The Anonymous Widower

Snot Wars

There is no other title for a post about this article on the BBC, which is entitled Antibiotic resistance: ‘Snot wars’ study yields new class of drugs.

The research has been done at the University of Tübingen, which is one of Germany’s classical universities. Wikipedia says this.

Tübingen is one of five classical “university towns” in Germany; the other four being Marburg, Göttingen, Freiburg and Heidelberg.

It certainly sounds to me that ideas for this research, possibly started after a good academic dinner with lots of food and alcohol, if classical German universities are anything like our’s.

After all the idea has been literally up researchers noses for years.

These last two paragraphs of the BBC report describes how the antibiotic-like action was possibly created in the human body.

Prof Kim Lewis and Dr Philip Strandwitz, from the antimicrobial discovery centre at Northeastern University in the US, commented: “It may seem surprising that a member of the human microbiota – the community of bacteria that inhabits the body – produces an antibiotic.

“However, the microbiota is composed of more than a thousand species, many of which compete for space and nutrients, and the selective pressure to eliminate bacterial neighbours is high.”

So why hasn’t this new class of antibiotics been found before?

Could it be that medical research is too much about Loadsamoney and Big Pharma, rather than about ideas, seriously out-of-the-box thinking and dilligent research?

Brains are a lot easier to throw at a problem, than money. Except that good brains are much more difficult to find than good money.

 

July 28, 2016 Posted by | Health | , , | Leave a comment

Are The Railways Of Saxony A Benefit Of Communism?

Saxony is a German State with a lot of railways. This page is a list from Wikipedia.

In the UK, after the Second World War, we needed to modernise our railways and what we did was rather patchy and haphazard.

It finally, led to a lot of costs to no great benefit.

  • I can remember taking over five hours on a journey to Liverpool in the 1960s.
  • I always in the 1960s and 1970s, used to look at a heavy rail train and say how inferior they were to what the London Underground offered.
  • Electrification was very slow to come in. I can remember Trains Illustrated saying Felixstowe will be electrified soon in the 1960s.
  • Schemes like the Picc-Vic Tunnel in Manchester never saw the light of day.

Finally, the Beeching Report put a can on it.

But in the former East Germany, there were no such cost pressures in a centralised communist economy, where maintaining employment was a priority.

One thing you notice in the are is lots of signal boxes, often with an associated level crossing. Do they need them?

Whereas we would shut railways enthusiastically to cut costs, the East Germans didn’t, as it was against their politics.

So a lot of railways got preserved, where other countries would have closed them!

Now you can see a lot of railway development, as like the UK, Germany is coming round to the view that railways are what people want and they’re good for the economy.

July 23, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

How To Move 100,000 Containers A Year Between Germany And China

This article on Global Rail News is entitled DB and Georgian Railways to cooperate on new Silk Road rail corridor.

It described how Deutsche Bahn and Georgian Railways have signed an agreement to develop a new rail freight route between the Far East and Europe.

This map from the article, shows the various rail routes across Eurasia and how the new Silk Road will fit in.

DB transports more container by train between China and Germany

DB transports more container by train between China and Germany

I think the most interesting thing about the new route, is that it doesn’t go through Russia.

Vladimir Putin will not be amused!

If you read the Wikipedia entry for Georgian Railways, it does list a few problems, but it would appear that the route across Georgia is being upgraded to Standard Gauge all the way from the Turkish border to Almaty in Kazakhstan.

With Germany, Turkey and Europe at the Western end and China at the Eastern end both predominately Standard Gauge, I think that this route will be all the same gauge.

When this happens, trains will be able to go straight through, with perhaps just a change of locomotive.

How long will it be before, an enthusiastic entrepreneur starts to run a passenger service between Europe and China. Trans-Siberian Express eat your heart out!

Vladimir Putin will be even less amused!

If DB can build the Standard Gauge railway through to China via Georgia, it will give the following benefits.

  • Services will be faster than the Russian routes.
  • There will no change of gauge, which means unloading one train and loading another.
  • If the line is electrified, this will make the route more efficient.
  • Freight will move smoothly across Asia avoiding the pariah that is Russia.
  • The route avoids the more volatile parts of the Middle East.
  • Countries on the route like Serbia, Turkey, Georgia and Kazahkstan will surely benefit.
  • The route will surely be more accessible to Southern European countries, than the current Russian routes.

It is undoubtedly a good plan.

