Posted by: Patrick Allen Foster | March 30, 2015

Monday Link Collection and Assorted Thoughts

Tataouine by night

“You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must stop ISIS before they get there.”

1. The Tunisian government would like to reassure Star Wars fans that ISIS has not occupied Tatouine.

2. It seems that Idris Elba may be playing a Klingon antagonist in the next Star Trek movie. Cool.

3. Steven Spielberg is “on board” to film an adaptation of Ready Player One.

4. An article on an 1871 expedition that helped decide the location of the Panama Canal.

Ugandan fishing boats

5. In East Africa, too many fishermen are chasing too few fish in Lake Victoria: “In the 1970s there were 50,000 fishermen and 12,000 fishing boats on Lake Victoria. Today, according to the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation (LVFO), the body charged by the East African Community with safeguarding the lake’s future, over 200,000 people fish from 60,000 boats, with more than 2,000 new vessels appearing on the lake every year.”

6. In 1902, Jack London decided to check out the working class slums of the East End of London, England. What he found he described as “a vast shambles,” a “human hellhole,” and “a huge killing-machine.” The book that London wrote about his experience — The People of the Abyss — appeared in 1903. Michael Caines has reviewed the book for the TLS. (H/T: 3 Quarks Daily.)

Crater lake oregon

Crater Lake, Oregon. This is not a radioactive lake. But the Chagan Lake is also a crater lake.

7. About American and Soviet attempts to use nuclear weapons for peaceful projects, like building reservoirs:

In the 1960s and 1970s, the United States attempted to improve the image of nuclear bombs by using them for public works. This went about as poorly as you’d suspect.

It was called Operation Plowshare. Nuclear bombs were tested to see if they could excavate large caverns inside mountains, produce steam power, or clear rough terrain to make highways. The vast amount of radiation, and the fact that underground caves would stay boiling hot for months after the explosion, made excavation impracticable. When the government tried boiling underground water for steam power, they got steam, but they didn’t always have a good way to channel it. Random patches of the ground nearby would explode outward, venting radioactive steam.

The Soviet Union was thinking along the same lines as the United States. They designated a nuclear testing site (without regard for nearby cities full of people, of course) and tested various aspects of nuclear bomb. They bombed the Chagan river, for example, as a way of testing whether nuclear bombs would be a good way to make reservoirs. They got a lake, all right, but it was an irradiated lake that is still not safe to swim in.

8. Alice Kaplan on contemporary treatments and evaluations of Albert Camus.
(H/T: 3 Quarks Daily.)

9. I think the current (sixth) season of Archer is pretty good — if nothing else, a marked improvement over the somehow strained and largely forgettable fifth season.

10. The Americans continues to be excellent. The pacing, between episodes and even more so within episodes, has been weird — in part, I think, to keep viewers off balance. (I seem to recall The Sopranos doing something similar much of the time.) A few weeks ago, the lead characters watched as one of their allies executed an enemy agent by dousing him in gasoline and setting him on fire — and I remember thinking that the camera stayed on the burning man for several seconds longer than would have been the case in most US TV shows. It was intense, especially for basic cable. I for one applaud the showrunners for being willing to take risks.

~ ~ ~

Programming Note: blogging will be light for the next month or so.

Image Credits: (1) View of Tataouine, Tunisia, by night. Photo by Averater, December 2012, and used under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons. (2) Fishing boats at Ggaba Landing Site, Lake Victoria, Uganda. Photo by sarahemcc, August 2006, used under a CC BY 2.0 license, via Flickr and Wikimedia Commons. (3) Crater Lake, Oregon. Zainubrazvi, July 2006, and used under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons.

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