135 Madeira Consorcio Excursion 18.5.2023

May 21, 2023 at 11:11 am | Posted in Posts | Leave a comment
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We met with a small group in Porto Novo at the Recycling and Triage station Estação de Transferência da Zona Leste e de Triagem da Madeira (ETZL/ET) (https://arm.pt/residuos/tratamento/) ,

The recycling service on the island (including P Santo) consists of three plants:  recycling/triage in  Este: Meia Legua/Ribeira Brava , Leste Porto Novo, and the burning plant in Meira Serra.

We toured the facilities with ARM (state owned) colaborators Gorete and Ana Vera, a very interesting experience!

All rubbish is taken there: plastic/ packaging, glass, paper /card boxes and undifferentiated rubbish (which is compacted before being taken to Meia Serra for burning). The station also collects green cuts which go to Meia Serra for composting, and old chairs and metal scrap.

Mattresses are collected (burnt in Meia Serra), and furniture, the “monsters, go to the mainland, as well as car tires.

The facility has serval rubbish piles and spits out neat packages of aluminium cans (can be 100% recycled), cans, non-corrosive metal, paper, carton, glass and then PET bottles and household cleaning bottles.

The facility has a huge machine which is able to do the separation with optical means, magnets and such. In the end, a manual check for recyclable material finishes the circuit.

The recycling quality seems to be good. Around ten containers are shipped to the mainland per month and sold to recycling companies. They pay for the material; this goes helps offset the costs of the service. The mainland recipients do not refuse the material from Madeira, which means that the rubbish delivered is, so to speak, of high quality.

The “Este” station in Porto Novo has about 80 workers. The staff gets a bit more than minimum salary, and most of them live near Porto Novo.


134 Madeira Consorcio Meeting 22.4.2023

Apr 23, 2023 at 11:21 am | Posted in Posts | Leave a comment
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We met in the Gallery again. The Topic was the Gentrification of Lisbon. The ARTE video is here:


The report about Alojamento local (AL) and influx of foreign residents with money is quite nice but it left our the “rental history” of Lisbon.

The city centre has a lot of old, rent-controlled buildings in which the tenants are paying a very low rent of perhaps 20 € month. (The CZ Foundation had a rent-controlled house once where the tenants paid a rent of 200 escudos, around 1,50€, per month.)

A building owner will not invest in the upkeep for such low rents and when the roof leaks (accidentally, not deliberately) the money isn’t there to pay for renovations. If the owner damages the roof  deliberately, the juridical costs to fight such a treatment is too high for simple people.

Owners also use the ploy that they need the apartment for themselves to get tenants out. It should be checked by the state if they really move in themselves.

The advantage Lisbon has from the AL boom is that decrepit buildings are now being renovated well, and once AL is stopped by the Government, the apartments are going to be offered for long-term rental to local residents.

The Government can and it seems, will turn the screw (as is custom in Portugal, slowly) by changing the taxation on AL (now net 8.75%) and long-term rental (now 28% minus certain expenses). The tax on AL could be increased and on long term rental is already being lowered. Investors will react to that and switch more and more from AL to long term.

The Golden Visa scheme is also a fact that impacts on real estate prices but the lobby to keep it is place is strong

Tourism in Madeira:

The Levadas are nowadays packed with so many tourists that the crowds resemble the Mount Everest ascent. Low-cost tourists are camping in the Laurissilva, Forbidden, but they have no clue. They should be informed and show respect for the island.

Madeira had 15 Mio tourists passing through in 2022, and many will want to relocate here.

Money talks:

We can expect that the Madeiran Government listens to the “money” and reacts too late to the squeeze on the real estate market which already disfavours the population. Salaries cannot keep up with rising real estate prices, so young couples have to keep living with their parents.

Tenants in Germany can be asked to help with renovation costs for, say, a new roof by paying an add-on for 20-30 years; that is affordable for tenants.

The Government gets high taxes from real estate purchases by foreigners because they pay more than Madeirans.  Luxury projects such as Savoy and Socicorreia should be coupled with housing at affordable prices, but.. nothing is happening yet.

