Kill the Code – And Save the World

Apparently the national Libertarian Party is   in   extremis  financially. This is unfortunate. I hope they pull through.

I have been thinking that their problem is the lack of connection between what they (the Libertarian Party) offer at the national level, and solution to life’s most pressing problems. In other words: What is the path to freedom?

To some extent that is un-knowable. We don’t know what solutions unshackled people will come up with. But there has to be a catalyst. What starts the process toward freedom? I cannot accept that we just pull the plug on 70 years of legacy structure, and let the chips fall where they may, as some have suggested.

In my opinion, we’re never going to be able to turn off programs like Social Security and Medicare until people no longer need them. But that will take time. Many years in fact. And until then… what?

Hence my proposal, which I call Kill the Code… and Save the World.

The most hated, most pernicious of all Leviathan’s horrors is the IRS and its three-plus million words of rules and regulations. How does that gum up the wheels of progress? In ways we cannot ever imagine!

And most people agree that continuing to pump carbon into the atmosphere is eventually going to cause problems – maybe big problems.

I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard my old political mentor Jack Kemp say, “If you tax something, you’ll get less of it, and if you subsidize something, you’ll get more of it.”

Think of all the things we tax in this country. Good things. Things like income, capital Gains, profits, and payroll.

My idea is simple and hopefully revolutionary. It is to completely scrap the Internal Revenue Code. (Perhaps a popular idea as we enter tax season. At least to everybody except accountants and lawyers.) When it’s that long and that complicated, you know the game is rigged against you, and in favor of the fast operators with their Washington lobbyists.

I propose chucking it all and replacing it with a single tax on the one thing that practically everybody agrees is a problem:


My proposal is: Immediately enact a carbon tax of $1000 per ton of coal, $10 per gallon of gasoline or diesel fuel, and $25 per thousand cubic feet of natural gas.

However… this cannot be done Unless the Internal Revenue Code is fully scrapped. This is not a tax “in addition to”; it is a tax “to replace”. It replaces the personal income tax, the corporate income tax, the payroll tax, the capital gains tax, the estate tax, the alternative minimum tax and all the rest. No more 1040s. No more 1120s. No more Schedule C’s. You make it, you keep it. No other taxes will be levied.

Move fast, do it now, don’t phase it in. Take the pain and move on.

Think of how much innovation there will be. People will be scrambling to figure out how to save on their fossil fuel emissions.

Some winners: city dwellers, people in small self sufficient towns, people with fuel efficient autos.

Losers: owners of McMansions in the sterile exurbs, SUV and big truck owners.

Cities would be revitalized. People would want to live close to work. Or would even telecommute. Mass transit would be rejuvenated. R&D on green technology would get the biggest shot in the arm in history.

Over time, people would use less. Tax revenues would fall. Coincident with that gradual decline would be the wind-down of Social Security and Medicare.

Then in 50 years… maybe America’s second name will be Galt’s Gulch.

Clinical Empathy in Extremis

As has long been known in the field of undercover law enforcement, some information is easier to gather secretly than overtly.

In late 2008, three psychiatric nurses had themselves admitted as “pseudopatients” to a Dutch psychiatric hospital. In collaboration with an acting coach and a psychotherapist, they developed fictive biographies for their characters–“back stories”–much as do undercover cops. One of the players was admitted to the psychiatric hospital by his “brother” after a suicide attempt that was part of his back story; a history of aggressiveness was also part of his backstopping. Family members, played by professional actors, came to visit them while they lived in the psychiatric hospital as a patient would. Following the lead of a famous covert investigation of the patient experience by David Rosenhan in 1973–“Being Sane in Insane Places”–these undercover investigators were trying to understand the conditions under which psychiatric patients experience their illnesses. Understanding the patient experience from the inside has become part of some medical schools’ training programs. The University of New England medical school sent (young) medical students in geriatrics for two-week stints as “patients” in regional nursing homes where they could experience the anomie, the longing for human contact, and the challenge of navigating often insensitively designed environments: what their patients live every day. While it was of course impossible to be in any way in deep cover at 50 years younger than the target population, there was still much for participant-observers to learn. Shower bars, for example, were too high for people in wheelchairs.

How far does a doctor have to go in feeling or experience to treat her patient effectively? And, practically, how close can a doctor get to experiencing what her patient feels without running the risk of being sucked into the morass of the patient’s suffering? Isn’t there also a peril of projecting her own experience of suffering upon her patient and blinding herself to the suffering that is truly the patient’s own?

