Departure lounge ramblings on music, places, climate change and stuff outdoors

Smoke and mirrors

I was briefly into performing magic as a kid, inspired by Paul Daniels on the telly if truth be told. A visit to the Wellcome Collection’s fascinating new exhibition, ‘Smoke and Mirrors – The Psychology of Magic’, has re-ignited my interest and reminded me just how malleable the human mind can be.

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A template for a new era of climate leadership – Los Angeles’ Green New Deal

Los Angeles’ Green New Deal, which I was privileged to join Mayor Garcetti in launching this week, provides a template for a new era of climate leadership. being of Angelenos. It is a strategy to take forward the whole of society and thus moves climate change from a peripheral issue to the central organising principle of government.

Goes West – an Album of the Week

On Thursday night I found myself in church. As someone who has been an atheist since starting to read science fiction at the age of twelve, St John’s in Bethnal Green was an unlikely venue for an evening’s entertainment, but William Tyler was playing and a church turned out to be the perfect venue for his beautiful acoustic guitar finger-picking. @williamtylertn

The Extinction Rebellion and an Uninhabitable Earth

Today and for the rest of the week normal business in London will be disrupted by Extinction Rebellion protestors trying to rouse their fellow citizens to face the climate emergency into which we have sleep-walked. Their tactics aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if shutting down a few streets is what it takes to draw attention to the fact that we are now in a battle against the clock to prevent the (still entirely avoidable) destruction of the eco-system that makes possible human life on Earth, then that seems like an entirely rational response to me.

The Three Body Problem

In The Three Body Problem trilogy, Cixin Liu has created an extraordinarily compelling vision of humanity’s near future, underpinned by a narrative that is as rich in philosophy as it is in science. While paced like a thriller, Liu’s prose is as packed with multi-layered insight as the plots of most other works of that genre are filled with holes. Perhaps it is the effect of altitude, as my old-technology airship glides over the Black Sea at 35,000 feet, but despite having only just finished reading the second in the series, The Dark Forest, I am ready to declare Cixin Liu the most exciting author of the twenty-first century so far.

“You’ll die of old age. I’ll die of climate change”

Last Friday I was inspired and shamed in equal measure by attending the huge ‘School Strike for Climate’ in Oslo. “You’ll die of old age, but I’ll die of climate change” accused one placard. “System change, not climate change” read many more. Thousands of children thronged, chanting into the square outside Parliament to try and make their parents’ generation, of which I am a member in denial, wake up and stop destroying the eco-system that enables humanity to thrive on the only planet we have access to.

Hedgerows – a natural history

Today a rare treat – a guest blog from Ms Markontour, reviewing ‘A natural history of the hedgerow and ditches, dykes and dry stone walls’, by John Wright: When I think of hedgerows I think of nature, green leaves, fragrant May blossom and noisy, busy birds. John Wright puts the hedgerow in historical context starting with pre-history which turns out to be fascinating. Piecing together archaeological and ancient written records, he walks us through time from the last ice age 10,000 years ago.