Category Archives: world

179. Kenya 6: Africa – how can we help?

dream-world-internet-kenya.jpg What can we do to help the people of Africa?

Should we visit, as tourists? Is it enlightenment, or voyeurism, when tour companies arrange sightseeing trips to the ghettoes of Nairobi?

The problems are so massive that it’s easy to admit defeat – to assume that if governments can’t sort the problems, then aid agencies and individuals don’t stand a chance.

I don’t share that view. There’s a lot we can do, and here are some suggestions.
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178. Full fathom five – on Elbow Beach, Bermuda

night-landing-in-bermuda-by-haywards-heath.jpg“Now would I give a thousand furlongs of sea for an acre of barren ground”
– The Tempest, Act 1, Sc.1

“Full fathom five thy father lies” – The Tempest, Act 1, Sc. 2

The sky is falling all around me as the winter afternoon is fading. Down, down we glide, towards the North Atlantic. Three thousand miles of unforgiving sea are all behind us and ahead lies just a pinprick of green holding out against the blue-grey vastness of the ocean.

The rain lashes against the windows as our wings bank on the approach, the landing lights looming nearer in the dusk. A rugged landfall, but now we’re safe.

Outside the airport and across the causeway, a deluge is raging in sheets across the road, the palm trees swaying wildly in the storm. The evening washes itself wet and windswept upon the shore. Continue reading

176. Ashtead Common 2 – a winter’s trail to spring

winter-dawn-epsom-downs-surrey-england-by-chilsta-flickr.jpgWinter drags in February. The lengthening evenings seem to pack a scary sharpness in their chill, and there’s an unexpected bleakness in these brightening days which makes me yearn for spring.

But it’s not the weather really. It’s my lack of patience for this place, which palls now with every passing week.

The soulless office above the shopping mall entombs me on shivering days like these. Days when inertia sucks the lifeblood of enthusiasm out from in me. Hours spent waiting for the gloom to lift and fall. Days when I don’t feel like running, and I wonder how I ever did.

epsom-crocus-by-osde-info-flickr.jpgThe crocuses in Epsom Park smile indulgently as I pass on my winter’s route towards the dry Chalk hills above the town. They remind me.
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175. The price of oil: peak petroleum production and energy economics in a thirsty world

NOTE: May 2009 — For further updates on the oil price, see also:
The price of oil: 3 — energy economics and the financial crisis;
The price of oil: 4 – a rising road ahead.

north-sea-oil-rig-and-helicopter-offshorepictures.jpgIt was a chilly evening in early February when the Managing Director called us all together. He paused a moment, glanced at the expectant faces all around him, and then he started.

Business is tough, he said, and we’re doing what we can. But finally, we’ve reached that moment when we’ve got to let some of you go.

A hundred of us stood there then, looking at each other, at the floor, and at the winter’s dusk outside.

There was silence. Some more explanation was required, and some more honesty was needed. And, to his credit, Mitch provided it. As ‘this company is going down the toilet’ talks go, it was pretty fairly done.

We’d had problems with one of our installations in the North Sea, he told us. We all knew that already. In the big money business of finding oil and gas and getting them to the beach, failing on either of those priorities was never good.

roustabouts-on-the-drill-floor.jpgAn asset team would miss its targets, and there’d be no bonuses or payrises for anyone ahead. Such is business, in any organisation. But this time, it was worse.

It’s the oil price, he said. February, 1999. Continue reading

174. The hidden history of Texas – on Buffalo Bayou, Houston, USA

texas-street-houston-usa-by-roadsofstone.jpgTexas.

So reads the street sign, and everything they say is true. The sky, the buildings, the cars, the winter weather – they all seem so much bigger here.

Downtown, early morning. A fading twilight was lifting above the Astrodome when I peered out through the curtains five minutes ago, and now it’s nearly daybreak.

The eastern horizon is promising cool and blue and cloudless – a perfect Texas dawn is calling. For now, Houston has a sleepy air, the metropolis still dappled and drowsy and awaiting the day.

If you want to know a city, just run through it streets, and look up and all around you. Breathe its atmosphere and history, and immerse your soul in the rush before your eyes.

Live a different life, for a few brief footsteps, and surrender your mind to the wanderings of your feet. Lose yourself.
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173. Lines on the New Hampshire primary 2008

So. Farewell then
barack-obama-the-audacity-of-hope-random-house.jpg Barack Hussein Obama
The Audacity of Hope

For five January days
We believed
The world could change

And then New Hampshire
Told you
They’d changed their minds
Instead.

With apologies to EJ Thribb (17 ½)

* * * * *

Coming soon:
To mark the start of USA 2008 new-hampshire-snow-by-atonal-at-flickrdotcom.jpgthis column is taking temporary residence deep in the snows of New Hampshire.

Please see From Scratch for a specially syndicated Roads of Stone, reporting on the US primaries.

173. Lines on the New Hampshire primary 2008 : : 173. Lines on the New Hampshire primary 2008 : : 173. Lines on the New Hampshire primary 2008 : : 173. Lines on the New Hampshire primary 2008 : : 173. Lines on the New Hampshire primary 2008 : : 173. Lines on the New Hampshire primary 2008

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84. Election Special
110. The hands that built America – Houston skylines
barack-obama-nashua-new-hampshire-2008.jpg148. Farewell to Tony Blair
4. GO British ! Chicago Marathon 2002
17. It’s puzzling – a letter on Iraq, to Tony Blair
71. How the West Was Won – Iraq implodes