Search This Blog

Wednesday, May 10, 2017



                 (Alan Weisman in The World Without Us)

Listen to the first 8 min of the talk and TAKE Notes
Produce a 200-word composition

Author Alan Weisman has a knack for the dramatic. In The World Without Us, subways are flooded, bridges crumble into the sea and wildlife reigns supreme once the world is relieved of pesky humans.
Despite the massive environmental destruction he’s witnessed firsthand, Weisman remains hopeful.  

More and more, every story becomes an environmental story, 
         Alan Weisman -May 2008 
To discuss the topic...
               go to previous post:



His next book on amazon

Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth?

was released in September 2013 by Little, Brown and Co.

Weisman visits an extraordinary range of the world's cultures, religions, nationalities, tribes, and political systems to learn what in their beliefs, histories, liturgies, or current circumstances might suggest that sometimes it's in their own best interest to limit their growth. The result is a landmark work of reporting: devastating, urgent, and, ultimately, deeply hopeful.
By vividly detailing the burgeoning effects of our cumulative presence, Countdown reveals what may be the fastest, most acceptable, practical, and affordable way of returning our planet and our presence on it to balance. Weisman again shows that he is one of the most provocative journalists at work today, with a book whose message is so compelling that it will change how we see our lives and our destiny.

For a gloomy learning on our future history...

TEDx Talks by 2014

Sitka Symposium Faculty

watch the 3rd contribution:
Alan Wiseman talks about
 history’s most influential invention - the Haber-Bosch process -
and how we can solve the mess it made.

and the no-winner goes to...Peoplequake or-and World without people

Which books do you prefer:eerie forecasts or chiller-spine ones?


PEOPLEQUAKE  by Fred Pierce
Wherever we look, population is driving the most toxic issues on the political agenda: 
PeoplequakeChina’s billions are undermining all efforts to halt climate change. 
• Terrorists lurk in refugee camps across the Middle East. 
• AIDS seeps from African townships. 
• Migrants are flooding Europe, swamping public services – yet their labour keeps these same services from grinding to a halt.
 But here is something you may not know. The population bomb is being diffused. Half the world's women are having two children or fewer. Within a generation, the world's population will be falling. And we will all be getting very old. 
This groundbreaking book explores how we got here, and where we are going. 
  • Do we face an environmental apocalypse? 
  • Could we go out with an incontinent whimper? 
  • Or might the wrinklies, led by a new breed of tribal elders, create a better, happier future?
Brilliant, heretical, honest, Fred Pearce confronts our demographic demons.

For an  INDEX: see 3 chapters on ecology 
(to  see negative review, click on  this):

Part Six Reaching The Limits 
Chapter 22: ‘The Tigers and the Bulge’  Across East Asia, between 1965 and 1990, the working-age population grew four times faster (p.230). This can be termed the ‘Youth Bulge’. Some environmentalists see a new nexus of disorder where youth bulges, worsening environmental problems and conflicts feed off each other. 

 The violent youth culture of the Gaza shanty towns may be indicative of the coming era’. The small Palestinian enclave trapped on a strip of desert between Israel and the ocean is today one of the most densely populated, environmentally damaged and violent places on the planet (p.237).
Chapter 23: ‘Footprints on a Finite Planet’ recalls Paul Ehrlich estimate of the planet’s carrying capacity at about five billion people. In 2008, with 6.8 billion people on the planet we were consuming 30% more resources each year than the planet produces (p.239) 

Chapter 27: ‘Silver Lining’ examines increasing longevity in wealthy countries with some people remaining active into the 80s. Many examples show this is not a problem in practice. An optimistic picture can be drawn.
The Land Grabbers by

His latest book: The land grabbers (2013)

in his new essay Fred PEARCE opens up vastly important new terrain few of us have even noticed. When the rich and powerful start buying up the planet’s fundamental resources—land and water—from the poor and vulnerable, we’d all better notice.”
—James Gustave Speth, 

WRITE the 3 aspects you could relate to from the 

figures in the statistics (click on link).

