As I noted a few entries ago, seeing my parents last week felt great. After so much time apart, at last being able to cuddle Mum and Dad, after such a turbulent year, was long overdue. Today is dad’s birthday. Believe it or not, I (just about) remembered this time. I got dad a book, which I gave to him when he visited last week. I really hope, though, that it won’t be too long before we can meet again, hopefully this time involving one of mum’s excellent meals. After all, we can’t let dad hog all his birthday cake to himself, can we?

A sensible American discussing gun control

If you need any reassurance that not all Americans are total nutters when it comes to the issue of guns and gun control, just check this video out. Frankly, it’s refreshing to see an American talking coherently and rationally on the subject. I sometimes get the impression that firearm ownership is so ingrained in American culture that questioning it is seen as unpatriotic. It’s thus good to see an American state the obvious truth that the only way to reduce the number of gun related deaths is to reduce the availability of guns, and that not owning a gun does not mean you are any less ‘free’.

The Issue we Avoid

You may be expecting me, as a social and political commentator, to say something about what is currently unfolding in Israel. It really is a frightening situation there which seems to be worsening by the hour. The problem is, that is a subject I have learned over the years to steer well clear of. For starters, it is far too complex a situation for me to ever do justice – how could anyone say anything meaningful about it in a couple of hundred words? The bigger problem is, though, as soon as anyone tries to criticise Israel, you risk being accused of antisemitism. No matter how fair or objective you try to be, as soon as you point out the heavy handedness of the Israeli military or the illegality of their settlers, you open yourself up to being accused of antisemitism. The result is that, over the years, people like me have learned to avoid the subject altogether, not wanting to offend anyone or invite trouble. Indeed, even in pointing this out I’m worried I’ll invite criticism, as someone might say it paints Israel in a bad light.

Yet surely the only way we are ever going to be able to resolve problems like this is if we articulate them: we must not shy away from such issues for fear of offending others. Nor can we let Israel and it’s advocates hide behind this, accusing anyone who speaks out against them of being antisemitic; otherwise they will be allowed to get away with whatever they like. It is not antisemitic to point out that Palestinian men, women and children are being killed, or treated as second class citizens in their own country; yet as soon as anyone tries to point this out, they are accused of being antisemitic, resulting in everyone turning a blind eye to what is happening. I have nothing whatsoever against Jewish people, most of whom will probably be just as appalled by what is happening in Israel as anyone else. And of course, it goes almost without saying that what is happening in Israel should not be used as some kind of perverse excuse for discrimination against Jewish people. Yet surely what the Israeli government is currently doing to the Palestinians is against international law, with some likening it to apartheid. We must not be afraid to state that, or the situation will only continue.

The Inner Light

In the weekly family Skype chat this morning, my brother Mark mentioned that he has been introducing my niece and nephew to Star Trek, and the renowned episode The Inner Light cropped up. Appropriately enough, I just came across this IOS article about that episode and it’s making. Apparently the episode stands out, not just in relation to Star Trek but generally, as an incredible piece of television. Even thirty years after it first aired, it is remembered for it’s pathos. It was pretty much the first episode of TNG where we were shown what an incredible actor Patrick Stewart could be. As the article points out, from then on future incarnations of Star Trek attempted to come up with their own equivalent of The Inner Light, such as DS9’s Hard Time, but for my money could never quite match it for it’s haunting, timeless quality. I suspect at least part of the reason for that is because only The Inner Light has this theme.

Overdue Cuddles

My parents paid me a visit yesterday, just for a couple of hours at lunchtime. It was great to see them, as we hadn’t met in person like that for about a year. I was in two minds about noting it on here, but thinking about it in the context of the past year, it was highly significant: perhaps it was a sign that we have almost come out the other end of this long, dark tunnel. More to the point though, I must say that getting to cuddle mum and dad yesterday felt astonishingly good. My parents have always been highly supportive of me and I’m still very close to them, so getting to hug them at last, after so many months of them just appearing at the end of a computer screen, was simply blissful. It hopefully won’t be too long until I see them again, but for now, the memory of those cuddles yesterday will keep me going.

Have I Started a (spelling) Fashion?

Yesterday on Facebook, for the first time ever, I noticed someone other than myself spelling a certain Tory Prime Minister’s name CaMoron. I was shocked. Of course, I’ve been spelling his name that way on here since he came to prominence over fifteen years ago, but that was the first time ever that I noticed someone else using that spelling. I can’t help wondering whether I have started something. I suppose it could just have been a coincidence, and somebody else might have thought it up independently of me; but if that spelling now takes off as a fashion, or if I see anyone else using it, I have every intention to take all the credit.

DVD Solutions

It’s time for me to ‘fess up to something which I feel a little embarrassed about. When my parents helped me buy a new iMac a couple of months ago, I assumed it would have a DVD player. All my previous Imacs had one inbuilt, so I naturally took it for granted that my new one would be no different. When it arrived, however, I was shocked to find it had no CD or DVD slot: you obviously needed to buy one separately. That wouldn’t have been a problem, only it would have meant telling Mum and Dad, who aren’t very pro-apple already. I don’t use a credit card these days for security reasons, so anything I need to buy online I ask my parents for. Telling my parents, though, would just have confirmed their view that Apple were money-grabbing tossers.

The situation was fine for a while; I mainly stream films from sites like Netflix these days anyway. Yet my collection of DVDs was sitting by my desk, staring at me. I’d assumed that an external drive would cost hundreds, putting me in a bit of a predicament. What should I do: admit my mistake to my parents, or leave my DVD collection, including my James Bond and Lord Of The Rings box sets, to collect dust?

Yesterday, though, I was up in Stratford, and largely on a whim I decided to visit the Apple shop there to ask the price of a DVD drive. As I say, I expected it to cost a silly amount, but to my surprise it was quite reasonable. It was time to put this silly situation to bed, and, making a short trip to a nearby branch of my building society, shortly after I was taking a new DVD drive home with me. I would at last be able to watch my precious DVDs again, without my parents having to know anything about it.

Serkan put the first disk in this morning, and it works beautifully. I realise how silly all this might sound – a 38 year old having to ask his parents to buy stuff for him, and then being too embarrassed to do so. It’s not as if they wouldn’t have bought it, only I would have had to admit my new computer didn’t have a DVD drive. You have to agree, a computer without a DVD player as standard these days is pretty silly. While I realise a blog entry about going to buy a DVD drive is pretty lame when you think about it, I’m pleased to have found a solution without having to tell Mum and Dad. More to the point, I’m happy that I can watch my DVDs again.