Saturday, 21 December 2013

Waiting for Christmas

Waiting for Christmas

 My favourite version of Bach's Christmas Oratorio + my favourite liqueur.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Houses in Hittarp in "Christmas dress"

On my evening walk tonight I shot these pictures of some of my favourite houses here in Hittarp. This time of the year Christmas lighting is a nice additional feature. (On the fourth picture you can see that it started to drizzle, before I was able to cover the lens.)


I added this somewhat strange picture. I think it would have been really nice, but then something happened - exactly what, I cannot say. Maybe I touched on button on my camera, which I should not have done. However, I could pretend that the additional light is a new kind of Chinese Christmas lighting! :-)

Views From My Balcony (23): The Christmas tree without and with lights on

What a difference the lights make during this, the darkest time of the year!:
The Christmas tree without lights on, just before four this afternoon.

The Christmas tree about 20 minutes later.

High level British export promotion trips to China - 2013 and 1793

The Emperor of China receives Lord Macartney, the leader of the British export
promotion "trip" to Peking in 1793. (source: wiki)

High level export promotion trips to China are nowadays a common sight in Peking (Beijing). The visiting dignitaries always bring presents in order to impress their Chinese hosts.

When David Cameron a couple of weeks ago visited China together with 131 top business people and other delegates, his choice of presents was criticized by a writer in the Guardian:

Cameron in China: why does he always give foreign leaders rubbish presents?

The prime minister gave the Chinese premier Le Keqiang some books, a pair of gloves and a tennis racket, among other things. Then again, he's never been the most imaginative gift giver.

Maybe Cameron should have studied the gift list of a previous (1793) high level export promotion trip to China:

Here is the list of presents to the His Imperial Majesty, published in the book "The Historical Accound of The Embassy to the Emperor of China undertaken by order of the King of Great Britain", written by Sir Georg Staunton, "Secretary of Embassy to the Emperor of China, and Minister Plenipotentiary in the absence of the Ambassador":

"The presents consisted of an orrery (mechanical model of the solar system), a reflecting telescope, a celestial and a terrestrial globe, several chronometers or time pieces, an air pump, a machine exhibiting the mechanic powers, five pieces of brass ordnance, muskets, pistols, sword blades, a complete model of a first rate man of war of a hundred an ten guns, ornamental vases, various kinds of earthen ware, a large burning glass, a pair magnificent glass lustres, specimens of the  productions of the manufactures of Great Britain in wool, cotton, steel and other metals, representations of several cities, towns, churches, seats, gardens, cattles, bridges, lakes, volcanos, and antiquities, of battles by sea and land, dock yards or places for building ships, horce races, bull fighting, and of most other objects curious or remarkable in the dominions of his Britannic Majesty, and other parts of Europe; also of some of the most eminent persons, including the Royal family of Great Britain; the representations themselves being monuments of the arts by which they are made in their present advanced state."

The transportation of the British presents was no easy task. Here is Sir George's account:

"The presents and baggage, which hitherto had come by water, were now to be conveyed by land to the Emperor's autumnal palace. Such as were liable to receive damages by jolting of vehicles without springs, were destined to be carried by men; and from a pretty nice calculation it was found, that about ninety waggons, forty hand barrows, two hundred horses, and nearly three thousand labouring men would be wanted for this business."

This is how the British presents were transported.
(Illustration from the book by Sir George Staunton, published in London 1797)

"In China, bulky and heavy packages are carried by men. To each side of the load are fixed two strong bamboos. If four men (two to each bamboo) be not equal to its weight, two other bamboos, shorter than the first, are fastened to the extremities of each of the original long ones. These eight extremities are brought to rest on the shoulders of eight men, as described in the annexed plate. More bamboos being affixed to these, in a geometrical proportion, each of who would sustain an equal degree of pressure on raising or carrying ponderous packages."

The delegation itself had other means of transportation:

"The Ambassador and three gentlemen of his suite travelled in sedan chairs; the other gentlemen, and all the Mandarins, on horseback."

The type of "Sedan chair" in which Lord Macartney and "three other gentlemen of
his suite travelled".

The presents appear to have been well received:

"In the interim very flattering messages were conveyed to his Excellency, expressive of the great satisfaction which the presents gave to his Imperial Majesty."


In spite of all the efforts, the 1793 mission, led by Lord Macartney, was apparently not quite as successful as the British had hoped for:

"The embassy was ultimately not successful in its primary objectives, although the circumstances surrounding it provided ample opportunity for both British and Chinese parties not to feel totally disgruntled about the compromises and concessions they had made. The failure of the primary objectives was not due to Macartney's refusal to kowtow in the presence of the Qianlong Emperor, as is sometimes believed. It was also not a result of the Chinese reliance on tradition in dictating foreign policy, but rather a result of competing world views which were uncomprehending and to some extent incompatible. After the conclusion of the embassy, Qianlong sent a letter to King George III, explaining in greater depth the reasons for his refusal to grant the several requests presented to the Chinese emperor by Macartney." --

"Emperor Qianlong's letter's continuing reference to all Europeans as "Barbarians", his assumption of all nations of the earth as being tributary to China, and his final words commanding King George III to "...Tremblingly obey and show no negligence!"[10] can be interpreted as a challenge or as a imperious dismissal."

