I am curious about the use of the word “privilege”. I have always assumed that it was a noun but frequently hear it used as a verb. Could someone please clarify this?
As the sun slowly rises over England it is pitch black in Minnesota, -15 with strong winds and snow drifts.
My apologies for the poor fidelity. This is the only version of the official video I could find with English translations.
Kaohsiung is often described as the “anti-Taipei” in much the same way as Osaka is the anti-Tokyo or Marseille is the anti-Paris. This view is very much true. In practical matters it holds true as much as it does in abstract. Kaohsiung is connected to its airport by its underground system. Taipei is connected to its airport by bus and only bus. I am not especially fond of buses and avoid them whenever possible preferring trams, trains and subways. There is something uncivilised about buses. Perhaps it is the tendency of peasants to use them as a favoured means of transport? But that is not relevant to this topic, so I will digress. After a long morning of walking about Taipei I took the bus to the airport to fly to Osaka. The security check was fast and pleasant. No aggro, no hassle. Everything was scanned, the metal detector did not sound as I went through and an exit stamp was duly affixed to my passport. Read more…
Time did not favour me when I landed in Taipei. Two large aeroplanes full of passengers, many from mainland China, arrived before my large – and full – flight. Passport control took the better part of an hour to clear, although the officer was very efficient with me. It seems as if Hong Kong citizens have a few extra things they have to do before they can be let through the Taiwanese border, mainland Chinese a few dozen things more – including having a fair amount of paperwork filled in and many forms ready for inspection. After 15 minutes waiting in queue the woman in front of me and I started to talk. She was from Australia and we had a few good laughs at the expense of the Kevin and Juliar Show as well as Mad Monk the Budgie Smuggler with his underwhelming show. Merkel, however, she took seriously and respected – albeit with more polish than the Macanese tour guide who referred to her as “the little fat woman in the suit”. We both concluded that the less said about the USA and its derangements and delusions the better. Read more…
I finished packing the night before. Early morning rushes never amused me, especially since I tend to remember things only when I’m halfway to the airport. The taxi I requested the night before arrived a few minutes early, the driver was an upper-middle aged woman with a desire to have a job but a lack of ambition to train for anything else. Fair enough, not everyone can reasonably be expected to claw his or her way to the top of society. We chatted for a few minutes as we drove to main bus centre in Saint Cloud – it’s possible, albeit slightly inconvenient at times, to live there without a car. The bus and train journeys were predictable. Quiet, comfortable – but underwhelming. The flights to San Francisco were somewhat more interesting, but only in how revealing they were about the collapse in service standards. One flight was on time, but the air host clearly hated his job and wished to make everyone have as unpleasant a flight as possible. The second flight was delayed by over an hour and all customer inquiries were handled by a woman who preferred prattling on incessantly about how much she worked with one of her colleagues and could only be bothered to pay scant attention to customers needing to know when their children could meet them at airport or if they should began preparing for their funeral arrangements as information came so slowly risk of death caused by old age was a real possibility for anyone over 15. The flight to San Francisco finally departed, half-full, with an assigned air hostess who neither listened nor cared to pay attention to anyone or anything. I asked for water without ice, that is, water with no ice put into it. For someone reason she thought that meant I wanted ice with a little bit of water in it – and for her to throw it at me like a Ryan Air check-in employee realising that she could not charge over-weight/over-size fees returning a bag. These experiences reminded me once again why I do not travel more than I absolutely have to in the USA – this was one of the USA’s better airlines for customer service. Read more…
Germany has voted and Germany has voted to keep Merkel chancellor. This should come as no surprise to anyone who is not an embittered troll on the Tellygraff’s comment sections. Roughly 70pc of Germans approve of Merkel’s performance, and the Union — the name given to her party, the CDU, and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU came within 3 votes of securing a majority on its own. The Free Democrats for the first time since the establishment of the Federal Republic failed to make it into parliament, hardly a surprise. They were only marginally successful so long as they had little to say and thus never had to deliver anything. After they were given a strong voice following the 2009 federal election, they disappointed all and according to one poll 90pc of voters said that their main source of disgust was their ability to promise many things, but deliver nothing. This incompetence was not helped by the inept Westerwelle’s replacement by the equally inept Rösler who seemingly saw racism in every critique of his political abilities.
