Posts filed under ‘The World’
One of the most beautiful YouTube videos I’ve ever seen. Enjoy.
This article, from the Australian newspaper, The Herald, is about Ivan Macfadyen’s trek from Melbourne to Osaka, ten years go and then again this past spring:
IT was the silence that made this voyage different from all of those before it.
Not the absence of sound, exactly.
The wind still whipped the sails and whistled in the rigging. The waves still sloshed against the fibreglass hull.
And there were plenty of other noises: muffled thuds and bumps and scrapes as the boat knocked against pieces of debris.
What was missing was the cries of the seabirds which, on all previous similar voyages, had surrounded the boat.
The birds were missing because the fish were missing.
Exactly 10 years before, when Newcastle yachtsman Ivan Macfadyen had sailed exactly the same course from Melbourne to Osaka, all he’d had to do to catch a fish from the ocean between Brisbane and Japan was throw out a baited line.
“There was not one of the 28 days on that portion of the trip when we didn’t catch a good-sized fish to cook up and eat with some rice,” Macfadyen recalled.
But this time, on that whole long leg of sea journey, the total catch was two.
No fish. No birds. Hardly a sign of life at all.
But in March and April this year, only silence and desolation surrounded his boat, Funnel Web, as it sped across the surface of a haunted ocean.
North of the equator, up above New Guinea, the ocean-racers saw a big fishing boat working a reef in the distance.
“All day it was there, trawling back and forth. It was a big ship, like a mother-ship,” he said.
And all night it worked too, under bright floodlights. And in the morning Macfadyen was awoken by his crewman calling out, urgently, that the ship had launched a speedboat.
“And they gave us five big sugar-bags full of fish,” he said.
“They were good, big fish, of all kinds. Some were fresh, but others had obviously been in the sun for a while.
“We told them there was no way we could possibly use all those fish. There were just two of us, with no real place to store or keep them. They just shrugged and told us to tip them overboard. That’s what they would have done with them anyway, they said.
Macfadyen felt sick to his heart. That was one fishing boat among countless more working unseen beyond the horizon, many of them doing exactly the same thing.
No wonder the sea was dead. No wonder his baited lines caught nothing. There was nothing to catch.
If that sounds depressing, it only got worse.
After we left Japan, it felt as if the ocean itself was dead,” Macfadyen said.
“We hardly saw any living things. We saw one whale, sort of rolling helplessly on the surface with what looked like a big tumour on its head. It was pretty sickening.
“In a lot of places we couldn’t start our motor for fear of entangling the propeller in the mass of pieces of rope and cable. That’s an unheard of situation, out in the ocean.
Plastic was ubiquitous. Bottles, bags and every kind of throwaway domestic item you can imagine, from broken chairs to dustpans, toys and utensils.
And something else. The boat’s vivid yellow paint job, never faded by sun or sea in years gone past, reacted with something in the water off Japan, losing its sheen in a strange and unprecedented way.
Tough as it is, I recommend reading the whole article. It isn’t all that long and it’s good to get a first-person account — with a first-person, ten-year perspective — as opposed to reading about “what scientists predict…”
Far as I know, what Macfadyen experienced is what scientists are predicting will happen 30, 40 years from now, not RIGHT NOW.
I knew someone who had this “Histomap — Four Thousand Years of World History” on their bedroom wall as a kid but I hadn’t thought about it for years until I read about it again today at Slate:
This “Histomap,” created by John B. Sparks, was first printed by Rand McNally in 1931.
This giant, ambitious chart fit neatly with a trend in nonfiction book publishing of the 1920s and 1930s: the “outline,” in which large subjects (the history of the world! every school of philosophy! all of modern physics!) were distilled into a form comprehensible to the most uneducated layman.
The 5-foot-long Histomap was sold for $1 and [presented],
the actual picture of the march of civilization, from the mud huts of the ancients thru the monarchistic glamour of the middle ages to the living panorama of life in present day America.
The chart emphasizes domination, using color to show how the power of various “peoples” (a quasi-racial understanding of the nature of human groups, quite popular at the time) evolved throughout history.
The United States, despite all its bluster, is but a ripple in the sea when it comes to countries that have had an influence on the lives of people on this planet and on the direction history has taken.
