In The Curse of Black Gold: Lest we should forget (https://theglottalstop.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/the-curse-of-black-gold-lest-we-should-forget/) posted on the 7th of June, The Glottal Stop issued a rather poignant reminder of the dangers of trying to accommodate insatiable demands for fuel and the human and environmental costs of going further and further in the search for more black gold.
We’ll, did we forget? Remarkably, yes. Because of the demand for fuel in America, the moratorium that Obama imposed on deep drilling was always unlikely to last long; polls suggest that Americans don’t support it. But already, a court in New Orleans has declared the moratorium ‘unlawful’, paving the way for oil giants to resume their hazardous search for the last barrel. How long until the the US oil spill crisis become a distant memory; before it becomes just another blotch in the pages of history?
I wish I had foresight…
“Oil rigs today generally don’t cause spills” is the tune that Obama sang as he opened up more of US waters to drilling only 18 days prior to the explosion on the BP oil rig. Granted, he’s cautious, telling us that oil rigs ‘generally’ don’t cause spills, but it is a sound bite that has come back to bight him.
Frank McAveety, a Labour MSP, was heard making comments about a woman attending a Scottish Parliament committee meeting he was chairing.
He remarked of the “girl in the second row” that she was “Dark and Dusky. We’ll maybe put a wee word out for her. She’s very attractive, nice, very nice, very slim. The heat’s getting to me.”
The Clerk whom he was talking to remains – quite prudently, in hindsight – silent, but McAveety continues.
“She’s got that Filipino look – you know, the kind you’d see in a Gauguin painting. There’s a wee bit of culture.”
Quite inappropriate remarks for the convener of the petitions committee to make, one feels, and he has been made to resign because of it. But one can’t help feel that for his eloquence and his ‘cultural comparisons’ alone, he perhaps deserved something of a reprieve.
Whenever there is a controversial event sure to garner large (and possibly violent) protests, I wait eagerly like a child on Christmas Eve. Mimicking the igneous method employed by Bart Simpson to reach his Christmas presents at the earliest possible hour, I drink enough water to insure that I awake to meet the inky-fingered paperboy as he saunters to my doorstep with the package that I so eagerly wish to uncoil. I flip through the pages anxiously in search of titillating accounts of windows smashed and innocents saved (or the more common inverse–windows saved, innocents smashed). Upon hastily skimming through stories of vandalism and violence, I become infuriated at the nefarious hoodlums who would dare disrespect my fine country and rouse the rabble that occupies it. I then faithfully flip to the the back in search of strongly-worded condemnations populating the editorial and opinion section of my trustworthy newspaper. I intently read the penetrating analysis made by revered pundits, invariably offering stern admonishments to troublemakers and troubles made. These petty criminals offer no coherent political viewpoints, I am told; a rag-tag group of attention-seeking vandals worthy of nothing better than pity, with a dollop of derision and a dash of condescension. (more…)
All Day I Hear the Noise of Waters
We travelled from the station to the hotel in a roofed pick-up truck. The passengers sit alongside the back of the truck on two benches, running along either side is an open window and the only way in is through an opening at the back. For Thailand, the new year is a big thing, it’s a three day festival of water fights, processions, dancing, singing, and face painting; however, I was not prepared for just how seriously the water-fighting was taken. As I sat looking out of the taxi, admiring the surrounding cityscape, I noticed a convoy of pick-up trucks behind us. And in the back of each one was a large bucket of water with a block of ice for added effect. Around this tub sat a number of people with water pistols and receptacles for dispensing the icy cold water over those unfortunate enough to come within their sights and range. We stopped at a traffic light and a one of these pick-up trucks pulled up beside us. They began chucking water over us. My God it was good. There’s a quick scramble to waterproof valuables, i.e. money, passport, phone (but, this really can be avoided with a little prudence), but really, you enjoy the feeling. When it’s so hot, to be splashed with ice cold water is refreshing, you know that as soon as you step out the taxi your clothes will dry in the sun, and there’s a certain connection you feel with the locals in the fact that they have chosen to include you (though perhaps ‘sacrifice’ would be a better word) in their traditions. They soak you a few times and it’s funny. But then you realise the traffic lights still haven’t changed and the soaking you are getting begins to looses all its humour, fun, effect, or in fact, reason (why sprays someone who is already wet?) because of the repetitiveness of it. Eventually the taxi pulls away from the lights and it dawns on you that a precedent has been set.
On the 15ht of June BBC News reported that
The BBC has received 545 complaints about the sound of vuvuzela horns during its World Cup coverage.
The corporation is considering showing coverage that cuts out the noise of vuvuzelas on its red button service.
