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News Nuggets: Carbon, Pebble Mine & the Encyclopedia of Life

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Author: the Inkslinger

Here in the Northern Vermont Hinterlands, I’m preparing for a brief escape. A long weekend in the big city. Going on blind faith to see a little music. Catch a flick. Peruse the shops for weird Moroccan light fixtures. Eat some foods I can’t pronounce. Enjoy a few adult beverages. Should be just the thing to forestall cabin fever a bit longer. Cause it be getting crazy. 15 inches of new snow on the way to push us into the snowiest February ever and one of the top ten snowiest winters, which up here is really saying something. Gotta get out from under it for a bit. But before I go, here are a few interesting items of note from the news desk…

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Whale Tale

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Author: the Inkslinger

Two summers ago, I spent an afternoon on a boat out in the Atlantic off the coast of Nova Scotia. We were looking for whales, and we found them easily. Humpbacks by the score. Leaping and spraying in groups of two and three that came and went for hours. They were massive animals, some as large if not larger than our sizeable boat itself, and their presence was immediately and deeply humbling on that rare level that only the profoundly extraordinary can reach. With nothing but infinite sea surrounding us in all directions, no land to be seen or had, we were a tiny insignificant dot of civilization drifting silently into a world that very clearly had nothing to do with our own. Though the day was bright and the engines could be started in a heartbeat to pull us back to earthly realms, each moment came only with the permission of air and water, sky and cloud. And, or course, the graceful consent of these immense creatures, any one of whom, it was fairly clear, could swiftly sink our little bubble of dry land should they have the slightest inclination.

At one point, I was leaning over the side of the boat simply admiring the remarkable aquamarine water, its shimmering sun-soaked clarity a revelation, when an enormous humpback drifted suddenly up from the brine below and surfaced just three or so feet away. And there we were. She (or he, I don’t know) and I. Face to face. So close I could have touched her with little effort. She drifted with the boat, and for about a minute or so we were utterly eye to eye. I was watching her and she quite clearly was watching me.

I don’t know what I saw that day. I can’t claim to possess the wisdom necessary to truly distill an experience like that into truth, but I can say this with absolute certainty: Those eyes I looked into that day were alive. Behind them was a sentient being. And it was not human. I was peering into an alien world, the door opened by this lone sentinel who was quite unmistakably as curious about me as I was about her.

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Weird Wire

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Author: the Inkslinger

The night is coming. The veil that separates the world of the living from the realm of the dead now grows thin. Spirits gather and soon will cross this dark divide to fill shadowy streets and abandoned yards with visions of the ghastly, the ghostly, and the ghoulish. Can’t wait! But while we do, here’s some news of the strange and the weird to mark the world’s spookiest holiday and the one of the its oldest pagan traditions…

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is back in the news with word that the feds want to study this maelstrom of muck with an eye toward a possible clean-up. Those familiar with the incredibly disconcerting and wholly freakish twice-Texas-sized patch of floating trash, however, say that not only is cleanup pretty much impossible even conducting basic research is likely to prove vexing. How about we just take the zillions of dollars and man-hours we might spend here and devote them to preventing garbage from entering ocean ecosystems in the first place?

Halloween marks the boundary between summer and winter, or light and dark, an important annual milestone given the impact we’ve learned light can have on human health. Indeed studies have shown that people who work out-of-sync with natural day-night cycles are at risk for all kinds of maladies from depression to breast cancer. The impact is so great that the World Health Organization will declare in December that shift work is a “probable carcinogen.” In other words, the graveyard shift could actually put you there. I think it’s time to shift our 24/7 economy back to something a little more civilized.

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