Home » Backpacking in Thailand » Malta: Gateway to the Mediterranean (just don’t hire a car)… Computer News: Where in the world am I? … Your old Granny W. sploshes in galoshes … End of Everything, Update … Afterthought: And where do you come from?

Malta: Gateway to the Mediterranean (just don’t hire a car)… Computer News: Where in the world am I? … Your old Granny W. sploshes in galoshes … End of Everything, Update … Afterthought: And where do you come from?

“Her uncompromising blog and scathing pen spared no punches, hitting out mainly at exponents of the ruling Labour Party and their supporters, but also sometimes criticising officials of the centre-right Nationalist Party, including its newly-elected leader.”

Malta: Gateway to the Mediterranean (just don’t hire a car)

So writes Herman Grech, online editor of The Times of Malta, following a powerful car bomb explosion at the weekend in which former Times reporter and political blogger, Daphne Caruana Galizia was blown to bits outside her home, in a rental car.

Daphne Galizia: had promised to reveal the ownership of a company involved in a possibly corrupt power station contract.

Ms Galizia has been an outspoken critic of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat since his name popped up in the 2015 release of The Panama Papers, suggesting that he and his wife had been corruptly salting away money paid to him by Azerbaijan in offshore companies.

To remind viewers and listeners, the Panama Papers were 11 million documents leaked from the offices of the law firm, Mossack Fonseca, detailing the setting up of tens of thousands of virtually untraceable shell companies to hide money in places like the British Virgin Islands, whom God recently punished with a hurricane.

“While offshore business entities are legal, reporters found that some (actually, rather a lot. Ed.) of the Mossack Fonseca shell corporations were used for illegal purposes, including fraud, tax evasion, and evading international sanctions.” (Wikipedia)

Weeping copious crocodile tears, Mr Muscat went on televisual record as saying:

“I condemn without reservations this barbaric attack on a person and on the freedom of expression in our country.”

And we must take him at his word. Although, it ought to be said, Mrs Galizia knew how to make enemies.

The one thing one doesn’t get from this BBC News story is any sense of who might have perpetrated the outrage in a supposedly peaceable part of the world where such things don’t normally happen; although Malta’s strategic ‘crossroads’ location 60 miles off the Libyan coast and former Arab history, together with its latter status for many years as a British dominion have for centuries made it a hotbed of espionage and intrigue.

Grech’s Times of Malta Online piece doesn’t appear to dare to venture even a hint of a suggestion, but instead sprays out a list of people Galizia might have pissed-off, including some she might not have, i.e. politicians opposed to the government of Dr Muscat. Only…

What is going on?

The US State department’s official website, while being unable to correctly spell ‘Assad’, the name of the President of Syria, nevertheless generously praises Azerbaijan for its co-operation on international terrorism and its opposition to: “terrorist organizations seeking to move people, money, and material through the Caucasus”.

That would presumably not include the Trump Organization’s friends, the Iranian National Guard Corps, whose money (according to The New Yorker magazine) moved through a failed Trump hotel development in the Azeri capital, Baku, part-financing an improbable project being managed by Trump daughter, Ivanka, in partnership with local oligarch and notoriously corrupt ‘family business’ boss, Zia Mammadov.

As “Trump said” (or someone did, he can’t string two words together):

“Trump International Hotel & Tower Baku represents the unwavering standard of excellence of The Trump Organization and our involvement in only the best global development projects,” Trump said when the venture was announced in 2014. “When we open in 2015, visitors and residents will experience a luxurious property unlike anything else in Baku—it will be among the finest in the world.” (Mother Jones)

Despite the ringing endorsement, the project (in a down-at-heel suburb of the capital) got dumped before Trump’s election. Nevertheless, many Western countries have flocked to oil-rich Azerbaijan and its hospitable (although not to journalists or political opponents) President Ilham Aliyev. The BBC reported:

“Deals with international energy producers have allowed the country to use its energy revenues to create a government-run fund involved in international projects … Despite its wealth and increased influence in the wider region, poverty and corruption continue to overshadow the country’s development.”

