Saturday, December 24, 2005

Winter Bee

I was surprised to see a bumble bee in the garden just now, obviously (from the yellow spot on her leg) gathering quite a bit of pollen for a nest. Very strange on Christmas Eve.


In my seasonal meanderings around the blogosphere, I suspect that Lex has by far the best picture of the moment. And the BBC's Late Junction, despite the devilish rumours to the contrary, actually has all the best tunes.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

2006 Threats

Great piece on tonight's Channel 4 News: a top 10 list of threats to the UK in 2006. Christmas cheer par excellence... The video can be viewed through the item's page.


Term is over so it's time for rest. Good stuff! After a nightmare journey down to Dublin (mostly my fault) I'm in for a great holiday. I hope you have a good one yourself.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


You really can't hang around New York without finding a picture of a red and white thingy with Steam coming out (Assyrian facade optional). The NYC equivalent of a red-haired girl with a donkey.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


I see the new issue of Britain and Ireland is out, this time addressing matters cultural.

Attitudes towards an (the?) EU Constitution

I can't find the data on the Eurobarometer site, but RTÉ is reporting a slight rise in support for an EU constitution in the latest Eurobarometer, accompanied admittedly by a drop in general support for the EU. Interpreting from very slight data (academic speak for 'guessing'), this suggests a rather normal trend in political thinking: if you don't trust the institution, you'd better get yourself protected by a body of law.


Via Apparently Nothing, I've just come across a wonderful resource: ShutterSeek. It's a kind of Lifehacker for camera obsessives. Great stuff!


A more pleasant picture today, taken somewhere beyond New Haven on the Boston-New York train: by far the best way to travel between the two cities.

By the way: them there on the horizon are a spectacularly bleak row of houses.

Monday, December 19, 2005

He knows when you are sleeping...

Not that anybody needs a reminder of the heightened tensions in the American security apparatus, here's a photo of the armed coast guard boat that accompanied the Staten Island Ferry from Manhattan last week. The ferry is the best way to see NYC (especially, as we did, at dusk) and I fully recommend it. But sometimes it's hard not to be put off by the incessant monitoring. This is partly because, instead of being reassuring, it sort of puts everyone on notice that the baddies are out to get you. Maybe that's what it's supposed to do?

By the way, Mel makes some interesting points linking last week's spook-related revelations on both sides of the Atlantic.

In Our Time on Hobbes

Thanks to Stefan, I've been pointed out to a very good piece on Thomas Hobbes in Radio 4's In Our Time: a great programme reviewing both Hobbes's life and his philosophy.

Long Way Home

As well all know, the news in the UK over the last number of years has often involved the ramifications of poverty and exclusion in the North of England. Geographical and demographic factors certainly disadvantage the North compared to the relatively rich and prosperous South.

Well, I have the solution.

Why not compel half the trans-Atlantic flights into London to land in Leeds-Bradford Airport before they fly on to Heathrow or wherever? Just force them to land there. Perhaps create an enterprise zone around Leeds-Bradford thus creating a few jobs in the area.

Of course, viewed from a national perspective the benefits of such a policy might not be totally obvious. After all, any jobs created in the North would likely be offset by job-losses in the South as travellers and the like diverted their trans-Atlantic trips to Paris and Frankfurt. Moreover, the effect of the policy on the North of England’s economy would be pretty limited – limited in fact to the people who worked in or around the airport. And it goes without saying that travellers to London would be hugely pissed off as they wasted time sitting in Leeds-Bradford and wasted money subsidising the tickets of the, say, 10% of passengers who actually disembarked in Leeds-Bradford.

Still, at least the slightly smaller pork(barrel) pie would have more evenly spaced slices.

I’ve arrived back in Belfast from the States after flying into Dublin (via the Shannon stopover).

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

To the Bitter End

In terms of music recommendations, we (purely randomly) ended up taking shelter from the cold in Bitter End last night and came across an amazing singer called Shaun Barker (his site is not terribly polished, but you can hear some of his music, which is very polished, here). Apparently his first album is out next month and I'll certainly be in the cyber-queue!


Just another picture of Boston, this looking up Commonwealth Avenue from Boston Common. The (digital) filter is purely a function of stopping the low-light snow looking blue...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

And moving slowly from Boston

Randi's marvellous photo from our slow trip down Commonwealth Avenue is here...


The American tour continues with a few day's break in New York. God it's cold here, though warmer than a rainy December day in Dublin. Two things immediately noticeable: how international Manhattan is and (more so) the ubiquity of Starbucks.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Voice of God

Aaahhh. So that's what's going on!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Fort Worth

Well, I've made it to Durham New Hampshire now on my American tour. It's strangely warmer here than in Texas (as of last night anyway), but that doesn't mean it's warm! Anyway, here's a Christmasesque picture of pleasant downtown Fort Worth.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Solaris Texas

Well who'd have thunk it. I'm snowbound in Texas. We had an ice-storm here yesterday, it's -15 celsius with windchill and my flight to Boston has been cancelled. Ah well, I'll get there at some stage this afternoon.

(By the way, the marvellous photo is from someone called Erinliisa on flickr.)