Friday, December 01, 2006

Carbon Footprints

I read in the paper today that:

"The Eddington report highlights the importance of reflecting the external costs of transport in the price paid by users, whether this be for congestion or environmental impacts."

It suggested that travellers, by whatever means they move, should pay the real cost, in environmental terms, to combat global warming.

He says that cars, planes, trains and so on must be charged for their relative emissions of carbon, their relative contributions to climate change.

As the Times put it: "all modes of transport should pay their full environmental costs, including compensating for their contribution to climate change."

So, high polluting forms of transport become more expensive than others.

Much of the transport in this country is to move goods from one place to another. So, should we reinvest in the waterways network; employ thousands of porters to shift millions of items from port to warehouse via public transport?
The increase penalties charged to move goods either inwards or outwards will be passed on to the end consumer ~ that's you and me!

My question is, no matter how much more money I pay, or you pay, I fail to understand how is this will combat, or as the article has it, "compensate" for global warming?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Twinkle, twinkle . . .

Just as many households find that when they come to test the Christmas tree lights, there is one which is failing to light; that the whole string may then fail, if wired in series; those Council illuminations that bedeck various lamposts are just as bad, but fail to be fixed.

Are there no standards left anymore?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Waterstones Job 30th September 2006

Kylie Minogue - and Magic!

In the last minute of this film report there is an interesting meeting of the entertainer at this event with its star.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Quirkiness of Folk

Click here for Brian's account

Whilst the ceremony to remember those who lost their lives here was indeed moving (see Brian's account above) and the inscription on the unveiled, memorial stone, not only thought provoking but also a tribute to the caligrapher's art; I was fascinated to observe the behaviour of those in attendance.

The memorial stone is essentially a two dimensional piece, and none the worse for that; so why do people feel compelled to look at the back of it? Have a look at the video clip to see just what I mean.

It's rather like those recipients of the 3D. Pop-Up Greetings cards who look at the reverse of the image to see if it too, is printed ~ I know I do, and am pleased, and satisfied when it is!

What people look at

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Athens on the move . . .

My first experiment in uploading a video clip, tricky for a non technophile!

Athens from the hotel rooftop. Evening September 2006

Just like any city in the world, I guess, there is the background wail of the emergency vehicle siren

Click here for more images from Brian's Blog

Sunday, October 15, 2006

First Cuckoo?

Time was, when 'The Times' always published a letter from the first person to have heard the first cuckoo of the year.

I think it time to add to this idea of first hearings, or in this case sightings, with the first Christmas decorations of the year.

I claim the honour!

Tonight, 15th October 2006, in Gosling Way, Kennington, London I saw the first Christmas decorations of the year, not only up, but illuminated too; courtesy of Lambeth Council.

Ten weeks before Christmas and lit decorations ~ I think that someone within the council has gone quite cuckoo.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Parking Rant, the First.

I am driving down a road and find that so many cars are parked on either side that there is only room for one vehicle to pass by at a time.

Residential Parking Scheme Announcement

Those that have parked here, have had to pay the council for the privilege of doing so on a road near, if they are lucky, to where they live. 'Residents Parking Only' is what the plethora of posts each with their plate, lining the street, announce.

The thinking about controlling parking in this way is to avoid irresponsible parking and ensuing there is no obstruction caused by selfish and inconsiderate positioning of vehicles.

In this there has been a conspicuous failure of policy, I think, as I pull over, yet again, to allow an on-coming vehicle to squeeze past.

The council planners have ensured that congestion is guaranteed to be caused in their planned provision of parking spaces. Perhaps it is really about making money and charging the motorist simply to leave their vehicle unattended.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Research says . . .

so it must be true.

Back in June I suggested that children who have too little contact with their parents but grow up with nannies and toys instead, suffer.

I read in the paper yesterday, that research shows children such as these now lack the conversation skills needed, when they go to school ~ many find it hard to string words into a sentence. The reason given is the lack of parental, quality time; the use of electronic baby-sitters; and the all pervasive television set.

Many electronic games, it seems to me, do not engage the player in dialogue but only develops thumb skills. Mobile phone texting often seems to replace vocal communication, which is ironic given that the telephone was invented to communicate via the voice!

