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25 July 2007

Deborama's WWW Number 30 - The Man in Seat 61

My WWW for this week is a site dedicated to train travel. The Man in Seat 61 promises to tell you all the little tips and insider skills to enjoy smooth travelling by train throughout Europe and the world, with connections by ship and ferry where necessary. (I noticed the currency exchange with dollars is a bit en retard - $1.80 to the pound, ah, those were the days.) But generally, very thorough information and the site has a great reputation. I have done the Eurostar to Paris and I thought it was fine; some day I would like to do that and follow on with the overnight sleeper car to Barcelona. But this site goes a lot further, covering Transatlantic ship crossing schedules and the super-expensive "boat train" to Portsmouth, train travel in Asia, Africa and South America, recommended guide books, travel insurance providers and food options. It's a wealth of information for the serious traveller. (By the way, the illustration above is meant to be Eurostar as seen through Railroad Tycoon, one of DH favourite computer games.)

24 July 2007

Leicester Tigers are heroes in the flood

In the course of jazzing up my customised Google home page, I added a feature called Mood News that was supposed to be a newsfeed of only good, uplifting, positive news. It didn't work at all and I had to delete it; it was just giving me the same old depressing news as any feed only more weird and random. But I serendipitously found this piece of lovely upbeat news - about a terribly depressing subject too - on the newsstand in the W. H. Smith at Leicester train station.

Leicester Tigers stars turned heroes to help victims of the worst flooding
in living memory.Ben Kay and Martin Corry carried motorists and trapped
villagers to safety, and pushed flooded cars out of the path of rising waters
after they became stranded in a Gloucestershire village on Saturday.The pair
were heading back from England training duty in Bath when they were caught up in
the flooding in Weston Subedge, near Chipping Camden, where more than five
inches of rain had fallen.Today, it emerged they spent hours carrying people out of
danger.Afterwards, Martin, 33, and Ben, 31- both strapping forwards standing 6ft
4in and weighing more than 17 stone each - were forced to spend the night in
their stranded car.

Shambo reprieve overturned

A Court of Appeals has upheld the original slaughter order for Shambo, a bull held sacred by a Hindu community in Wales. I know that a lot of people are happy about this ruling, including my most faithful comment poster, DH. And every farmer in Wales, apparently, who were feeling really hard done by. I just have to say that I don't see how anyone could have lived through the Stygian nightmare that was the foot-and-mouth crisis, and seen those hideous piles of burning cows and sheep, and seen the very real grieving tears of the farmers forced to see "in the flesh" and all at once the slaughter of the animals they cared for, and not understand what this case is really about. Ask yourself why it is raising such curious levels of passion for people who aren't Hindus or vegetarians, on the one hand, nor farmers, nor atheists, nor bloodthirsty animal-haters, on the second, third and fourth hands. (Take my husband for example: he called it "obscene" and said it "made him sick".) (See what I did there with the third and fourth hands? A little subversive Hindu humour.)
I submit to you that a cattle farmer has got to harden his heart to the suffering of animals, to a great degree, to do the job he does. And an eater of meat similarly has to be in denial about what goes on, or brazenly proclaim a lack of feeling, as many do. And yet they remain good men (or women as the case may be). When I saw farmers grief-stricken on TV over the slaughter of their herds, it was not just about the money, or their "way of life", it was an awakened compassion for the animals themselves. I must therefore make my position clear: I do not think that religion is some kind of get-out-of-jail-free card for unpleasant laws. I think this law is one example of a law that was made without consideration of compassion, of what Shakespeare's Portia called "the quality of mercy that is not strained" and it needs refining. Some day, we will all be refined and there will be no herds of cattle that live only for the slaughter, but in the meantime, we do not have to be monsters, or Terminators with no off-switch.

19 July 2007

Viking treasure hoard is find of the century

This is very exciting. I heard about it on the radio driving home from the station (a 5 to 10 minute drive, so very serendipitous).

18 July 2007

Deborama's WWW Number 29 - Last.fm

I am still very new at this, but I got turned on to this site by the same guy (from the BBC) who forced me to join Facebook. (OK, to be fair, Facebook forced me to join Facebook, he just gave me a link on it.) This week's Wednesday Website of the Week is for music lovers. It's called last.fm and it is yet another possibility for the future of music distribution, consumption and production. Check it out and let me know what you think.

16 July 2007

Sacred Bull in Wales is spared by UK court

Shamba the Bull, who lives in a shrine in a Hindu monastery in Wales, was saved from slaughter by a court ruling. The bull has tested positive for bovine tunerculosis, and was under an order to be destroyed. In addition to appealing the order in the traditional way, the monks also set up a blog of the bull's "daily thoughts", launched an internet petition to save him, and put images of him on the internet through a site called "Moo Tube". It is doubtful whether this contributed to the judge's ruling though, which seems based more on the commonsense conclusion that even if he is incurable infected with tuberculosis, which is far from certain, he poses little threat to other animals due to his protected status. Still, I am happy for the bull. And as a closet Hindu, I feel vindicated. Thank you, Welsh judge, for your compassion.

Quake in Japan

When this was originally reported earlier this morning, there was a claim that no "nuclear material" was in danger of being released. Now it appears that some radioactive water was released into the sea. True, it is apparently of negligible danger, but the thing is, every time there is a nuclear accident, the first news out is always absurdly positive, and the real truth takes from hours to months to make it to the surface. It does make one cynical.

07 July 2007

Moving house

I got this e-mail from a friend in Minneapolis about another friend. "Steve S** House Moving Celebration" it said in the subject line. Now, in the UK, when people move from one house to another it's called "moving house". But in Minneapolis, they mean moving the house. Here's the slightly edited body of the e-mail.

S**'s Follies is scheduled for next Monday evening, July 9, at 10:00 p.m., at the Avalon Theater,1500 East Lake Street. The event is to see and celebrate his house enroute to its new location just north of Lake Street on 17th Ave. The house is to travel (from Richfield) on several streets including Lake between the hours of midnight and 5:00 a.m., and Steve's rough estimate is that it will pass the Avalon about 3:00 a.m. At any rate, get there when you can and bring along some snack food for the potluck.
Obviously, this is a one-of-a-kind party not to be missed. A repeat isn't likely. Steve says if the house move is rained out he'll reschedule.

PS: I am sorry I missed this week's WWW. I have been in a low-energy mode and so has my computer. Maybe it's the rain. On the plus side, I joined a gym and went twice this week to work out.

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