The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones

Workers digging London's Crossrail tunnel have helped uncover a 350-year-old mystery about the Great Plague:

[T]he Great Plague...killed 100,000 Londoners (roughly a quarter of the city’s population) around 350 years ago.

Last year, workers constructing a future new ticket hall at Liverpool Street Station unearthed a charnel pit adjoining the old Bedlam Hospital, in which 3,000 skeletons were interred. Now it turns out that some of these skeletons had the answer to a centuries’ old mystery, hidden away in their teeth.

Scientists at Germany's Max Planck Institute took samples from the teeth of 20 of these corpses, and this week confirmed what historians have long suspected but been unable to prove: London's Great Plague was caused by the Yersinia Pestis bacteria, exactly the same pestilence that killed around one-third of Europe's population in the 14th century, under the name the Black Death.

The BBC has more.

Too many browser windows open at work

Because I need to read all of these and have to do my actual job first:

I'll get to these this evening. I hope.

Which city might take over from London?

New York Times business columnist James Stewart thinks it through:

Unless Britain finds a way to undo its decision to leave the European Union, London’s days as the pre-eminent global financial capital, ranked even ahead of New York, may be numbered.

Who might win this high-stakes financial sweepstakes?

Here are the criteria most frequently mentioned: English-language facility, which is essential for attracting a global work force; a favorable regulatory environment, especially regarding employment; excellent transportation and communications infrastructure; availability of prime office space and luxury housing; good schools; good restaurants and cultural offerings; and finally, an intangible quality that includes a certain energy level and openness to an influx of highly paid, competitive City of London-Wall Street types.

I scored numerous cities in the European Union on a 60-point scale: five points for office space and housing, five points for restaurants and cultural offerings — because it’s easier for any city to build new offices and housing, and import talented chefs and entertainers — and 10 points for each of the others.

So who's on top? I'll let you read it, but for my money, I'd live in any of Stewart's top 3.

Buckinghamshire

Two more photos from last weekend. This is what I walked around in near Tring on Sunday:

down well-marked paths:

That, I tell you, is England. Which I hope very much will stay in the United Kingdom.

Tate Modern

I visited the Tate Modern on Saturday to see their new building and snapped some photos. Here's the north face with the Millennium Bridge off to the left:

A better photo of the west entrance foyer:

And one of the staircases in the new building:

Later today or tomorrow, a couple photos of my hike in Buckinghamshire.

 

Brexit and aviation

Cranky Flier points out that while tourism to the UK is really a great deal right now (as I'd attest), it's going to be a lot more expensive if Brexit actually happens:

Today the UK is part of the European Common Aviation Area (CAA). That means that UK-based airlines can fly anywhere within Europe they want, just as if they were based in any of those other European countries. The same goes for European airlines flying within the UK. It also means that bilateral agreements negotiated by the EU with third parties outside the EU apply to the UK. And there are a host of European aviation regulations that govern air travel in the UK as well. Some or all of this may go away completely when the break-up occurs. That is to be determined by those negotiating the terms.

...[T]he EU may decide it doesn’t want the UK in the CAA anymore. That would be quite the blow to the UK, but it would be a warning shot for anyone else contemplating the same thing. I keep coming back to that castle scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

That would mean that the UK and the EU would need to set up a more traditional bilateral agreement. It would be shocking if those restrictions didn’t include a ban on UK-based airlines from flying within the EU. That would mean foreign ownership rules would apply. For EU-based airlines this wouldn’t be a huge issue. They’d probably lose the ability to fly domestically within the UK and they couldn’t be majority-owned by a UK shareholder anymore. That’s not really an issue.

For the UK, however, it’s bad news. Think about easyJet, a UK-based airline that criss-crosses the EU all day every day. It would no longer be able to do that. Instead it would be forced to create an EU-based subsidiary, of which it could presumably only own 49 percent, and then have that company handle the intra-EU flying. Half the profits of that company would go into the EU instead of to the UK as they do today. The airline is already investigating this possibility. This wouldn’t hurt easyJet other than adding a little more complexity, but it would hurt the UK.

Yesterday, I thought of a different problem, but related not just to Brexit but to the general British mindset of never wanting to change anything. That problem is Heathrow. It's not fun connecting through Heathrow to go anywhere, mainly because it's only got two runways servicing its five spread-out terminals. Compare that with, say, Amsterdam's Schiphol, or Munich, or even Brussels, and it's difficult to see how Brexit doesn't make Heathrow even less attractive than its continental competitors.

The UK will screw itself by leaving the EU so many ways that porn stars will be flabbergasted. Aviation is just one small area of this.

What did we learn?

I'm heading home from London having talked to dozens of people about last Thursday's vote. No conclusions yet, or at least none that really challenged my earlier beliefs that the vote itself was a bad idea that went badly. Jeremy Corbyn probably thinks so too at this point. (Link when I'm back on a real computer.)

Let's see what Parliament screws up while I'm in the air.

At least the exchange rate cushions the blow immediately. Sterling is about £1 = $1.35 today, which changed the economics of the Duty Free shop quite a bit just now.