March, 2003, LOS ANGELES - Those who know me know that I am an inconvertible Anglophile - or more broadly, a Britanophile, which includes my affection for Scotland and Wales as well. I love things British. My car is British. My wardrobe, to a good extent, is British. I even love the food in London - I think British food has shaken its prevailing perception as indigestible and become quite wonderful. I try to get to Britain for holidays as often as I can. I love things British.
Only a month since I was last there on holiday, I was back in England again in February. This quick return was prompted by a most welcome invitation by convention organizer Anne Lindup to attend the Starfleet Ball in Bournemouth on the south coast of England. What a happy combination this was - a Star Trek convention in England! And what a symbolically appropriate place Bournemouth was, because it could be said that it was in this English seaside town, that our high tech world got its start. The very first wireless exchange took place from Bournemouth between the inventor, Guglielmo Marconi talking to physicist Lord Kelvin on the Isle of Wight in 1898. A bit more than a century later, Star Trek fans, armed with their 21st century wireless communication device -- the cell phone -- gathered in Bournemouth for a weekend of celebration, talks and fantasizing about the science wonders yet to come. The only damper to a super weekend was that I had caught an awful cold with a nagging cough that just wouldn't quit. I felt miserable.
It was my luck that Marina Sirtis was also a guest at the convention. She is an uncanny healer. She told me at the hotel of her secret curative - what she called "Dr. Footlights." "Get in front of the warm light of the footlights," she said, "and that miserable feeling will disappear. You'll be cured." She was so right. The minute I stepped before those bright lights to be embraced by the thunderous welcome of the fans, that wretched feeling miraculously faded. I was functional again. It was great to be with long-time fans that had now become friends. I enjoyed the talks and especially - the highlight of the convention - the Starfleet Ball itself. Everyone was dressed to celebrate. There were people clad as Starfleet officers, alien ambassadors, and other imaginative beings. The men in drag looked "divine" but rather conventionally 20th century. Only my rude coughing interrupted occasionally to remind me that I was sick. But the combination of the Starfleet Ball and "Dr. Footlights" made for a potent curative tonic.
After the convention, I went on into London for a week of theater. It was like reliving history to see the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company's production of Gilbert and Sullivan's "H.M.S. Pinafore" at the Savoy Theater. This theater and Gilbert and Sullivan are inextricably linked in theater history. Richard D'Oyly Carte, presenter of Gilbert and Sullivan's works, built the Savoy Theater in 1881 to present his productions of their operettas. I myself also have a personal history with "H.M.S. Pinafore." I had played the Captain of the Pinafore in college, a fact known by some. Thus, I was sternly cautioned to restrain myself from singing along with the performers. I did as ordered - but I manage to sing along mentally. It was a nostalgic evening of familiar tunes performed sparklingly - both on stage as well as in my mind.
It was a week of eclectic theater going that ranged from classic American comedy, "Arsenic and Old Lace," starring Michael Richards from the TV series, "Seinfeld," to an autobiographical musical by Boy George titled, "Taboo," to Shakespeare's "Tempest" with a towering performance by Derek Jacobi as Prospero. I even included an evening at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden with Verdi's "Falstaff." A very special evening was a hilarious American comedy, "Triple Espresso," produced by my friend Dennis Babcock. He had designated one night "George Takei Night at Triple Espresso" and all my friends were admitted at half price. It was wonderful to share an evening of theater together with long-time friends as well as new fans. Freda and Colin Boydell, dedicated editors of my fan club newsletter, who live down in Cornwall at the very southwestern tip of England, astounded me with their fantastic support. They took a bus all the way into London just to see the show with us and then went back right after a post theater drink in the theater bar with us to make that same long journey back to Cornwall through the night. They had made a similar trip all the way up to Edinburgh, Scotland, when I was performing there in a play titled "Undertow." They are wonderful, devoted friends and I very much appreciate their support.
The week was capped by the opportunity to attend the Olivier Awards Show at the Lyceum Theater. This is the award show named for the great actor Sir Laurence Olivier to recognize outstanding achievements in British theater. One of the many presenters was the royalty of theater herself, Dame Judi Dench. In her inimitable way, she was, at once, elegant and natural. After the show, we visited the nearby St. Paul's Church in Covent Garden, traditionally known as the "actors' church." That reputation was certainly proved true when we spotted Judi Dench come in alone and quietly slip into a pew. She prayed calmly and undisturbed. We left silently. It was a rare and touching moment.
