Mutants & Chimaeras

Three Man-Made Freaks
& One Beauty All Her Own

To be riveting, a view of the future has to be unsettling, unfamiliar, disturbing even. The whole sci-fi genre is built upon fears of the unexpected, the threat of chaos taking over natural order. In fact, it should first get rid of concepts such as natural and order altogether.
It’s a completely different animal when that extends to our world, and it affects, well, animals. Uneasy when it’s warm in winter? check. Nervous with melting glaciers? check. But have you seen a two-headed snake lately? An odd butterfly? What about a human-milk producing goat?
And the worst part of it all is, we did that. Our so proud species, capable of writing symphonies or reaching for the moon, can also act ever so casually towards that same natural world that was around billions of years before us. And treat Earth as our landfill.
It gets personal when we’re talking about living, breathing, beautiful beings, of course. For the record, though, we’re no prudes; nature has been creating oddities since forever, and to consider it ‘gentle’ is a fatal, wishy-washy mistake, often deservedly punishable by death.
But exactly because we claim to be a step higher of the brutal and uncontrollable forces of the wild, it’s also our responsibility to own up our flaws. For every once in a while, the unpredictable tops itself and produces a creature of rare beauty, even if it may frighten us a bit.

NATURE’S SCARY MONSTERS
You may say that all animals are routinely harmed in ways our civilization considers acceptable: though the condition that produces a two-face specimen has been around since ancient times, but it seems to be increasingly linked to chemical pollution. The odd butterflies were found around Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plants. And genetic engineering is behind the goats with human milk.
Scary, isn’t it? What man has joined, nature is powerless to put asunder, wrote Aldous Huxley in his 1931 nightmarish, but no longer that far from the present, view of the future. Brave New World may have anticipated out thirst for cellphones, and social media, and gadgets to tell us what to do next, even without mentioning it. Our very best wishes usually lead us to committed misguided deeds.

TRANSGENIC SEEDS & GOATS
Surviving on this planet have been always complex, but for as long as natural resources seemed unlimited, we’ve managed it. We’re too many now, though, and such a demographics explosion is virtually intractable. Thus at times, we cheat a bit, just to catch our breath.
Consider hunger: we produce more food than ever before, and yet, many still go to sleep hungry or die of starvation. Science does its part the only way it knows: by trial and painstakingly error, experimenting with this and attempting to use that. But since food is also a big, multi-billion business, so not every side is playing by the rules.
It’s in this vacuum that corporations seize research, and rush to market unproven technologies. After all, there are profits to be made. Genetic manipulation may hold the key to create super crops, able (more)
__________
Read Also:
* Finger Picking
* Nuking the Future
* X-Rated Fruit

Continue reading

Scream

A Blast Heard Around the World,
Skies of Blood & New York’s Fate

What an Expressionist masterpiece painted by a Norwegian, the world’s loudest recorded explosion, and New York City’s possible doom may have in common? Not much really, but to think about the eruption of the Krakatoa volcano 130 years ago is a good start.
For while Edvard Munch’s The Scream is the most dramatic depiction of the surreal red sulphur-dioxide skies that covered Europe and circled the world for months after the explosions of Aug. 26, 1883, many wonder what if it’d happen again today.
That’s when that scenario of destruction comes to play, in a way that would shame all those nightmarish visions Hollywood has been concocting for years about NYC, with room to add terrifying touches of real life tragedies, such as the 2004 earthquake and tsunami in Asia.
Before going any further, a bit of a disclaimer of sorts, for we’re fully aware of the tendency of New Yorkers to think themselves as the center of the world, and imagine that there’s always a conspiracy apace against this fair city. But guess what, sometimes they’re right.
Also, we’re far from giving shelter to tabloid doomsday scenarios, for the sake of advancing our unique and highly personal view that, yes, we’re all going to die, and despite our laborious efforts, constructing a pseudo-safe reality to prepare us for the inevitable won’t help us.
We may also need to add that we do resent the fact that New York is always the stand in, and scapegoat, for evil, when it comes to the undying desire of movie execs to make another buck on our account. Like, just blow up the statue (and the box office proceeds), and we’ll be fine. You know who you are.
With that out of the way, let’s now revisit that terrible day in Java and Sumatra, brewed for months prior, then jump to a decade later, when a gifted artist’s visions exploded out of his head and onto the canvas, and then onward to a possible nitty gritty future.

