Woo! The Eurostar is faster *and* nearly at St Pancras

BBC: Eurostar is making its inaugural journey from Paris to London via Britain’s new high-speed line

Richard Brown, chief executive of Eurostar, said he hoped that by 2010 10m people would travel by Eurostar each year.
“Today marks Britain’s entry into the European high-speed rail club.”
He said journey times to Paris, even for people travelling from Yorkshire, would be broadly the same as for those flying due to lengthier check-in times at airports.
“It’s as quick and more frequent… and we will be matching airline prices.”

Can’t give up the cheap flights?

The BBC says, “Britons are “addicted” to cheap flights and confused about the climate impact of flying“.

In a government-funded study, even people living generally “green” lives said they were reluctant to fly less.
The Exeter University team that carried out the research says cheap flights have become a lifestyle choice.
Aviation accounts for about 7% of the UK’s emissions, and research suggests Britain will not meet its climate targets without curbing the industry.

“And it’s not people on lower incomes taking these flights, it’s middle class people taking more flights to go on city breaks, and they can afford to pay higher prices.”

But some observers believe there is an inherent contradiction within a government that wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while expanding airport capacity.

The BBC “asks why search engines are so keen to keep hold of our personal data” and raises some interesting issues:

“This is a general problem with free services,” she added. “You have the impression that you don’t pay for this, you don’t pay. In fact, you pay a very high price, because you pay with your own privacy, your own intimacy. You pay with yourself.”

With Web 2.0 now moving so many of our desktop applications, and therefore data, online, campaigners feel we would do well to get these privacy issues sorted out sooner rather than later.

‘Pom invasion’ hitting Down Under

Changes to the points system, which come into effect on 1 September, will award five valuable extra points for people who can pass a standard English language test, a Brit-friendly policy partly designed to lure more “poms” here.

To others, the award of extra points to fluent English speakers is more sinister, with shades of the monocultural “white Australia policy”, the umbrella term for a swathe of policies and laws engineered to limit non-white immigration which finally petered out in the early 1970s.

The comments about the new citizenship test are ironic because I’m being forced to learn the most popular sports and when various saints days are to prepare for the ‘Life in the UK’ test. I’ve managed 34 years of my life without having to know a thing about sport, and now I have to learn sports stuff? It’d make more sense if the English were any good at sport!

I’ve upgraded MovableType

So there might be a few glitches along the way… it’s quite a good upgrade process, but it would be helpful if it tested that the config file had the right paths for some of the necessary files (though it was my bad for initially getting the mt-static directory name wrong).
I had some stuff to display post categories and link to a category archive that I’ll have to fix cos it doesn’t recognise anymore, but that’s ok. I haven’t figured out all the new functionality yet but it looks like they’ve made a good effort at catching up with Word Press.
While on the geek thing, my favourite RSS reader is testing new functionality. They have feedback forums, so I posted something from my wishlist:
“I would love a ‘drip feed’ feature that would load a small set of posts from a feed, so that you could skim read them, mark them as ‘keep new’ to read properly later, etc; then click to call up the next set of posts from that feed.
Basically it would let you page through a feed so that you don’t have to skim through every post because the entire feed will be marked as read when you’ve let a particular feed build up (cos you’ve been on holiday or busy or whatever).”

China is taking action on the English translations of its restaurant menus in its campaign to brush up the country’s image for next year’s Olympics. (BBC)
I hope they keep the traditional names as well, because if you just translate the main ingredients you lose the ability to distinguish between dishes. I’ve had so many different dishes that were simply translated as “stir-fried tofu” or “tofu in tomato sauce” and it’s impossible to order them again if you don’t have any idea what the real name or description is.
It’s interesting reading about the deliberate things China is doing to change Beijing and the habits of its people before the Olympics – all countries do it, but it’s usually more subtle.