and just speak their mind. And while I always want minor characters to be fully realized themselves, it was particularly paramount in this story that all the women be in full voice. I wanted to represent someone like Beanie, who would be in a way more radical than some of the other women in going out to work, because while her comforts were greater, she still had a great many conflicts to contend with and her class privilege in many ways curtailed her personal freedom.

You lived for a time in London? How did that help your research affect the novel’s voice?
I’m generally of the mind that you don’t have to visit a place to set a work there because again, so long as you are writing truthfully about humans, you’re being authentic. Obviously, it depends, but I never think it’s wholly necessary. That said, having spent time in London and especially walking down Hilda’s street and through the BBC’s original home definitely helped me step into Maisie’s shoes and, hopefully, make her wanderings that much more real. Beyond the physical space, though, it was the research into the programming and day-to-day life of the BBC and the people who comprised it that really brought the book to life. I was extremely fortunate in that Hilda was a prolific letter writer and wrote to Vita Sackville-West constantly during their 2-year relationship (who says long-distance relationships don’t have advantages?) and that the letters are housed in the Bienecke Library at Yale, so I was able to access them with ease and get a strong sense of Hilda’s voice and inner life. Mostly, though, it was thinking about the characters and their world that made it all real.

What inspired you to become a writer?
Hm. Insanity?

What’s next for you?
I’m in that myopic stage of feeling my way into my next book. Also, I’m available for work. At quite reasonable rates. Sometimes just for food.

You can find out more about Sarah-Jane here


















Interview with Sarah-Jane Stratford

I'm returning to guesting occasional interviews with authors.
I'm delighted to introduce Sarah-Jane Stratford who's written the novel Radio Girls about a powerful woman, Hilda Matheson, who helped establish BBC Radio in London.


Thanks for coming on the blog to answer a few questions, Sarah-Jane.

Thank you for inviting me.

RADIO GIRLS is set in London in the late 1920s and early 30s and explores Britain’s venerable BBC. As an American writer, what interested you in exploring something so quintessentially British?

I’m pretty attached to Britain, having gotten a Masters degree from York and grown up watching a lot of British comedy and reading British literature. I’m a history buff, and like my fictional character, Maisie, I like to be where history has lived a long time. But what whetted my appetite for this story was Hilda Matheson, whose own interests and influence are universal.

Also, good stories are good stories, no matter where they come from. I’m always drawn to stories of fearless women breaking down boundaries and seeking to create something, to speak their true voice. Ultimately this is a women’s story and a human story and where it took place was secondary to the draw of the characters and the story.

What made you decide to use an actual female BBC producer to explore the work ethos, bigotry and foibles of the period?
This whole venture would not have happened had I not stumbled upon Hilda Matheson’s name when I was doing research on women in journalism. So there you go, another reason to conduct regular research. Hilda was one of those gifts a writer always hopes to come across but you don’t expect to actually find. Of course, I could have invented her – that is what fiction is meant to do, I realize – but I love writing historical fiction that is grounded in real history. It’s a nice way to bring my two obsessions together. Or possibly it’s my means of assuaging my guilt about never completing my PhD. In any case, there I was, reading about Hilda, mouth hanging open, being more and more astonished that such a woman existed and was mine for the taking. The comedian Sandi Toksvig had cited Hilda in an article on women who ought to be more known and I was determined that was going to happen.

Right up to their last scene together, Maisie and she addressed each other by their last names even though they’d worked for some time together. Was that intentional?
What I love about this observation is that in fact it feels that way, but it’s not the case – they still address each other as “Miss Matheson” and “Miss Musgrave,” which would be standard for the times and women of two different ages who weren’t related. But I’m delighted that the mutual respect and friendship comes through, even with the formality. In fact, there’s only one instance where Hilda uses Maisie’s first name and it’s a moment of high emotion, a rare moment when Hilda forgets herself because she’s overwhelmed. And what’s overwhelmed her is the information that the Equal Franchise Act is being passed, guaranteeing universal suffrage. This was one of my favorite sequences to write, because there was a lot of history to think about. So many women who had worked for this and never got to see it – never even got to see the suffrage granted to a select group of women in 1918. Hilda, a staunch progressive, must have savored this moment. It was exhilarating to write her emotion here and, hopefully, convey the weight of the history behind it.

I’ve read you’re keen to see an historical blue plaque erected at her former home to acknowledge her life and work. How’s that going?
We shall see! “Onwards and upwards,” as I have Hilda say. She only finally got her own Wikipedia page! And it doesn’t mention Radio Girls, not that I noticed (*cough*). I’m really hoping that as people get to know about her, they’ll only want to know more. Because really, how could it be otherwise? She was extraordinary – and revolutionary.

Beanie’s a thoroughly aristocratic English character who’s clever, witty and great fun. One can easily see she was a bit of a rebel at her school. But she realizes she must put duty to family before her work? How did you set about developing her so beautifully as a memorable secondary character?
Thank you! She certainly was a fun character to write. I love characters who have no filter and just speak their mind. And while I always want minor characters to be fully realized themselves, it was particularly paramount in this story that all the women be in full voice. I wanted to represent someone like Beanie, who would be in a way more radical than some of the other women in going out to work, because while her comforts were greater, she still had a great many conflicts to contend with and her class privilege in many ways curtailed her personal freedom.

You lived for a time in London? How did that help your research affect the novel’s voice?
I’m generally of the mind that you don’t have to visit a place to set a work there because again, so long as you are writing truthfully about humans, you’re being authentic. Obviously, it depends, but I never think it’s wholly necessary. That said, having spent time in London and especially walking down Hilda’s street and through the BBC’s original home definitely helped me step into Maisie’s shoes and, hopefully, make her wanderings that much more real. Beyond the physical space, though, it was the research into the programming and day-to-day life of the BBC and the people who comprised it that really brought the book to life. I was extremely fortunate in that Hilda was a prolific letter writer and wrote to Vita Sackville-West constantly during their 2-year relationship (who says long-distance relationships don’t have advantages?) and that the letters are housed in the Bienecke Library at Yale, so I was able to access them with ease and get a strong sense of Hilda’s voice and inner life. Mostly, though, it was thinking about the characters and their world that made it all real.

What inspired you to become a writer?
Hm. Insanity?

What’s next for you?
I’m in that myopic stage of feeling my way into my next book. Also, I’m available for work. At quite reasonable rates. Sometimes just for food.

You can find out more about Sarah-Jane here


















Thursday, October 20, 2016

Constructing a new website

Busy developing a website and finding it exhausting and difficult. However, surprisingly satisfying when I manage to do things and see it in 'Preview mode.'

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Exciting Development

I will be reactivating this blog and am in the process of updating the information. Several years ago, I joined Facebook and Twitter and it was easier to post my goings on. However, new opportunities have arisen that compliment my writing career which I will announce next week. Stay tuned.