Graphical view at evolution of population by continent:

population by continent
source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2013).
 World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision.projected populations based on
the medium-fertility variant.


"The World Without Us" 

Book Review by Teresa Friedlander (click on blue link above)
The World Without Us by Alan Weisman (webpage)

What would happen if human beings simply disappeared from planet earth? That is the question author Alan Weisman seeks to answer. 
Rather than treat this as a parlor game, Mr. Weisman takes us through a careful examination of earth’s current state in terms of geology, anthropology, archaeology, physics, biology, and recorded histories. From there he removes the human race and predicts several series of events which might take place and follows the process through to its likely conclusion. 
What would this planet look like after the dust settled? 
Which plants and animals would survive the changes and thrive in the new environment?
 The World Without Us  (click on -multimedia) is thought-provoking and alarming piece of work, but at the same time, it is an appreciative inquiry into the forces of nature which we humans have only recently begun to respect.
interview Leonard Lopate -WNYC... here:

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

WR_ My confessions. ... over the death of Prince by Ch. Britcher

The shedding of tears is a sign of a broken heart. 

Therefore, before tears can flow from the eyes, they must first flow from the heart. 

Have a look at our 2 messages:
The picture from the King David (Psalms)

Now, the reflections of our French modern writer,   ... Montagne for us (a.k.a.)           Michel Eychem de  Montaigne, the philosophe of modern life                    

 King of Egypt, being defeated and taken prisoner by Cambyses, King of Persia, seeing his own daughter pass by him as prisoner, and in a wretched habit, with a bucket to draw water, though his friends about him were so concerned as to break out into tears and lamentations, yet he himself remained unmoved, without uttering a word, his eyes fixed upon the ground; and seeing, moreover, his son immediately after led to execution, still maintained the same countenance; ... 
till spying at last one of his domestic and familiar friends dragged away amongst the captives, he fell to tearing his hair and beating his breast, with all the other extravagances of extreme sorrow.   (Michel de Montaigne - Essays -Ch. 2)

The tears are symbolic and unattainable......
             BUT  What do tears mean to you?

From our previous post, .... 
WR_ My confessions.   
... over the death of our Prince by Ch. Britcher

1.    Once in a while,  enters your life and stubbornly refuses to leave.
2.    A move away from my friends ... meant I took solace in the weird world of pop music.
3.    if he were human mixed with something alien.
4.    I played xxxx until the grooves of the vinyl started turning grey.
5.    xxxx - the only song I have never, ever tired of; capable of picking me up when I am down and my all time favourite as a consequence. 6.    exerted a power over me nothing else could.
7.    his music became my guide into another world. A
8.    should you have listened to some of his earlier material, it certainly ...

     SET2   1.    intoxicating. And he just kept getting better.
2.    agonising few hours spent on the phone and I had tickets to I was ecstatic. 
3.    I bored people at school to death about it.  
4.    admit I blubbed like a spoilt child.
5.    I never cried again about Prince until this week.
6.    Watching him perform was like nothing else....
7.    He was relentless. And I loved every single minute.
1.    Granted, but there was always something which made him worth it.  
2.    had I not just splurged yet more money on his concert tickets. 
3.    He was a constant. A physical link transporting me  
4.    nothing worse than a proper grown-up with an obsession about a pop star said things which I didn’t agree with  
5.    I liked the fact he rarely gave interviews,
6.    even when he was doing daft things like threatening fans  
7.    his live shows were, without exception, the most thrilling events I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing.

1.    It’s a cliché to say with Prince goes a chunk of my life that I clung to like a rock. 
2.    No more will the panic button be hit when ....
3.    No more will my cousin and I - my partner in crime 
4.    On the day he died I could not bring myself to listen to his music.
5.    That must surely come later. Now the pain is too raw.
6.    embarassingly,  tears streamed down my face.
7.    It was a sobering moment.
8.    his place in my life will never be forgotten. As silly as I know that is.

Monday, May 8, 2017

STEPS to Women in Science: From Blackwell to Noether. "Kinder, Küche und Kirche" -

Pondering about women and science, we are limited by our timeline. Before twitter, who were the first inspiring women in science in the XIX century?

