Fighter pilot, Royal Navy 1945, Hydrographer Iraq 1947-52 India 1952-53, Canadian Hydrographic Arctic explorer 1953-1960, Writer-producer Canadian National Film Board 1961-72, Freelance journalist, audio-visual producer 1972-2009, National Press Club of Canada 1961 - 2006

Monday, November 21, 2011

Amazing stuff...

Whoever would have thought it…
Some important news items and scientific insights you             may possibly have missed…

    Meteorological Science Meeting report…

It also said it was likely - meaning a probability greater than 66 per cent - that heavy precipitation events would also increase over many parts of the planet, particularly in high latitudes and tropical regions, as well as in winter for northern mid-latitudes.

(Wow!  That pretty much covers the whole globe.  You wanna avoid the deluge?  Then best bet is: head for New Zealand, the Falklands, or southern Chile and Argentina).

  •  Health Report spokesperson…

What's amazing to me, as someone who has worked in a rehab centre, is this: Take people off their substance and, after detox, they quickly become upstanding citizens - considerate, responsible and good-natured.  Put them back on the drugs or alcohol and the madness begins anew.
  •   Government Project runs over budget
   •   International meeting agrees  
date for next                                                                                                                                                                      meeting.

      •  Health Canada advises…

        If you break a Compact Fluorescent Lamp, follow these directions for clean-up:

        •  Leave the room
Remove people and pets from the room and keep them out of the room during the clean-up process.
Avoid stepping on any broken glass.

•  Ventilation
Ventilate the room for at least 15 minutes prior to starting clean-up by opening windows and doors to the outdoors. This will ensure that mercury vapour levels are reduced before you start cleaning.

•  Clean-up Directions for Hard and Carpeted
Do not use a vacuum to clean up the initial breakage, as it will spread the mercury vapour and dust throughout the area and may contaminate the vacuum.
Wear disposable gloves, if available, to avoid direct contact with mercury and to prevent cuts.
Scoop or sweep up the broken pieces and debris with two pieces of stiff paper or cardboard.  Do not use a broom.
Use sticky tape, such as duct tape or masking tape, to pick up any remaining fine glass or powder.
Wipe the area with a damp paper towel, cloth or disposable wet wipe to remove any residual particles.
Place the broken glass and clean-up materials in a glass container with a tight fitting lid to further minimize the release of mercury vapour.

•  Carpeting - Steps to Take After the Initial Clean-up
If the rug is removable, take it outside, shake and air it out for as long as is practical.
The first time you vacuum on installed carpet after the clean-up, shut the door to the room or close off the area as much as possible and ventilate the room in which the lamp was broken by opening the windows and doors to the outside. When the vacuuming is done, remove the bag, wipe the vacuum with a damp paper towel, cloth or disposable wet wipe, and then place the vacuum bag and paper towel in a sealed plastic bag outside.  In the case of a canister vacuum, wipe the canister out with a wet paper towel and dispose of the towel as outlined above. Continue to ventilate the room for 15 minutes once the vacuuming is completed.

•  Disposal
Immediately place waste material outside of the building in a protected area away from children.

Dispose of the waste at a household hazardous waste location as soon as possible.  Check with local, provincial, or territorial authorities about the requirements for recycling and for the location of household hazardous waste depots or pick-up.
Do not dispose of the waste in your household trash.
For further information on disposal, please contact Environment Canada.

•    Washing 
               Wash your hands after storing and disposing of waste.

(There that’s simple enough isn’t it?  Aren’t we all lucky to have the useful convenience of CFLs included by government mandate in our modern mode for gracious living?)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Xmas Cheer…

 Let’s liven up the Christmas Holidays with more Canadian Pantomimes

Pantomime—the art or technique of conveying emotions, actions, feelings, etc., by gestures without (any believable) speech.

Luckily for my equanimity I quite enjoy nonsensical but clever children’s pantomimes.
Way back, in London, about 70 or 65 years ago, I can remember willingly going to see a Christmas pantomime or two, probably when accompanying one of my sisters when taking one or two of their children as a Christmas treat.
I also remember just a few years ago watching a rare but very good Canadian pantomime on TV, which starred Canada’s wonderful ballerina, Karin Kain, teamed up, incongruously, with ‘Onslow’ of the Brit TV show Keeping up Appearances.
‘Onslow’, I don’t know his real name, had packed houses of young Canadian children collapsing in merriment with the age-old simple chestnut presentations of British juvenile farce.  You know.  Where the awful villain or other evil character typically creeps up behind the clueless hero and the children call out excitedly to warn their jolly favorite of the danger...  
“There he is right behind you”.
 “No he’s not, I just looked and no one was there”.
 “He ran round the other way in front of you while you were looking behind you”.  
“Of course he didn’t.  There’s no one there”. 
“Oh, yes there is.  He’s right there, turn round the other way”
… and so it goes on and on, absolute nonsense but wonderfully absorbing for young humour-loving children.
And some others.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

