Brian Eno: Weve been in decline for 40 years  Trump is a chance to rethink’

Brian Eno: Weve been in decline for 40 years Trump is a chance to rethink’

The revered producer has been at the centre of pop since the days of Roxy Music. But dont ask him about the past hes more interested in how to reorder society

Brian Enos new album is called Reflection, and what better time to reflect on an astonishing career? Or careers. Theres the first incarnation of Eno as the leopardskin-shirted synth-twiddler who overshadowed the more obviously mannered Bryan Ferry in Roxy Music. With his shoulder-length hair and androgynous beauty, there was something otherworldly about Eno. He was as preposterous as he was cool. So cool that, back then, he didnt bother with a first name.

After two wonderfully adventurous albums he left and Roxy became more conventional. There followed a sustained solo career, starting with the more poppy Here Come the Warm Jets, progressing to the defiant obscurity of his ambient albums and on to commercial Eno, the revered producer behind many of the great Bowie, Talking Heads, U2 and Coldplay records.

There is Eno the visionary, who helped conceive a 10,000-year clock and invented an influential pack of cards called Oblique Strategies that offer creative solutions for people inapickle. There is Eno the visual artist;Eno the activist, tirelessly campaigning for a fairer world; and Eno the philosopher, endlessly thinking of ways in which to bring thisnew world about.

We meet at his studio, near Notting Hill in west London. It is a mix of the minimalist and maximalist. Minimalist in its big white empty spaces, maximalist in the numerous books carefully filed away (library-like sections for African, Asian and European art), old-fashioned hi-fi equipment, a parked bike, and his own Rothko-ish artworks.

Eno, now 68, could not look more different from the louche glamour-puss of the early 70s. As his music became more pared down, so did he. The head was shaved, the makeup washed off and the feather boa dispensed with. Nowadays, he looks like a stylish academic.

His assistant asks me to join Eno athis table. Ill just be 40 seconds, finishing off my lunch, Eno says. He takes a mouthful of fruit salad. Just 30seconds now. There has always been something fastidious about him. His interviews tend to be 45 minutes long precisely. One journalist said that Eno had interrupted their chat to play him an Elvis Presley record that lasted two minutes and seven seconds, and then added two minutes and seven seconds to the interview sothe journalist wouldnt be shortchanged. At the same time, Eno loves to embrace the random. As a producer, he encourages artists to pick up Oblique Strategies cards to alter the path they are taking. Itell him I have brought a pack with me in case we find ourselves struggling. He smiles, flashing a gold tooth. That will be just the job, I should think, he says.


Roxy
Roxy Music in 1972, with Eno at front. Photograph: Brian Cooke/Redferns

Eno talks slowly, calmly, eloquently. He would be brilliant on Just a Minute no repetition, hesitation or deviation. His voice is as soothing as his ambient music. He was christened Brian Peter George St John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno. You might assume he was an aristocrat, but his father and grandfather were postmen. And my great grandad actually, he says enthusiastically when I mention it. And my two uncles.

Did he ever think that was his destiny? Well, I did go into communications, didnt I? He laughs. Youre a sonic postman? Yeah! I help people communicate with each other in one way or another. When I was in my mid-30s, and my mother and father were living in a house I had bought for them with the proceeds of my music, my mum said: Dad and I were talking. Do you think youll ever settle down and get a job? Hahahhaha! She said: You could get a job in the Post Office. In the office! You know, not trudging delivering mail.

Eno decided he didnt want a regular job when he saw the effect it had on his father. He did shift work. It was a three-week cycle, mornings, afternoons and nights. I realised years later he was in a permanent state of jet lag because his eight-hour work day was shifting every week. I remember him coming home from work and sitting at the table; my mother had just put the food down and he fell forward, asleep. I thought even if I have to turn to crime, I wont get a job; the horror of being that exhausted and doing your work just to keep things going; the lack of freedom inyour life.

His Belgian mother had spent the war in Germany building planes in a labour camp. Eventually she returned to Belgium at the end of the war. It took her three months to get back. She arrived in Dendermonde near Brussels weighing five stone.

He has been talking quietly and beautifully about his parents. So it comes as a shock when I ask where his string of first names comes from, and he explodes. God, are we going to do any interesting questions? This is all bollocks. I mean Im not fucking interested at all in me. I want to talk about ideas. Can we do any of that?

He picks up one of the Oblique Strategy cards, and bursts out laughing. He shows it to the two women in the studio. Hahaha! How about that? Hahahaha! Take a break!

Take a break, they echo. Hahaha!

Arent they brilliant? Eno says. Fancy that.

The more they laugh, the smaller Ifeel.


Enos
Shaping the future: Enos Oblique Strategies cards. Photograph: Brian Eno

Eno says he hates talking about himself. Im not interested in that personality aspect of being an artist. Its all based on the idea that artists are automatically interesting people. I can tell you they arent. Their art might be very interesting, but as people they are no more or less interesting than anybody else. And Im really not at all interested in talking about Brian Eno. His ideas, however, I think have something to recommend them.

So what is Brian Eno working on at the moment, I ask. Im interested in the idea of generative music as a sort of model for how society or politics could work. Im working out the ideas Im interested in, about how you make aworking society rather than a dysfunctional one like the one we live in at the moment by trying to make music in a new way. Im trying to see what kinds of models and and structures make the music I want to hear, and then Im finding its not a bad idea to try to think about making societies in that way.

