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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

Southern France

Touring in the South of France

September 2014

 

Lyon

Off the plane we are welcomed by a warm Autumn day in the south of France.  Fragrant and green.

Lyon is the first step on our short stay in Southern France, touring in leisurely hops by car, down the Rhône valley from Lyon to Avignon and then to Aix and Nice with various stops along the way.

Months earlier I’d booked a car from Lyon Airport to be dropped off at Nice Airport.  I’d tried booking town centre to town centre but there was nothing available.

This meant I got to drive an unfamiliar car, with no gearstick or ignition switch and various other novel idiosyncrasies, ‘straight off the plane’.  But I managed to work it out and we got to see the countryside between the airport and the city and quite a bit of the outer suburbs at our own pace.  Fortunately we had ‘Madam Butterfly’ with us (more of her later) else we could never have reached our hotel through the maze of one way streets.

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Fiction, Recollections & News

The McKie Family

 

 

 

Introduction

 

 

This is the story of the McKie family down a path through the gardens of the past that led to where I'm standing.  Other paths converged and merged as the McKies met and wed and bred.  Where possible I've glimpsed backwards up those paths as far as records would allow. 

The setting is Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England and my path winds through a time when the gardens there flowered with exotic blooms and their seeds and nectar changed the entire world.  This was the blossoming of the late industrial and early scientific revolution and it flowered most brilliantly in Newcastle.

I've been to trace a couple of lines of ancestry back six generations to around the turn of the 19th century. Six generations ago, around the turn of the century, lived sixty-four individuals who each contributed a little less 1.6% of their genome to me, half of them on my mother's side and half on my father's.  Yet I can't name half a dozen of them.  But I do know one was called McKie.  So this is about his descendents; and the path they took; and some things a few of them contributed to Newcastle's fortunes; and who they met on the way.

In six generations, unless there is duplication due to copulating cousins, we all have 126 ancestors.  Over half of mine remain obscure to me but I know the majority had one thing in common, they lived in or around Newcastle upon Tyne.  Thus they contributed to the prosperity, fertility and skill of that blossoming town during the century and a half when the garden there was at its most fecund. So it's also a tale of one city.

My mother's family is the subject of a separate article on this website. 

 

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Opinions and Philosophy

More Julian Assange

 

 

A friend forwarded me an article by Elizabeth Farrelly in the Sydney Morning Herald on April 12.  Read Here or click on the picture.



It appears that Assange's theories about petite and grand conspiracies are well founded; and illustrated by his own case.

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