Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Winter Rail Timetable Fun

I am very pleased to see that my last post has provoked some discussion on Facebook, and I shall get around to responding in due course.

In the meantime, however, I need an outlet for my latest rant against the railways – and blogging is as good a way as any.

As a non-driver, the current Sunday timetable frustrates me because the hourly service from my folks’ place down the Arun Valley doesn’t connect too well with the hourly service along the coast from Barnham.  This means that a journey which would take just over an hour by car takes about two and a half by train.  On the positive side, Barnham station is one of the better places one could spend 46 minutes.  The guy in one of the two excellent cafes knows me quite well now and serves my latte just how I like it.

Anyway, there are occasions – even on a Sunday – when one can’t really spare the time for a long latte break, and the news that Southern had applied for a new Brighton to Southampton slot from December was pleasing news.  Surely this would mean an improvement to my journey time….

Well, you would have thought.  But clearly I am the only person who ever considers travelling down the Arun Valley and along towards Southampton at weekends.  That and the planners must hate me.  The new timetable is now online, and the apparent improvements mean that I can now look forward to a 54 minute wait.  At Ford, which doesn’t even have one cafe.

Dr Stark, this is your cue to wander through the office until you find the man responsible for this ‘planning’ and give him a good kicking.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Religious Tolerance

I skimmed through this BBC article this morning, and I have since been thinking a bit about the proposals for a ‘Ground Zero’ mosque.

It seems to me that to not build the mosque would be perceived as being intolerant, and I struggle to see why this is a fair conclusion. What happened to being tolerant of the feelings of those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks? Since when did being tolerant of someone necessitate doing what they want?

I also think some of the comments below the article make some excellent points.

I find it rather amusing that we Americans are preached to about being tolerant when Muslims are deemed as being as pure as the wind-driven snow and completely tolerant of all other religions. Take a Bible to Saudi Arabia and see how tolerant they are.

We feel intolerant because Islam is perceived as a 'threat' - not just because of terrorism but also because the freedom that we enjoy in 'western' countries is not found in 'Islamic' countries. We do not want to get to the point where we cannot build churches, express our opinion that Islamic teaching is not correct or walk around without a veil.

The issue of Park 51 is less one of religious tolerance and more one of respect. How would this issue have been perceived if the situation were reversed?

You can read the rest of them for yourself.

Much as I respect the right of Muslims to practise their faith, tolerance works both ways.  The comment regarding tolerance of Christians in Saudi Arabia is a very fair point, and one wonders what the reaction would be if the proposals for Ground Zero included imagery of Mohammed.  My gut feel is that there would be some angry reactions, and no-one would turn round and preach ‘tolerance’ to those who were upset.

The idea that Islam is perceived as a threat is an interesting one.  To some degree I am very much in agreement, because I do not want to get to the point where one cannot express an opinion against Islamic teaching. 

I also wonder, however, whether people feel threatened in a different way, such that it is not seen as ‘the done thing’ to support those against the mosque.

Finally, I wonder how many of those in support of “religious tolerance for Muslims” actually believe in what they preach, or whether it is an opportunity to jump on a bandwagon and look good by appearing to care for those in a minority.


Thursday, September 02, 2010


Another reason for not being up to speed with current affairs is that when I listened the Radio 4 Lunchtime News the other day, most of the time was taken up with concerns over a few no-balls in a cricket match.

I’m sure that the plight of some Pakistani cricketers is big news in some quarters, but probably not as big as, say, a major flood affecting the lives of thousands.  Or did I imagine that last bit?

A no-win situation

Having returned from a few days sans Internet I’m not quite up to speed with current affairs.  However, I have just read this article about William Hague.

Apparently, "Mr Hague himself now seems to understand that it was poor judgement to share a hotel room with an assistant."

In light of the furore about MPs expenses, one wonders if, having adopted a new policy of not sharing a twin room, the next BBC article will read “he now seems to understand that it was poor judgement in the recession to spend an unnecessary amount on hotel bills.”

Who would be a politician?