All this is at the middle of an ongoing debate in medical practice and training–at least in the places where patient experience is considered part of the clinical picture. Some say, just recognizing, identifying, being able to label the experience the patient is “presenting” is enough to treat an illness well. Others demand that, in addition to the awareness of the patient’s state, the health-care provider’s being able to respond in the moment, with real emotional savvy, is what constitutes true clinical empathy. They posit that, not only are so-called clinical outcomes better when doctors and nurses experience and convey clinical empathy, but their own satisfaction in their work rises when they allow themselves to be moved by patients.

Some concerned with these issues have been using theatre training to improve physicians’ observational and receptive skills, helping them to listen for subtext, values, and strengths, and their performance skills, coaching them to express themselves fully and clearly through their voices and bodies and to use eye contact, breathing rhythms, and body positions to foster rapport with their patients. They distinguish between a surface-level and a “deep” acting, in which these skills have been internalized and become more automatic.

Yet the bodies of others are not only relational and physical, they are also cultural, and there’s evidence that physicians who fold all these elements into a treatment plan see better outcomes. Just as in On Killing, the book featured in Skin in the Game’s January issue that examines the conditions that make it easier for soldiers to kill, it is harder for doctors to feel empathy for those whom they perceive as being different from themselves-whose bodies and selves they perceive as “other.” The next phase of development in the humanization of the medical professions so that they become professions of healing is the encompassing of how the perspective of someone one may initially perceive as foreign, other–and, thus, inevitably “less than”–can transform into a collaborative relationship of inquiry, with two body-selves linked in a common humanity.

Copyright Sara K. Schneider 2010

"Iron Man 3" Versus "The Avengers"

“The Avengers” and “Iron Man 3” are the two biggest superhero films of the past year, with the possible exception of “The Dark Knight Rises.” However, “The Dark Knight Rises” is a DC property involving Batman, whereas the other two are Marvel-based titles, both of which have been critically acclaimed and approved by fans. Despite the similarities between “Iron Man 3” and “The Avengers,” the films differ in many ways. It’s worth bearing in mind that all the Marvel films, except for the “Spider-Man” and “X-Men” franchises exist in the same shared universe, so the stories build on one another.

“The Avengers” is an ensemble film that blends drastically different heroes into a single story. Thor, the extradimensional Asgardian and Norse god of thunder, a super-soldier unfrozen from World War II, a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist, and a scientist with a dark side are all expected to bring their different skillsets and backgrounds to the table. It works and makes a coherent storyline, but viewers familiar with the source material may not be amused with the changes. “I.M. 3,” meanwhile, features characters from a single continuity line who all have relatively similar backgrounds. Therefore, it doesn’t take too much character alteration to make the story work.

“The Avengers” is a great deal more action driven than is “Iron Man 3.” Although “The Avengers” offers character development, “Iron Man 3” showcases more character-based drama. It turns out that since “Iron Man 2,” Tony Stark has begun a relationship with Pepper Potts, his secretary. Tony’s been teaching her to better defend herself, and it’s clear that he cares a great deal about her, certainly more than he did any character in “The Avengers.”

In “The Avengers,” Tony Stark is practically invincible in the Iron Man suit, and he’s able to take on hordes of Chitauri. Therefore, in “I.M. 3,” the writers contrived more situations that required Tony to act and fight when not in his armor, giving him the chance to prove himself capable in this regard. He takes martial arts training, learns free-running skills, and makes some gadgets to use outside of his armor.

No superhero film can work without a quality villain. “The Avengers” has Loki, working with an alien race called the Chitauri, as the main villain. The aliens come across more like an extraterrestrial biker gang than anything, and they serve as adequate Mjolnir, shield, and arrow fodder. Loki, on the other hand, appears even more insane and menacing than he did in his debut in “The Mighty Thor.” His fall through space and encounter with aliens probably sped along his descent into madness. “Iron Man 3” features Iron Man’s iconic nemesis, the Mandarin. Rather than being a mysterious agent, this version of the Mandarin was once a CEO-like Tony Stark-before he became insane and superpowered from the Extremis formula that he helped develop. Instead of having explicitly supernatural or alien powers like Loki’s, the Mandarin has his powers, including healing and fire breathing, due to genetic engineering. He also has superb martial arts training.

