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Sunday, July 27, 2014

MH 370 and MH 17

When did Malysia think the airline business was a good idea?

MH 370 you have not been forgotten. We fully expect you will reappear on the anniversary of your disappearance.

The occurance of some events are so shocking that it takes time to absorb them in one's mind. The deliberate shooting down of a commercial jet is one such event.
My family and I live under the landing and take-off path of airliners using Manises airport in Valencia, so we are constantly looking up at these magnificant craft passing overhead. If I do actually have any thoughts at the time, it would be for a safe flight. What kind of mind would it take to deliberately shoot down such an aircraft, fully laden with human beings?

The politics surrounding the Crimea and Ukraine are complex. These countries are neighbours to Russia with significant numbers of Russians living within. The Ukraine has long lived in close cooperation with Russia, but then, someone had the bright idea that the Ukraine should turn more toward the West. Evidently, the president of the country received a severe warning from Russia, and so he tried to turn the country back towards Russia. The people had other ideas leading to his fleeing office and opening the way for Putin to move in. It is clear that the pro-Russia support are Russian military in civilian uniforms using whatever they need from Russia. Putin will not be satisfied until The Ukraine is fully in the hands of Russia, just as is the case with the Crimea.

But, what does all that have to do with overflights by commercial airlines?  The first question in my mind was: what was MH 17 doing overflying a conflict zone where live ammo was in use? Apparently it was thought safe to do so as other airlines commonly did, because the conflict was on the ground and localized. It is hard to see why the equipment was brought into place to deliberately knock down the next commercial flight, and then, like the rats they are, they hurried to run away with the evidence to show who did it.

Fast forward to the day when Russia simply annexes The Ukraine and all the killing ends. Will Russia simply expect to resume its place in the league of nations as though nothing had happened? Probably, but that cannot happen, which is very dangerous because if such a major country is to be shunned they may decide, "in for a penny, in for a pound," and do something even more reckless in their adventurisim.

This was started by the ordinary citizen who wanted a better life with the West, which is understandable if you are from the West. However, mass movements against the government always lead to death and destruction in the first place, with the hope that the light down the tunnel will turn out to be the bright glare of the sun. All too often its a speeding train coming your way.

Two hundred and ninety-eight innocent people have lost their lives, leaving unspeakable suffering among families all over the world. Observers everywhere can't help but feel the sadness and the weight of the loss. For one thing, it is only through the luck of the draw that we are the observers.

To the families please know that we feel your pain, and like you we cannot see any common sense in such a reckless and heinous act. We can only hope that those responsible will get theirs.

Copyright (c) 2014   Eugene Carmichael 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Parrot of Pedralba

Hello Hyacinth! The largest of the Macaw Parrots

Normally, we don't get much peace and quiet because of one of the families in our neighbourhood.  They are usually very animated and extremely loud while just holding a normal conversation. However, on a particular day we were enjoying a very welcome break because the family were away from home. Suddenly that precious peace was shattered by a  loud screech. What on earth was that?  I ran outdoors but saw nothing.

Over the next few days the screeching was repeated several times but I was never able to see what was making the noise. However, the neighbours did get a glimpse and very excidedly called out, Parrot! Parrot! It is a macaw parrot, and a hyacinth,  the largest of the 17 species. It is magnificently blue with a massive wingspan that must stretch about four feet across. She comes to visit everyday, and by now I think we have all come to see her. The loud call electrifies everybody, and no matter what you are doing you have to go and have a look.

These are wonderful and playful creatures whose natural homes are in Central and South America. Their brilliant colouring makes them attractive as pets, leading to an active market in breeding and selling. The fact that some are able to mimic human speech makes them even more exotic to have in one's home, but once you have seen them soaring in flight, holding them in captivity seems very wrong indeed.

In my previous blog I spoke of the emotonal impact upon an owner to lose a pet. I assume that this bird is someone's pet who has escaped and seems to be quite happy on its own and enjoying its freedom. In the area close to our home is our answer to the Grand Canyon. It is a massive hole that attracts birds, so my guess is that the macaw has made that her home base. From there she pays us a visit everyday as she does a flyby. I think that all of us in our neighbourhood consider ourselves the priviledged few. Her visits are truly a time of excitement.

Ten years ago when we first moved into our home we were told to look out for an eagle who could often be seen overhead. One of the local photographers made it his project to document in pictures the life of the eagle, both in the air as well as  in the Big Hole in the ground. It was while he was making his way to that site that he came across the eagle. It had been shot, presumably by a person who is a pigeon fancier. The eagle most probably would have been taking the pigeons. However, the whole town mourned the loss of our magnificant eagle.

I can only hope that nothing untoward happens to The Great  Parrot of Pedralba!

Copyright (c) 2014   Eugene Carmichael  

Sunday, July 13, 2014

To lose a beloved pet.

Why is this cat laughing?

