Now this is a beautiful piece of campaigning

Posted in Environments No Comments

Geese and ash

Learning from my travel-related cancellations and delays over the past couple of years, I reckon it is time to rewrite Murphy’s Law:

Anything that can go wrong will go wrong

to something slightly more appropriate, Toennesen’s Paradox:

Anything that cannot go wrong will go wrong.

I hardly even travel enough to fall under the wannabe jet-setter category, yet I have been disproportionately affected by the unlikeliest events when trying to go somewhere. These include a blizzard, a burst tire on a Sudan Airways plane, a goose in a jet engine, fog and now a friggin’ Icelandic volcano in combination with ‘ideal’ jet winds…

My travel life is turning into a Murakami novel. In retrospect, I should never have included “spewing” in the title line of the previous post…

Posted in Travel 2 Comments

On authorities spewing crap

There may be bad things to say about ‘youngsters’ uttering rude/naive/silly remarks, but those bad things fade compared to established, respected authorities spewing crap.

Doris Lessing, in her otherwise beautiful Nobel Prize acceptance speech, famously remarked:

How will our lives, our way of thinking, be changed by the internet, which has seduced a whole generation with its inanities so that even quite reasonable people will confess that, once they are hooked, it is hard to cut free, and they may find a whole day has passed in blogging etc?

Just stick to what you are good at, writing novels.

Today, James Lovelock, esteemed scientist and inventor of the Gaia theory, came out with a whole barrage of arrogant and potentially damaging ‘opinions‘. In summary: contemporary natural scientists are morally inferior to those back in the good old days, the world is screwed, we pulled the trigger and there is nothing to do about it but to sit back and “enjoy life while you can”. Oh, and also, renewable energy technology is not based on “good practical engineering”.

That is an awful lot of nonsense/sweeping generalisations to let out for a 90-year-old!

Ah, but it all depends on if he is right, does it not?

Not really… He may indeed be right about the fate of the planet.

But. Hopefully, many of us will have another +40 years or so to live in before we pass away. In that time, we would probably like to be able to enjoy nature, fresh air and many other things. Ideally, our children would be able to do that as well. Why should we not make every effort – and encourage others to do so – to make this possible? Lovelock is writing out a dangerous carte blanche (‘keep on truckin’ y’all!’) with ramifications far beyond ‘climate change’.

Just because you are on board Titanic, you can still be considerate.

In addition to that, I believe hope and optimism are core to leading a happy, fulfilling life, even in the face of adversity and uncertainty. Of course, when you are 90 years old and already made quite a career for yourself that may not be the case…

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A sad state of affairs

It is sad, but I only have work updates to offer at the moment:

Most of my time is spent working on a project for the UNDP, developing new social and environmental performance indicators for the new EU Member States, both the countries themselves and the companies within them. In my field, tasks do not come much more interesting than that.

We are moving to nice new offices down by the Thames, at Embankment. As part of the new decor, everyone has been asked to commission a painting of their favourite spot(s) in London. Some of them have already started appearing on the artist’s blog. My choice? The South Bank Skate Park.

Yes, I will make the annoying text above go away at some point…

Posted in Everyday Trivia No Comments

Becoming one with nature in London

At £20, becoming a member of the Serpentine Swimming Club does not cost the world. It is one of the few places in London where triathletes can train in open waters. The membership application form suggests there might be another ‘fee’ to pay, though:

Tests over the years have shown that without chemical treatment bacteriological contamination can occur in the Serpentine. We are advised that swimming in contaminated water such as untreated Serpentine may render the swimmer open to such diseases as:

a) Salmonellosis or Shingellosis – at worst typhoid but more generally stomach upsets;
b) Amoebic dysentery;
c) Poliomyelitis;
d) Infective hepatitis;
e) Sore throats, noses, ears etc. caused by streptococci psdeudomonads or staphylococci.

These are only some of the possibilities; there are others, including Weill’s disease and botulism.

It has been agreed that members of the swimming club may continue to swim from the Lido between 06.00 am and 09.30 am when the water is untreated, but any club member who chooses to swim does so at his / her risk. The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will not be responsible for any injury or infection caused by contamination of the water.

I have read and understood the contents of this application form / letter. I realise that the water in the Serpentine may be untreated, contaminated and unsuitable for swimming. I accept the risk of injury or infection if I choose to swim there in spite of this warning. I understand the rules of the club, swim times and permitted areas.

My colleague tells me her friends always finish off a Serpentine swimming session with a glass of Coke, apparently it sanitises the system…

Speaking of fitness regimes, this is seriously interesting stuff: Evolutionary fitness.

Posted in Sportish 3 Comments

Blood Falls in Antarctica

There are places I would like to see and there are places I would die to see. This one clearly falls in the latter category:

Posted in Environments, Travel No Comments

Reading about Knud Rasmussen on the Tube

A good book will, of course, close its tentacles around you and suck you into a parallel universe. There is, nevertheless, something great about maintaining the connection between the fictional world set out on the pages and the ‘real’ world in which the reading takes place.

In my personal experience, it was while travelling in Turkey that I started marvelling over Orhan Pamuk’s books, namely ‘The New Life‘, which is all about movement, twists and turns in small town Turkey. The sublime architecture of my ‘old’ university in Aarhus formed the backdrop of most of Svend Aage Madsen‘s detours into the realm of magic. Javier Marias described the farcical nature of Oxford so well that the book itself became almost too predictable (or was it the other way round?).

In short, to me the best books are not necessarily self-contained universes, rather they are merely pointers to or reminders of personal spaces and experiences.

All the nonsense above is just a long-winded introduction to another mechanism for enhancing the reading experience: seeking out contexts that are completely contrary to the settings described in the book.

I recently finished reading the biography of Denmark’s greatest Arctic explorer, Knud Rasmussen. The vast desolate spaces of Greenland took on even greater depths in the depths of the London Tube, close to bursting with 8.15am commuters during an involuntary, non-permanent marriage with public transport whilst I got my bike fixed.

Giles Coren has something to say about books and places, too.

Posted in Media, Peculiarities No Comments

The Guy with the Rubik’s Cube on the London Tube

Pheeew, I thought I was going crazy. None of my friends have seen this guy, but for some inexplicable reason I keep bumping into him: ‘The Guy with the Rubik’s Cube on the London Tube’.

He enters the coach, starts doing his tricks and then leaves. Never asking for money, just focusing on the cube and chatting away.

Thank god he was caught on camera: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Urban 3 Comments

In media we trust?

I have been working on this event for a while, please attend if you can:

In Media We Trust?
The media isn’t what it used to be, neither are we. This event will ask to what extent we have become more informed and better at reaching the right decisions as citizens in a society dripping with information.

What does it take to be media savvy, as the line between media consumer and media provider is increasingly blurred? Whose responsibility is it to foster media literacy anyway?  

An interactive panel debate with Ben Hammersley (Editor at Large, Wired), Matt Locke (Commissioning Editor for New Media and Education, Channel 4) and David McCandless (Author of ‘Information is Beautiful’).

The event is free and open to all. No need to register. Thursday March 18th, 6.30-8pm, followed by drinks.

Pose your questions in advance at elviswalks.com and forward them to questions@elviswalks.com.

New Theatre, London School of Economics & Political Science, Houghton St, London WC2A 2AE

Presented by the Media CSR Forum in association with POLIS.

Posted in Media No Comments

Connected

Check out my cousin’s latest project, Connected; a scarily cool movie that makes even Belgium look like a nice place:

Set in the distant future, Connected is a story about survival and greed with a post apocalyptic wasteland as its backdrop. Survivors of an unknown disaster shuffle through a desolate landscape, as it quickly becomes clear that not everybody has the strength to survive.

Posted in Media No Comments