China, Electricity and the Environment

From Our Own Correspondent: The downside to China’s runaway growth

Category: News article

Topic: Current Affairs

Author: Rupert Wingfield-Hayes

Company: BBC

Year created: 2006

Overall rating: 4 out of 5

This is a good report on the sheer scale of China’s insatiable hunger for electrical power, mostly fueled by coal, and the devastating effects it is having both on China’s environment and its people.

This is from the BBC’s excellent radio series From Our Own Correspondent (podcast freely available, see the article itself for details) where they various BBC reporters around the world do a 5 or so minute report on something that has affected them in their country. These can range from the profound to the comical, and all stops in between.

To give you a feel for how much power China needs they are currently, on average, bringing on one new power station a week.! The article goes on to say:

"This year China will install about 80 gigawatts of new electricity generating capacity" he said, "most of it coal."

“I’m afraid that means nothing to me” I said.

“Well”, he replied “here’s a comparison, if you add up the electricity from all the power stations in Britain, all the coal, gas, nuclear, wind, everything – that comes to about 80 gigawatts. And that’s how much China will add this year

Tags: china coal electricity environment

Review: Memoirs of a Geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha


Year: 2005

Director: Rob Marshall

Length: 155 minutes

Category: Drama

Media: Film

Studio: Sony Pictures

Rating from Australia: M

Rating: 3 out of 5

For our third film in a week we saw Memoirs of a Geisha, and whilst it was a good film it didn’t quite measure up to the previous two (TransAmerica and Kenny) for either of us. Whilst Donna had read the book before I hadn’t, but we both came away with the same feelings that it was a good film but not quite as good as the others.

The acting was OK, but Gong Li as the thorougly malicious Hatsumomo did better than Ziyi Zhang (who played the lead role) who was probably a bit too quiet for me, and Donna felt that the character in the book was stronger than she came across in the film. That seemed to mirror the rest of the acting, some was very good and some was OK.

The settings, camera work and feel of the film was very good and the sound was also well done, but it still didn’t quiet get out of the “good” area into the “great” area, which was a bit of a shame.

As I said, I’ve not read the book, so I wonder a little about why the historical background against which the film is set (1930’s through to 1940’s) is so far in the background. There is a radio announcer reading news at time, but he is barely audible and it was hard to work out what he was saying. There is no feeling that Japan is at war, either in China or in the Pacific until Japanese troops evacuate their town and I’ve got this nagging feeling that this has had to be suppressed because of what happened in China. Manchuria is mentioned in passing a couple of times, but that’s about it.

Alternative Jabberwocky Variants

These are lovely, I’ve found two great alternative versions of Jabberwocky by Peter H. Cole – one using Welsh place names called “Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogochiwoci” and another using curry names called “Chapatiwocky” (shades there of Les Barker’s classic “William Patel Overture” from the Mrs Ackroyd Band’s great little album “Oranges and Lemmings“).

Warning: an understanding of Welsh pronunciation may assist you with understanding the true beauty of the former..

There’s also Peter Cole’s summary rendition of Beowulf, sort of in the spirit of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, which reduces the entire legend to 8 lines of rhyme – finally I understand it! 🙂

Transamerica – the whole is more than the sum of its parts



Year: 2005

Writer: Duncan Tucker

Director: Duncan Tucker

Producer: Rene Bastian

Length: 103 minutes

Category: Drama

Media: Film

Studio: Belladonna Productions LLC

Distributor: Hopscotch Productions

Rating from Australia: MA


  • Bree Osbourne: Felicity Huffman
  • Rating: 4 out of 5

    We saw this film tonight and liked it, it’s rather a turnup for an American film, it’s thoughtful, deep and has something to say (unlike a lot of what we have been conditioned to think of as film from the US).

    Felicity Huffman plays Bree, a person on the cusp of gender reassignment who suddenly discovers that she has a son she fathered, unknowingly, 17 years before. When her counsellor finds out before her operation she refuses to authorise the operation until she has met him and come to terms with it.

    The situation gets more complicated when it turns out he’s in jail for theft and is involved in drugs, using prostitution to pay for it and for his life on the street. When Bree bails him she initially plans to take him to his step-fathers by car, but events rapidly develop a life of their own as they cross the country. It’s hard to say much more without giving the whole story away!

    This is a well made film with no special effects, just a good story with some very good acting.

    Be warned, this film doesn’t pull its punches on the details of gender reassignment. 🙂

    Structured Blogging : New WordPress Plugin

    Just installed the Structured Blogging plugin for WordPress (version v1.0pre13) which provides hidden, machine readable metadata for certain type of blog posts (like film reviews) as well as the usual human readable content. Say “hello” to the Semantic Web folks..

    As a test I’ve re-published my review of Kenny, below (original here), with it as a comparison, got to say it makes it look quite professional!

    Kenny: A Dramatised Documentary with Heart, Soul and Sewage



    Year: 2006

    Writer: Shane Jacobson, Clayton Jacobson

    Director: Clayton Jacobson

    Producer: Shane Jacobson, Clayton Jacobson, Rohan Timlock

    Category: Comedy

    Media: Film

    Studio: Thunderbox Films

    Distributor: Madman Entertainment

    Rating: 5 out of 5

    Today Donna and I went to the first audience screening for a new Australian film called Kenny. It’s a fake documentary following the life and work of a portaloo person, Kenny, who works for a Melbourne company called Splashdown as he copes with customers, family, the public and, of course, sewage.

    Kenny is much more than just a very funny film, it’s a film with a good heart and a sharp eye on the human condition – especially where it concerns those “invisible” folks doing the dirty work that keeps society going. The filming is great and it makes quite a convincing documentary, the character of Kenny is strong, humble, funny and very warm hearted.

    The authenticity is helped by the fact that Splashdown is a real Melbourne company (doing “Corporate Bathroom Rentals” – the owner Glenn Preusker is the sole investor in the film) who lent them the equipment, yard and vehicles. You could say that’s the ultimate in product placement, and sure, it won’t do their image any harm, but that’s not what the story is, the story is how Kenny copes with lifes ups and downs with good grace and humour – whether that be trying to persuade a new recruit to retrieve a lost wedding ring at a festival, defending their precious thunderboxes from this years annual torching at a race meet or coping with your first flight to the US.

    It was my first time at a test screening and what we got to see was not the finished movie, still left to do is doing the sound (we had the audio from the camera used, which was still damn good & added to the authenticity in my book), fixing up the colour matching between scenes and some tidying up. The films creator, producer and director Clayton Jacobson (IMDB entry) was there to introduce the film and lead discussion and questions afterwards, but also there was Kenny himself (believed to be Claytons brother Shane) and a number of others from the cast (ex-wife, son, co-worker) and the camera man.

    The audience reaction was brilliant, they loved the film. A couple felt there was a flat bit prior to the trip to the US, but to me (and according to Clayton) that was because Kenny was going through a difficult patch and that life isn’t all roses. It also gave a good contrast to what came after.

    Anyway, I think it was an awesome film and well worth going to see when it comes out!It’s being distributed in Australia by Madman Entertainment and is due out around July – keep an eye out for it.Oh, and Clayton, if you read this, any chance of keeping the soundtrack we heard at the test screening as an alternate option on the DVD ? Please ? 🙂