Maltese cars seem to have a distressing habit of exploding. In October last year, local Buggiba businessman John Camilleri was assassinated in a powerful explosion that only narrowly missed a passing school bus full of children. Again, in reporting the incident the Times of Malta curiously avoided any of the normal press speculation as to the reason behind the attack, or to describe Mr Camilleri as anything other than the proprietor of a bathroom-tile business; but merely concentrated on its own – and the government politicians’ – handwringing.

So much for “freedom of expression”.

In January 2016, a person “registered as a fisherman”, local boat-owner “Martin Cachia, 56, from Marsascala, who has a pending court case in connection with human trafficking, according to sources”, as anyone might, was blown up and died when his car crashed into a wall. While in September 2016, an unnamed man “not well-known to the police” was seriously injured in another car bombing in Mosta, losing both legs, and his passenger also injured; a third man was injured in his car as he was passing by.

How normal is it for a national newspaper not even to try to identify any of the three victims of an attempted murder, or to speculate on who might have been behind it, but merely to drop huge clues to local people as to the identity of the main target? What are journalists afraid of, we wonder?

Just what is going on in tiny island Malta?

Well, if you Google ‘organized crime in Malta’ you get only the results of an optimistic, anodyne official inquiry covering burglaries and suchlike, that makes no reference whatsoever to targeted assassinations. Self-censorship seems to reach up from the press into the higher echelons of government and law-enforcement. The European Union, of which Malta is a relatively new member, is silent on the subject.

But not everyone is afraid to speak out, provided they do so under conditions of anonymity. On 16 October, 2017 The Independent online (UK) among others reported on the Galizia murder:

“A politician said her death marked the “collapse of the rule of law” in Malta, the smallest (country) in the European Union. Tributes to Galizia poured in on Monday evening, as thousands of Maltese gathered in the streets for a candlelight vigil to the reporter.  Galizia is believed to have just published the last post on her widely read blog, Running Commentary, just before leaving her house (in) Mosta, a town outside the capital Valletta.”

“There are crooks everywhere you look now,” she had written, “the situation is desperate.”

In advance of his second visit to Azerbaijan in four months, to attend a conference where he was due to mingle with such luminaries as the peace-prizewinning war criminal, Henry Kissinger, Dr Muscat’s people were less than forthcoming in response to enquiries by The Times of Malta (who weren’t invited on the official junket): “Dr Muscat (is) committed to continue to do work to bring more investment and jobs to Malta.”

At what cost?

The traffic is, of course, not just one-way. Azerbaijan’s foreign affairs minister, Elmar Mammadyarov visited Malta for three days last week, conceivably to discuss an ongoing project involving Azeri state oil and gas company SOCAR, to build a power station on the island. Malta Today reported:

“Mammadyarov’s visit comes as Daphne Caruana Galizia has pledged to publish proof this week that a bank account of a company owned by politically exposed people in Azerbaijan was used to transfer large sums of money to offshore Panama companies owned by minister Konrad Mizzi, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri, and a third company, Egrant.”

It is strongly rumoured among opposition politicians that Joseph Muscat and his wife may be the beneficial owners of Egrant. While, despite an impeccable record of Western education at Brown University and diplomatic service to his country, the Azeri’s Wikipedia entry reports:

“Under Elmar Mammadyarov the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan was hit by numerous scandals and corruption allegations. Stories and documents published in a number of Azeri news sites, blogs and social media claim that Mammadyarov is involved in illegal employment of staff for diplomatic service, irregularities, corruption and espionage along with his deputies and other high foreign service officials.”

Dimech: the ‘gangster’s moll’. But what was the politician really up to? (photo from website)

Was the killing of Galizia timed to entertain the visiting Azeri minister?

