Petri Wessman's weblog

London, the city-sized Hotel California

London was nice, as always. Huge, busy, multicultural, and full of more things to do than you’d ever have time for. Or money… the place remains one expensive place to visit – or to live in, I gather.

…but leaving was slightly traumatic. I can confidently say that the London airport situation isn’t as bad as they claim. It’s much, much worse. We would have missed our flight if some nice people hadn’t let us jump the line a bit (it would have taken us about an hour to queue to that spot, and at that point our flight was leaving in about an hour). Since we were flying out through Stansted we thought it couldn’t be that bad. Oh ha. We would have needed to be at the airport 2.5 - 3 hours in advance. Totally ridiculous, and to add insult to injury this idiocy doesn’t do much if anything to improve security.

Until they get their act sorted out, if ever, do try to avoid London airports. “You can fly in any time you like, but you can never leave”, to paraphrase a bit…

Other than the Kafka-meets-Dilbert security madness at the airport, the trip was nice. Guy and Michaela got properly married (in Westminster Cathedral no less), there was much partying and dancing until late-o-clock, and we even eventually managed to get “home” – though we had to resort to a bicycle “riksha” (was a fun experience).

Apart from the wedding, we did touristy stuff. Visited the Tower, the British Museum, the Sherlock Holmes museum, the Zoo, etc. Ate well (including an Ethiopian meal, whee!), shopped a small bit, and even managed to get same-day tickets to see Stomp at the Vaudeville Theatre.

Nice trip, but city vacations are always exhausing. My feet are still a bit sore, and there’s some amount of sleep lag piled up.

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Mind the gap

Hi ho, off to London, back on Sunday – a friend is getting married there and it’s a good excuse to see the city. It’s been quite a while since I was last there.

As always (it seems), the flight leaves at an ungodly hour, we have to leave home at about 5am. Joy.

Let’s see if it’s still as hideously expensive as I remember…

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Religious terrorists in training

David Byrne (yes, that David Byrne) writes in his blog about seeing a screening of a new documentary, “Jesus Camp”. I’m hoping that the film in question will arrive here in Finland at some point, it sounds like perfect R&A material and a film I’d love to see in general. Basically, it’s about training camps for children of Christian fundamentalists, teaching them to obey (their) religious leaders without question, and trying to weed out qustionable behaviour like individual thought and any sort of scientific worldview. Scary stuff.

Not much difference between Christian and Islamic fanatics, I’m sure these people would be just as willing and able to plant terrorist bombs in subways if their leaders told them it’s necessary “for the Lord’s work” and that they would be going to heaven as a reward.

In general, I have a pretty low view of religion and consider it to have done more harm than good in general during human history. The good thing about religion is that it can inspire people to act in better ways, and it can inspire great works of art. If it helps you view the world and live like a decent human being, and you keep it relatively private, religion is fine – just like most other private beliefs, sane or not. I know quite a few people who are both (more or less) religious and (more or less) sane, so it does not automatically rot your brain. I do wonder at the doublethink necessary to both believe any of the current mainstream religions and claim to subscribe to the current scientific worldview, but hey, nobody said people have to be rational in their views.

As for the bad things done by religion in general… well, open your history book to just about any bloody chapter, or just watch the news. Yes, I know that most of that is done by people distorting the actual teachings of their religions in order to generate bloodshed. Doesn’t change the fact that religion is the culprit here, the engine that motivates people to kill and repress.

Whatever bad can be said about the Finnish bland flavor of “pullamössö” Christianity, at least it’s harmless. These U.S. and Arabian religious fanatics are something else, something very frightening. Especially in a case like shown in this film, where children are indoctrinated to become fundamentalists. One day, one of these kooks may run for president, or for Congress. The current U.S. situation is scary, but it could get much, much worse. It’s not yet a theocracy or a police state, and there’s still some semblance of lip service to the Constitution.

All that can change… and I have the uneasy feeling that it’s changing as we speak.

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