Current Events

In the nation of Norway is an archipelago called Svalbard, the home of the village of Longyearbyen, the northernmost town in the world. Longyearbyen is notable for two things. First, temperatures are below 32° year round; second, the Global Seed Vault is buried in Svalbard on a nearby island called Spitsbergen. It is the security vault holding important seeds from all over the planet just in case there is a terrible disruption to the climate that kills all plant life. Name any crop you can think of; its seeds are in the vault. The Global Seed Vault was buried deep in the permafrost to assure seeds will remain frozen virtually forever.

Recently the permafrost began to melt. Permafrost is mostly water and some dirt mixed with mulch. When it melts, long held methane is released which exacerbates Global Warming – which caused the permafrost to melt in the first place. The melting has reached the seed vault; further, the deceased buried around Longyearbyen have started to pop up here and there. Actually, the corpses look pretty good because the cold has kept them frozen.

So we don’t need to measure the weather. We don’t need to measure carbon dioxide. We don’t need to measure ocean temperature. We know climate change exists because the Svalbard archipelago is melting and the dead have risen.

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Here are a couple of questions to test one’s news knowledge: What is the name of the farthest planet from our Sun? And second, how many planets are in the solar system?

The farthest planet’s name is ‘Farout’. It was discovered recently and has been confirmed as an ice-covered planet about 310 miles in diameter orbiting the Sun. The distance between The Sun and Earth is one Astronomical Unit (93 million miles); Farout’s orbit is 120 AU from the Sun, hence its name.

There are thirteen planets or dwarf planets orbiting our Sun: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, The Goblin, Sedna, Eris, and the aforementioned Farout. True, some are quite dwarf but they are part of the family of orbs that have stable orbits around the Sun. These new planets are part of a search for gravitational influence by a theorized super-Earth-size Planet Nine, also called Planet X, which researchers have proposed orbits in the extreme reaches of the solar system. The movements of several distant bodies have suggested the existence of this planet, which would be extremely faint and hard to locate.

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An article on is interesting. Meteorologist Jana Houser argued that of four tornadoes observed in enough detail with a rapid radar technique, not a single one started its rotation in the sky. Instead, Houser and her team found, the tornado rotation began rapidly near the ground. “Tornadoes do not appear to form from the traditional, top-down mechanism,” Houser told reporters at a news briefing. Traditional meteorological technology checks for tornado development every 5 minutes; Houser’s equipment checked every thirty seconds.

All four tornadoes formed from supercell storms. Otherwise, they were very different in strength and impact, Houser said. None, however, formed from the top down. In the case of the El Reno tornado [wide damage, killed 8], a storm chaser actually snapped a picture of the funnel cloud on the ground minutes before the mobile radar detected the tornado about 50 to 100 feet above the ground.

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About a quarter of American households own a “smart speaker” like the Amazon Echo or Google Home, and in the not-too-distant future, a whole host of devices and appliances—from coffee makers to doorbells to toasters—could be connected to the internet. The Atlantic staff writer Joe Pinsker questions what could happen to all the data that companies will accumulate about domestic life, and how these devices ultimately shape people’s behavior.[1] A small teaser:

“I’ve just asked Lowenthal what he, as an advertiser, would be able to do with data transmitted from an internet-connected appliance, and I happened to mention a toaster. He thought through the possibility of an appliance that can detect what it’s being asked to brown: “If I’m toasting rye bread, a bagel company might be interested in knowing that, because they can re-target that household with bagel advertising because they already know it’s a household that eats bread, toasts bread, is open to carbs. Maybe they would also be open to bagels. And then they can probably cross that with credit-card data and know that this is a household that hasn’t bought bagels in the last year. I mean, it’s going to be amazing, from a targeting perspective.”

This is a classic example of corporations shaping a human’s life decisions and curtailing independent thought. While this may not matter in toaster negotiations, its impact on political control, economic knowledge and other thought-based activities also will be shaped and curtailed such that a human being will not be in control of his or her own destiny – just ask the Russians.

Ancient Mariner


[1] full article at

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