Could he be more specific? Yes. If you think of the classical picture of how things were organised in an orchestra where you have the composer, conductor, leader of the orchestra, section principals, section sub principals, rank and file the flow of information is always downwards. The guy at the bottom doesnt get to talk to that guy at the top. Almost none of us now would think that hierarchic model of social organisation, the pyramid, is agood way to arrange things.

In other words, he says, society should be built on the more egalitarian model of a folk or rock band, who just get together and do their thing, rather than a classical orchestra. Cant you see, he says with the passion of a visionary, if you transpose that argument into social terms, its the argument between the top down and bottom up? It is possible to have a society that doesnt have pre-existing rules and structures. And you can use the social structures of bands, theatre groups, dance groups, all the things we now call culture. You can say: Well, it works here. Why shouldnt it work elsewhere?

He has called himself an optimist. In the past. I ask him if he still is, post-2016. Yes, he says, there is a positive way to look at it. Most people I know felt that 2016 was the beginning of a long decline with Brexit, then Trump and all these nationalist movements in Europe. It looked like things were going to get worse and worse. I said: Well, what about thinking about it in a different way? Actually, its the end of a long decline. Weve been in decline for about 40 years since Thatcher and Reagan and the Ayn Rand infection spread through the political class, and perhaps weve bottomed out. My feeling about Brexit was not anger at anybody else, it was anger at myself for not realising what was going on. I thought that all those Ukip people and those National Fronty people were in a little bubble. Then I thought: Fuck, it was us, we were in the bubble, we didnt notice it. There was a revolution brewing and we didnt spot it because we didnt make it. We expected we were going to be therevolution.

He draws me a little diagram to explain how society has changed productivity and real wages rising in tandem till 1975, then productivity continuing to rise while real wages fell. It is easily summarised in that Joseph Stiglitz graph. The trouble now, he says, is the extremes of wealth and poverty. You have 62 people worth the amount the bottom three and a half billion people are worth. Sixty-two people! You could put them all in one bloody bus then crash it! He grins. Dont say that bit. (Since we meet, Oxfam publish a report suggesting that only eight men own as much wealth as the poorest 3.6 billion people in the world half the worlds population.)

Eno himself is a multimillionaire, largely because of his work as a producer.He wouldnt be one of the 62, would he, I ask. I certainly wouldnt be, he says with a thin smile. No, Im a long way off that.

He is still thinking about the political fallout of the past year. Actually, in retrospect, Ive started to think Im pleased about Trump and Im pleased about Brexit because it gives us a kick up the arse and we needed it because we werent going to change anything. Just imagine if Hillary Clinton had won and wed been business as usual, the whole structure shed inherited, the whole Clinton family myth. I dont know thats a future I would particularly want. It just seems that was grinding slowly to a halt, whereas now, with Trump, theres a chance of a proper crash, and a chance to really rethink.

Reflection is his 26th solo album, and his first ambient release in five years. Does he think there is a particular need for its soothing qualities at the moment? Well, I think this is quite a good time for it, he says.

I am not sure I get ambient its pleasant but dull; nice to have on in thebackground while you are working. Thats exactly what I want it for myself, he says, delighted. I do a lot of writing, and one of the ways I have of writing is by starting to make a piece of music of that kind and then, while Im carrying on writing, Im thinking: Theres a bit too much of that and not enough of this. So I go in and fiddle around with ita bit. I keep adjusting the music until its helping the writing, and then I adjust it less and less.

I had read that he initially made ambient music to help him when travelling, because he was frightened of flying; that it was supposed to be a kind of audio Mogadon. No, not Mogadon. One of the things you can get from music is surrender. From a lot of art, what youre saying is: Let it happen to me. Im going to let myself be out of control. Im going to let something else take over me. And thats what he wants to happen with this music.

That desire to surrender is interesting because, in many ways, he seems so controlled. I mention the interview with the Elvis song. Well, thats fair, isnt it? Its controlled but not controlling. You asked me whether Im controlling. Thats different to whether Im controlled. I think controlling would be if I said to the interviewer: Im taking some time out of the interview to play you something, but fuck you, Im in control here, so piss off. I didnt say that. I said Im taking some time out of the interview to play you something, but since you didnt request that, Im not expecting you to lose that time. Of course, I work in a role that could be seen as a controlling role as a producer. But, in fact, Im not that kind of producer. What I want to do is make situations where were all slightly at sea because people make their best work when they are alert, and alertness comes at the moment when you feel youre on the edge of being out of control. Youre not alert when youre settled and you know exactly what youre doing.

Ah, the collaborations. Much as Iadmire Eno the thinker and activist, like most of his fans it is Eno the collaborator/producer I love. And this is what I have really been looking forward to talking about. Like many middle-aged pop enthusiasts, I owe a huge debt to Eno. He has shaped so much of my favourite music from the first two Roxy Music albums, to Bowies Berlin trilogy and Talking Heads Remain in Light. Just as fascinating is his ability to mentor the more obviously commercial Coldplay and U2.


Eno
Eno with David Bowie and Bono at the Meltdown festival in 2002. Photograph: Kevin Mazur Archive/WireImage

Who has he enjoyed working with most? Pause. Probably Brian Eno! Hehehe! I keep returning to him. No, really, I say, which collaborations does he look back on with most satisfaction? Idont look back much, to be honest. Whenever I look back at music, I think how I could have done it better.

Is there nothing that makes him think, God, I love that? Well, I suppose every collaboration continued because I liked doing it. Some of them are funnier than others

Which ones? Erm Uch. I dont want to talk about this. I so dont want to talk about this. And again, an explosion. Look, weve got a few minutes left. Lets talk about something good.

