Saturday, November 04, 2023

Saturday Morning Musings - reflections on urban development and life style 1

I suppose it's inevitable but not universal that we become more reflective as we grow older. There is more to reflect on, good and bad, The iceberg under the present becomes just so much larger, the future shrinks. 

Is this increased reflection a good thing? I do wonder some times. I know some who have a unique capacity to live in the present, to enjoy what they have even if that is much reduced. Others have the capacity to reinvent themselves, to move forward in new directions.  In both cases, reflection may be put aside unless it adds value to the present.For still others, reflections on the past bring a sense of loss, loss of friends and loved ones, of lost opportunities, even guilt over past mistakes. This may lead to a sense of grievance, a feeling that life and especially people have let them down.

I'm not sure which group I fall into. I have elements of them all. I do know that I have become more reflective and I'm not sure that's such a good thing. How do I use that reflection in a positive way?

This brief meander was triggered this morning by an apparently unrelated event. I have long been fascinated by the dynamic elements in the patterns of human life. This morning there was a radio program  on the fifteen minute city. This included an interview with Carlos Moreno who promoted the concept. As you will see from linked Conversation article, the whole concept has somehow been caught up in those terminally boring culture war debates between right and left.  The article is written from something of a left perspective. Those sceptical of the concept are concerned that it will become another weapon in the armoury of those who wish to impose particular life styles on people for their own good and to preserve the environment. 

I can see why they might feel that, but it's really beside the point. It's quite possible to have an objective discussion on the pluses and minuses of a concept or approach including experience in practice without becoming too involved in possibly related but peripheral arguments. Mixing metaphors, there is little value in chasing a fine red herring down a rabbit hole. Unless, of course. you wish to use the smell to distract! 

This morning's radio discussion started reflections along two lines. 

Now that I am back in Armidale I have become much involved in thinking about life in this little city that is again my home. I walk or drive the streets and surrounding countryside, bike riding is a bit beyond me at the moment, looking at the changing pattern of life. I read the local media and attend activities and functions. And where I can, I talk to people both face to face and on-line.This is a fascinating place undergoing change, one with a unique lifestyle. What does this tell us about the process of urban, community and social development? My argument is that it is a microcosm, a case study, of the broader discussions usually dominated by the metros.  

The second line of reflection lay in a simple question; how did I come to be so interested in this area? What have I learned? How did I learn it? This question is a little self-indulgent. You must bear with me here.

Over coming weeks I will follow these two lines through, thus (hopefully) getting me back into writing mode.    

Saturday, January 28, 2023

400+ Harry Potter Facts & Statistics from the Books, Movies, and More

Back in July 2011 in The end of Harry Potter I reflected on the last Harry Potter movie.  As eldest said at the time, "7 Books, 8 Films and 14 years of my life. In essence, my childhood!" 

As it happens, Netflix has all the movies on at present, so I have been revisiting them and especially the early ones. Coincidentally, Ella Trosden drew my attention to this piece by Rebecca Janacek on the vpnMentor blog, 400+ Harry Potter Facts & Statistics from the Books, Movies, and More. I think that it's worth a browse. Certainly, I enjoyed browsing 

Saturday, January 07, 2023

Preliminary reflections on 2023: Ukraine

 After a turbulent few years, 2023 looks likely to follow the same pattern. 

When President Putin launched his Special Military Operation in Ukraine in February 2022, there was some debate about the causes of the conflict, a debate that has dragged on. Regardless of that, few expected a war with such significant global implications. Looking back at the small number of posts I wrote from 2014, I downplayed suggestions that we might have a repeat of the Second World War. Now I'm not so sure. I also underestimated the global impact of the conflict.

President Putin expected his invasion to yield quick results. The strength of Ukrainian resistance took him by surprise, providing time for Ukraine's allies to provide financial and material assistance that in turn forced the Russians back. Now Russia is regrouping trying to use its stronger population and resource base to wear down the Ukrainians. President Putin has been reluctant to move to a full total war footing, it's hard to do that when you even deny that there is a war on, but circumstances are likely to force his hand. 

The present war position can best be described as a stalemate reminiscent of  World War 1 with trench and defensive lines running over thousands of kilometres. President Putin hopes that the extended conflict will finally drain the West's willingness and ability to sustain support given domestic political considerations in the various countries involved. The West hopes for a Ukrainian breakthrough that will erode Russia's ability to fight the war. I could wish that, but it seems to me that the most probable military result is a period of stasis with heavy casualties on both sides. Meantime, the effects of the war continue to spread and spread.