Travels across Europe

Not to compare with US travel yesterday of course. But one cancelled flight was a proper pain in the bum. 19 hours and 45 minutes to get from Usti nad Labem to Messines. Yuck.

30 thoughts on “Travels across Europe”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    Look on the bright side. Think how bad things would have been if we did not have all that Global Warming.

    There has been such an inflation of travel expectations. It really is quite remarkable. To cross Europe in 19 hours? For 2000 years people would have called that a fantasy. Now when things don’t work perfectly we are upset. Admittedly part of that is because Airports are such vile places to be caught. But I guess rural inns weren’t much in the 1800s either.

    If I have a point, it is we should really thank the scientists and engineers who make it possible. They get so little credit at the best of times.

  2. If I have a point, it is we should really thank the scientists and engineers who make it possible. They get so little credit at the best of times.

    You’re welcome.

  3. So Much For Subtlety

    Tim Newman – “You’re welcome.”

    Well not all the engineers. Obviously.

    You know, only the ones responsible for airports, airplanes, roads, the aquaducts. Things like that.

    It is a contrast to the Academy Awards going on in Hollywood though. What is the engineering equivalent and which has a bigger impact on our lives?

  4. You know, only the ones responsible for airports, airplanes, roads, the aquaducts. Things like that.

    Oil production facilities contribute nothing, I suppose? Dammit, where is my adoration?!

  5. In the modern world, I would hope us software engineers get at least as much of the credit as those oil barons!

  6. ‘Motion Picture Arts AND SCIENCES’

    The Oscars sci-tech awards are 3 weeks before their glamourous cousin afaik. The US don’t hold back on tech conventions too.
    The British don’t do this sort of thing nearly as well, and there is no British equivalent of the Oscars despite the luvvie media claiming the Baftas are the equivalent, because we don’t have that science part going on.

  7. It is a contrast to the Academy Awards going on in Hollywood though. What is the engineering equivalent and which has a bigger impact on our lives?

    It’s worse than that. Awards are one thing, but us engineers would be happy if people just left us the fuck alone. But the seem to want to actively dismantle what we do. As I wrote in a post recently:

    The availability of cheap, reliable energy – particularly electricity – to so many people is one of the most incredible technological achievements in human history, and has probably contributed more to the wealth and elevated living standards enjoyed by Western citizens than anything else. That nobody of my generation, or those of my children, know what it’s like to sit shivering in the dark at home once the sun sets has led them to take for granted the enormous efforts that their forebears put into ensuring they did not have to. They lead lives of such wealth and luxury that pontificating over a potential rise in global average temperatures is considered a more worthy and valuable activity than generating the electricity that powers their entire way of life, and without which most would almost certainly die within weeks. They believe that taking money from people who add value providing essential things like reliable power – thus making it more expensive for consumers – and spending it on things like windmills (which don’t provide reliable power) results in a net positive outcome for society as a whole.

  8. “If I have a point, it is we should really thank the scientists and engineers who make it possible. They get so little credit at the best of times.”

    See, this is a point I like to make often: we do incredible things all the time, and we forget about how amazing they are. But when you open the Sunday papers, it’s all about lionising shirt designers and cooks and people who have (allegedly) revolutionised the fucking scatter cushion.

    What about the people who build bridges, ships that transport goods for a fractional cost per item of consumer goods? What about the infrastructure wizards who connect every house in the country back to a magical power station using tiny strands of copper? Which then gives us heat, light, and access to about a billion Libraries of Alexandria’s worth of information?

    If there’s any merit in Corbyn’s notions of class war, they are found in the Sunday supplements: all of which are fixated on the middle class’ bread and circuses, and precious little acknowledgement of the engineering (which of course used to be the working classes contribution).

  9. john square,

    “See, this is a point I like to make often: we do incredible things all the time, and we forget about how amazing they are. But when you open the Sunday papers, it’s all about lionising shirt designers and cooks and people who have (allegedly) revolutionised the fucking scatter cushion.”

    But that’s really just about PR. Chefs do interviews to sell books and restaurant places. The Oscars are about selling some films that have just come out. What could a bridge builder sell?

    On top of that, that’s the Sunday supplement audience now. I’m not at all bothered about interviews with movie stars. You spend enough time reading about film, you realise they’re one of the least important elements of a film being a success. The team behind the production of Gravity broke a ton of new ground in visual effects, but who gets interviewed? Sandra Bullock. It’s not like these people aren’t willing to do interviews – you read sites like Flickering Myth or Hollywood Reporter, you’ll get interviews with the people at Framestore.