Business in Malta is clearly booming. But a casual browse on Mrs Galizia’s website reveals an intricate web of social, political and business relationships on the island that is almost impenetrable to an outsider. She covers numerous stories, many of them on the surface little more than tittle-tattle revealing a fetid atmosphere among the island’s half a million inhabitants.

One caught the attention of the BogPo, concerning the apparently close friendship between the much younger girlfriend of a convicted drug dealer, Rebecca Dimech (see photo) and the wife of the leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Dr Adrian Delia; whom Galizia hints at not so much having an affair with Ms Dimach, but more of being involved in her boyfriend’s cocaine enterprise:

“Miss Dimech … is an amateur glamour model from the wrong side of the tracks, whose long-term boyfriend, Andre Falzon … is a convicted drug-dealer well known to the police. He was released from prison last June. … Mrs Delia was at pains to dismiss any suspicions people might have had about “infidelity” by telling her interviewer “we laughed our heads off”. The widespread suspicions she needs to address about her and the Opposition leader’s relationship with Miss Dimech, though, have nothing to do with infidelity….” (Running Commentary)

Whatever may be going on with the Azerbaijan connection, it seems Mrs Galizia had a way of making powerful enemies in many areas of island life. Drugs, money-laundering, racketeering, people smuggling…. Perhaps we should not be too quick to point the finger of blame for her death at anyone special.

It’s clearly just a cultural thing.

 

x

Computer News

“Probing deeper, I discover a little map of ‘South Bank’, and with a start of recognition realize that it is a part of London I know fairly well…”

Where in the world am I?

Likers, Spammers, Followers and Those No Longer Reading this, muh bogl, will possibly have noted one of the sources for our regular Granny Weatherwax roundup of extreme weather events worldwide is a research group called Weather Underground, blogging as Wunderground, which is – we believe – owned or sponsored or funded by the CNN News organization in America.

Despite the defiant name, these weather guerillas seem to be perfectly reputable, highly qualified meteorologists running an efficient website combining official data sources and up to the minute satellite feeds with detailed reports, forecasts and expert commentary.

Heading their homepage every day is a weather report along the lines of the BBC’s clever “and now the news where you are” feature, a personalized facility for which some algorithm has been programmed to guess where in the world you are and tell you what the temperature, the windspeed and the precipitation are outside, roughly now.

So for weeks, I’ve been getting weather reports and forecasts for somewhere called Grangemouth, United Kingdom.

Now, until this began happening I had no idea where Grangemouth is, I had never heard of the place. Somewhat frustrated, as you can try keying in your actual location but the next day you wake up back in Grangemouth, I looked it up on the ever-reliable Google maps, and found it is an industrial coaling port all the way across the other side of the UK, on the North Sea coast. No wonder it’s always ten degrees colder there than it is here in the West, warmed as we are by the Gulf Stream (my next-door-neighbour has a well-advanced palm tree growing in their garden. Grangemouth is more famed for its tundra).

Why the boffins of Wunderground have decided I live there, or have the slightest interest in the prevailing conditions for the hardy Viking stock of Northumberland, I have no idea. But in recent days, it seems that I have sold up my home in Grangemouth and moved to somewhere called “South Bank”, where I notice it’s currently 51 deg. F. and sunny, with a high of 61 expected later.

There’s very little wind in South Bank, I notice, compared with here where we had a bit of whiplash from ex-Hurricane Ophelia yesterday as it chewed its way up the west coast of Ireland; although nothing like as bad as the “85 mph gusts” forecast.

Probing deeper, I discover a little map of South Bank, and with a start of recognition realize that it is a part of London I know fairly well, having been born and lived across the other side of the river for many years (there is no “North Bank”, by the way – it’s just known as Embankment, that eventually becomes other riparian districts like Pimlico and fashionable Chelsea Reach).

