Sunday, January 17, 2010

Moctezuma - The Last Great Aztec Leader

Visited Moctezuma, the exhibition at the British Museum about the last great Aztec leader. I have to confess that Blockbuster exhibitions at the BM vary in subject interest for me, but one cannot judge the quality without attending - Hadrian for instance was an interesting subject but a rather poor exhibition. Aztec history is of mild interest to me, but I went along anyway and was glad I did so.

Moctezuma came to power in the early 1500s, leading a civilisation that was centred on Tenochtitlan, situated bang in the middle of modern-day Mexico City. The broad-ranging exhibition covers the background to his rule, the Aztec beliefs and way of life, the campaigns that Moctezuma successfully led, expanding their empire and bringing in valuable materials and human sacrificial victims.

I have the privilege of having visited the fantastic Anthropological Museum in Mexico City, whence much of the exhibition material came from, but of course the curation standard at the BM is excellent and so is an interesting alternative take, supported and concluding with the latest findings, including active digs going on just off the main square in Mexico City which Adrian and I visited all those years ago!

I did find myself turning off at some of the names, particularly of the gods, but thoroughly enjoyed the paintings of the Spanish invasion when Cortes first marched inland with troops in 1519, subjugating Moctezuma and painting a picture of a weak ruler voluntarily surrendering his throne, when the latest research suggests this was all spin by the invading colonialists.

Moctezuma is at the British Museum until the 24th January. Advanced booking is required for the last couple of weeks.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Snowy Britain

Apparently tonight it will fall to -20C in parts of Britain, including in the South! I came across this fantastic image below on the BBC website, taken by Nasa's Terra satellite on 7 January. Click here for a larger image.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

National Rail Down

Well not the whole network, just the website. I've always hated the National Rail website, it is a shining beacon of how incompetent web design can really make the user experience appalling. It got so bad a couple of years ago that I switched to Deutsche Bahn's site, which is still pretty good and has all the UK train times. Then the UK site improved slightly, and also had a very lightweight wap portal added in, so I've put up with it for a while. Now though it's been ruined again with stupid javascript, horribly-designed graphics and unfriendly processes in some sort of revamp.

So anyway I'm on the lookout for another site.

Anyway, this prompted me to read The Register's article on the site being down, to the comments, and I came across a new and fantastic looking timetable and fare site:

Simple, lightweight, and it has a simple logic behind it so you can get straight to the info you want. For example, if you want trains from Hull to London, you just tap in and up pops a simple page with the times and platform details if available. Want a simple timetable download? There's the pdf link. Good, eh? Append /fares to the end and you get prices too!

So no more nonsense for me!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

43 Things - Follow Your Dreams

Happy New Year everyone! I thought I'd share a site I've been trying to find for a while, having come across it years ago:

This allows you to set up a profile and record your life ambitions - the 43 being a random number of things they suggest you track. You can use it for resolutions or for longer-term things.

I recommend you use it - list things out, see what other people are doing and be inspired, then start ticking them off. For me this means everything from writing a novel and sailing around the world to attending more plays and attending Glastonbury Festival every year.