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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Daily Drift

 Talk about stressing out ...!
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The Pacific
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Today in History

69 Defeated by Vitellius' troops at Bedriacum, Otho commits suicide.
556 Pelagius I begins his reign as Catholic Pope.
1065 The Norman Robert Guiscard takes Bari, ending five centuries of Byzantine rule in southern Italy.
1705 Queen Anne of England knights Isaac Newton.
1746 Prince Charles is defeated at the battle of Culloden, the last pitched battle fought in Britain.
1818 The U.S. Senate ratifies the Rush-Bagot amendment to form an unarmed U.S.-Canada border.
1854 San Salvador is destroyed by an earthquake.
1862 Confederate President Jefferson Davis approves a conscription act for white males between 18 and 35.
1862 Slavery is abolished in the District of Columbia.
1917 Vladimir Lenin returns to Russia to start Bolshevik Revolution.
1922 Annie Oakley shoots 100 clay targets in a row, setting a woman's record.
1942 The Island of Malta is awarded the George Cross in recognition for heroism under constant German air attack. It was the first such award given to any part of the British Commonwealth.
1944 The destroyer USS Laffey survives horrific damage from attacks by 22 Japanese aircraft off Okinawa.
1945 American troops enter Nuremberg, Germany.
1947 A lens which provides zoom effects is demonstrated in New York City.
1968 The Pentagon announces the "Vietnamization" of the war.
1972 Two giants pandas arrive in the U.S. from China.
1977 The ban on women attending West Point is lifted.

Non Sequitur


Rare Burmese ecosystems protected only on paper

Myanmar's 'paper parks': A warning sign saying 'No blast fishing': In this Feb. 11, 2014 photo, a warning sign saying 'No blast fishing' stands in Ma Kyone Galet village, inhabited by Moken and Myanmarese fishermen, on Bocho Island in Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar.
In this Feb. 11, 2014 photo, a warning sign saying 'No blast fishing' stands in Ma Kyone Galet village, inhabited by Moken and Myanmarese fishermen, on Bocho Island in Mergui Archipelago, Burma.
Off a remote, glimmering beach backed by a lush tropical forest, Julia Tedesco skims the crystalline waters with mask and fins, looking for coral and fish life.

