Out On The Edge

You say you’re living,
out on the edge
But you’re on solid ground
Not on a ledge *

kittiwakes nesting

* Lyrics from World Party / Sunshine

Quote From Steve Jobs

When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can often times arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions.
-Steve Jobs

The Eye On The Cam

boat or barge moored on the river Cam at Cambridge

The eye can isolate something in way that the camera cannot. Yes, I know you can use a longer focal length lens that sees a smaller part of the scene, but that’s not what I am talking about.

What I mean is that the eye can take a small part of the scene it sees, and see it in sharp focus, and blur off or almost discard the rest of the scene.

This is quite apart from the fact that the eye has around ten times the discrimination of shades from light to dark compared to a film or a digital camera.

So with that in mind, take a look at the photo at the top of this post. The camera sees a jumble of things, all more or less equally. The only thing that matters to the camera’s ability to split up a scene is the depth of field, or the distance from front to back that is in focus.

In this scene, most objects are the same distance from the camera. The pieces of wood in the pile further back on top off the barge/boat are out of focus, so they are less prominent in the way we see the scene when we look at the photo.

Our eyes also give more prominence to colours like bright red. And I notice that little yellow pot right away. Still, the whole scene is a jumble of objects.

So let me tell you, though, that that is not how I saw the scene with my eyes when I approached. My eyes caught on something that stood out and pushed everything else out of the way. It was this – the round mirror with a view back up the way I had walked. The water by the boat was moving and the water in the round mirror was moving – and the view in the round mirror just grabbed my attention.

crop of boat or barge moored on the river Cam at Cambridge

Coal In Crisis – Not What You Think

In these days of countries trying to do away with dirty fuels, spare a thought for this.

In October last year, Bloomberg reported the China had loosened the restrictions on imports to tackle its power crisis and that Indonesia supplies about two-thirds of China’s total imports and is China’s biggest overseas supplier, supplying 17 million tons of coal in August, and 21 million tons in September.

And now as the new year of 2022 comes in, Reuters reported that Indonesia, whose biggest customers for its coal are China, India, Japan and South Korea, has banned coal exports until it has evaluated whether it has enough for its own needs.

For comparison between China, Japan, and Korea, these are figure I have been able to pull out.

  • In 2019, coal made up 58 percent of China’s energy use.
  • In 2017, coal made up 24 percent of Japan’s energy use.
  • In 2021, coal made up 28 percent of Korea’s energy use.

Plainly, of the three, China needs coal like no other country – whether supplied by Indonesia or from elsewhere.

Indonesia has a population of over 275 million, so its own needs are not insignificant on a world scale.

The USA has a population of 332 million, to give you a comparison.

And The Russian Federation that has a population of just 146 million.

Indonesia is going to look at how its reserves are coping at the end of January and then decide what to do next to make sure it can plan for enough reserves through to the end of 2022.


I didn’t include India in the listing – my oversight. The figures is 56 percent, but India has its own state-owned Coal India Ltd, which supplied 38 million tonnes in August 2021. So while it imports from Indonesia, I don’t know how ultimately reliant India is on imports.


If we could fast forward to 2042, imagine if China had no coal and no way of making up the shortfall from other kinds of fuels. Indonesia is about 7,000 miles as the crow flies from Mainland China, so a task force to capture coal would stick out like a sore thumb. But China would be fighting for its life, so who knows. Pray that it doesn’t come to that.