The Irrawady Dolphin is almost extinct !

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It is part of the way of life here, throwing and dumping everything in the river ! From domestic wastes to industrial ones, the water no longe holds even a muddy aspect, it is inderscribable. It sends shivers to the spine to think of the huge amount of toxic materials the water is carrying. And killing its wildlife with it. Without blinking an eye !

See the pics of these magnificent dolphins  here.

Mekong river dolphin near extinct: WWF

June 18, 2009

Pollution in South-East Asia’s Mekong River has pushed freshwater dolphins in Cambodia and Laos to the brink of extinction, an international conservation group said on Thursday.

The World Wide Fund For Nature said only 64 to 76 Irrawaddy dolphins remain in the Mekong after toxic levels of pesticides, mercury and other pollutants were found in more than 50 calves who have died since 2003.

“These pollutants are widely distributed in the environment and so the source of this pollution may involve several countries through which the Mekong River flows,” said WWF veterinary surgeon Verne Dove in a press statement.

The organisation said it was investigating how environmental contaminants got into the Mekong, which flows through Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the southern Chinese province of Yunnan.

The WWF added that Irrawaddy dolphins in Cambodia and Laos urgently needed a health programme to counter the effects of pollution on their immune systems.

The Mekong River Irrawaddy dolphin, which inhabits a 190-kilometre stretch in Cambodia and Laos, has been listed as critically endangered since 2004, the WWF said.

Too bored to save the planet !

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Maybe we’re all too bored to bother saving the planet

LISA PRYOR

June 13, 2009

Boredom is going to kill us. Wait. Too dramatic. Let me put it more boringly. Boredom, and our collective inability to endure it, is going to compromise our capacity to tackle the challenges of our age in a way that is productive and conducive to progress in our society.

For more than a century, thinkers have been writing about how modern life, with its endless stimulations, actually makes boredom worse – and less easily tolerated. When the boom of the 1920s was busting, the German philosopher Martin Heidegger wrote about this, focusing on the blah of waiting hours for a train.

If only he knew how bad things would become a lifetime later. Train commuters now have to endure the tedium of watching a blue monitor as they wait as the estimated time of arrival flicks down to three minutes, then back up to four, then back down to three. All that the commuter can do to ease this torture is check emails on a mobile, skim newspaper stories about the spat between Gordon Ramsay and Tracy Grimshaw, return missed phone calls and slurp coffee from a paper cup.

Boredom has always struck the most fortunate, people with plenty to keep them occupied. In Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Anna’s lover, Vronsky, finds himself restless and dissatisfied right when his desires are fulfilled, when he is swanning around Europe in freedom with his lady love.

“It showed him the mistake men make in picturing to themselves happiness as the realisation of their desires,” Tolstoy writes. He describes boredom, or ennui, its more glamorous and chronic cousin, as the “desire for desires”.

Are we all like this now? Easily over it? Crippled by the attention span of gnats? How ironic it is that in the very era of impatience and shrunken attention spans, the world has been confronted with a dilemma like climate change.

It is like a test God has sent us to remind us we’re idiots, because it is a problem modern society is uniquely unsuited to fixing: the worst consequences are a long way off, and we don’t care about a long way off, and the solutions are dull, and we don’t care about dull.

If climate change could be solved with a sell out-charity concert and natty fund-raising ribbons, we’d be sorted. But it doesn’t. It requires immediate action of a complex and boring nature. Negotiations over trading and credits and prices per tonne and projections. Just yesterday I fell asleep reading that the State Government has stalled on the issue of bonuses for rooftop solar panels, unsure of whether to grant home owners a gross tariff or a net tariff.

Have you noticed that when climate change activists have got into trouble for misrepresenting the issue, it is usually because they are trying to shape global warming into an issue more suited to our attention-deficit times? Appropriating the genre of before-and-after snaps of the gossip mags, only substituting melted faces with melted glaciers? Trouble over illustrating the issue of melting ice caps with sad photos of polar bears stranded on icebergs, as if climate change has robbed them of the ability to swim. Or trouble over turning disasters such as hurricane Katrina into news hooks, to show huge consequences are already upon us.

The trouble is not the lack of hard evidence but that hard evidence tends to be technical and unphotogenic, and not many media outlets do technical and unphotogenic these days.

In fact, if I was working on a public relations strategy on behalf of climate-change denialists or the fossil fuels industry, I would be concentrating on making the issue so complicated and dry that it loses traction in the wider community. Maybe this is happening already.

Sometimes spin is about sexing up an issue, but the reverse can be true. Spin can mean putting lipstick on a pig. It can also mean hiding a time bomb in a bucket of slops. I am reminded of this every time I get a letter from my bank saying its policies have changed, almost always to the detriment of the customer. The bank hides the nasty details in a little grey brochure, alongside tiny technical changes, so only the extremely vigilant look before chucking it.