The version of Tony Stark in “Iron Man 3” and the one in “The Avengers” have slightly different personalities. In “The Avengers,” Tony Stark is more flippant and sarcastic, especially when dealing with Captain America. However, Cap’s idealism and heroic attitude start to influence Tony. At the end of “The Avengers,” Tony has a near-death experience in the Iron Man suit. “I.M. 3” takes place after “The Avengers,” and Tony Stark is suffering from nightmares and other symptoms of PTSD from his near-death experience. He is notably more serious in “Iron Man 3” and attempts to think more highly of his colleagues and friends. “I.M. 3” also sees the end of Tony Stark’s career as Iron Man. He destroys all his armor and undergoes surgery to remove the shrapnel from his chest. In “The Avengers,” Tony treats the threat to the world as just a job to take care of, whereas in the third “Iron Man” film, it’s more personal. The Mandarin has directly targeted Tony Stark for shunning his ideas and disfiguring him several years back. He ends up putting some of Tony’s subordinates in a coma and destroying his home.

Overall, both flicks are similar films, and they share the ultimate goal of bringing a superhero story to the big screen. However, where the former is an ensemble story with drastically different characters, the latter is more tightly knit. ” Iron Man 3 ” is faster paced but more focused on character development. “The Avengers” does, however, display some interpersonal dynamics, particularly in Captain American’s interactions with Thor and Iron Man. Ultimately, Marvel fans are sure to enjoy both films.

Halloween in London

Halloween is a holiday celebrated on October 31st every year, it comes from the Celtic festival of Samhain, and the Christian holiday All Saints Day, but today it is a lay festivity. People traditionally celebrate Halloween by wearing costumes, trick or treating, carving faces into pumpkins, telling ghosts stories, visiting haunted attractions and watching horror films.

In London, a wide array of theme events, parties and special activities for all ages will take place across the city on Halloween Night 2010. If you are a Shock Rock fanatic you can’t miss the opportunity to go to the Alice Cooper Halloween Night of Fear. This is his most special and unique show, where he’ll be joined by Jim Rose and Zodiac Mindwarp & The Love Reaction. If you want a terrifying theatre experience, then visit Ghost Stories, a chilling new production from The League of Gentlemen’s Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman. They will make you cry out with their frightening stories.

The London Ghost Festival returns for 2010, the festival features special events across the city including tours of haunted sites and investigations into the supernatural. This festival aims to get everyone exploring the world of the supernatural with an open mind. This Halloween step into the dark and dank tunnels under the London Bridge, Phobophobia is the Halloween special event at the London Bridge Experience. Prepare to meet your deepest fears exploring the fear of fear itself walking through the haunted tunnels. The site is full of burial pits and it is the home of many ghosts and all manner of creepy crawlies. If you are looking for a deliciously devilish night of music and entertainment, Lynx Halloween All Nighter brings to Alexandra Palace some of the world finest DJ’s and live acts to celebrate Halloween alongside 10.000 music fans!

For alternative people The Torture Garden Halloween Ball offers a spooky night with radical performance art, burlesque cabaret and a compulsory fantasy dress code for all. Up to 2000 clubbers are expected to come to the party, that is expected to attract a number of a different underground cultures such as goth, burlesque and electro. It has different theme rooms and will be showcasing fashion shows, art installations and live music. For those who like breathtaking experiences and feel of their heart hammering in their chest, The Passage Of Terror offers an interactive show with some of the most famous and terrifying characters in the history of film and literature. The show promises goose bumps, sweaty palms and squeals of terror. It gives the chance to live your own horror film, with atmospheric lighting, spooky sounds and special effects to help you become immersed in each scene you encounter.

The London Dungeon is opening a brand new show featuring Jack O’Lantern and the Sounds of Hell. Visitors will be pursued by the screams and moans from the mouth of the hell into the hellish labyrinth. More horrors wait for those who want to try the two new rides, including the   Extremis  – Drop Ride to Doom where you fall victim to the hooded hangman, and the Traitor – Boat Ride to Hell ride, which will leave you cowering and shivering from fear.

Chills in the Chapel returns to Union Chapel for the lovers of horror films. For three nights the gothic Union Chapel will be the home of the screams, screening classical horror films with candles and atmospheric lighting.

Pump House Gallery is going to do a Halloween workshop to create images of skeletons, ghosts and other spooky stuff using magic paper, for all the family. If you want do not miss the chance of be terrified this Halloween in London stay at Umi London, our Central London Hotel situated in Notting Hill, near all Halloween events.

