travel

The Same Old Journey

It is one of the strange facts about travelling that doing the same journey in two different ways can leave a markedly different imhadrians_wall_cawfieldspression.

I’m sure many of you, like me, have done the West Coast Line on the train from Glasgow Central to London Euston (and/or the other way around). If you leave aside the prices, it is really a rather beautiful journey through the border mountains, the lake district and some countryside in England.

However, I’m sure many of you, like me, have done the night bus from Glasgow to London (or viceversa) and found it to be a less than pleasant experience.

To modify slightly a Yes, Minister joke, where someone described moving from the House of Commons to the House of Lords, on said bus you have your choice of sitting with the animals or the vegetables.

The latest twist on the too wee/too weak line from the Better Together camp doesn’t seem to take into account the North/South exchange of criminals that already exists on the night bus.

I’ve done that night bus plenty of times and the north-south south-north traffic of people who don’t immediately strike you as perfectly law-abiding citizens is so regular it is almost a tradition now.

Suspected criminals could be able to escape justice more easily after independence by crossing the border into England, a report is expected to suggest today.

Home Secretary Theresa May will launch the latest Whitehall analysis of the potential consequences of Scottish independence in Edinburgh.

 

I can only imagine this analysis has been written by people who would never ever be anywhere near that night bus and are therefore unaware of what has been going on for years.

On a serious note however, there is a breakdown in logic here too. One of the other canards of the Better Together movement is that we don’t want border controls at Gretna (neither do I, but no one is suggesting we should have them).

It seems to me that you can’t simultaneously argue that it will be easier for criminals to escape from one country into another AND argue against border controls.Begbie Bus

Furthermore, I can’t imagine how Independence would change for the worse the law-enforcement system if a fair amount of goodwill applies between the two independent nations. And therein lies the problem, there is no goodwill toward Scottish Independence in Westminster, though there are a fair amount of criminals, and that is why we keep getting reports like the one we are about to be assailed with by the media in the next couple of days.

The Newbie Game

My long promised book about Korea and what it is like spending a year there (following on from the one I did about Nepal) is continuing at a decent speed.

I thought I’d put a little excerpt here…

THE NEWBIE GAME – DIDN’T WORK WITH ME

When a new westerner arrived and presented themselves in the pub, the big joke was to tell them that there was a party and that they must take a taxi to it. They would then be told to ask the driver to take them to Pyongyang.

This one didn’t work with me, but you would be surprised how many people actually fall for it.

It also usually left behind a fairly angry taxi driver.

Way Off The Lamarck

“If my theory of relativity is proven successful, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare that I am a citizen of the world. Should my theory prove untrue, France will say that I am a German and Germany will declare that I am a Jew.”

Albert Einstein

I was lucky enough to get 6 hours in Paris the other day and went for a wander around Notre Dame. Before you get there though there is the Jardin Des Plantes and I thought I would take a walk around. Didn’t have enough money on me to go into the evolution museum even though I wanted to but this statue caught my eye I was a little taken aback. Take a look…

When I first saw the statue my first thought, a little unfairly, was that Lamarck was responsible for the theory of evolution in the same way that cheese was responsible for the great train robbery – not at all (actually that was my second thought, my first was “wait a f**king minute!”). However, on thinking it over maybe a fairer way to look at it might be like da Vinci and the helicopter in that although their ideas would not have worked, they were among the first attempts to solve certain problems.

I’m fairly sure if you asked a French person now who was responsible for the theory of evolution they would say Darwin. It is highly probable that the trumpeting of Lamarck in France represented part of the battle between the British and French empires, the two major powers of that era, in that they were trying also to be perceived to be intellectually and culturally dominant. A similar stooshie went on over who discovered Neptune with the British trying to claim it from the French.

Although this is intellectually dishonest behaviour, I suppose it would be preferable to the kind of thing that the Americans are putting out these days to show their cultural dominance.

The Jardins Des Plantes is a nice place though, and there are a few more pictures if you click on the READ MORE below.

(more…)

Yellow and Red Dust

In the Mediterranean there is a climatic condition whereby at certain times the clouds look like they are boiling red. As they come over the hills the air looks almost as if the oxygen in it had rusted.  This happens because the winds are blowing the desert sand over the Mediterranean from Africa. These clouds usually bring rain with them too and when the wind dies down the rain evaporates and the sky returns to normal leaving all the cars with a coating of red sand. When I saw it most clearly, with a mountainous backdrop, is the time in my life I most regretted not having a camera on me because as the clouds roll over the mountains it is a quite spectacular sight.

That said, the red dust isn’t pleasant and covers your clothes too. However, in South (and presumably North) Korea there is something called the yellow dust which is extremely nasty. I’ll get to explaining what the yellow dust is exactly in a roundabout (or should it be rounders?) sort of way.

Baseball is quite a popular sport in the USA but it is something I had never been able to like. I like to at least give things a try though and several times had tried to watch an entire match from start to finish on TV, always with the result of falling asleep.

Therefore, shortly after I arrived in Korea in March and noticed baseball was a rather popular sport there, I thought I would go along to a match and see if it was any better in the stadium . When April began it was getting warm enough that you could go out basically with just a t-shirt and jeans in the daytime so I was only wearing exactly that . I noticed also in April that people were wearing the face masks that you see so often in pictures from Japan but I didn’t bother to get one.

It must have been about 25 degrees that day, which is not hot but certainly not cold. I was just wearing a t-shirt but all the punters in the crowd were telling me to cover up. I thought they must be telling me this because they were being nice and were worried that I could get burned.  Not so.

You see, the yellow dust (or Hwang Sa as it is called in Korea) is something which  sweeps down from Mongolia, Kazakhstan and China into Korea. The sands from the deserts in those countries are blown down by seasonal winds in March, April and May, sometimes as far as Japan or further.

This is obviously something that has happened for thousands of years. It is worse now though because…

In the last decade or so, it has become a serious problem due to the increase of industrial pollutants contained in the dust and intensified desertification in China causing longer and more frequent occurrences, as well as in the last few decades when the Aral Sea of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan started drying up due to the diversion of the Amu River and Syr River following a Soviet agricultural program to irrigate Central Asian deserts, mainly for cotton plantations.

Furthermore,

For the past few years, the dust storms often carry oxides (aluminium, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and silicon) and toxic waste thus increasing the risks of respiratory and skin reactions.

So I think now that the Koreans were trying to tell me to cover up for another reason entirely and

I experienced the double whammy of watching a crap sport and getting a little bit sick for a few days on account of that.

For a few days after I didn’t feel so good but the main thing that annoyed me was that no one at my work bothered to tell me about it until after the event. I explained about my weekend and I that I wasn’t feeling so good and they told me “Oh, that would’ve been the yellow dust”. Kamsa Hamnida for that!

So if you are going there, you have been warned.

New Video Channel

I have moved the little videos I made over to Vimeo because youtube were being very annoying. The Channel is here. Some of the political things that were on the other channel are already there but there will be more going on it including stupid things that aren’t political.I have put a modest example below called Across the Rio Tweed which is a deep analysis of what happens when you cross over from England to Scotland on the train on the East Coast Line…