As much as I am an Anglophile, I am an even prouder Californian and more specifically, an Angeleno. I am a native of Los Angeles and I love my hometown. I love its dynamism, its diversity, and our incomparable climate. My English cold quickly disappeared once I got home. The welcoming sunshine was glorious. But, therein lies our drawback as well. Los Angeles is built on land that is a semi-arid desert. The one essential that makes the existence of this great metropolis, the second city of America, possible is water brought in from afar. On the last weekend of the month, I went on a journey that gave me a deeper appreciation for what we take for granted - a glass of water.
A colleague on a board on which I sit, Phil Pace, is the chairman of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provides the water for our sun parched metropolitan area. Phil invited me, together with a busload of dignitaries, on a weekend tour of the Colorado River Aqueduct system, which supplies a large portion of the water for southern California. It was an awe-inspiring experience.
We traveled all day across the southern California desert to Lake Havasu straddling the California-Arizona border. Created by Parker Dam on the Colorado River, the lake was pristine and turquoise blue. The calm water lake had transformed the red, mud-roiled water of the Colorado River. Indeed, the name of the lake, Havasu, is the Navaho Indian word for "blue water." This vast body of water is one of three sources of life for southern Californians. That night, we stayed at the lodge in a small nearby camp for the maintenance workers.
The next morning, we were taken to a great concrete building by the dam that housed the pump station. We had explained to us that the water of the lake was pumped up by the sheer might of the centrifugal force created by the row of giant impellers before us. The water was pushed up the rugged mountainside through massive pipes to a high altitude reservoir at Copper Basin. We were then driven up a winding mountain road to that facility. The reservoir was a vast basin but the water level was at about half capacity. We were visiting the aqueduct system at an historic moment. A massive inspection and repair work on the aqueduct - something that had not been done in five decades - was taking place at a cost of $8.2 million. The aqueduct and the reservoir system had been shut down and drained. Yet, the people served by the system were oblivious of this program because a new reserve reservoir, Diamond Valley Lake, was being tapped to supplement the system. It was from this high mountain reservoir at Copper Basin that the water flowed down by gravity through the aqueduct system to make its two hundred and forty-two-mile journey across desert and through mountain tunnels to serve eighteen million people from Ventura to San Diego in southern California. Our bus followed the concrete aqueduct all day across the desert. A monumental engineering achievement along the water's trek is the thirteen-mile long tunnel blasted through the San Jacinto Mountain Range, the third tallest mountain in the state, to maintain the water's flow. Our bus skirted that daunting climb up the San Jacinto range. We arrived back in Los Angeles tired but profoundly appreciative of the colossal human effort and ingenuity that make possible the shower we all looked forward to as well as the drink of ice-cold water that we so took for granted. I am today, both a proud and deeply grateful Angeleno.
Conspiracy theories are beliefs that there are covert powers that be changing the course of history for their own benefits. It's how we see the rise of QAnon conspiracies and people storming the capital.
Why do people fall for them? Well some research has looked into the reasons for that.
The Association for Psychological Science published a paper that reviewed some of the research:
"This research suggests that people may be drawn to conspiracy theories when—compared with nonconspiracy explanations—they promise to satisfy important social psychological motives that can be characterized as epistemic (e.g., the desire for understanding, accuracy, and subjective certainty), existential (e.g., the desire for control and security), and social (e.g., the desire to maintain a positive image of the self or group)."
Whatever the motivations may be, we wanted to know which convoluted stories became apart of peoples consciousness enough for them to believe it.
Redditor Lopsided_Confusion57 asked:
"What's the wildest conspiracy theory you fully believe?"
We can't say any of these are true but sometimes it's fun to speculate.
The time traveling cyclist.
"The Australian cyclist Mick Rogers is a time traveler."