South Bank – or to give it its proper place names, Southwark, Vauxhall, Battersea –  is pretty famous, historically as the site of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and nowadays, for Sir Denys Lasdun’s ’60s Brutalist concert venue, the Royal Festival Hall; the Tate gallery and for the human statues and what-all else annoying buskers who infest the walkways.

But it’s still 256 miles from where I live now; while since my poor old mum passed away last year, I know no-one living anywhere near there, having almost literally burned my bridges as far as the capital is concerned. Looked at objectively, you can buy a three-bedroomed house in Grangemouth for £40 thousand; while the average price of a three-bedroomed house anywhere near “South Bank” (which is not actually a residential community) would be about £2.5 million. The “hiraeth” from which I suffer at the thwarted hope of someday returning to South Kensington, place of my boyhood, is mocked now by the vast economic divide in our society.

Meanwhile back in algorithm corner, I find on the Guardian website I am being offered the opportunity to buy yet more one-off items I have already just bought, or looked at on shopping websites and rejected.

What is the point, I ask myself and any passers-by who will stop to listen?

Here, for instance, is the opportunity to buy the bedroom chair in the color I rejected in favour of the bedroom chair I actually ordered, now in my bedroom. It might be several years before it wears out and I need another one. It’s quite a small room, with no room for two. And look, here next to it is the mattress I bookmarked before I baulked at the £700 price ticket, given that I have a mattress already.

I had thought seriously about changing it after reading Tim Dowling’s acerbically humorous Saturday column in the Guardian last week, about his adventures in acquiring a new mattress for their new home in grimiest Acton, West London (the running gag every week being how he and his wife don’t get along, although it seems they still share a bed, enabling them to fight amusingly over hopeless American-in-London, Tim’s inability to acquire a new mattress).

Mine started life as a pretty supportive, midrange orthopedic design, with 1800 sprung pockets, but over the six years I’ve had it, it has become soggy and pliant beneath my constantly revolving bulk. When Tim mentioned waking up every day with numb hands and a stiff neck, familiar symptoms, I knew it had come time for me to look for a new mattress, and Googling “mattresses” found many affordable examples advertised with free delivery.

I always reason that cheap is crappy and the more you spend, the happier you will be. But you can’t tell, can you, from a photo? Although £160 would probably not buy you a mattress that would stay the course for long, £700 could turn out an expensive mistake; like the new cooker I ordered last month….

ouwhouawhouaaa (eerie flashback music):

(The story so far: shortly after the gas man turned up yesterday on £100 an hour after the previous week’s false alarm and disconnected the old cooker, he summoned me from my shed where I had been hiding to tell me with a long face that the new cooker the shop had just delivered “doesn’t fit”.

Instead of the double-oven, gas-powered, under-counter model I had so carefully described to the man at the counter, the shop had sent over a single-oven electric cooker made to fit an eye-level unit. Back went the old cooker.

Later on, I get a call from the store to say oh dear, they have two cookers in the shop with my name on, and neither of them is the one I ordered, they can’t think how that happened, nevertheless the right one will most assuredly be with me in three weeks’ time… (It isn’t…)

I could offer a column about my life to The Guardian, maybe, only it’s just me and Hunzi, and occasionally Katz… the wife and I stopped fighting after the divorce eight years ago, and there wasn’t another in stock.)

So I switched my attention to other things.

Algorithms never forget, however. So now everytime I go to The Guardian website, which I have to do daily to find interesting items to report here on the BogPo, there’s the one mattress I hovered over, looking pleadingly at me. Should I buy it?

I have decided on principle, no, I shouldn’t. For £700 I can put up with numb fingers in the morning and a stiff neck, although the lack of support makes reading in bed a torture.

And it isn’t only images of tub chairs and orthopedic mattresses I’m being bombarded with, despite my helpful ad-blocker.

The expensive guitar I bought in London last month already has a carry-case, thank you, Gear4Music. It was included in the price. I only wanted to check with you to see what they cost, hard-cases the right size for my little Fibonacci, because the one it came with is embarrassingly cream-colored and I hate to be noticed when carrying a guitar, as I don’t play that well and people always ask, don’t they.