 Those who had to break the mental male barriers.
What women scientists do we have to draw insight and inspiration from? Keep reading ... 

SECTION 1. Women in medical studies

SET 1.1. USA 

In America and many countries of Europe, allowing women to study at university coincided with the pressure applied by the civil women‘s movements on the governments of the individual countries.In 1842, Elizabeth Blackwell enrolled at the Medical Faculty in Geneva in the State of New York, ―inspired from the glowing thought to open the medical career for the world of women‖. After enduring resistance and vehement reactions from the academia, she successfully graduated from the Medical Faculty in 1847.By comparison, the first woman physician in the United States, Elizabeth Blackwell, received her medical license in 1859.
1864: Rebecca Crumpler became the first African-American woman to graduate from a U.S. college with a medical degree and the first and only black woman to obtain the Doctress of Medicine degree from New England Female Medical College in Boston, MA1886: Winifred Edgerton Merrill became the first American woman to earn a PhD in mathematics, which she earned from Columbia University

SET 1.2. Switzerland -Sweden - 

Since 1864, women studied medicine at the University of Zurich and from 1872, in Bern and in Geneva, Switzerland.1875: Stefania Wolicka-Arnd, a Polish woman, became the first woman to earn a PhD in the modern era, which she earned from the University of Zurich in Switzerland1883 Sweden: Ellen Fries, First female Ph.D. promoted.1884 Sweden: First female medical doctor: Karolina Widerström


In 1867, the Russian student Nadežda Prokofjewna Suŝlova attained a doctorate in medicine at the University of Zurich.2 From the 959 female students admitted at the military-medical academy of St. Petersburg from 1872 to 1881, 609, that was 63.5 per cent, finished their medical studies and graduated. 

It was  disproved the most popular objections from opponents of medical studies for women: 
  • like the mental inability of women, because of the ―lighter weight of the woman‘s brain. ―Science and experience would have proved for a long time, that intelligence does not depend on brain mass.
  •  A further argument was the weaker physical strength of women. However, the successful use of female doctors in the American Wars of Secession or the Krim-War in 1877 had proved the opposite.
  • A third argument was the incompatibility of profession and family, which was a weak argument, since female doctors in Russia had shown, that they could manage profession and family. 

SET 2. OTHER COUNTRIES : Spain -Japan - India

  • Dolors Aleu i Riera (1857–1913), first female medical doctor from Spain, 1879. she was finally allowed to take her medical practitioner's examination in 1882.
  • Ogino Ginko entered Juntendo University, which was at that time a private medical academy with an all-male student body. Despite prejudice and much hardship, she graduated in 1882, and after numerous petitions, was finally allowed to take her medical practitioner's examination in 1885.
  •  Kei Okami studied at the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, she graduated in 1889,  She thus became the first Japanese woman to obtain a degree in the Western medicine.
  • Kadambini Ganguly (1861–1923), the first Indian woman to obtain a medical degree in India having graduated from the Calcutta Medical College in 1886.

SET 3. GERMAN Lands.

The conservative promises Kinder, Küche, and Kirche (children, kitchen, and church), which would abolish economic exploitation in the workforce.

Women’s entry into medical schools and the medical profession in Germany occurred relatively late in comparison with other European countries and the United States.
To receive medical certification in Prussia until 1899,
It was not until the period between 1900 and 1908 that women across Germany could attend a university. 

SET 3.2. VIENA 1878

In the struggle for higher education of women, the Habsburg Monarchy developed a completely individual ―facet‖. The right for free choice of career and therefore on a choice of study for all citizens, which was assured with Article 18 of the 1867 Constitution, was simply negated. The threatening loss of the civil order by women, who called in their citizen rights, forced educated citizens, to hold an unconstitutional position.
Karl Lemayer, head of a department of the ministry, mentioned ―the social order‖, whose guidance ―would still rest in the male gender‖. If women were to have ―a terrain‖ at the university, it would be impossible to limit it.
With a new decree from the Minister of Education, dated 6 May 1878, the ‗question of women‘s rights‘ was further negated at Austrian universities.

