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Valar Qringaomis

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Links - 15th February 2014

Singaporeans still conservative about certain social issues, says IPS survey - "80.3 per cent of respondents said they felt sexual relations with someone other than their marriage partner was always or almost always wrong. Though slightly less than half of the respondents (44 per cent) disapproved of living with a partner before marriage. 78.2 per cent felt likewise about sexual relations between two adults of the same sex... 72.9 per cent found gay marriage always or in certain cases wrong, and 15.7 per cent thought it was not... about 43 per cent of respondents felt divorce was wrong always, or in most instances. About 69 per cent felt that way about gambling"
Despite liberal claims, Singapore really is a conservative society

For Depression Treatment, Meditation Might Rival Medication

Made To Penetrate: Female-on-Male Rape - "In a largely overlooked study focusing exclusively on college males, 51.2 percent of participants reported experiencing a least one incident of sexual victimization, including unwanted sexual contact (21.7 percent), sexual coercion (12.4 percent) and rape (17.1 percent). Of course, most men assume they’ll be ostracized for reporting such emasculating violations, so the real numbers are likely at lot higher... A recent study of sexual violence found that women by age 18 were almost equally as likely as men to commit sexual abuse (at 48 percent and 52 percent, respectively)... Male victims were actually excluded from the legal definition of rape until the Department of Justice updated it in 2012, 85 years after the fact. Even now, it only accounts for those men who were anally or orally raped by males. In other words, an ill-intentioned penis and a vulnerable orifice are imperative to a rape indictment... In the CDC’s national survey of sexual violence, for example, “made to penetrate” is not included as a form of rape. If it were, incidents of male rape would rise from 1 in 71 to a staggering 1 in 16 nationally (female rape is just under 1 in 5). The majority of the offenders of male victims would also be female. The authors of the survey, which is sponsored by the Violence Against Women Act, maintain that being “made to penetrate” is a form of sexual victimization unique to males, and therefore independent of rape. As a consequence, “made to penetrate” cases seem less criminal, and certainly less provocative... Just as with female victims of sexual violence, more than 1 in 4 men are abused at the hands of an intimate partner. According to the CDC, of the 5,451,000 who report having been “made to penetrate,” 45 percent were victimized by a current or former girlfriend, 45 percent by an acquaintance, and just 5 percent by a stranger. But while male abusers tend to achieve their ends through physical means, women often employ more psychological methods, like extortion: I’ll say you hit me. I’ll divorce you. I’ll kill myself. I’ll kill you. Women also pursue their victims in situations when they’re more vulnerable, whether drunk, sleeping, sick, drugged or demoralized by psychological venom... Ben’s ex also threatened to tell the authorities that he had raped her if he dared tell anyone about what had happened, a variation on an intimidation tactic commonly associated with male-on-female rape. Victims are often told, “No one will believe you.” However, only female abusers can say, “Not only won’t anyone believe you, but they’ll believe me because I am a woman. There’s proof that we had a sexual encounter, and I can use that against you.”"
Hurrah feminists!

Appeasement is the proper policy towards Confucian China - "China’s leaders should be careful not to succumb to the Wilhelmine illusion that economic and strategic momentum is the same as actual power... Factions in Beijing appear to think that China will win a trade war if Washington ever imposes sanctions to counter Chinese mercantilism. That is a fatal misjudgement. The lesson of Smoot-Hawley and the 1930s is that surplus states suffer crippling depressions when the guillotine comes down on free trade; while deficit states can muddle through, reviving their industries behind barriers. Demand is the most precious commodity of all in a world of excess supply."
Comment: "the last time a Brit advocated appeasement, it came with a black umbrella - and Hitler marched all the way to the English Channel before the Americans were left to clean up the mess created in Munich...now you want us to do the same thing with a nuclear-armed giant of 1.6 billion people?"

China’s young officers and the 1930s syndrome - "“China’s military spending is growing so fast that it has overtaken strategy,” said Professor Huang Jing from the Lee Kwan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore. (He kindly let me quote his remarks.) “The young officers are taking control of strategy and it is like young officers in Japan in the 1930s. They are thinking what they can do, not what they should do. This is very dangerous... Let us hope that the Communist hierachy in Beijing can rein in those young officers. But as Dr Huang said, they can no longer control much of anything, least of all the 17m-strong base of the Communist Party. “The empire has lost control of its officials, which is how Chinese empires have always fallen in history.”"

Conductors and their spells.

