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We're aiming to have lunch in Vienne, a town on the Rhône, that was once the Roman provincial capital and retains some impressive Roman leftovers.

We find a pretty town of steep narrow streets leading down to the river.  One narrow lane tests my driving skills.  Breath in!


La Tour 
Vienne on the Rhône
Vienne on the Rhône


Interestingly, the eldest son of Herod the Great was exiled here.  Herod Archelaus - not his brother the one who ruled Judea after him, Herod Antipas, who ordered John the Baptist’s head doffed and who along with Pilot may have played a role in the crucifixion of Jesus.  

Comparing this countryside with our recent trip to Jerusalem one is reminded of the Monty Python skit concerning the ultimate torture of the Spanish Inquisition: – ‘Not the comfy chair!’

Later in history this town was at the heart of numerous religious schisms and conflicts. 

The oldest sections of the impressive Gothic Cathedral date back to the eleventh century but Vienne was a strategic town on Rhône that was the border between the Holy Roman Empire and France and was embroiled in the Crusades.



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Vienne Cathedral



The Council of Vienne was convened there in October 1311 when Pope Clement V abolished the order of the Knights Templar and may have given rise to the Masons. 

The Cathedral fell into Protestant hands during the French Wars of Religion resulting in damage to objectionable decorations, deemed to be in contravention of the Biblical Jewish/Protestant/Islamic second commandment:  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath... etc.  The Roman Catholic second commandment is, obviously, different.

Later still, during the French Revolution, all religion was banished for a period.  Over the centuries great fun has been had by one and all massacring those of the opposite opinion.

In the twenty-first century in this quiet, peaceful and beautiful place as we enjoy our freedom of thought and action on this ideal day it’s hard to imagine anyone holding any religious views with such certainty as to justify such murderous pursuits, yet we know that just across the Mediterranean this is, indeed, still going on in defence of a similarly imaginary reality.

After some pleasant hours exploring the Roman ruins and


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Roman Ruins Vienne



having lunch, and wandering the ancient streets, we regained our car parked high above, near the ancient cemetery, and continued on our way to Mirmande. 



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Almost everyone in Australia knows someone who hailed directly from Malta or is the child of Maltese parents. There are about a quarter as many Maltese Australians as there are Maltese Maltese so it is an interesting place to visit; where almost every cab driver or waiter announces that he or she has relatives in Sydney or Melbourne.

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Fiction, Recollections & News

The U-2 Incident




In 1960 the Russians shot down an American U-2 spy plane that was overflying and photographing their military bases.  The U-2 Incident was big news when I was in High School and I remember it quite clearly. 

The Incident forms the background to Bridge of Spies a 2015 movie, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance from a screenplay written by Matt Charman together with Ethan and Joel Coen that centres on these true events. 

Spielberg and the Cohen Brothers.  Who could miss it?



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Opinions and Philosophy

Climate Change - a Myth?



Recently, an increasing number of friends and acquaintances has told me that Climate Change is a myth.  

Obviously they are talking about 'Anthropogenic Global Warming', not disclaiming actual changes to the climate.  

We don't need climate scientists to tell us that the climate changes. Our own experience is sufficient to be quite sure of that. 

During my lifetime the climate has been anything but constant.  Else what is drought relief about?  And the ski seasons have definitely been variable. 

In the longer term we all have to rely on others. For example on scientists who have themselves examined ice cores or tree rings or sea level records or other physical evidence that can be dated. 

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Changing sea levels during the past 20,000 years
 Source Wikipedia: Early Human Migration & Sea Level change


This rise has not stopped.  During my lifetime the average sea level in Sydney Harbour has risen by nearly a foot, in keeping with long term trends.  More water in the Harbour on average obviously has temperature and therefore microclimate implications.  There are thousands of well documented examples of changes that have climate impacts.

But like the tides there is great variability that masks the underlying trends.   For example 2014 was a record warm year in Sydney.  But in mid 2015 we are going through the longest cold spell in 45 years.  It is snowing in Queensland!

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