Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I'm so far behind on posting material it's ridiculous. Now autumn has arrived and I have a summer's worth of adventures to write about. I'll get to them all in due course. First, I'm pleased to say that my renal function has now normalised. Nothing to be alarmed out, it's just that on a recent trip to The Orient (you'll have to wait a day or so for the details) a combination of the temperature, humidity and salty food caused my body to modify the way aqueous fluids were excreted. Despite all my efforts, renal function slowed right down and I was grateful for having a good deodorant! Now I'm back in Seattle, my kidneys have started to do their job again. They were stimulated by a few bottles of this I bought at Narita airport:
Japanese sports/electrolyte drink that, despite its unappealing name, is infinitely better than Gatorade

And then of course a few units of my favourite beer helped things along:
Now why would I like something with a name like this...?

Problem sorted!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Postcards from the Road. 2.

Spotted on the way to a wedding (the bridegroom's name was "Love")

We wish the happy couple a peaceful and stable life together...!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

About Time

Alan M. Turing, National Portrait Gallery, London.

I returned from another trip yesterday and to my amazement I found this email in my scarily overloaded inbox:

Thank you for signing this petition. The Prime Minister has written a response. Please read below.

Prime Minister: 2009 has been a year of deep reflection – a chance for Britain, as a nation, to commemorate the profound debts we owe to those who came before. A unique combination of anniversaries and events have stirred in us that sense of pride and gratitude which characterise the British experience. Earlier this year I stood with Presidents Sarkozy and Obama to honour the service and the sacrifice of the heroes who stormed the beaches
of Normandy 65 years ago. And just last week, we marked the 70 years which have passed since the British government declared its willingness to take up arms against Fascism and declared the outbreak of World War Two. So I am both pleased and proud that, thanks to a coalition of computer scientists, historians and LGBT activists, we have this year a chance to mark and celebrate another contribution to Britain’s fight against the darkness of
dictatorship; that of code-breaker Alan Turing.

Turing was a quite brilliant mathematician, most famous for his work on breaking the German Enigma codes. It is no exaggeration to say that, without his outstanding contribution, the history of World War Two could well have been very different. He truly was one of those individuals we can point to whose unique contribution helped to turn the tide of war. The debt
of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely. In 1952, he was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ – in effect, tried for being gay. His sentence – and he was faced with the miserable choice of this or prison - was chemical castration by a series of injections of female hormones. He took his own life just two years later.

Thousands of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition of the appalling way he was treated. While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can't put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him. Alan and
the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted as he was convicted under homophobic laws were treated terribly. Over the years millions more lived in fear of conviction.

I am proud that those days are gone and that in the last 12 years this government has done so much to make life fairer and more equal for our LGBT community. This recognition of Alan’s status as one of Britain’s most famous victims of homophobia is another step towards equality and long overdue.

But even more than that, Alan deserves recognition for his contribution to humankind. For those of us born after 1945, into a Europe which is united, democratic and at peace, it is hard to imagine that our continent was once the theatre of mankind’s darkest hour. It is difficult to believe that in living memory, people could become so consumed by hate – by anti-Semitism, by homophobia, by xenophobia and other murderous prejudices – that the gas chambers and crematoria became a piece of the European landscape as surely as the galleries and universities and concert halls which had marked out the European civilisation for hundreds of years. It is thanks to men and women who were totally committed to fighting fascism, people like Alan Turing, that the horrors of the Holocaust and of total war are part of Europe’s history and not Europe’s present.

So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work I am very proud to say: we’re sorry, you deserved so much better.

Gordon Brown

Way to go, Gordon! I'd signed the Turing petition several weeks ago and forgotten about it. And news of the UK Government's contrition hadn't reached me while I was in foreign parts. While some would have liked the apology to go further, it's a start at least. Furthermore I'm astonished that the official response included writing to the individual petitioners who must have numbered in the tens if not hundreds of thousands. Nice work.