This may cause the Madeirans to develop ressentiments against foreigners.

The Association helping the old tenants in Alfama is:

APPA Associação do Património e da População de Alfama

Organização Não Lucrativa

Localizado em: Miradouro de Santa Luzia, : 1100-058 Lisboa

Telefone: 21 886 9290

They will have an IBAN number for donations.

133 Madeira Consorcio Meeting 18.3.2023

Mar 19, 2023 at 4:22 pm | Posted in Posts | Leave a comment

We met in the Gallery again. The Topic was CRISPR (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CRISPR ).

The TED Talk is here: https://www.ted.com/talks/max_plach_how_crispr_lets_us_take_the_next_step_in_evolution (the link is loading slow)

CRISPR is a natural defence mechanism with which bacteria defend themselves against viruses. Humans have investigated and decoded this technique and can now use it to try to find remedies for serious diseases such as Huntingdon’s. This technology may replace now useless antibiotics in the future. Two female scientists earned a Nobel Prize for it in 2022. It was also patented. The speaker said that this technology can be done in a normal lab, it is relatively simple for an expert to do.

But the technology may be used to manipulate the human genome, a Chinese scientist did this is already to a human egg, which was implanted in a Chinese woman, she gave birth to twins.

Mosquitos, transmitting many diseases in humans, may be manipulated so that only male animals would be hatched. At some point, the mosquitos would die out, but that means that a food source for other animals is going to be missing.

The group was concerned that the side- and aftereffects of such a treatment are not known. Secondary effects may come up later, and as the speaker noted, these Chinese children could have children themselves and enter the changed genome into the general population with time.

Like any new technology, CRISPR can and will be abused. We as individuals cannot do anything against this but we need to be aware of what is out there. But it is not a good idea to mess with evolution. Super-intelligent humans could be created who would find it easier to subdue and suppress other humans due to higher intelligence.

The US, as usual, is in the lead on this technology, it is a democracy, and the group agrees that such technologies should be kept under control in democracies. This is probably wishful thinking; we cannot stop this progress. People who abuse such a technology, should be taken to Justice. In the case of the Ukrainian attack, it is easy to say that Putin should be dragged into the International Court of Justice. The Chinese people cannot be taken to court for starting COVID; a culprit cannot be found and the state is not a person. If a scientist abused CRISPR, the person would have to be identified to be accused, the likelihood of this is low.

Detour: Russian and Ukrainian Oligarchs money can be used to rebuild the Ukraine in the future but these guys might go to the same International Court of Justice court and ask for their money back if they cannot be personally accused of a crime.

Some interesting info:

A interesting report about the American attitude toward the war: “Cooking the Frog”, is here: https://www.tellerreport.com/news/2023-01-18-weapons-for-ukraine–cooking-the-frog.rJgmCZ7Bsi.html

If you like to hear what animals have to say to humans: This woman knows: search for Batgap and emelie-cajsdotter

132 Madeira Consorcio Meeting 14.1.2023

Jan 15, 2023 at 11:21 am | Posted in Posts | Leave a comment

We met in the Gallery again. The Topic was  “How mRNA medicine will change the world”

The TED Talk is here:

Melissa J. Moore (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melissa_J._Moore) works for Moderna.

Mrs. Moore described how complicated our protein system is, and that is doing constant biological warfare to protect our body. The scientists were researching mRNA before the Pandemic because they wanted to create vaccines against cancer. As the Pandemic is almost over (China) they will refocus on individualized cancer vaccines now. Mrs. Moore said that it is very easy to create the fitting mRNA – it can be done in one hour. But we thought that the individual vaccines will probably be very expensive because the pharma industry wants to earn big bucks. On the other hand, with mass production for many patients, the prices should come down. mRNA is only an instruction for the body to make a specific protein but the Pharma guys will also try to get patents on these proteins, and we think it is a bad idea to do open the doors for patents on anything to do with the body.

MJ said the Anglican Church is hesitant to give a position on this technique, it interferes with life. But the reality is that humans mess with life and disease all the time. The Church, also the pope, is in a “Damned, if you do and damned if you don’t” position.