"In the 2002 Tour Down Under, Rogers was in a great position in the breakaway and looking to move into the overall race lead but a collision with a motorcycle left his bike out of commission. With the team service car and mechanics way down the road, it looked like Rogers' chances were gone. Then a cycling fan, who just happened to be at that precise point in the road, offered Rogers his bicycle to continue on. The bike also just happened to be the *exact* model of Colnago that Rogers had been riding. It was the correct size, right down to things like the stem and crank lengths. It even had the same pedal system that Rogers was already using, so he could just clip in and be away. He finished that stage and took the race lead, which he held on to all the way to the end for his only career win in his 'home' tour."
"My theory is that in the original timeline, Rogers didn't win the 2002 Tour Down Under. He quit cycling in anger and devoted his life to theoretical physics and solving the problem of time travel just so he could arrange it to leave himself a spare bike where and when he needed it."
"I'm on board for whatever book or screenplay you write."
"Wait, so if Rogers motivation to find ways for time travelling was losing 2002 race, and if he won, then Rogers never found time travelling and our time line is forever devoid of genius like Rogers who would have found time travelling and attended Hawkins party."
"Yep, exactly. Our timeline is stuck with boring old Mick Rogers, 2002 TDU winner and 3x World Time Trial Champion while some other, much cooler, party timeline gets Mick Rogers, the second coming of Einstein. He probably even cures Covid for them."
The best money making stunt.
"Information is leaked from a studio about an upcoming project that p*sses off the fan base. The studio will then change things to keep the fans happy. The conspiracy is the original leak was just a lie to drum up free publicity for the project."
"This made me think of the Sonic movie. No way in hell were they going to make Sonic look that bad. Put out a fake trailer with him lookin all scary, everyone is talking about it. Wala. Take a bit to say you're fixing his look, put out a new trailer. You just drummed up tons of publicity since people are now following the story."
"I have mixed thoughts to that one."
"I mean 'No way in hell were they going to make him look like that.' Buddy have you seen the cash-grab BS that Hollywood has pulled off before? Hell, when was there a movie based off a game that wasn't exactly as bad as that Sonic looked?"
"I will admit that they may have done that as a publicity stunt, but I also admit that they could have thought it looked fine."
"Have you seen … CATS?"
"100% of the population believes that Putin has had people killed for political reasons but only a very small percentage of Americans believe that American politicians would ever do so."
"I mean, there's a reason the joke/saying is, 'The highest award a journalist can receive is being assassinated by the CIA.' There's probably been a handful who may've found out one too many things on the elites, and then had an accident before they could publish their findings."
"Ohhhh boy then south american journalists in the 60s-80s have been awarded way too much."
"MLK was literally murdered by the government."
"Lots of Black Panthers were too."
'"As part of the larger COINTELPRO operation, the FBI was determined to prevent any improvement in the effectiveness of the BPP leadership. The FBI orchestrated an armed raid with the Chicago police and State Attorney on Hampton's Chicago apartment.'"
"Quote from the Wikipedia article on Fred Hampton."
Conspiracies for the conspiracies to cover up the conspiracies.
"The CIA creates conspiracy theories to provide cover for the real conspiracies."
"It's actually kind of scary how smug anti-conspiracy discourse is used to derail actual conversations. A moment that chipped my faith in humanity just a little was when I was arguing with some people about Guatemala in 1954 and people denied my version of events happened 'because it's a conspiracy.'"
"Like no the parties involved admitted to it."
"If you don't know what I'm talking about and are from the USA you should have a google. But, basically the USA destroyed a democracy because it made a corporation sad."
"What's worse is when people will talk about how corrupt insert what politicians they don't like are, but then when you mention something that is actually confirmed to have happened, they pull the conspiracy theory card and act as if the idea people in power don't want to secure further power for themselves."
"We have been conditioned to think like that from since we started school though (I guess that's my submission for this ask post)."
"I think I remember reading about some CIA agents AMA. Someone asked him the question, 'What's the point of area 51?' The answer was, 'To keep your attention away from area 50 and 52.'"
"Obviously not an exact quote, but the idea of it has always stuck with me."
Extinct animals not actually being extinct for preservation.
"I think it is entirely plausible that the Thylacine still exists in the depths of the Australian mainland and the government knows it."
"It wouldn't be that crazy for misguided scientists to have moved or released a few in the late 1800s. Once the animal went extinct, they certainly couldn't reveal the existence of the mainland population lest poachers and local farmers destroy it. They also may have realized how significant the liability was for releasing large predators into farmland."
