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Daily Archive: 25/02/2018



February 2018



The Little Book of the London Underground by David Long

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Three Stars

Best for: People who enjoy trivia, transportation, and / or London

In a nutshell: Author Professor David Long provides a sweeping overview of the London Underground, including fun facts, trivia, and more in-depth stories about the people behind it.

Worth quoting:
“Holden was a Quaker … he too declined a knighthood, maintaining that because successful architecture was the result of good teamwork it would be inappropriate for him to profit from the work of others.”

Why I chose it:
I went to the Museum of London last week, as part of my attempt to get to all the free museums before I get a job. I made the mistake (given the size of my to-be-read pile) of going into the gift shop, and ended up leaving with FOUR London-specific books, including two about the Tube. This is the first of those.

This is not a chronological narrative of the London Underground, so if that’s what you’re looking for, keep looking. Instead, it’s a fun collection of facts, figures, and stories that might make me somewhat obnoxious when I’m traveling on the Tube and find cause to share a fact with my traveling companion.

Prof. Long does offer some things you’d expect, like a time line of the the Tube, a description of each Underground line, and some interesting stories about the people who helped get the different lines from imagination to reality. But he also includes topics like the different maps that have been used (and ways the maps have been revised in clever ways, including one where each line is a genre of music, and each station is a person or band in that genre, with intersections of lines including people who cross genres), how the Tube was used during war, different trains and Tube technologies, as well as how the Tube has featured in pop culture.

There was one area that I found a bit ignorant: in the discussion of the use of escalators vs. lifts (elevators), Prof. Long uses the phrase “…relatively few stations have resisted the temptation to switch from [escalators] to [elevators].” But there’s no mention of how inaccessible this makes the Tube. He’s interested in the technology aspect, but it strikes me as a missed opportunity to treat it solely as a tech issue and ignore the very real impact it has when there is no step-free access.

Otherwise, it’s an entertaining book that has given me some ideas of things to look out for, such as the art at my nearest Tube station, or disused stations I can spot in the tunnels. And hopefully it’ll help bump up my pub quiz scores.



February 2018



What I’m Reading – 25 February 2018

Written by , Posted in What I'm Reading

I’m back at it! I’m living in London now, and trying to not spend loads of time online, so future weeks may have shorter posts. But for now…

Gun Violence

“The school walkouts weren’t limited to Florida: across the country, students began leaving their classrooms in protest. In Washington, D.C. and Maryland, thousands of students gathered to march toward the U.S. Capitol and the White House. “I understand marching isn’t automatically going to change legislation…but it’s not just about change,” Montgomery Blair High School student Jedediah Grady told Mother Jones reporter Kara Voght. “Next year I’ll be able to vote.”” Students across the U.S. protest inaction on gun control with walkouts (by Rebekah Entralgo for Think Progress)

“His ongoing comments have riled politicians, educators, parents, and students who contend that arming teachers is not the answer to the nation’s gun problem, nor should it be the responsibility of a teacher to learn how to carry and use a weapon while also instructing dozens of children in districts already sapped of resources.” After Florida School Shooting, Several Survivors And Victims’ Parents Pan Trump’s Idea To Arm Teachers (by Brianna Sacks for Buzzfeed News)

“The Spring Independent School District, also in the Houston area, and the Waukesha County School District in Wisconsin issued similar warnings. (The Waukesha superintendent later made another statement saying students could participate if they were excused from class by their parents.) Now colleges are standing up for the teenage activists, saying it won’t affect their admissions decisions if they get suspended for protesting.” Colleges Are Promising High Schoolers That Getting Suspended For Protesting Guns Won’t Hurt Their Admissions Chances (by Julie Reinstein for Buzzfeed News)

“The news of Peterson freezing up when he was needed most is indeed tragic, but it also draws into question the theory presented by Donald Trump that the answer to preventing school shootings is to arm “certain highly adept people” with firearms. After all, it doesn’t matter how prepared someone is to use and handle a gun, there’s no way to foresee how they will truly respond when thrown in a situation involving an active shooter.” Armed School Officer at Parkland High School Shooting Resigns After Never Confronting Gunman (by Jose Martinez for Complex)

Time’s Up

“Demonstrators wearing customised ‘Time’s Up Theresa’ sweatshirts linked arms and lined up along the stars’ walkway at the Royal Albert Hall ahead of the star-studded bash. Police were eventually drafted in to move the group on as the A-Listers made their arrival.” BAFTA Awards 2018 hit by protest as Time’s Up campaigners storm the red carpet and form blockade (by Lucy Needham for The Mirror)

Climate and Environment

“With enforcement of environmental crimes declining dramatically at the federal level, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Thursday the creation of a Bureau of Environmental Justice that will work to protect people who live in polluted communities through oversight, investigation, and enforcement of the law. The environmental justice bureau’s initial staffing will be composed of a supervising deputy attorney general and three deputy attorneys general.” California’s attorney general puts polluters on notice with new environmental justice unit (by Mark Hand for Think Progress)


“Less than two out of every three member countries had measles vaccination coverage above 90 percent, and even fewer made it above the recommended 95 percent threshold. Because symptoms don’t appear for a week or so after infection, patients have plenty of time to spread the highly-contagious virus around before doctors know to quarantine them. So to keep a population safe from measles, you need nearly everyone to be vaccinated. Even with most of Europe above the 90 percent mark for more than a decade now, there are still large outbreaks every year.” Thanks, anti-vaxxers: Measles is on the rise in Europe (by Sara Chodosh for Popular Science)

Winter Olympics

“But although I watch and marvel, I’ll never really warm up to the Winter Olympics. It’s about economics. With a few exceptions—such as cross-country skiing, which you can pull off with secondhand equipment and without costly lift fees—these sports are not for lower- or middle-income kids to try. Unlike Summer Olympic sports like soccer, running, or wrestling, which can be pursued cheaply or at no cost by almost anyone, winter sports are the domain of the privileged—and they’re not for me.” Why I’ll Never Warm Up to the Winter Olympics (by Karen Cargo for Rewire)

Human Trafficking

“The good news came on 11 October last year: An official letter congratulated Kredens on having gained victim status under the Modern Slavery Act. That entitled him to another couple of weeks in the safe house while he got himself back on his feet. But, just as he was beginning to contemplate his new life as a free man, the bad news hit. The Home Office had denied Kredens the right to remain in Britain. As a former slave, he could not show that he had been gainfully employed during his time in the country – rendering him an “illegal immigrant” in the government’s eyes and shutting him off from any access to state welfare, including housing. Without a roof over his head, he would once again be at the mercy of the trafficking gangs targeting rough sleepers. Because of the very nature of the exploitation the government had just officially recognised, he was being denied help and cast back into danger.” Exposed: Hundreds Of Homeless Slaves Recruited on British Streets (by Jane Bradley for Buzzfeed News)

Reprehensible Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Action

“But advocates also worry that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) uses unknown criteria to define “gang affiliation,” “gang membership,” or “gang associate” during arrests. Federal agents then use gang enforcement as a “pretext to arrest immigrants,” an allegation that an ICE agent appeared to substantiate to CBS News in mid-November, thereby making it harder for immigrants to prove their innocence.” Republican bill seeks to revoke citizenship of immigrants who don’t ‘exhibit good moral character’ (by Esther Yu Hsi Lee for Think Progress)