They see your guitar, and the first question that springs to mind is, do you play it?

But now I’m being offered a new guitar case in brown or black every day, and it’s not likely I shall really want to buy another as they can cost £120; while I seldom travel with my guitar far enough to bother.

Then as I have previously mentioned there is the BBC’s online viewing service, the iPlayer, that is forever offering me as personalized suggestions for programmes I might like to watch today, the programmes I watched yesterday. And, as I live in Wales, naturally, many programmes in Welsh: a language that might as well be Welsh to me.

The worst is, there’s no opportunity either to switch off the promotional images, or to explain carefully to the advertiser why you won’t be buying whatever it is they’re offering, day after day, principally because you don’t need another one, you can only play one saxophone for instance (okay, so I can’t play it at all, I soon found out it has more little keys than I have fingers, and none of them seems to do anything to alter the note) – or you just don’t want it.

Why can’t algorithms be programmed instead to offer you interesting and imaginative new things you haven’t already bought, or rejected? Like a cricket bat, or a submarine? I assume the advertisers are paying for those wasted spaces?

As a marketing tool, dialogue is so much more effective.

Wherever in the world you are.

Postscriptum:

Okay, own up. Who told Weather Underground where I live? More importantly, where to find The Boglington Post?

Because since I Posted this Post this morning the sarcastic bastards have switched my ‘weather where you are’ from central London, where I am not, to where I actually am, although I have never specified where that is, indeed I have not even mentioned the problem I was having with the anomalous locations to them directly. No wonder paranoia is going viral.

I plan to buy a camper instead, sell my little cottage and stay on the move in my own safe space.

I’m feeling violated.

Braga, Portugal, 15 October. (Photo: Daily Mail)

 

Your old Granny W. sploshes in galoshes

The Planet: “September 2017 was only the planet’s fourth warmest September since record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) and NASA this week. The warmer Septembers came during 2015, 2016, and 2014”

Global warming is a myth. Look, Republican states voting for denial! (NOAA)

Near-ground atmospheric temperature however was the warmest on record: “record warmth was observed across parts of central and southern Africa, southern Asia, across the western, northern, and southern Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean (off the southeastern coast of South America), the Norwegian Sea, Greenland Sea, and Barents Sea, and across parts of the Indian Ocean.

No land or ocean areas experienced record cold September temperatures.”

But in total, the average temperature of the world in 2017 to date is still 0.13 deg. C colder than last year. I suppose the key question is, if 2017 hasn’t been hotter than 2016, are we on the way to a cooling planet? Is global warming a myth?

Portugal/Spain: The most shockingly apocalyptic images emerge from more than 500 major fires that erupted all over northern Portugal around Braga and neighbouring Galicia province in Spain at the weekend, after months of drought, continuing high temperatures and strong winds. 49 dead so far, over 100 fires still burning. Suspected arsonists arrested.

China: Typhoon Khanun brings heavy rainfall, flooding and landslides to the island of Formosa (Taiwan! Ed.) before heading across to Hong Kong – Guangdong and Hainan provinces – 114 kph winds and up to 520 mm (0.52 metres) rainfall causing major disruption, and on down into North Vietnam, still recovering from last week’s lethal floods and landslides that killed 70. Reports suggest it’s already dissipating, but:

Japan: Tropical Storm Lan is several hundred miles out northeast of the Philippines on a possible track for Japan and rapidly developing towards a typhoon with sustained windspeeds already of 70 mph. “The beginnings of an eye were apparent on microwave satellite imagery.”

Philippines:  “Heavy rain, strong winds and storm surge from TS Paolo have caused flooding in areas around Zamboanga, Mindanao. 1 dead, 12,000 people (2,448 families) displaced. Strong winds caused storm surge along coastal areas. Heavy rain also increased river levels in the area, causing further flooding. The Pasonanca Dam is at “critical” level. As of 18 October it stood at 76.10 metres, where normal level is 74.2”. (Edited report)

Thailand: central Bangkok was underwater on the 14th after torrential rain (worst in 25 years).

India: 5 dead as major flooding arrives in Bangalore. Local govt. officials slated for being out of town playing a game of cricket while rain-sodden citizens endured disruption to the city’s already crumbling transportation system.

Australia: Up to 208mm of rain fell over parts of Queensland on 16 Oct, causing flooding. One person dead. Heavy rain is continuing across parts of the state. A search is underway for a fishing boat missing with 6 crew. Bundaberg, subject to severe flooding last week, is also affected.

USA: cooler, calmer weather is helping the nearly 11 thousand firefighters battling 14 wildfires in the Santa Rosa, California region. The death toll still stands at 40, but with 154 missing, nearly 6 thousand homes and vineyards in the Napa Valley destroyed and 75 thousand-plus people homeless or evacuated.

Still no sign of Trump, too busy insulting grieving Gold Star service families. For God’s sake, someone in office put a bullet through his diseased brain and end this nightmare.

(Just noticed from a US TV news crawler, it was 96.8 deg. F (36C) in Phoenix, Az. yesterday. In mid-October. (But not the record: 2003 saw a 98 deg. C. high at this time of year. September was only the fourth hottest on record, but 168 record highs have been reported as opposed to just 17 record lows anywhere in the northern hemisphere this year. Sea ice-loss forecasts for the Arctic proved wrong, again – “The Arctic reached its lowest extent for the year on September 13, which was the eighth lowest extent on record. The five lowest Arctic sea ice extents were measured in September 2012, 2007, 2016, 2011, and 2015.”) However, ‘extent’ is not a measure of volume and is dependent on other feedbacks than temperature.

Puerto Rico: further tropical depression brings new flooding to Caguas province; town underwater.

Mexico: powerful flash flood hits Santiago Tuxtla, Veracruz. Over 400 properties damaged, nearly 40 homes destroyed; shortage of drinking water.

Spain: “Grazalema in Cádiz recorded 111.4 mm of rain in 24 hours between 17 and 18 October. (Most of it fell in a torrential one-hour period.) Images on social media showed flood water raging through streets of Jerez de la Frontera in Cadiz… (Several people had to be rescued from their cars.) The heavy rain also caused a major rockfall in the Serrania de Ronda, in the western part of province of Málaga (more landslides blocking roads).”

Serbia – ‘possibly disruptive’ heat warnings in force.

Ireland: Following on the heels of ex-Hurricane Ophelia five days ago, Subtropical Depression-about-to-become Atlantic Storm “Brian” is heading straight for the Irish Republic with 80 mph winds, high seas and heavy rain likely to batter the whole of the British Isles over the weekend.

Climate and Extreme Weather News #74/ Euronews/ RUPTLY/ Al Jazeera/ Wunderground/ Floodlist/ NOAA

 

End of Everything Update

Germany: a long-term scientific survey has found there has been a 78% decline in flying insects in the past 30 years; almost regardless of climate change.

“Insects make up about two-thirds of all life on Earth [but] there has been some kind of horrific decline,” said Prof Dave Goulson of Sussex University, UK, part of the team behind the new study. “We appear to be making vast tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life, and are currently on course for ecological Armageddon. If we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse.”

USA: A number of smallish earthquakes – M1.5 to M2.3 were recorded in New York State and New Hampshire on 17 Oct by local and international agencies. Those earthquakes are still (10 pm 18 Oct) not showing on the US Geological Survey’s 24-hour updates and have presumably been CENSORED, as a) the eastern seaboard is not supposed to have earthquakes, and b) the earthquake activity was PREDICTED three days in advance by Michael Janich of St Louis, who vlogs regularly several times a day as ‘Dutchsinse’, and whose 80%-plus record of accurately predicting both the magnitude and location of earthquakes from global survey data has led to the USGS, which vehemently denies the possibility that earthquakes can be scientifically predicted, attempting to impose a blackout on his website, even at the expense of providing a full information service.