 Strong networks were created by male and female physicians, once medical studies for women were finally allowed. They contributed to the international success of the Viennese Medical School.

SECTION 2. Herren Profesors. 

1. Theodor Ludwig Wilhelm Bischoff (1835-1843)

a passionate university lecturer at Munich Univ. who was vehemently against the idea of women studying medicine because they were "anatomically" inferior. He wrote about his theory down 1872 in a book entitled "The Study and the practising of medicine by women" (Das Studium und die Ausübung der Medicin durch Frauen).

"The laws of divine and natural order reveal "the female sex to be incapable of cultivating knowledge, and this is specially true in the fields of natural sciences and medicine"
2. Eduard Albert

One of the fiercest lobbyists against female medical students was Eduard Albert, a professor of surgery at the University of Vienna. His essay ―Women and Medical Studies‖ (1895) outlined his arguments why women were incapable of studying medicine. The real aim in life of women was ―to have children‖ and ―to weave husbands heavenly roses in their earthly life‖. 

To sum up: 
Patricia Mazón’s Gender and the Modern Research University: The Admission of Women to German Higher Education, 1865-1914: 
"Those professors expended much energy protesting women’s access to higher education, often stressing how studying would negatively affect women’s attractiveness, health, and reproductive development"

SECTION 3. From a class of her own.

Emmy Noether (1882-1935) 

The Greatest Female mathematician
Una mujer llamada Noether_MEDIA_1

German universities rarely accepted female students at the time. She had to beg the faculty at Erlangen to let her audit math courses. It was only after she dominated her exams that the school relented, giving her a degree and letting her pursue graduate studies.

Her work got noticed, and in 1915, the renowned mathematician David Hilbert lobbied for the University of Göttingen to hire her. But other male faculty members blocked the move, with one arguing: "What will our soldiers think when they return to the university and find that they are required to learn at the feet of a woman?" So Hilbert had to take Noether on as a guest lecturer for four years. She wasn't paid, and her lectures were often billed under Hilbert's name. She didn't get a full-time position until 1919.

 Einstein eulogy -1935:
In the realm of algebra, in which the most gifted mathematicians have been busy for centuries, Fraulein Noerther discovered methods which have proved of enormous importance in the development of the present-day younger generation of mathematicians.
Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas. ...    Her unselfish, significant work over a period of many years was rewarded by he new rulers of Germany with a dismissal, which cost her the means of maintaining her simple life and the opportunity to carry on her mathematical studies.


Chris Britcher yearns for his prince with pent-up emotions

Have you thought now, now, there's no need to shed tears 
    Prince @ Hop Farm Festival 2011
  • a terrible thing that Chris could not shed a tear for him; 
  • a more terrible thing that he could shed a tear for him.

Why it’s hard not to shed a tear over the death of Prince by Ch. Britcher

A life-long fan of the late legend reflects on why his passing leaves a mighty hole (even if he is 40-odd years old)

