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But history has some downsides.  Without it we would approach everyone as a probable equal and, possibly with some caution, as a potential friend, without preconceptions; like an open-minded fool. It is history that confers such attributes as ethnicity, religion, and social status.  It is also the origin of our fear of strangers; and of known enemies.

History is also the basis of special pleading or treatment on the grounds of the past: some previous injury justifying current vendetta; or the converse, special privilege, often based on some claimed inherited status.  

In an ideal world we would disregard the history that precedes a birth.  All children would be given an unbiased start in life, through equitable education, nutrition, and parenting; to live their lives according to their ability, irrespective of historically imposed stereotypes or privilege or disadvantage. 

Like many if not all ideals this is obviously unattainable in the real world. New children are born all the time and the concepts of 'property' and 'truth', among others, are bound up with the past. But moving society in the direction of this ideal; and opposing attempts to move it in the opposite direction; seems to me to be a good principle.





January 2011



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USA - middle bits






In September and October 2017 Wendy and I took another trip to the United States where we wanted to see some of the 'middle bits'.  Travel notes from earlier visits to the East coast and West Coast can also be found on this website.

For over six weeks we travelled through a dozen states and stayed for a night or more in 20 different cities, towns or locations. This involved six domestic flights for the longer legs; five car hires and many thousands of miles of driving on America's excellent National Highways and in between on many not so excellent local roads and streets.

We had decided to start in Chicago and 'head on down south' to New Orleans via: Tennessee; Georgia; Louisiana; and South Carolina. From there we would head west to: Texas; New Mexico; Arizona; Utah and Nevada; then to Los Angeles and home.  That's only a dozen states - so there are still lots of 'middle bits' left to be seen.

During the trip, disaster, in the form of three hurricanes and a mass shooting, seemed to precede us by a couple of days.

The United States is a fascinating country that has so much history, culture and language in common with us that it's extremely accessible. So these notes have turned out to be long and could easily have been much longer.

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Fiction, Recollections & News

My Mother's Family



All my ancestors are now dead.  I'm an orphan. So for this history I've had to rely on my recollections a small pile of documents left by my mother. These include short biographies of several of her relatives. Following the female line; these recollections briefly span the two world wars; to the present.

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Opinions and Philosophy

The reputation of nuclear power



One night of at the end of March in 1979 we went to a party in Queens.  Brenda, my first wife, is an artist and was painting and studying in New York.  Our friends included many of the younger artists working in New York at the time.  That day it had just been announced that there was a possible meltdown at a nuclear reactor at a place called a Three Mile Island , near Harrisburg Pennsylvania. 

I was amazed that some people at the party were excitedly imagining that the scenario in the just released film ‘The China Syndrome’  was about to be realised; and thousands of people would be killed. 

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