One of the most beautiful photos ever via astronaut Karen L. Nyberg. “Sunset:”
I’m junking out — looking for flat brainwaves tonight — watching “19 Kids and Counting.”
What a mistake.
The Duggars are touring Japan.
Dad “Jim Bob” (along with his wife and their 19 kids) is trying to find his way to a hotel. He’s having a hard time getting directions and he’s frustrated and irritated that “nobody speaks English.”
(Just sayin’: If someone from Japan plopped down in the middle of Little Rock, Arkansas (near where the Duggars live) how many people would speak Japanese?)
He’s trying to be polite. When people don’t know what he’s saying (i.e., they don’t speak English), he thanks them anyway by saying, “Gracias.”
Jim Bob you’re embarrassing. How about taking the time to learn how to say THANK YOU in the native tongue of the country you visit next time around? Is that too much to ask while you complain about nobody knowing English?
(For those who don’t get the “Ugly American” reference, here’s more on that.)
Love this photo of Venice — it looks so tiny! — from Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield who’s aboard the International Space Station:
Click here for larger version.
William Rivers Pitt, a real journalist — we need a thousand more like him — on the run up to the Iraq war:
Over the last few years, MSNBC refashioned itself as the progressive news alternative to networks like Fox and CNN by giving Keith Olbermann an opportunity to do actual journalism on television for a few years, and by putting people like Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz front and center. Even Chris Matthews, the human weathervane, appears to have gotten the memo. But I remember a phone call I got from an MSNBC producer in February of 2003. Hans Blix and his weapons inspectors had not been in Iraq for 100 hours when this woman called me on my cell, told me she’d read my book, and asked me to appear on the network. There was, however, one caveat: she told me I was expected to argue that Blix and the inspectors were doing a terrible job and should be ignored, which just happened to be the exact line being peddled at the time by the Bush administration. I told the producer that I did not agree, that the inspectors needed to be given time to do their jobs, and that undermining them might lead to a devastating war. The MSNBC producer chuffed a cigarette-roughened laugh into my phone and hung up on me.
That happened – I remember the details not only because of how gruesome the conversation was, but because when she hung up on me, I almost lost control of my car and nearly wound up in the Charles River – and the fact of it tells you everything you need to know about MSNBC and the rest of the alphabet-soup cohort that is America’s “mainstream” news media. I did not do what that MSNBC producer asked me to, but you can bet all the money you have that she found someone who would a few phone calls later. You might have even seen it on TV.
The war against Iraq, in the end, was nothing more or less than a massive money-laundering operation that took American taxpayer dollars, soaked them in blood, and redirected them to Certain Friends In High Places. It was, as I said years ago, a smash-and-grab robbery[*] writ large, aided and abetted by an American “news” media which had its own profit motive, and which made a nifty sum off the whole deal. Even better for them, today they get to enjoy the ratings and advertising dollars to come when they broadcast their somber “documentaries” about how terrible it all was, how many lies were told, how many mistakes were made, and all without ever looking inward at their own enormous complicity.
* Halliburton, KBR, United Defense, the Carlyle Group, independent military contractors like Blackwater and a crowd of American oil companies are still counting the riches they earned from their participation in the carnage.
I’m proud to say I was one of the millions of people around the world who demonstrated (more than once) against the war. It has turned out pretty much exactly as I feared.
Far as I can tell, the Discover folks haven’t written anything more about it because the link in the tweet (above) redirects to this, which isn’t new.
Anyway, we now know they found bacteria and that they’re very excited about it. Now we wait to see if it’s a bacteria scientists recognize. Or not.
Again, I’ll continue to update on this cool real-life mystery.
53-year-old Chris Hadfield is a Canadian astronaut. On December 21, 2012 he arrived at the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz for a “long duration stay.”
Since his arrival he has been posting absolutely gorgeous photos to his Twitter account, which you can find (and follow) here. If you’re unfamiliar with Twitter, click on the photos on the left to begin looking at them.
Here are a few of my favorites. Incredible:
Again, go here to follow Commander Hadfield, to see more pix, or both!
I always look forward to taking in the winning photos in the National Geographic Photo Contest. There are three categories: Nature, People and Places.
Here is the Grand Prize winner and Nature category winner for 2012:
Photo and caption by Ashley Vincent.