Thats controlling, I say.

Its not controlling. Its just fucking boring. I have to keep myself awake. Im tired.

I dont understand, I say I dont even know what is so fucking boring that you are refusing to talk about.

I just dont want to talk about history. All that shit! You can find all this in other interviews Ive done. Ivebeen 40 years talking about other people Ive worked with. No, sorry. Imjust not interested.

Doesnt he think the idea that the interview should be entirely about the present and what he may do in the future is a bit unreasonable?

But you can do research, he says. And calm, measured Eno has turned into irascible Eno. Thats your job! Research! You can look through thousands of interviews Ive done where Ive talked about all of this. Thats your job! You get paid for it. I dont get paid for this, by the way!

I get paid to ask people questions, Isay.

OK, well, youve asked me and Ive said I dont want to answer them. Thats a fair deal, isnt it? I know what you were after, he says, and I dont want to go there. I dont want to go intoa historical gloss on my career because that is not where my thoughts are right now. Im thinking about something as were talking that were not talking about and I dont want to lose it.

What is he thinking about? That piece of music Im working on in there which I have been playing today and making changes to in between interviews.

Was he thinking that I was asking about Bowie?

I know you were.

Well, I kind of was and wasnt.

Well, you kind of were, he mocks.

No, I say, I was thinking of any number of the great collaborations, including Bowie.

Im not interested in talking about any of them. And I think it would be considerate of you to say: He doesnt want to talk about that, so there are plenty of other things he could talk about; hes quite an interesting guy. Then he tells me exactly how Im trying to trap him. I could ask him a million other questions, but I know because this would make a headline, so Im going to fucking ask him about that.

I think thats unfair, I say.

All right, sorry, that is unfair, Eno says.

Weve spent most of the time talking about politics.

Only because I asked you to, he replies sullenly.

OK, were going to have to have to wrap this up now, the publicist says.

I dont want to wrap it up on a badvibe, Eno says, talking fast and breathing heavily.

But weve ground to a halt. Im not sure that even his Oblique Strategies could help us now.

Im sorry, he says. Im very tired today because I didnt sleep last night. And I knew I was going to be ratty, so Im sorry about that. But I really dont want to spend the rest of my life Im now 68, so I might have another 15 to 20 years left talking about my history. So, given the little time Ive got left on this planet, I would really love to focus on some of the new things Im doing.

What new stuff have we not talked about that he would like to talk about, Iask. Silence. I point to the serene orange lightbox image in front of us, and ask if thats a recent piece of work. Yes, thats one of my new pieces. Yes, this is stuff Ive been doing for hospitals, he says. I was invited to make some of these for rooms where people are spending a long time in stressful situations. With that he calls the interview to an end.

Reflection is out now on Warp.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/jan/23/brian-eno-not-interested-in-talking-about-me-reflection

The real secret of Chinese internet censorship? Distraction | John Naughton

The core purpose of the 50c army used by China to control social media is to distract people and talk up the regime, not to argue and edit comments

If you ever want to annoy western policymakers or politicians, then here is a surefire way to do it. Tell them that the only government in the world that really understands the internet is the Chinese communist regime. And if you want to add a killer punch, add the assertion that almost everything we think we know about Chinese management of the net is either banal (all that stuff about the great firewall, paranoia about keywords such as Falun Gong, democracy, etc) or just plain wrong. Having thus lit the fuse, retreat to a safe distance and enjoy the ensuing outburst of righteous indignation.

For the avoidance of doubt, this is not an apologia for the Chinese regime, which is as nasty and illiberal as they come. But its best to have a realistic view of ones adversaries. Chinas leaders have invented a new way of running society. Its been christened networked authoritarianism by Rebecca MacKinnon, a noted scholar of these things. President Xi Jinping and his colleagues are followers of Boris Johnson in at least one respect: they believe that it is possible to have ones cake and eat it too.

They want to modernise and energise China so that it can fulfil its destiny as a world power. For that, they need it to transform their country into a hyper-networked society. But on the other hand, they do not want democracy, with all its attendant nuisances such as human rights, governments bound by the rule of law, transparency, accountability and the like, and they fear that the internet may give citizens ideas above their station. So they are determined to have the net, but also to manage it effectively. And this they are doing with impressive success.

Most of what we know about how this networked authoritarianism works comes from a smallish group of scholars. The brightest star in this specialised firmament is Gary King, who is director of the institute for quantitative social science at Harvard. Two years ago, he and his colleagues published a groundbreaking study, published in the journal Science, which for the first time revealed how Chinese social media is censored by the government.

The study showed that, contrary to western conventional wisdom, Chinese social media is as raucous and chaotic as it is everywhere else, so the Daily Mails idea of a country full of timid, faceless people with only banal opinions is baloney.

The study also revealed, though, that these outlets are ruthlessly but astutely censored: what gets taken down, apart from the usual suspects such as Falun Gong, pornography, democracy etc, are any posts that could conceivably stimulate collective action, even when the posts are favourable towards the government. You can say more or less what you like in China, in other words, as long as nothing you say might have the effect of getting people out on to the streets.

An obvious implication of this research was that the Chinese regime, conscious of the difficulty of running a huge country without the feedback loops provided by democracy, is using the internet to provide that feedback. It enables it to keep a finger on the pulse of the society, as it were. If there is major public concern about the corruption of local officials in some godforsaken province, for example, then monitoring social media provides the centre with one kind of early-warning system.

