Climate row: the many names they call Greta Thunberg

Climate row: the many names they call Greta Thunberg

Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg was Time’s 2019 Person of the Year. Given the amount of bashing the 17-year-old has had to put up with from adults, she deserves another title: Punching Bag of the Year. Greta has been called more names than Donald J. Trump, Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un combined — or Hitler and Stalin, for that matter.

An article in The American Conservative magazine has tried to justify the attacks on Greta with a bit of sophistry. It argues: “Greta cannot be simultaneously old enough to voice her views on one of today’s most important issues and be too young to be criticized for the things she says.” The author, one Bill Wirtz, is implying that all criticism is valid. Hasn’t he heard of ad hominem, a form of argument in which one personally attacks another instead of focusing on the issue?

This type of logical fallacy threatens to dominate the entire climate change debate. Just consider the numerous labels pinned on Greta by those who, paradoxically, accuse her of being too emotional and too immature to understand what’s going on in the world. Sadly, the insults have come, not only from internet trolls and self-declared pundits, but from the conservative media and some world leaders. 

“silly hysterical girl”
“sick girl”
“just someone’s puppet”
“scowling teenager”
“a heroine whose virtue is anger”
“mentally ill puppet”
“a well trained and handled puppet”
“a pawn in an elite globalist agenda she doesn’t understand”
“Brat Out of Hell”
“Stupid little kant”
“a big joke”
“a little teenage girl with mental illness”
“a teen being manipulated by her parents”
“a little girl with a big ego”

“an evil conceited child”
“a useful fool”
“a mouthpiece for her activist parents”
“a deluded teenager”
“a Preventing Solutions Fraud”
“a paid shill out there to wreck the world”
“stupid idiot”
“weird Swede with a bad temper”
“child communist”
“mentally ill Swedish child”
“a political pawn being used by the left”
“little climate-brainwashed pit bull”
“a pawn and a fraud”
“a tool of the hoaxers”

One need not be a believer in man-induced climate change to see that such attacks are puerile and tasteless. Perhaps the most vicious are those that mock Greta for her Asperger’s syndrome. To Greta’s credit, she is candid about it and even declares it in her Twitter profile. She has handled the tsunami of personal attacks against her with unusual courage, maturity and class. Adults have a lot to learn from this girl.

~Barista Uno

The Marine Cafe Blog

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Appreciating miniature marine art in motley objects

Appreciating miniature marine art in motley objects

Barista Uno

Generally speaking, people tend be more impressed by things that are large than by similar things of smaller scale. Thus, a mansion is likely to draw more attention and plaudits than a bungalow; a limousine more than a compact car; and a cruise ship more than a catamaran. Yet, size does not — or should not — matter when it comes to art. One only needs to look more closely to appreciate the beauty embodied in the smallest of objects.

Miniature Ship, 1700–1800
Height: 2 1/8 in. (5.5 cm); made of ivory
Maker/artist: unidentified
Photo and text courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Miniature Inro with Design of Firewood-laden Boats on Waves, 19th century
Height: 1 7/8 in. (4.8 cm); width: 1 1/2 in. (3.8 cm); gold maki-e with mother-of-pearl inlay on black lacquer; netsuke of hardwood with cloisonne
Made by Shibata Zeshin (Japanese, 1807–1891), copied from a design by Hon’ami K?etsu (Japanese, 1558–1637)
Photo and text courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

View of a Harbor, ca. 1750
Diameter 3 1/8 in. (80 mm); verre fixé
French Painter (ca. 1750)
Photo and text courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Engraved Scaraboid with Protesilaos on the Prow of a Ship, 400–350 B.C.
2.2 × 1.5 × 0.7 cm (7/8 × 9/16 × 1/4 in.); cornelian
Photo and text courtesy of The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California

Pendant in the form of a siren, European, probably ca. 1860
Height: 4 3/16 in. (10.6 cm); baroque pearl with enameled gold mounts set with rubies
Photo and text courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Snuffbox with six maritime scenes, 1770–71
1-1/4 x 3-1/16 x 1-7/8 in. (3.2 x 7.8 x 4.8 cm); gold and paper
Maker: Dominique-François Poitreau (apprenticed 1741, master 1757, retired 1781)
Miniature by a French painter, after a painting by Joseph Vernet (French, 1714–1789)
Photo and text courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

~Barista Uno

The Marine Cafe Blog

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Endings & beginnings: 10 terrific quotes to greet 2020

Endings & beginnings: 10 terrific quotes to greet 2020

The photo (shown above) of the old New York waterfront by American photographer and writer Consuelo Kanaga (1894-1978) may well symbolise the new year: a river to be traversed, a bridge to be crossed. There’s no guarantee that all will be well. We just have to take in the good together with the bad and never lose courage and hope. To all the readers of Marine Café Blog, a peaceful New Year. May the following quotes provide you with some inspiration as you navigate through the waters of 2020.


Let us not burthen our remembrance with
A heaviness that’s gone.

— William Shakespeare, The Tempest

What one needs to do at every moment of one’s life is to put an end to the old world and to begin a new world.

— Nikolai Berdyaev, The Beginning and the End

Not so bad this ending because one is getting used to endings: life like Morse, a series of dots and dashes, never forming a paragraph.

