Archive for the ‘The World’ Category

Two days from now and the ceremony will be over, we’ll be welcoming our guests at the reception, having our photograph taken and getting ready to sit down to dinner.

Of course, you only need to see what my beloved has written to realise what sort of madness the next forty eight hours will be filled with.

This may be the last time I have Internet access for a while. Please try not to break the Internet whilst I’m away.

PS. We did briefly consider a honeymoon in New Orleans. Then we discovered that the weather was a bit risky at this time of year. The events there this week put our problems into perspective.


The water board don’t have any record for our flat that’s distinct from the shop below and as they, very nicely, don’t want to charge us commercial rates want us to go and check with the landlords.

The gas company also don’t have any records for our flat, which only came to light after I asked them to double check – they were quite happy to sign us up to pay for the whole property.

I haven’t heard back from the electricty company after I asked them to make the same double check.

But we do have water, gas and electricity. Here’s hoping we get it for free…

BT have heard of our flat. They have it listed as “flat above Unwins”. Unwins shut at least two years ago. They also say that the earliest they can get an engineer out is September 21st which is rubbish.

The Post, the free local paper that gets shoved through my letter box every week, contains an article about a rail users group who want the local train services to run with tube-like frequency. They seem to have overlooked the fact that most tube lines have very few branches and junctions whilst many different rail lines join together and use the same tracks in South London. The train operators showed admirable restraint when they said “it is difficult to say whether their demands are reasonable or unreasonable until we sit down and look at the timetable.”

Elsewhere in the article there was a survey of “almost 200 commuters” which found that:

  • ninety-five per cent of them used the service four or five days a week

They’re commuters, of course they use the service four or five days a week!

  • sixty-four per cent were dissatisfied with the service
  • 98 per cent thought it was unreliable

In the spirit of Josh from The West Wing, taken literally that means that 34% think that the service is unreliable but are still satisfied with it.

Highlight of the week is the landing of the Huygens probe on Titan and the amazing pictures it sent back. This is a world a billion kilometers from Earth with a surface temperature of -180°C; but whilst the wind and rain may be composed of ammonia and methane, the patterns of erosion and drainage are remarkably similar to those found here on Earth.

And back on Earth the discovery of dino-swallowing cretaceous mammals adds a new twist to our picture of the mesozoic. No longer were mammals timid creatures scurrying in the dinosaurs’ shadows. At the risk of sounding trite, that is the truly amazing thing about science, even the science of the distant past – we are always discovering new parts of the big picture.

Which is something that’s totally lost on the proponents of Intelligent Design. This, as Richard Dawkins once wrote, is how creationism has been “excitingly rebranded”. The rebranding is necessary in the USA because the first amendment prohibits using state funds to promote religion, so teaching creationism is banned in state schools. A judge in Georgia has ruled that the addition of stickers stating that evolution is ‘just a theory’ to biology textbooks is religiously motivated and hence illegal. The judge’s ruling is somewhat rambling and no doubt there will be interminable appeals, but this is a blow to the ID movements ‘wedge strategy’ of sneaking creationism into schools via the back door. Read more at The Panda’s Thumb.

Meanwhile in the UK we have the Vardy Foundation whose academies are funded by the state and have replaced comprehensives. In these creationism is taught alongside evolution (and if evolution wasn’t on the national curriculum I bet they wouldn’t teach it) and the government seems to see nothing wrong with that. In contrast with the US the issue has hardly registered with the press or public over here.

The US has separation of state and religion, is one of the most Christian countries in the world and has a very public battle between neo-creationists and science. The UK has the Church of England, is for all practical purposes a secular state and is allowing openly creationist organisations to run state schools. I don’t know which is worse.


One of the few joys in commuting through Victoria station is the chance to admire the Dalek toilets. The what? you cry. Well, next time you’re at Victoria look at the sign above the toliets on the main concourse. There you will see four icons indicating, from left to right, that there are toliets for women, men, wheelchair users, and Daleks. And now you know why you thought the sound of the announcer’s voice was familiar.