(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘tourism

“As long as we tell our urban ancestors’ stories, no city is ever lost. They live on, in our imaginations and on our public lands, as a promise that no matter how terrible things get, humans always try again.”*…

In the dusty plains of present-day Sindh in southern Pakistan lie the remains of one of the world’s most impressive ancient cities of which most people have never heard. Samantha Shea reports…

A slight breeze cut through the balmy heat as I surveyed the ancient city around me. Millions of red bricks formed walkways and wells, with entire neighbourhoods sprawled out in a grid-like fashion. An ancient Buddhist stupa towered over the time-worn streets, with a large communal pool complete with a wide staircase below. Somehow, only a handful of other people were here – I practically had the place all to myself.

I was about an hour outside of the dusty town of Larkana in southern Pakistan at the historical site of Mohenjo-daro. While today only ruins remain, 4,500 years ago this was not only one of the world’s earliest cities, but a thriving metropolis featuring highly advanced infrastructures.

Mohenjo-daro – which means “mound of the dead men” in Sindhi – was the largest city of the once-flourishing Indus Valley (also known as Harappan) Civilisation that ruled from north-east Afghanistan to north-west India during the Bronze Age. Believed to have been inhabited by at least 40,000 people, Mohenjo-daro prospered from 2500 to 1700 BCE.

“It was an urban centre that had social, cultural, economic and religious linkages with Mesopotamia and Egypt,” explained Irshad Ali Solangi, a local guide who is the third generation of his family to work at Mohenjo-daro.

But compared to the cities of Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, which thrived around the same time, few have heard of Mohenjo-daro. By 1700 BCE, it was abandoned, and to this day, no-one is sure exactly why the inhabitants left or where they went…

The fascinating tale: “Pakistan’s lost city of 40,000 people,” from @IDtravelblog in @BBC_Travel.

* Annalee Newitz, Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age

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As we muse on mutability, we might send (semi-)adventurous birthday greetings to Thomas Cook; he was born on this date in 1808. An English businessman, he is best known for founding the travel agency Thomas Cook & Son— through which he pioneered the “package tour” and helped build tourism systems (vouchers, company agents/guides, purpose-built hotels, et al.) that fueled the growth of leisure travel first in Italy, then around the world.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

November 22, 2022 at 1:00 am

“The use of alternative energy is inevitable”*…

Mining for coltan–essential to the modern electronics that make alternative energy possible– in North Kivu, Congo, September 2013

Contemplating the unintended– or at least not-yet-widely-anticipated– consequences of a move to green energy…

It is not hard to understand why people dream of a future defined by clean energy. As greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow and as extreme weather events become more frequent and harmful, the current efforts to move beyond fossil fuels appear woefully inadequate. Adding to the frustration, the geopolitics of oil and gas are alive and well—and as fraught as ever. Europe is in the throes of a full-fledged energy crisis, with staggering electricity prices forcing businesses across the continent to shutter and energy firms to declare bankruptcy, positioning Russian President Vladimir Putin to take advantage of his neighbors’ struggles by leveraging his country’s natural gas reserves. In September, blackouts reportedly led Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng to instruct his country’s state-owned energy companies to secure supplies for winter at any cost. And as oil prices surge above $80 per barrel, the United States and other energy-hungry countries are pleading with major producers, including Saudi Arabia, to ramp up their output, giving Riyadh more clout in a newly tense relationship and suggesting the limits of Washington’s energy “independence.”

Proponents of clean energy hope (and sometimes promise) that in addition to mitigating climate change, the energy transition will help make tensions over energy resources a thing of the past. It is true that clean energy will transform geopolitics—just not necessarily in the ways many of its champions expect. The transition will reconfigure many elements of international politics that have shaped the global system since at least World War II, significantly affecting the sources of national power, the process of globalization, relations among the great powers, and the ongoing economic convergence of developed countries and developing ones. The process will be messy at best. And far from fostering comity and cooperation, it will likely produce new forms of competition and confrontation long before a new, more copacetic geopolitics takes shape…

The new geopolitics of energy: “Green Upheaval,” by Jason Bodoff (@JasonBordoff) and Meghan L. O’Sullivan (@OSullivanMeghan) in @ForeignAffairs.

See also: “The Geopolitics of Energy in the 21st Century.”

Gawdat Bahgat

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As we think systemically, we might recall that it was on this date in 1925 that Arthur Heineman opened the Milestone Mo-Tel in San Luis Obispo (on the road from San Francisco to Los Angeles)… the first “motel.” Heineman had abbreviated motor hotel to mo-tel after he could not fit the words “Milestone Motor Hotel” on his rooftop.

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“I told my doctor I broke my leg in two places. He told me to stop going to those places.”*…

 

04_NoList2020__PlacesThatDontWantYou_shutterstock_1532933786-768x512

The “Hanoi Street Train”

 

As we depart the 2010s, a period that gave rise to influencers and forced us to grapple with our carbon footprints, and set sail for the ’20s, we at Fodor’s are asking ourselves a simple question: How can we be better travelers in the decade to come?

We’re hardly alone in asking it. We all desperately wish to see and experience this wonderful world, but how can we do so responsibly? Ultimately, we must each, individually, come to our own conclusions. And that’s how we view this year’s No List.

