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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

Cambodia and Vietnam

 

 

 In April 2010 we travelled to the previous French territories of Cambodia and Vietnam: ‘French Indochina’, as they had been called when I started school; until 1954. Since then many things have changed.  But of course, this has been a region of change for tens of thousands of years. Our trip ‘filled in’ areas of the map between our previous trips to India and China and did not disappoint.  There is certainly a sense in which Indochina is a blend of China and India; with differences tangential to both. Both have recovered from recent conflicts of which there is still evidence everywhere, like the smell of gunpowder after fireworks.

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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

A modern fairytale - in a Parallel Universe

 

I've dusted off this little satirical parable that I wrote in response to the The Garnaut Climate Change Review (2008).  It's not entirely fair but then satire never is.

 


 

 

In a parallel universe, in 1920† Sidney, the place where Sydney is in ours, had need of a harbour crossing.

An engineer, Dr Roadfield, was engaged to look at the practicalities; including the geology and geography and required property resumptions, in the context of contemporary technical options. 

After considering the options he reported that most advanced countries solve the harbour crossing problem with a bridge.  He proposed that they make the decision to have a bridge; call for tenders for an engineering design; raise the finance; and build it.  We'll call it the 'Sidney Harbour Bridge' he said; then less modestly: 'and the new crossing will be called the Roadfield Highway'. 

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