"There is almost nothing left down there," the environmental project manager says, wading toward a sign planted on the shore reading "Lampi National Park."
Some 50 meters behind it, secreted among the tangled growth, lies the trunk of an illegally felled tree. Nearby, a trap has been set to snare mouse deer. And just across the island, within park boundaries, the beach and sea are strewn with plastic, bottles and other human waste from villagers.
The perilous state of Lampi, Burma's only marine park, is not unique. Though the country's 43 protected areas are among Asia's greatest bastions of biodiversity, encompassing snow-capped Himalayan peaks, dense jungles and mangrove swamps, they are to a large degree protected in name alone. Park land has been logged, poached, dammed and converted to plantations as Burma revs up its economic engines and opens up to foreign investment after decades of isolation.
Of the protected areas, only half have even partial biodiversity surveys and management plans. At least 17 are described as "paper parks" — officially gazetted but basically uncared for — in a comprehensive survey funded by the European Union.
So rangers rarely see a tiger in the 21,891-square-kilometer (8,452-square-mile) Hukaung Valley Tiger Reserve. It's the world's largest protected area for the big cats, but has been overrun by poachers supplying animal parts for traditional medicines in nearby China.
And Burma's first nature reserve, the Pidaung Wildlife Sanctuary set up in 1918, has been "totally poached out and should be degazetted," says Tony Lynam, a field biologist for the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society.
Inaugurated in 1996, Lampi fit squarely into the paper park category until possibly last year, when six rangers from the Forestry Department were finally assigned to protect this 79-square mile (204-square-kilometer) marine gem. It had been, and still largely remains, a do-as-you-please place.
Local residents and staffers with Italian Instituto Oikos, the group Tedesco works for, say dynamite fishing persists even within earshot of the ranger station. They say Thai and Burmese trawlers encroach into no-fishing areas, and that natural forest on one park island, Bocho, is being converted to rubber, encouraged by government policy.
Without any management plan in place, four settlements in the park and a fifth within a proposed buffer zone have grown dramatically and now total about 3,000 people, many of them Burmese migrants from the mainland. Blast fishing has become so intense that the Burma navy sent four vessels to the area in January in an attempt to curb it.
Despite the ongoing depredations, the park retains an incredible variety of natural life, according to a report by Oikos and the Burmese non-government group BANCA.
Its evergreen forests harbor 195 plant species, including trees soaring as high as 30 meters (98 feet), and many of the park's 228 bird species. Sea life ranges from dugongs — large mammals similar to manatees — to 73 different kinds of seaweed. Nineteen mammal species, seven of them globally threatened, are at home here, including macaques seen on rocky headlands hunting for some of the 42 crab species. There's even a wild elephant, lone survivor from a herd earlier transported from the mainland.
These wonders have sparked a recent push by tourism developers into the once isolated Mergui archipelago where Lampi is embedded amid some 800 stunning, mostly uninhabited islands. Tedesco says that a Singapore company has already been granted permission to build a hotel within the park "even before a management plan is in place."
She says the onset of possible mass tourism carries risk, but also potential benefits.
Pressure from scuba diving outfits and divers was largely responsible for halting blast fishing in many marine areas of neighboring Thailand, where some parks have curbed illegal activities by providing tourist-related income to the local culprits who once carried them out.
Tedesco says the Moken, the sea nomads who have inhabited the Mergui archipelago for centuries, would make ideal nature guides.
"We need community participation to preserve the parks," says Naing Thaw, director of Myanmar's Forestry Department.
He says the government intends to expand the protected areas from 5.6 percent of the country to 10 percent by 2020, adding eight more reserves. But he says authorities face "material, human resources and financial constraints" in turning demarcated areas into viable havens for wildlife and natural habitat.
Plans are underway for a major infusion of funds from foreign donors to focus on upgrading more than half a dozen parks. Inland wetlands, estuaries and marine areas, which contain Southeast Asia's largest remaining coral reefs and some of the world's most important biodiversity, and underrepresented in Myanmar's parks, and environmentalists are pushing more of them to be protected.
Before the civilian government took over, foreign conservation funding amounted to roughly $1 million a year. It is expected to reach up to $3 million in 2014 and jump to more than $20 million with major players like Norway and the U.N. Development Program coming in.
"The most critical intervention is to expand the marine protected area to protect it not only from tourism but more serious impacts such as bottom trawling and blast fishing before emerging vested interests render the designation of marine protected areas impossible," says Frank Momberg, based in the country for Flora and Fauna International.
Last month, the group said it hoped the formation of a new park in Kachin state would help save a primate species discovered by scientists just four years ago. At most, 330 snub-nosed monkeys survive in the northern frontier area, and they are threatened by illegal logging.
Myanmar's 'paper parks': A Myanmarese illegal logger
In this Feb. 12, 2014 photo, a Myanmarese illegal logger smokes a cigarette at one of the illegal logging camps on army-controlled Jar Lann Island in Mergui Archipelago, Burma.
Foreign experts working with Burmese are impressed by the high level of dedication and professionalism by some in the government, especially given the powerful forces they must challenge to guard depredation — generals, government cronies, Thai and Chinese dam builders.
Lynam, of the Wildlife Conservation Society, works with elephant protection in several parks and says patrols he has accompanied have caught villagers hauling timber out of parks who confessed to working for the local police and forest rangers. Even some Buddhist monks are involved, he says, with logs "donated" by illegal loggers who split the profits with log-laundering monasteries.
He sees the accelerating infusion of foreign funding for the parks, and the general environment, as a two-edged sword.
"As the resources are made available, I think you are going to see some very good parks emerging in five to 10 years. There's lots of hope," he says. "But foreign money can also help empower the powerful guys who abet corruption. I've seen it in other countries.
Lynam says a lot of foreign money intended for conservation will be "going through the system and into somebody's handbag, but even if a fraction of it is used it will be a great help."
A number of international environmental groups have already set up operations and more are eager to come in.
"We know the experiences of other countries that have so-called opened up, like Vietnam, where most of the mangrove swamps were lost in a decade. We can see the dangers of what could also be lost in Burma in the next 10 years or so," says Robert Mather, Southeast Asian head of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
"It's a moment in time with golden opportunities to save something that is still out there."

NY's Forbidden Island

Since 1869, still-born babies, the homeless, the poor and the unclaimed have been stacked one upon the other, three coffins deep, on Hart Island.

Meet The 'Goblins' of Goblin Valley State Park In Utah, USA

Nature can be really weird, and sometimes it invites you to bask in its oddness in strange, compelling ways. One such natural wonder is the Goblin Valley State Park, a truly unique scenery that won't just meet you but will also surround you with its goblin-like hoodoos.

The 'goblins' are the result of years of soft sandstone erosion. In some parts, close rock formations form a maze-like playground that may excite the explorers at heart.

Guelta d'Archei

Sahara's Famous Water Source

A guelta is a peculiar type of wetland, typical of desert regions. Gueltas are formed when underground water in lowland depressions spills to the surface and creates permanent pools and reservoirs.

