Travel and Arrival in Beijing

29/30 August. Getting here and arrival in Beijing

At 1130 I left Brockwood, Jerome giving me a lift to Heathrow. We went the Odiham route, quaint Englishness, nothing like what was ahead, and got to Terminal Five in an hour and a quarter. Due to keenness (not so much on my part) to be in plenty of time, and due to Jerome wanting to make sure the baggage drop went OK, having changed the name on the ticket, we sat around for 45 minutes in Café Nero, waiting for the drop to open. A lady tried to pay for her lunch with a very old design of fiver I hadn’t seen in years. When that was rejected she drew and equally old twenty, all sterling looking and serif. In my bag lots of weirdy Yuan with the criminal Mao still pictured.

There was no difficulty checking the bag in, so we hugged goodbyes, with more thankyous from Jerome for replacing him on this trip to the Beijing Book Fair.

I had a sore throat and wasn’t feeling great as I passed through security into the departure area. Hungry. Had a veggie brunch – potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms, veggie sausages. Skipped the sugar laden beans. Felt conspicuous and odd eating in that busy environment, so many voices, such harsh lighting, the lone diners eating at the high bar. Afterwards I found a water fountain and then a seat with natural light and fewer people. With food in my belly and a view, I began to relax. Before long it was time to take the shuttle to Gate C and wait for boarding.

People didn’t listen to the row numbers called first, nor did the attendants check, so getting to my seat at the back of the plane meant lots of waiting for people to get their bags in the overheads. Not sure why I chose right at the back. It was next to the loos, so often there was a queue of people stood right next to me. Podgy Chinese fellows and their podgy wives. Garlicky Europeans. I didn’t mind the girl with the coconut hair, who seemed to make a point of leaning into my shoulder as she waited. A nine and a half hour flight over Europe, Russia, Siberia and across the vastness of China. I saw some desert after dawn, railroad and railroad across the yellow.

Ignored the mushroom-something supper and ate instead a Boots-bought quiche and crisps. For breakfast I ignored the beans and tuck into cheesy eggs and the mushrooms. Breakfast was at around 0100 UK time. I had not slept but I’d meditated and I’d relaxed to music, and rested with earplugs through which I thought I could hear violins. Perhaps the wind noise was louder at the back, too; different seat on the way home. It didn’t seem to take too long, with a couple of films and Johnny Vegas on Desert Island Discs. The art of the aeroplane movie. Nothing too ‘deep’ or serious. Nothing that really needs a bigger screen, or at least better quality, or which I’d rather watch at home. I tend to go for the obviously, stupidly entertaining. First: Fast Five – silly fun action with excellent car chases, one with two cars towing a large safe, smashing shit up on the corners as it swung wide. Later in the night: No Strings Attached – Natalie being not quite so intense, and a story pretending to be different but not really. Again, obvious stuff to pass the time in a piece of metal riveted together, with added wings and jet engines. I walked up and down quite often, asking the steward how far forward I could go. Back two chambers only, not into Business Class and definitely not upper deck where he said it is ‘sterile’. Huh? ‘Because the pilots are up there too.’

Talking of sterile – airport shops are just that, incredibly bland and this weird, clean, international ‘world class’ glossy nothingness. It was the same in a mall along the road from the hotel. I could have been anywhere.

Short wait for passport control, a tick on my £90 visa. A long shuttle to baggage reclaim and then only a short wait for the big case. Then to the taxi rank, a supervised queue. First time outside, in the heat that doesn’t leave, sticky with poison. On your turn you stand next to the furthest empty bay and soon a yellow and green Hyundi comes powering into the lot and bakes late into the space. I stepped back. My trolley did the same. I’d printed the Bijing Hilton’s address in Chinese characters as I’d heard they don’t necessarily recognise English, and there are a few Hiltons in Beijing. Windows down it wasn’t too hot but megasmog everywhere, even inside the airport, aggravating my sore throat some more and pricking my lips. As I write, on the 18th floor, at 6pm I can hardly see 1km away due to the greyness. There seem to be three taxi types but I don’t know the difference: yellow and green, yellow and blue, and black. Many black limos and Audis and Lexus and Mercs on the Airport Expressway, and old Passats and Jettas. I habitually tried to put a seatbelt on but the clunky clicky bit was under the blue and white fake silky back seat covers. The driver looked stern, as do most of the Chinese I’ve seen today.

On arrival at the hotel, the cab door was opened for me while I paid the fare, and a bellboy collected the cases from the boot. I was escorted into reception. Very proper. On checking in, I asked for a room with a view and they tried to upgrade me. When I asked, they said it was £60 extra a night to be in the new tower. ‘No thank you,’ I said, a little hot and red by now. I’d read that you don’t tip in China so the taxi driver got his fare and tolls only, and the bellboy got, and expected, nothing when bringing my bags to the room. Room 1812, way up above the streets, looking sort of south over the 3rd Ring Road. A sigh of relief to be alone in a neutral room. 11am, 4am in the UK, there was nothing else for it but to have a snooze, after letting Jerome and Caroline know I’d arrived safely. Set the alarm for 5pm just in case and slept for an hour or three. That was a good reset but slow to wake. It was now 2pm and after a while I felt more centred, more here – China! – and up for a little wander.

I’d thought of going to the Forbidden City but it closes at 4pm. Mo had recommended some parks and temples. But the heat and pollution was rather too much for the subway. And I realised I am just not that interested in sightseeing, especially after a long trip. So I walked along the ring road to the sterile Lufthansa centre. Stayed five minutes and got the hell out. On the way was a major junction with a long zebra crossing. Green or red for pedestrians didn’t seem to make all that much difference, so I huddled in behind a little tour group and scurried across. Beyond the shopping centre were a few local shops – a café, a tattoo parlour, youths getting shoulder wide tats in black, sitting out in the streets grimmacing; and a small grocery store. Found some natural mineral water for 80p each (Beijing prices seem much like the UK) rather than paying the Hilton’s assumingly higher cost. Not that I’m paying, but you know, why get ripped off? The girls in the shop were sweet, getting all confused over the calculator of 8 Yuan times 4 and giggling. A little further along, the Ministry of Rock and Hard Rock Café. I walked back along the river a bit, yellow bridges, a possible massage place, and a sex shop also selling biscuits and whatnot, and the ‘Durty Nellies’ Irish Pub (an imitation of course, and spelt wrong…)

Back at the hotel, sorted for fluids if not food (on oatcakes for ‘lunch’, breakfast, whatever it is), I went to the gym and pool on the 4th floor. Swam some lengths while an American family made a lot of noise, splashing about. The mother apologised. Popped into the steam room then back to my hotel room. And that’s pretty much it. Rang reception and there’s free wifi in the lobby whereas in the rooms it’s 30p a minute. Seems a little steep for a classy hotel. No facebook in China!

I wanted to include some of the photos I’ve taken but the internet is far too slow. [Now added] Here is one of the smoggy views in the area:


Why did shares in European Banks and BoA collapse?

The questions we have to ask is why, after so much money in the last three years, [the banks] still need more? Why, if this policy is the correct, the only one, are the banks selling each other’s stocks? What has caused the sudden collapse in European and American banks stocks? We need to find answers because it is obvious our financial experts are lost, but too arrogant and too afraid to admit it.

Until early August, Fed officials gave no sign that they were worried about the economy. They had forecast a pickup in activity for the second half and said that weakness in the first half was due to temporary factors.

Not one official forecast of the last three years has been worth a pin. And the financial press, because they follow the same disastrously wrong ideological assumptions as those they report on, are equally clueless.

[D]uring the ‘good times’ when all the bank looked at the ‘recovery’ and made their bone headed growth forecasts and basically smoked their own dope – they thought there was no ‘risk’ and their Risk Managers’ confirmed it. But now, when the fiction of growth can no longer be sustained, suddenly everyone has remembered with a start, that the assets are ‘Risk Weighted’.

Hundreds of billions with zero risk weighting is zero. But go from zero to any number at all no matter if its still fairly small and the answer goes from zero to ‘A LOT’ in an instant. And that is what I think has happened in the risk Manager’s office of every bank in Europe and America. The denominator of the Capital Adequacy Ratio and the Tangible Common Equity Ratio just went through the roof. And when it did the ration went to zero. Suddenly the Risk Managers are telling everyone that the ‘safe’ banks are actually virtually insolvent. Quelle surprise! I think we’ll find Bank of America is in the same or worse state.

And for once they are right. They all know the only thing that will stop this sell off is another round of ‘rape the tax payer’. Will Bernanke tell the Americans that while there is ‘no money’ for paying for social services’ – like schools and police – hundreds of billions can be found for the banks…again. And will the ECB and the BoE say the same to their people?

What really bothers me is that this game has been going on all during the time when our ‘regulators’ and the banks and the governments were all telling us how they had learnt their lessons. how we must let by-gones be by-gones and stop bashing the poor bankers etc etc, they were ALL conniving to play this game.

They all knew the banks and others were buying up sovereign debt of ‘unhealthy’ nations. Spanish banks were encouraged to buy Spanish debt. Greek banks Greek debt, Italian banks Italian debt and they all got it on with each other as well. So that the French banks obliged everyone.

They had learned nothing. They have not changed. The banks never intended to. The regulators are still gurning, toothless cowards and mountebanks and our political leaders just did what they do – they lied. AGAIN.

Just like last time, they have all been caught by their own lies and they want us to bail them out again. And our leaders will do it, if we do not say clearly “This was not in your mandate from us at the last election.” The time is upon us for civil disobedience.

via Golem XIV – Thoughts.

How to talk to a climate sceptic

“We also have to recognize that there is a very intelligent, well-planned effort to deliberately try to muddy the waters on this issue”

“Facts are not political. Facts cannot be changed to suit your opinion. Facts are what the natural world is telling us is happening, and just because you don’t like the facts, you can’t say they’re not real and certainly not malign or try to destroy the credibility of the messenger”

e360: You see the unequivocal changes in the climate, and yet public opinion polls show we are at a low point of public concern about climate change. What do you think scientists and people in the conservation community can do differently to try to mobilize public opinion?

Hayhoe: I’d really like to know the answer to that question myself. The reason I do climate science is because it has a very practical application: We have a very narrow window of time to do something meaningful about this issue, and that window is closing. Every year we go without a binding climate policy to reduce our emissions shrinks the chance we have of hitting lower emissions targets. So we’re taking away our choices. By not making a choice, we’re forcing ourselves into the higher scenarios.

I do a lot of outreach and speaking to audiences that are skeptical about climate change, and I’m trying to understand, what are the barriers? There are barriers at many different levels. I would say first of all that climate science is very complicated — that what is happening here in a place I live is being affected by something half a world away, such as how changes in Arctic sea ice affect what we’re experiencing in Texas. These things are not easy to understand.

In the U.S., we look out our windows and usually the grass is green and the sky is blue and the air is fairly clean and we can turn on our tap and get nice clean water. So the urgency of the issue is not in front of our eyes. Whereas if you go to people in Kenya, who are facing unprecedented drought and crop failure because the patterns they depended on have changed over the past 30 years; if you go up to Alaska, where villages are crumbling and falling into the ocean and have to evacuate because of this, you don’t find the same level of skepticism regarding the reality of the issue — and also whether we should do something about it — because they see it with their own eyes. Whereas here in the continental U.S. we are not seeing things with our own eyes that we can directly connect to climate change. So it lacks that personal motivation because we have many other immediate concerns.

Another issue is that climate change is a vast and daunting issue. It is easier to deny the reality — and that’s actually the first stage in coping with such an overwhelming issue, to deny it. If you’re given a diagnosis of a horrifying and terrible disease, the first thing you would say is, ‘Is it really true? Let’s get a second opinion, a third opinion.’ So it’s a very natural response when we’re faced with a huge, overwhelming issue that we personally feel there’s not much we can do about, often it’s easier psychologically to deny it than to acknowledge our own culpability in contributing to the problem, as well as our own sense of helplessness in solving it.

We also have to recognize that there is a very intelligent, well-planned effort to deliberately try to muddy the waters on this issue. And I think this effort has been very successful in part because of the two other reasons I just gave.

e360: Given those tremendous barriers, what are some strategies that might be a bit more effective in mobilizing opinion and action?

Hayhoe: I think that as a scientist my personal mission is to dispel some of the myths that we’ve been fed, and by ‘we’ I mean the community at large and especially the more conservative community. So what I’ve found is that when I take the time to really talk with people, they do have really good questions: How do we really know that climate change is happening? How do we know it’s not the sun or a natural cycle? How on Earth do we think humans can change something as big as our planet? And if we can answer those questions respectfully, with good, solid answers, that’s where you start talking about the issues we just discussed: Issues with water, flooding, coastal storms. Climate change is already exacerbating issues people are familiar with, so then they can understand why it’s important to them. From a grassroots perspective I think it’s very important to recognize that people still need more information, they need correct information, and then often when people are given correct information they can be counted on to recognize that this is an issue we need to take into consideration.

This issue, though, has become increasingly polarized and the politicization of science and facts is horrifying. Facts are not political. Facts cannot be changed to suit your opinion. Facts are what the natural world is telling us is happening, and just because you don’t like the facts, you can’t say they’re not real and certainly not malign or try to destroy the credibility of the messenger. So in that sense, as a scientist, I feel like my calling is to try to communicate the truth of this issue and the reasons why we as individual citizens should care about it, because of our own lives and the lives of the people that we know and love and the places that we know and love. I’m an optimist, so I have faith in the average person to be able to make good decisions.

We cannot afford to wait until the full effects of climate change become known and say, ‘Oh, this is not the future I really wanted, can I just kind of roll back time a few decades and knock all that carbon dioxide out of the air and make some different choices?’ It’s kind of like being on the operating table waiting to get quadruple bypass surgery and at that point saying, ‘You know what, I’ve changed my mind, I’ll exercise, I really will, I’ll cut back on those steaks and hamburgers.’ We can’t do that.

via How to talk to a climate sceptic | Environment |

Weekend Walk 30

The final stage of the Itchen Way, from Bishopstoke bridge to Weston Point in Southampton, via Southampton Airport, Itchen Valley Country Park, Riverside Park, Woodmill, St Denny’s, Bitterne and Woolston. At Woodmill Lock the fast chalk river suddenly becomes tidal estuary. Such a contrast as the Itchen joins the Test to form Southampton Water, to the shallow clear streams of Cheriton. This was my least favourite part of the walk, at some points feeling like a descent into urban hell after the open countryside and clear river further north.

It wasn’t clear where the Itchen Way actually finishes – some say at the tidal lock, others at one of the eastern Southampton stations. I chose to finish at the natural conclusion of the river.

Russell Brand on the UK Riots

I should here admit that I have been arrested for criminal damage for my part in anti-capitalist protest earlier in this decade. I often attended protests and then, in my early 20s, and on drugs, I enjoyed it when the protests lost direction and became chaotic, hostile even. I was intrigued by the anarchist “Black bloc”, hooded and masked, as, in retrospect, was their agenda, but was more viscerally affected by the football “casuals” who’d turn up because the veneer of the protest’s idealistic objective gave them the perfect opportunity to wreck stuff and have a row with the Old Bill.

That was never my cup of tea though. For one thing, policemen are generally pretty good fighters and second, it registered that the accent they shouted at me with was closer to my own than that of some of those singing about the red flag making the wall of plastic shields between us seem thinner.

I found those protests exciting, yes, because I was young and a bit of a twerp but also, I suppose, because there was a void in me. A lack of direction, a sense that I was not invested in the dominant culture, that government existed not to look after the interests of the people it was elected to represent but the big businesses that they were in bed with.

I felt that, and I had a mum who loved me, a dad who told me that nothing was beyond my reach, an education, a grant from Essex council (to train as an actor of all things!!!) and several charities that gave me money for maintenance. I shudder to think how disenfranchised I would have felt if I had been deprived of that long list of privileges.


That state of deprivation though is, of course, the condition that many of those rioting endure as their unbending reality. No education, a weakened family unit, no money and no way of getting any. JD Sports is probably easier to desecrate if you can’t afford what’s in there and the few poorly paid jobs there are taken. Amidst the bleakness of this social landscape, squinting all the while in the glare of a culture that radiates ultraviolet consumerism and infrared celebrity. That daily, hourly, incessantly enforces the egregious, deceitful message that you are what you wear, what you drive, what you watch and what you watch it on, in livid, neon pixels. The only light in their lives comes from these luminous corporate messages. No wonder they have their fucking hoods up.

I remember Cameron saying “hug a hoodie” but I haven’t seen him doing it. Why would he? Hoodies don’t vote, they’ve realised it’s pointless, that whoever gets elected will just be a different shade of the “we don’t give a toss about you” party.

Politicians don’t represent the interests of people who don’t vote. They barely care about the people who do vote. They look after the corporations who get them elected. Cameron only spoke out against News International when it became evident to us, US, the people, not to him (like Rose West, “He must’ve known”) that the newspapers Murdoch controlled were happy to desecrate the dead in the pursuit of another exploitative, distracting story.

Why am I surprised that these young people behave destructively, “mindlessly”, motivated only by self-interest? How should we describe the actions of the city bankers who brought our economy to its knees in 2010? Altruistic? Mindful? Kind? But then again, they do wear suits, so they deserve to be bailed out, perhaps that’s why not one of them has been imprisoned. And they got away with a lot more than a few fucking pairs of trainers.

These young people have no sense of community because they haven’t been given one. They have no stake in society because Cameron’s mentor Margaret Thatcher told us there’s no such thing.

If we don’t want our young people to tear apart our communities then don’t let people in power tear apart the values that hold our communities together.

As you have by now surely noticed, I don’t know enough about politics to ponder a solution and my hands are sticky with blood money from representing corporate interests through film, television and commercials, venerating, through my endorsements and celebrity, products and a lifestyle that contributes to the alienation of an increasingly dissatisfied underclass. But I know, as we all intuitively know, the solution is all around us and it isn’t political, it is spiritual. Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

In this simple sentiment we can find hope, as we can in the efforts of those cleaning up the debris and ash in bonhomous, broom-wielding posses. If we want to live in a society where people feel included, we must include them, where they feel represented, we must represent them and where they feel love and compassion for their communities then we, the members of that community, must find love and compassion for them.

As we sweep away the mistakes made in the selfish, nocturnal darkness we must ensure that, amidst the broken glass and sadness, we don’t sweep away the youth lost amongst the shards in the shadows cast by the new dawn.

via UK riots: Big Brother isn’t watching you | UK news | The Guardian.

Scrap Book: Charmouth

Here we are, with ‘Uncle’ John Druker – you know, one of those family friends who ends up being an uncle. I am two and a half years old, Peter four and a half, and we are holidaying in Dorset, on the Jurassic coast. Peter looks not too pleased. I’m starting my interest in photography young, which looks like it basically involved lots of twiddling. Apparently I liked twiddling. Especially doorknobs. I really like this picture of Mum and Dad – Mum looking sweet and Dad very smiley. I think the dog was Snowy – belonging to the Drukers. Blue wellies for the boys and a proper old school canvas rucksack.

We’ve Entered the Age of Mass Extinction: Goodbye Fish and a Whole Lot More

Scott Thill: We’ve got heat domes in the Midwest and the East, and cool marine layers chilling summers in the West. In related news, up is down and down is up.

Peter Ward: Well, right now Seattle is 64 degrees. We’ve had the wettest, coldest summer in history. We’re freezing. It’s insane, but so is global warming.

ST: So how do you see climate change unfolding in the next 50 years?

PW: Unless we do something about human population, I doubt we will be able to do anything. The thing is, we’re good enough at fixing diseases and feeding ourselves that we’re not going to lose 20 to 40 percent of the human population. But if we could drop human population back down to four billion, we’d have a fighting chance. But we can’t. I truly believe that we’re heading to 10 or 11 billion by the end of this century, at the latest. We’re increasing longevity with wonderful medical advances. But people don’t realize that by increasing lifespans a decade or more around the world, we’re decreasing the death rate as the birth rate keeps rising. So we’re in a runaway human population situation and have been since the ’80s and ’90s. The scary thing is that we’ve got an intersection of declining freshwater and too many people.

And the freshwater decline is due to global warming, which is raising the snow levels in the mountains. California is a prime example. When it gets to the point that it rains all winter in the Sierra Nevada, what do you have when the hot summer arrives and you need that water for irrigation? When there’s nothing to melt anymore by March or April, you’ve got a desert. So the agriculture of the San Joaquin Valley is in deep trouble from decreased freshwater and soil that is turning salty because of sea-level rise. This is the case all over the planet. The lowest lying lands have the richest soil, and these are the lands that rising sea level is going to salinize.

ST: Although extreme weather variation is a climate change no-brainer, the party line for the Republican base is that snow of any kind is evidence that global warming is a hoax.

PW: It just drives me crazy. Why do they think we’re getting more snow? Because there is more water in the atmosphere! And why is that? Oh yeah, it’s warmer. If we could teach science in school, these guys would get a clue. These are enormous wet-air masses that are anomalously produced in winter, and work their way across North America and push up against the Arctic cold. Of course it turns to snow! It’s more water than has been in that area than ever before.

via We’ve Entered the Age of Mass Extinction: Goodbye Fish and a Whole Lot More | | AlterNet.

Stop Coddling the Super-Rich – By Warren Buffett, a member of the Super-Rich

OUR leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.

These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.

Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.

To understand why, you need to examine the sources of government revenue. Last year about 80 percent of these revenues came from personal income taxes and payroll taxes. The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes. It’s a different story for the middle class: typically, they fall into the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax brackets, and then are hit with heavy payroll taxes to boot.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.

via Stop Coddling the Super-Rich –

Weekend Walk 29 – Winchester to Eastleigh – The Itchen Way

Last Sunday I walked from the City Mill in Winchester along the c17 Itchen Navigation as far as Eastleigh. Passing Wharf Hill, St Catherine’s Hill, Twyford Down, Twyford, Shawford, Bambridge and Highbridge, and many locks, hundreds of years old. This was the third stage of the walk along the length of the Itchen Way.

Yumm, sushi

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Fish caught at a port about 55 kilometers from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant contained radioactive cesium at levels exceeding an allowable limit, the environmental group Greenpeace said Tuesday.

The samples taken at Onahama port in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, in late July, included a species of rockfish that measured 1,053 becquerels per kilogram. The reading, the highest among the samples, is well in excess of the government-set limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram, according to a study conducted by the environmental group.

The other samples, which were all rock trout, measured between 625 and 749 becquerels per kilogram, again exceeding the provisional limit.

The second such study of marine products was conducted over three days from July 22 in Iwaki and the town of Shinchi with cooperation of fishermen and those related to the fisheries industry in Fukushima. A total of 21 samples taken in the study were analyzed at a research institute in France, according to the group.

“There is no allowable limit for internal exposure that can conclusively be said not to pose any problems,” Greenpeace said in a petition submitted to Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Tuesday, noting the need to keep consumption of the food containing elevated levels of radioactive materials to a minimum.

The petition also calls for tougher marine-product monitoring and for requiring businesses to display the level of radioactive materials contained in food products on the label.

via Excessive radioactive cesium found in Fukushima fish: Greenpeace – The Mainichi Daily News.

Lyric of the Day: Panic by The Smiths

Panic on the streets of London
Panic on the streets of Birmingham
I wonder to myself
Could life ever be sane again?
The Leeds side-streets that you slip down
I wonder to myself
Hopes may rise on the Grasmere
But Honey Pie, you’re not safe here
So you run down
To the safety of the town
But there’s Panic on the streets of Carlisle
Dublin, Dundee, Humberside
I wonder to myself

Burn down the disco
Hang the blessed DJ
Because the music that they constantly play
Hang the blessed DJ
Because the music they constantly play

On the Leeds side-streets that you slip down
Provincial towns you jog ’round
Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ
Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ
Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ
Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ
Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ, Hang the DJ

1,500 tons of radioactive sludge cannot be buried

Nearly 50,000 tons of sludge at water treatment facilities has been found to contain radioactive cesium as the result of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Over 1,500 tons is so contaminated that it cannot be buried for disposal.

Water treatment facilities in eastern and northeastern Japan have been discovering sludge containing cesium.

The health ministry says there is 49,250 tons of such sludge in 14 prefectures in eastern and northeastern Japan.

A total of 1,557 tons in 5 prefectures, including Fukushima and Miyagi, was found to contain 8,000 or more becquerels per kilogram. This sludge is too radioactive to be buried for disposal.

The most contaminated sludge, with 89,697 becquerels per kilogram, was discovered at a water treatment facility in Koriyama City, Fukushima.

The ministry says 76 percent of the roughly 50,000 tons of radioactive sludge is being stored at water treatment plants and they have no ways to dispose of most of it.

It says more than 54,000 tons of additional sludge has not been checked for radioactive materials.

The ministry plans to study how to dispose of the radioactive sludge.

via NHK WORLD English.

Another Inconvenient Truth

Another Inconvenient Truth: The World’s Growing Population Poses a Malthusian Dilemma.

Solving climate change, the Sixth Great Extinction and population growth… at the same time.

By 2050, the world will host nine billion people—and that’s if population growth slows in much of the developing world. Today, at least one billion people are chronically malnourished or starving. Simply to maintain that sad state of affairs would require the clearing (read: deforestation) of 900 million additional hectares of land, according to Pedro Sanchez, director of the Tropical Agriculture and Rural Environment Program at The Earth Institute at Columbia University.

The bad news beyond the impacts on people, plants and animals of that kind of deforestation: There isn’t that much land available. At most, we might be able to add 100 million hectares to the 4.3 billion already under cultivation worldwide.

“Agriculture is the main driver of most ecological problems on the planet,” said economist Jeffrey Sachs​, Scientific American columnist and Earth Institute director. “We are literally eating away the other species on the planet.”

extract from: Another Inconvenient Truth: The World’s Growing Population Poses a Malthusian Dilemma: Scientific American.

Scrap Book: Dad, Aunty Wendy and I, at ‘The Island’

Here I am, aged 1 year and 2 months, at The Island across the fields with my Dad and Aunty Wendy. The island is really just a marshy pond with some grass mounds. In winter, one of the mounds would become a small island, accessible only by risking a wet footer. A wet footer was about the worse that could happen; water coming over the top of your wellie. No, worse than a wet footer was the boot getting stuck in the mud and you continuing to step, sock into the squelch. It’s a long way home with soggy socks. Before I knew its name, the place everyone else called The Island, to me was called ‘London’. I thought everywhere that wasn’t home or Broughton Gifford was London.

Rocking the brown balaclava, hair blond back then. I still wear brown cords like these.