Sunday, May 25, 2003

We live in interesting times

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs has travel alerts of some kind on 129 countries, which is nearly two thirds of the countries of the world. (Given that these include China, India, The United States and Indonesia, which are the four most populous countries in the world, it must be well over two thirds of the world in population terms). This is a record. Some of this is due to terrorism, some due to SARS, and some due to the individual features of the individual countries. Some of these strike me as a bit harsh on countries that are actually pretty safe. ("One of the highest rates of traffic deaths for a developed country" for South Korea. "Street Crime" for Estonia. "SARS risk" for Italy). Others strike me as perhaps understated. ("Risk of Terrorism" covers everything from places that I think are fairly safe to places that I really wouldn't visit at the moment).

The basic point is that we live in an unhappy time. Sadly, this is very true.

I have said before that someday I would like to drive from Rome through the former Yugoslavia, through Greece, through Turkey, through Lebanon, Israel and Palestine to Egypt. (This would be a "modern civilization trip, in which I could see many of the important sights of the last 2500 years. A trip to Iraq would be an "ancient civilization" trip). With all the things on the way, that would be a wonderful experience. It isn't going to be possible to do this with a reasonably level of risk for a long time, however.

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