    I think it’s one of the reasons newspapers are dying – they’re very shallow and ignorant in their coverage, and there are a ton of specialists that we can all read now.

  10. @Stigler
    “I think it’s one of the reasons newspapers are dying – they’re very shallow and ignorant in their coverage”

    Mmmm, not sure. The print media has failed to live up to what the internet brings, and that’s why they are dying. But it’s always been the case that the coverage has been pisspoor. Papers write what sell, and sadly it seems that generally the sort of content we are talking about isn’t in demand.

    Or in short, Tim Newton’s right

  11. It’s not merely crossing Europe in 19 hours that is the modern miracle of travel. If you live within an hour or two’s travel of a major hub airport, you can get to almost* any point on the inhabited globe within 36 hours.

    * There are probably some homesteads in the Gibson Desert or huts in the Mato Grosso for which this isn’t true, but let’s just say “anywhere you might reasonably want to go between 60N and 60S”. Pitcairn Island? (I believe there’s talk of building a runway.)

  12. john square,

    “But it’s always been the case that the coverage has been pisspoor. Papers write what sell, and sadly it seems that generally the sort of content we are talking about isn’t in demand.”

    Yes, you’re probably right about quality, but what’s happening is that there are rivals taking away their audience in a death-by-a-thousand-cuts way. So, The Sun was a bit of news, tits, bit of gossip, but of sport. They’ve now got TMZ rivalling them on the gossip front. People can click a button and get sports results from Google. Tits, everywhere.

    The thing for a lot of newspapers and magazines were the barriers to entry (owning presses, printing copies) and limited space at newsagents. It was hard to create a rival to say, Empire magazine because you had to hope newsagents would stock it. The net is like a newsagent with near unlimited shelf space. Someone tells you about a great news site, you go there as easily as any other news site. Plus, the huge variety means more specialisation. There’s no longer “computer” websites, there’s sites dedicated to hardware or software or mobile or programming. If you’re into programming, you might read Scott Hanselman or Coding Horror. You might decide the rest of Computer Weekly isn’t worth it.

  13. Luvvies and twats abound in the media, and naturally favour other luvvies and twats. Also, of course, the general public wants to read about luvvies and not civil engineering or neurosurgery.

  14. Bloke in North Dorset

    “Well not all the engineers. Obviously.

    You know, only the ones responsible for airports, airplanes, roads, the aquaducts. Things like that.”

    You wouldn’t be getting far without us telecoms engineers.

  15. So Much For Subtlety

    Bloke in North Dorset – “You wouldn’t be getting far without us telecoms engineers.”

    We wouldn’t get tickets for driving without a hands-free set either. So I think we can all agree that is down to you.

    The question really is what is the engineering equivalent of the Oscars? What really amazing engineering thing happened in the world in the past year?

  16. So Much For Subtlety

    Tim Newman – “Oil production facilities contribute nothing, I suppose?”

    Well you know, that is just digging holes in the ground. With some added *plumbing*. It is not like it is really difficult or anything.

    Changing the subject completely, the most impressive picture I saw of engineering at work this year was in the Mail and it was of oil rigs parked in Aberdeen because of the oil supply glut. I am thinking of going to see them – I like Aberdeen anyway, or at least the countryside around it. I wonder if they would let me take a boat out?

    john square – “If there’s any merit in Corbyn’s notions of class war, they are found in the Sunday supplements: all of which are fixated on the middle class’ bread and circuses, and precious little acknowledgement of the engineering (which of course used to be the working classes contribution).”

    I am not sure the working class used to be over-represented in engineering. I think it is more likely to be Snow’s Two Cultures. The newspapers are run by the liberal arts luvvies. So they are interested in what other liberal arts luvvies are doing. Hence the break-throughs in cushion arrangement we get all the time.

    They are not interested in what the dorky little swots they hated at school are doing now they are all grown up.

  17. So Much For Subtlety

    Chris Miller – “It’s not merely crossing Europe in 19 hours that is the modern miracle of travel. If you live within an hour or two’s travel of a major hub airport, you can get to almost* any point on the inhabited globe within 36 hours.”

    I went through Hong Kong a while back. On a Sunday. All the underground stations are absolutely packed with Indonesians and Filippinos. Well Filippinas. All the maids were spending their day off in the Tube. For the free Wi-Fi. They were all talking away to their families back in what Third World dump they came from on their smart phones.

    Even when I were a lad (admittedly in my parts the steam engine was still a novelty) if you had said that you could talk face-to-face on your phone from one sweat-shop-enriched part of the world (as it was then) to a water-buffalo-powered other part of the world, people would have thought you were nuts. You could see that on The Thunderbirds but no one took the idea seriously.

