It’s Speech Season

Instagram is jammed with shots of proud parents and their mortarboarded kids, degrees in hand (surely the most expensive paper on earth). Critical to this life passage is the convocation speech. Most of them are forgotten the second their words leave the speaker’s lips. A few, like Steve Jobs’, and Gloria Steinem’s, and Barack Obama’s, live on.

Here are three worthies from this year: The ahhhhmazing Jacinda Ardern at Harvard; Scott Galloway with advice to grads and lifers alike; and Elizabeth Bonker at Rollins College. Bonker, who lives with non-speaking autism and communicates solely by typing, urges her fellow graduates to use their voices to serve others.


1. The unburnable book. If you can’t stop people from burning books, at least make the books unburnable. That’s the thinking behind an idea from inflammatory octogenarian, Margaret Atwood, to produce her oft-banned The Handmaid’s Tale on unburnable paper. She partnered with Penguin Random House and Sotheby’s to benefit PEN America’s work defending freedom of expression. You can bid on your very own copy here.

2. Get a human to answer your call. Peeved that you can’t get through to a live person? Click here, type in the name (like “Bell Canada”) and you can skip the helpline forever and reach that customer service rep.

3. London’s brand-new tube line. Not many people get to open their very own subway line, especially one named after them. But Queen Elizabeth II was there to send undergrounders off on London’s newest line, the Elizabeth line. It was wildly late and over-budget. But the Queen was prompt as ever. Here she is, and here’s where it goes. Note Andy Byford, former head of the TTC, and now London Transport Commissioner.

4. Seven varieties of stupidity. Why are we always trying to unpack intelligence when we should really be digging into the lack of it?

5. Laura Ashley’s grand-daughters. The Queen of Chintzy Florals started hand-printing textiles in 1953 and became a global lifestyle brand. It wasn’t enough to wear Laura Ashley clothes; your entire home could be Ashleyed. But while she died in 1985, cottagecore lives on.

6. At-home feasts. I knew a rich couple who, for their 25th anniversary, decided to dine in 25 of the Top Restaurants in the World in a single year. There’s a cheaper way to do this. This year, another couple decided to cook and eat their way through the alphabet, one country at a time. Here’s what’s on their table. 

7. But I know what I like. This holds true for our judgement about both art and wine. But when subjectivity rulz, pretension reigns and bubbles of expertise get easily popped, like corks. 

8. The future is vast, yet very young. If you think these are the dying days of humanity, buck up. You are wrong. “If we keep each other safe, we are only at the beginning of human history.” On the other hand, if you’re hankering to feel old and unkul, come with me to Tokyo.

9. The Daniel Defense. The company that made the assault rifle sold to the 18-year-old who killed 19 kids and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas is called Daniel Defense. Their website might as well stand as a – and I use this word deliberately –  a Bible for the ideals of unfettered freedom and the American Way. It’s also a reflection of the values of founder, Marty Daniel.

10. Finally, joy. Here’s Vivaldi via a South African marimba band. And a moving essay on Beethoven’s 9th and its Ode to Joy. “Beethoven grew so disheveled in his later years that he was arrested as a tramp while out on a country walk. In his mind he was far away, composing a last great symphony with a “wildly ambitious” choral finale. Excitement mounted. The work was done. Then consternation: Beethoven wanted to conduct the premiere himself. “Everyone knew he was deaf. Now they feared he was demented.”


It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.


The sun is out most days now. But that’s easy because summer is almost on us. But what about in the frigid dark of winter? Where are you going to get your hot sunny days then?

There’s one answer: you can go south. That’s what we’re doing and we’re inviting you to join us.

If you know about our trips, they don’t involve lying on a beach for a week, but doing adventurous things with fascinating people.

So from January 22 – 29, 2023, we’ll be aboard the 100-guest National Geographic Quest with 50 of our friends as it sails through the Panama Canal and up the west coast of Costa Rica.

This is with Lindblad Expeditions and we’ve been on two of their luxury adventure cruises before, to Antarctica and the Spanish-Portuguese coast. On board and on shore, we were in the hands of the most experienced experts and crew on earth. One evening during “Recap” with cocktails and appetizers in hand, we saw “The Monster of the Day” that our expedition divers filmed from the ocean floor. Oh, and it’s one thing to kayak on Georgian Bay; it’s another to kayak on the Antarctic Ocean. For one, it’s safer in the Antarctic because the Lindblad people are so on top of it.

All to say, we’ve come to expect the best in comfort, dining, adventure and safety from Lindblad, a view confirmed by Condé Nast Traveler, who last year declared them to be the #1 Small Ship Cruise Line in the world.

For more information on this and other RamsayTravels adventures, click here. And, please also forward to your like-spirited friends.


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