Le Tour and La Famine

East African Famine
East African Famine

I love watching Le Tour – it starts just as the students disappear and ends just as the holiday proper begins. Not only is there something rather noble about it – You don’t attack if one of the main contendors has a crash or a mechanical fault, rather you slow down and let them catch you up; and the last day of cycling is not contested because of ‘tradition’ – and I was most impressed by Andy Schleck’s tweet yesterday saying Cadel Evans ‘deserved to win this year’ despite the fact that Schleck had absolutely turned himself inside out over the last three weeks. I also happen to think cycling offers a serious antidote to our addiction to fossil fuels.

Having said this, I can’t help but feel slightly guilty about my love of the le tour because of this little calculation –

  • There are 219 riders who consume an average of 6000 calories over 21 stages – that means they consume 25 million calories between them (ok I calculated it with 200 given that some drop out, and this excludes rest days)
  • That amount of calories would keep 4 people per rider alive in East Africa! – or looked at on a daily basis 25 million calories would feed almost 17000 people consuming 1500 calories a day.
A typical day's food consumption for a participant in Le Tour
A typical day's food consumption for a participant in Le Tour

Apparantly HTC are pulling out of sponsoring Le Tour next year (Lord knows why given that they’re on for winning six stages) – If only I could afford to sponser them myself – I’d have them riding around in jerseys saying ‘My participation in Le Tour is worth 4 East African lives – if you feel guilty about this donate to the East African Famine relief programme or go to WDM to find out more!’

Having said this I personally think donating money to famine relief in Africa is an utter waste of time; you’d be better off investing your time and money in educating yourself about the deeper causes of food insecurity and campaigning for fairer global economic institutions, less conflict, and  more aid effectiveness.

Communique to Earthlings

Nice series of cartoons from the Transition Network – Gort and Klattu’s communique with earthlings – in which aliens try to reason with a representative of humanity over the damage being done to the planet.




Incidentally, one reason I’ve been holding off blogging for a month is to reflect on whether I want my posts to head in a more academic direction, this kind of thing makes me think not! You can get the rest of the twenty odd cartoons in the seriew

Graffiti – a proportionate response to a society obsessed with status

Nice quote by Banksy 2010 – in the intro to Trespass: A History of Uncommissioned Urban Art

‘To some people breaking into property and painting it might seem a little inconsiderate, but in reality the 30 square centimetres of your brain are trespassed upon every day by teams of marketing experts. Graffiti is a perfectly proportionate response to being sold unattainable goals by a society obsessed with status an infamy. Graffiti is the sight of an unregulated free market getting the kind of art it deserves. And although some people might say it’s all a big waste of time, no one cares about their opinion if their name isn’t written in huge letters on the bridge into town’