What this means, the report went on to say, was that more resources (money and time) will have to be spent within the education system to make up for this initial deficit.

What a bonkers world we have created! Greater potential to communicate than ever before, but a generation who find speaking coherently a real challenge.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


One fine day in the middle of the night
The sea caught on fire;
The blind man saw it, and the deaf man heard it,
And the man with no legs, ran for the engine,
Which came along drawn by two dead horses
Ran over a dead cat and half-killed it.
My next song shall be a dance, told to you by a female gentleman,
Sitting at the corner of a big round table, bare-footed
With his father’s boots on, eating soup with a fork.

Monday, August 07, 2006


Today at a party, the parent of the birthday child observed that another, visiting child, was in tears because the bubble tail on the miniature bubble balloon I had made for her had burst.

When I make balloon toys for children I always say that if they break they should sing ~ ‘Da da-da da daaa daaa’ and resist the impulse to cry.

The mother explained that this crying child was:
a) robust, as she was the youngest child in her family
b) a perfectionist which is why the burst part of the balloon dog was so upsetting.

I responded that if she were a perfectionist then she would suffer constantly as she went through life as things were seldom perfect.

The mother was having none of that defeatist talk; ‘there is nothing wrong with wanting perfection’. I agreed but added that the little girl would need to find a way to respond and to deal with things when they were less than perfect.

Days later an elderly and most experienced magician friend declared that he would never perform again. Teach and coach others, yes; but not perform himself. The reason was that when he performed he never reached the level of perfection that he sought.

I find this sad as there is joy and fun to be had on the part of the spectators if the performance is good. Yes. yet more fun if the performance is outstanding.

This magician is denying himself and his spectators that chance. That chance will not pass his way again.

Friday, August 04, 2006

A cycle of rant

Last week I wittnessed three near accidents involving cyclists, who were breaking the law and the highway code ~ all within 15 minutes, and a mile of each other.


Today, I saw an elderly pedestrian complain to a cyclist who was weaving around on the pavement. The cyclist responded by telling the man that it was legal for him to cycle on the pavement so, as he pedalled past me, I added that he was breaking the law.

This cyclist, by now feeling that there was conspiracy against him, screamed, "F*ck Off".

So much for reasoned discussion.

The pedestrian shared with me the regret that we had no means of identifying these anti-social hooligans.

I get tired of hearing that it is only a tiny minority of cyclists who give the rest a bad name.

Give them ID plates and then we might get somewhere.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


It is true to say that if you predict that the weather in the UK will be much like the weather yesterday, then you will be correct more times than you are wrong.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

A Dog's Life

We have a dog owned by our local vicar who leaves the poor creature outside his vicarage every time he leaves. This anti-dog behaviour ensures that the whole neighbourhood knows that he is not at home; the dog yaps in groups of five barks, takes a breath and repeats the barking; continuously, until the vicar returns. It's not the dog I blame but the deriliction of the owner.

A dog, like a child, is for life.

A very close friend once owned a bull terrier that was highly intelligent. The dog, in the days of buses that had platforms and no doors, would jump onto a bus whilst at a bus stop; travel the desired distance and then jump off at 'his' stop. All this was done single handedly, or should I say, pawedly.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Twinkle, twinkle . . .

Scintillate, scintillate, gobule vivific
Fain would I fathom thy nature specific.
Loftily pois├ęd in ether capracious
Strongly resembling some gem carbonacious.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Dogs Do

Whilst I can appreciate that dogs on a tennis court maybe a distraction for all kinds of reasons I do find it difficult to picture a blind person accompanied by their guide dog standing there listening to this tennis game.

In an adjacent area to this there is a small fenced off dog-free zone where folk can sit and eat and drink. More often than not I see dogs enter here from the vast expanse of grass and numerous trees beyond. It is here that the dogs piss and crap before leaving. Either the dogs can't read or they are being wilfully malicious.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Arts

The best Drama/Theatre is that which engages the participant to a level so that it feels real; emotions are engaged fully. Catharthsis, in the
Sophoclean sense, is achieved as the house lights come up at the end or the session ends or the film credits roll.

The essay 'This is not a game' is a perfect description of how modern technology can involve game players in a false reality that is greater than any addiction to a television soap. It is a kind of drama that engages the participants totally.