Once in a while, the planets align and someone you have never met and whom you will never know personally, enters your life and stubbornly refuses to leave.I was just 11 when I fell under the spell of Prince in 1984. A move away from my friends as my family shifted from Tunbridge Wells to Ashford, meant I took solace in the weird world of pop music.
He was like nothing I had ever seen before; as if he were human mixed with something alien.
I played the Purple Rain album until the grooves of the vinyl started turning grey. Let’s Go Crazy was - and remains - the only song I have never, ever tired of; capable of picking me up when I am down and my all time favourite as a consequence. It wasn’t his best musical offering, but it exerted a power over me nothing else could.As I grew a little older, so his music became my guide into another world. And, should you have listened to some of his earlier material, it certainly left little to the imagination. He blurred lines and barriers, swore and spoke of acts I had to consult the dictionary to define. He was intoxicating. And he just kept getting better.When he released Sign O‘ The Times - surely his defining single piece of work - I was 14 and needed more. An agonising few hours spent on the phone and I had tickets to a Wembley Stadium show in the summer of 1987. I was ecstatic. "Wear something peach or black", it said on the ticket. My mother obliged...the peach shirt was ready. I bored people at school to death about it. But just weeks before the show took place he cancelled. I was devastated. I must admit I blubbed like a spoilt child.I never cried again about Prince until this week.
The following year, promoting his Lovesexy album (where he perched naked on the album sleeve), I finally went to see him live at Wembley Arena. It would be a defining moment. From 1988 I would attend at least one show on every subsequent UK tour. Watching him perform was like nothing else.... He danced and sang, played the guitar, the piano, the drums and everything in between. He climbed on beds that would swing out above the crowd, drove around the stage in a full-size car, and then after all that head off to a small venue for another long show stretching into the small hours. He was relentless. And I loved every single minute.
Granted, his musical output would start to decline in quality from the mid-1990s onwards, but there was always something about every subsequent release which made him worth it.He and I got older together. Him in the luxury I continued to keep him in. Me in the slightly less well off state had I not just splurged yet more money on his concert tickets. He was a constant. A physical link transporting me from that 11-year-old to the 40-something I am now.I stopped boring everyone about him long ago - there is surely nothing worse than a proper grown-up with an obsession about a pop star - but my devotion never died. He did things and said things which I didn’t agree with and I came to the conclusion that it probably best to distance the man from the music.But he kept the real man so hidden beneath the carefully constructed public persona I was able to focus on that. I liked the fact he rarely gave interviews, liked the fact he always looked like the perfectly groomed superstar that he was. I could focus on that and the music even when he was doing daft things like threatening fans with legal action for having a photograph of him on their website.His music still had the power to move me and his live shows were, without exception, the most thrilling events I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing.While others played golf, or obsessed about films, or pottered around with cars, I had Prince.It’s a cliché to say when one of your heroes dies a little part of you goes with them. But with Prince goes a chunk of my life that I clung to like a rock. He became a hobby and a hero in one. No more will the panic button be hit when tickets for his shows are about to go on sale. No more will my cousin and I - my partner in crime when it came to our mutual devotion to Prince - have glorious, unforgettable, days out to see him. And that in itself is an agony.
On the day he died I could not bring myself to listen to his music. Nor could I fully comprehend the headlines on the rolling news channels. I couldn’t, pathetically, even see how people at this stage could already be ‘celebrating’ his life. That must surely come later. Now the pain is too raw.
As I drove my kids into school the morning after, Purple Rain came on the radio. The car fell silent and, embarassingly, tears streamed down my face. And I’ve always mocked people who are so moved by the death of celebrities they never knew. It was a sobering moment.
Prince is gone. But his place in my life will never be forgotten. As silly as I know that is.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Johnnie Walker takes another step to keep walking

From ailing whisky producer 
to global icon: 
Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s campaign for Johnnie Walker reversed the trend in the brand's value.
It was awarded the Grand Prix, the highest accolade, at the 2008 IPA Effectiveness Awards for their global campaign. 
Finding the right strategic direction can fundamentally unlock the value of the brand and liberate the creative process. Johnnie Walker is a fabulous example.
Whisky had always been sold as the drink for people who were successful, it’s about celebration. 
But success isn’t a place .... it’s a journey and really successful people are always moving forward.
Unlocking that truth and aligning the sentiment with the Johnnie Walker brand through great creative work, based on our ‘Keep Walking’ thought allowed us to create incredibly effective advertising.

A one-shot-wonder for Johnnie Walker. 

A piper wails in a misty glen, surrounded by craggy highland scenery - not the most surprising start to a Scotch whiskey ad perhaps. And the spot's star agrees. Into the screen marches Robert Carlyle, who tells the piper to 'shut it', before launching into his story. 

The film, for Johnnie Walker, The Man Who Walked Around The World, sees Carlyle stride through an impossible Scottish rugged landscape.

