The right way to do any social work is to work until you're not needed anymore.
It's difficult on a ship to get away from your job because that accommodation house, which is where seafarers live, is their workplace, it's where they live, it's where they relax, it's everything, and it's just hard to get away. And seafarers often refer to their job as being in prison with a salary.
In practice, the ocean is the world's wildest place because of both its fearsome natural danger and how easy it is out there to slip from the boundaries of law and civilization that seem so firm ashore.
My mother watched her loving husband look at her with blankness or contempt and sometimes hatred. And yet dementia is classed as a social condition, so that the state is not required to pay for long-term residential care. Calling it what it is - brain damage - is too expensive.
Who cares about the men who steered your breakfast cereal through winter storms? How ironic that the more ships have grown in size and consequence, the less space they take up in our imagination.
There is a scene in Richard Attenborough's biopic where Gandhi argues with his wife because she refuses to clean their latrine. She says it is the work of untouchables; he tells her there is no such thing. Gandhi's tactics of encouraging brotherly love across caste boundaries and urging Indians to clean their own latrines had failed miserably.
Ships are obliged to take on harbor or river pilots - who provide specialized local navigation - when they approach a port, but in the canal, a Suez crew is also obligatory. The crew members are there in case the ship needs to be moored during the canal transit, but this rarely happens.
There are few industries as defiantly opaque as shipping. Even offshore bankers have not developed a system as intricately elusive as the flag of convenience, under which ships can fly the flag of a state that has nothing to do with its owner, cargo, crew, or route.
When Peru had a cholera outbreak in 1991, losses from tourism and agricultural revenue were three times greater than the total money spent on sanitation in the previous decade.
Felixstowe, the United Kingdom's largest port, stops work only for Christmas Day and for crane-toppling Force 9 gales.
In 2000, twice as much water was used throughout the world as in 1960. By 2050, half of the planet's projected 8.9 billion people will live in countries that are chronically short of water.
Diarrhea, 90 percent of which is caused by food and water contaminated by excrement, kills a child every fifteen seconds. That's more than AIDS, malaria, or measles, combined. Human feces are an impressive weapon of mass destruction.
You've probably been asked to care about things like HIV/AIDS or T.B. or measles, but diarrhea kills more children than all those three things put together. It's a very potent weapon of mass destruction.
Rotavirus does not cause all diarrhea, but it causes a lot of it. Instead of a single vaccine dose, however, harried nurses may have to give several, as diarrhoea makes it difficult for a child to retain anything.
As for restaurants and fast-food places who tip tons of oil down their drains, they are routinely encouraged to use fat traps, but enforcement is minimal. It costs money to cart away fat (although now that fat is being turned into energy, it can make money).
All that is known for sure is that endometriosis is endemic and that it cannot be cured. Management is the best hope. This makes for treatments that are, if I am being polite, based on trial and error. If I am feeling less generous, they are shots in the dark.
Buy your fair-trade coffee beans by all means, but don't assume fair-trade principles govern the conditions of the men who fetch it to you. You would be mistaken.
Most modern Indians don't stick to their caste jobs any more. There is more inter-caste marriage, more fluidity, more freedom than ever before. But the outcastes are usually still outcastes, because they are still the ones who tan India's animals, burn its dead, and remove its excrement.
Some countries have more water than others - some can afford to use clean water to flush their poop away, and some can't.
I find Maersk fascinating. It is the Coca-Cola of freight with none of the fame. Its parent company, A. P. Moller-Maersk, is Denmark's largest company, its sales equal to 20 percent of Denmark's GDP; its ships use more oil than the entire nation.