James Corden discusses how his friendship with Matt Horne ended in a recent interview on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories.
Are China’s megacities an insurance challenge or opportunity?
By 2025, China is expected to house over 1 million inhabitants in 221 cities – news which will bring the urban population up to 1 billion and pose both an insurance opportunity and a challenge.
One of China’s major challenges is their vulnerability to natural threats; especially as two of China’s megacities (Beijing and Tianjin) are defenseless against earthquakes.
In fact, since 1965, some of the world’s most expensive natural disasters have struck China. This figure has greatly affected insurance statistics.
Many believe that China will undoubtedly become a major catastrophe zone for the reinsurance industry after the European windstorm, the USA wind and quake and the Japanese wind and quake.
When costs from rebuilding the Sichuan province after the 2008 earthquake are factored in, China’s megacities could become more of a challenge especially as there’s more than one concern to worry about with floods and typhoons also high risk in these areas.
Current figures show the proportion of urban residents to China’s total population to be 53.7%, which is lower than the typical developed nations. Over a span of 10 years, the government hopes to push this figure up to 70%.
Placing a mass of individuals in one urban space poses numerous challenges. There must be sufficient resources to move people from A to B and enough assets to go around. Urban planning and durable buildings are just one consideration to factor into the equation.
Engineering and technological expertise are also expected to play a hugepart in tomorrow’s big cities. Optimists see a new network of powerful, stable and prosperous city states and in 2010, China surpassed the USA as the world’s principal car market so transportation will be one of the top assets to focus on.
In 2013 alone, the number of cars sold reached a figure of over 20 million.
Other investments must focus their attentions on underground subways and high-speed rail, as well as alternative mass transport devices. Many of these groundwork projects are already taking place and in 2012 the government sanctioned 25 new subway projects investing over $127 billion in the process.
One of the major challenges China is facing is the tension on natural resources, such as water. With precipitation at less than half the usual levels, Henan in central China is currently suffering from a drought which is disturbing food production and limiting drinking water supplies.
Northern China’s water supply is of major concern too – last year it was the lowest it has ever been in 60 years. China needs to figure out how to secure this water supply to support the lives of the people.
To tackle this challenge, various projects are now in place, including the impressive South-North Water Diversion Project that is said to cost in the region of $50 billion. Once finished, its purpose is to move water along 2,000 miles of canals running from the Yellow River in the north to the Yangtse in the south with some of the water paths intended to run across the Himalayan plateau.
Having concentrations of people and assets in close proximity creates other megacity weaknesses. Natural catastrophes, pandemics, climate change and pollution are all greatly exaggerated in densely packed urban environments, especially one that starts with a population of over 10 million!
Are Brits as polite as they think they are?
When travelling abroad, I’m often shocked by the sheer rudeness of people who find it perfectly acceptable to skip queues, stare and burp loudly in restaurants! Although I’ve always found my fellow Brits to be a polite and well-mannered bunch, I can’t help but wonder whether our perception of politeness or fairness is somehow skewed.
Just recently the Fairtrade Foundation posed the question: “How Fair are you?” with an interactive test to help raise awareness of producers in developing countries and to promote sustainability.
For me, unfairness is much more than just skipping the queue or barging past others to get where I’m going: it’s about an inward looking, self-centred point of view which is unconcerned with the welfare of others. Politeness, on the other hand, is a way of measuring fairness which is a good indication of a considerate person.
According to Fairtrade, 76% of us Brits are considered fair but we can still do so more to help others, particularly those working in developing countries. For example, by making a conscious effort to buy Fairtrade produce, like coffee, you are helping to make the world a more fairer and better place to live!
Dan Aykroyd: Catholic Seminarian Turned Actor
Legendary comedic actor and screenwriter Dan Aykroyd was born on July 1, 1952 in Ottawa. His French Canadian mother, Lorraine Gougon Aykroyd, worked as a secretary, and his father, Peter Aykroyd, was a civil engineer who worked as a policy adviser to Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. He has a younger brother named Peter.
Aykroyd grew up in the Catholic Church in Ottawa, and until the age of seventeen, he was interested in becoming a priest. Outgoing and hyperactive, he was expelled from his strict Catholic seminary school and ended up at Carleton University where he studied psychology, criminal sociology and political science. During college, he was part of the Sock and Buskin Drama Guild, and his focus shifted toward acting and performing.
After graduation, he did stand-up comedy in a number of local clubs and ran a speakeasy called Club 505. Aykroyd also began playing blues music and immersing himself in Ottawa’s blues culture – a time which would later influence the creation of the Blues Brothers. In 1975, Aykroyd became the youngest cast member and writer on the first four seasons of Saturday Night Live.
He was famous for his impersonations of people like Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon, and for his co-creation of skits like the Coneheads. Aykroyd’s close friendship with fellow cast member John Belushi inspired the creation of the Blues Brothers, which was first a skit, then a legitimate musical act, immortalized in an album and film.
After leaving Saturday Night Live, Aykroyd embarked on a long and successful film career. In 1984, he co-wrote Ghostbusters with Harold Ramis, and it went on to become one of the biggest hits of the decade. In 1989, he became the second former SNL cast member to be nominated for an Oscar when he was recognized for his work in Driving Miss Daisy. He continues to play supporting roles in big films and guest spots on popular television shows.
Aykroyd has three daughters with his wife of over thirty years, actress Donna Dixon. He maintains his Canadian citizenship and owns an estate on Loughborough Lake, in Ontario. He has an avid interest in UFOlogy and Spiritualism, and he has been a member of the Order of Canada since 1998.
With his colorful history and legendary talent, Dan Aykroyd remains one of the most celebrated comedians in Canadian news today.