- The subject’s name is Busaba, a well cared for Indochinese Tigress whose home is at Khao Kheow Open Zoo, Thailand. I had taken many portraits of Busaba previously and it was becoming more and more difficult to come up with an image that appeared any different to the others. Which is why I took to observing her more carefully during my visits in the hope of capturing something of a behavioural shot. The opportunity finally presented itself while watching Busaba enjoying her private pool then shaking herself dry. In all humility I have to say that Mother Nature smiled favourably on me that day!
- photo location:
- Khao Kheow Open Zoo, Chonburi, Thailand
Go here to see them all. Gorgeous.
Here’s Earth Science’s Picture of the Day. So beautiful:
The photo above shows a view from inside of Antelope Slot Canyon, Arizona, looking up and out. A shaft of sunlight illuminates its corkscrew interior. At this location in the sinuous canyon the distance from the bottom to the top is about 33 ft (10 m). Antelope Canyon snakes through Navajo sandstone, across the high desert of far northern Arizona, for roughly 5 mi ( 8 km). It’s the most visited and the most photographed slot canyon in the U.S. Photo taken in summer 2012.
Pew is out with another of their current events quizzes, this one is about global attitudes toward the United States. I took it and didn’t do well at all. I scored a miserable 40% but it was educational; some of the correct answers were pretty surprising.
If you’re interested, take it here.
Paul Wolfowitz was a guest on Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN yesterday. Yes, CNN. You know, that raving liberal station.
So undoubtedly Zakaria and Wolfowitz, international war criminal, had a frank and honest discussion, right?
Since when do we look back and think of Bush’s wars of choice that have killed untold hundreds of thousands as his — or our – “freedom agenda” and one of the major players who lied us into those wars as “the brain?”
Yo. Fareed. I’m looking at you.
Before the murder of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya on Tuesday evening I (embarrassingly) didn’t know a thing about Coptic Christians. Here’s a primer I came across today, FYI: What Journalists Need to Know About Coptic Christians.
This, from Gallup, is interesting:
Nearly all Libyans (95%) surveyed early this spring, before Tuesday’s deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, agreed that local militias should be required to hand in their weapons to authorities immediately.
The attack on the U.S. Consulate comes at a time when the new Libyan government is struggling to establish its authority over the whole of the country, with many groups that opposed Gadhafi remaining heavily armed after the conflict. Attacks in recent weeks on Sufi mosques and shrines highlight the increasing militancy of ultra-conservative Salafi groups in the country and the government’s inability to stop them.
So, let’s stay calm and not blame all Libyians for what happened two nights ago.
If you Google “overfishing” or “depleted fish” you get a ton of hits containing words like threat, crisis, alarming and ever-greater danger. And it’s no wonder. Who knew there were monster ships out there capable of catching — get this — 275 tons of fish per day.
Environmental campaigners have attempted to stop one of the world’s largest trawlers reaching Port Lincoln in South Australia.
The Greenpeace campaign group has launched an online petition to stop the Dutch registered FV Margiris from being allowed to trawl for fish off southern Australia, saying the vessel is too big and will cause damage to the environment.
A Greenpeace video showed a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) attempting on Thursday to tie up alongside the 143 metre-long trawler before a pilot launch pushed it out of the way.
At nearly 9,500 tonnes, the group says the Margiris will be the largest vessel ever to fish in Australian waters and says it can catch and process 275 tonnes of fish per day.
The operators of the vessel, Seafish Tasmania, say its size allows it to process and freeze its catch storing it on board for weeks at a time.
It also says so-called bycatch is minimal. Greenpeace says dolphins, seals and sharks will also be caught in its net.
One can only imagine what this planet is going to look like in 50 years.
My friend Kathy E. sent me this NASA animation the other day. I had no idea there were so many fires burning on this planet at any given time. Incredible.
Fascinating NASA Earth Observatory animation shows the annual pulsing of fires (number, not size!) around the world. The space agency’s description:
On Earth, something is always burning. Wildfires are started by lightning or accidentally by people, and people use controlled fires to manage farmland and pasture and clear natural vegetation for farmland. Fires can generate large amounts of smoke pollution, release greenhouse gases, and unintentionally degrade ecosystems. But fires can also clear away dead and dying underbrush, which can help restore an ecosystem to good health. In many ecosystems, including boreal forests and grasslands, plants have co-evolved with fire and require periodic burning to reproduce.
