Archive for July, 2005
Looking at Tony Howard’s piece on women bishops in the Times today, I noticed a rack of google ads down one side. This was the bottom one ….
If you have a fast PC and have not yet played with Google Earth you are missing something astonishing. It has to be a PC, I’m afraid: there’s client software to download.
Essentially it is a set of satellite maps of earth, centrally served (You’ll need broadband, oops) and zoomable to various levels of detail. The highest level is astonishing. Not only could I pick out the exact hotel where I stayed in Cambridge in May, in Harvard Square I can distinguish individual people standing on the individually distinguishable steps down to the subway.
Even the next-highest level of detail, which covers London and parts of England, is phenomenal. I can see my own car outside my own house and my mother’s outside hers. I can trace (and measure) all my normal walks.
The next level is too blurry to distinguish individual houses or cars, but the overlay of roads on the countryside allows you to see where they are. In this way I am able to spot the house in the woods where I lived for three years in Sweden, and the farm where I will be this time next week.
What’s the use, apart from fun? There are all the usual overlays, showing where shops and banks and hotels and petrol stations ought to be, with all the usual biases towards the USA. But at the high resolution, it’s better than that. I can mark the pools that hold individual trout on the Cam. My friend Sean says this could ruin wild fishing in New Zealand. But I think it will be a while before that is mapped at the same resolution as Essex. Even in Montana, the rivers are a bit blurry for that sort of game. But, since I know so well the lakes I used to fish, I can pinpoint the bay where I caught my first ever trout on a fly.
It’s true as well as inspiring to say that London is a great, multicultural city and will recover from this. It has the traditions of resilience, tolerance, and diversity. But that’s not so true of England as a whole, and especially not of some of the places with large Muslim populations. Imagine the effects of bombs in Burnley, or Bradford.
Is anyone reading this in Stockholm? I will be passing through on Wednesday evening, with six hours to kill before the night train to
Are up at Salon if anyone’s interested. Not very coherent, but not notably wrong, either. I do wish I had been closer to the action. I know it sounds callous, but that’s what journalists do. I want to see, not watch things on television.
I note that Salon, just as much as everyone else, immediately fitted the bombs into their preferred narrative: in their case, that warmongers will be punished by the peace-loving electorate for their crimes.1 I don’t think that’s going to happen. Even if it did, I don’t think it would diminish our danger much. Though it is true that there are now far more and better-trained terrorists than if we had not invaded Iraq, it doesn’t follow that there will be fewer if we pull out. It may just encourage them.
1 Dr Baber, who should know better, said much the same. But if Blair is replaced, it won’t be by an anti-war leader. We’re too far in for that.