The technique could also be used for bad means, Terrorists or gangsters might try to come up with evil means…  

Artificial intelligence is also coming up, and the question is always whether humans will be able to control it fully and forever.

mRNA could also be used to delay ageing and looking younger. In the Old Testament, some people got to be 200 years old. Not everybody wants that. Once you are old, you are a spectator.

China is using their own vaccine (Sinovac) which is said to be less effective and old people, especially outside of the big centres, are not fully vaccinated, One can only guess what is happening there. They don’t want western vaccines, and the Russian “Sputnik” is not popular either. MJ said that they are using Sinovac in Dubai, they also don’t want the stuff from the West.

The German scientist Kekulé, talking about Covid, said in his regular podcast (https://www.ardaudiothek.de/sendung/kekules-corona-kompass-von-mdr-aktuell/73248430/ in German) that a study that found that the myocarditis in children is actually caused by “loose” spike proteins in the blood. This happened in children who got the vaccine (with a high dosage) but also in kids who hadn’t been vaccinated and caught the disease itself. They will have to work on this; the next vaccines will probably not focus in the spike protein anymore.

We came to think of the song “In the Year 2025” which seems to be right on the point:

Zager and Evans –  in the year 2525 (exordium and terminus)

lyrics https://g.co/kgs/i3YnQ3 

132 Christmas Lunch

Dec 19, 2022 at 5:16 pm | Posted in Posts | Leave a comment

As usual, we went to a renowned restaurant in Funchal for a great Lunch

Here are some photos:

Going strong in 2023!

131 Madeira Consorcio Meeting 26.112022

Nov 27, 2022 at 4:04 pm | Posted in Posts | Leave a comment

We met in the Gallery again. The Topic was “Where on Earth will people live in the future?”

The TED Talk is here.

The Speaker Parag Khanna presents three world maps on the actual population distribution and two projections for the future, based on the effects of global warming, wars and all the other catastrophic developments we face at this time.

First, we discovered that our whole group consists of immigrants; only one of us is half Portuguese, half British 😊

Recently, the immigration process (becoming a full citizen) has been simplified in Germany. Holland is “very racist” when it comes to immigrants.  In Sweden, there is a backlash against refugees and immigrants, this is why a more right-wing party has now a governing majority (in a coalition). Cl. said that only 3-4% of refugees/immigrants cause crime problems but Sweden has a big problem with such groups, they commit the most murders. Most countries are not cherry-picking their immigrants/refugees – they are simply coming in droves – but the countries which do so, like Canada, are better in integration and have lower crime rates from these groups. Australia also has a very selective immigration policy.

But people are leaving their poor countries for safety and economic reasons, they will continue to move into the First World countries.

There is a limit to how many newcomers a country can take. Sweden is good in gun restriction but immigrant populations tend to create their own communities; in Sweden the Muslims are even trying to impose Sharia and enforce it.

Cl. said that the Golden Visa scheme is bad for Europe. Money can buy these people into the Schengen area, and they import their own rules.

U. said that it always was a mistake to bar refugees/asylum seekers from working, this is how they have too much time on their hands and some of them begin to turn to crime. In Germany, refugees are often blamed for crime but this claim is overblown.

Some parents do not want to send their children to certain schools because their kid would not be able to speak German there.

If immigrants are not willing to integrate, they are going to create a state in the state, and the host country might be losing its national integrity.

Germany integrated the East of the country but in a way, these are still two countries. 

Our feeling is that a country cannot be turned completely away from it roots.

In Madeira, there is now growing ressentiment against foreigners, especially with all the luxury building going on. Only foreigners can afford expensive apartments and houses, and the simple folk get envious. They cannot afford what is being built in the best places on the island. Praia Formosa will get one hotel (Ronaldo) and around 400 apartments (Walsh) but we guess that this will not be social housing, it will be luxury apartments again. This is a mistake.

This may not be due (only) to money & corruption but the simple people feel suppressed, they do not have the same chances as the rich or the foreigners. Social apartheid is going to be the result.