The fire maps show the locations of actively burning fires around the world on a monthly basis, based on observations from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. The colors are based on a count of the number (not size) of fires observed within a 1,000-square-kilometer area.
Last week I posted a link to the 12,000-some photographs submitted to the annual National Geographic Traveler’s photo contest. Today, the winners were announced.
Here’s the First Place Winner. It’s titled: Butterfly:
And this is my favorite of those that placed. It’s a Merit winner and it’s titled: Lost in Time — An Ancient Forest:
Gorgeous. Look at those magnificent, other-worldly Baobab trees.
Go here to see the whole gallery.
One of the things I’m going to do this weekend is set aside time to browse the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest 2012. After a quick peek just now, I can tell there are some amazing photos there (12,385 in all).
A few of my early faves:
You can vote on the photos by clicking like.
Again, go here.
I have been following this fairly closely because I am totally opposed to the Israeli occupation of Palestine; more specifically, to its continued encroachment into Palestinian territory with their “settlements:”
This afternoon promises a defining moment in Pittsburgh, when the US Presbyterian Church’s General Assembly votes on whether to divest from three companies that do business in the Israeli occupation. Here are updates via Twitter and we’re liveblogging the assembly, keeping you updated on developments.
Click on the link immediately above to go to the liveblog.
I hope they vote to divest and I hope if they do, it will start a wave of divestments by universities and towns and companies everywhere. Maybe at some point the U.S. will actually cut the billions and billions it gives Israel every year if they don’t stop terrorizing and blockading Palestine.
This is the most distant image of Earth ever taken:
“Pale Blue Dot” is the name of THIS famous Voyager 1 photograph of Earth, and the title of a book by Carl Sagan inspired by the photo. On February 14, 1990, NASA commanded the Voyager 1 spacecraft, having completed its primary mission, to turn around to photograph the planets it had visited. NASA ultimately compiled 60 images from this unique event into a mosaic of the Solar System. One image Voyager returned was of Earth, 4 billion miles distant, showing up as a “pale blue dot” in the grainy photo. Britt describes the distance as “more than 4 billion miles”. The picture was taken using a narrow-angle camera at 32º above the ecliptic, and created using blue, green, and violet filters. Narrow-angle cameras, as opposed to wide-angle cameras, are equipped to photograph specific details in an area of interest. In addition, only 0.12 pixels represents Earth in the photo.
Kind of puts into perspective how petty our squabbles are.
This video will make you love the world:
My god. I was so excited for the Egyptian people last year during the “Arab spring.” It looked like real change would come to that country after the people ousted President Mubarak and insisted on general elections.
Now, tonight, there’s this incredibly depressing news:
Shortly after polls in Egypt’s landmark presidential vote closed Sunday night, Egypt’s military leaders issued a constitutional decree that gave the armed forces vast powers and appeared to give the presidency a subservient role.
The declaration, published in the official state gazette, establishes that the president will have no control over the military’s budget or leadership and will not be authorized to declare war without the consent of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
The document said the military would soon appoint a body to draft a new constitution, which would be put to a public referendum within three months. Once a new charter is in place, an election will be held to chose a parliament that will replace the Islamist-dominated one dissolved Thursday by the country’s top court.
“With this document, Egypt has completely left the realm of the Arab Spring and entered the realm of military dictatorship,” said Hossam Bahgat, a prominent human rights activist. “This is worse than our worst fears.”
Thinking of you tonight Egypt.
Even with this “map,” it’s hard to imagine the size of the African continent. See China, India and the U.S. in there?
I love this news. My town — Boulder, Colorado — is haggling over this as we speak so I love that a big city like L.A. says yes to banning plastic bags at grocery stores:
Los Angeles became the largest city in the nation Wednesday to adopt a ban on plastic bags at supermarket checkout lines, handing a major victory to clean-water advocates who sought to reduce the amount of trash clogging landfills, the region’s waterways and the ocean.
Egged on by actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus and an array of environmental groups, the City Council voted 13 to 1 to phase out plastic bags over the next 12 months at an estimated 7,500 stores. Councilman Bernard Parks cast the lone no vote.
