This is another of those posts that starts out all meta, noting how long it’s been since I posted last (and in fact meta-meta, since I’m talking about being meta (and in fact…)).
So much has been occurring! I’m sure there was some stuff longer ago that I could mention that I’m forgetting, but we went to foreign countries! Which is not a thing we do very often.
First M and I went to “England” for a week (“London”, in particular). Here is a picture of Buckingham Palace:
and if that doesn’t give you the full flavor of the experience :) M has done a great thorough set of writeups on every day of the whole thing (with perhaps more stress on yarn and fabric, and less stress on random blurry things, than a hypothetical similar series here might have offered).
Then after that, M went back home, and I went to “Dublin”, in “Ireland”, on business. Here is Ireland (it is green):
All I saw was Dublin, mostly the “Silicon Docks” area and the part of downtown in front of Trinity Library, and the 20-minute walk between them. But it was cool. I was there entirely by accident on Bloomsday, and saw some people dressed all memorably, although I was not forward enough to take pictures of them.
Another notable fact is that a vast alien mothership has landed in the middle of the city, and apparently there is some mind-control field that prevents anyone but me from seeing it. Here is a picture (although if the mind-control lasers have gotten to you also, you may just see an ordinary little line of Irish flats):
(Not Photoshopped, promise!) So that was notable. Various random things:
- We stayed in a tiny flat off of a garage off a a mews just North of Hyde Park, which was pretty awesome.
- There was a local pub right on the corner, The Mitre, which was very genuine (in the sense that for instance if you just wander in as an American there’s no clue what you’re actually supposed to do in terms of sitting down, obtaining goods and services, and so on), and (once we figured it out) had good Guinness and Fish-and-Chips, and all like that.
- We saw All The Things, Big Ben, the Eye (from below, we didn’t go up in it), Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, the Tower, the East End, big famous stores and shopping streets and things whose names I’ve forgotten (see link to M above who covers these things coherently).
- The Underground is great, if confusing compared to say the NYC Subway. When you land at Heathrow, they will make it Very Very Easy to buy a ticket into London on the Heathrow Express, which is very convenient and fast, but costs basically infinitely more than the Piccadilly line in the normal underground.
- The Underground is not great in that figuring out how to pay for things is Incredibly Baffling. Again the NYC Subway is a model of simplicity here: you get a Metrocard of any kind at all, and you pay either nothing (if you have an unlimited card) or $2.75 to get into the subway system. And that’s it! In the Underground you can buy either a ticket or an “Oyster” card, and the “Oyster” card can have a TravelCard “on” it in some logical sense, and there is a deposit associated with the card that you can get back only after the card has expired, and you can get it back from a machine if it’s under a certain amount, and otherwise you have to take it to a hidden office in the London Sewers that is open only alternate Wednesdays in February. Your Oyster card is charged (or not) both when you enter the system and when you leave; if you don’t have enough money on it to leave, you can still leave, but you can’t enter again until you “top up” the extra amount from when you left. They have people stationed at every set of payment machines, who attempt to explain to tourists and Londoners alike how much it will probably cost them to do various things, but those people seem only slightly less baffled than the people they are advising.
- Although you aren’t supposed to take pictures in Westminster Abbey (for reasons I can’t really understand), my phone seems to have accidentally gone off a few times, and I have some pictures of M’s feet standing on various famous names in Poet’s Corner.
- Lots of other stuff.
- The last day, when I’d dropped M off at Heathrow and had a couple of hours to get to London City Airport (the London Docklands is a really interesting area!), I went and sat in Hyde Park in one of the folding chairs that are all over the place, and as it was raining lightly (we had great luck with the weather, that was the only rainy bit) I put my umbrella up over me, and just sat there watching people go by for awhile. That was nice.
- After awhile of that, there was this very loud noise out in the street of chanting and marching and things, and eventually this roused me and I went up to the street and there were all of these Hare Krishna folks marching and singing and dancing and conveying a big colorful float, and a smaller float with a loudspeaker, and satellite folks going among the people on the sidewalk giving out literature and taking donations. They were, it seems, going to Trafalgar Square for an annual vegetarian feast and festival.
- So I ended up with a Hare Krishna book and have read much of it. It starts out well, with good basic spiritual insights about the world and stuff, but then goes off the rails (as so many do) about how true knowledge can be obtained by chanting certain words, and we should believe specific things because the Vedic Literature says it, and anyone who believes otherwise are Lower Than The Beasts and blah blah blah. Which was sort of sad.
- And many many other things.
Outside of us travelling about wildly, other things have happened that you may have heard of from other sources:
- omg #LoveWins. What a world!
- And Tony Scalia has completely jumped the shark; I really ought to write a weblog entry about that. Ages ago I used to grudgingly admire him for at least being consistent and mostly rational, if from odious underlying assumptions and principles. Awhile after that I wrote about how I’d become disenchanted, noting that his not even acknowledging the possibility of (rather obvious) alternate views was either oblivious or hypocritical of him. And now he seems like just a frothing loony. (And given the “applesauce” and “jiggery-pokery” in his latest, one has to wonder who in the world he hangs out with.)
- Also ObamaCare is still legal and all, which seems good (I am such a Progressive these days!).
- The Republicans continue to be the Party of Crazy. I still think we will probably get a Clinton vs. Bush in 2016, with a close Electoral College and a Democratic popular vote. But Jeb has been pandering to the loonies more than I would have expected, and I’m not sure what that means. (Trump! Christie! hahaha!)
Other things I would like to write about someday:
- All of these tabs that I have open on my phone and in Chrome (both to talk about them, and to write them down for myself so I can close some of them!),
- The Monty Hall Paradox thing, for which I have what I think is a very insightful observation that doesn’t seem to have been made much, that explains why it generates so much strong feeling and all.
But not tonight! :) In fact I think I will post this without even a thorough proofread; enjoy the typos!