Monthly Archives: April 2017

Just the facts? 

Questions for Debate

Who selects the facts?

If we didn’t have facts, would we have opinions?

If we didn’t have opinions, would we need to go back to the facts?

Are facts open to interpretation?

Do we ever have all the facts?

How do we know when a fact is a fact?

Is a fact a fact only until we can prove it wrong?

To ensure something is a fact must we be able to test it?

Is this the nature of science?

Can we make the teaching of English scientific?

Should we have a sub-discipline of English language and literature called English facts? Or are English language and literature a sub-discipline of English facts?

If English is a testable science, is English science fiction just for movies, hobbies and interests?

Are humans who swallow and regurgitate facts just robots in denial of what it means to be human?

Who has the hegemony on facts?

If we question the facts, whose authority are we undermining?

If we decide that the facts are unpleasant, what change would we wish to initiate to make it not so?

Can we just use the facts to change the facts or do we need more?

A UAE 600ft tall outdoor climbing wall – but what to call it?

climbing wall

While I’m travelling through the UAE desert between Dubai and Abu Dhabi at the speed of light on the ‘Desert Bullet’ and I whiz past the 300m high Golden Camel while drones the size of hot air balloons lift sightseers on top to have their souvenir photos taken, my mind drifts to what else the UAE needs to start breaking more world records.

One thing that came to mind was a climbing wall. So I googled that and it turns out that Abu Dhabi is actually all set to have the world’s tallest indoor climbing wall, ‘Clymb’, which is due to open next to Yas Mall next year. It’s going to be 43 meters, beating the world’s current tallest climbing wall by 6 meters: the Excalibur in The Netherlands presently stands at 37 meters (121 feet). But the Excalibur is outdoor, and the Clymb will be indoor.

But then, upon further research, I found that actually there are several other (outdoor) climbing walls that exceed the above records. Firstly, is Georgia USA’s 140ft ‘Historic Banning Mills’ (in the December 2011 Guinness Book of World Records, that one). Then, at 164ft ‘Comm Row Hotel’s Base Camp’ (Reno, USA). And then at a blisteringly dizzying 540ft there’s the ‘Diga di Luzzone’ on the side of a dam in Switzerland – THE current tallest, outdoor climbing wall in the whole world.

I guess therefore what I’m needing is a 600ft outdoor climbing wall to put the UAE well ahead of all the rest. I’m thinking as a first thought somewhere near Ras Al Khaimah’s Via Ferrata by the side of the UAE’s tallest mountain, the Jebel Jais. The Jebel Jais is 1934m high (6345ft). Therefore, a 600ft (183m) tall outdoor climbing wall wouldn’t look out of place there. Also, it’d be in the right spot for climbing enthusiasts and lovers of the UAEs longest zip slide (Via Ferrata).

Alternatively, if the thought arose that perhaps such an outdoor climbing wall might impinge on the natural beauty of the mountain range there, then it could just be put near the 300m high Golden Camel in the middle of the desert between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. In fact, the world’s largest drones serving tourists at the camel could also drop people off at the top of the climbing wall and let them just go down instead of having to go up as well. Quite convenient in all that heat. It would also be something else to look out of the window at fleetingly from the comfort of the Desert Bullet. Let it be called, ‘Desert High’.

My UAE statue will be bigger than yours… a golden camel, pearl or something else though?

camel

The Wikipedia list of the world’s tallest statues (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tallest_statues) surprisingly does not include any in the UAE. Neither does the UAE appear to have any large statues in the pipeline if this list (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tallest_statues#Planned_.2F_in_progress) of planned statues is anything to go by.

So what would the UAE have to do to break current and forthcoming planned world’s largest statue records? Firstly, they would have to construct something that was taller than Myanmar’s current Laykyun Setkyar depicting Buddha and standing at 115.8 metres (380 ft) – the world’s tallest statue. Secondly, they’d have to plan to also out-do India’s forthcoming statue of Shiv Smarak, planned to stand at 210m (690ft) off the coast of Mumbai.

Where to do it? For me I’d say in the desert between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

What should they build? My own preference would be for a giant camel – a symbol of humble origins, affection, support and sturdy, long lasting, Middle Eastern strength and power in general. If not a giant camel then perhaps a giant pearl, representing the economic starting point of the UAE. Or maybe they should do a giant camel first, and save the giant pearl idea for when the next contender for largest world statue comes along to rival the claim.

How big? Go for minimum 300m tall (984ft).

Made out of what? Well, why not go for gold and break some other world records while you’re at it? If the giant camel was made out of gold it would easily break the current world record of largest/heaviest golden object: The Golden Buddha, officially titled Phra Phuttha Maha Suwana Patimakon -a gold statue, with a weight of 5.5 tons (5,500 kilograms), located in the temple of Wat Traimit, Bangkok, Thailand.

Not sure who would fund the endeavour… but it’d be fun to see if they would 🙂

Also, while they are at it, they could construct the world’s largest gold plated drone to lift people on top of the camel for a souvenir photo for the obligatory camel ride shot, taken of course by a second world’s largest drone. See a video of one already in use at https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=world%27s+largest+drone&view=detail&mid=3040B36B9AAF6E8B057E3040B36B9AAF6E8B057E&FORM=VIRE

Happy world record breaking statue building 🙂

pearl

Dubai to Abu Dhabi in 15 minutes by ‘Desert Bullet’? Bring it on!

cartoon train

This is nothing to do with teaching or English, unless you want to connect this post to the use of superlatives… Dubai and the UAE are famous for attempts to break the biggest and best in records for global competitiveness. Dubai’s Burj Khalifa currently stands as the tallest building in the world. The Burj Al Arab is the world’s only 7 star hotel. The Emirate’s Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi is the world’s most expensive hotel. The next few years will also see the development of the world’s biggest mall. What else could we dream about seeing in the UAE that would break new highs while also making the place an even more inspiring and amazing place to live? Well here’s the start of my wish list 🙂

One thing I’d love to see is ‘The Desert Bullet’ – the world’s fastest train, to zoom at almost tele-portational speeds between Dubai and Abu Dhabi in its first stage of development, and then to branch out to reach Oman’s Muscat and Saudi’s Riyadh and Jeddah. Then why not throw Qatar’s Doha and Jordan’s Amman into the network? Is the Middle East ready for its first gold-plated and diamond encrusted railway network?

Currently, the Shanghai Maglev is the fastest train in the world with a maximum operating speed of 267.8 mph (Maglev is an abbreviation of magnetic levitation – suspension or floating of an object by magnetic field). The Shanghai Maglev has no wheels and it floats on a magnetic field that exists between the train and the track, allowing the train to fly over it. The train takes only 7 minutes and 20 seconds to complete its single route of almost 19 miles.  China railways Harmony CRH 380A is the second fastest operating train service in the world. In commercial service, this electric, multiple unit train achieves a maximum speed of 236.12 mph. But it set a record speed of 258.58 mph during initial tests.

Could the UAE beat this? Would it want to? At the moment, it takes about 1 hour and 23 minutes to travel by car between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, a distance of 139.4km, or 86.62 miles. If the Shanghai Maglev was taking you, you’d get there in about 20 minutes. I’d be up for that for sure! I’d also feel safer and at less risk from car accidents. But of course, the UAE would want to beat the Shanghai Maglev’s records – wouldn’t it!? I guess we could aim to shave a few minutes of the journey then – fancy making it in 15? Awesome! How about Abu Dhabi to Riyadh (894km – normally an 8 hour car drive) by ‘Desert Bullet’ in just over an hour? Phenomenal! Bring it on 🙂