The Guelta Archei is a hidden treasure in the Sahara due to its scenic beauty and function. Located in the Ennedi Plateau, in north-eastern Chad, south-east of the town of Fada, this wetland serves as a popular rest stop for nomads who've been traveling the desert for days.

Dos Ojos

Yucatan, Mexico
This cavernous cenote with double entry points—hence the moniker "Two Eyes"—is so incredible it was featured in the IMAX flick Journey Into Amazing Cavesand an episode of Discovery Channel's Planet Earth. It's perfect for snorkellers, and though you have to be experienced to scuba dive there to begin with, you'll also need to be seriously brave to surface in the system’s bat cave—which, not surprisingly, earns its name by being inhabited by bats.
see more caves here.

24 Unusual Beaches You've Never Heard Of Before

A singing beach, a glowing beach, a beach with rainbow-colored sand, a beach with black sand...
Here are the most offbeat seaside destinations you'll find on Earth.

Into the Deep

Seeking Life in Ocean Trench

by Becky Oskin
Into the Deep: Expedition Seeks Life in Ocean Trench
A fish investigating a baited camera on the Atlantic's deep seafloor.
Scientists plan to explore one of Earth's coldest, deepest ocean trenches starting Saturday, the first stop in a three-year examination of the ocean's most mysterious depths.
The Kermadec Trench dives 32,963 feet (10,047 meters) deep offshore of New Zealand in the Pacific Ocean. Waters flowing into the trench from Antarctica make the gorge one of the coldest ocean canyons on Earth, according to a statement from the National Science Foundation.
The team will explore life in the trenches by collecting DNA and exploring the deep-sea habitat with remotely operated vehicles such as the National Science Foundation's Nereus ROV and the University of Aberdeen's Hadal-Lander, based in Scotland.
Research teams have explored Kermadec before with ROVs and cameras, finding strange marine creatures such as massive, shrimp-like crustaceans called amphipods that live 4 miles (6 kilometers) beneath the sea surface.
The new expedition, slated to kick off Saturday (April 12), is the first step in an international collaboration designed to systematically study and compare life in deep ocean trenches and neighboring seafloor plains.
"We know relatively little about life in ocean trenches, the deepest marine habitats on Earth," Tim Shank, a biologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, one of the participating organizations, said in the statement.
Into the Deep: Expedition Seeks Life in Ocean Tren … 
 Snailfish snapped at nearly 23,000 feet (7,000 meters) depth in the northern Kermadec Trench.
Creatures that survive and thrive in ocean trenches, under immense pressures and without light, feed on each other as well as food and nutrients that flow into the trenches on currents.
"The challenge is to determine whether life in the trenches holds novel evolutionary pathways that are distinct from others in the oceans," Shank said.
Scattered mostly around the Pacific Ocean margin, deep ocean trenches mark subduction zones, where one of Earth's tectonic plates dives underneath another tectonic plate. The sinking plate pushes downward from the surface of the Earth, creating a deep valley, or trench.
The researchers' work will be chronicled from aboard ship on the expedition website.

Should We Close The Ocean To Save Fish?

Overfishing is a growing problem that could mean no more fish for us. Would closing the ocean for a few years stop this trend? Trace discusses one idea.

Bastei Bridge

The Cherry Blossoms of Tokyo

Juergen Horn went a little crazy and posted what seems to be about a hundred pictures of the blossoming cherry trees, or sakura, of Tokyo. Parks, paths, cemeteries, river banks, and anywhere a tree can grow you’ll see beautiful delicate flowers. It’s a signal for everyone in Tokyo to get out and enjoy the nice spring weather -and take pictures of the beauty! The trees even look awesome lit up at night. Enjoy the cherry blossom photos and some videos, too, at For 91 Days.

The Sustainability Treehouse Reminds Us What's Worth Protecting

While the Boy Scouts are in the news a lot these days for certain conservative policies, their basic values are noble -sustainability, education and respect for example. And their new Sustainability Treehouse in the Summit Betchel Reserve of West Virginia reinforces these important ideals by placing an emphasis on sustainability.
The building's stunning location not only emphasizes just what is at risk if we don't change our polluting ways, but the premise is also an example of just how well sustainability works -leaving basically no footprint between its solar and wind turbine generated power and rain cistern and water cleansing system.
You can find out more about the great educational facility (and see more pictures of the striking property) over at Homes and Hues: The Sustainability Treehouse Educates While It Excites

Magical Houses From Around The World


Algeria's City Of Bridges

Town planners today might not automatically choose a plateau 2,100 feet above sea level upon which to situate an urban development. Times change, but over 2,000 years ago when Algeria's third largest city, Constantine, was founded, this place, framed by a dizzying ravine, was ideal for defensive purposes. Later, as the city prospered, it became known as the City of Bridges.