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

TTIP Is Known About In Germany

If you were on the Clapham Omnibus or in my case the Dalston Omnibus and you did a straw poll of what TTIP was about, you probably wouldn’t find anybody who knew.

But obviously they do in Germany.

TTIP Stoppen!

TTIP Stoppen!

Or at least they want to stoppen it!

May 13, 2016 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

From Villach To Munich

This section of route had the major stop at Salzburg.

It was still raining, but at least I was clean and dry in First Class.

It would have been a much better trip in the sun, as for a lot of the route, the train runs on the Tauern Railway 

Even my wet pictures show how spectacular it could be.

May 13, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

We Think We Have Problems With Rail Viaducts

Some of the most impressive structures on the UK’s railways are the Victorian brick viaducts.

All of this small selection are still in use on the railways and are Grade II Listed or better.

Many have been renovated at great expense in the last few years and I was prompted to write this post after reading this article on the Network Rail web site, which is entitled Bridges improvement plan for Cheshire will revitalise landmarks. This is said.

Network Rail will refurbish four bridges and two viaducts during an 11-day closure of the Crewe to Manchester and Sandbach to Northwich railway lines, from 13 to 24 February 2016.

The vital work will make the railway safer and more reliable for passengers, motorists, pedestrians and canal users across the county.

Two of Cheshire’s most well-known architectural landmarks, the Grade-II listed viaducts at Holmes Chapel and Peover, will have a full makeover as part of the programme. Water stains on the walls of both viaducts will be removed, damaged brickwork repaired and both structures waterproofed.

At the same time, Network Rail engineers will undertake strengthening work to the Hungerford Road bridge in Crewe, Shipbrook Road bridge in Rudheath, and to the Whatcroft underbridge and the Trent and Mersey Canal bridge in Davenham.

In some ways all this work is a tribute to those Victorian engineers and bricklayers, who designed and built them in the first place.

But it’s an awful lot of work to do!

So I asked myself, if these structures are a uniquely British heritage.

Google and Wikipedia revealed this article about the Göltzsch Viaduct on the Liepzig-Hof Line in Germany. This is said.

It is the largest brick-built bridge in the world, and for a time it was the tallest railway bridge in the world.

As you can get a direct train from Liepzip to Hof, I think, it is still one very much in use.

I think next tme, that I’m in the area, I shall visit.

 

 

February 21, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Do The English, Scots And Welsh Work Better Together Than The Belgians, Dutch And Germans?

If we take these two groups of three countries, they all have different railway companies, but do they illustrate a problem in the relations between various EU countries.

I know my experience of travelling between these six countries is mainly on the trains, but to travel between England, Scotland and Wales by train, is a lot easier than travelling between Belgium and The Netherlands and the Netherlands and Germany is full of little difficulties.

Strangely if you add France into the mix, that is generally as easy as the three home nations.

Judging by my experience in Europe, there are many ways that the Scots and Welsh could make the English unwelcome. But they don’t, except for the Seniors Bus Pass, although the same Senior Railcard is valid everywhere in the UK.

I know we’re all part of the same country, but I think where something has to be agreed across a border, we generally find a solution that is acceptable enough!

In the important area of rail ticketing, there seems little agreement on common standards between Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany.

Imagine how difficult it would be if ScotRail had different ticketing rules to say Virgin.

Surely, if Europe can’t get its act together in something like rail ticketing, how can it get something important like dealing with migrants working?

 

October 13, 2015 Posted by | Travel, World | , , , , | Comments Off on Do The English, Scots And Welsh Work Better Together Than The Belgians, Dutch And Germans?

A Tale Of Three Web Sites

I’m going away for a few days on Thursday and my aim originally was to fly to Hamburg and then take trains along the coast to Amsterdam.

So I tried to book a flight on the German Wings web site.

I couldn’t, as when I tried to put my address into the booking form, I couldn’t find the UK, United Kingdom, Great Britain or England in their list of countries. Don’t the Germans know, they lost the Second World War?

I thought it might be finger trouble, so as I was watching one of my least favourite football teams getting a superb thumping at the time, I tried once for each goal.

In the end, I gave up and booked Eurostar to Any Belgian station, as you can’t book it to Hamburg yet.

It used to be easier, as you could book a train to Any Dutch Station, but for some reason the Dutch stopped that convenient ticket. It’s now much easier to book tickets to Switzerland than The Netherlands.

