Sayonara Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron97% of scientists: “the Kardashians cause global warming!”

OK, that’s not literally true, scientists haven’t said anything of the kind; but the constant diet of trash peddled by the media distracts us from matters of importance, and those girls rack up a lot of air miles, so there is a kernel of truth.

The Kardashian sisters get 40 times as many news write-ups as ocean acidification, so it’s no surprise that until I chanced upon one of her essays recently, I’d never heard of Nora Ephron. Unbeknown to me, she had made my life a little brighter, and the lives of millions of others, .

If you liked Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally, or Sleepless in Seattle, you can thank Nora. She wrote those movies and she wrote, produced and directed many others. She also wrote great serious essays. This one in the New Yorker, “My Life as an Heiress“, was my introduction. Read it, It’s funny and wise. You’ll like it. Really.

Movies like Sleepless in Seattle may be written off as fluff by culture vultures, but as an old sentimentalist I enjoyed it. Entertainment doesn’t have to be profound, sometimes it’s just entertainment.

In 1962, when she was just 21, Nora was working as an intern for JFK; she applied to be a writer at Newsweek. Astonishingly, they had the nerve to tell her “We don’t hire women writers.” Nora didn’t take that too kindly, and participated in a class-action lawsuit against Newsweek for sexual discrimination, which went some way toward changing laws and attitudes.

Over to Nora:

“Maybe young women don’t wonder whether they can have it all any longer, but in case any of you are wondering, of course you can have it all.”

“In my sex fantasy, nobody ever loves me for my mind.”

“When your children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.”

Goodbye Nora, I should have known you sooner.

Read about her interesting life and work here on Wikipedia.

I’m 14 years old, I harnessed the wind

Here’s a good news story. I’ll try to do more. Honest. If you don’t find it inspirational and moving, you need a heart transplant.

What great thing could you accomplish if you knew you could not fail?

William Kamkwamba: How I harnessed the wind. William’s a little older now. Here’s 5 minutes of his story. As a result of his efforts he’s now at university in America. I don’t believe we’ve has seen the last of him.


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Another outstanding talk from TED. Thank you TED. this one’s pretty amazing too: not your grandmother’s origami.
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This could change the world

It could certainly change your world.

As I’ve said in my notes to my grandchildren, the environmental and economic state of the planet is dire. I’m struggling to find positive stories to balance the bad news. This one ticks the box. I’m getting old and maudlin. 🙁 When Sebastian Thrun showed the inspirational message from a young woman whose life was falling apart, I had tears in my eyes.

“Udacity is a totally new kind of learning experience. You learn by solving challenging problems and pursuing udacious projects with world-renowned university instructors (not by watching long, boring lectures). At Udacity, we put you, the student, at the center of the universe.”

And it’s free.

What are you waiting for? Sign up here.

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If you’re concerned–and you should be–about the direction of education generally, or if you have children, or you’re an educationalist youself, please watch Sir Ken Robinson’s brilliant and entertaining video Changing Education Paradigms, right here.


Negative carbon liquid fuels

In the previous post we saw our civilisation’s quandary in a 5 minute nutshell. Sometimes it seems that the plight of the planet is so dire that we might just as well party up and forget about it. Fortunately for my grandchildren’s future not everyone feels that way. Innovative people are busy developing ways of addressing the problem.

Mike Cheiky is one of those people. He and his team are producing liquid fuels from biomass while simultaneously sequestering carbon and restoring soil fertility. This is not a pie-in-the-sky academic dream. It’s based on solid science and Mr Cheiky has some seriously big time backers.

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It’s rather odd, but I can’t find any opinions on this elsewhere on the web. Something of this magnitude with big backers like Google should have attracted attention. I’d like to know whether or not there are any fishhooks in this process. One area of concern could be the catalysts: are they plentiful, recyclable, and/or reusable?

You can also watch this video here on YouTube.

Playing For Change: “Stand By Me”

There’s too much misery in the world. Here are some nice people doing something about it. From the award-winning documentary, “Playing For Change: Peace Through Music”, come the uplifting “Songs around the world” created by many musicians in many nations each adding their unique flavour to the song as it morphs around the globe. This cover of the Ben E. King classic “Stand by Me” started it all.

Does it for me. 🙂


It all started with vocals and guitar recorded in Santa Monica by a street musician called Roger Ridley. The producers then set off around the world with a laptop and some microphones.

Playing for Change is a multimedia movement created to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music… ….musicians from all over the world are brought together to perform benefit concerts that build music and art schools in communities that are in need of inspiration and hope.

Visit their website right here.

Did you enjoy that? Here’s another one.

Saving Valentina

In the self-absorbed, self-indulgent, greedy and dangerous world we’re bombarded with by the various media, sometimes we need a reminder that there are good people in our midst and that good things still happen.

On Valentine’s Day 2011 Michael Fishbach, with a few family and friends, saved the life of a humpback whale. I’m getting maudlin in my old age, this brought a tear to my eye.

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