Iran: the population is not keen on a revolution but they have no choice but to revolt, due to shortages, hunger, missing jobs and miserable income. It will be interesting to see of the new revolution can now topple not only the government, but also the Mullahs and the Revolutionary Guards. We are hopeful but sceptic. But successful revolutions happened in Portugal, in Spain and in Romania. We are in solidarity with the Iranian people.


130 Madeira Consorcio Meeting 24.9.2022

Sep 25, 2022 at 4:51 pm | Posted in Posts | Leave a comment

We met in the Gallery again, with a small group, and had a nice discussion about Stillness, a topic which does not offer much potential for dissent.

We saw

The speaker is a travel writer. He is well established and has a good life, and from the start, had a privileged upbringing. Other people are not so well off in the start, therefore they might not have an opportunity to go this way.

We agreed that youngsters have no access to stillness in youth, they have to establish themselves, build a career, maybe start a family and deal with complex social media pressure. They have to conform and belong to these groups, in order to fit in. People in our age, can afford to step back and get out if the rat race. People who do not adhere to social media, have a more quiet life which leaves space for a pause for stillness and self-reflection.

Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest, teaches his priests stillness and he says that in the second half of life, as of around 37 years, adults can step back and get into stillness. The Speaker mentioned Leonard Cohen as an example of a person in stillness – he was a Buddhist priest but never shed Judaism – but his portrait in the talk was not quite accurate.


It seems Leonard Cohen and his music had a big impact on many of his fans.

As before said, the topic of Stillness creates no adversity!

129 Madeira Consorcio Meeting 23.7.2022

Jul 25, 2022 at 11:14 am | Posted in Posts | Leave a comment

We met in the Gallery again, with a small group. We had a lively discussion about “regenesis”

Here are the videos we saw:

https://youtu.be/az3DmKZK6JI  and Monbiot: Farming is destructive https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOQGTViNgsM  

(We also have

https://www.ted.com/talks/george_monbiot_for_more_wonder_rewild_the_world?language=pt )

The notes:

We saw a short film made with George Monbiot, author or “Regenesis” and the second talk, an interview with him. He says that we have to stop farming, even organic farming and animal-friendly farming (free range cows and chickens): Even these types of animal farming have too much of a negative impact on the environment,

Monbiot is promoting the creation of food on the basis of micro-organisms, which is being developed in a lab in Finland.

M.J, said that such “food” production could be as harmful as genetic engineering, leading to all kinds of unforeseen negative consequences for human life later.

He says that we should find means to re-nature the soil in say, in the Sahara, which has plenty of space. In deserts, soil recuperation could now much more useful and we could continue with farming here.

Monbiot also said that perennial farming should be used in the future. This would meet with strong opposition from companies like Monsanto which are trying to get Indian farmers and others to buy their gene-manipulated one-time seed.

S. said that population control should be implemented to avoid having 10 Billion people on the planet in the future. Cl. said we cannot stop population growth; S. said that education in third world countries needs to change behaviour.

Cl. spoke about vertical agriculture which should be the future, saving space and fertilizer. It can be done anywhere but it needs a lot of energy.

U. said that soil depletion can be reversed it is a slow process but even “useless” soil can be regenerated to have new use of the land. Monbiot spoke of a farmer in the UK who does this and now successfully farms on former barren land.

S. said that we humans should cut down pollution and plastic, this would be a first essential step out of the crisis. The Pandemic has shown that we can control our behaviour when needed. We have to be pro-active.

The question is what kind of replacements for us (carnivores and herbivores) micro-organisms can produce.  Microorganisms can produce pancakes, so hopefully we will not end up with food in form of pills. But allergies and cancer might be a potential result.

S. and M.l J said that we would lose a part of joy in life if we couldn’t have a good piece of meat once in a while. M. J said that changing a diet which has been in place for hundreds of years, cannot be done easily. Food gives pleasure and food security is important for humans. Chicken is a very common food also in Asia, it cannot be taken off the menu just like that.