Dominance Is The First Emotion A Victorious Athlete Feels, Study Finds - "Researchers from San Francisco State University examined Olympic and Paralympic judo athletes, which showed that both kinds of athletes displayed this demonstration of dominance after an athletic accomplishment. Such demonstrations of dominance include raising the arms up, tilting the head back with a smile, and puffing out the chest. "It is a very quick, immediate, universal expression that is produced by many different people, in many cultures, immediately after winning their combat," study researcher David Matsumoto, a professor of psychology at the university, said in a statement. "Many animals seem to have a dominant threat display that involves making their body look larger." Because the victorious poses were observed even in people from varying cultures, as well as Paralympic athletes who were blind, researchers noted that this behavior is likely innate."
Not as sexy as what makes the headlines, but still Evolutionary Psychology

CDC: “Being made to penetrate isn’t rape” - "I do, however, have a guess as to why the researchers do not want to included being forced to penetrate as rape... That bolded portion is why they do not include it. If they counted it, the rate of rape against males rises from 1 in 71 (1.4%) to 1 in 16 (6.2%). While I still believe that is a low estimate, it is much higher than anyone expects to see. Likewise, the majority of the rapists of males would be female. If you are part of a group invested in painting sexual violence as a women’s issue and a crime only men commit, those results would severely hurt your argument. Here is another guess: the CDC researchers likely made their decision about categorizing sexual violence after they saw the results. They likely did not expect such high rates of reported sexual violence from males, especially given the victim-oriented wording of their questions. They could not deny the data or withhold it, however, they could present in such a way as to significantly lower rate of sexual violence against males than their numbers actually show. Since the researchers had to know that a report about rape would garner more attention than anything about sexual assault, I think they chose to play semantics in order to protect the above political agenda."
Just as with "NoToRape", it's only rape when men do it

Taxi woes and the ghost of 1985 - "The Straits Times carried several stories in recent weeks of taxi queues in the city during the evening, with waiting times much longer than they were a year ago. A Sri Lankan businessman was quoted as saying: "It's the worst thing I hate about Singapore - standing in taxi queues." One statistic alone tells the story of how poorly the service here compares with that in other cities: Singapore has 29,000 taxis, Hong Kong has only 18,000. But despite their fewer numbers, Hong Kong taxi drivers make more than a million trips a day, compared with fewer than a million here... If the price is set too low, cabbies have to pick many fares through the day to make a decent living. Each fare then becomes relatively unimportant because it represents a smaller part of his overall earnings, as he knows he can pick another fare just round the corner. Taxi drivers operating in this scenario tend to be choosy about the fares they pick. On the other hand, if the price is set higher and demand is lower, you can expect better service as every customer contributes a larger share to the driver's earnings. It's the difference between a supermarket and a boutique. Both types of taxi service can be found all over the world - the supermarket model prevailing in developing countries, whereas in, say, Tokyo or London, it's a boutique service."

How Inequality Hollows Out the Soul - NYTimes.com - "One of the well-known costs of inequality is that people withdraw from community life and are less likely to feel that they can trust others. This is partly a reflection of the way status anxiety makes us all more worried about how we are valued by others. Now that we can compare robust data for different countries, we can see not only what we knew intuitively — that inequality is divisive and socially corrosive — but that it also damages the individual psyche."

‘Old-Person Smell’ Really Exists, Scientists Say - "Lundström became interested in studying the effect of age on human body odor when he noticed that old people in the U.S. seemed to smell just the way did back home in Sweden. One day, when walked into an elderly care center near Philadelphia to give a lecture, he realized that the smell of the place was familiar — it was the exact same scent of the nursing home in Sweden where his mother worked when he was a boy... Interestingly, despite its uniqueness — and contrary to the stereotype — old-person smell isn’t exactly bad. The participants rated it as less intense and less unpleasant than body odor from younger donors. By gender, participants rated middle-aged men’s smell as the yuckiest and most intense, and old-man smell as the most pleasant and least intense. By contrast, middle-aged women’s scents were rated as more pleasant than old-lady smells."

Protesters storm governors' offices in Ukraine - "In Lviv, a city in near the Polish border 450 kilometers (280 miles) west of Kiev, hundreds of activists burst Thursday into the office of regional governor Oleh Salo, a Yanukovych appointee, shouting "Revolution!" and singing Christmas carols. After surrounding him and forcing him to sign a resignation letter, an activist ripped it out of Salo's hands and lifted it up to the cheers and applause of the crowd. Salo later retracted his signature, saying he had been coerced. Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters smashed windows, broke doors and stormed into the governor's office in the city of Rivne, shouting "Down with the gang!" — a common reference to Yanukovych's government. Once inside, they sang the national anthem."

The truth about the luxury of Qatar Airways - "Qatar Airways' CEO, Akbar Al Baker, also owns the airport in Doha and the country's only private license for alcohol and pork... Any action on Gina's part can be construed as an attempt at bribery. After all, the guard is there to monitor her. To ensure that Gina never sleeps anywhere but the staff housing. Never gets home later than mandated by the company. Never allows an unregistered guest into her room, never leaves during her leisure times or has anyone sleep over."

Friday, February 14, 2014

MRT reliability key to having fewer cars

MRT reliability key to having fewer cars
(originally published in the Straits Times on 13th February, as far as I can tell from Google scraping of its shitty website which is impossible to find anything on)

"AT A recent Chinese New Year lunch, a senior civil servant suggested that I write an article on why Singaporeans should give up their aspiration to own a car.

Half-jokingly, I said I would - provided there was no major MRT incident for six months in a row. By "major", I meant incidents that disrupt service for more than 30 minutes each time.

The condition is fair and, in fact, it is one standard I think train operators SMRT and SBS Transit should aim for.

While it is unreasonable to expect machines to operate without a single glitch, it is reasonable to expect major incidents to be kept to a minimum. After all, rail systems are inherently robust and durable. And a system that is as new, short and costly as ours should have fewer breakdowns.

For instance, breakdowns on the 125-year-old, 340km, 24-hour New York City subway average one every 260,000km operated.

Singapore's 25-year-old, 180km network breaks down once every 120,000km.


[Ed: Emphasis mine: Singapore's subway is a fifth the age of New York's and about half its extent, yet is less than half as reliable.

Incidentally the New York subway is publicly owned and is run by a public-benefit corporation rather than a profit-maximising listed company.]

What is essential is a proper maintenance regimen, which train operators and regulators must nail down if the country is to promote public transport - which is intrinsically slower and less comfortable than the car - as a choice transport mode.

A major train breakdown impacts passengers travelling on the affected line as well as those in other parts of the rail network. Even minor incidents can trigger this ripple effect, but to a lesser extent.

Not only that, a major incident calls for bus bridging, which can impact bus commuters and road users at large, when bus services are diverted to cater to stranded train passengers.

That is why major incidents have to be minimised. And on this front, Singapore has some way to go.

Disruptions lasting more than 30 minutes each fell from 11 in 2011 to eight in 2012. It remained at eight last year. For incidents lasting more than an hour, the figure went from six in 2011 to four in 2012, but rose to five last year.

This year has not begun well for train operators. Last month alone, there were three incidents lasting more than 30 minutes each. Of these, two stretched beyond an hour. These are not comforting numbers.

Last year, more than 130,000 commuters were affected by disruptions lasting more than an hour, or about the same number in 2012. While the figures are far smaller than the 250,000 inconvenienced by major breakdowns in 2011, they are still significant - representing more than 10 per cent of train commuters.

The crux of the issue is: How do you convince people they should not aspire to own a car, when the probability of them being caught in a major rail disruption is so significant?

It is hard to quantify the cost of a delay, even if you can quantify the value of time. The confusion, the discomfort, the anxiety of not knowing when one can complete one's journey - these make up the anatomy of a delay. And being caught in one on a day when there is an all-important test or interview you cannot be late for can be devastating. Especially so for folk who cannot afford the luxury of a cab, and have to rely 100 per cent on public transport.

Or to put it another way: How can drivers be persuaded to give up their cars when the rail network - the backbone of the public transport system - is in a state where there is one major incident every six to seven weeks?

Consider, too, that even without major incidents, the system is straining at the seams. Packed carriages, crowded station platforms, lower operating speeds and patchy air-conditioning are recurring complaints. Frayed nerves and short fuses have become par for the course.

The car's biggest attraction must be its speed and efficiency. Door-to-door journeys by car in Singapore often take less than half the average time taken by public transport. As long as this huge gap remains, the aspiration to own a car will remain.

The balance, however, tilts substantially in favour of public transport if your points of origin and destination are both on the doorstep of an MRT station.

Not only that, people living near stations are more likely to use public transport. As the rail network expands, more and more of us will live and work within walking distance of a station.