“Let’s get the message to Sacramento that it’s time to go statewide,” said Councilman Ed Reyes, who has focused on efforts to revitalize the Los Angeles River.
Council members quietly backed away from a more controversial plan to also ban use of paper grocery bags, which was first proposed by appointees of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
I’m for banning both plastic and paper bags but if I had to choose, I’d be fine with plastic.
The big controversy here is that, what with the economy, people shouldn’t be made to fork over 99¢ to buy reuseable bags but heck, I think the majority of people would be willing to do that. Even a good number of the folks who I see at the food bank bring their own bags. It’s called raising consciousness. I would no more pack my groceries in plastic bags at the grocery store than I would throw a soda pop can in the trash. Not to be all huffy about it but since we can recycle aluminum, no way does a pop can belong in the landfill. When we can use reuseable grocery bags, why use bags made of oil that take seven bazillion years to decompose?
I envisioned Camp David as being way more rustic than this:
President Barack Obama hosts a working dinner in Laurel Cabin during the G8 Summit at Camp David, Md., May 18, 2012.
Uh oh, a Socialist was elected president of France today.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has conceded defeat in France’s presidential elections, saying he called challenger Francois Hollande to wish him “good luck” as the country’s new leader.
Sarkozy thanked his supporters Sunday and said he did his best to win a second term, despite widespread anger at his handling of the economy.
He said “I take responsibility … for the defeat.”
Sarkozy faced voters’ anger over austerity Sunday in a presidential run-off expected to replace him with Socialist rival Francois Hollande, with far-reaching consequences for efforts to fight Europe’s debt crisis.
Get ready for the corporate American media to scare the bejesus out of us. As a matter of fact, CNN is airing a live version of its “CNN Money” show (3:00 0 4:00 p.m. ET) doing that very thing; asking how the fall of oh, say, the French economy (what a coincidence!) would affect the U.S.
And oh yeah, I guess we’re going to have to go back to eating freedom fries instead of French fries.
Look at this gorgeous, high definition image of Earth that NASA released as an Earth Day present to us all.
Much larger version here.
Here is some truly amazing video. This is Irish journalist Vincent Browne (this is what real journalism looks like) confronting Klaus Masuch of the European Central Bank as to why the Irish people are bailing out the banks.
Browne asks: “You people are intervening into this society, causing huge damage by requiring us to make payments, not for the benefit of anybody in Ireland, but for the benefit of European financial institutions. Now, could you explain why the Irish people are inflicted with this burden?” Masuch’s answer? It’s breathtaking. At first there is silence, then he spews out 60 seconds of pure bullshit and then he literally fumbles around and can’t or won’t respond, claiming his line of bullshit was an answer.
Everyone in the world should see this because everyone in the world is paying for what the banks did.
It’s jaw-dropping; the most amazing thing I’ve seen in a long time. And oh to have more journalists like Vincent Browne.
I read an article in my local newspaper this morning about “catastrophic lake drainage” in Greenland:
In the summer of 2006, scientists who were studying lakes of pooled melt water on the surface of the ice sheet covering Greenland watched as the kilometer-thick ice beneath the lake cracked from bottom to top.
Most of the 11.6 billion gallons of water held in the lake were swallowed within 90 minutes. The lake was totally dry in less than a day.
Since a scientific paper was published on the disappearing lake in 2008, researchers have known that the seasonal lakes that form on the ice are capable of “catastrophic drainage.” Now, a new study by researchers at the University of Colorado shows that the frequency of lakes being swallowed up by the underlying ice sheet nearly triples in warm years compared with cold years.
Here’s another article about the same study:
Like snow sliding off a roof on a sunny day, the Greenland Ice Sheet may be sliding faster into the ocean due to massive releases of meltwater from surface lakes, according to a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder-based Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences.
During summer, meltwater pools into lakes on the ice sheet’s surface. When the water pressure gets high enough, the ice fractures beneath the lake, forming a vertical drainpipe, and “a huge burst of water quickly pulses through to the bed of the ice sheet,” Colgan said.
My interest was piqued and I went looking for a video of “catastrophic lake drainage.” I found lots of diagrams but no videos per se though I did come across this amazing video of water rushing down a “moulins,” which helped me visualize how the Greenland Ice Sheet could indeed slide out to sea, riding on a bed of ice water. I thought I’d share: