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Beginning with the beginning

Neither Rose de Freycimet’s journal nor the letters to her mother provide a complete account of her voyage but, by the greatest of good fortunes, they do when put together. Moreover, for the latter part of the stay in Sydney, and for the voyage as far as Dili, we have both letters and the journal. Where they overlap, the letters have been neglected in favour of the journal, but was that the right thing to do? A question that can be answered only by comparing the two. But therein lies an additional problem.

Car No 8 and the right to travel

Among the people whom Ayn Rand consigned to their fate in the Winston Tunnel disaster was ‘the woman in Roomette 6, Car no. 8, …. a lecturer who believed that, as a consumer, she had “a right” to transportation, whether the railroad people wished to provide it or not’. But railway workers in the UK are to be denied the right to withhold their labour, should they not wish to provide it. Would Rand have approved?

What was Adria?

Despite more than two hundred years of geological investigations, there are still huge unanswered questions regarding the Alps. Given my own geographical bias towards the extreme northern Adriatic, one question in particular dominates my thought. What was Adria?

Rose de Freycinet: a footnote

After the deaths of the two eldest de Freycinet brothers, Alexandre Dezos de La Roquette wrote a joint obituary and summary of their lives for the Bulletin de la Société de Géographie. He included in it, in a long footnote that extended over parts of four pages, a summary of the life of Rose de Freycinet.

Britannia trussed

Liz Truss wants to be seen as the queen deregulator, and a tool is ready to hand. Unhampered by a written constitution, she wields the power of the King-in-Parliament and also has the Brexit-delivered opportunity of fulfilling her ambitions by the simple act of removing all EU-derived legislation. And she can cut taxes at the same time.

A scientific hatchet job

Scientific debate can sometimes be carried on in a most unscientific fashion, even by the most reputable of scientists. An article by Professors Alice Roberts and Mark Maslin entitled “Sorry David Attenborough, we didn’t evolve from ‘aquatic apes’ – here’s why”, first published in Scientific American, is a good example.