Just sayin’. (But if Yellowstone was about to blow, just consider if the USGS would tell anyone?)

Yellowstone: Swarms of M2.5+ earthquakes are continuing just outside the caldera at Soda Springs, Idaho and Lincoln Montana indicating magma still flooding horizontally into the chambers beneath the caldera. USGS under more criticism for failing to post significant quakes. Residents feel ‘constant vibrations’ coming from under the ground and are no longer bothering to report small earthquakes.

Nothing suggests that these are not serious indications of an impending eruption, since they seem to fit so precisely into the USGS’s own definition of what constitutes the right time to panic. They’re still reassuring the public that although we’re 40 thousand years overdue for another cyclical eruption, it can’t happen.

No need to remind you that a full-blown eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano will very likely bring the world’s economy crashing down and a ‘volcanic winter’ leading to drastic food shortages, with casualties in the millions.

The Greenhouse Effect: Did you ever run the 100 yards dash when you were at school? So you know how far 70 yards is, right? So, run 70 yards (if you still can). Now, turn 90 deg. left and run another 70 yards. Then again, turn 90 deg left and run another 70 yards – and finally, another 90 deg turn and another 70 yards.

So you’ve run a square with an outer perimeter of 280 yards without bumping into a building? Well done. The area inside the square is one acre.

Now, imagine 12 million of those acres.

That’s as much forest, farm and scrubland – trees, bushes and crops (a few thousand houses) – as has burned in wildfires in the USA this year.

You can add maybe two more millions for Canada – British Columbia had a record year for fires – then there’s Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, the Mediterranean islands (most of them), north Africa, Turkey, Croatia, Ukraine, Poland, Russia and the republics (Siberia had a record year for heat and wildfires) – even Greenland.

That’s just the northern hemisphere. Australia and South America have also had record wildfire years.

Now double it to count 2016’s total, and again for 2015, again for 2012 and worse for 2005.

All that burned vegetation has returned its stored CO2 to the atmosphere, millions and millions and millions of tonnes of it, and the latter years’ ‘biomass’ won’t be absorbing any more CO2 for at least a couple more years until it greens up again; only it’ll probably burn down again when it does.

See the problem?

 

Afterthought

And where do you come from?

American researchers are scratching their tousled or receding heads over the discovery that marriages created through online dating apps are both more stable and more likely to be of an interracial character. They just can’t think why.

For what it’s worth my suggestion is that it’s to do with the format of the encounter.

When you encounter a person of a different ‘race’ in the flesh, as it were (there is biologically speaking no such thing as ‘race’ as genetic differences lie on a continuous spectrum, but we’ll move on), cultural assumptions and associations are triggered automatically merely by their appearance, that immediately distance you from the other person and place self-imposed obligations on you to react in a conditioned way, whatever it may be.

Your reaction to meeting a person obviously of a different ethnic background is almost certainly either to become effusively over-polite, or to retreat into your shell: outwardly hostile or violent reactions to interracial encounters are very rare. You are unlikely to discover much about the Other from that first encounter; other, perhaps, than that they were ‘born here’….

But when you are in the safety and comfort of your own home or the wine bar browsing through photographs and self-descriptions and profiles and convoluted explanations and stories that are often warm and witty and perceptive and surprising and funny, you have time to adjust to the Other and are not required to be polite to an actual person merely for the sake of form, in case the cultural ‘difference’ should prove too much for both of you.

Online dating, then, is a passive-encounter format that encourages imaginative, wishful thinking, that can lead to experimentation, new freedoms and happy discoveries; or a rejection without the need for politeness and difficulty.

Difference can be negative – or positive.

Ask any 1.5 volt battery.

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