But the increased coverage will be quite meaningless if it is not paired with better reliability. On that score, it is good to know the Government and the transport operators are pulling out all the stops to fix things. It may take a while, but there is optimism that standards Singaporeans have come to expect can be re-established.

And just for the record: The senior civil servant accepted my "challenge". Six months, no more than one breakdown over 30 minutes. The clock begins ticking in the Year of the Horse."


Singapore's approach to promoting public transport: not to make public transport better but to make cars even more unaffordable.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Shanghai Surprise for Lovers Desperately Seeking Film Tickets

Shanghai Surprise for Lovers Desperately Seeking Film Tickets

Couples looking to enjoy a romantic Valentine's Day at one Chinese cinema will be out of luck this Friday, thwarted by singles who bought up all the odd-numbered seats.

According to the Shanghai Morning Post, a group of Internet users reserved every other seat at a Valentine's night showing of "Beijing Love Story" at a movie theater in the city's Xintiandi shopping complex.

A graphic published by the paper shows how the group accomplished their mission, with every other ticket successfully purchased by the singles so that no two adjacent seats are available.

"Want to see a movie on Valentine's Day?" reads an online message by the stunt organizer, known by the initials UP, according to the newspaper. "Sorry, you'll have to sit separately. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Give us singles a chance."

The user described himself as a computer nerd who broke up with his girlfriend last year.

- AFP

"To have money is to be free from money"

"Je suis certain, commença-t-il, qu'on ne peut être heureux sans argent. Voilà tout. Je n'aime ni la facilité ni le romantisme. J'aime à me rendre compte. Eh bien, j'ai remarqué que chez certains êtres d'élite il y a une sorte de snobisme spirituel à croire que l'argent n'est pas nécessaire au bonheur. C'est bête, c'est faux, et dans une certaine mesure, c'est lâche.

Voyez-vous, Mersault, pour un homme bien né, être heureux ça n'est jamais compliqué. Il suffit de reprendre le destin de tous, non pas avec la volonté du renoncement, comme tant de faux grands hommes, mais avec la volonté du bonheur. Seulement, il faut du temps pour être heureux. Beaucoup de temps. Le bonheur lui aussi est une longue patience. Et dans presque tous les cas, nous usons notre vie à gagner de l'argent, quand il faudrait, par l'argent, gagner son temps. Ça, c'est le seul problème qui m'ait jamais intéressé. Il est précis. Il est net...

Oh ! je sais bien que la plupart des hommes riches n'ont aucun sens du bonheur. Mais ce n'est pas la question. Avoir de l'argent, c'est avoir du temps. Je ne sors pas de là. Le temps s'achète. Tout s'achète. Être ou devenir riche, c'est avoir du temps pour être heureux quand on est digne de l'être...

À vingt-cinq ans, Mersault, j'avais déjà compris que tout être ayant le sens, la volonté et l'exigence du bonheur avait le droit d'être riche. L'exigence du bonheur me paraissait ce qu'il y a de plus noble au cœur de l'homme. À mes yeux, tout se justifiait par elle. Un cœur pur y suffisait...

Je voudrais en être sûr. Ne me faites pas dire que l'argent fait le bonheur. J'entends seulement que pour une certaine classe d'êtres le bonheur est possible (à condition d'avoir du temps) et qu'avoir de l'argent c'est se libérer de l'argent."

--- Albert Camus / La mort heureuse


"I am certain, he began, that one can cannot be happy without money. That's all. I love neither expedience nor romanticism. I like being self-aware. So, I've remarked that certain superior beings have a type of spiritual snobbery, believing that money is not necessary for happiness. That's dumb, that's wrong, and to a certain extent, it's cowardly.

You see, Mersault, that for a well-born man, being happy is never complicated. It's enough to take up the destiny of everyone, not with the desire of renonciation, like so many fake great men, but with the desire for happiness. Only, you need time to be happy. A lot of time. Happiness itself is also a long patience. And in almost all cases, we wear out our lives to earn money, when we should, using money, buy time. This is the only problem that's ever interested me. It is precise. It is clear-cut...

Oh! I know well that most rich men have no sense of happiness. But that's not the question. Having money means having time. That's my point. Time can be bought. Everything can be bought. To be or to become rich is to have money to be happy when one is worthy of being so...

At 25 years old, Mersault, I had already understood that any man with the sense, the will and the demand for happiness had the right to be rich. The demand for happiness seemed to me the most noble thing in men's hearts. In my eyes, everything was justified by it. A pure heart was enough...

