I'm just raving about the new online encyclopedia Maximapedia.. check it out! There are "only" 36,000 pages at the moment (compared to Wikipedia's gazillion) but there's something smooth about Maximapedia. It seems crazy that anyone would want to enter a space (i.e. the online encyclopedia space) that is so completely dominated by a behemoth, it's like "why would anyone build a new search engine?" However, don't forget, that was once said of myspace and look what happened...
Word of the day today is Girasol. First off, it's the Spanish word for sunflower. But it is also a coffeemaker, a 'baby sling' or something like that (what do I know?)... and most interestingly, a type of Opal gemstone. The Girasol has been known since the time of the Romans - it is mentioned my Pliny as a type of Opal that has a 'play of light' effect. The actual stone is milky or translucent, pale. but when the sun or bright light hits it, it gives off sparkles of rainbow hue, something like the 'fire' of a diamond only perhaps not as bright. Apparently even in Roman times fakes of the Girasol existed, made from blobs of glass, and the way to tell these from the real thing was to turn the stone in sunlight to see the sparkles, hence the name "Gira-sol", which means "turning sun".
It's that time of year again. In the UK they have a 'silly season'. In the Western USA they have burning man.
For the first time ever, it sold out of tickets. Apparently they had to cap it owing to permits / land use issues or something. A lot of people who normally go, cannot get tickets.
It's like pandemonium. Tickets selling on ebay for thousands, people getting scammed for fake tickets, and the whining... omg... it's a party in the desert people, not the end of the world.
I read an amusing account of a so-called "aphrodisiac herb" today - catuaba
It comes from the bark of a Brazilian tree.. and there are all these legends about it. The most amusing is the saying "Before a man is sixty, the child belongs to him. After sixty, the child is Catuabas." It sounds like the locals really believe in this stuff - either that or someone is spinning a great yarn. Hey, that's marketing, right?
What's funny is that they don't know which tree the Catuaba is. At least two species have been said to be the "real" catuaba. Not only that, but certain samples of herbal products calling themselves Catuaba were found to include pharmaceuticals! Haha in other words, sounds like someone mixed in some "male enhancement" product... whoo hoo, this stuff works great!
I'm not a cynic though. There's probably some plant deep in the forest that is the actual source of all these legends. Now if you'll stop cutting it all down or flooding it for dams, maybe some more of these rare resources can be brought to light.
So it turns out that Monbiot, who has for a long time been an opponent of nuclear power in the UK, has done some kind of a turnaround and is now saying that it is not so bad after all.
The real subtext of all this seems to be that it's considered the "least of the evils" - although this seems ridiculous to me. Truth be told, I think the world has an energy crisis.... peak oil, and all of the "nice' alternatives - hydro, solar, wind, whatever, all seem to have flaws.
But the real problem with nuclear is what it leaves behind for the future. The USA does not have a long term waste disposal solution. At all. They do not have it figured out. It was going to be Yucca mountain, but that has been shelved. All the waste is stored on site at the various plants.
Great. Can we really assume that the world is going to have a stable civilization for thousands of years, until this stuff has decayed enough to be safe? Of course we can't. If there's some kind of collapse, maybe in 500 years time (empires come and go), then what? A toxic legacy that will one day leak out into the world.
They all post the same graphs showing how coal is so much worse... but they haven't factored in the fact that the waste is going to be around for hundreds or thousands of years, and there is no perfect solution. There's nowhere to put it, apart from 'dig a big hole'. I dread to think that in a few thousand years time, the world's water supply will be contaminated and guess what, it will be the fault of this greedy, narrow minded century.
It's been a strange day. I feel like ranting about all this but on other levels of life things are fine. It's weird. A fine day but with these distant shadows we can't ignore.