Tuesday, December 8, 2009

AKIC Weekend Headlines

Rent a Book
A Childhood Memories English Corner I did recently was a good source of headlines for the blog.  One student told me his happiest childhood memory was being able to have the money to pay for the privilege of being able to read a book.  When and where he was in China, there were no libraries and people were too poor to buy books.  A man running a stall with twenty books could make a living, renting the volumes out.
State of Fear
I like reading Michael Crichton's novels, but so much for the plots or the characters, which I find lame.  I like reading his novels for the scientific asides.  And what with the Climategate scandal and the upcoming Copenhagen Global Warming Conference, the asides in the novel State of Fear, which I have just finished reading, are very topical.  To a skeptic like myself, the asides are glorious.
I will mention two asides from that novel which I find relevant and uphold my skepticism.  Crichton noted that the urban heat island effect has to be discounted when trying to measure changes in temperatures that can be attributed to Global Warming.  So, the Wuxi students who tell me they believe in Global Warming because of the how they have seen Wuxi become warmer, are only observing changes brought about as a result of the recent appearance of a large local urban heat island caused by Wuxi becoming a modern city.  Wuxi has experienced a local warming.  But ,to deny Global Warming is not to deny that there are Environmental problems.  Environmental problems of which there are many are local problems that should be solved by local means.  Global conferences seeking to solve these problems by mean of central control are egotistical and foolish to the extreme. 
In the second aside from the novel and of note to me, Crichton discussed the failed management of Yellowstone Park.  The park was created at the behest of railway concerns wanting tourists to ride their lines.  Yellowstone's subsequent history has shown that man can't manage wilderness as wilderness.  That is, nature acts in ways that man can't fathom and so the Yellowstone park management addressing one issue created another.  Killing predatorial animals resulted in an excess of Elk which resulted in a lack of grass......
Leslie Howard
Howard was a British actor who played a supporting role in the epic Gone With the Wind.  I imagine  he will always be remembered for that.  However, when I recently watched GWTW, I saw Howard and exclaimed "That's the guy who starred in The Petrified Forest with Bette Davis!".  I suppose I was looking at Howard's GWTW appearance from a backwards and uncommon perspective.

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