November 24, 2018 § Leave a comment
“Indonesia’s Citarum: The World’s Most Polluted River”
Every day, no less than 20,000 tons of waste and 340,000 tons of wastewater, mostly from 2,000 textile factories, are disposed directly into the once clear and pristine waterways of the Citarum River. No wonder the fish are largely gone in the third-biggest river in Java.
To illustrate how dirty the Citarum River is, at some places we cannot even see the water. Its surface is completely covered by the unimaginable amount of waste, trash, and dead animals floating on it. If we are lucky enough to glimpse the water, we will see it is colored due to the excessive amount of toxic chemicals being dumped into the river by industries. Not surprisingly, since 2008, nearly 60 percent of the river’s fish species have been destroyed.
. . . . .
Over the years, successive governments have vowed to clean the Citarum, but they mainly failed because such efforts were only partially done. However, in February, after visiting the location, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo declared a seven-year Citarum cleansing program with a final goal of making Citarum water drinkable by 2025. The program will also be supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Asian Development Bank (ADB), which in 2009 had already committed to provide $500 million to fund the Citarum’s rehabilitation.
(Dikanaya Tarahita and Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat, The Diplomat, April 28, 2018)
October 7, 2018 § Leave a comment
“The World’s Longest Staircase Is in Switzerland”
In 1910, a funicular railway was completed from the village of Mülenen up to the peak [of Mount Niesen in the Swiss Alps]. . . .
But more interesting than the funicular, in my opinion, is what runs up the mountain right alongside it: a two-mile staircase with a slope that gets up to a glute-grinding 65-percent gradient. There are a world record 11,674 steps up the mountainside—enough steps to climb the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai four times, and enough to climb the Statue of Liberty 33 times.
For safety reasons, the stairs are just used for maintenance and not open to the public. But once a year, 500 lucky participants get to tackle the world’s longest staircase climb, the Niesen Treppenlauf. . . . And the record for running up the equivalent of seven Empire State Buildings? A remarkable one hour and two minutes.
Ken Jennings, Condé Nast Traveler, June 14, 2018
August 23, 2018 § Leave a comment
“Loveland Woman Creates Insect Farms to Feed African Orphans”
Loveland resident Amy Franklin found a solution for the hunger and malnutrition besetting Congolese orphanages in a delicacy that thrives in the wild in the African country—the palm weevil.
With no land for traditional farming, she has created small “farms” inside plastic containers to raise larvae, which are a protein-rich food source that can be farmed inside small rooms within the orphanages themselves.
“These orphanages are blocked in on every side by concrete and buildings,” said Franklin, who established Farms for Orphans, a nonprofit, with her husband, Alan. “They don’t have any land. They can’t even grow a small garden or any type of livestock production.”
. . . . .
The palm weevil is a beetle native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The larvae, which thrive within readily available sugar cane, are packed with protein as well as other nutrients, said Franklin.
. . . . .
They taste like breakfast sausages, Franklin said, and 10-12 grubs can meet a child’s daily recommended nutritional needs.
Pamela Johnson, Loveland News, Reporter-Herald, July 29, 2018
July 15, 2018 § Leave a comment
“South African-Lithuanian Stuffed Matzah Balls”
9. Divide the matzah meal mixture into 8-10 balls of equal size.
10. Flatten the balls, then and place 1 tsp of meat filling in the center of each. Enclose the filling, pinch the edges together and form into balls.
11. Place the matzah balls into the rapidly boiling salted water and simmer 20 minutes.
12. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
13. Drain the matzah balls and place in a pan greased with chicken fat; cover with remaining 4 tsp chicken fat and sprinkle with cinnamon.
14. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until slightly browned.
April 20, 2018 § Leave a comment
“The Big Read: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Classic Science Fiction”
After the Montgolfier Brothers made their first balloon flight in 1783, balloons became all the rage and for the next half century almost all lunar flights [portrayed in science fiction] were by balloon. The first was Le Char Volant [The Flying Chariot] written the same year by the Belgian Baroness de Vasse. When her travellers reached the Moon they discovered it was a utopia, ruled by women, unlike the hell of Earth, ruled by men.
It had been speculated that space was a vacuum since the 1640s but no one could quite believe it, and hardy space travellers took little precaution. Edgar Allan Poe was more practical. When his hero went to the Moon by balloon in “Hans Phaall” in 1835 he took the precaution of placing him in a sealed basket with an air condenser.
Poe’s planned sequel to “Hans Phaall” was frustrated when just weeks after it was published his thunder was stolen by a several articles in the New York Sun newspaper claiming that the great astronomer, Sir John Herschel, had discovered life on the moon. They described trees, seas and a host of creatures including bat-winged humans. Englishman Richard Adams Locke, then living in New York, later admitted writing the pieces as a hoax. But it convinced many around the world, finding a particularly gullible readership in France. It has been known as the Great Moon Hoax ever since, and triggered people’s interests in the possibility of life beyond Earth.
The Sunday Herald, April 7, 2018
March 8, 2018 § Leave a comment
“Pigcasso . . . or a New Francis Bacon?”
Her signed canvases sell to fans around the globe for up to £1,700 [US$2,400] apiece and an exhibition of her work is about to embark on an international tour.
Not bad for a girl who has only just turned 21 months old. Especially so when you consider that she’s a pig.
Pigcasso — as she has been christened — and her sister Rosie were rescued by Joanne Lefson from a slaughterhouse close to her home.
The animal artist produces her pieces by gripping the brush in her teeth and moving her head to lay acrylic paint on canvas. So impressive are the results that she has sold 44 paintings to fans in Britain, America, South Korea and Malaysia and last month launched her own exhibition, Oink, on Cape Town’s Victoria and Albert waterfront in her native South Africa.
Aislinn Laing, The Times, February 24, 2018
December 22, 2017 § Leave a comment
“This Airport’s Christmas Tree Was So Offensively Ugly They Had to Take It Down”
[T]he people of Beirut, Lebanon were far from pleased with the Christmas tree that was standing in Rafic Hariri International Airport this season.
It wasn’t just ugly—it wasn’t really a tree. The structure was actually made of metal, fire extinguishers, life vests, and other recycled airplane parts.
The tree was actually commissioned as part of an environmental initiative from Middle East Airlines in order “to raise awareness about environmental protection and to prevent logging and awareness on the recycling process.” However, most people traveling through the airport couldn’t really get past the idea that they were looking at what was basically a Christmas tree made of garbage.
. . . . .
After many complaints, the tree was removed from the airport.
Andrea Romano, Travel and Leisure, December 15, 2017