“Is your self-expression more important than human lives and suffering? Would you rather contribute to the culture of rich societies than work to reduce the suffering of the poor, or of future generations? Is it not arbitrary to fill the world with your own personal spin on things, simply because it’s yours?
…If what you want to do is make the world better, the impact of paying to treat many people with curable diseases might seem a little humdrum compared with the revolution in human consciousness that will surely come when you publish your novel. But if donating to charity feels a bit generic, the lives it saves are not. All of which to is to say, when I thought that writing a movie was the best way for me to contribute to the world, I was almost certainly kidding myself. Then again, to some extent, we all do.”
Oof. This article on aeon magazine hit way too close to home. But it’s good to occasionally read things that challenge me like this. It keeps me honest.
The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour stopped in Columbus last night and we got to see this incredible film: Nordfor Sola (North of the Sun).
Two young Norwegian guys decided to spend 9 months living on a remote beach north of the Arctic Circle, with the primary goal of surfing through the winter. They built a cabin out of driftwood and rubbish they found on the beach. They snowboarded. They filmed each other from surfboards and from paragliders. They collected 3 tons of washed-up rubbish, which a local garbage company picked up via helicopter. They froze and sat in unending darkness and watched the aurora borealis. It sounds like a morbid film, but it’s just the opposite.
This documentary won the Grand Prize at the Banff film festival this year and it was an astonishing watch, both for substance and style.
America’s largest industrial accident tore apart the town of Kingston, Tennessee. Five years later, has the industry learned anything?
I just tore through this fascinating and horrifying read about coal ash waste. In 2008, a spill of it covered the town of Kingston, Tennessee, with a volume of waste five times greater than the amount of oil released during the Deepwater Horizon spill.
The map above indicates that where I live is uncomfortably close to two “high hazard” coal ash ponds. Gulp.
Another well-written, informative piece from MATTER.
No Sleep Till Happy Isles: Jenn Shelton’s pursuit of the fastest known time on the JMT
Sleep deprivation. Altitude Sickness. Hypothermia, puking, chafed ass and worse—If you want to concentrate a lifetime’s worth of physical states and emotions into a single experience, chasing down a fastest known time with Jenn Shelton on the John Muir Trail is just the ticket.
Officially the JMT (John Muir Trail) stretches from the Mt. Whitney summit to Yosemite’s Happy Isles trailhead, but practically, it begins (or ends) at Whitney Portal. The 11-mile approach with 6,100 feet of elevation gain to the 14,505-ft Mt. Whitney summit is just an appetizer to the main course: approximately 211 miles of beautiful and rugged Sierra high country with 5 consecutive passes that scrape as “low” as 11,955 feet and as high as 13,200 feet. Three other passes have elevations around 11,000 feet.
“Done in a day” does not apply here, unless done means leveled. The JMT takes its pound of flesh slowly: The fastest known time is 81 hours 5 minutes, so even failed attempts are epic.Jenn’s first attempt lasted 72 hours, during which she slept about 20 minutes. Her second attempt was about the same. In 2013, Jenn’s third attempt was no charm: Fifty-plus hours (two spent sleeping), fueled mostly by string cheese “the only thing that tasted good,” energy gels and some organic meat snacks, “I accidentally bought the spicy variety… a holy hell.”
Fifty-something hours in and feeling raw, she pulled the plug—but it wasn’t long before a new plan for a fourth attempt was hatched. Why do it? Why keep aiming at a record on a trial so committing? Jenn state simply: “Because the boys haven’t put it out of reach yet.”
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Photos: Ken Etzel
Epically awesome. Go Jenn!
I don’t normally post about politics, mostly because I don’t usually follow politics. It’s too depressing, too repetitive, and it makes me want to relinquish my last bit of hope for the human species. Recently, Australia’s Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has been in the running for the Most Awful Human Being award and I’ve been too ashamed to look at the Australian political headlines more than once a month.
Then this happened: a Senator for the Greens party in Western Australia (my home state) gave a speech in Parliament calling out Abbott for every low-life thing he’s done since coming to power. It’s one of the most epic speeches ever and I just can’t believe it really happened.
Here are some of the choicest bits:
“If your image of Western Australia is of some caricatured redneck backwater that is enjoying the murderous horror unfolding on Manus Island, you’re reading us wrong. Every time you refer to us as ‘the mining state’, as though the Western third of our ancient continent is just Gina Rinehart’s inheritance to be chopped, benched and blasted, you’re reading us wrong. Western Australians are a generous and welcoming lot, but if you arrive and start talking proudly about your attempts to bankrupt the renewable energy sector, or cripple the independence of the ABC and privatise SBS; if you show up waving your homophobia in people’s faces and start boasting about your ever-more insidious attacks on the trade union movement and all working people, you can expect a very different welcome.”
“Prime Minister, you are welcome to take your heartless, racist exploitation of people’s fears and ram it as far from Western Australia as your taxpayer-funded travel entitlements can take you. We want our country back. Through chance, misadventure and, somewhere, a couple of boxes of misplaced ballot papers, we’ve been given the opportunity to take it back: just one seat, next April 5, and a whole lot more in 2016.
“Game on, Prime Minister. See you out West.”
You can watch a video of the speech here. Game on, indeed.
paul bourke, associate professor at the university of western australia, scours google earth looking for fractal patterns, or self similarity, in the rivers systems, mountains ranges and deserts of the planet. in nature, self similarity doesn’t exist ad infinitum, as with a mandlebrot set, but branching structures are found across two, three, even four scales. paul invites people to submit their own finds to his site, which links to the pictures shown here on google earth (click pics for the country)
This project is several layers of recursively cool.
This scientist is from my undergrad alma mater, and I too love looking at earthly patterns on Google Earth. Double coolness on this snowy Midwestern Sunday morning.