Iron Man 3 Review

Before I get into my review for Iron Man 3, I want to talk about the previous installments and what I thought about them. Iron Man was a great film and I thought worked amazingly. It was a solid origin story and had fun action. The movie did a great job at bringing Iron Man to the silver screen. Iron Man 2 was a bit of a misstep, I enjoyed it for the most part, but a lot of the movie was just action thrown in. I thought the first movies action scenes moved the story along, but in the sequel they were just there to show off cool CGI. Then the Avengers released, which was a fantastic movie that also added to Tony Starks story. So going into Iron Man 3 I was a bit excited because of the new direction it was going in, but at the same time I was a bit nervous because it didn’t really feel like the same old Iron Man.

As soon as Iron Man 3 opens and a few minutes pass, you can immediately tell that a new director has taken over and it is a fun new take on Tony Stark and his life. But somethings did feel a bit out of the place. But once the action starts, the movie starts to feel like the first two Iron Mans.

The acting was good from everybody, they all had their moments. There were a lot of funny moments in the movie and the dialogue in the film is fast and slick. The movie flies by, being a little over two hours.

The CGI was pretty good, but nothing really popped out to me as being the new standard. All the action scenes were awesome and each had very cool things happening in them. The plane sequence that is shown in just about every trailer and TV spot was a bit of a let down and nothing really happens then what you might expect. But the use of practical effects and stunt men make it a stand out. The final act of the film completely blows the roof off though, it is such a fun action sequence that rivals the best.

There was really only one thing I was disappointed in though, it was the Mandarin. Ben Kingsley was completely wasted in the movie. The Mandarin was barley in the film and was hyped up to be this big thing and the twist that occurs completely ruins that character. Ill talk more about the twist after I give my final score.

Overall Iron Man 3 feels more like a comic book movie than the first two did and it is a blast to watch. Great action scenes and slick dialogue add to movie in a great way. I love how the movie explored Tony’s mind like it did and it was much needed. I was not let down by this film, even though the twist made me roll my eyes.

Final Score: 8.4


If you have not seen Iron Man 3 and are planning too, I recommend not reading beyond this point. But if you don’t care about being spoiled or aren’t interested in seeing Iron Man 3, enjoy.

So the big twist is that Ben Kingsley, who is supposedly the Mandarin, isn’t actually the Mandarin. He ends up being an actor to put in front of the camera and be a face of evil. The getup is cool and he would of actually been a cool villain if Ben Kingsley was actually the Mandarin. We see him throughout the first half of the movie in TV broadcast from the “terrorist”. The worst part about it, is that after the twist, Ben Kingleys character acts as a comedic relief for the rest of the movie. It was just a stupid decision overall. The real Mandarin ends up being Guy Pierces character, which was fine, Guy Pierce did a good job at being evil.

Then there’s a thing with Pepper Pots. She ends up being kid napped by the “real” Mandarin and is given the   extremis  powers. Why? There is no good reason as to why Pepper Pots was given the  extremis . At one point after she escapes, she falls to her “death”, but at the end it is revealed that she survived because of her new powers. I would of much rather her actually die. Then at the end Tony gives a monologue and says that he ended up fixing Pepper… It was such a cop out thing and ended up being pointless. There was no explanation as to how he did it or anything.

So that’s the only thing I really wanted to talk about in the spoiler category. Everything else pretty much plays out as you expect it to.

Cheap Hotels in Blackpool and Visitor Attractions

Cheap Hotels in Blackpool and Things to Do

With so many cheap hotels in Blackpool, a visit to the UK’s best seaside town doesn’t have to cost the earth! There are so many exciting things to see and do in Blackpool whether it’s visiting Blackpool Zoo, playing in the amusement arcades or a trip to the Blackpool Tower Dungeons. There really is something for everyone here. One of the best times to visit the seaside resort is in time for the Blackpool Illuminations. Since 1879, the famous lights display running 66 days from the start of September until November, has attracted millions of visitors every year. Showcasing an impressive six mile display of over one million lamps, the Blackpool Illuminations will be sure to fascinate all visitors. Of course, you can’t come to Blackpool without having a ride on the famous Pepsi Max Rollercoaster! Located in the towns famous Pleasure Beach Resort, the rollercoaster is one of Europe’s tallest rollercoasters. Then there’s the Blackpool Tower, one of the towns iconic landmarks. Boasting the Ballroom, Tower Eye, Circus and Dungeons, it’s the perfect place to spend your day.

Exciting Attractions in Blackpool

Blackpool is renowned for its traditional holiday by the sea image and it doesn’t fail to impress with the amount of seaside fun on offer. Blackpool Pleasure Beach began with just one ride in 1896, today it lies in 42 acres with over 125 rides and attractions. If you’re a thrill seeker head for Infusion or Avalanche. If you prefer something calmer head to the River Caves or play a round of crazy golf. Nickelodeon Land is the Pleasure Beaches’ newest space, loaded with 12 fantastic rides providing entertainment for the whole family. Children can see their favourite characters SpongeBob, Rugrats and Dora the Explorer all within a set of fantastic rides. Another must see whilst you’re staying in cheap hotels in Blackpool is The Blackpool Tower. The Tower has undergone some recent developments with a brand new 4D Blackpool experience. Before ascending to the top of The Tower Eye, step into the new 4D cinema that allows you to witness a truly unique Blackpool experience. Whilst you’re in The Tower, be sure to visit the Tower Dungeon. Perfect for families with children over 8 years old, visitors can step into 1000 years of Blackpool’s most blood-curdling history. With actor led shows, a mirror maze, an old Blackpool court room and the   Extremis  drop ride, its educational and entertaining for all the family!

Staying in Cheap Hotels in Blackpool, Museums and Art Galleries

Built in 1911, the Grundy Art Gallery is a beautiful art venue in the centre of Blackpool which may be of interest to visitors. Its grand architecture is home to a number of exhibitions throughout the year including historical, modern and contemporary art. A popular museum is the famous Madame Tussauds where you can step on the red carpet and come face to face with your favourite celebrities. From Cheryl Cole and Gok Wan to Micheal Jackson and Tiger Woods, there’s a whole range here and it’s great fun for all the family! The Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum which has long attracted weird and wacky artefacts from all over the world, is another interesting place to see. Spread across two floors, there are interactive and educational displays for all to explore. There are plenty of cheap hotels in Blackpool situated close to all of these attractions.

Best London Tourist Attractions

London is home to plenty of attractions known for art, architecture, culture, history and entertainment. Here are some of London’s best attractions to treat you on your visit to London.

Tower of London

The Tower of London was built in the 11th century and has played a very prominent role in English history. It is the original royal fortress and is located on the north bank of River Thames. It is one of London’s best sites depicting the history and glory of England. Throughout the centuries, the tower has been a palace, prison, and arsenal (store for the weapons and equipments in the country), place of torture and place for crown jewels. Millions of people visit the tower every year and is one of world’s heritage sites in the UNESCO list since 1988.

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge is a bascule and suspension bridge over The Thames and was opened in 1894. It is an iconic part of the London skyline and the glinting blue upper walkways offer special views of building that line the river, the city centre to the west and the Docklands to the east. The Tower Bridge Exhibition attracts people to the bridge, where the construction is explained and visitors are allowed to look into Victorian engine rooms and know about the power that raised the bascules of the bridge.

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square is London’s famous public square and tourist attraction in central London that was created to commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar. The National Gallery in the north, St Martin-in-the-Fields Church in the east, the Strand to the south of the Church and many prominent statues make the square a unique attraction in London. Nelson’s Column is the most well known statue commemorating the death of Admiral Horatio nelson in the Battle of Trafalgar. King James II statue and George Washington statue are found on the lawn in front of the gallery. The Eleanor Cross, Admiral Arch and some more reveal the historic glory of Trafalgar Square.

London Dungeon

London Dungeon is one of London’s famous attractions recreating gory and macabre historical events in a gallows humour style. With live actors, special effects and rides, this site appeals younger audience largely. It was opened in 1974 and is operated by Merlin Entertainments. It’s highly thrilling to face the worst nightmares, take rides like   extremis  and traitor and have several unique experiences.

Globe Theatre

Shakespeare’s Globe is located on the south bank of the River Thames. It’s a commemoration to the famous English poet and dramatist William Shakespeare. The current theatre is the replica of the original Theatre built in the 16th century, which was burnt to ground in the 17th century. It is a commemoration to William Shakespeare one of world’s best English poets and dramatists.

The history of the theatre dates back to the 16th century. The theatre was first built in 1599 and a fire accident in 1613 burnt the theatre to ground. It was rebuilt in 1614, however it didn’t last long. It was completely demolished in 1644. With the efforts of American actor and director Sam Wanamaker, this theatre today invites people all through the year. Events, interactions and plays hosted here with excellent backstage support areas for actors, lobby, restaurant and all amenities make this theatre more special. United States, Germany, Japan, Italy and many other countries have built replica of the current theatre.

Hope this list would have been something different for you!

Attitude – Do You Have the Right One?

It is often said that attitude is everything. I submit to you that this statement must be qualified to say that the proper attitude is everything.  This seems to be particularly important when it comes to the health care industry. In these times of increased awareness for patient safety, I see plenty of people with attitude but the safety level appears to have been level for the past few years.

Having lived most of my hospital life in and around operating rooms, there is no shortage of nurses who are willing to show you their attitude. This is particularly true when any new safety item trickles down from the ivy towers of academia, accreditation or outside organizations. I listen to people tell me why this procedure or that process won’t work in their operating room.  Apparently operating rooms are like snowflakes in that no two are alike.  What works at Johns Hopkins will never work in any other OR in the world, or so many people would have you believe.  When I ask what method will work, I am either met with a blank stare or a comment about how that problem has never happened at their hospital.  The big question is how can that attitude be changed?

We probably need to first look at  how the negative attitude set up shop to begin with. Was it something that they brought with them from childhood or from sometime later?  Have they been nurturing a bad attitude since they started their health care training? If we can identify any common ground, then we should be able to perform some attitude readjustment before people start to work with patients. Lacking that information, we still need to change the prevailing attitude that prevents us from making progress in patient safety.  I think that the only way you will be able to grab someone’s attention to start changing attitudes is to make it such an overwhelming event that there will not be any doubt about the hospital’s intent.

But how can you make such a grand statement?  What about having everyone (nurses, surgeons, anesthesia, techs) show up for work one day and not have any patients? A full day involving everyone in getting on board the same train and taking the same trip. When everyone has the same destination in mind, projects like patient safety are much easier to accomplish. But wait, I can hear the attitude from many people already!  You can’t close the OR on a weekday and have everyone but the patients show up. What about the lost revenue, the surgeons lost time, administrators not attending meetings, and so on?  If you want a comparison to show people why this is necessary, just add up the cost to do this for one day. Next to that figure add up the cost of a wrong site or wrong patient surgery.  Don’t forget to add in the legal cost, rise in liability insurance cost, the hospital’s share of the patient’s bill that will not be reimbursed because it was preventable and loss of patient revenue when the public hears (and they will) about the mistake.  Actually the cost for one down day in the OR isn’t all that too much after all.

This is the type of demonstration that administration needs to show the OR staff for them to know that the hospital leadership is serious about effecting change.  This will reinforce the fact that everyone’s attitude must change to embrace proven procedures that have been worked out and shown to enhance patient care and safety.

The Latin proverb — extremis malis extrema remedia — ‘extreme remedies for extreme ills’ holds quite true for this subject. We must take the extreme  measures necessary to keep from needlessly causing harm to others.  While patient safety statistics are often quoted as occurring to “one patient in” what ever denominator you like, the fact remains that if you are that “one person” then it occurred one time too many.

Historical Attractions in Edinburgh Will Leave You Fascinated and Freaked-Out!

Historical attractions in Edinburgh are plentiful yet the colourful history of our capital city can be seen, felt and read about on almost every street corner.

Don’t be fooled by the serenity, Edinburgh is a city with a vibrant and violent history. It was once home to brutal murderers, grave robbers and cannibals who have left the locals with more than a handful of tales that will make your blood run cold…find out all about it at the Edinburgh Dungeon!

‘Auld Reekie’ (or ‘Old Smoky’, Edinburgh’s nickname as a result of the notoriously poor air quality in the past) is also a city of writers, inventors and royalty.

World-renowned authors Sir Walter Scott and Sir Arthur Conan Dolye were both born in Edinburgh as was Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone.

For history buffs, the first stop in Edinburgh should always be Edinburgh Castle. The crown jewel of our town has always been and always will be the most important of all the historical attractions in Edinburgh.

Having played a role in the key passages of Scottish history, such as the Wars of Independence and the Jacobite uprising, a visit to Edinburgh Castle is essentially a tour through Scottish history itself.

Sloping downhill from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace, the Royal Mile or High Street is the backbone of Edinburgh’s Old Town and the most famous street in Scotland. It is also your point of descent into Edinburgh’s dark past on one of our famous ghost tours.

At the bottom of the Royal Mile you will find the futuristic tent-like structure which houses Our Dynamic Earth, an amazing interactive museum which will fill your boots with the history of our planet if Edinburgh’s colourful history isn’t enough for you!

A short walk from the Royal Mile down George IV Bridge will take you to the National Museum of Scotland where you can learn all about the history of Scotland and its people. Historical attractions in Edinburgh appear around every corner.

The mile-long High Street has played a central role in the history of Edinburgh since the 12th century. Once the scene of an open-air trading market, the Royal Mile became home to thousands of people when timber buildings were put up. The gaps between these buildings were and still are referred to as ‘closes’. On your visit to the Royal Mile, be sure to explore the dozens of alleyways which branch off the main street.

After the destruction of the medieval township in 1544 by the English, stone housing was erected and the Royal Mile gradually became more and more overcrowded. By the mid 17th century, around 70,000 people called the Royal Mile their home.

Modernisation of the street took place in the mid-19th century and began to take on the appearance of the Royal Mile we see today. As you walk down this street, try to imagine what life was like back then, the squalor, the dirt and disease. It would be difficult to find a more distinctive street anywhere in the world. Of all the historical attractions in Edinburgh, it is certainly the most atmospheric.

The Old Town of Edinburgh

Effectively, the section of the city centre to the south of Princes Street Gardens and Edinburgh Castle is the Old Town. This part of Edinburgh along with the New Town is a UNESCO world heritage site.

Being situated on the slopes of the volcanic Castle Rock, the Old Town is laid out on different levels meaning steep streets, tight alleyways and small bridges are the norm. In my opinion, this makes the Old Town an excellent location to explore and get lost!

In the past thirty years, underground vaults have been discovered which at one time were used for storage and as living quarters for relatively poor tradesmen. It is also rumoured that serial killers Burke and Hare scoured the vaults for potential victims and also stored corpses there!

Edinburgh’s famous ghost tours will give you access to some sections of the vaults and also to underground streets like Mary King’s Close, which were reportedly closed off during the 17th century to contain the spread of the bubonic plague. Historical attractions in Edinburgh don’t come scarier than that!

Nowadays, the Old Town where 80,000 people lived in the 18th century, is extremely popular among locals and tourists looking to learn about 10 centuries of history and spend time in some of the countless pubs, bars and clubs which line almost every street corner.

Areas of the Old Town like the Cowgate and the Grassmarket, which was a place of execution in times gone by, are now partying hotspots. It is a special feeling relaxing with your friends in traditional pubs and modern hangouts surrounded by hundreds of years of history.

Greyfriars Bobby

The story of Greyfriars Bobby is one which has touched the hearts of so many people around the world.

Bobby was a Skye Terrier who belonged to a Mr John Gray, a night watchman for the Edinburgh City Police. After spending two years almost permanently by his owner’s side, Bobby was left to fend for himself when Gray sadly died of tubercolosis in the winter of 1858.

The little Terrier spent the last fourteen years of his life guarding John Gray’s grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard in the Old Town of Edinburgh. Greyfriars Bobby died in 1872 and was buried near the gate of Greyfriars Kirkyard only a few metres from his owner’s grave.

This fourteen year-long display of loyalty and devotion touched the local citizens and Lady Burdett-Coutts had a small statue of Bobby set up on the corner of George IV Bridge and Candlemaker Row a year after his death. This statue has become one of the most popular and significant historical attractions in Edinburgh.

This story has spawned a number of books and films and Bobby’s statue and grave have become popular with tourists and locals wishing to pay their respects to the loyal creature.

Such is the importance of Bobby’s heart-rendering story to the people of Edinburgh, it is as much a part of Edinburgh’s history as any other key figure or event.

The Edinburgh Dungeon

Well, the Edinburgh Dungeon isn’t for the faint-hearted! In fact, it is definitely the creepiest, scariest yet arguably the most-entertaining of all the historical attractions in Edinburgh.

The Dungeon is located in Market Street, next to Waverley Train Station, a stone’s-throw from Princes Street and will transport you back into Edinburgh and Scotland’s dark and downright dangerous past! Even though most countries have a sinister, suspect history, Scotland really does stand out from the rest when it comes to murder, incest, cannibalism, theft, disease and bloody war….have I put you off yet?!

For some reason, we Scots actually like to talk about our murky past as if it’s something to be proud of….as a result, we have the Edinburgh Dungeon…an attraction packed with shows, special effects, hair-raising rides and frights which give you an all-too-real insight into our violent past!

You’ll find out about age-old torture methods, callous criminals, the fate of Scottish patriot William Wallace and the brutal crimes of some of Edinburgh’s most notorious murderers such as Burke and Hare and Sawney Bean’s family…

If you still have your stomach   in  check after all that, give the infamous  Extremis  ride a go….I’ll let you find out about that one yourself! Opening times vary throughout the year but the opening hours of the Edinburgh Dungeon are generally longer during the summer months and at weekends.

Please be warned however! If I regularly come close to loose-bowel syndrome at the Edinburgh Dungeon, young children could also find this attraction disturbing. Please use your own discretion…oh, and don’t try any of what you see at home!

Our Dynamic Earth

If you’ve learned all there is to learn about Edinburgh’s history, why not get started on the history of planet Earth?! Our Dynamic Earth is an incredibly interesting ‘museum’ situated next to the Scottish Parliament and Holyrood Palace at the foot of the Royal Mile.

I put museum in quotation marks because Dynamic Earth is in actual fact so advanced in terms of its scope and set-up, it almost goes beyond the definition of museum into an interactive universe of knowledge for the 21st century.

Housed in a white, futuristic, armadillo-shaped tent (a blunt, yet accurate description!) Our Dynamic Earth will take visitors from the dawn of time, presenting the big bang theory, through the creation of Earth, the time of the dinosaurs up to the world we know (or think we know) today.

Expect to experience the numerous climates of our planet through interactive displays and impressive technology. Face up to the possibly drastic changes in our way of life as you learn about population growth and climate change. Our Dynamic Earth is an attraction that will fascinate, excite, shock and inspire both young and older visitors.

The Edinburgh Museum of Childhood

What makes this museum so unique is the fact it was the very first of its kind in the world in 1955. No other museum had specialised in the history of childhood before the Edinburgh Museum of Childhood opened its doors.

The museum not only looks at the way children were brought up and educated in Scotland but also displays toys and games from around the globe to give visitors an international perspective on childhood.

Amongst the museums numerous multimedia exhibits are the 1930s classroom and the 1950s street-games exhibit where visitors can observe how children were taught and how they entertained themselves in decades long since passed.

One of the most popular historical attractions in Edinburgh among young children, families and young-at-heart adults, the Museum of Childhood has countless children’s toys, games and objects from the past and present on display and many audio recordings of children singing and playing as you walk through the museum.

Admission is free so it’s a great way to keep children (and yourself!) entertained without putting your hand in your pocket. The Edinburgh Museum of Childhood is open from Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm. During the summer months of July and August, the museum is also open on Sundays from 12 noon till 5pm.

London Dungeon

Golden Tours cover all the well known attractions and offer a wide range of sightseeing tours, including London Bus Tours, London Sightseeing, London Tour, Madame Tussauds, London Dungeon, Tower of London and much more.

The London Dungeon is a fantastically unique and thrilling experience. Amass of live actors, interactive special effects, rides and shows provide exhilarating entertainment as well as testing your nerves! Based upon historical events of London’s past, uncover the terrifying truth behind some of the capital’s most horrific scandals! Be prepared to face your worst nightmares as you discover all from Jack the Ripper, to the Great Fire of London and Sweeney Todd.

New to London Dungeon is Surgery: Blood and Guts, the ultimate gruesome surgery experience. Be prepared for blood, guts and all the gangrenous details!

Unique to London Dungeon are its two rides;   extremis  and the traitor. Be transported to the dark depths by the hangman guide and embrace your doom on  extremis . The boat ride from hell ensures those who are afraid of the dark and drowning are in for a terrifying experience! Face your fears on the traitor!

London Dungeon takes you back to 1666 and uncovers all about the Great Fire of London. At a cost of 200,000 peoples’ lives, the raging fire transformed the capital from greatness to cinders. Preying on London’s prostitutes, Jack the Ripper frequented the dark alleys and quiet streets of London, causing women in the 1880’s to be frightened for their lives. Not forgetting Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street, visitors can enjoy a unique barber experience and enjoy one of his famous pies.