To lose your pet is no laughing matter. It is the one thing that is the common denominator that brings down people from across the board. There are as many variations of this story as there are types of pets and owners. I am not writing this for the benefit of anyone who has ever had to part with that special member of the family, but rather, I write this in the hope of bringing understanding to those people who have never been responsible for a pet.

I am motivated to write this now because I was an observer to another person's recent loss. That story turned out happily as the pet was found, unharmed and that family unit is now intact. However, I have personally suffered losses over the years that left me vowing I would never again have another pet. The problem is that the animals just simply turn up on my doorstep.

Presently we have an all-white female cat whom we call Blanca. She is the world's most anti-social cat who came to us because a friend thought she was so horrible and passed her along to us. I sometime think that if Blanca simply disappeared we would not miss her at all. There have been times when she does go off for a few days at a time, during which I find myself wondering where is she? I keep looking out for her expecting to hear that familiar meow. A couple of years ago a fire swept over our house forcing us to run for our lives.Blanca was nowhere to be seen, but two days later, when we were allowed back to our homes, there she was, practically screeching at us, where have you been? I'm hungry! She has never been pure white since, because of the ash,  more like all fifty shades of grey, and more.

When a pet goes missing, intense worry takes over. What is the state of its health; is it eating, has it been stolen, is it injured, or worse, is it still alive. The whole family is organised into a search party, and the posters are placed in prominent places. The situation is made all the more difficult if the real owner is a child. This is a situation that places the same kind of weight upon the family as the death of one of the humans.

As for the emotional toll it is simply gut wrenching. No-one seems to be able to escape the harsh reality of coming to terms with losing your best friend. My own experience with this involved the decision that I had to make to put down my long-term friend and companion, Lady, a cross between a Sheperd and a Collie, because her hind quarters became paralysed. She was seventeen chronological years of age, and making that decision would probably have been the same as making it for my grandmother. As a mature man I cried my heart out, even to the extent that I terribly upset everybody in the vet's office. So, when I see a person obsessing over their pet bird, or rabbit, or mouse, or whatever, I think I fully understand what they are going through.

That's the point  of this essay: to understand and to sympathize, no matter how silly you might personally think the person is being. I guarantee you, they are not being silly, they are bound up in as important an emotional drama in their life as the loss of a next of kin. They need your love and comfort to help them get through a very difficult time. If you can help them when they need you, they will never forget it. Fail to do so and they won't forget that either.

Copyright (c) 2014   Eugene Carmichael  

Saturday, July 5, 2014

John Mitchell, natural philosopher, ahead of his time!

Possible portrait of a Genius
John Mitchell
25th December, 1724 - 29th April, 1793

Mr. Mitchell was a one of a kind person, not only for the time in which he lived, but even by our standards of today  he would stand out as being exceptional. In spite of the pioneering thinking that he brought to the fields of astronomy, geology, optics, and gravitation, there is not one photo in existance anywhere of this incredible scholar. The best that anyone can do is to describe him as having been a black man, small in stature, and portly.

That did not describe his massive intellect, to the extent that it is generally acknowledged that he remains the giant unsung heroe of all time.

He lived at a time when the world failed to give black people any credit for our potential, or our ability to simply function as a normal person. In many parts of the world we are still having to prove our abilities against the yardstick set by the white man. That doesn't say anything about us, but it does say a lot about the white man.

However, he was fortunate in that he was born to parents who fully understood the value of a good education. He was born in Eakring, Nottingshire, England. His father was Gilbert Mitchell, himself a priest. His mother was Obedience Gerrard, the daughter of Ralph and Hannah Gerrard, of London.

John would not have had a lot of encouragement from outside his home, but nevertheless he simply fixed his mind to overcome any and all obstacles standing in his way, and to be a free thinker. His parents supported his education in Queen's College, Cambridge, where he was to become a Fellow. He excelled in so many subjects I could write a whole blog on just that aspect alone, but we can take it for granted that he must have done well in Academia because of  how far ahead of the scientific community he turned out to be. In fact, some of his work was so profound that it lay on the shelf until a new generation brought it to life again in the face of modern discoveries that his work formed the basis for.

For instance, in the world of science, he was the very first person to propose the existence of what are now called, Black Holes; he was also the first person to suggest that earthquakes travel in waves. According to Wikipedia, he had several other firsts:  he figured out how to manufacture artifical magnets; he applied statistics to the study of the cosmos, concluding that double stars were a product of mutual gravitation.

It was his invention that allowed for the measurement of the earth. So distinguished is Mr. Mitchell that he is called the father of seismology and the father of magnetometry.

When I was a child, like all black people we were being constantly told that we were nothing and could never amount to anything. The worst thing was that I believed it, until the wife of U.S. President Roosevelt advised us that we had to give our complete cooperation to such errant nonsense.

So, the moral of this story to all young people is to follow your dreams and think for yourselves. There is no shortage of people to tell you what you should think. I would like to think that John Mitchell, scientist, philosopher, and forward thinker, was also a first in that field.

Copyright (c) 2014  Eugene Carmichael