Cl. said that meat once per week would be ok. (King Henri IV said that every French family should have a chicken in the pot on Sundays).

When Coca-Cola was introduced into the beverage market, no-one had a clue about the drink; with good marketing, it was accepted all over the world. So, a new way of eating could be accepted as well.

Portugal will have 10 heat waves I per year as of 2070. Already, people are beginning to see that things have to change drastically to avoid a human catastrophe.

S. said that nature doesn’t need us, it will survive without us.

U. has an old article that said that phosphor will run out, essential for fertilizer products. Companies need to find other alternatives and with human ingenuity, they probably will.

The Amazon is still being depleted, also through soy production which is just as bad as traditional farming.

We need a solution quickly, we cannot wait much longer. Monbiot says that cutting out farming would have the biggest positive impact on the climate. Methane from cows is the worst polluter.

The farmers’ lobby is strong, especially in Germany, they don’t get at all.

Monbiot says that if 25% of the population changed their eating habits to the new food products, the rest of the population would follow but that is only an assumption.

People can learn and adapt: we have electric cars, next might be floating cars; we would adopt to that as well.

Europe and the US should be the forerunners and set a good example for Third World countries; we should set aside or reduce meat consumption, then Third World countries would also adopt this attitude.  

China and India are not the biggest polluters, it’s still the US and Europe but they are increasing in pollution quickly.

New York city boasts air conditions units in every apartment, very costly. If entire buildings were equipped with a joint system for all apartments, energy consumption would go down. But the installation of such common systems would be complicated and costly.

The future will not be easy.

128 Madeira Consorcio Meeting 18.6.2022

Jun 20, 2022 at 11:00 am | Posted in Posts | Leave a comment

We met in the Gallery again, the Topic was Philanthropy. (“PH”)

Here is the video we saw:


Karen found one more video (long):


And she found a good definition: What is the difference between philanthropy and charity?

Philanthropy is more long-term and strategic and often involves making multiple gifts to help people over a number of years. While charity is focused on providing immediate relief to people and is often driven by emotions, philanthropy is focused on helping people and solving their problems over the long-term.

 (We also have

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObvKlsZMuCQ  Jim Hodge 2016 17:07

https://www.ted.com/talks/katherine_fulton_you_are_the_future_of_philanthropy Katherien Fulton  2007  12:00 )

The notes:

Cl. said that PH did not and does not exist under communism because the state believes that every need is covered. People accept oppression to have all their basic needs met.

Cl. has a problem with philanthropists like Bill Gates because such people have earned their money in devious ways and donate it to be loved, to redeem themselves. The foundations of such people are receiving tax benefits for their work, not paying taxes on profit. The Left hand is giving to the Right hand.

U. sad that these foundations are not trading or providing services, so the money which is circulation should not be taxed again, Still, to have PH is better than not having it, in situations where there is a need not covered by the state.

Casa Misericordia is a PH foundation by the state, a lottery, but the proceeds go to Charity.

PH fought a fight against Smallpox and won it, by sending nurses to 1 Mio households in India alone, to vaccinate the kids. Smallpox is almost extinct in the world now. Mosquito nets are also acquired and donated on a large scale by PH foundations. In the Video, a combined vaccine for 5 different childhood diseases was mentioned, saving thousands of lives.

Sweden has a very good social support system; it is expensive but the citizens accept the cost. PH is not essential in such a state. The advantage is that the state has elected representatives who can be held accountable. On the other hand, the Civil Service managers are not thrown out of office by elections if they work badly.

A private Foundation has no such control.

The benefits of PF foundations are great even if the motivation of the founders is not based on selfless service.

Lendwithcare is a foundation that does a lot of good, it is part of the CARE International Foundation (recently, they added Nigeria to their roster.)

U. said that asking for donations for CASA 2 x per year in the Pingo Doce supermarkets is easy, the volunteers do not ask for anything for themselves, but for the poor. So there is no hindrance to be bold. (The CZ Foundation is more laid back , asking for their “own” children.)

Altruism costs money.