History of the Middle East

Dateline: November 1, 2011
A brief rewrite of pertinent
Middle East history         

How the non-delivery of two formidable British dreadnoughts may well have led to the adventurous exploits of Lawrence of Arabia, the existence of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Trans Jordan, Egypt, a sovereign Saudi Arabia, and later greater control of the Persian Gulf by Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

In 1914, as the war clouds grew ever darker across Europe, British shipyards were working to finish completion of two new massive Dreadnought battleships, together with some destroyers and patrol craft, that had been ordered by the Ottoman Empire to bolster its naval presence in the Black Sea
Turkey at that time, still edgy about threats from its powerful northern neighbour, Imperial Russia, which had a couple of decades before had waged war upon them and also during the Crimea War. Turkey was also now beset with unfriendly relations with Greece, another neighbour. 
So the Turkish Ottoman Empire was in a state of indecision as to which side — the French, British and Italian, or the military might of Germany-Austria — it should declare itself to be an ally.
With Russia seemingly preparing to oppose Germany, Turkey’s strongest intentions appeared to be with Germany and against Britain and France.

But when the two mighty dreadnought battleships ordered by the Turkish government were completed in August 1914, Winston Churchill, Britain’s First Lord of the Admiralty, rightly told the Turks that the deal was off.  The battleships would stay in Britain and be commissioned into the Royal Navy.
Thus Turkey firmly allied itself to Germany for the next four years of hostilities during the Great War.

This meant that the next one hundred years of Middle East history, which we have now witnessed, and events yet to unfold during the next few hundred years, were radically and violently altered from what might have been.
Because, unlikely though it was, if Turkey had received its fully-paid-for dreadnoughts from Britain, as agreed upon, it is slightly possible that the Ottoman Empire would have instead decided to become Britain’s ally, thus saving the costly bloodshed and chicanery involved in wrestling military control of Arabia, Mesopotamia, Palestine, Egypt and coastal regions of Libya, Tunisia and Algeria from out of Turkish and into the allies’ hands and influence. 
For the Ottoman Empire had occupied all those Middle Eastern regions for centuries.  From the Red Sea across Arabia to the top of the Persian Gulf and all the way down the gulf’s western coast to Oman and the Strait of Hormuz where the Turks had held sway since the middle ages.
In the event of a Turkish alliance with Britain there would have been no reason for the British Army in Egypt’s, fluently Arabic-speaking, enigmatic, Lt. Colonel Lawrence to don his flowing native robes and trek out into the desert to rouse the Arabian tribes into rebellion against the Turks and ease the way for a British army to win control of Jerusalem together with all the far-distant Arab lands so long dominated by the Ottoman Empire.
Nor would there have been need for a largely Indian British army to sail up into the Shatt-al-Arab at the north end of the Persian Gulf, invade Mesopotamia (largely known as 'Messpot' in British shorthand) and suffer terrible hardships on the way, from battling an extremely tough and cruel Turkish army.
Nor would the victorious allies in 1919 have been able to carve up the whole region into separate states, creating Syria and Lebanon for the French and with Palestine, Egypt and Iraq placed under British mandate which, though later peacefully rescinded, left meaningful British influence across the region including also most of the coastal sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf and also Iran itself strongly influenced by British policy until the mid 1950s.  All illustrated by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, the Imperial Bank of Iran and the Middle East, and strong joint partnerships of USA-British regional oil exploration, development and facilities for global export.
In fact, if Turkey had chosen to join the Allies, It is possible that Imperial Russia, now a de facto ally with Turkey would not have given up fighting the Germans in 1917 nor experienced its tumultuous, politically earth-shaking, revolution.

In the mid-1950s the peace of Iraq under the rule of the young King Faisal and his prime minister, Nuri Said, was destroyed when, largely undermined by Soviet street propaganda, they and other members of ancient royal families were brutally massacred and their bodies hung from lamp posts in the streets of Baghdad and other cities by murderous mobs.
The way was then open for a succession of much harsher regimes to rise and fall.
Sadly, international harmony, both regionally and widespread, fell into the inane bedlam we have seen over the many decades past.

It seems that the Turkish government never received back the money it had paid Britain for building those dreadnoughts back in 1914.  But it has probably been recovered many times over by the flood of British tourists who have visited their country year after year over the past half-century.