Every year, we use the No List to highlight issues—ethical, environmental, sometimes even political—that we’re thinking about before, during, and long after we travel. For this year’s No List, as we do every year, we highlight places and issues that give us pause. The underlying issues are ones that we’ll certainly be grappling with in the decade to come…

Fodor’s explains why we might NOT want to visit a baker’s dozen famous tourist destinations in 2020– their “No List”: “Thirteen places to reconsider in the year ahead.”

* Henny Youngman

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As we move off the beaten path, we might recall that this date, January 1, debuted in 46 BCE with the advent of the Julian calendar.  It became the first day of the year in 1622; that honored had previously belonged to March 25.

January 1 is both the furthest away and closest day to December 31st.  Because of time zones, the first person born in a year can be born before the last person of the previous year.

Happy New Year!

New years source

 

Written by (Roughly) Daily

January 1, 2020 at 1:01 am

“Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.”*…

 

special collections

The Special Collections Room, University of Pittsburgh Library [source]

 

I travel a lot for work, and sometimes I travel to cities where I don’t know a lot of people and there’s not a lot of tourist stuff I want to do.

When I’m traveling and am at a loss for how to spend my time, I look up as many libraries I can in the area I’ll be traveling to, and I check to see if they have special collections. Then I make an appointment with the library to visit those special collections, and usually it means I get to spend a day in a quiet, climate-controlled room with cool old documents. It’s like a museum but with no people, and where you have to do all the work, which is honestly my idea of a perfect vacation.

I will sometimes mention this to people and they respond saying “Okay that sounds great but I wouldn’t know where to even start.” So this post outlines the nuts and bolts of setting up this kind of thing for yourself.

Broadly, the steps go:

  • find some libraries
  • check out their special collections on their website
  • use a finding aid or whatever other information is there to figure out what you’d like to see
  • read the rules of the special collection
  • make an appointment and submit a request

Just in time for vacation planning, Darius Kazemi explains “How to be a library archive tourist.”

* Ray Bradbury

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As we unearth gems, we might recall that it was on this date in 1913 that cartoonist John Randolph (J.R.) Bray first exhibited his animated film, “The Artist’s Dream” (later reititled “The Dachshund and the Sausage” for reasons that will be obvious).  Bray was not the first animator; indeed, he was following purposefully in the steps of fellow cartoonist Windsor McCay, who had added animations of “Little Nemo” and “How a Mosquito Operates” to his stage presentations.  But Bray earned a place in the history of the art by being among the first– arguably the first– animator to organize his work and his studio according to the principles of industrial production (that’s to say, with division of labor)– an approach that has survived to this day.

 

Bray source

 

Written by (Roughly) Daily

June 12, 2019 at 1:01 am

“Vanity, not love, has been my folly”*…

 

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When a DMV customer wanted to supposedly express his affection for his two children, Kyle and Sean, he applied for a vanity plate that read “KYLSEAN.” A sharp-eyed DMV staffer reviewing the proposed plate quickly raised an alarm. “Kill Sean!” he scrawled on the side of the application. Request denied.

KylSean was one of 20,000 requests for personalized plates that the California DMV received that month; nearly 250,000 were fielded by the department in 2018. Applicants are required to fill out a form listing the personalized plate they desire, along with a brief explanation as to why they want it. Whether or not the plate sees the light of day falls to a panel of four beleaguered bureaucrats, who weed through the slush pile and ferret out requests that are racist, tawdry, or otherwise offensive. It’s a tougher job than you might think. Ever since vanity plates were introduced in 1972, Californians have tried sneaking all manner of sly euphemisms and overt obscenities past the department’s guardians of civility…

As one of the most diverse states in the Union, California contains an expansive lexicon of offensive, lewd, and inappropriate words and cultural references. (Californians speak at least 220 languages—that’s 220 different ways to say “poop.”) But armed with Google Translate, Wikipedia, and Urban Dictionary, the DMV’s sentries gamely manage to weed out profanity in multiple languages, coded Nazi symbolism, and obscure internet acronyms…

Los Angeles Magazine obtained thousands of rejected applications via an official records act request.  See a few of the more brazen, creative, and accidentally provocative plates, complete with the applicant’s explanation and the DMV’s deadpan response: “Rejected Vanity Plates: inside the important job of keeping poop puns, dick jokes, and hate speech off California’s roadways.”

* Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

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As we keep it civil, we might spare a thought for André Jules Michelin; he died on this date in 1931.  Co-founder, with his brother Édouard, of the Michelin Tire Company (Compagnie Générale des Établissements Michelin) in 1888, he earned a place in the Automotive Hall of Fame for creating the first pneumatic tires that could be easily removed for repair (for bicycles in 1891 and for automobiles in 1895), and for introducing tire tread patterns, low-pressure balloon tires, and steel-cord tires.

Anxious to promote tourism by car, André created a tourist guide organization which placed milestones on French roads and established a standard road map service for most of Europe.  He created The Green Guide, a gazatteer and inventory of sites and attractions.  And with  Curnonsky (Maurice Edmond Sailland), he created The Red Guide, with hotel and restaurant ratings… all of which remain in operation– and in heavy use by tourists– today.

220px-André_Michelin_1920 source

 

Written by (Roughly) Daily

April 4, 2019 at 1:01 am

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