(the making of.... here)



In 1805, John Walker was born at Todriggs Farm near Kilmarnock.
John was just a local farm boy, but there was something special about the lad – a glint in his eye, a fire in his belly, a spring in his step.
One day he went for a walk – this walk began when his father died. The year was 1819 and he was just 14 years old. These were the days when young boys were sent into the fields, the mills, the mines – tough times. But young John was smart enough to be lucky. His father’s farm where he was born and raised, was sold and the proceeds used to open a grocer’s.
Big responsibility for the wee lad. His own shop in Kilmarnock, has his name on the door: John Walker. Or Johnnie, as the world now knows him.
Back then, all grocers stocked a range of local single malts, but they could be a wee bit inconsistent. For John, that wasn’t good enough. He began blending different malts together as a way of offering his customers a consistent, unique product. Now, this backroom art quickly developed into a commercial proposition and a very profitable one. And because there was nothing like a commercial proposition to stir the Scottish heart, it grew quickly into an industry filled with ambitious entrepreneur distillers.
John thrived in this environment, and so too soon would be his sons, Alexander and Robert, who joined him on his journey. The Walkers became the biggest name in a rapidly growing industry. They were unstoppable.
In one bold bit of 19th century corporate raiding, they bought the famed distillery at Cardhu, lock, stock and ensuring their supply of this silky single malt, and guaranteeing, most importantly, that none of the other big blenders could get their hands on it.
But young Alexander wasn’t content with being Scotland’s biggest blender. Not ambitious enough for him. He convinced the ship’s captains of Glasgow to act as agents for him, and drove the whisky bearing his father’s name across the globe.
By 1860, he had developed the square bottle, now with a label at an angle of precisely 24°. No big deal, you might think, but you’d be wrong. The square bottle meant less breakages and more bottles per shipment. The diagonal label meant larger type and together that meant JOHNNIE WALKER® had an unmistakeable presence on any shelf in the world. The bottle became an icon, and the rich liquid it contained sought after and consumed across the globe. Quite a character, Alexander Walker – master of the blender’s art, ambitious, uncompromising.

It was John’s grandsons, George and Alexander II’s turn to join him on his journey. They led the brand into the 20th century. By 1909, they had developed the iconic Red Label and Black Label, and persuaded Tom Browne, the best young illustrator of the day, to sketch a Striding Man™ on the back of a menu card during a business lunch. In the stroke of a pen, the Victorian grocer was transformed into an Edwardian dandy.

By 1920, Johnnie’s walk had taken him through 120 countries, and he continued walking through the brand’s advertising over the next 50 years, into the fabric of global culture, deep into the dark hearts of several wars, to the pleasure palaces of the aristocracy, immortalised by screen legends, celebrated by filmmakers, singers, songwriters, novelists, shoulder-to-shoulder with the great sportsmen of the age, winning countless international awards for quality and even being awarded the Royal Warrant by King George V.

By the end of the 20th century, the familiar Red Label and Black Label were joined by the Green Label, the Gold Label and, the grandest of them all, JOHNNIE WALKER® Blue Label.

By the beginning of the 21st century, JOHNNIE WALKER® wasn’t just the world’s biggest whisky brand, but an international symbol of progress, the brand’s ‘KEEP WALKING’ mantra adopted by pro-democracy protestors and parliamentary speech writers.

What would the farm-born Victorian grocer have thought of all of these? He’d have loved it. A Victorian farm-born grocer he might have be, but he, and the family that followed him, were possessed by a fiery ambition, with the skill and intelligence to match. 

Two hundred years later, and JOHNNIE WALKER® is still walking. And he’s not showing any signs of stopping.

To be very honest, I know very little of the Walkers before this. Now, I am truly inspired and encouraged to keep moving forward in life and ambition.


'Keep walking'

Sold in more than 180 markets, it is the world's
largest whisky brand by some margin, with more
than $4.5 billion in sales in 2007. The brand's
portfolio ranges from Blue Label, one of the world's
most expensive whiskies, to Red Label, the world's
most popular.
Back in 1999, however, Johnnie Walker was on red
In the preceding three years, volume sales had
fallen by 14 per cent, while market share was also in
steady decline.
For a brand with such a proud past, the future was
looking bleak; Bartle Bogle Hegarty was called to
pitch for the business.
The brief was twofold:
to immediately reverse sales fortunes; and to
develop a future-proof global communications