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The Shrine of the Martyrs

Before leaving Taipei we were taken to the Shrine of the Martyrs to watch the changing of the guard (Alice is marrying one of the Guard…). 

Like the Greeks and other guards we have seen, they had apparently taken lessons from John Cleese’s institute of silly walks. They carried ancient weapons for which ammunition is unlikely to be available, and would thus preclude the effective guarding of anything.  But as the martyrs probably don’t require much guarding everything was as it should be.

 

 

As always on these occasions, the drill was immaculate and I was again reminded that the purpose of military drill is not to amuse an audience or fill in time but to instil an instinctive obedience to orders.

The martyrs include people how have given their time and energy to civil life,  like our recipients of the Order of Australia,  and I was reminded that Taiwan has never actually fought a war against anyone. 

 

 

A consequence is that these young men are completely untried in battle, unlike our troops who are ready to fight in anyone’s war.  Even during Vietnam Taiwan offered non-combat support to the US effort.  But they are ‘armed to the teeth’ with very advanced weapons.  

Unfortunately this together with their long stated aim of retaking the mainland, and their efforts to develop a nuclear weapon, simply caused China to militarise to a greater extent and earlier than they might have.

After the guard changing it was back on the bus for a hundred mile journey to the centre. 

 

 

 


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Travel

Malaysia

 

 

In February 2011 we travelled to Malaysia.  I was surprised to see modern housing estates in substantial numbers during our first cab ride from the Airport to Kuala Lumpur.  It seemed more reminiscent of the United Arab Emirates than of the poorer Middle East or of other developing countries in SE Asia.  Our hotel was similarly well appointed.

 

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Fiction, Recollections & News

Alan Turing and The Imitation Game

 

The movie The Imitation Game is an imaginative drama about the struggles of a gay man in an unsympathetic world. 

It's very touching and left everyone in the cinema we saw it in reaching for the tissues; and me feeling very guilty about my schoolboy homophobia. 

Benedict Cumberbatch, who we had previously seen as the modernised Sherlock Holmes, plays Alan Turing in much the same way that he played Sherlock Holmes.  And as in that series The Imitation Game differs in many ways from the original story while borrowing many of the same names and places.

Far from detracting from the drama and pathos these 'tweaks' to the actual history are the very grist of the new story.  The problem for me in this case is that the original story is not a fiction by Conan Doyle.  This 'updated' version misrepresents a man of considerable historical standing while simultaneously failing to accurately represent his considerable achievements.

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Opinions and Philosophy

The Fukushima Nuclear Crisis

 

 

Japan has 55 nuclear reactors at 19 sites.  Two more are under construction and another twelve are in the advanced planning stage.  Net Generating capacity is around 50 GW providing around 30% of the country's electricity (more here).  

As a result of Japan’s largest earthquake in history on March 11 and subsequent tsunami all reactors shut down automatically as they were designed to do but cooling systems associated with two sites had been damaged. 

Three reactor sites are adjacent to the earthquake epicentre and two were in the direct path of the tsunami.  The Fukushima-Daiichi plant belonging to Tokyo Electric Power Company was particularly hard hit.  It lost all grid connections, providing electricity, and its backup power plant was seriously damaged. 

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