    And yet I doubt that anyone, not even most people here not actually in the business, could name a single person responsible for a single part of that – except perhaps for Steve Jobs, the marketing guy. Who designed the HK underground? Who invented Wi-Fi? We should know some of these things dammit.

  18. Well you know, that is just digging holes in the ground. With some added *plumbing*. It is not like it is really difficult or anything.

    In theory you are right. In practice they make us work in Nigeria with Nigerians.

    Changing the subject completely, the most impressive picture I saw of engineering at work this year was in the Mail and it was of oil rigs parked in Aberdeen because of the oil supply glut. I am thinking of going to see them – I like Aberdeen anyway, or at least the countryside around it. I wonder if they would let me take a boat out?

    I was up in Aberdeen just before Christmas and didn’t see ’em, but I wasn’t down by the docks. And the North Sea rigs might not be the most impressive anyway: head to the Gulf of Mexico to see 5th generation deepwater semi-sub rigs lying idle. There was an article out a few months ago how some of these rigs which are only 10-15 years old are being lined up for scrap because the survey/inspection to keep them in operation is too expensive, as is mothballing them. So unless they find work soon, which they won’t, it’s off to the gas-axe. Which is going to mean fun and games, and bumper salaries for drillers, when it all picks up again.

  19. So Much For Subtlety

    Tim Newman – “head to the Gulf of Mexico to see 5th generation deepwater semi-sub rigs lying idle.”

    Yeah but I would have to go to the US and deal with the Homeland Security slash TSA nightmare.

    I would prefer an older shallower water rig. I wonder if I could make them an offer? It would offer great fishing, some brilliant views, and if I leave it in the right place, tax exemption.

    “So unless they find work soon, which they won’t, it’s off to the gas-axe. Which is going to mean fun and games, and bumper salaries for drillers, when it all picks up again.”

    I wonder how many low cost supplies of oil the French have? If this keeps up some of the oil quasi-majors are going to go to the wall. Good. I don’t know why the BBC keeps talking about cheap oil being a disaster, but from where I sit it looks like the gift that keeps on giving.

  20. But I guess rural inns weren’t much in the 1800s either.
    I bet they bloody were (much better than being stuck in an airport)

  21. @john square

    If there’s any merit in Corbyn’s notions of class war, they are found in the Sunday supplements: all of which are fixated on the middle class’ bread and circuses,

    Top blogging, hats off. Whole post was good, but that sublimes.

  22. Bloke in Costa Rica

    c. 1993 I was doing a Master’s in RF and microwave engineering and working for my dissertation on some abstruse bit of guff in the thorny problem of making computers talk to each other without stringing a cable between them. We had a technology demonstrator for a wireless LAN called LAURA. It took up 30′ of bench space and cost about half a million quid. Now you can get an 802.11n adapter in a USB dongle the size of your thumbnail that works 10× as fast. Most people see that and think, “cool!” if they think about it at all. I see that and think, “fucking hell. We are an amazing species”. Doing something like that is hard. It’s mind-bogglingly hard. It’s tens of thousands of man years’ work, for something that costs $10 and could easily get lost in your pocket lint. It’s mental.

  23. SMFS,
    “Yeah but I would have to go to the US and deal with the Homeland Security slash TSA nightmare.”

    Seriously, you should give it another go. Some time ago, in an act of unprecedented and unheralded government competence, someone decided that US immigration and related staff should behave like Americans rather than low IQ Stasi operatives, and the process is now both efficient and almost pleasant (I’m talking relatively here).

    I enter the US about 10 times a year, and it’s truly an amazing transformation. Even in the NY/NJ area.

    Meanwhile, UK immigration is a shadow of its former self, even if they have got all of the blinking machines working most of the time. (With no loss of front-line staff of course, and with God only knows how much additional background support. Sir Humphrey will be smiling one of his smiles).

  24. Meanwhile, UK immigration is a shadow of its former self, even if they have got all of the blinking machines working most of the time.

    I don’t know what they were like, but I do know that now they are a national embarrassment on appearance alone. They all appear to be overweight, wearing ill-fitting clothes (something not helped by the bizarre requirement that half of them should wear high-viz vests), unkempt, have poor hygiene, and be deeply ugly. That’s before you even see their competence levels.

  25. Some time ago, in an act of unprecedented and unheralded government competence, someone decided that US immigration and related staff should behave like Americans rather than low IQ Stasi operatives, and the process is now both efficient and almost pleasant (I’m talking relatively here).

    That’s good to know. I hope it’s true everywhere!

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