Not having secured an all-out majority Merkel will more likely than not seek to form a coalition with either a much-reduced Social Democratic opposition or a weakened Green party. While the SPD have shown little interest, the Greens even less and as both have ruled out forming a coalition with die Linke, one or the other will have to swallow bitterness and become truly a junior coalition partner. What cannot be forgotten in this election is that the results came as a response to Merkel’s popularity, not the popularity of her party — and that other than Merkel Germany lacks credible leaders.
In the last few months I’ve grown disappointed with some I had in the past considered friends. So I decided to go to Australia, New South Wales to be precise. Does anyone have any advice on what to see in the Sydney and Canberra regions?
I read in the Telegraph today that there is some dispute concerning the centennial of the start of the Great War next year. The United Kingdom, of Europe but not in Europe, is inclined to mark the event as a memorial to those who died serving their country and their empire. (Lest it be forgotten, Asian Indians, West Indians, Africans, etcetera all fought on the side of Britons from the mother country and from the domains overseas) On the continent, especially in Germany, events will be more muted. The war will rightfully be treated as a tragic and unnecessary event with the horrid addition of the celebration of the EU as the institution that spared Europe another major war since the inception of its first ancestor in 1957. (Never mind that the Conference of Vienna provided something resembling peace in Europe for almost a century. Interestingly enough, some 30 years or so after the end of the Napoleonic Wars the Revolutions of 1848 tore through Europe much like the social upheavals of 1968 tore through the continent/world) Diplomatic pressure is being put on the UK to avoid having too triumphant an approach, particularly by Germany with the veiled threat that co-operation on reforms of the EU might not be so forthcoming. Were one to consider only political concerns this would alone be rancid. In general different views of the same events can be accommodated; the perceptions of the victors, losers and those on the periphery all have a place. Threatening political/diplomatic repercussions for this threatens the very existence of free debate.
Few celebrate the death and destruction of a generation (though I will freely admit to having no shortage of contempt for the European obsession with the death tolls of European wars. Per capita Japan’s civil wars, the Hawai’ian Wars of Unification, the US Civil War, Chinese civil wars/dynastic changes, etcetera killed far more without the ensuing political insanity. The Battle of Dan-no-Ura killed 400,000, for example). However, the British view is more realistic – and healthy. Most understand that Germans were fighting for their country, empire and its interests as much as Britons were for theirs. As an historian, the taking hostage of historical fact for the purpose of politics is frightening. It is certainly not unprecedented, but it is dishonest both intellectually and methodologically. It also seems aimed at obscuring the fact that the continent has not learnt the lessons of the wars of the twentieth centuries. Rather than trying to find something that somehow provides stability, Europe seems intent on returning to the 16th century politically hoping that what failed then will not fail now. (Incidentally, the 17th century Thirty Years War was also highly destructive and resulted in something far saner)
Thank you, Araminta, for the chance to judge this photography competition. As the deadline has now passed it is time to announce the results.
Araminta’s picture of a tea pot was a good way to start the competition. My intense addiction to caffeine made my sympathetic to this entry.
FEEG’s two entries were welcome additions, although I must concur with Christina that there is little normal or regular about Washington, DC. If you’re interested I can put you into contact with someone who is an expert on the US Civil War.
LW: thank you for the picture of the boat. The comment about scraping barnacles off the bottom gave me a chuckle. I often spend hours and hours at my computer researching and writing reports.
OZ: your picture made me a bit hungry. Well done.
The winner of this competition is Soutie for his pictures of the vegetable seller and the road to Cape Town. Both captured the spirit of the theme perfectly.
Last week I started reading Tove Jansson’s “Travelling Light” while on the Northstar Line between Big Lake and Minneapolis. One paragraph reminded me so much of our Ms Osborne that I couldn’t help but laugh maniacally.
“Dear child, make sure you bring your young man so I can have a look at him, but don’t go buying some expensive and unnecessary gift. At my age, I’ve got pretty much everything I want, plus better taste than most of my progeny. And I don’t want to leave a load of rubbish for others to clean after I’m gone. Just pick out something simple and affectionate. And don’t go bring art into it — you’ll only mess it up”.