"Folks have found hair and scat samples that may be from the animal, but the university lab results always come back and say they are nonsense. That's probably the truth, but I wouldn't be entirely surprised if the government was strong-arming them into reporting BS results. TBH if I was a conservation scientist it wouldn't take much convincing for me to fake a negative test."
Robert 'Curt' Borton Jr.
"I believe in a LOT of really boring conspiracies. Stuff like. 'This person was about to expose corporate/government corruption, and then died suspiciously.'"
"But if you want to go for a more intense one, Robert Borton, who I just learnt about, takes the cake. tl;dr guy disappears in Vietnam and really strange sh*T happens to his family."
"This guy, Robert 'Curt' Borton Jr. turns 19 in 1965, he goes to fight in Vietnam. He lands in 1966 and vanishes 19 days into his deployment alongside 3 other soldiers."
"In 1976, two guys approach his dad and claimed to work for the Department of Defense. They asked him to sign a letter that would change his sons status from 'Missing in action' to 'Killed in action' and he refused. Arguing the military would not confront people in public to sign documents. However, in the following weeks he was approached again by these two guys in public places and eventually signed it out of fear. He later received money for doing so."
"His sister then claims that every time they've seen Curt's official files, the entries keep changing, and his sister claims her phone was being wiretapped. A cousin believes that everyone was being watched, claiming that he was followed to work several times and that two men would follow him from his home to his company and then back. After this went on for a month, he decided to confront them, but they denied following him. After that, for about a month, he was not followed."
"The family is convinced Curt was part of a secret government operation that brought him from Vietnam into the United States. Diane believes that he has tried to contact her and other family members on multiple occasions. She claims that she has talked to a man who is a "secret returnee" and that they are allowed to come back to the United States, as long as they do not contact their families. She believes that this was done because the U.S. government had already claimed that all of the living POWs had been brought home; since they were still left behind, they could not become known to the public."
We may never fully know if any of these are true. Given the track record and history of most governments in the world, maybe some of these aren't so far fetched.
Only you can decide what you believe or not.
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I hate ghosts, even if it's Casper. My life is already stressful enough. I don't need to creeped out by spirits from the beyond. Shouldn't they be resting and basking in the glow of the great beyond instead of menacing the rest of us?
The paranormal seems to be consistently in unrest, which sounds like death isn't any more fun or tranquil than life. So much for something to look forward to.
Some ghosts just like to scare it up. It's not always like "Ghosthunters" the show.
Redditor u/Murky-Increase4705 wanted to hear about all the times we've faced some hauntings that left us shook, by asking:
Reddit, what are your creepy encounters with something that you are convinced was paranormal?
I can't definitively say I've come face to face with the spirits. But I have had some unsettling feelings in the dark. Shadows are just shadows sometimes, but who can be sure.
I hear it...Nbc Wings GIF by HULUGiphy
"I was helping my dad clean my grandma's house after she passed and I went in and was trying to find a song in my phone and before I could I heard a cough plain as day come from down the hallway where her room was. She died of lung and throat cancer it was pretty crazy."
"When I was 5 I remember getting home from my grandpa's birthday party. For context my mom was pregnant with my brother at the time, so my parents had already bought his crib. I woke up in the middle of the night to find a women in a white dress and long black hair standing over my brother's crib. I managed to wake up my dad so he could take me to the bathroom. When I got back it was still there. It was only until morning when it disappeared. Every now and then I see a glance of what I assume is that thing running past the backyard."
"My best friend and his wife had moved to a new apartment. I came over to visit a few times, and each time I'd see the motion of a cat in my peripheral vision. Not the image of a cat, but a sense of how a cat moves. Anyway, one day I finally cracked some joke about the ghost cat in the place and his wife was instantly saying "See! See! I told you we had a ghost cat!"
"I worked graveyard shift in a dementia ward for 4 years and it was anything but quiet. I was working with a nurse one night when we both heard a resident say "excuse me." We looked around and no-one was there. I checked on the resident in question and she was fast asleep in her own room. Many of us also experienced someone whistling in the ward late at night and one nurse even managed to catch a video of it happening. It was unnerving to say the least."
