Chania

Yesterday we took a bus into Chania, which isn’t far, about 15 minutes. At first, it seemed a bit of a grotty town. We walked to the port, which was just a few blocks from the bus station, and it was tourist zone deluxe. Lots of restaurants, with people standing at the edge beckoning you in, we had ice cream, there were lots of interesting looking structures around the harbor, ancient walls and such, buskers, a man with a snake which Helena didn’t like much, a glass bottom boat tour which we decided to take tomorrow, which is now today, and so on. We did go to the Maritime Museum, which was smallish and not terribly impressive, but I learned a few things, and it was good to be in a cool place for a moment.
Then, we started looking for a place to eat. Sam said he’d seen one place that was cheaper than the other places, so we followed his lead. At one point, we took a turn off the main drag and were suddenly on a much quieter street, equally quaint and pretty but without the hordes of tourists, it’s amazing, sometimes a short step to the side and the whole world changes. But, we never found Sam’s restaurant so I took charge and we started looking for a restaurant I’d seen online, which we also never found but the place we wound up eating at was a gem. We chose it because it was filled with Greek people, and that is a good way to choose. In the Greek tradition, they didn’t bother with menus, they just took us to look at the food and choose, which we did, without even asking about cost, but it was all good, we had more than we could eat, and the price was way lower than any other place we’d seen.
Then we did some more walking around the port, but the heat was beating us down and I was exhausted and as we were leaving we walked past a very touristy restaurant and I saw a man down, sitting on the ground with a lot of very worried looking people standing around him. He was still conscious, but I’m sure it was some kind of a heat exhaustion thing and soon an ambulance came and as we walked away I was thinking, damn, that could have been me. He was probably younger than I am, by the look of it.
Anyway, I’ll keep wearing a hat and drinking plenty of water and hope for the best. Today, we’ll hit the beach in the morning, i.e. pretty soon, then back to Chania for the archeological museum and the glass bottom boat ride in the evening.

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Trip Day One

Well, we got off to a bit of a rough start but I must say Crete is awesome, and even after one day I can say, if you’re choosing your next vacation spot, this would be a good choice. Our flight from Prague was only delayed by half an hour, no biggie there, but it was absolutely pissing down rain when we took off and my thoughts rather inevitably led to Buddy Holly, Paul Wellstone, that one heavyweight boxer whose name escapes me because I’m not a big boxing fan, John Kennedy, Jr. and all the others who probably should have stayed on the ground that day. The flight to Zurich wasn’t especially rough, or eventful, except in my own mind. When I asked Sam and Isabel how they’d enjoyed the flight, they kind of looked at me as if I’d asked how they’d enjoyed their walk to the grocery store. “Fine,” they said. They are relaxed fliers as much as I am a panicky one.
Then we had to spend the night in Zurich airport, sleeping fitfully on seats not really meant for sleeping, but every single person there was doing it, some more successfully than others. Again, Isabel got in several restful hours. I probably didn’t sleep for 30 minutes straight the whole night.
The flight from Zurich to Chania, on Edelweiss airlines, was lovely. Breakfast was kind of an oatmealy, yogurty thing with blueberries, a strange sort of mini-cheese crepe, bread with butter and cheese and jam, and a cookie.
We’d been told we could catch a shuttle bus to our apartment, but that was a bit of a lie. We could catch a public bus, and then switch to another, and then walk a bit, uphill, if we were willing to wait 45 minutes, so we decided to splurge on a cab. Don’t want to disparage the cab driver too much, not everybody can know every location on the island, but he didn’t have a fucking clue where he was going and tried to drop us in front of the Cactus Restaurant, which was not at all the Cactus apartments. Still, he didn’t give up and, several phone calls and wrong turns later, he got us there, and we only had to wait about 40 minutes for the owner to show up and check us into the room.
The view, which is what sold us on the place, is truly as spectacular as in the brochure, and we do indeed have a balcony with an overview of the Mediterranean. It’s just about a 20 minute walk down the hill, and you have to take that 20 minute walk to eat, to shop, to do anything because there is nothing at all closer than that except olive trees, cacti, and stark, searing heat.
Anyway, walked into town, had a great lunch, swam in the sea, lounged on a perfect sand beach, did some shopping, struggled back up that hill and had dinner on our balcony, staring out at the sea, the ancient, historical, beautiful sea as the sun went down.
Now, I’m going to bed and I feel I’ve earned it.