I would like to be sure of it. I'm not saying that money is the cause of happiness. I only understand that for a certain type of men happiness is possible (if only one has time) and that to have money is to be free from money"

--- Alvert Camus / A Happy Death

How NOT to write an FAQ about LGBT health issues

In the Straits Times Forum 2 days ago:

HPB site too skewed towards gay issues

I WAS surprised by the content in the Health Promotion Board's Frequently Asked Questions on sexuality and the manner in which it was presented ("Health board tackles gay issues in FAQs"; last Wednesday).

More than half of the FAQs addressed sexual orientation issues.

Surely, sexuality encompasses more than a person's sexual orientation. What about more wide-ranging issues such as body image, anxiety about sex, unwanted sexual impulses or compulsions, impotence, lack of sexual desire, promiscuity, or recovery from sexual abuse or sexual assault? Why have these issues been overlooked?

Also, the FAQs on sexually transmitted infections and HIV were at the bottom of the page. It is more logical for them to be at the top as this issue affects anyone regardless of sexual orientation.

The webpage's content seems skewed towards gender identity issues.

This is incongruent with the HPB's stand of "encouraging heterosexual married couples to have healthy relationships and to build stable nuclear and extended family units".

Karen Liaw Soek Yin (Ms)


At first I thought the ruckus about the HPB FAQ was the usual liberal vs conservative tussle, but then I actually read the FAQ.

I am sure some people are already labelling her a "homophobe", but this is a very neutral letter which points out important issues with the HPB FAQ which is supposedly about "sexual health" (it is also true that this is incongruent with the HPB's stand - this is no judgment of whether this stand is a good one).

Of course, if one takes a broad view of "sexual health", anything related to what might possibly cause LGBTs mental distress could fall under that category. But then, we would be surprised if a Health FAQ on obesity talked about bullying and the fat acceptance movement and we might even suspect the writers of the FAQ of having a political agenda. And we might as well invent a new category called "racial health" and talk about the harms of racial discrimination.

It is instructive to compare the HPB FAQ with other LGBT Health FAQs. For example, the NHS's: Gay health: the issues - Live Well - NHS Choices which explicitly states (indeed, starts with):

"Research shows that people with same-sex partners may have a higher risk of contracting certain conditions, for instance lesbians may have a higher risk of breast cancer and gay men are at higher risk of HIV. They may also be less likely to take advantage of screening and other health checks so health problems are not picked up as early as they could be."

In contrast, HPB begins with:

"What is homosexuality/bisexuality?

Homosexuality is the emotional, romantic and sexual attraction to someone of the same sex. ‘Gay’ is commonly used to describe men who are attracted to men, and ‘lesbian’ for women who are attracted to women. Bisexuality is the attraction to both sexes.

Many people think that homosexuality and heterosexuality are on opposite ends of the sexuality spectrum, with bisexuality in the middle. In reality, human sexuality is much more complex. For example, some guys might consider themselves as heterosexual but have homosexual attraction towards men. And bisexuals might fi nd themselves attracted to guys and girls at diff erent times. For more information, check out the Kinsey Scale."

All of which is more or less true, but what does it have to do with sexual health?!

There are also misleading half-truths, like:

"Are homosexual and bisexual men more likely to get STIs/HIV?

Anyone who indulges in high-risk sexual behaviour (e.g. unprotected sex with multiple partners) is at high risk of being infected with a STI, including HIV... Correct and consistent use of condoms during any form of sex is the most e ective (sic) way of preventing STIs/HIV transmission"

It is well-known that gay men have more sexual partners than straight men, that a lot of gay men like to go bareback and that this is dangerous. Pretending that everyone's sexual behavior is the same can have disastrous consequences for sexual health (once again, a comparison with the NHS FAQ is instructive).

Also the most effective way of preventing STI transmission is not condom use but rather the ABC strategy: abstinence, being faithful and condom use (it is presumably relatively uncontroversial to state that not having sex is a virtually foolproof way of avoiding STIs/HIV).

As such, there are very valid concerns one should have about the HPB FAQ that are not motivated by religion or LGBT antipathy.


Footnote: The NHS pages on Trans health are arguably less neutral, but then gender dysphoria *is* a medical condition after all, and anyway they still read more neutrally than the HPB's FAQ.


