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When we talked of going to Hawaii for a couple of weeks in February 2018 several of our friends enthusiastically recommended it. To many of them it's a nice place to go on holidays - a little further to go than Bali but with a nicer climate, better beaches and better shopping - with bargains to be had at the designer outlets.

 


Waikiki

 

To nearly one and a half million racially diverse Hawaiians it's home.

 

 


Downtown Hilo

 

To other Americans it's the newest State, the only one thousands of miles from the North American Continent, and the one that's more exotic than Florida.

To some it's historically significant - the site of America's single greatest military defeat, unless you count Vietnam or perhaps Afghanistan - and it all took place on a single day: "a date which will live in infamy".

Here, on my father's 25th birthday, the course of world events took a dramatic new direction.  He was not yet married to my mother.  So to me it's one of those places where history most clearly influenced the conditions necessary for my birth and thus the birth of my children too. 

But why was the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbour on December 7 1941?  And why is that fleet no longer there?

That story goes back to the arrival of Captain James Cook at Kealakakua Bay, on the west coast of the island of Hawaii, on January 16 1779, and the outcomes that momentous event triggered for inhabitants of the newly discovered Sandwich Islands as more and more strangers arrived.

I found myself fascinated by the youngest US State's short but turbulent history. Statehood is one of the more recent events that I remember clearly.  But you might like to skip these sections if these and other improbable events leading to your birth are of no interest.

 

 

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Travel

Istanbul

 

 

Or coming down to earth...

 

When I was a boy, Turkey was mysterious and exotic place to me. They were not Christians there; they ate strange food; and wore strange clothes. There was something called a ‘bazaar’ where white women were kidnapped and sold into white slavery. Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, or was it Errol Flynn, got into all sorts of trouble there with blood thirsty men with curved swords. There was a song on the radio that reminded me over and over again that ‘It’s Istanbul not Constantinople Now’, sung by The Four Lads, possibly the first ‘boy band’.

 

Read more: Istanbul

Fiction, Recollections & News

On Point Counter Point

 

 

 

 

Recently I've been re-reading Point Counter Point by Aldus Huxley. 

Many commentators call it his masterpiece. Modern Library lists it as number 44 on its list of the 100 best 20th century novels in English yet there it ranks well below Brave New World (that's 5th), also by  Aldus Huxley. 

The book was an experimental novel and consists of a series of conversations, some internal to a character, the character's thoughts, in which a proposition is put and then a counterargument is presented, reflecting a musical contrapuntal motif.

Among his opposed characters are nihilists, communists, rationalists, social butterflies, transcendentalists, and the leader of the British Freemen (fascists cum Brexiteers, as we would now describe them).

Taken as a whole, it's an extended debate on 'the meaning of life'. And at one point, in my young-adult life, Point Counter Point was very influential.

Read more: On Point Counter Point

Opinions and Philosophy

Copyright - Greg Ham

 

 

I've just been reading the news (click here or on the picture below) that Greg Ham of Men at Work has died; possibly by suicide.

Read more: Copyright - Greg Ham

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