"I once saw someone short walk by me in my house. They walked into the laundry room which only has one way in. I walked into it behind them and they where gone. I thought it was my little brother but I went to his room and he was asleep. I still have no clue what that was."
Now was everyone here positive they were sober? Just asking. Those are certainly spooky moments. I'd like some video footage please. Continue...
Reflectionsghost library GIFGiphy
"I was up at 3am when I was maybe 7 or 8. I looked out the window and saw a woman in a white dress run across my yard. I could see through her. She was transparent like the reflections on the window."
"So, my work place is haunted. I was having a really crap day, and as a cleaner, it's normal that me and my co worker will be the only ones left at night. So I was standing on the second floor, leaning on the banister for the stair case, when I heard this male voice say in my ear "you alright?" Clear as day. I turned around so fast and nobody was there and it scared the hell out of me."
"I remember as a young kid I usually use to sit in my bed and watch tv with my room door open while the adjacent guest bedroom next to mine would always have the door shut. I always remember seeing that door fully open and close by itself multiple times a day very slowly and gently. Never really bothered me much now that I think about it… but there were other creepier experiences I had in the same house that made me feel uncomfortable like I was being watched."
"I went to the Betsy Ross House as a really little kid in the early 90s. Normal house but I was confused why the tour guide never talked about the woman on the chair crying at the edge of the bed in Betsy Ross's bedroom. So I asked about it. No one else saw the woman at the edge of the bed. I figured it was just a wax museum since there was a wax statue of a man in uniform rolling bullets in the basement."
"Years later, I was looking at haunted Philadelphia tours to go on with a friend and the Betsy Ross House was on it. I was like "woah! I was there!" and looked into it some more. Turns out there is a woman at the end of the bed crying and a uniformed man in the basement that people have reported seeing. There is no way that 8 year old me would have known about either of these things."
hello kitty...hello kitty lol GIF by Animation Domination High-DefGiphy
"I had this hello kitty Balloon In my bed room, it had a string and weight on it. So it was late, I had the lights on just Sitting on my bed. The Balloon turns, faces my door, slowly floats into my hallway and turns and floats into my sister's room. To this day I am scared of balloons."
They are among us and they like Hello Kitty. I'm probably rattling the paranormal cages and they'll come for me next, but I'm ready. I feel like this thread has prepared me.
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The past year brought about much anxiety and it's been a challenge to find the light in what has felt like perpetual darkness.
"What gives you genuine happiness?"
Food brings people together, and that combination brings much happiness for these Redditors.
"Plenty of my favorite food eaten together with fam."
"Harvesting fruits/veggies from plants which I grew myself and then gifting the harvest to others. I love to grow blueberries and hope I will have lots next year."
Compliments To The Chef
"Seeing people enjoy food that I cooked, especially seeing my fiancee smile while she eats my from-scratch chocolate chip cookies."
The Little Things
"It's difficult to tell the difference between genuine happiness and enough distraction. Food, like video games or playing the piano, makes me joyful while I'm eating it. I believe that the things that make me truly happy are the ones that happen infrequently, if at all, and are beyond of my control, such as being complimented or receiving physical contact."
Being alone with our thoughts can be comforting.
Wee Small Hours Of The Morning
"Being outside with no people around. Live in a city and I get up super early and just walk around before everyone else is out. Best part of my day."
In Between Consciousness
"I think it may be the only time I am ever genuinely happy when I am in that state of going to sleep where I think, but at the same time I am neither asleep nor awake. It feels like I am entirely detached from the physical world; free of fear, and pain."
"Don't try heroin."
"I've noticed that some things can make you so happy that they make you happy before (anticipation) and after (reminiscing) you've done them."
Being with loved ones, both humans and pets, can be the very definition of happiness.
"Weekend mornings sitting on the couch curled up with my husband and cat, both of us reading a book. It feels like quality time even though we aren't talking. Just a lot of peace."
"Your comment made me imagine a cat sitting on a couch, reading a book, wearing reading glasses and that made me really happy."
Hide And Seek
"Watching my cat get stuck somewhere stupid, then yelling for help. The best place so far was in a cabinet over the stove."
Our Inner Comedian
"When I manage to make my friends day by making them laugh. I honestly get so happy when they are happy."
