Tag: Pacific Ocean

Day 1000: How It Ends

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Inside this cubicle the air is thick as honey, with asphyxiating flecks of the mundane bracing against the irrefutable promise of a golden weekend. Outside these pin-cushion partitions – and indeed inside as well – every tiny molecule in the universe is saying its goodbyes to its neighbors and preparing to splash into the unknown permutations of a distant someday. My fingers hammer at these tiny plastic letters, fully ignorant of what’s to come.

Or are they? The hallowed fingers of esteemed science – no doubt similar in size and shape to my own, only tasked with a far more specific purpose – have combed back the hair of the observable now and picked at the scalp-nits of projection. The fields of astronomy, physics, mathematics, and a cabinet full of –ologies have given us a map of what’s to come. A timeline of time’s last hurrah.

And the best part? If any of these predictions are wrong, every record of them will likely be destroyed before anyone finds out. That’s my kind of science.

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Within 10,000 years, human genetic variation will no longer be regionalized. This won’t mean we’ll all look the same – the blonde gene will still speckle crowds and set up offensive jokes, but it will be distributed equally worldwide. This forecasted panmixia is far more optimistic than astrophysicist Brandon Carter’s Doomsday Argument, which places our present at roughly the halfway point of humankind’s civilized journey, and projects a 95% likelihood that we’ll be wholly extinct in 10,000 years.

If global warming hasn’t already soaked us into a Kevin Costner-esque hellscape by then, we may also be facing the melting of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, which will raise the sea levels by 3 or 4 meters above wherever it will be once we lose the rest of the polar ice caps, which should happen long before then.

Long term forecast: buy a big-ass boat. Read more…

Day 916: I’m About To Lose My Worried Mind – Led Zep 4Ever

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With practically the entirety of recorded music’s history available at the touch of a trackpad, it’s hard to find a lot of common ground among the masses. Back in the sepiatone days when I was in high school, there was certainly a cultural splintering effect afoot – some grooved to Hammer-time, others nodded angrily and forcefully to Nirvana, while still others begged C+C Music Factory to make them sweat upon a hormone-clogged dance floor – but there remained some sacred touchstones.

For whatever reason – and I pray a sociological study will one day uncover the mystery behind this collective madness – the girls in my high school were united under the secret thrill of ABBA. The boys, however discreetly some of them held back their own cravings for retro Swedish vocal-pop, united under an unwavering commitment to one of the greatest rock bands in ear-thumping history: Led Zeppelin.

Most of us had bands we liked more. For me, there was always the Beatles, while my other friends leaned toward Pink Floyd, Roxette or Extreme (yes, Josh, I’m talking about you). But we all sang along when Robert Plant belted out the first “Hey hey, mama” of their conspicuously untitled fourth album. Today Zep nets a kilograph, if for no other reason than as a thank you for the respite they provided after five straight listens of “More Than Words.”

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The group’s origin story funnels straight back to this guy, one of the most awe-inspiring yet least well-known (among today’s younger rock-lovers) guitar gods of the 1960’s. Jeff Beck had joined up with the Yardbirds after Eric Clapton had left the group in frustration. Now Jeff was feeling the pull of sweet freedom, and his frustration led him to record his own thing, away from the rest of the group. He invited his buddy (and future Yardbirdian) Jimmy Page to play guitar. Read more…

Day 864: Mu-vin’ On Up From The Lost Continent

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“The antediluvian kings colonized the world; all the gods who play in the mythological dramas in all legends from all lands were in Atlantis.”

This is an excerpt from the legend of Atlantis – or more accurately from the 1968 Donovan song “Atlantis”, but it makes my point. Since the days of Ancient Greece when Plato wove the notion into his dialogues Timaeus and Critias, humans have postulated on the possible existence of a great civilization that sunk into the sea. Once the European jet-set (or large-boat-set, I guess) discovered the New World, the concept of Atlantis was used to explain some of the wonders of the tribes they encountered. The sunken island has a glorious history.

All of it completely fiction, of course. Atlantis is not one of our planet’s uncovered mysteries like the Bermuda Triangle or the physical content of a McRib. Europeans tried to use it as justification for the existence of the Mayan culture because there was no way those indigenous doofuses could have concocted such an elaborate civilization on their own, right?

If you have to invent an entire continent to justify your inherent racism, maybe it’s time to give it up.

Atlantis is not the only slab of land that Mother Earth has misplaced. We should also look to that other massive ocean and the lost island of Mu.

