Photo by Johannes Hofmann on Unsplash

Snowpiercer is a sci-fi thriller set on a frozen earth. The last remnants of humanity survive the deep freeze in a train whose engine is a perpetual motion machine, built by an engineer who discovered an eternal fuel source.

The train must keep moving, or it will freeze. The track runs over the entire land surface of the earth, crossing continents. The train completes a revolution when it returns to its base in Chicago, about once per year.

The train, called Snowpiercer, is a microcosm of human society. When the world became uninhabitable, train tickets — the only option for…

Photo by Clark Van Der Beken on Unsplash

How can we expect to cope with the climate crisis after this?

The Covid-19 crisis has shown not only how vulnerable we are as humans, but how fragile our civilization is. It doesn’t take much for society as we know it to grind to a halt.

Eradication of our way of life is what we fear right now, as well as death.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve experienced emotions I’ve never had before. It is frightening to contemplate that the world we have known may cease to exist. Somehow this is more frightening even than the death of loved ones or the self.

If everything we have known dissolves, then…

Is this the end for the two major parties?

Photo by Waranont (Joe) on Unsplash

The referendum on EU membership has caused a seismic shift in British politics. It has reshaped the way we think about the factors that divide us.

Instead of liberal versus conservative values, and whether we make choices that support the poor or the rich in our society, the very concept of what makes us poor or rich is under scrutiny.

Nationalists perceive richness in sovereignty and separation, while Europeans find it in cooperation and freedom of movement.

One side wants to put up borders; the other wants to break them down.

The new divide is nationalism versus internationalism: and both…

Photo by Harshil Gudka on Unsplash

What I learned volunteering in Africa

When I was 23, I left Europe for the first time, and headed to Nairobi. I lived with a local host family, and worked as a volunteer teacher at a primary school. The school was in the arid Maasai plains south of Nairobi, towards the Tanzanian border.

I lived in a small town, down a dirt path behind a fuel station. Children drank from straws out of puddles, and women scavenged in the bins for food to eat. …

Aegina is easily accessible from Athens — just an hour away — but the island feels like a different world from the capital.

Holding a mirror to our society since 1962

Image by Sharonang via Pixabay

Sean Connery to Pierce Brosnan

The first Bond film came out in 1962. Set in the Caribbean, it sees Bond end up on an island with a black man and a white woman. Bond assumes command — more by virtue of being a white male than by demonstrating superior leadership qualities. He proceeds to dominate both his companions and order them around, with commands such as “go over there”, and “bring me that”. He speaks in imperatives, and embodies the imperial British male, despite the (by then) long decline of the Empire. He speaks English everywhere, with his Scottish accent.

By Pierce Brosnan’s era in…

Blue Lake in Mount Gambier

Adventures off the tourist trail in Australia

Mount Gambier was formed by volcanoes. The craters left behind by these ancient volcanoes have become tranquil and beautiful lakes. This small town is also home to sinkholes and subterranean river systems.

Mount Gambier lies at the far southern tip of South Australia. It is almost unknown on the tourist trail, and barely mentioned in even the thickest travel guides to Australia. Yet Mount Gambier and its stunning natural features are unique in the world.

Beautiful Loch Ard Gorge has a dark and terrible past.

On a summer’s day, it’s one of the most gorgeous small coves anywhere in Australia. But the legacy of tragedy still haunts this sublime beach.

The coastline of Australia’s Great Ocean Road is immense and dramatic. Sheer cliffs stand imposingly above a wild, rough ocean.

Near Port Campbell, the vast cliffs plunge dramatically down into a gorge with a picturesque beach. The gorge is a tear drop in the landscape, where caves and golden sand are lapped by azure waves.

The sea here is the wild Southern Ocean. …

A guide for independent, budget-savvy travellers

The Great Ocean Road is one sight you won’t want to miss if you’re visiting Melbourne or Australia’s southern coast. The wild, ice-blue waters of the Southern Ocean smash against spectacular high cliffs, forming dramatic and beautiful features like the Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge.

Australia is a challenge for any budget-conscious traveller. With car hire starting at around AU$110 (£60) a day, renting a vehicle can really eat into an already-stretched travel budget.

So how can you explore the Great Ocean Road on a budget? Or if you just don’t want to drive? It’s perfectly possible to enjoy…

… Without us.

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

For thousands of years one of the profoundest dreams of the future for humanity has been the dream of travelling among the stars.

But in creating AI, are we consigning those dreams to the dust? We will create beings that are far more capable of adapting to life beyond Earth than we can ever be.

In science fiction, we dream of making it beyond our own solar system and even to distant galaxies. Surely with the technological advances the future will bring, this is a real possibility: we’ve told ourselves this for decades through movies, books and TV series.


Jonathan Blake

Writer, traveller, photographer and web designer

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