There was, however, one aspect of Chinese internet management that Kings study did not touch, namely the widespread belief that, in addition to passive monitoring and censorship, the regime also employed legions of part-time bloggers and social media users (maybe as many as 2 million) to post stuff on the net that was favourable to the government or refuted its critics. This was the 50c army (these people are supposedly paid 50 cents or yuan equivalent per post). Now, in a new paper (forthcoming in the American Political Science Review), King and his colleagues have turned their searchlight on this phenomenon.

Once again, their research upends conventional wisdom. The 50c army does exist, they find, but its not a part-time operation and its more ingenious than most people thought. King and co estimate that the Chinese government fabricates and posts about 448m social media comments a year. But they also show that the underlying strategy is to avoid arguing with critics of the party and the government and to not even discuss controversial issues. They further argue that the goal of this massive secretive operation is, instead, to distract the public and change the subject, as most of the these posts involve cheerleading for China, the revolutionary history of the Communist party or other symbols of the regime.

Sounds familiar? If you wanted a hashtag for the strategy, then #MCGA would do nicely. It stands for Make China Great Again. If Trump eventually falls out with Putin, he might find some kindred spirits in Beijing.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/22/chinese-internet-censorship-uses-distraction

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Travellers cast off inhibitions on no pants subway ride day in pictures

Travellers cast off inhibitions on no pants subway ride day in pictures

What started off as a comedy prank in New York in 2002 has blossomed to become a regular event on the global calendar

Subway riders around the world might have noticed something missing when their fellow transit users went trouserless on Sunday for the annual no pants subway ride.

Participants were told to get on trains and act as they normally would and were given an assigned point to take off their pants. They are asked to keep a straight face and respond matter-of-factly to anyone who asks them if theyre cold.


Travellers
Travellers in London get into the spirit of the no pants ride on Sunday. Photograph: Pacific Pres/Rex/Shutterstock

The event, organised by the Improv Everywhere comedy collective, started in 2002 in New York with just seven participants.

We want to give New Yorkers a reason to look up from their papers, from their phones, and experience something thats a little different than their average run-of-the-mill stuff, said Jesse Good, one of the events organisers.


A
A subway rider goes pantless in New York. Photograph: Kathy Willens/AP

Pants-less subway rides took place this year in dozens of cities around the world, including in London, Boston; Berlin; Prague; and Warsaw, organisers said. Philadelphias version was sponsored by a laundry delivery service, which asked participants to show up with extra pants or other clothing to donate to charity.


Young
Young traveller in Prague await their ride. Photograph: Martin Divisek/EPA

Moments before entering a Manhattan station, Peter Saez said it was his third time going pant-less. People who dont understand what were doing will look at us like were doing something bad or wrong, Saez said. Its just for fun. Its a fun trip, thats all.


Tube
Tube travellers in London make themselves comfortable. Photograph: John Stillwell/PA

Toni Carter planned on stripping down to her tight boxers with little polka-dots. Not very often do I have an opportunity with a group of people to take my pants off and show it whatever I got to show, Carter said. Im entertaining New York City. This is my form of art.


Keeping
Keeping warm in Warsaw on no pants subway ride day on Sunday. Photograph: Jacek Turczyk/EPA

Wei Wei, a student from China who just moved to New York, was curious about the event but was on the fence about whether she was going to go through with taking off her pants. But there was no hesitation for Angela Bancilhon, a tourist from Australia who had her husband and two young sons along for the ride. Its fun. Why the hell not? Bancilhon said. Were in NYC. Why wouldnt you?

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jan/09/travellers-cast-off-inhibitions-on-no-pants-subway-ride-day-in-pictures

Hemp cant get you high, but it can get high-tech

Hemp cant get you high, but it can get high-tech

Marijuana is an ancient plant with borderline mystical properties just ask the 266 million people who smoke it every year. Hemp, the industrial strain of Cannabis sativa, has been used for many purposes food, fuel and textiles among them for tens of thousands of years. Unlike its sister strain, hemp cant get you high. But much like the drug, it has extraordinary qualities.

America is no stranger to hemp. In fact, Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag with hemp and George Washington farmed it at Mt. Vernon. Unfortunately, its full potential was never realized; drug restrictions that banned marijuana suppressed hemp, too. This spurious conflation quashed the industry for about 60 years, until a 2014 farm bill defined it as an agricultural crop, leaving the door ajar to American farmers.

As marijuana laws continue to loosen across the country and the world it looks like hemp could be brought back in a big way. With China leading in worldwide hemp production and Canada having capitalized on it during Americas drug war, now is the time to get in the game. In todays fast-paced and tech-driven world, this means re-adopting the plant for todays innovation economy.

Hemp could make a huge difference in everyday products, certainly. But even more exciting are the groundbreaking research and high-tech products its already spearheading.

Amazing properties

Before we launch into some of hemps cooler applications, its important to understand just what makes hemp so unique.

First and foremost, hemp is incredibly environmentally friendly. Instead of depleting the lands nutrients, like cotton does, hemp actually puts nitrogen back into the soil. It takes less water, but produces more plants per acre (for reference, one acre of hemp produces four times the paper an acre of trees does.) Its low lignin content and natural brightness reduces the need for pulping and bleaching, meaning fewer chemicals are needed all around.

Hemp grows in a wide variety of soils and climates, so it can be harvested in all 50 states (though only about half legally). Its one of the strongest plant fibers and is naturally resistant to weeds and pests. It harvests quickly, growing 10 to 20 feet in just four months.

Then you have hemp seeds, an incredible source of protein. More than 25 percent of their calories come from high-quality protein, considerably more than similar foods like chia seeds and flax seeds. Various studies have linked them to a reduction in risk of heart disease and easing of PMS and digestion.

As a form of sustainable agriculture, hemp farming holds enormous potential.

Hemp is also ideal for the production of ethanol, the cleanest-burning liquid bio-alternative to gasoline. Combustion releases water vapor and CO2, which plants absorb.

Its no wonder hemp is called a smart plant, as it seems almost too good to be true, especially in a world rife with environmental and climate concerns. Considering farmers need the DEAs approval before sowing seeds, there is still a barrier to entry for now, anyway.

Future-forward applications

Restrictions aside, preliminary research has yielded results that only confirm hemps potential, and not just as an everyday alternative to cotton and wood, but for high-tech innovations.

Ever heard of graphene? Hemp fiber is also incredibly strong and light, and Dr. David Mitlin, a scientist from Clarkson University in New York, says his team has mimicked the nanomaterials amazing qualities using hemp waste. According to Dope Magazine:

Dr. Mitlin and his team were able to recycle leftover hemp-based fiber, cook it down and then dissolve it until carbon nanosheets that resembled the structure of graphene were left behind. They proceeded to build these nanosheets into powerful energy-storing supercapacitors with high energy density, thus creating a hemp based graphene.

The best part? This graphene-like hemp costs only a fraction of the price of traditional graphene: $500 a ton compared to $2,000 per gram. Dr. Mitlin also suspects the hemp-based product could outperform graphene.

Another amazing product is hempcrete, a concrete made with hemp and lime. For construction, hempcrete is essentially a super-concrete: Its negative CO2footprint alleviates the greenhouse effect and improves air quality. Its natural insulation keeps homes warm or cool, reducing need for energy. Its resistance to cracks under high pressure makes it well-suited for earthquake-prone areas. Its even mold, fire and termite proof.

Hemp also can be used to create bacteria-fighting fabrics. As early as the 1990s, scientists in China were developing blended hemp fabrics with superior resistance to staph in order to prevent sometimes fatal infections in hospitals. Considering at least two million Americans get staph infections when hospitalized, and 90,000 die, this could be a life-saving innovation here in the U.S.

Luckily, Colorado company EnviroTextilesis on it. The companys hemp-rayon fabric blend has shown in preliminary studies to be 98.5 percent staph resistant and 65.1 percent pneumonia-free. In addition, EnviroTextiles offers hemp fabric resistant to UV and infrared wavelengths, ideal for military purposes.

Whats next?

These are just a few of the many high-tech and future-forward applications hemp has. As a form of sustainable agriculture, hemp farming holds enormous potential for the planet, the economy, and even veterans seeking employment. Once the hemp is produced, it may not get you high, but figuratively, the skys the limit.

After all, how fitting is it for an ancient plant, used both 10,000 years ago and in early America, to continue its legacy in our modern world? Betsys hemp-based flag became a symbol for the country, which is now a leader in technological innovation. It would be foolish not to take the bull by the horns and ride it.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2016/10/27/hemp-cant-get-you-high-but-it-can-get-high-tech/

 

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Could waves become the next big renewable energy source?

Could waves become the next big renewable energy source?

(CNN)The force of crashing waves can generate huge amounts of energy.

But there’s a catch: how do you develop technology that can withstand the sea’s harsh environment with minimum disruption to the ecosystem?
One Israeli-based company, Yam Pro Energy — believes it can offer the ideal solution and is set to build a wave-energy plant on the coastline of Accra, Ghana’s capital city.
Wave technology is an endeavor that has recently been trying to catch up with the likes of solar and wind energy.
It exploits a resource — the oceans — that covers 71 per cent of our planet, it’s environmentally friendly, mostly cost-free once set up and it could be revolutionary to coastal countries.
“There’s so many wave power companies and as many different devices, so finding one that actually works best is trial and error,” said Mark Jacobson, who is a Stanford University professor and director at The Solutions Project, a company which aims to help the world move to 100% renewable energy.
However, Yam Pro Energy says its innovative technology is the “best choice in renewable energy systems.”

The

Compared to other devices — like buoys — which can become destroyed and sink in rough seas, Yam Pro Energy’s patent is more efficient, it says.
“We don’t have to send scuba divers or boats out. All the maintenance is from the land, so we just put floaters up and you (can) do whatever you need to do (then) put them back down.”
The company prides itself on providing renewable energy that’s clean and affordable in an environmentally responsible way. But Greenpeace’s UK Chief Scientist and Policy Director, Doug Parr told CNN that while it supported wave power, checks needed to be in place to ensure the technology doesn’t impact wildlife.
“No source of power has zero impact on the environment,” he said, adding that assessments need to be made to “judge whether the clean energy benefits are justified.”

Future predictions

Jacobson, from The Solutions Project, supported the development of wave technology in Ghana, but said that its growth won’t be as rapid as solar and wind. “While there’s a reasonable resource of wave power to exploit, if you’re comparing it to other technologies it’s just not going to be penetrating as much,” he said.
Instead, it will compliment other renewable energy technologies. “It’s definitely worthwhile doing … We should invest (in it) as much as we can.”
The Solutions Project predicts that if the world can transition to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050, Ghanaian wave energy will account for 1.4 per cent of it.
And while that may seem small, Jacobson insisted it wasn’t. “The amount of energy worldwide is enormous. So something that is large is actually small in comparison to the power demand worldwide.”
He said there was “no downside” in transitioning into a world which only uses renewable energy.
“These countries can become more energy independent. There’s less risk of conflict, less terrorism because there’s fewer centralized plants and you solve the climate problem simultaneously.”
IRENA’s Taibi was more optimistic. He said that while the growth of wave power has been gradual, it was only “a matter of time” before it became the “sixth pillar” of renewable energy that will become commercialized.
“The good news is there’s quite a lot of innovation coming from different approaches to the same resource.”

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/12/africa/ghana-wave-energy/index.html

This post is a part of a Trending Traffic Application that is being utilised by Robert A Williams to bring Traffic to this site. If you need content for your site(s) then get in touch with Robert A Williams

Ikea replaces product names with love-related Google searches

Ikea replaces product names with love-related Google searches

That would make a good name for a Malm bed surely?

Image: vimeo/IKEA

The Swedish names of Ikea products can be tricky to pronounce, what with their umlauts and silent consonants.

Eradicating any linguistic confusion, the homewares giant’s latest campaign see select products given English alternatives: Frequently Googled relationship problems, of course.

The searches were pulled from the most common Swedish searches and used in the “Retail Therapy” campaign.

And naturally, those secretly Googled questions are paired with an Ikea product that could “fix” the problem.

“How To Stay Married” all for the low low price of $39.99!

Image: ikea retail therapy screenshot

If Inbjudande is just a name your western sentiments simply can’t wrap themselves around, how about a lovely “Too Shy To Ask Someone Out” apron?

Wearing your problems on your front.

Image: ikea Retail therapy screenshot

Ad agency kestam Holst took motivation from the complications of family relationships of many kinds: The exquisite frustration teenagers cause their parents, the difficulty of financial decisionand even the complexities of how one would confront an unfaithful lover.

All thoughtfully paired with Ikea products.

TBH I’d rather sell my organs than discuss finances with a partner.

Image: ikea Retail therapy screenshot

Products even include a “Related Relationship Problems” tab at the bottom of each page. If you like “He Doesn’t Text Back,” you’ll love “I Need More Men In My Life.”

Image: ikea retail therapy screenshot

A full list of the tongue-in-cheek products is available from their website. This white Queen outfit is obviously a must-have.

“In place of a Dark Lord, you would have a queen!”

BONUS: Heres how a VR kitchen could transform holiday shopping

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/12/09/ikea-retail-therapy-relationship-problems-ad-campaign/

Hong Kong, where history has become a battleground for Beijing

Hong Kong, where history has become a battleground for Beijing

Residents of the city are being encouraged to engage with their past warts and all and not allow it to be airbrushed

Stepping off the subway in his army uniform, Victor Yu prepared to face the onslaught ahead. Instead of charging into a crowd armed with rifles, he was met with smartphones, overwhelmed on a street in Hong Kong by pictures and selfies rather than enemy fire.

Yu is a member of Watershed, a local historical group working to raise awareness of what they feel is Hong Kongs forgotten history. The performance comes at a time when instruction of the citys history is becoming increasingly politicised, with recent government attempts to bury details that may be embarrassing for China.

About 20 volunteers dressed in period British military uniforms have been gathering on the streets of the city over the past month to mark the 75th anniversary of Black Christmas, when in 1941 British forces in Hong Kong surrendered to the Japanese, the first ever for a Crown colony.

Most Hong Kongers dont know anything about the battle to defend the city, they can only remember the Japanese occupation and think we gave up without a fight, said Taurus Yip, 24, co-founder of the group. All they know is the Japanese occupation was harsh and lasted for three years and eight months, that line is repeated over and over.


Victor
Victor Yu rides the subway in Hong Kong on December 25, 2016 to an event marking 75 years since the British surrendered to the Japanese during World War II. Photograph: Benjamin Haas for the Guardian

The event was inspired by a similar campaign in London last year, when uniformed actors handed out cards bearing the names of soldiers killed during the Battle of the Somme.

But beyond serving merely as a memorial, Hong Kongs history buffs hope to foster a common identity in a city that has traditionally lacked a cohesive sense of self.

Hong Kong people just want to get rich and emigrate because they dont have a sense of citizenship about the place, Kevin Ng, another organiser of the event, said in an interview. What were trying to do is use history as a foundation, to show there were hundreds of Hong Kong people willing to die for their home, and then we can create a sense of belonging.

History is increasingly a battleground for that sense of belonging, where the Chinese government hopes to instill patriotism while younger people identify with a Hong Kong identity thats separate from China.

A proposed revision in September to the way history is taught, with the government saying too much emphasis has been put on political history and not enough on society and culture, was met with resistance from teachers who worry the move is designed to bolster patriotic education.

Introducing national education was beaten back in 2012, but the concept still remains a priority for Beijing.

At a public forum earlier this year on renovating Hong Kongs history museum exhibits to tackle events beyond 1997, a chorus of seemingly organised, mostly elderly residents made demands that any expansion would promote a sense of belonging to the China and the Communist party, rather than a local, uniquely Hong Kong identity.

Local history education is very political, said Allan Pang, a member of the University of Hong Kong history society who has researched school curricula.

The textbooks and syllabus try to sidestep so-called embarrassing issues like June 4th or the 1967 riots, Pang added, referring to the date of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, an event that spurred 1.5 million people, more than a quarter of the population at the time, to march in Hong Kong in the largest ever protest.


Members
Members of historical group Watershed pose in Hong Kong during an event marking 75 years since the British surrendered to the Japanese during World War II. Photograph: Benjamin Haas for the Guardian

Last year the Hong Kong police revised the history section of their website to remove references to leftists and Communists as agitators and bomb makers during months of deadly rioting in 1967. The changes led to an outcry from historians and former police officers and the original text was eventually restored.

In another move that alarmed conservationists, Hong Kongs post office unveiled a plan to cover royal cyphers found on colonial-era mailboxes to avoid confusion. But some saw a more sinister subtext as the decision came in the wake of comments made by a former Beijing official berated Hong Kong for its failure at decolonisation.

Britain handed Hong Kong to China in 1997 under a framework known as one country, two systems where the former colony was allowed to maintain its institutions and freedoms.

But in Chinas push to hold sway over history education in Hong Kong can backfire. While teachers generally have free reign to interpret government-issued guidelines as they see fit, some schools are decidedly pro-Beijing.

Nathan Law became a student protest leader and the youngest ever pro-democracy lawmaker despite attending a school that echoed the Chinese government line on history and politics.

The day after Chinese democracy activist Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, the president of Laws school denounced Liu, saying he didnt respect China and colluded with hostile foreign forces.

The Nobel committee made a mistake and the school president warned students not to support Liu or his ideas, Law said.

In my history classes I didnt learn anything about Hong Kong before 1997, Law recalled.

In class we never talked about the 4th of June, freedom or human rights, and instead put the focus on glorifying Chinese history.

The school presidents attack on the Nobel laureate spurred Law to do his own research, eventually inspiring his democracy activism.

That free flow of information in Hong Kong ensures academic freedom, said Lui Tai-lok, a professor at The Education University of Hong Kong, since even if students are taught one point of view in the classroom, they are free to read other interpretations.

I cant see there ever being one single body that ensures there is one interpretation, one mode of delivery and one one way of telling students what to say, Lui said.

But he warned against Hong Kong people becoming complacent: If things go wrong we have to blame ourselves for not standing up.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/27/hong-kong-history-battleground-beijing

11 Useful Things Our Grandmas Taught Us To Never Throw Away

11 Useful Things Our Grandmas Taught Us To Never Throw Away

Every time my mom tells me stories about my grandparents, it never ceases to amaze me how resilient and clever they were while living throughout the Great Depression and Dust Bowl.

Though my mom wasn’t born yet, her older siblingsknew just how tight things got when my grandpa, who was a strawberry farmer, had to find a new way to put food on the table when the land began to dry up. My grandma also learned the value of stretching not only what was on their plates, but tons of everyday items most folks today would just toss in the trash once theyserved theiroriginal use.

I can still remember going to her home and drinking Kool-Aid from a jelly jar, using newspaper to keep the wood-burning oven going in the winter, and plenty of the other examples found below.

Did we miss anything your grandma knew to never throw away? Let us know in the comments and be sure to SHARE with your loved ones!

[H/T: Dusty Old Thing, Pioneer Settler]

Thumbnail sources: Flickr 1, 2

1. Butter Tubs

1.

These containers can be used to store dinner leftovers or to keepclutter organized onyour desk.

2. Newspapers

2.

Not only are they great for starting fires in the winter, but also as gift wrapping, craft supplies, and window cleaning wipes, and younever know when you might need to pack something up securely just to name a few options for this useful material.

3. Scraps And Bones

3.

Whether it’s remnants of your chicken, pork, or beef, you can create a scrumptious stockout of the scraps and bones leftover from your meal. That, or you can put a huge smile on your dog’s face by sharing the bones that aren’t too small.

4. Bacon Grease

4.

I can’t remember a time my family’s stove didn’t have a coffee can filled with bacon grease sitting on the side. We used to add an extra dash of flavor to practically all of our meals.

5. Rinds And Peels

5.

Vegetable scraps can be used for a rich stock of their own, and some can even be re-planted to supply you with fresh, free food. Fruit peels can also be used to make yummy candy, or warm themup in the stove for asweet aroma that will fill your whole home.

6. Jelly Jars

6.

Back in the day, you could even count on these having adorable designs on them that the kids would love, but today’s options work just as well as cheap drinking glasses.

7. Aluminum Foil

7.

Super frugal folks can rinse off lightly used aluminum and reuse it to cover new leftovers. You can also wad it up into a ball for an excellent dish scrubber!

8. Slivers Of Soap

8.

Those little bits of soap can be difficult to manage when trying to scrub clean, but instead of fighting against them, set them aside to collect several of those bits to create a whole new bar. You can also crumble them into a powder to be used on your laundry!

9. Worn Out Clothes

9.

The fabric can be used to create quilts, pillows, patches for other clothes, or even some cute stuffed animals and toys for your kids.

10. Buttons And Zippers

10.

They might not all match, but having these handy can make coats last longer, or help you sew a whole new outfit without having to run to the craft store for pricey options.

11. Toothbrushes

11.

You should definitely switch these out for your teeth as often as your dentist recommends. But once they’re done keeping your pearly whites sparkling, they can help scrub away at the small spaces in your home that need a good cleaning.

Did we miss anything your grandma taught you to save? Let us know below and be sure to SHARE with your friends and family!

Read more: http://www.littlethings.com/grandma-never-throw-out/

 

Bike-sharing revolution aims to put China back on two wheels

Bike-sharing revolution aims to put China back on two wheels

From Shanghai to Sichuan, schemes are being rolled out to slash congestion, cut air pollution and spin a profit

Even through Beijings nicotine-tinged smog you can make out the multi-coloured frames, gliding through the pea soup towards a greener future.

