Category Archives: Around the World

“Just because it’s bonkers doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea.”

Have you ever heard of The Biggest Little Railway in the World? It was

“a temporary 71 mile (114 km) 1.25 inches (32 mm) O-gauge model railway from Fort William to the City of Inverness, the two largest settlements in the Scottish Highlands. It has been described as a crackpot project to run a model train the length of the Great Glen Way by an army of madcap enthusiasts, geeks, and engineers in the best spirit of eccentric Britishness.”

56 volunteers built it over the course of 12 days and also drove the engine called Silver Lady along it. The track included a temporary bridge across the Caledonian Canal, a huge trestle bridge and a spiral loop near the end that enabled the train to climb five metres over a very short distance.

The model train achieved what the real railway didn’t: It ran from Fort Williams to Inverness.

There is a five-part Channel 4 TV series about this incredible project that you can watch in its entirety here:

Futility Closet: Thinking Big. (5 x 45min)

I watched it over the past few days and enjoyed it thoroughly even though I’m neither a train nor model train enthusiast.

Impfen!

Deutsche Welle: WHO warnt vor Impfmüdigkeit. “Mangelnde Impfbereitschaft zählt laut der Weltgesundheitsorganisation zu den zehn größten Bedrohungen der Weltgesundheit. Die Folgen lassen sich schon heute beobachten.”

“Welchen Folgen das haben könne, zeige das Beispiel Masern: Weltweit sei die Zahl der Fälle im Jahr 2017 um 30 Prozent im Vergleich zum Vorjahr angestiegen. Auch in einigen Ländern, die bereits kurz vor der Ausrottung der Krankheit gestanden hätten, gebe es wieder mehr Fälle. Zu einem Anstieg der Masern-Fälle kam es zuletzt auch in der WHO-Region Europa: Dort seien im gesamten Jahr 2017 knapp 24.000 Menschen erkrankt – 2016 waren es nur 5273, also weniger als ein Viertel. In Deutschland gab es 2017 rund 1000 Masernfälle. Ein Mensch starb, rund 40 Prozent der Erkrankten mussten stationär behandelt werden. Eigentlich sollten die Masern in der Bundesrepublik bis 2020 komplett ausgerottet werden.”

Jede(r) sollte bedenken, dass man sich nicht nur für sich selbst impfen lässt (bzw. die Kinder für sich), sondern dass man auch durch jede Impfung diejenigen in der Bevölkerung mit schützt, die nicht geimpft werden können, z. B. Neugeborene, Menschen mit geschwächtem Immunsystem und alte Menschen.

Ed Pratt Unicycles The World

World Unicycle Tour is just exactly what it says: Ed Pratt from Somerset, England, cycled around the world on his 36″ unicycle starting on 14th March 2015 and returning home on 27th July 2018, racking up some 22,000 miles. Read more about him and his tour or take a look at his route. For a while, he also kept a blog, the first entry of which is here.

The best bit though is his YouTube channel Ed Pratt Unicycles the World where he posts videos from his trip weekly. I’ve spent the past few days catching up by watching all of his videos, and they are exceptional. A few highlights: Germany, Ed cycled trough the Upper Middle Rhine Valley (I used to live there), How to film camels on a cycle tour, Ed unicycles China (trailer), Ed unicycles Australia (trailer), Taped a GoPro inside my wheel (also check out the second perspective – so weird, but fun!), Ed Unicycles New Zealand (first episode), and the most recent series (ongoing): Ed cycles South East Asia.

I don’t know why this guy only has 32,000 subscribers on YouTube, but I hope he gets a wider audience because his project is laudable – he collects donations for “School in a bag”, and his videos are interesting and well-edited with a fantastic soundtrack.

Link via MetaFilter: Have wheel, will travel. (What a great title, btw!)

Just reading the headlines makes you sick to your stomach…

… and I’m not even a US citizen, just a concerned Eurpean who knows a thing or two about German history.

The Atlantic: Unthinkable – 50 Moments That Define an Improbable Presidency. Each line is the link to a corresponding article.

“Jeffrey Goldberg, Editor in chief of The Atlantic:

In an October 2016 editorial, The Atlantic wrote of Donald Trump: “He is a demagogue, a xenophobe, a sexist, a know-nothing, and a liar.” We argued that Trump “expresses admiration for authoritarian rulers, and evinces authoritarian tendencies himself.” Trump, we also noted, “is easily goaded, a poor quality for someone seeking control of America’s nuclear arsenal. He is an enemy of fact-based discourse; he is ignorant of, and indifferent to, the Constitution; he appears not to read.”

In retrospect, we may be guilty of understatement.

There was a hope, in the bewildering days following the 2016 election, that the office would temper the man—that Trump, in short, would change.

He has not changed.

This week marks the midway point of Trump’s term. Like many Americans, we sometimes find the velocity of chaos unmanageable. We find it hard to believe, for example, that we are engaged in a serious debate about whether the president of the United States is a Russian-intelligence asset. So we decided to pause for a moment and analyze 50 of the most improbable, norm-bending, and destructive incidents of this presidency to date.”

Link via MetaFilter.

“Chocolate Chirp Cookies”

NPR The Salt: Should Hyping Edible Bugs Focus On The Experience Instead Of The Environment?

“Farming insects may be more sustainable than raising meat, but so far that hasn’t been quite enough to convince most Westerners to eat them.

Marketing them as delicious, exquisite delicacies, though? That might do the trick.
[…]
Current marketing tactics for eating insects tend to point out environmental and health benefits. But a new study published in Frontiers in Nutrition suggests it might be better to focus on taste and experience, such as highlighting how much dragonflies taste like soft-shelled crabs.”

Best food name ever: “Chocolate Chirp Cookies” for cookies baked with cricket flour.