Amazon drought, fire lead to sharp increases in tree mortality

Ongoing deforestation and fragmentation of forests in the Amazon help […]

Chinese Pollution Changing North American Weather

The brutal weather in the U.S. Midwest this winter has, in part, coal-burning power plants in China, a new study finds.

Arctic Ozone Hole Looking Good

A global ban on the chemicals that caused the Antarctic ozone hole was successful in staving off one in the Arctic.

Search for lost plane shows our Oceans are full of crap

Search for lost plane shows our Oceans are full of shit
Before Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went missing, sea trash was not a global headliner.
But as hundreds of objects sighted off the Australian coast as possible aircraft debris turn out to be discarded fishing equipment, cargo container parts, or plastic shopping bags, a new narrative is emerging in the hunt for the missing plane: There’s more garbage out there than you think. Most of it is plastic.

Arctic Sea Ice Peak Is 5th Lowest on Record

Study: Arctic Getting Darker, Making Earth Warmer
Despite a late-season boost from the cold weather patterns similar to those that blasted England with terrific storms in February, Arctic sea ice is still on a long-term decline, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
The Arctic ice cap expands every winter and shrinks every summer, in response to changing temperatures, sunlight and weather conditions. The sea ice hit its annual peak on March 21, covering 5.76 million square miles (14.91 million square kilometers), the NSIDC reported last week. That's the fifth-lowest maximum extent since satellite record keeping started in 1979.
But until mid-March, researchers monitoring the icy blanket's annual growth thought the sea ice would be even smaller this year.
This winter, the Arctic ice cover was hovering significantly below long-term averages through the beginning of March, the NSIDC said. But ice pack surged toward the Barents Sea north of Norway and the Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia in mid-March, driven by strong winds. The surface winds were kicked up by an low-pressure weather system in the eastern Arctic and North Atlantic associated with a positive phase of the Arctic Oscillation, the NSIDC said. The Arctic Oscillation is an atmospheric circulation pattern over the northern polar region that affects the jet stream. It causes stormy conditions over the North Atlantic when it is in a positive, low-pressure phase. [Video: Arctic Sea-Ice Continues To Thin]
In the past decade, the Arctic ice-cap extent has bobbed back and forth among top 10 record lows, all the while continuing an overall steady decline that started in the 1970s. Since 1978, the winter Arctic ice cap has shrunk by 12 percent per decade, the NSIDC said in a statement. The lowest winter maximum on record occurred in 2011, when the sea ice extended 5.65 million square miles (14.63 million square km).
On the other hand, the proportion of so-called multiyear ice was higher this year than in 2013: About 43 percent of this year's ice was more than a year old, compared to only 30 percent last winter. Still, much of that multiyear ice is only two years old, left over from the relatively cool 2013 Arctic summer melt season. Only 7 percent of the multiyear ice is older than 5 years, half of the amount present in February 2007.

Daily Comic Relief


California 'Big One' May Not Be So Big After All

New simulations show up to 70 percent less ground shaking in a major Southern California earthquake than previously thought.

Mount Ai-Petry

Where do tectonic plates come from?

Well, kids, you see, when one chunk of Earth's crust loves another very much, they slam together and one chunk is forced underneath of the other. A new study suggests that this process of subduction is sufficient to explain the formation of the tectonic plates we know today.

The geology of Westeros

This Stanford project imagines 500 million years of planetary evolution on the planet of Game of Thrones, using a combination of book details and the principles of Earth-based geologic physics. Also dragons and White Walkers. 

Geologic Wonder

In a new image taken from orbit, the Grand Canyon is visible slicing through the Kaibab Plateau.


Specimen from Heritage Auctions.
Its name comes from the Arabic rahj al-ġār (رهج الغار, "powder of the mine"), via Catalan and Medieval Latin, and its earliest record in English is in the 1390s...

Realgar, orpiment, and arsenopyrite provide nearly all the world's supply of arsenic as a byproduct of smelting concentrates derived from these ores...

Realgar is poisonous. The ancient Greeks, who called it "sandaracha", knew that it was poisonous. It was used to poison rats in medieval Spain and in 16th century England.

Coming Tomorrow

Coming Tomorrow
  • Hitler Married A Jew
  • A woman living in the 1930s
  • The untold story of the first woman to fly around the world
  • A Red Jolly Roger
And more ...
This Swan is our Animal Picture, for today.