The threatened California Redwood with a difference

cotati redwood

Along with a colleague, I would welcome wider planting and practical use of timbers such as the California Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) in the United Kingdom. The more we learn of these trees the more amazing they are to us.

For decades, a lone redwood has grown near the railroad tracks that run through the small city of Cotati, California. It was little noticed by most people—until officials announced that the tree had to be cut down to make way for a new transit system. Now arborists, researchers, and historians have banded together to save it.

The tree is a rarity called a chimeric albino redwood. Mixed among its normal green needles are ghostly patches of yellowish white needles. Albino redwoods have been documented since at least 1866, but they are very unusual. Amador County arborist Tom Stapleton and Colorado State University botany student Zane Moore have documented only 230 of the trees in California. Continue reading The threatened California Redwood with a difference

The Luhimba Project

The Luhimba Project   (UK Registered Charity 1084849)   

Luhimba Project on Facebook

LUHIMBA is a remote village in rural southern Tanzania, East Africa. It currently has a population of 3,500 villagers who live in scattered clusters of dwellings. Their houses are of two main types – mud huts with grass roofs, or constructions of home-produced bricks with corrugated sheet roofing.

There is no mains electricity or piped water to the village.  The only electricity is provided by generators and solar panels on a few of the houses and community buildings. Otherwise lighting is by oil lamps. The villagers fetch water from pumps. Untreated surface water was freely drunk, with consequent high rates of water borne disease particularly amongst children.

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Jinze Rainbow Bridge, Shanghai

Rainbow bridge, Jinze, Shanghai

Countless items that we take for granted in modern life originated in ancient China, from paper and printing, silk to gunpowder, kites, and sophisticated medicine and surgery. However, the Chinese exhibited their greatest skill and ingenuity in the creation of tens of thousands of bridges that were vital in unifying their diverse land. Two thousand years ago, their architects developed iron suspension bridges and daring arch designs that had no rivals in the West until the coming of the industrial age. Whether spanning a yawning gorge or crossing a placid canal, they were masters at integrating function and aesthetics in their bridge construction… Continue reading Jinze Rainbow Bridge, Shanghai

The Church wishes to apologize: Part one

Part One: The Inquisition – Hell on Earth

Giordano_Bruno Giordano Bruno, burnt alive at the Campo di Fiora, Rome, February 17th 1600

First the case of Galileo, the well-known astronomer noted for using the telescope to systematically observe the stars and planets. By writing the book entitled Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, in effect advocating Heliocentrism– Copernicus’ theory the earth revolves around the sun– Galileo took one step too far for the Roman Catholic Inquisition.  The author was ordered to present himself to the court in 1632, but Galileo delayed, being ill and almost 70 years old. He made the trip to Rome the following year, after being threatened with bonds and forced transportation. By order of the pope, he was interrogated and threatened with torture. (Galileo Galilei 1564– 1642)

Continue reading The Church wishes to apologize: Part one

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) linked to gluten disorders

GM Wheat

In recent years, GM companies, trade bodies and associated scientists have issued a deluge of propaganda suggesting biotech crops are the key to feeding the Third World.
Now evidence is building that genetically modified foods such as soy and corn may be responsible for a number of gluten-related maladies such as the intestinal disorders now plaguing 18 million Americans, according to a new report released on 25th November.

The report, “Genetically Modified Foods Proposed as Trigger for Gluten Sensitivity” was released by the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT), and cites authoritative data from the US Department of Agriculture, US Environmental Protection Agency records, medical journal reviews as well as  international research.

“Gluten sensitivity can range in severity from mild discomfort, such as gas and bloating, to coeliac disease, a serious autoimmune condition that can, if undiagnosed, result in a 4-fold (likelihood of) death,” said  Jeffrey M. Smith, executive director of IRT in a statement released on their website (

Continue reading Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) linked to gluten disorders

The Meteor Threat from Space

A meteor with estimated mass of 10,000 tons by NASA (on entry to Earth’s atmosphere) exploded Friday morning over Russia’s Ural region and its shock-wave caused injuries to over 1,000 people. It took out windows and walls in the city of Chelyabinsk.

Some years ago, I personally witnessed a much smaller fireball, and I was convinced I was seeing an airplane crash.

On the same day, Friday 15th February 2013, skimming closer to the earth than any other asteroid of its size,  Asteroid 2012 DA14 missed us by 17,100 miles, a margin closer than some satellites.

Continue reading The Meteor Threat from Space

Horse meat in supermarket burgers- why the long faces?

From stable to table…or, only fools eat horses?

Pure coincidence, but two recent posts concerned Black Beauty and Crazy Horse .. Enjoyable though all the jokes have been, this has been the week many British people may be re-assessing their relationship with meat.  I include here Barry Gormley’s (condensed) take on the dilemma:

“The vital question concerns how the quality of food is ensured in Ireland and Britain. In a recent investigation it was found that several big-name franchises in Ireland and the UK had been selling burgers which contained traces of horse and pig DNA. The shops involved were Tesco, Iceland, Dunnes Stores, Lidl and Aldi.

The items came from three major processing plants – Liffy Meats and Silvercrest Foods in Ireland, and Dalepack Hambleton plant in England. Of the 27 burgers analysed, a surprising 22 were found to contain traces of pig, while 10 contained horse. One sample from Tesco revealed 29% of horse, while 21 other beef products had pig DNA…

Continue reading Horse meat in supermarket burgers- why the long faces?

The spirit of Crazy Horse ?

In the year 1876, medicine man Sitting Bull of the Lakota (one of the three main divisions of the Sioux) was a leader at the famous battle of the Little Bighorn River, in Montana. With 650 soldiers, Lieutenant Colonel “Long Hair” Custer thought he could easily defeat 1,000 Sioux and Cheyenne warriors. This was a gross miscalculation. He was facing probably the largest group of Native American warriors ever assembled—about 3,000.

Custer split the Seventh Cavalry Regiment into three groups. Without waiting for support from the other two, his group attacked what he thought would be a vulnerable part of the Indian camp. Led by headmen Crazy Horse, Gall, and Sitting Bull, the Indians wiped out Custer and his unit of some 225 soldiers. It was a heady, if temporary victory for the Indian nations, and a bitter defeat for the U.S. Army. However, terrible revenge was only 14 years away… Continue reading The spirit of Crazy Horse ?

What is the truth about England and Wales?

Gene scientists claim to have found proof that the Welsh are the “true” Britons. The research supports the idea that Celtic Britain underwent a form of ethnic cleansing by Anglo-Saxon invaders following the Roman withdrawal in the fifth century. It suggests that between 50% and 100% of the indigenous population of what was to become England was wiped out, with Offa’s Dyke acting as a “genetic barrier” protecting those on the Welsh side.  The upheaval can be traced to this day through genetic differences between the English and the Welsh.                                                                       “English and Welsh are races apart”..(BBC News, 30 June 2002)


Offa’s Dyke,Spring Hill, Shropshire

Continue reading What is the truth about England and Wales?

Symbolism past through present

Starting with one simple notion, familiar motifs as used in heraldry are known to originate from early times. The question is: How early? In researching the links between Britain and the ancient near east, art and architecture, having survived, and easier to understand than cuneiform or other ancient writing forms, is an obvious place to begin.

English form of the Royal Coat of Arms

Continue reading Symbolism past through present