Saturday, June 30, 2007

I can breathe!

Whew. What a relief. Finally, the hard bit's over. Only three weeks left till summer vacation. Boy, oh boy I can't wait. Its not like this has been a bad year, but it has been tough. The leap from 8th grade to 9th is huge. Last year, I was proud when I managed to write something 800 words in length. Now, if I'm lucky, that's the half way point. I can only pray that a similar advance doesn't await me at the end of next year, as I make the jump to Sixth Form College. But yeah, so next couple weeks I've got work experience in Cambridge. Sounds kinda boring, but hopefully I'll be plesantly surprised. Still, I am so glad that I've got practically all my coursework behind me. As I said, I can breathe now. Sweet air!!!

Monday, June 11, 2007

This about sums it up...

Nanjing: Man living in harmony with Nature 2004/04/02 16:12 中国周刊

  As early as the beginning of the 20th century, Dr. Sun Yat-sen commented that "Nanjing is a very charming and nice place which boasts of high mountains, deep water and the plateau. These three kinds of endowments bestowed by heaven are incorporated with the city and it is indeed difficult to find such beautiful scenery among big cities in the world." These natural endowments have resulted in an ecological layout that incorporates mountains, water, the city and forest together. Based on such endowments, the environment of mountains, water and the urban layout form an organic blend, and a living city has been created, where man and nature coexist in harmony.

  A natural park

  Nanjing's mountains are lofty and imposing. The western part of Ningzhen Mountains lies here. Mt. Zhongshan is located in the eastern part of the city and looks like a long dragon. Mt. Stone is in the western part of the city and seems to be a crouching tiger. Hence the saying "Mt. Zhongshan is like a lying dragon and a tiger is crouching in the Stone City."

  Nanjing's water is both grand and charming, with the Yangtze river coming from the southwest turns to the east, and the Qinhuai and Jinchuan rivers meandering inside the city. Two lakes, Xuanwu and Mochou, are located in the east and the west.

  The old and the modern parts are integrated within Nanjing City, combining ancient civilisation with modern vigour.

  Nanjing's forest is unique. Tall ancient trees can be seen everywhere in the city, green land and flowers dot all parts of the city. The street trees that have been growing here for many years have formed "green channels" that are spreading all over the whole city. These have led people to comment that "the city is inside the forests" and "the forests are inside the city". That's Nanjing: an ecological city for human living.

  Building an ecological city

  Nanjing City has an area of 6,597 square kilometres and a population of 6.4 million. The overall urban layout has been designed to permit the construction of living accommodation for 10 million people. Based on the city's natural and ecological conditions, the innovative idea of an urban development zone has been put forward. This is the key space reserved for Nanjing's future social and economic development. Its area is 2,947 square kilometres, and its current population is 4.55 million. According to the plan, a modern, big and open-style metropolitan layout will be created. In this layout, the Yangtze river acts as the main axis, with the main city at its core. There is a multi-element structure, with several sub-centres. The layout contains three forms of towns: the main city, the new urban districts and the new city.

  The main city refers to the district south of the Yangtze river and is surrounded by highways forming a circle around the city. It has an area of 243 square kilometres, and its current population is 2.6 million. The new urban districts include Dongshan, Xianlin, Jiangbei. These will be at the centre of the expansion of the main city. The new city includes towns and counties such as Dachang, Xinyao, Banqiao, Longtan, Xiongzhou, Yongyang, and Chunxi. They respectively assume the functions of service centres for their own regions and will become the main development areas of Nanjing's future secondary industries. It is planned that ecological spaces will separate the town-groups so that an "open-type" layout is created.

  This layout is intended to merge the development of the city with both the mountains and the water. As a result, as the scale of the city is expanding, a harmonious dimension will be retained between the city and the natural areas, ingeniously combining Nanjing's resources of mountains, water, city and forest, so as to form a Greater Nanjing that is truly "a city in the forest and a forest in the city". Moreover, the "urban sprawl" so common to other big cities will be avoided.

  A truly green city

  Nanjing has established an urban green land system that is distinct in style and merged organically with the city proper, as well as the surrounding towns.

  First of all, the mountains, forests, bodies of water, and farmland, as well as the and man-made protective forest between the city and towns form the basic framework, while the green land system inside the towns acts as the secondary framework, and the green belt along the communications corridor among towns and the river system forms a linkage. In this way a complete ecological protection net is formed. The three green ecological corridors, i.e., from Mt. Lingyan, Bagua Island to the Yangtze river, from Mt. Qinglong, Mt. Zijin to Lake Xuanwu and from Mt. Yuantai, Mt. Ox Head and Mt. Zutang to Mt. Laoshan, are strictly protected. Five big suburban parks, including Mt. Ox Head, Mt. Zutang, Mt. Tangshan, Mt. Qixia, Mt. Laoshan and Mt. Lingyan are being created, so as to meet people's increasing requirements of recreation and leisure. Green open space will not be less than 75 % of the urban development area, and forest coverage will not be less than 40 %.