— Graham Greene, England Made Me

The past is never dead. It’s not even past.

— William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun

Not every end is a goal. The end of a melody is not its goal; but nonetheless, if the melody had not reached its end it would not have reached its goal either. A parable.

— Friedrich Nietzche, The Wanderer and His Shadow 

and Beginnings

Shall the day of parting be the day of gathering?
And shall it be said that my eve was in truth my dawn?

— Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

If you are asked to achieve an ending somehow, this also means that you are receiving an order to begin anew; a new beginning is always possible – who should refuse it?

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Life

The past is but the beginning of a beginning, and all that is and has been is but the twilight of the dawn.

— H.G. Wells, The Discovery of the Future

The only joy in the world is to begin. It is good to be alive because living is beginning, always, every moment. When this sensation is lacking—as when one is in prison, or ill, or stupid, or when living has become a habit—one might as well be dead.

— Cesare Pavese, This Business of Living

Veil after veil of thin dusky gauze is lifted, and by degrees the forms and colours of things are restored to them, and we watch the dawn remaking the world in its antique pattern.

— Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

~ Barista Uno

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2019: Marine Café Blog’s fierce takes on seafarer issues

2019: Marine Café Blog’s fierce takes on seafarer issues

In 2019 the shipping industry almost went crazy over wellness training and the issue of seafarer mental health. The noise from the charities was so loud that it seemed like depression at sea was some kind of an epidemic worse than the Ebola plague. It did not help that the conformist maritime press amplified their frantic messages and slogans. Marine Café Blog refused to be suck in by all that frenzy. Here are some of the things I wrote:

In the final analysis, it is the general environment in which seafarers are treated like commodities that lies at the heart of the mental health issue on board ships. If you can’t reduce human suffering, why add an ounce to it even if it be in the name of compassion?

Wellness training for seafarers: paving a new road to hell’

Depression is a problem that is much more complex than the maritime charities would have us believe. The general environment in which seafarers operate may well be a major contributing factor, but it is not all. Depression could be due to the individual’s mental or emotional make-up. Some are simply not cut out for a job at sea and the loneliness and isolation it entais.

‘Depression at sea: going to the root of the problem’

Marine Café Blog spotlighted other issues that had received little, if any, attention from the maritime press. Amongst them: the training overload on seafarers and the IMO making big money from the STCW convention. But one particular issue filled me with so much anguish and anger that I simply had to write about it at great personal risk. This is the decades-old practice by manning agents in Manila of stealing from the dollar remittances of seafarers through the use of a lower conversion rate. An excerpt from the blog’s exposé:

“It’s a small service fee,” the president of one crewing firm once told me. I was astonished by the cavalier remark. Banks already charge for every dollar remitted. Why should manning agents impose a “fee” when they are not licensed as bankers or even as money changers? It’s a lucrative business and downright dishonest.

‘Crewing agents as money changers’

Such candid writing has not endeared me and Marine Café Blog to the manning community in Manila or to some maritime charities and unions that harbour the idea that they are sacred cows. But this seems a small price to pay for being honest and independent. Kissing ass carries a much higher price: the loss of one’s pride and soul.

~Barista Uno

The Marine Cafe Blog

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Six modest maritime wishes for the New Year

Six modest maritime wishes for the New Year

The German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe famously wrote: “Who is the wisest man? He who neither knows or wishes for anything else than what happens.” Maybe so, but what is a new year or life itself without wishes? As the old year winds down and a new one looms on the horizon, I thought I would share my personal maritime wishes. A peaceful New Year to all you readers of Marine Café Blog.

A more critical maritime press

With a few exceptions, the maritime press has become one big echo chamber for corporations and PR firms. Just look at the way it unquestioningly gobbles up press releases and repeats the slogans and catchphrases of the maritime establishment. Surely, readers deserve better.

A stop to the wellness training nonsense

The idea that wellness training can alleviate or prevent depression is patently stupid. Yet, the shipping industry is full of talk on the subject. One maritime charity is even calling for the training to be made mandatory for seafarers. It is a self-serving proposition that not even the unions are questioning.

Concrete steps to address the maritime training overload

It is disingenuous for the international shipping community to talk about seafarers’ rights when nothing is being done to lighten the burden of training on seafarers. Why do seasoned ship captains have to undergo further training to have their certificates revalidated? Do knowledge and experience have an expiry date? Time for a drastic review of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW).

Punitive action against erring shipowners

Captains are usually left holding the bag whenever there is a ship collision or pollution at sea. There should be greater accountability for shipowners who indirectly cause such accidents through their failure to properly maintain their vessels and ensure that their crews are well-trained (and, yes, well-paid).

Proper vetting of manning agencies by their foreign principals

Shipowners can help reduce the exploitation of seafarers by making sure that their manning agents adhere strictly to ethical standards. In Manila, millions of dollars are being stolen annually by dishonest crewing firms from the dollar remittances of Filipino seafarers. Yet, foreign principals don’t bother to look into this decades-old scam.

Corporate promotion of marine art

Companies proudly hang their ISO and ISM certificates on their office walls. Why not also display some marine paintings or seashells? They help create a more congenial atmosphere in the office and will suggest to visitors that the company cares about art and culture, not just money.

~Barista Uno

The Marine Cafe Blog

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