What Brings Joy To Others
"I really love to hear about other people's hobbies/passions/interests. It never fails to make me smile."
"Equally, my hobbies/passions/interests make me happy."
I'm a kid at heart.
So it's not surprising that going to a Disney park as an adult brings out the inner kid in me.
Having grown up in Southern California, I get nostalgic about all my trips to Disneyland with my family and friends.
Eventually, I got a job there in entertainment, where I've made lifelong friends and grew as a performer.
My glee quadruples when I bring friends who've never been to a Disney park before and I see the excitement on their faces.
And what brings me pure joy is hearing from these first-time visitors that, after a long day of running around for 12+ hours, they tell me they had the "best day ever."
Walt, you did a good thing.
A lot of talk going on about women's bodies, isn't there?
Not necessarily with women front and center as part of the conversation, unfortunately.
One of the main talking points against these bans and laws being placed on women's bodies is the idea that it would never happen to a man. "If men could get pregnant, there'd be free abortions tomorrow," is a slogan thrown around quite a bit online. Is that true?
Let's ask them.
Men of Reddit, would you take a male contraceptive pill if it was readily available? Why/Why not?
Genuinely, you might find yourself surprised at how many men are willing and ready to do their part in controlling what goes on during contraception.
Click, Click...No Boom.
"Yes. Makes more sense to unload the gun than shoot at a bulletproof vest."
"Without a doubt. I hate the idea of a vasectomy...nervous about the procedure. But I'd 100% take a male contraceptive pill"
Both Parties Are Making A Choice
"Yes. I world prefer both genders have birth control and that both are actively using it to give the best possible chance of no accidental pregnancies."
What Have Women Been Going Through?
"Honestly I would because I hate the fact how it f-cks with my girlfriend's body. And I rather deal with it than her"
"Absolutely ruins my day when I think about what a hormonal disaster the implant has been for her. It doesn't even bother her that much, but why should she have to deal with any of it at all? Saving up for a vasectomy so it can all just be done with."
Some men are not for a male contraceptive.
Hear them out.
"Think I'd probably still rely on rubbers. Shooting a load without one and relying on it being blanks... I'd be too paranoid about it"
"Rubbers will still help against things OTHER than pregnancy too - so, wearing them is still a good idea"
Wait, What Day Of The Week Is It?
"Oh yes 100%. The only reason I'd be hesitant is i'm very likely to forget"
"Yeah my ex couldn't even remember to buy condoms so not sure I would trust him with a pill. I also wouldn't trust myself with it either, hence the condoms :D"
What's It Doing To Me?
"If it had the same side-effect as the female one and affected my mood or my libido? F-ck no."
"Not all methods have that effect on women. There are literally hundreds of contraception, it's finding the best one for your body."
"I imagine that if men were taking contraception there would be triple the research into making sure you guys were A-OK"
It's All In The Conversation
"Personally, I wouldn't take it. The pill messes with your hormones and that's why I don't expect a woman to take it and also, that's why I don't want to take it."
"If she does, because she wants to - ok. If she doesn't, because she doesn't want to - ok, too."
"If I happen to hook up with someone, I'll wear a condom, because pregnancy isn't the only thing to prevent."
"If I am in a relationship and my gf tells me that she doesn't want to take the pill (anymore), I don't have any right to argue with her and that's why I'll wear a condom."
"I don't care if it "doesn't feel so good" - for me, the best thing about sex is the shared intimacy."
However, really, it's the man in all of us that wouldn't mind shouldering some responsibility in the child-baring years of our lives. Cheers to that.
So Long As It's A Unity Effort
"Yes, I have this theory that every man's phone alarm would go off at the same time at the bar, and we would raise our bc pill in the air to cheers all taking it at the same time"
Why Make Them Do Something You're Not Willing To Do?
"Abso-f-cking-lutely YES a million times yes!!!"
"Straight away, it would be a d*ck move if I expected my girlfriend to take stuff if I'm not willing to"
...Is That Pun Or...?
"Yes! My wife has been carrying the burden of birth control for 11 years now. Lots of pain, discomfort and other effects over the years, its time men can share the load."
We won't know what the future brings. Science at this point makes it feel like anything is possible, so in the next century? Who can say?
Be ready, men. It's our turn, next.
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