Are there any dangers in the merging of reality with fictional drama?
Docu-dramas can lead to a completely false account of factual historical events; rewriting history to the extent that popular belief relies upon the fictionlised version to inform, to the exclusion of all others, including those which may indeed be nearer to the truth.

High level computer gaming seems to lay the players more open to believing in conspiracy theories than would otherwise be the case in more traditional games. Those activities described by McConical in her very carefully developed essay would lend credence to this view.

If a person lying asleep in a bed has a dream, what is more real, the dream or the reality, that they are in a bed, asleep? The dream, of course.
But dreams are, by definition, not real.
So, something that is unreal (a dream) can appear to have a greater reality than reality (lying in a bed asleep) itself.

Hence ‘The Arts’ are a way using imagination and dreaming whilst awake, of experimenting with alternative futures by invoking the, ‘what if?’ factor.

This is what I found most appealing about the teaching of drama ~ the world with all its complexities and contradictions, was the raw material from which a drama could be forged.

Conjuring, at its best, does the same thing. ‘What if I could destroy something and make it whole again?’ ‘What if I could fly without any visible means?’ Magic of this kind taps into a dream-like world where anything is possible.

Theatre touches upon human experience, places characters together in a context and watches the sparks fly. In the best writing and performing the audience are led to discover something about the human condition that they may not have previously considered or are led into a view that may not have previously been entertained. In great comedy writing they can be led to see the absurdity of life and to laugh at it.

Both conjuring and theatre also benefit from taking place with live interaction between the participants. The members of the audience, to a greater or lesser extent, are aware of one another. Even in a cinema this is the case.

I remember being slightly alarmed as I watched someone’s head being stove in with a viscious spiked glove in a scene from Norman Jewison’s ‘Rollerball’. It was view of the future in which a spectator sport was taken to a height of violence, as yet not attained in our current sporting activities. The spectators in the film were herded like animals behind high wire fences from where they bayed, screamed and yelled like demented, out-of-control, fans at the violent game in front of them. In the darkened cinema the live audience reacted in much the same way as the acting spectators, to this murderous violence. As in the conclusion of ‘Animal Farm’ I looked from screen to live audience and back again, finding it hard to distinguish the difference.

The Arts, it seems to me, can be a tool of tremendous power, moving the witnesses to strong reaction. Only the most accomplished creator of the art form can control what that reaction may be.

At the first performances of ‘Waiting for Godot’ audiences booed and left. Was this play an artistic disaster? At the time yes, but now it is acknowledged as a 20th century landmark piece of writing. Perhaps this above all is an argument for an ‘Arts’ education. Something, that sadly, our government policy makers have put quite low down on their list of priorities.

The Greeks had it as a duty that its citizens attend the great dramatic festivals. Now in Britain, we see nothing but cut-backs in public funding and ever decreasing areas of support for new writers and artists.

The radio version of 'The Lord of the Rings' would not have been commissioned and made had it been submitted today as it would be seen as being too expensive.

The BBC once had a sound library that was the envy of the world. Now producers must pay for each loan, whether the track is finally used or not; previously this was simply an available resource. The result is that contributors to programmes end up raiding their own collections to lend, in order to keep the production within budget.

When art is budget-led, wastage is reduced but the quality is also in great danger of suffering.

Fate v Conspiracy

That most people do not relish the idea that life is haphazard, random and unpredictable leads them, I think, to favour a conspiracy theory to explain tragedies that could otherwise possibly happen to anyone. More reassuring it is then to find a motive and a reason for the awful event rather than say it was an accident of fate. In this way comfort can be drawn, and a false sense of security created, that the same devastating event would not happen to the ‘man in the street’ which could be you or me!

Was it a lone mad killer who happened to shoot President Kennedy or a conspiracy?

Was Princess Diana the victim of a fatal car accident or was there a conspiracy to be rid of her?

The list goes on. . .

Thursday, July 06, 2006


If it is true that a picture paints a thousand words then it must be that, for expediency, we use words instead of pictures, in order to communicate.

This picture is entitled: “and the words got in the way”!

Remove the words and what is communicated?