In recent months an unmissable fleet of fluorescent orange, canary yellow and ocean blue bicycles has hit the streets of urban China as part of a hi-tech bike-sharing boom that entrepreneurs hope will make them rich while simultaneously transforming the countrys traffic-clogged cities.

We want to solve problems by getting bikes back on to the streets of our cities, said Li Zekun, the 25-year-old marketing director of Ofo, one of the startups spearheading this 21st-century transport revolution.

From Shanghai to Sichuan province, bike-sharing schemes are being rolled out on an unprecedented scale in an effort to slash congestion and air pollution by putting a country once known as the Kingdom of Bicycles back on two wheels.

Ofo, so named because of the words resemblance to a bicycle, has put about 250,000 of its bright yellow bikes to work since late 2015, of which around 40,000-50,000 are in the capital, according to Li.


A
A Chinese woman rides one of Ofos yellow bikes in Beijing. Photograph: Wu Hong/EPA

The Peking University biology graduate said his company, which was founded by five students looking to improve transport options on university campuses, had attracted about 3 million users in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen and Guangzhou. Its bicycles make about 1.5m trips each day between them.

For short journeys, bikes are the best form of transport, Li enthused at Ofos headquarters in the Internet Finance Centre, a 26-floor building in western Beijing. You never know when a bus might come. It might not be easy to find a taxi. Walking might take you too long and tire you out.

Other startups, such as Mobike and Bluegogo, are seeking to get in on the act, depositing truckloads of bicycles on sidewalks and street corners across China.

Li Gang, Bluegogos 28-year-old chief executive, said he believed bike sharing would bring mental joy to millions of Chinese citizens as well as boosting their health and fitness levels.

It was his mission to enable everyone to enjoy the happiness of bike riding, he said.

I predict that by next year millions of people will be riding bikes in Beijing every day, said the entrepreneur, whose firm has 50,000 bikes spread across three cities Chengdu, Guangzhou and Shenzhen and plans to expand to a new city every fortnight.

More people will choose this healthy way to get around so the number of cars on the roads will decrease dramatically and this will really help the climate and the environment, he said.


Bluegogo
Bluegogo bicycles in the company office in Shenzhen. Photograph: Reuters

In the years following Mao Zedongs 1949 communist takeover, bikes ruled supreme in China and the Flying Pigeon the eastern equivalent of the Raleigh Roadster became one of the countrys most recognisable symbols.

But two-wheeled travel began to go out of fashion as China became more open to the world, ushering in decades of economic boom and a high demand for cars.

In 1980, almost 63% of commuters cycled to work, the Beijing Morning Post reported last year, citing government data. But by 2000 that number had plummeted to 38% and today it stands at less than 12%.

Car use, meanwhile, has rocketed. In 2010 China overtook the US to become the worlds largest car market, with 13.5m vehicles sold in just 12 months. This year, manufacturers expect to sell almost 23m passenger cars.

That jump from two to four wheels has been music to the ears of international car manufacturers, but it has resulted in gridlock and contributed to a pollution crisis experts blame for hundreds of thousands of premature deaths every year.

According to state media, Beijing has 5.65m registered vehicles which annually pump 500,000 tonnes of pollutants into the atmosphere. And with China now waging a high-profile war on pollution, cities hope a return to the era of the bicycle can help them clean up at least some of the smog. Transport officials in Beijing are aiming to get 18% of commuters riding to work by 2020.

Public bike-sharing schemes, of which there are more than 500 around the world, have existed in China for about a decade but the scale on which these private initiatives are being rolled out is unprecedented.

Reports in the Chinese media suggest hundreds of thousands of shared bikes have been put into action. That compares with 11,500 operating in the British capital, according to Transport for London.

The other factor making Chinas bike-sharing boom stand out is the technology.

While those sharing bikes in cities such as London must pick them up and park them at docking stations, tracking technology means Chinese users can collect and park their bikes wherever they please.

Mobikes orange-wheeled bikes have a GPS system that allows users to locate them using a map on the companys smartphone app.


A
A rank of Mobikes in Beijing. Photograph: Tom Phillips for the Guardian

Users of Ofos yellow bikes, which cost about 10p to use, unlock them using a combination code sent through its app, and the company keeps tabs on its bikes by monitoring the location of the users smartphones.

It is very convenient, said Li, who claims an Ofo bike can be ready to ride in about 10 seconds.

Chinese investors, including the tech giants Didi Chuxing and Tencent, are throwing their weight behind the bike-sharing startups, pumping tens of millions of pounds into their operations since the autumn.

A recent story about the budding industry in the China Daily warned of grave maintenance and management challenges and the existence of unscrupulous users who damaged or disappeared with the bikes. Recent weeks have seen reports of stolen bicycles, which are worth up to 3,000 yuan (350), being sold online.

But the China Daily urged commuters and city officials to embrace the attempt to reinvigorate the nations love affair with the bike.

Li said his company believed so strongly in a global cycling renaissance that it planned to export its bike-sharing revolution to London, Singapore and Los Angeles.

In the future, we hope people all over the world will be using Ofos app to unlock its bikes, anywhere and at anytime, he said.

Additional reporting by Christy Yao

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/28/bike-sharing-revolution-aims-to-put-china-back-on-two-wheels

This post is a part of a Trending Traffic Application that is being utilised by Robert A Williams to bring Traffic to this site. If you need content for your site(s) then get in touch with Robert A Williams

January 2017 Issue of From The Horse’s Mouth is out now