Saturday, 24 November 2007


Had a lot of problems with broadband over the last fortnight, with only a couple of days service, that meant I struggled to cope with the slowness of a using - for the first time in years - a standard 56kbps (actually not more than 42) dial-up modem. Obviously, being accustomed to 10x that speed, it proved to be a lot of hassle just shifting and sorting through seasonal avalanche of spam emails, never mind essential FTP work for my publishing updates, or using various websites clearly designed for a minimum 1mbps download speeds.

At last, there's a solution in sight, but my online troubles probably won't be over until I can get the BT phone line moved around the house so the main socket is in the back room instead of the front hallway.

Sunday, 4 November 2007


They say 'travel broadens the mind' but that proverb is about 100 years old now and it's no longer true. Back then, if you wanted to see the world you had to go around it. Nowadays, though, you can watch the world go by from your armchair.

Of course, the old saying predates the Internet and the 'global village'. It even predates modern cinema with colour and sound. The idea that 'travel broadens the mind' has been nixed by the advent of gadget culture, with technologies like cell phones, digital photography, home video, satellite communications, and television. Since wartime, generations have grown up with the whole wide world on their doorstep, in their living rooms, at their fingertips and in their pockets. Today's children are leaving school having already seen and heard - via look and learn education and online experience - more about the Earth's wonders and treasures than all their great-grandparents and most of their ancestors put together.

As Dr Johnson said about Giant's Causeway: "worth seeing, yes; but not worth going to see."

The tourist industry and package holidays are simply a way of taking money from uneducated working class folks with middle-class aspirations, and middle-class families with little or no common sense. So, the living planet has become simply another consumer product. Obviously, 'travel broadens the mind' predates space flight (such online gadgetry as 'Google Earth' demonstrate how orbital perspectives are shaping the un-blinkered outlook of 21st century societies) and, most importantly, the Apollo missions that landed astronauts on the Moon. Now that's travelling!

"A wise man can see more from the bottom of a well than a fool can from a mountaintop."

Thoughtless tourists often claim they are exploring foreign lands, but they often look quite silly doing it while using a guidebook or cheap map. When it comes to all those frequently aimless sightseers carelessly burning up our precious natural resources for plainly frivolous adventures, it's really not a big step from asking 'is your journey really necessary?' to the more pointed question, 'is your life really necessary?'