by John Holbo on August 10, 2010

What a world. You go and write a too-long post in which you raise the obviously impossible possibility that someone might argue that gay marriage is like cigarettes – i.e. you can get cancer second-hand – while apologizing for the sheer, silly disanalogousness of the analogy. And then Jonah Goldberg comes up with the brilliant idea that if you support gay marriage on libertarian grounds [as Glenn Greenwald does] … why then how can you support anti-smoking legislation? Riddle me that! [click to continue…]

Trans Europe Express

by Chris Bertram on August 10, 2010

Ok, now I’ve got that in your heads for the rest of the day, let me do a bit of blegging/moaning. I’m off to a conference in the Ruhrgebiet later this month and, feeling vaguely guilty about my carbon footprint, decided to go by train. It wasn’t all that easy to get a good deal online. The best way of planning a route and buying a ticket is from the “Deutsche Bahn”: website, but instead of getting a price and a ticket you have to purchase blind (having supplied your credit card details and agreed to pay!), only later getting a “er, here’s what it will cost, is that ok with you – phone us” email. DB have now mailed me a set of tickets (starting in Bristol) which I anticipate causing “interesting” conversations with the conductor between Temple Meads and Paddington. I now have to work out and pay for a route from Leuven to rural station in Normandy on a Sunday: SNCF, SNCB and DB all give me totally different accounts of which trains are running and when. So one national company might sell me a ticket for a service in another country which the domestic operator claims doens’t exist. So why, oh why ….

Why oh why isn’t there an integrated, user-friendly pan-European booking service for continental rail travel, selling tickets at prices that compete with the airlines? Until someone makes this happen, we’ll all be burning a lot more carbon than we need to.