Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Year Of The Buffoon

Let the Chinese keep their Year of the Horse, the Year of the Monkey, Year of the Rat, and all the other animal signs.

Let Al Stewart keep his Year of the Cat (and how many of you remember that?.

This year must surely be the Year of the Buffoon.

Just consider: Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, and, wait for it, buffoono supremo Donald Trump. What a set of human disasters they represent!

Then add to this sad list the names of the likes of Recip Eroğan, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, and the ultra right-wing upstarts in Europe.

All you then need are some religious fanatics and you've got a recipe for disaster.

Oh, hang on, such religious fanatics are already present in the USA in the form of fundamentalist Christians (home teaching, anyone? Yes, the world is six thousand years old. I ask you!) and in Europe and the Middle East, Daesh, who claim to be fundamentalist Moslims, but act like no true Moslem would ever act, fill that rôle. (Personally, I think that fundamentalist Christianity, as practised in the USA, is a far more dangerous manifestation.)

Generally, the world seems to be going to pot, with ultra right and fundamentalist viewpoints gaining way too much ground, as people look for simple solutions to relatively minor problems that are blown up out of proportion, as a way of gaining support for extremist ideas and movements.

I had intended on writing rather more on this subject, but came across an excellent article that really says all I have to say, so rather than read my drivel, please take the time to carefully read Brian McNair's When Terror Goes Viral It's Up To Us To Prevent Chaos—it says it all.

(But just to finish, can you really imagine Trump as the president of the USA?)

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Castilla y León

Elise and I have not long returned from a trip to a part of the north of Spain with which we were not previously familiar, Castilla y León.

The initial idea was to go to León and from there to drive further to Bilbao. That's not the way it worked out, however, and instead we visited a number of other places in the same autonomous community as León itself.

The main purpose of the trip was to see the Pantheon of San Isidoro in León, and to visit some Romanesque churches. A strange goal for a couple of atheists, you might think, but we look upon these treasures perhaps in a different way to that in which Christians (and so-called Christians) do.

The trip was a great success: León is an excellent mixture of old and new and harbours plenty of interesting things to see.  From León, we travelled to Astorga, and from there to Zamora; we then drove via Toro to Segovia, which we had altready visited a few years ago, but this time went with the purpose of seeing the gardens of La Granja.

Sadly, photography is very restricted in most of the ancient attractions, so here are some links to sites where others present a visual appreciation:

Royal Pantheon of San Isidoro, León

Virtual reality visit to Zamora, including three excellent views of the Flemish tapestries

Flemish tapestries of Zamora (information in Spanish)

Romanesque churches of Zamora

Portal of the collegiate church of Santa María, Toro

I have placed some photos that Elise and I took during the trip on Flickr:

León (incl. Parador, cathedral, Gaudí building…)

Astorga (with one of only two Gaudí buildings outside Catalunya)

Zamora and Toro

La Granja (gardens and fountains)