The Spitbank Fort in the Solent strait in Great Britain.

Solent Forts: Strongholds in the Sea

23.08.2016

The Solent? Non-Britons may wonder what or where that might be. A marine area brimming with flat fish floundering about perhaps – or a lonely island lost somewhere in the limitless ocean? Whereas the former’s majority are commonly frequenting the chilly waters of the North Sea around the bend, the latter is a pretty close guess, at least when it comes to the „island“ part. Solving the geographical riddle: the Solent is a strait (about 20 x 4 miles) running between the mainland of England and the Isle of Wight. It not only serves as a shipping route for commercial and military vessels, but also poses as a welcome playground for a multitude of watersports. Southampton, the largest port, surely rings a bell in many a mind as being the last British pier for RMS Titanic to call at before commencing her unfortunate voyage across the Atlantic. Another popular harbour lying by Solent shores is Portsmouth, from where before-mentioned enigmatic islands are best reached: the Solent Forts, a group of sturdy man-made islands built in the late 19th century to ward off sea-born attack. The three Forts – Spitbank, No Man’s Land and Horse Sand – were decommissioned after WW II, lay dormant for a number of years, put up for sale in the 1960s seeing changing ownership. Today, the Solent Forts offer luxurious accommodation incorporated in extraordinary venues and are owned and managed by the AmaZing Venues company. www.amazingvenues.co.uk/solent-forts

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Workers burning harmful waste at the Agobogbloshie dump in Ghana.

Electronic Waste: Intoxicating Agbogbloshie

15.08.2016

At breathtaking speed, our world is being inundated with ever more sophisticated electronic equipment. Used devices hardly a year or two old, are replaced with increasing frequency, to be cashed in or be thoughtlessly dumped for the next much fancier gadget. Most “outdated” models are added to a recycling bubble already stressed at the seams. Considering that resources are scarce and thus valuable, this sort of rotation system is still unrivaled. Yet, have you ever wondered how – and above all – where, your discarded cell phone, laptop or PC may have ended up eventually? It is estimated that more than half of the electronic waste from, e.g., the United States, is shipped to countries fairly ignorant of environmental issues - and there it is successfully buried in oblivion. Like for instance in China, India or Ghana in West Africa. A young company in Boston, Mass., sets an example of how fruitful sensible recycling can be.

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The Olympic Symbol

The Olympic Symbol: Rings connecting the World

11.08.2016

When a commodity is taken for granted, it usually does not receive much attention. Unfairly so. Yet, especially the reliable components in our lives ready to be harvested at random if needed, deserve some limelight once in a while. The Olympic Symbol, for instance, has accompanied us since we were children. But do we know who thought it up and what it actually means – apart from being the familiar logo of a prestigious international sports event?

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The Redhead Convention in Ireland

The power of Ginger: The Irish Redhead Convention

8.08.2016

Redheads are redheads because of their ginger gene – „a series of mutations in the melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R), a gene located on chromosome 16“. Now we know! Familiar characteristics common in redheads are lighter eye colours, fair skin with lots of freckles, a hightened sensitivity to ultraviolet rays and risk of skin cancer. Red hair accounts for only 0.6% of the global population and is the rarest of hair colours. At 10%, Ireland has the second highest per capita redhead-rate (after Scotland). Born in the wrong age of time, predominantly females endowed with a mass of threateningly red hair were destined to be burned at the stake, because – ooooheee – they harboured mysterious magical powers and rode on broomsticks fuelled by witchcraft. Fortunately the attitude towards enigmatic powers has changed drastically. Today, they are rather considered an asset than a curse and even for a redhead, longevity has become a realistic possibility.

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Inverted Age Pyramid

Out of shape: The inverted Age Pyramid

18.07.2016

Longevity and the future Population Structure

A World Bank report makes it clear: owing to the demographic evolution, and the consequent shrinkage of a working age population, it becomes important to keep older workers in the labor force longer. A changed pension policy accompanied by a flexible labor market should enable them to remain in the workforce and retain a high level of productivity. Presently, the prognosis for the future population structure resembles a column and may even take the shape of an inverting pyramid – with smaller cohorts of working age population expected to support the larger ones of elderly retirees. With rising longevity suggesting an average life expectancy after retirement of 15 years, the elderly are encouraged to spend their healthy years in the labor force rather than in retirement. This not only feeds pension funds, it also helps maintain the living standard enjoyed while working and reduces poverty among the elderly significantly. The following poem is a reminder of all those well-known facts – and relates to the meetings industry.

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