What is the real price of cheap air travel?
“The arguments against flying are compelling. … A return flight to Australia equals the emissions of three average cars for a year. Fly from London to Edinburgh for the weekend and you produce 193kg of CO2, eight times the 23.8kg you produce by taking the train. Moreover, the pollution is released at an altitude where its effect on climate change is more than double that on the ground.
More frightening is the boom in the number of people flying, fuelled by cheap flights with carriers such as Ryanair and Easyjet. In 1970, British airports were used by 32 million people. In 2004, the figure was 216 million. In 2030, according to government forecasts, it will be around 500 million. The trouble is that the people most likely to be aware of these figures, are the ones who probably enjoy popping over to Europe for a weekend. It makes for a large amount of guilt, and a lot of denial. ”
This article almost matches the course of my thinking about cheap flights. At first I was off-setting flights by donating to Future Forests to have trees planted, but I’ve come to realise I just can’t justify taking so many short-haul flights.
On the other hand, I hope I’ll be taking longer trips and savour them more, or travel more by train. I love train travel anyway – the trip Min and I are planning to Ukraine, Moldova and Romania is designed around the European rail guide.

MIA needs to work on an international scale
Mia needs a home that would give her a lot of pampering and care
In short, what MIA needs is not either an airport authority or privatization, but both.
Mia needs to take a bag including “sparklies” to buy the remaining ingredients
Mia needs his help to face her greatest challenge, and the deadline for breaking a centuries-old curse draws near.
Mia needs to build a time machine to turn back the clock and rewrite history!
what MIA needs is a motivational sideline speaker.
MIA needs to do a number of things
MIA needs to coin a genre
Mia needs your help to prevent the tragedy.
As Princess Cranky says, googling “[your name] needs” is the new astrology.

So far, Portugal has been just lovely. Porto is really pretty, and I had a weird moment when I realised the reason it looked so familiar was that it reminded me of Macau.
There was an election yesterday so the streets were full of cars driving around and around, horns blaring, huge flags being waved out the windows. Having a potter around Porto then off to Braga today.

As this is my year for working on various projects, Life Hacker is bound to come handy at some stage.
I should probably do a budget but I don’t think I want to know how much I spend on travel. Speaking of, I’m off to Porto tomorrow (Ryanair 1p flights), back late Wednesday.

Interesting analysis of the Canadian election in light of John Howard’s campaign tactics.
“Mr. Howard’s phrase for those who have switched their support from the ALP to his Liberal Party is “mainstream Australians.” These voters, who primarily live in the western suburbs of Sydney and southeast Queensland, don’t like gay marriage. They fear social change; Muslim and Asian migrants moving into their neighbourhoods scares them. They believe aboriginal Australians get too much welfare. They like tough-on-crime policies. And they focus on their economic bottom line – they like tax cuts and low interest rates.
The beauty of capturing these voters’ support is that, for a left-of-centre political force such as the ALP to win them back, it has to shift to the right – and that causes public brawling among its membership and makes the party seem a weak alternative to Mr. Howard’s.”

Rather unlikely headline from an Australian newspaper article today: Gay couples can register here for same-sex union
“The first legal registrations of same-sex unions in mainland Australia are set to take place next month.
Following new legislation in Britain that allows same-sex couples to have their unions legally recognised, British citizens in Australia in gay or lesbian relationships will be able to register their relationship at British high commission offices around the country.

But while the union will be recognised under British law, it will not be legally recognised in Australia federally.”
Of course there’s a ‘but’. Obviously every ‘traditional’ family and every heterosexual marriage in Australia would fall apart if gay couples were allowed to even think about getting married. I don’t know how British society has managed to cope in the past few weeks.

Interesting article by Richard Woolcott, “former senior Australian diplomat, ambassador to the United Nations and secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade”:
“Australia today is not the country I represented with pride for some 40 years. This country of such great potential risks becoming a land of fading promise.

We have seen Australian democracy diminished by government hubris and arrogance, opposition weakness and a curious public detachment and apathy. Our national self-respect has also been eroded by our excessively deferential attitude to the Bush Administration’s foreign and security policy, especially in Iraq. … Moreover, truth in Government has yet to be restored.
“Our nation’s standing abroad has never been higher,” John Howard said in his New Year message. Australia is quite widely regarded overseas as a tolerant, generous and egalitarian society.”
Really? In my experience, people increasingly regard Australians as racist rednecks. I was living in Amsterdam when the Tampa thing was going on, and people used to ask me, puzzled, “why are Australians so racist? We thought you were nice”. I used to defend Australia but now I’m not sure it’s defensible.
The article goes on, “I travelled extensively in 2005 and I observed how our standing has been undermined in much of the international community and some important countries in our own region. Our standing is suffering because of a recrudescence of those atavistic currents of racism and intolerance that we have inherited from our past. Given the history of the White Australia policy and the colonial dispossession of the Aboriginal population, opposition to racism and intolerance requires strong and continuous political leadership, rather than any hint of opportunistic, politically motivated tolerance of such prejudices. Multiculturalism, which is irreversible, should be promoted by the Coalition Government; not simply tolerated.

The health of Australian democracy is being threatened by such obscuring of the truth, by the discrediting of individuals who do not agree with particular policies, by the myth that the Prime Minister is the sole repository of wise judgements and sound decision-making, by a largely compliant public service and a strangely apathetic wider community.

Howard has said there is “no underlying racism in this country”. The truth is that there are currents of racism, which our political leaders should have recognised much earlier and acted decisively to resist.”
(The Age)
I used to think Australia was on its way to being a truly multicultural nation, but in Howard’s Australia, multiculturalism is reduced to the availability of takeaway food from many nations.
We will be haunted by our history until we deal with it – saying ‘sorry’ is a start but we need to deal with the underlying racism. Howard might have created a public culture that permits its expression, but it must have always been there to emerge as it has done now.