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We can blame the so-called Mu mystery on Augustus Le Plongeon, a 19th-century writer who had investigated the Mayan ruins in Yucatàn and allegedly translated some of the ancient writings. Actually he was working off a mistranslation of a piece of Mayan literature then called the Troano Codex, and he interpreted the name ‘Mu’ to mean a land that had sunk after a catastrophe. It was a tiny leap of connection for Le Plongeon to decide that Mu was Atlantis, or something just like it. He claimed that the magnificence of Ancient Egypt was founded by Queen Moo (probably not a cow), a refugee of Mu. Read more…

Day 296: The World, Coast To Coast

I promised my wife I could make an article about geology interesting. In my defense, I’d downed two delicious pints of Alleykat’s Chili-Pepper lager, and where some men get beer muscles I tend to get a beer writing ability. Plate tectonics? Hell yeah! This shit’ll be riveting!

Now that the passage of a few hours has siphoned the alcohol from my bloodstream, I’m faced with a daunting task. Yet I can’t help but be drawn to this topic. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a supercontinent cycle.

The basics of supercontinents are pretty easy to grasp. The plates that make up the earth’s continental crust are always moving, shimmying under our feet and causing earthquakes that range from the catastrophic down to those tiny ones that stoned people aren’t entirely sure didn’t just happen in their heads. Once upon a time – about 300 million years ago – all our continents were bunched together in a single clump, like the hard candies in my grandmother’s candy dish. We call this clump Pangea.

I didn’t check, but I don’t think those colors accurately reflect the color of the soil.

How do we know this happened? It’s more than just a guess. First of all, the pieces fit together. It’s not a perfect click, but it’s pretty damn close. Second, there are similar sedentary rocks found where these continents used to be connected. Third… well, there are a lot more reasons, ranging from fossils to glaciology to something called paleomagnetics. Let’s just call this a fact and move on. Sciencey people have written it down in text books and it’s on the internet – what more evidence do we need? Read more…

Day 203: The Skies Light Up Over China – The Flying Tigers’ Story

Inside that gristly cloud prior to an imminent war, men have been known to indulge in some strange undertakings. Those iron-grey months before the Japanese squirted their rage onto the US Navy base at Pearl Harbor carried the distant flugel-blasts of impending battle, and for a group of American servicemen, this meant acting, not waiting.

Colonel Claire L. Chennault, whose jawline could cut through the air and cause it to shriek in agony, had been working in China since 1937 as the director of a Chinese Air Force flight school. Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, not liking his army’s chances against a hungry Japanese empire, called up Chennault and asked him if he’d use some pull to snag a little American support for their cause.

The Americans were doing their best to stay out of the mess in the Far East, but FDR was tuned in. He knew that a Day of Infamy was very likely on the horizon, so in 1940 he (allegedly) gave the okay for Chennault to scoop up some volunteers and head over to China to provide some air support. Unofficially, of course.

Chennault spent that winter securing the purchase of 100 Curtiss P-40 fighter planes, the recruitment of 100 pilots, 200 ground crew personnel and a workable office staff. And so was born the 1st American Volunteer Group, also known as the Flying Tigers.

You’ve heard of a rag-tag group – these guys aspired to reach that level. 60 pilots joined up from the Navy and Marine Corps, another 40 from the Air Force. The problem was, a lot of these pilots were a lot less qualified than they’d claimed to be. Some had claimed combat experience but really had only flown bombers. Some had flown even less-powerful planes. One or two had only ever actually flown a kite. Read more…

Day 161: Zombies To Beer – The Quirky Underside Of The Political Spectrum

So you want to be active in politics, but you just can’t bring yourself to care very much. It’s okay, there are ways around this. The most entertaining solution would be to find a hook, and start up a frivolous political party.

The world has had its share of frivolous parties, and Wikipedia has been kind enough to assemble a few for our perusal.

Voting for a frivolous political party can mean one of two things. Either you’re dissatisfied with the mainstream parties and you want to cast a decisive ‘none of the above’ vote to register your disdain, or else you don’t care who runs your city/province/state/country/galactic district, and you think it’d funny to vote for a political party with the word ‘Beer’ in its name.

Most of these frivolous parties exist for the former; no one truly expects that England’s Citizens for Undead Rights and Equality are going to devote legislative time to discussing whether or not zombies should be allowed to drive. They snagged 317 votes in the UK general election of 2010 – that’s 317 votes by people who didn’t want to give the Labour Party or the Tories their support.

The Hungarian Two-Tailed Dog Party ran for the mayoral race in Budapest in 2010, with a firm platform of  delivering eternal life, world peace, a one-day work week, two sunsets every day (in varying colors), smaller gravitation, free beer and low taxes. They didn’t win, and Hungary’s tourism revenue has no doubt suffered for it. Read more…