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Vacation

In about half an hour, a taxi is coming which will take us to the airport, and we’re off for two weeks in Crete, a place I have always wanted to visit. I’ve been to Greece a few times, many, many years ago, long before I was married and had kids, so I’ll definitely be seeing it in a different light, but I’m sure the food will still be great, the beaches will still be gorgeous, and the people friendly, and the ruins very, very old.
Also, the apartment we’ve rented for the first part of the trip, for a very reasonable price, I might add, looks downright luxurious.
So, for the next couple of weeks this blog will be mostly a travel blog, which will come as welcome news to those who are sick of me only writing about politics all the time.
Watch this space!

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Thoughts on Fermi and Drake

I read an article a week or so ago which got me thinking, and I don’t recall where I read it and I’m too lazy to look it up, but the idea was that and developed, global society, certainly any society capable of space travel, would have to reach a point where we’re at now, where their industry was totally destroying their environment.
Now, the most pessimistic view is that technological civilizations automatically self-destruct, and that would resolve the Fermi Paradox (which is no more a real paradox than the Drake equation is an equation), but it’s all a bit too gloom and doomish for a glass half full type of guy like myself, so I prefer to look at it like this.
Assuming there are a billion billion stars in our galaxy (and it’s probably not less), that is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars, and if one out of a thousand of those stars has a planet like ours, in the Goldilocks zone, with an oxygen atmosphere, plenty of water, and a bit of dry ground to walk around on, that would be 1,000,000,000,000,000 Earth like planets, and if life, sweet, single-celled autotrophic life, evolved on one out of a thousand of those planets, that’s still a trillion planets, (or 1,000,000,000,000) and if intelligent life evolved on one out of a thousand of those planets (because, admittedly, we got very lucky with the comet that killed all the dinosaurs), that would still mean a billion planets with civilizations like ours, and hundreds of billions of dinosaur worlds, which would make for super cool galactic colonialism.
Out of that billion, I cannot believe that ALL would self-destruct because, just as it is possible for a species to be stupider than ours, it is clearly obvious that it’s possible for a species to be smarter than ours (because we can be godawful stupid at times), and if even one out of a thousand of those planets survive their globally self-induced climate crisis and go on to colonize space, that’s still a million civilizations.
I think these can fairly be categorized as conservative estimates, but it still means a lot of alien civilizations out there we could communicate and do trade with (and maybe some we had damn well better not, too)
Will we be intelligent enough to survive long enough to meet them? We can be. If we want to.

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Don’t Hold Your Breath

Yeah, there’s a lot of talk about the January 6th hearings. But don’t expect anything to come of them.
For one thing, that’s January 6th, 2001. It’s an event that took place a year and a half ago. Most people have moved on. I saw a line in a newspaper article that said the hearings were being watched ‘live, by 19 million people!’ as if that were a big deal. That’s less than 1 out of 15 Americans.
For another thing, congress is not going to send an ex-president to jail. They never prosecuted Bush the younger despite his clear reveling in war crimes and torture, they never prosecuted his dad although he had plenty of war crimes of his own, and Reagan was never prosecuted for selling arms to the Iranians in order to give that money to an organization in Nicaragua that raped and murdered nuns.
Politicians are like rich people. Almost none of them go to jail despite the fact that almost all of them should.
Point three, this is just a hearing, not an actual trial. Congress can wrap it up with whatever recommendations they like, and then nothing will happen anyway.
I predict they’ll conclude the hearings and congratulate themselves for having ‘exposed’ Trump (who was very well exposed all along, exposure is his whole thing) and move on to the next thing that has nothing to do with saving the Earth or improving the lives of anybody who’s not filthy rich, and people will accept that.
I’m not happy about it, but that’s how it’s going to happen, because that’s how it always happens.

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