On Monday, World Cup organisers ruled out a stadium ban on the plastic horns, which can reach 130 decibels, following complaints from players and fans.
Experts say it is impossible to cut out the horns without affecting commentary and crowd noise.
The BBC says it has already "taken steps to minimise the noise".
Did those 545 half-wits genuinely believe that it is the BBC who is responsible for the wasp-like noise that these horns make?
A two part account of one hapless, young man’s journey to the Songkran festival in Chiang Mai.
From Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Waiting at the Bangkok train station is quite a pleasant experience. The great hall is arranged as though into a theatre, though the only show is one of red lights and incandescent, scurrying words; the timetable, that is. There’s also, as is expected in any public building in Thailand, a huge picture of the King, stood rather grandly next to his dressing table.
You, dear reader, find me just as I am about to embark from Bangkok by train on a journey 700km North to Chiang Mai, the epicentre of activity and celebration during Thailand’s Songkran festival of the Thai new year. The most widely known celebration of Songkran is the throwing of water; however, this was not always the main activity of the festival. Songkran was traditionally a time to visit and pay respects to elders, including family members, friends and neighbours. Besides the throwing of water, people celebrating Songkran may also go to a Buddhist monastery to pray and give food to monks. They may also cleanse Buddha images from household shrines as well as Buddha images at monasteries by gently pouring water mixed with a Thai fragrance over them (I happened to be caught up in this particular ritual and carried a sweet scent with me throughout the rest of the day). It is believed that doing this will bring good luck and prosperity for the New Year. In many cities, including Chiang Mai, the Buddha images from all of the city’s important monasteries are paraded through the streets so that people can toss water at them, ritually ‘bathing’ the images, as they pass by on ornately decorated floats. In northern Thailand, people may carry handfuls of sand to their local monastery in order to recompense the dirt that they have carried away on their feet during the rest of the year. The sand is then sculpted into and decorated with flags.
However, not being a Buddhist myself, my primary reason for visiting Chiang Mai was to experience the prodigious water fight that takes part in Chaing Mai throughout Songkran (13th-15 April); and what and experience it was!
A video packed full of fun and joviality that we thought it worth sharing with. And, let’s be honest, we all wish that something like this had happened at one point during our own school days.
In March the Amesbury CD launch in aid of CRY materialised into a fantasmagorical tour de force for the school. Months of hard work, planning and preparation on behalf of the Amesbury staff and pupils and Hugh Goldsmith’s team came to fruition.
The video was made by pupils at Amesbury School in Surrey to raise awareness of Cardiac Risk in the Young (C.R.Y).
The video can be purchased here http://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/boys-and-girls-single/id364996125 with all proceeds going to C.R.Y.
The Beeb reported that:
Prime Minister David Cameron has welcomed Conservative predecessor Baroness Thatcher back to 10 Downing Street for a reception in her honour.
They shook hands and waved at photographers before entering the building but did not answer questions.
Baroness Thatcher, 84, is one of the first guests to be hosted in Downing Street since the coalition entered office last month.
She wore a light blue dress and coat for her meeting with Mr Cameron, emerging from Number 10 some 45 minutes after going into the building.
A smiling Mr Cameron said: "It’s good to have her back."
This last quote sent shivers down my spine.
The Curse of Black Gold: Lest we should forget
In 1859 a retired railway worker named Colonel Edwin Drake developed the idea that oil could be extracted from the ground using wells. At Titusville, Pennsylvania, he bored a hole to a depth of 69 feet and got the world’s first ‘gusher’. It was quickly realised that petroleum in volume could be used not just for medical reasons (for example, it was originally used in medicines for the treatment of different ailments), but could be refined into lucrative products like paraffin and kerosene.
After that discovery, Western Pennsylvania boomed inordinately. In three months the ‘Pithole city’ (as John Mcphee, author of ‘suspect terrain’, so aptly named it) went from a population of 0 to 15,000. For a while Pennsylvania had a virtual monopoly on one of the world’s most valuable resources, oil, and it was dominant also in the production of coal. Many people became colossally rich, Pennsylvania prospered, and there began the developed world’s demand for oil. A demand that grew, and grew and grew. But it soon became clear, that satisfying this demand brought its dangers, disasters and uncertainties.
New Debate: The Proportional Representation electoral system would be detrimental to democracy and representation in Britain.
Our fornightly topic of debate has just been updated.
theGlottal Stop invites you discuss and debate the following point of opinion; ’The PR electoral system would be detrimental to democracy and representation in Britain’. A particularly relevant topic given the recent challenges and changes that we, here in Britain, saw resulting from the May 2010 general election.
Please go to https://theglottalstop.wordpress.com/debate/ and use the comment box to carry on the debate.
We look forward to hearing from you…