Addendum: The Mayo Clinic has a similar approach to gay health: Health issues for gay men: Prevention first - Mayo Clinic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is not too far off with their CDC - Gay and Bisexual Men's Health. There is a section on "Stigma and Discrimination" but this is both short compared to the rest of the sub-site and contextualised with respect to health. Also they state that:

"when compared with the general population, gay and bisexual men, lesbian, and transgender individuals are more likely to:

- Use alcohol and drugs
- Have higher rates of substance abuse
- Are less likely to abstain from alcohol and drug use
- Are more likely to continue heavy drinking into later life"

If you are a health authority, these are important facts to consider and address rather than promulgating politically correct claims that "LGBTs are exactly the same as straight people, kumbaya".

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

France 2012 - Day 12 - Carcassonne - Canal du Midi (Part 3)

France 2012
Day 12 - 24th October - Carcassonne - Canal du Midi
(Part 3)

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"Toco, Rompo, Pago!"
This is Spanish for "Touch it, break it, play with it!". Maybe there's something wrong with Spanish people.

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The English doesn't say why they don't reserve stuff for you for later collection anymore

When I returned to the hostel to take my camera battery I was informed I had to change my room as they had given me a girls' room. Hurr, HI prudery. I went up and noticed frilly purple underwear on a bed I didn't think was there before.

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"Mixité" is one of their values despite gender segregation. I should've lectured them on "separate but not equal"

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Grow your own grapes
These are for eating, not wine. Only the Merlot can be used for wine. Wine grapes are too acidic and have too much tannin

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Place with lots of awards. Including from the "Universal Cassoulet Academy".

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Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse

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Nave

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"The Church is at the centre of your lives. Help it to live"
Making the church relevant

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Stained Glass

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Rose Windows

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Altar

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Pillars

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Organ

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Pulpit

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Pieta

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Trinity

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On the Stained Glass

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I didn't understand the sheaves of wheat

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Portal

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Capital

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Grotesques

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Joan of Arc (I think)

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"The Basilique St NAZAIRE is a church always assigned to the Roman Catholic Cult"
Apparently you should use trumpets

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St Dominic preached for Lent in this church in 1213

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Tower

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Gargoyles

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Exterior

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From bottom

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Carcassonne from further away

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Classic river view with old bridge

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"Restaurant Le Viêt-Nam"

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Portal

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Tiny door to a historic place: Prosper Montagné, Grand Master of French Cooking, was born here in 1865

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Place Carnot

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Fountain

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"Ti' gouté" (small taste)
aka Kids' Set
I passed on the toy (the surprise) and the chupa chups and got €0,20 discount

I decided to walk a stretch of the Canal du Midi.

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Canalside beside SNCF station

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PDA area

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Ducks

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Jogger under bridge

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It was a 35 minute walk either way. I don't know why I was expecting more.
At the hostel they said it took an hour to walk to and fro and see 3 locks - though I walked quite fast I only saw 1.

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House across Canal

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Graffiti

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Ugly lock. I decided not to see the other 2, not least since it was getting late.

On my way to the lock I'd come across 2 ladies who said it was 10 minutes away. It was actually 15. I was resting near the lock and they returned. I pointed out the time estimate had been wrong and they apologised. I asked if they'd driven and they said they had. I was hoping they'd feel guilty and offer me a ride back but they didn't so I took another 30 mins to walk back.

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Canal du Midi near Carcassonne - Lock

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More graffiti

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Carcassonne at night

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From below at night

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Night tryst

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"10% discount [for early patronage]. This 10% doesn't apply to products which benefit from the reduction in VAT"

I ended up in the square that I had resolved to avoid anyway, not least since yet another guidebook-recommended place was closed for dinner. I was tired and not really hungry but felt it was better to eat. Less than half the places were open for dinner (I suppose most people don't bunk in the old city).

The set menu was only €12,90 at "le plus vieux café de la cité" (the oldest café in the town). Outside of Paris, cafés and restaurants in France are actually cheaper than in Singapore.

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Glorious salad with lots of bacon

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I added on a "Or-Kina", the Carcassonne apéritif which was the sweetest of these.
Most of the "specialités terroir" (specialities of the region) have lots of pork.

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Very rough and hearty sausage

I discovered why no one else was sitting outside at night (there was a couple before me but they had left). It wasn't just that the wind was cold but my food was also getting cold fast because winter was coming.

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They had ice cream doused with vodka/tequila
The "Coupe Mystère" was chocolate and mystery ice cream.

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Bread and butter pudding. I didn't like the other choices. Lunch had been better overall but this was okay; the dessert was quite limp but the rest was not bad.
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