(bolding by NNoN)

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Christmas Shopping in Helsingborg

This afternoon I was Christmas shopping in the city. Between shopping my camera recorded some of the things that are available for serious shoppers:

Sven-Göran Eriksson is still a big celebrity in Sweden. His  memoirs are likely to be included  among the Christmas gifts to
all football fans.

Another type of Christmas gift, which always is popular.

A trip to Prague could also be a nice gift.

This fox is not for sale.

Mobile phones have been some of the most popular Christmas presents for years now.

Shoppers can enjoy a nice cup of coffee at Fahlmans.
The  city of Helsingborg has brightened up the Christmas season with some nice lighting.

Cabs waiting to take shoppers home.

The Helsingborg Northern Harbour by night

The Helsingborg Northern Harbour tonight:

(Cruise ship Quest)

Flashback August 26, 2013: The Danish Royal Yacht Dannebrog in Øresund

Flashback, August 26: The Danish Royal Yacht Dannebrog in the Sound

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The Brand New Bulk Carrier Golden Pearl on Its Way to Riga

The brand new Hong Kong flagged bulker Golden Pearl (183 m x 27 m) was this afternoon in the Sound on its way to Riga:

The Golden Pearl approaching Helsingør this afternoon.

The Golden Pearl, minutes later.

Helsingborg - An Important Industrial and Port City in Sweden

The Port of Helsingborg this afternoon, seen from the north.

Helsingborg, located at the narrowest point of the strait of Öresund, is an important industrial and  port city in southern Sweden. The Port of Helsingborg is Sweden's second largest container port.

Cunard's Queen Elizabeth and Baltic Betina met this morning in Øresund

Cunard's Queen Elizabeth (294 m x 36 m) was this morning on its way to Copenhagen in gray and rainy December weather:

Queen Elizabeth and the small cargo vessel Baltic Betina met in the  Sound.

Monday, 16 December 2013

The Royal Danish Navy's Diana Class Patrol Vessel Najaden (P523) in Helsingør

Patrol vessel Najaden in Helsingør.
The Royal Danish Navy's Diana Class patrol vessel Najaden (P523) was this afternoon moored at the port of Helsingør.

The main tasks of the 43 m x 8.2 m Diana Class vessels:

Surveillance, maintaining of sovereignty, Search and Rescue, Diving sickness management, environmental protection and surveillance, assistance to the Police and  Explosive Ordnance Disposal.

The "Christmas lunch" - A popular Tradition in the Nordic Countries

"Christmas lunches" are a very popular tradition in the Nordic Countries. Most companies e.g. host such pre-Christmas lunches for their employees. In Helsingborg the Wave Restaurant on the Scandlines ferry Aurora is a favourite location for the traditional Christmas "smörgåsbord¨:

Sunday, 15 December 2013

A Sunset Surfer in the Sound on Second Sunday of Advent

When I looked out through my living room window late this afternoon, I was surprised to see a surfer in the Sound just as the sun was about to set. Unfortunately I managed to get only this less than perfect picture of the surfer in the sunset:


Here is the sunset without the surfer:

Professor Frank Furedi's tribute to the traditional university lecture

(image by Wikipedia)

University of Kent professor of sociology Frank Furedi has written a fine tribute to the traditional university lecture.

Here is an excerpt:

To its detractors, I say this: a lecture is a pedagogic technique. A lecture represents scholarship in action. A lecture given to an undergraduate audience provides a disciplinary context for the topic under discussion. And more than any other academic experience, the lecture provides students with meaning about the subject under discussion.
Ideally, this is accomplished through a combination of intellectual mastery and communicating with the passion the pursuit of scholarship demands. What students gain from a lecture is much more than an introduction into new facts and ideas. At its best, it is a total experience. And years later what students recollect from that unforgettable lecture are not its details but a performance that validated their academic experience.
Of course, many lectures are far from memorable, and listening and taking notes requires commitment and effort. But so long as the lecturer is well prepared, the format should provide students with the basic principles of their discipline. It also illustrates the fact that even knowledgeable academics struggle to communicate those ideas.
I have always regarded a lecture as the fundamental ritual of academic life. It is the one experience that has the most potential of forging a community of learners. It creates a common intellectual experience for students and allows otherwise solitary undergraduates to become part of a continuous conversation. This is a conversation that is difficult to achieve through tutorials, seminar groups or chance encounters.

The entire article is well worth reading. You will find it here.