THE RUDE AWAKENING OF A MONSTER
The explosion heard around the world started with a murmur sometime in May of 1883, from the volcano that had been dormant for two centuries. In three months, it built up into a crescendo of small tremblores, dust spewing, earth rattling, and finally to rocks shot 50 miles high into the stratosphere. Blasts were heard 3,000 miles away.
At its peak, the eruption of the Krakatoa volcano is estimated to have reached the energy of 10,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs. It ignited earthquakes and tsunamis that possibly killed 100 thousand people and shrunk the land surrounding the mountain to a fraction.
It covered the sun for several days and affected global climate conditions for years. A two-degree dip in the average temperature in the Northern Hemisphere is thought to have been a direct consequence of the thick cloud of ash, rock and dust that the eruption spewed up to the atmosphere. Even snow has been recorded in some regions during the following summer.
If the explosions were heard so far away from Sumatra, the scarlet sunsets were equally intense all over the world. Fire engines were called in Poughkeepsie, New York, a few weeks after the eruption, by people sure that an inferno was crackling just beyond (more)
_______
Read Also:
* Going Under
* Walking the Isles
* Drowning Nations

Continue reading

Just a Castaway

The Oldest Message in a Bottle,
Rubber Ducks & Grim Footwear

Those searching for romance, and adventure, in all the wrong places, had another reality-check moment this week: an old bottle with a note inside, found off the coast of Scotland, was not sent by some unkept shipwreck of the past, but was part of a research project.
Even as it turned out to be 98 years old, a Guinness record, the finding was far from igniting the ardor of lonely hearts everywhere. Alas, romance has been all but absent from the latest returns from the sea, as debris from last year’s tsunami have been showing.
A soccer ball, a couple of baby grands, a Harley-Davidson, even a massive fishing dock have already washed ashore in U.S. coasts, reminders of the tragedy in Japan. Everything but a nice, heart-warming message of despair from someone stranded in a faraway island.
But no one should be so picky about what the sea may bring you, even if romantic pleas for ‘rescue me, please,’ are hard to come by these days. Most of everything would be better than the wave of multiple single-pair sneakers, each with a foot inside, that began to appear a few years back in northwest shores.
The grim discoveries, which seem to, thankfully, have stopped at least for a while, were traced back Continue reading

The Miyagi We Can Avoid

The Earth Shook & the Waters Came.
Nukes Blew Up & Thousands Got Killed

It happened a year ago tomorrow. At 2:46pm local time, on a Friday afternoon, the biggest earthquake to ever hit Japan shook the floor of its Pacific coastal sea and the entire country for six long minutes, while gigantic tsunami waves covered 10 miles inland with debris of every boat, building and vehicle it found on its lethal wake.
Even before the powerful aftershocks started, 15,000 had already perished, while over three thousand remain missing. The worst natural disaster, however, may have also caused the worse man made disaster: the destruction of the Fukushima Daiichi complex of six nuclear plants, which may have doomed by radiation thousands of Japanese citizens and miles of once fertile land for generations to come.
Even after a year, it’s impossible to determine the exact extent of the devastation of this tragedy, both uncontrollable from the point of view of nature, and utterly predictable, if experience and wisdom had prevailed years before it happened. Still, for years to come, the Myiagi earthquake will remain a cautionary tale for our losing bet against the dangers of nuclear power.
For if Japan has already started the process of reconstruction and Continue reading