Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Impossible is the best disaster film – almost an intimate twist on a documentary – pulling you in to the scary, gritty, and dramatic lives of disaster victims.

One thing that fails the reality test is the utter lack of Asian victims – in Asia? The locals are mainly as extras and the main body of suffering humanity seems to be Caucasians.
I won’t call them survivors – it’s not that simple. Everyone stands out in the film, the extras and the stars: Naomi Watts, Ian MacGregor and especially Tom Holland as eldest son Lucas. He grows from a self-absorbed kid in the backstory and matures as he battles the waters and chaos and saves his mother.
This is a vacation this family (with plans for an idyllic holiday on Thailand‘s beaches) will remember and carry scars from.
The Tsunami that devastated the shores of the Indian Ocean is depicted realistically and painfully. Buts it’s the aftermath and the drama of survival and humanity (in all its diversity with Thai locals and tourists from all over) that the film is about.
This is a very good film for the family (although it’s bloody in parts).

“The Impossible (2012)
An account of a family caught, with tens of thousands of strangers, in the mayhem of one of the worst natural catastrophes of our time.”
Check it out at the IMDB and see the film by all means.

Fallows, James M. China Airborne. New York: Pantheon Books, 2012. 

Fallows, James M. China Airborne. New York: Pantheon Books, 2012.

Fallows, James M. China Airborne. New York: Pantheon Books, 2012. – photo Russ Imrie 2013

Why should you read this book? Well, you should read this if you are at all interested in China. It’s written in Fallows’ “Atlantic” style, where he has been journalist as well as written for the New Yorker and NPR. So it’s bright and dead air is hard to find.

Each page has facts or an aside every American could stand reading. Fallows plants facts and insight everywhere—like the population reality that China deals with in a diverse and massive country…He’s been there.

…that the U.S. and China encompass approximately the same land area but that with vast mountain and desert regions, China has quite a significantly smaller arable land base; that one must consider it would take the sum of the populations of Mexico (110m), Brazil (200m), Cuba, all the Caribbean Nations, Canada, Colombia, every other Nation in North and South America (total about 1B) plus Nigeria (155m) plus Japan (125m) to almost equal to China’s 1.5 billion.

Philosophically, this work addresses one of the great questions of modern times: what model will move civilization forward on this globalized planet? The open, chaotic, and democratic model that the western-centric democracies seem to be embracing? or the authoritarian single-party (Communist in this case) top-down government model of decreed agendas that The People’s Republic of China follows today.

Fallows posits that the absolute need, economically driven, for China to conform to a world-class air-traffic control and manufacturing system will inevitably bleed over into the wider society and systems. Standards such as high-speed rail development and safety standards, environmental technology, high-value electronic manufacturing, and even the odd  double standard Chinese press operates under—where English language newspapers like the Economic Observer operate in conformance with the censors’ patronizing assumption that Chinese readers (even those born and raised in the West) won’t “get it” while in-country publications such as Southern Weekend are ‘way over-controlled, tends to work toward cracking open China’s incestuous leadership and its parochial regulatory system.

Fun and free excitement!

China’s “build it and they will come” MO (an artifact of central [mis]planning, and an urgent need to keep low and semi-skilled workers employed as well as to distribute what we in the U.S. would call “pork”,  results in not a few empty developments, and in one case, a modern airport in Tibet that was virtually useless due to geography and local climatic/weather conditions.

On page 179, Fallows treats us to a section of the epic first-ever landing at the storied (and basically inaccessible by the existing Chinese air traffic control system, such as it was) with a link to Nevarus  (acquired by GE) and thus this YouTube video in a tour-de-force demonstration of modern, world-class Required Navigation Performance (RNP) 
Access on Top of the World: Linzhi (Air China Test Flight) 国航-林芝


I travel a bit and usually take my MacBook.
I take many photos and videos, usually with an iPhone (where I’m blogging now using the WordPress app).
My iPhoto Library is huge and I keep it on an external HD.
I often hauled it around on trips—not the greatest scheme, and bulky.
So do what I’ve done is to start using a USB thumb/flash drive instead. When you return home, export all your new photos and vids in original format from the thumb drive then import to your base library in iPhoto.
Works great, saves time and grief.


3.5 GB Flash/Thumb drive mounted in USB port – photo Russ Imrie 2013

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