Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How it was

The Ambassador's Reception, broadcast earlier this month on BBC Radio 4, included two anecdotes from the publisher and editor Murat Belge, who was held by the military after the 1980 coup in Turkey.
At one time the jailor required Belge and other political prisoners to capture exactly one hundred flies every day and present them in the evening for inspection. On the occasions they failed they were required to eat the flies. 'Imagine having to eat ninety seven flies.'

Another time Belge was being tortured so badly that he gave way and agreed to sign a confession. He went to the next room with his torturer to sign a document. They both sat down at the table and the torturer's knee accidently brushed against his. Please excuse me, said the torturer most politely.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

'Mind in nature'

Natasha Mitchell: I was interested to read that DH Lawrence talked about the mind in nature. It contrasted between what he described as a 'know it all' state of mind outside of nature and something different happening to the mind that interacts with the natural world. What did he mean by the 'know it all' state of mind? I think that's really interesting.

Richard Louv: Yes, I love that passage. He was writing about his experience of New Mexico. I had actually a park ranger tell me about the four corners of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Nevada, that nowhere on Earth or in few places on Earth was so much of the past so close to the surface. And the 'know it all' state of mind just assumes we've seen it all. You know, when we travel, 'been there, done that'. And what he was saying is that we can be fooled, we can fool ourselves into that belief, but underneath the surface of wherever we go are larger stories. I think that when you're in a natural environment you feel that more than anyplace else. I feel that natural history should be as important to a regions identity as human history, and that our sense of meaning and purpose and connection and place comes from natural history, not just human history.
-- from Nature Deficit Disorder on All in the Mind, ABC. Louv notes later in the programme:
David Sobel at Antioch in the US uses, 'ecophobia', that's the fear of environmental destruction. Sobel makes the point that we are programming our kids way too early to believe that the Earth is over, that nature is at an end
... [But] we're missing two-thirds of the story, [which] is that, because of those great changes, because of climate change et cetera, everything in the next 40 years must change. To any self-respecting creative 16-year-old, that could be good news, and we better be entering one of the most creative times in human history. That's exciting.
A reminder of the scale of just one of the challenges: the beaches on the most remote islands in the world's largest oceans are literally turning into plastic.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Ash and lightning above Eyjafjallajökull. Photo by Marco Fulle via APOD.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Gold in the tar sands

[BP] Chief executive Tony Hayward received a 41% rise in his remuneration package in 2009 - meaning he took home about £4m in salary, bonus and share awards.

This was despite the firm seeing last year's profits fall by 45% to $13.96bn(£9.2bn).
-- from a BBC report, BP oil Canada plan faces shareholder vote.