A work of Tenniel that is definitely diminshed by the addition of ‘explanatory’ words. (Click on image to enlarge)

When confronted with such gobbledegook I am reminded of Hamlet's speech:

Lord Polonius: What do you read, my lord?
Hamlet: Words, words, words.
Lord Polonius: What is the matter, my lord?
Hamlet: Between who?
Lord Polonius: I mean, the matter that you read, my lord.
(Hamlet II, ii.)

But even the simple clarity of Shakespeare’s verse can be mangled by commentators;

“By doing this Hamlet "[...] breaks the social contract necessary to ordinary human discourse, the contract which mandates that there be, in Roman Jakobson's words, `a certain equivalence between the symbols used by the addressor and those known and interpreted by the addressee' " (Ferguson 249).

It's a pun that Hamlet uses, to wrong foot Polonius.

How often are words used to impress the reader to give the impression, albeit spurious, that the writer has some intellectual superiority?

A fireman I knew who worked at the New London Theatre used to quote: "Taurus excreta cerebrum vincit" (Bullshit baffles brains) and that applies all too often!

Here is a fun web-site that has a generator of such phrases, from management.

The link between knowing something and language, it has been suggested, comes down having the words to express the idea. No language, no concept ~ that’s the theory!

This leaves out intuitive understanding which, by definition, requires no vocabulary.

However, I wouldn’t go as far as this writer

“. . . there may be some things we will never know the course of. [That’s no reason to think they didn’t happen, though, even if we don’t know them. Reality is not constrained by what we can know.]”

Really? I guess that communicating knowledge to others though, still relies upon the use of words, or pictures, or indeed, word pictures.

This post was inspired by reading a randomly found blog by Jane McGongal who in the writing of her thesis between March and July this year posted her The Best Sentence of the Day. Yes, 97 inpenetrable sentences which have elicited enthusiastic comments from others who are impressed with convoluted analysis of ‘Game theory’. It's an intellectual game in itself trying to identify the meaning! I think though, the writer was aware of the ridiculous nature of many of her own quoted sentences ~ hence the blog.

Where has educaton gone wrong when it can start with the teaching of reading and writing and end up with a ‘learned’ thesis that, whilst it impresses those with an inside track to the jargon used, does nothing in furthering communication nor adding to the sum of knowledge that can be accessed by all the others who have also been taught to read and write?

Thursday, June 29, 2006


Every time I travel on the Underground I find myself breaking the regualtions.
I can never find a dog to carry, as I descend the escalator.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Nannies & Toys

It seems to me that busy mothers and fathers who entrust their children to the care of nannies and child-minders store up trouble for their off–spring. The apparent benefits of this alternative care conceal the creation of a serious level of short-term pyschological inadequacy. What the long-term effects maybe I do not know.

In the majority of cases when I have entertained children who are not in regular, daily contact, with their parents these youngsters often exhibit a greater degree of attention seeking behaviour than their poorer, and usually lower class, counterparts. They fidget, cannot settle, do not cooperate easily with other youngsters at the party and raise their voice in conversation in an attempt to dominate. The worst manifestation is the need to become violent with those around, in an attempt to achieve close physical contact ~ it is euphemistically called "play fighting".
It isn’t that the nannies do not do a good job but they can be no more than a surrogate parent especially when the natural parent is still in evidence, albeit infrequently.

So often these children have around them, piles of expensive toys, many sadly discarded, which have been provided for them by the 'caring' parents. None of these costly items, however, can replace the close parental contact that is really needed to promote healthy social development in the child.

The latest technological games quite often require one participant so that any chance of inter-acting with other humans, rather than a machine, is almost non-existent. The days when a rag doll, a stuffed toy or an unusually shaped piece of wood could fire the imagination and entertain are gone.

Advert picture

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Look Alikes

The Seven Ages of Man by William Shakespeare (1564~1616)

The similarities between the young and the old not only relate to helplessness, lack of teeth, hair, and control of bodily functions, but equally, I have observed, to physical characteristics; the ‘facial look’ being the most significant. It appears to me that the very young and the very old version of the same person look more alike than their teenager, youth or middle-aged, counterpart.
Study a very young face and you will see how the person will look in old age.

Young & Old Hands by Luisella

Thursday, June 22, 2006


So clean, so environmentally safe and good.
The bike maybe, but what about the rider?

The Red Traffic Light is meaningless to the majority of cyclists who ignore them creating a danger to other motorists and pedestrians alike.

