Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly ...and Mandarin Chinese.

Kind of the same old same old today; our problem server is still problematic but we are making slow headway. No Chorus tonight though, but more admin to do for the new members. I think the only thing that distinguished today was that I cycled to work for the first time in about a month. Blimey. What news! Remind me why you think it’s worth reading this blog again?

Well so you don’t lose interest, I thought I’d share a few links I’ve come across recently…

First the good; we have collected dust from the stars and are launching a probe to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. It’s inspiring; humanity’s endless curiosity expanding the boundaries of our knowledge; the best of what humans do.

Then the bad; in our rush for a better life, we often leave our roots behind but abandoning your family to potential starvation is a damning statement about the worst of what humans can do.

Now the ugly; worries about bird flu. This article on the BBC news site surprised me on several fronts. Firstly the UK is at the top of the list of countries to which and within which a human-transmissible form is expected to spread. Now I know someone has got to be top of the list and I’d expect the UK to be somewhere fairly high up the list, being host to the world’s busiest international airport, high urban densities and all, but it’s a bit daunting to actually be the name in the frame. (I wonder if the risk-analysis company that came up with the list is based in the UK?) Also, the information that it’s the fit and healthy under-65’s (that would be me!) who are likely to be most susceptible is a bit of a shock. I’d always thought that one of the benefits of keeping fit and healthy was to make sure your body was ready to deal with nasties such as a flu pandemic. Oh, well, guess it’s time to start discretely stocking up on canned goods again…

Finally, in other news, Mandarin seems to be in the news a lot at the moment. Not long ago Chris C joked about getting his son a Chinese Nanny and then today I saw this article about a school which has made Mandarin a compulsory language. I suppose it makes sense; if you’re going to have to learn a language, make it a useful one – and where do they speak only French and German these days apart from France and Germany?? (Even Latin is more useful than German!) Maybe there’s another reason for Brett to take that job in Beijing; it’s certainly going to be the best place to learn the local language!

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