  Secondly, the green land system of Nanjing City proper has Mt. Zhongshan, Yuhuatai, the scenery area of Mt. Mufu and the scenery belt along the Yangtze river as its main feature. The highway greenbelt surrounding the city and the greenbelt along the river in the main city act as the green outer ring, and the scenery belt of city walls of the Ming Dynasty acts as the green inner ring. The green corridor formed along the inner/outer Qinhuai river and Jinchuan rivers acts as the connecting band. Various kinds of parks, green land along streets are dotted everywhere in the city, forming a garden-type green land system composed of "two rings and four patches" where points, lines and planes are organically combined. They are integrated with the urban ecological main framework to form a seamless body where urban space and ecological space penetrate one another to form an organic whole. At the same time, plans provide for 80 % of citizens to find an area of green within five to ten minutes' walk. Over the next ten years, public green space per capita in the city proper will surpass 18.7 square meters and the urban greening coverage will reach 55 %.

  A city full of economic vigour

  For a living city, an excellent ecological environment is a must. Furthermore, urban economic vigour and the cultural heritage need also be taken into account.

  Nanjing is one of the four big central cities of the Yangtze river basin, and is also the northern central city of the Yangtze river delta, ranking second only to Shanghai. The city has convenient communications, prosperous industries, vigorous commerce and trade, developed science and technology and booming culture and education. All the above combine to provide a secure environment for its citizens' work, recreational and entertainment needs.

  A rich cultural legacy

  Nanjing's urban scenery of is nothing short of wonderful. Here, the mountains look down on rivers and lakes, and the entire city is merged into a vast expanse of green. Here lie the ancient city walls of the Ming dynasty, the lofty Yangtze river and the charming Qinhuai river. Urban construction pays much attention to the urban environmental design that is closely related to people's work and life. It can be seen even in the details of the city's buildings, the considerable public facilities, the patches of green land and public spaces, delicate small buildings and a comfortable environment for walking. It is this merging of nature and humanity that makes for its distinctive charm.

  As the ancient Green philosopher Aristotle said, "People come to the city for survival and stay there for better living." It can be seen that Man's survival and development is a permanent pursuit in Man's urban development. With the new century, people are still persisting in the pursuit of an excellent living environment and seeking a living city on a human scale, a place where Man and Nature coexist in harmony. We believe this dream will come true in Nanjing.

  Chinese by Sun Juan

  Translated by Pan Xuebing

Thanks to Sina News for this article - finally something reveals the splendour of Nanjing, perhaps my favourite city in the world. A real melting pot of the old, the new, the rich, poor. Even the east and west seem to merge here. Something you will only ever find in the world's 4th biggest country.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Credit Where Credit's Deserved

Well, congratulations to the Anaheim Ducks. The Stanley Cup, at long last has come to the West Coast. Problem is, the Ducks sit at 4th on my list of Pacific Coast teams. I cannot help but look at their victorious season with bitterness. They lead the league in fighting majors, which to me suggests a team that bullies their opponent into submission. Nobody can deny it. That is not how the Stanley Cup should be won. The Cup should be won by a free-flowing, offensive team. Not a team that grinds their way to success. As Scott Niedermayer will tell you, this doesn't usually happen. The Ducks Captain has won four cups, each time on defensive teams. New Jersey won thanks to Jacques Lemaire's trap system. Anaheim won thanks to the league's most vicious forecheck. But most aggravating from my perspective is the lax refereeing that the Ducks owe much of their success to. There was beaucoup de goaltender interference throughout the playoffs. There was the elbow to Jannick Hansen that led to Vancouver's demise. The cheapshot on Holmstrom only recieved a 1 game suspension. Then there was Pronger's second cheapshot of the playoffs, knocking Dean McAmmond senseless. Again, he received just a one game suspension. Another constant throughout the series was obstruction. Ironically, after many complaints from the Ducks' opponents, it was the Senators that suffered worst from the tighter refereeing, falling behind on the PK and ultimately losing their bid for the cup. But all this pales in comparison with Scott Niedermayer's body language after the final horn. It looked like he had to try to smile. Perhaps it was his muskrat of a beard, but as a captain, he should at least have the decency to celebrate his record-breaking 4th cup win with someting like emotion. Having said that, his conduct with Alfredsson was admirable. As a Canucks fan, the one thing that ticks me off above all else was Justin Morneau. 6 months ago, he was recognized as AL MVP during a presentation at GM Place. He made much of his friendship with Canuck defenceman Willie Mitchell. Now, as the season draws to a close, Morneau has jumped ships to the Ducks, getting his Cup Moment on the back of his friendship with another defensive stalwart, Chris Pronger. And there you go, Justin Morneau, stick this in your Trophy Room: Hockey Whore of the Year.

On a final note, you have to be impressed by Swedish resilience in the face of adversity. Namely, Naslund and Alfredsson holding up their teams against the Ducks.
Cue the clips.