Thursday, July 30, 2015
This week's DUNER BLOG takes our readers deep into the Amazon Rain Forest. Specifically, we'll go deep in the impenetrable jungles of Peru's Manu National Park. Here, numerous indigenous peoples live unaware of the outside world. In fact, it's against the law for other humans to interact with any of these isolated communities. These un-contacted tribes have no immunity to disease and are extremely vulnerable. Even a common cold could kill them.
However, one group, the Mashco Piro, have forced Peru to change the rules. At first, members of the tribe began to appear on riverbanks, gesturing to passersby on boats. After 100 such reports last year, the Adventist Missionary Group left food and clothes for them. Slowly but surely, contact between the tribe and the outside world increased. But in May, things took a turn for the worse. A member of the neighboring Machiguenga tribe was shot by an arrow and killed by the Mashco Piro.
All of which has anthropologists around the world clamoring for more caution. They feel the Peruvian government is being too rash and forcing contact upon the Mashco Piro. After all, these people have proven resilient in the past. They resisted Jesuit missionaries in the 1700's, and fled enslavement during the 'Rubber Boom' of the 1800's. They gained the respect of the Peruvian government last century. Surely, these events in 2015 are just a random occurrence, and not indicative of the true nature of the people..
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Next week, President Obama will become the first US President to visit Ethiopia. While there, he will address the African Union, which is headquartered in the capital Addis Ababa. Barack will also confer with military advisers, to congratulate their recent victories over the evil al-Shabab Terrorist group. Nonetheless, the visit has confused many, as the word 'Ethiopia' has become a unfortunate metaphor. It's either associated with Famine or BFE: The most remotest of places. We here at the DUNER BLOG thought we'd clear up the confusion with Five important items.
Ethiopia loves the USA. Prior to Obama, the only US President to care about the distant land was Theodore Roosevelt. In 1903, he dispatched an emissary to meet with Emperor Menelik II. Formal relations were established, including the coveted Most Favored Nation status. During the Italian invasion in the 1930's, the US stood by this accord, much to the disdain of Europe.
Ethiopia is growing. With 90 million inhabitants, Ethiopia is full of folks who want to work. Many are, as the nation posted a 10% economic growth rate last year. Ethiopia also earned a B+ ranking from Moody's Investment Bank. While Obama is aware of these possibilities, the US lags behind China and India in investment. They are currently building hydroelectricity plants on the Atbara and Blue Nile Rivers. Other projects including light rail and a freeway to Djibouti.
Thursday, July 16, 2015
This week, Houston does NOT have a problem! After a slew of failures, including a failed launch and a fantastic atmospheric explosion, astronomers at NASA have a reason to cheer. The fastest spacecraft EVER, the New Horizons probe, reached Pluto and sent back images to Earth. For the first time, Earthlings can view the numerous canyons, valleys, mountains and craters on the distant celestial body. Even STEPHEN HAWKING is excited, tweeting: "We explore because we are humans and long to know." Nice work, NASA!
However, the most important discovery about Pluto isn't about terrain. Nope, we here at the DUNER BLOG are excited about the measurements of the planet's Equator. The probe indicates it is 1,470 miles across; quite a bit larger than previously thought. The total surface are is also bigger. At 1107 kilometers, it's slightly larger than Russia. We are also learning that Pluto's atmosphere is much thicker than previously thought, rich in possible nitrates.
Sigh. Even with the new findings, Pluto is still smaller than Eris. Nonetheless, New Horizons has re-opened this debate. The more we learn about Pluto, the more important Pluto becomes. Eris might be larger... But does it have any moons? Pluto has five: Styx, Nix, Kerberos, Charon & Hydra. (Cool names too!) It's got gravity, a defined orbit and isn't located in some silly Asteroid Belt like Eris. C'mon, people! Let get Pluto back in the planetary club!
Thursday, July 9, 2015
Big news from Sacramento last week. Legislators passed Assembly Bill 1658, also known as the "California Legacy License Plate Program." This means a lucky 7,500 applicants can receive the popular, old-school, black-and-yellow license plates for their antique cars. Used from 1963 - 1969, they were replaced with a safer plate with brighter colors. Since then, the plates have been a sought-after bit of nostalgia.
To celebrate, we examined current plates from all 50 states. Here are our findings:
FIVE BEST PLATES:
FIVE WORST PLATES: