List of Previous Titles

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Trial of the late News of the World

The be hoisted on one's own Petard: To be self affected by one's own schemes as used against others.

I was not a reader of The News of the World. I picked up a copy many years ago because of the headline, and having leafed through the entire paper I was left so disgusted that I determined there and then that I would not support it. I never bought another copy, nor did I ever read anything from it.

So, you could say that I am not a friend of that particular publication, nor of sensationalist publications generally. It seemed to me from my one and only reading that the policy of the paper was to dig the dirt and to serve it up in the most sensational manner. If lives were ruined partially through their involvement in getting the news out, I suppose, so be it. The trouble with that approach is that it becomes necessary to reach ever further to create more sensational headlines, and that has led to the situation as it appears today.

It is a flaw in the nature of we humans that when information comes to us in the form of gossip that it is all that more delicious, so it was especially stunning at the very start to have the allegation that one married lady editor had been involved in a long standing love affair with another editor, although to me I was not surprised. When she was first shown I thought what a beautiful and ravishing woman. I felt fairly certain that she was the object of someone's desire, although the man she is said to have held as her lover was not my suspect.

As the daily unfolding of allegations and information takes place, I imagine the former subscribers to the paper are locked into the trial as though it were a soap opera. I don't have any sympathy for those charged, and were it not such a serious matter I might think it entertainment.

There are some fundamentals that should be borne in mind: the reason that press freedom is so important is to allow it to expose to public scrutiny the workings of government and major corporations. Without the searchlight of the press, people might be tempted to do all sorts of things harmful to the public. Consequently, to have the press and government enjoying close social relationships is inherently wrong, or to have the expectation of going from the press into a high class government job has the wrong ring to it.

The News of the World pandered to our more base and salacious instincts, and so it was all about the money rather than anything noble, such as integrity. In my view the world is a better place without that publication, and would be even better off without the whole genre.

Copyright (c)  2013   Eugene Carmichael 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The shoes of an Aid Worker

Typhoon Huiyan- Utter devastation!

For more than one week I have been following news from the Phillippines concerning the approach of Mega-Typhoon Huiyan, its landfall and the aftermath. It has been a depressing week for news as we  had a typhoon hit Somalia as well, the on-going crisis in Syria, and several other depressing news events around the world.

CNN has devoted a massive amount of air time to bringing the viewer up to the minute reporting. I'm not quite sure that this is really necessary in so far as the average viewer is concerned, but it does help in raising funds to help survivors to rebuild.

I was thinking about crisis of this sort from the viewpoint of the aid worker organisation. Something along the scale of Huiyan happens and volunteers leave their own comfort zone to journey into the depths of hell where death, injury, destruction, and extreme discomfort await.

The truth is that many people will have survived the winds and waters of the event itself, only to die from a lack of clean drinking water and food in the days that follow. Firstly, organisations have to load up supplies and manpower and fly out to the affected area, if they can, assuming they can actually land. Making airports secure for landings and takeoff is the first priority. Then relief supplies can actually land.

Next comes distribution, but there are no clear roads and all facilities on land have been compromised. The slow process begins of opening roads, most likely by hand. All those supplies have to be offloaded and stored, but are there any buildings still standing that will serve that purpose? It simply takes time when time is priceless!

Meantime, all around are the dead people and animals, decomposing and generating a sickening smell. In my opinion, even more sickening are the comments of the reporters that go something like this: "It's been two days and no aid has reached the people who need it most. They are without power, running clean water; shelter and food!"  Or, " vital supplies are stacked up at the airport but are not being distributed!"  At least one set of comments of this ilk was made by an announcer from his well lit and warm and dry studio in London.  It's one thing to state the facts, but when your voice suggests actual criticism that someone is not doing enough, for the aid workers themselves they must feel like strangling the speaker.

The fact remains that whether we were living in the lap of luxury or very basic, when something like this happens we are scared and nervous and anxious to be returned to something close to what we had before the event. If our lives are threatened by the things we have to go without we can easily slip into desperation.

The Aid organisations will always be doing their very best to bring relief, and need the support and encouragement of the world that was lucky enough to have escaped the disaster.

They don't need criticism. Anyone who feels the need to criticize is always welcome to do better!

Copyright (c) 2013  Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan. The Most Perfect Storm since Creation!

The view from The International Space Station

This storm formed in the south Pacific Ocean, but had it formed in the Atlantic Ocean it would have covered the distance from Canada down to Florida, and its effects would have been felt both along the eastern shores of America and Canada and western Europe at the same time. The world has not seen a storm this big and fercious since the world was created.

It slammed into the Phillippines during the week of November 4th to 10th, with sustained winds of 315 kph. To try and imagine what that was like, go and stand next to the rail lines in Japan when the bullet train goes by at 300 kph. However, the storm experience lasted for hours.

Wind gusts were felt of 380 kph, at least that is what is estimated because the wind gauges broke. I have lived through many a storm, the worst being a class 3.(Storms are graded up to class 5. That will have to change because this one was off the grid.) When you get wind gusts, even in such low class storms as I have experienced the sound is like BAM! BOOM!  Even an athesist is likely to shout: "JESUS CHRIST! WHAT WAS THAT!"

The only fortunate thing was that the storm was moving forward at 47 kph, but even then, it is so huge that it has taken days to pass.  Early on we were told that 100 people were confirmed dead, but that figure rose to 1,200, and now it has jumped to 10,000, but be warned, there will be more to be counted, to the extent that the world may never know the full extent of loss of life.

Why did this happen, and what does it mean for the future of other countries?

This is most probably an effect of Global Warming, with warmer oceans fuelling the growth and power of storms. The logic makes perfect sense. If I were a constant traveller on the Space Station I would have seen earth's population continously grow to the seven billion mark, and along with that I would have seen more of the earth's resources used to serve mankind. I would have seen whole swathes of forest felled, and the forests are earth's lungs. I would have noted the impact of rising greenhouse gases on the planet; I would have seen the melting icecaps everytime I passed over, and that would not be good news at all.

We seem to expect that as a result of people living longer the population will stand at ten billion in the foreseeable future, but that will not be sustainable. Even seven billion is far too many, so the earth is pushing back.

The Phillippines is situated in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific. It occupies 300,000 square kilometres, comprised of 7,107 islands. It is home to 98 million peace loving residents. It is also one of the most unlucky places in the world. It sits right in the Typhoon corridor, and this year alone it has had to contend with damage from other typhoons and an earthquake.  So, those poor people did not need to receive the distinction of being struck by the largest storm on the planet..ever! (The other country in contention for most unlucky is Haiti.)

Mother Nature is pushing back against the tide of ever growing people by periodically culling the species. It may be done through hurricanes/typhoons or tsunamis, or other natural forces. Previously, mankind controlled itself through wars, but although we have come very close to wiping the planet clean of life forms, other than cockroaches, we have found the reserve not to do that. We now have a determined group that insists on killing people who are only going about their business while shopping or eating or working, but that is not fast enough.

I get it! I understand that life on earth, and earth itself is all about a very delicate balance, and anything that disturb's that balance has to be redressed in some way. You may not wish to recognize  CONTROL as God, or Bhudda, The Phrophet, or by any of the well known names, but we live in such chaos that is too perfect for there not to be CONTROL.

At least we are living with climate change, and that is caused to a very large degree by our own needs to exist. The least we can do is plant a tree to offset those that are being taken down. The Canopy Project wants to plant an initial 10 million trees. Google them and join in and do your part to repair the damage of your own carbon footprint.

Meanwhile, I truly fear that there will be more super storms to come with more culling of the species. Not a happy thought!

Copyright (c) 2013  Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Bird in the House..... Not worth two in the bush.

Birds have wandered into our house before this Sardinian Warbler came to call, but usually they find their own way out again without my help. However, this little fella was having a very difficult time. It came in through the kitchen window and continously flew from one end of the kitchen to the other, getting more stressed because it could not find the opening to freedom. With the help of the scoop net from the pool I tried my best to guide it, but it always flew around the net.

Its problem was that it insisted on flying only along the ceiling. If only I could have got it to drop down a foot  it would have had a straight shot out the window. Given my best intentions I could see I was stressing  it even further. One last try and if I had no good luck I would leave it for the time being. Lo and Behold, it actually did leave the kitchen, but only to enter the living/dining room, a much larger room to move around. Oh bugger, thought I. Just leave it and let it rest and settle down. I opened all the windows and the doors, but that brought Blanca, our cat inside. She, of course, lost her mind and started jumping up and climbing up, so out she went before our precious things on shelves were broken.

When my wife came home we tried ushering the bird out by using a sheet to act as a guide, but he, or she was having none of that. Finally we went on with our routines and as night fell we resigned ourselves to having a bird as an overnight visitor. The cat was not well pleased as she had to be fed outside.

As the morning arrived and my wife went about her business of preparing to go to work the bird flew around, but it was obvious she was in trouble. When I came out the bird was nowhere to be seen. Either she had escaped or died and fallen behind the bookcase. Either way, the drama was over, so I let the cat in for her breakfast. Unfortunately she went straight to the bird's hiding place in the chimney and caught the bird and ate it, all before I even realised what was happening.

A stunning end, and not at all the one I had wished for.
Poor birdy!

Copyright (c) 2013    Eugene Carmichael