There are those who are trying to create a better,safer, environment despite the behaviour of cyclists who create mayhem.

BBC Article about parent protests at cyclists who fail to stop at red lights

Night time, and most cyclists ride without any lights.
Complete irresponsible maddness.
Cyclists who ride without lights in the dark could be fined during a police crackdown.
Not a wide enough campaign I fear, although elsewhere some are fighting a losing battle.
‘I use lights when it’s dark because otherwise I get smeared across the tarmac’ and ‘I don’t ride along pavements like a five year old’.

Pavements. Obviously the province of the cyclist not the pedestrian.
No cyclist on a pavement could care less about others or the law.

I once witnessed a cyclist without lights, at night, ignoring a stop light and sped past, going the wrong way up a one way street, and then swerved to ride on the pavement.

This link will give you all the facts and distressing figures.

60,000 approx pedestrians involved in an accident with a cyclist in one year. “This explains why cyclists have so bad opinion among pedestrians.”

Illegal Cycling on Footways. Hansard: Section 72 of the Highways Act 1835.
“Cycling on the footway poses danger, concern and fear to pedestrians, particularly to elderly or disabled ones.”
How many near misses I have had as I step out onto the pavement from my house? I don’t care to remember.
Pedestrians need now, to exercise the Highway Code to cross pavement as well as the road!

To cap it all Lambeth Council have used ratepayers money to advertise the benefits of cycling in the borough. The advert depicts a bicycle and a female rider astride it. Where is this bike? On the pavement outside the Ritzy cinema in Brixton.

Cyclists have no insurance, no identification, no compulsory training, no consideration for others, and are accountable to no one. They are truly a law unto themselves and a danger to us all.

In the USA the situation is just as mad!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Traffic ~ Calmed?

Those raised humps do everything, apart from make for a calm journey. It is an excuse not to mend the roads by removing the potholes and the lumps. Contractors are paid to make the road condition worse. Now, we all pay for the addition of lumps and bumps. The cost is not only to the wear and tear on the vehicle; the increased pollution by driving in a low gear but also the toll on the comfort of the driver who now pays attention the where the lump is sited in order to approach it centrally, minimising the jolt. The driver should rather be watching other traffic and looking out for pedestrians about to leap out in front their vehicle.
All in all, these lumps encourage erratic driving and possibly cause more accidents than they are meant to prevent.

Image: Traffic Calming 101

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Friday, June 16, 2006

Dressing Up

Time was when rushing and kicking and screaming around the football field was the activity for the national winter sport. When the cricket season began it was a signal that summer had arrived and the howling mobs of winter soccer fans were relegated to quieteness for a few months whilst the flannelled fools established that unmistakable click of leather on willow followed by polite applause.

Sadly, with the advent of the Packer Test Cricket Matches the screaming fans have found their way onto the summer terraces echoing their winter counterparts.

What still distinguishes the two sets of fans, however, is the dress.

Winter scarves in the livery of the football team together with a bobble hat in suitable colours created a sea of colour from which the songs, many based upon hymn tunes, and chants would rise before giving way to throat-ripping screams as a possible goal approached.

Sun hats over a ruddy complexion from the beer consumed, together with the essential accessory of an umbrella, is what the avid cricket fan sports.

In a year of a football World Cup our relatively peaceful summer is hijacked by the screaming hoards. Everywhere is evidence of their presence; the flags draped around shoulders; the fluttering flags on cars and the unmistakable renaming of this fair land, now called, ‘Ing-ger-laaaand’ until the 10th July when cricket is permitted to return, and the football population pontificate about how, ‘We was robbed’, of victory.

What I find utterly bewildering is the number of players who comprise a team. In my childhood each team had 11 players and some reserves. Now the streets and pubs are full of players in England team shirts. Observing the physique of most of the these ‘team players’ explains why England seldom win the world cup. They are some of the most unhealthy couch sloths imaginable. It has been pointed out to me that they are not team players but 'supporters'. I am led by this information to ponder the motivation for the ‘dressing up’ and the thought that these sad fans could ever be mistaken for a Beckham or a Gazza.

When I entertain at children’s fancy dress birthday parties I have been known to dress up as a character, in the line of duty of course, and certainly the little ones play at being Superman, Batman, Spiderman and Buzz Lightyear.

