With a title like that how could I resist this book?
In the early 60s Roy Moxham, then aged 21, left Britain to manage a tea plantation in Nyasaland. He arrived just as British colonial power was waning and tea workers were organising against mistreatment. One of the most hated practises was the imperial claiming of African common land and the subsequnt charging of rent to those who lived on it, requiring a month’s work a year to pay for the privilege of staying in their ancestral homes.
Treatment of coolies elsewhere and earlier was far worse than this, a theme that comes up over and over in this history of the tea trade. Introduced to England, allegedly, by Charles II’s Portuguese wife, tea went from an addiction of the rich to a drink so vital to national morale that the government took control of its supply during wartime. Along the way tea became a highly smuggled commodity and affected global politics because of the methods used to procure ever larger supplies.
The early history of the tea trade into Britain is tied to the East India Company. Early chapters in teh book tie into the events in Nathaniel’s Nutmeg. Whilst the company was having a hard time in the spice trade it was doing very well out of tea.
At first, the only source of the precious leaf was China, which would only take payment in silver. the English treasury was worried about the drain of silver from the nation’s coffers and sought to restrict it. Directly or indirectly the East India Company took to buying opium in India, selling it for silver in China and using this silver to purchase tea. When the Chinese tried to crack down on the opium trade Britain sent a fleet to “negotiate” for its reinstatement. The ensuing conflict ended with the Chinese ceding of Hong Kong to British rule and continued opium trading.
Eventually, the British looked for other sources of tea, and found them in India and Ceylon. Here, with local and imported tea, whites had direct control of the beverage’s production and grossly mistreated their workers- treating them like slaves long after slavery had been officially abolished. These and other aspects of the trade’s history are covered by Moxham in this interesting book.
Now, I must find a history of the East India Company to tie all these tales together.
Technorati tag: Technorati
Kona has introduced a range of scaled down XC, cyclocross, dirt jumping and downhill bikes for “Groms”. A huge change from the Raleigh Choppers and Heinz 57 bitsa bikes I grew up with (we still jumped them, of course, I even had one friend who’d take his racer off ramps- the landings were sometyhing to see).
Two new Spinneyhead blogs have launched this week.
Two Wheels Good is about bikes. It’s a home for the stuff that’s too specifically about cycling for How to Save the World for Free and too sedate for Gravity. When I get my new camera and video camera I hope to start doing vblogs on commuting, riders and their bikes and, if I can finally find that workshop, building your own bike.
Render is about 3d modelling. After Christmas I hope to be creating comics using Poser and other 3d packages and the blog will start filling up with examples and tutorials as well as news and reviews.
Technorati tag: Spinneyhead
Nedd valley is the last place in England and Wales to be wired up to the National Grid. Perhaps they should go the whole hog and get themselves wireless broadband and a satellite link. (However, from the description of the valley, I think they’d have been better off building some mini hydro and wind generators and setting up a micro grid.)
Or there may be some other reason for his entertaining response to the “creative people have more sex” headlines from earlier this week.
For a start, they’ve only polled 425 people by placing adverts and randomly posting questionnaires in artists’ whingepapers, read only by those snivelling in the evolutionary foot bath of the artistic gene pool. You should never expect people to tell the truth about their sexual shenanigans. They lie. Always. They lie to themselves – why would they tell the truth to you?
The military-industrial complex is rapidly becoming the military-industrial-gaming complex.
Computer games, like any hi-tech industry, have roots in military technology: there is a direct line from the first air force radar screen to today’s pixellated hyper-real images. The first videogames were made in the 50s and 60s, by scientists at Massachuset’s Institute of Technology funded by the Department of Defence. Until the mid-90s, the department was funding its own, clunky, game tools such as Simnet (for training tank drivers).
Taipei 101 in Taiwan is the world’s biggest building. The stress it exerts on the ground beneath it is believed to have caused two recent earthquakes and reopened an old fault line.
Before the construction of Taipei 101, the Taipei basin was a very stable area with no active earthquake faults at the surface. Its earthquake activity was similar to parts of the UK, with micro-earthquakes (less than magnitude 2) happening about once a year.However, once Taipei 101 started to rise from the ground, things changed. “The number of earthquakes increased to around two micro-earthquakes per year during the construction period (1997 to 2003).”Since the construction finished there have been two larger earthquakes (magnitude 3.8 and 3.2) directly beneath Taipei 101, which were big enough to feel,” says Dr Lin.
The Guardian tells the story of the rise and fall of Granville Technologies, owner of Time and Tiny, which collapsed so spectacularly earlier this year.
Technorati tag: Time Computers
Domestic Tradable Quotas are in effect personal allowances to pollute.
In Europe, about 12,000 big companies and institutions already have such allowances, regulated by the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
Pollution has become a commodity with a price determined by the market, which will ensure that emissions are cut in as cost-effective a manner as possible.
DTQs would simply extend this concept to the public.
Technorati tag: Carbon trading
Computer models of the global climate show the Sahel region and southern Africa drying substantially over the course of this century.
Sahel rainfall declined sharply in the late 20th Century, with droughts responsible for several million deaths.
The research comes just after the latest United Nations summit on climate change opened in Montreal.
with that and the mini Ice Age in the North we’re going to end up cramming most of humanity into a thin strip around the Mediterranean and hoping it can support us.
Technorati tag: Climate Change
In his final speech as president of the Royal Society, Lord May of Oxford will say scientists must speak out against the climate change “denial lobby”.
He will warn core scientific values are “under serious threat from resurgent fundamentalism, West and East”.
Speaking at UN climate talks in Canada, the US chief negotiator said his nation would not enter talks about fixed curbs on emissions of greenhouse gases.
Mr Blair told UK business leaders on Tuesday that he believed all major nations would support new targets.
Is there a way we can do this without them. No malice to the millions of US citizens who are trying to make a difference, but the world will be a better place after their leaders’ stupid policies cause the country’s economy to collapse and force a low energy rebuild on it.
Technorati tag: Climate Change
Don’t mess with the bearded monk. Funky cg animation pitting a kung-fu abbot against hordes of vikings. The soundtrack’s a bit NSFW, turn it down and enjoy it.