This morning, I needed to do my winter clothes shopping. It was only a number of standard items from Marks and Spencer. I usually, buy one example of say the trousers or jumpers I want and then use the code on the ticket to buy more if they fit.

So after logging in, doing the purchase with a new Amex card and arranging delivery to my local store, the process was completed without hassle in a few minutes.

Why can’t all travel sites, be as easy to use as shops like Marks and Spencer, John Lewis and IKEA?

incidentally, I now use Amex a lot on the web, as they seem to have brought in a geographic security based on your Internet connection. The sites ask if they can use your Internet location and I suppose now, they can link that to my physical address.

It looks like a clever way to check on-line purposes. If my card and delivery address tie up to where my Internet connection is located, there must be a high probability, that I am making the purchases. I suppose, it could be someone, who has access to my house getting  hold of the card, but then I would be suspicious if products I hadn’t ordered ended up on my doorstep.

Banks and credit card companies should use tricks like this to secure on-line purchases, as anything password-based is likely to be derailed by the forgetful mind, unless it is written down. Which then breaks the security.

October 5, 2015 Posted by | Computing, Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

German Lawyers Prove They Have A Sense Of Humour

There has been a YouTube video entitled Für Laura, which shows a German getting his own back on his wife, by cutting everything they own in half.

It now turns out that it was all a hoax by the German Bar Association in their on-line magazine .

Who said lawyers don’t have a sense of humour?

And who said Germans don’t have a sense of hunour?

June 29, 2015 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Let’s Be Beastly to the Germans

The title of this post comes from Noel Coward’s wartime comic song – Don’t Let’s Be Beastly to the Germans.

Generally, the Germany has got more visitor-friendly and on this trip their restaurant menus have improved beyond recognition for coeliacs and other allergy sufferers.

But there is one thing, where the reality does not live up to the German reputation for good design, reliability and efficiency.

Deutsche Bann, their trains and some stations just doesn’t cut the mustard. Or whatever they say in Germany.

In a related area, the local trams, metros and buses I’ve used are much better, even if in some cities, the maps and information aren’t up to the standard of the better cities like Munich or Leipzig!

On the train from Brunswick to Osnabruck, I was talking with a commuter and he was saying his commute was often late.

Service Frequency

One thing you notice in Germany, as that on important main-line routes, trains are not as frequent, as you’d find in say France, Italy or the UK, which seems to have the most frequent trains in Europe.

Comparing Berlin-Hamburg with the London-Liverpool route I know well, shows that for direct trains, the cost is about the same and there is one train an hour on both routes. But Liverpool also has two extra trains each hour, which are only a few minutes slower with a change at Crewe.

But the journeys on this trip, where I was doing an hour or so journey on a main line, I usually had the choice of just one train every two hours.

So when planning a train trip in Germany, make sure you plan well and never rely on if you miss a train, they’ll be another one along soon!

I have found that it is often better to take the slower regional trains, as I did several times on this trip, as although they are slower, many are double-deck and you can hide yourself upstairs and watch the countryside go by.

But I think German regional trains are more under control of the individual state or area, rather than Deutsche Bahn.

If this is the case and coupled with the often excellent interchanges at stations to trams and buses, this must be a good argument for local control of train services. But then as a Londonder could I believe anything else?

Finger-Aching Ticketing

The German automatic ticketing machines work well, but be prepared to wear out your fingers.

I counted that to buy a simple ticket from Liepzig to Braunschweig took a dozen menu choices and that didn’t count typing in the names.

Train Design

Increasingly, in the UK, our trains are a level step from train to platform and vice-versa. Look at this wide easy-entry door on a Class 378 train.

Wide Easy-Entry Doors

Regularly you see wheelchair-users push themselves across. This is a typical entrance to a Deutsche Bahn IC train.

A Big Step Up

With my eye-sight, I sometimes miss my footing and in Germany, I worry about putting my foot in the often big gap between train and platform, which is never level.

As to wheelchair users in Germany they must despair. I thought that EU disability regulations meant trains had to be disabled-friendly.

On-Train Information

Nearly all the trains had displays for traffic announcement, but the information was a bit thin. As the Belgians were more comprehensive, I suspect it’s just the way they’ve programmed the system.

When you are a tourist in an area you don’t know well, you really do need adequate warning of your station. With Deutsche Bahn you don’t get it every time!

I shall finish this rant later!

June 18, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

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