Recently, whilst purchasing a military costume for a performing job, the Army Surplus shop assistant informed me that his biggest sales were at Christmas and New Year adult fancy dress parties.

What is the emotional age of these adults who parade themselves in England football kit I wonder? Moreover, what is going on when these most unfit people sport the name of a particular player upon their shirt. Just who do think they are kidding? I can understand hero worship amongst the young, emulating a pop or sporting idol. The young still have the potential to become like their hero, but the lumbering beer-gutted middle-aged man??
Please . . .

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A little Wisdom

An elderly 80 something year old lady once observed that if you are in a position to speculate whether two people have "done it" then it is usually safer to assume, given they have had the opportunity, they most probably have.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

And now Marriage

Today the Archbishop of Canterbury decries partnerships as weakening family values. A radio listener wanted to invite the said prelate to her celebration of 25 years partnership which will take place amongst her, once wedded but now divorced, friends. So much for family values! Her union has lasted much longer than those failed, though blessed, marriages.

I do become amused when others pontificate about the royals becoming separated or divorced or re-married; complaining about the fact that a potential monarch has power to appoint bishops in the Church of England. Do these self-righteous commentators have no sense of history?
The Church of England, whose values they so want to defend, was created by the ‘Defender of the Faith’ a certain Mr.Henry number 8. How many wives did he have? How many divorces? How many of them did he have put to death in order that he could re-marry? Who, not acceptinging the stance of the then church on the subject of divorce, abolished it and set up his own, with himself as its supreme head?
Don’t make me laugh.


Thursday, June 08, 2006


When I think about the numbers of people who have been killed in the name of a religion, any religion, coupled with exhortations by those same religious leaders and followers to love or at least, have consideration for other, fellow humans; then I am led to conclude, in the words of ‘1066 and All That’ that “Religion” is, “a Bad Thing”, unless you count expanding one's borders, through invasion and increasing your sphere of influence through conquest, in which case "Religion" is, "a Good Thing"!

To point out all the great achievements that have been made or motivativated, in the name of religion, like architecture of churches and mosques; fabulous music and works of art; charitable foundations and works; persons exhibiting bravery and fortitude in the face of adversity and appalling odds, doesn’t seem to help.
Those great works of religious art which gave employment to artists and artisans were, I suggest, carried out to the glorification of the patron or the body commissioning the work, rather than to the deity celebrated.

A young man was once advised that if he wanted to become rich he should ‘invent a new religion’. There would seem to be plenty of examples where this has worked rather well for the creator.

Perhaps the religion itself is not to blame but the ways in which the adherents interpret it and then behave as a result. This doesn’t help me either because if a doctrine of love can result in mass murder, suppression of freedom and mayhem, performed in its name, then there must be something fundamentally wrong with the original set of beliefs that results in such contrasting and contradictatory action.
Religion, it seems can be the refuge of the scoundrel; the rationalisation for the extremist lunatic.

I cannot accept that any religion that requires its believers to murder others, or die themselves, can be right.

Many religions seem to exclude those who are not signed up members to it; superiority of members over non-members being a major characteristic.

Perhaps the origin of many religions, or at least the successful development of them is that they create or maintain a sense of tribal identity and in the most influencial world religions, help create and effect a sense of national identity. The conflicts between these religions have, in the past, and still today, given rise to wars between countries and their predominant religion ~ the ‘fight’ for that religion enshrined in the national identity has been cited as a justification for the war. If a ‘war on terror’ coincides with a ‘war’ against a religious divide what would happen if the ‘religious’ element were removed from the equation. How many genocides have been carried out on the basis of religious differences? Are we to believe that the religious differences between the murderers and the victims were purely coincidental in these acts of inhuman atrocity?

Is there really any place or justification for this kind of religious superiority remaining in a world that is becoming increasingly multicultural; which by dint of closer cohabitation of those of different cultural backgrounds are beginning to merge into one pan-european, and eventually, pan-global, society. The biggest cities of the world now contain, living cheek by jowl, people from a variety of backgrounds who will enevitably, over time and inter-marriage, merge their cultures.

Can isolationism, based on religious divisions, be justified when there are so many problems, on a world scale, that need a unified response?