With inflation, it will be more difficult to obtain donations from the working class. Bill Gates hasn’t got this problem; his Foundation is gaining more just by leaving money in the pot. Once a money pot is big enough, it grows exponentially, never running out.

Jeff Bezos ex-wife Mackenzie Bezos is managing her foundation to give all of her money away, this is a big job. She needs staff to vet requests from all over the world, choose them and monitor their behaviour. It is practical for such people to use a private plane.

PHs cannot be compared to e.g., Mother Teresa’s work, she did her work out of Goodness. We were reminded of a story (fiction) Dennis mentioned long time ago: The man who planted trees https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_Who_Planted_Trees

Natural disasters and health are the big fields of PH where they are useful because they can send money more quickly than a state.

We also spoke a bit about the oncoming food crisis (three trading empires control most of the world food trade), supply chains and dependencies in Russia and China, and on the efforts to stem Global Warming.

The mood was pessimistic that we will tackle these problems in time.

The future will not be easy.

Other stuff:

U.gave a brochure on the Gamma camera (for better breast cancer screening) to Dra. Rafaela from IASaude on Tuesday, at the blood donors’ reunion.

We should have the next meeting in July

127 Madeira Consorcio Meeting 22.05.2022

May 23, 2022 at 6:49 pm | Posted in Posts | Leave a comment
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We met in the Gallery again.

The Topic was the advances made on Solar Power.

The cost for Solar went down considerably

Here are the links (we saw both):

Marjan on Solar power: http://www.rocagallery.com/ted-talk-marjan-van-aubel

Hannah showed a flexible Solar Cell:

The notes:

Marjan said that the Earth receives in one hour enough power from the Sun to supply energy to Humankind for a year. (Marjan has also an interview here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdpNHCMnuJQ)

Solar cells now have an efficiency of 44.5%

M. J said that there is a village (300 houses) in Abu Dhabi that is completely “fueled” by Solar Power.

U. has two clients who are installing solar in their homes. Currently, there are two subsidy programs running in Portugal: one from the State for the panels and another one from Madeira for the batteries. The supplier in Madeira is Zenergy (https://zenergia.pt/ ), they also help the clients get together the paperwork to obtain the subsidies (warning: cumbersome bureaucracy). One of the clients will sell electricity to EEM.

D. and S. have a solar system, in the Algarve, more info on this later.

U. has a small solar panel on her balcony (movable, 60 x 40 cm) and a box with the battery (outside for safety reasons). Inside on the wall is a small “controller” (Red = no juice, Green = good) and a converter, and she loads her mobiles, Nintendo, and hoover with it. In theory, if there were no electricity but if the wireless worked, she could communicate with the world with her tablet or phone for some time, with power being supplied from the solar panel. The whole set cost about 250€ plus installation from AKI at the time.

C. and K. had solar in their Gallery in ZA, and in the beginning, the cost went down considerably but with time, the Grid company found other ways how to charge them for other costs so that they energy bill went up again. Cheeky.

On the south coast, we had a wave turbine experiment some years ago, but we couldn’t find any information on how that turned out.

In the TED talks, the speakers also mention that windows can now generate solar power; aluminum windows with two glass panes can have a solar film in the middle. Small devices can be loaded on the windowsill.

One of the speakers also said that we have a lot of new solar technology at but it is not being used or implemented. We should be further along with the implementation.

Batteries need to be developed further, to give more storage; their production is also a burden on the environment.

Smaller systems may be the future. Instead of damming rivers and damaging the environment, households or groups of houses should have small systems for energy… Small windmills can also be installed on balconies. Amazon has several types, but Leroy Merlin also got some systems at this time, with discounts.

The purchase of an electric car will only pay off after 200.000 km use because we have to consider the production costs and materials, such as “rare earths” (which are not rare) that go into these cars. Professionally used cars do that kind of km, in any case.

Other stuff:

Gamma Camera to detect breast cancer: we had a TED talk about it lone time ago, The Cameras are being produced and sold in the US: https://savvy-diagnostics.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Dilon_Diagnostics_Brochure.pdf

H & M have a campaign that they buy back used clothes for recycling and repairing:


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