Powerful interests can abuse our fear of boredom, just as effectively as they can abuse our desire for sensationalism. Maybe we have a civic duty to push through the boredom barrier.

Rice In Vietnam – in all colours

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When one greets another in Vietnam, it is always about asking whether ‘ you have eaten rice?’

Rice is a sacred commodity, it is present in all forms shapes, at all occasions and at any time of the day or night.

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From disastrous times when it struggled to feed itself, Vietnam has become the world’s second-largest exporter of rice, after Thailand. Most of the rice is exported. But there is a fair bit about the local rice produced here that never gets heard of, let alone any recognition.

One of them is the rice grown in terraces in the mountainous province of Lao Cai.

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Xoi bay ma which literally translates into rainbow ice is in  fact in rainbow colours. Now, where can you get blue or purple rice ? .., and yes perfectly natural and no nasties present. The rice is a sticky variety and is commonly sold over in markets wrapped in a conical shape in bamboo leaves. They are steamed and eaten with pound roast sesame seeds, salt and peanuts. The sticky rice comes in a plethora of colours – red, violet, yellow, green, dark blue, black and  of course , ..white. All dyed with wild flowers, leaves or herbs. The local people believe that eating coloured rice brings happiness and luck all year round.

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Where’s my bowl of rice ? !

I have lost my hits !

For some obscure reasons, some of my hits have disappeared in cyber space. I was celebrating crossing over 1000 hits a couple of days ago and even since I saw the new numbers this morning – 999 !

What is this conspiracy ?

Waiting for WordPress to fix it.

Two Mad men who still haunt us !

Le Fou Imaginaire

Le Fou Imaginaire

As an attention-grabbing gesture, cutting off your ear is hard to beat.

It’s weird and gruesome enough for a work of crime fiction: “The Case of the Artist’s Missing Ear” as Arthur Conan Doyle might have called it. In the denouement, Sherlock Holmes could have revealed that, in fact, the bloody deed was performed by a suspicious character who was lurking at the scene: one Paul Gauguin. This is just what has been proposed in “Van Gogh’s Ear: Paul Gauguin and the Pact of Silence,” a book by Hans Kaufmann and Rita Wildegans, published in Germany.

This book, according to London newspapers the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian, asserts that Gauguin, who was staying with Van Gogh in Arles, France, as a somewhat unwilling guest, sliced off his friend’s ear with a sword during a dispute (Gauguin was a keen fencer). The two agreed to cover up the crime, for which Gauguin’s punishment might have been severe.

I don’t believe a word of it. This is not the first time it has been suggested that Gauguin might have been the aggressor in this odd art couple. The psychological motive for the suspicion is, I suspect, that many people don’t like Gauguin, and identify with the suffering Van Gogh. That’s the reverse of the effect the two men had in reality. Quite a few contemporaries liked and admired Gauguin; almost everybody, including his brother Theo when they lived together, found Van Gogh’s company unbearable.

Did it happen here ?

Did it happen here ?

Le Sauvage

Le Sauvage

Doubtless Van Gogh was difficult, yet is there any solid evidence that Gauguin attacked him? No. To be fair, there aren’t many established facts in the strange case. Van Gogh never said much about the affair, possibly because he didn’t remember it well. He was unconscious and delirious in the immediate aftermath, and intermittently deranged during the remaining year and a half of his life. He shot himself in July 1890.

A local newspaper reported that at 11:30 on Dec. 23, 1888, Van Gogh handed in his severed ear at a local brothel; the recipient of the grisly parcel, a certain Rachel, was understandably upset. This story was substantiated by the policeman who investigated the incident.

Otherwise, all the first-hand information comes from Gauguin who wasn’t, admittedly, an ideal witness. Vague about facts at the best of times, Gauguin was dying and dosed with absinthe and morphine when he wrote his most detailed account. Not surprisingly, it’s full of inconsistencies and inaccuracies.

In a gripping passage, Gauguin describes how he left Van Gogh’s house that fateful evening after an argument. While crossing the square outside, he heard “a well-known step, short, quick, irregular. I turned about on the instant, as Vincent rushed forward toward me, an open razor in his hand.” Gauguin claimed he quelled the madman with a glance.

Many have doubted that happened; it may be a story Gauguin invented to absolve himself from the guilt of having deserted his poor friend. That’s plausible. But to suggest that the glittering blade was actually in Gauguin’s own hand, and that he used it on Van Gogh’s ear is a leap into wild conjecture.

The evidence, such as it is, points to Vincent. Presenting a severed ear to a local prostitute then scampering off into the night is erratic behavior, to say the least; it fits convincingly into a pattern of behavior that could encompass bizarre self-mutilation. Conspiracy theories, though, have their own allure. From now on, I’m sure that many people will firmly believe that it was Gauguin who did it.