If you looked at the human race from the vantage point of a visiting alien what would you think? It’s a messed up planet. Wars, disease, broken societies, inequality and life support system degradation. Plenty to think about in terms of whether we will survive or not. Then along comes a story that says no we are still evolving and this is what Homo sapiens should be like. Why we aren’t is a subject of long debate but if we all acted like this policeman the world would truly be a better place. In looking at this act of generosity we might wonder how we get from where we are to where we need to be. There is clearly something wrong with us as a species that needs to be addressed and dealt with, https://edition.cnn.com/2021/01/02/us/shoplifting-christmas-police-trnd/index.html.
I’m indelibly stamped British. I grew up and I was fortunate to grow up in a country that had at the time a free health care system that was a world leader. My schooling despite some wonderful teachers left something to be desired but I continued to learn and still do through my adult life. Although the country has been involved in wars, many unnecessarily so, I have not had to take part. Do I know what it means to be British? Not particularly. You could point to a map and say roughly what Britain is but then you would find places like the Falklands that controversially are part of Britain. Do I know what it means to be human? I think I know more about that than I do about being a person of a particular country that involves drawing imaginary lines on the planet’s surface.
I’m one of those followers of Recent African Origin where my ancestors like those of everyone else, walked out of Africa and therefore we have a common human origin. On that basis I treat everyone the same with the caveat that if you look down on other humans as being lesser than you then you are no friend of mine. It’s my personal belief that I’m a human first and a British national for the sake of convenience second. I also believe that if we are to solve the great problems of the world that we need to teach people that being human is more important than their nationality. The physical processes that govern the planet do not recognise our imaginary lines of division. The big bad wolf of climate change is going to come knocking at your door no matter on which part of the planet you live.
So where am I going with this? Well it’s about joining the dots again. In the 366 days of 2020 the Earth’s population grew by the equivalent of ten Switzerlands, 80,000,000 people. How anyone can still think that the equivalent population size of Switzerland can be added every five weeks or so without destroying our life support systems is beyond me. Knowing this look at this story where at the same time the nation of South Korea is worried about not enough births and here lies the problem for me of nationalism. A good friend of mine, English, married a South Korean girl but it is still not the done thing apparently. So when are we going to get past this ridiculous limitation? South Korean men and women should be free to marry who they want but for that to happen we need everyone to recognise our humanity first and our nationality second, if at all. Here’s the article, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-55526450.
Lac Leman with the surrounding mountains is a very beautiful part of the world especially when the sun shines as it did on this day. The lake front between St Sulpice and Ouchy is a public space and is used by many people walking and cycling on its path. There are areas for barbecues and lots of people on the water either swimming or in various crafts. We don’t see many in the water swimming at this time of year but sometimes there are one or two hardy souls. There are a number of mature trees in some places in open spaces where you can see people practicing tightrope walking and in Vidy there is a reasonably sized skate park although it is so popular it could do with being bigger. All in all it’s a busy activity zone along the waterfront with a beautiful view of the lake and the Prealps as a backdrop for those that just want to come and relax.
Humanity has lost its way. We either have to decorate places with dying trees chain sawed out of a pesticide sprayed monoculture forest or we roll out plastic lookalikes. Why? Because it’s tradition. I don’t suppose they had plastic Christmas trees in say 1850 or in the time of Jesus so I guess it can’t be a particularly old tradition. It’s all to do with things looking nice. It doesn’t seem to matter that we are exposed to pesticides if we have real trees or are exposed to microplastics some of which at some time will come from this plastic representation of a Christmas tradition. Future and hopefully cleverer generations will look back at our uneducated and ill informed madness. We really do need to start being a bit more sensible and find better ways to celebrate the season than the ones that are currently potentially poisoning us.
This is the classic philosophical question that everyone knows. I have put on one of my Scientist and Philosopher T-shirts in my Teemill shop. The philosopher asks the question and the scientist replies in a way only a scientist who likes the odd drink could. I hope that people will find this look at the world from two points of view at least slightly amusing.
Just before the corona virus caused so much mayhem in the UK I went to see Dark Waters, a film about how one lawyer, Rob Bilott, took on the Du Pont corporation and won. It is an intriguing story of one man’s fight over decades to get justice against a huge business giant. If you are able to watch it, you will be left looking at some of your pots and pans and wondering whether they are harming you. The story concerns PFOA-C8 a commercial version of which is called Teflon. It is one of what are called forever chemicals. In this instance per and poly fluoroalkyls. The C8 refers to eight carbon atoms that are surrounded by flourine atoms. The chain is very difficult to breakdown if not impossible biologically and a large percentage of us have these chemicals in our bodies. While C8 versions have been withdrawn C6 and C4 versions, PFAS variants I believe they are called, are in every day use. However, the long term toxicity of C4 and C6 products are not well known. If you buy your coffee or food takeaway then you are certainly coming into contact with the supposedly safe versions. From the little I have read the companies dispensing takeaway cups and food containers don’t know what type of waterproof coverings are used in them. Perhaps when the corona virus allows it will be time to invest in a reusable cup for your coffee addiction but check what it is made out of first.
Caroline and I and our friend Su went to see C’est La Vie last night at the Cine Lumiere in South Kensington. It is a very funny film and wonderfully entertaining. As is usual with French films the actors and actresses look like normal people that you would meet in the street and not some sun burnt, bleached white, plastic surgeon altered excuse for a human being. The story is a simple one but full of humour with lots of laugh out loud moments. It’s a great feel good film but also deals with people and their frailties. Max, the wedding organiser, is having an affair with one of his staff, one of his other employees once dated the bride and is put out by seeing her again in a comical way for instance There is lots going on that keeps the film moving and we all said that we could go and see it again.
So for the time being the sunny summer has disappeared in London and rain is forecast for most of the day. What shall we do to pass the time?
A search of the internet gives us a plan. First stop is the Barbican and a visit to the conservatory there. A nice collection of plants and trees in the heart of the city.
We then walked through the Barbican to the Museum of London. It is a fascinating place and displays the history of London through the ages really well.
Once we had stopped for a second drink we left and took the Circle line round to Embankment. We walked across the Hungerford Bridge and went to the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Southbank. Here we spent time going around the exhibition on the life of Nelson Mandela. An amazing story about an amazing man.
A great free day out.