Update: May 2011 – Hey, if you like my writing, you should check out my new website: Sustainable Diversity with fresh new and more in depth material!
Naked Man’s New Direction (also known as Skip to the title Ocean Updates for the meat of the article!)
Hello 2010! Today’s entry is about returning to a few topics explored in the past by Naked Man in the Tree as well as give a little information on the lack of updates coming from this site. In this brief entry there will be some good news to be shared and some bad news to be shared. Such is life.
We’ll begin with the good news: This site was started in 2007 as a place for me to begin to start writing about my personal passions in which my previous site (yes, I bet you didn’t know I had a site prior to this one!) was not directed towards. My prior site was silly and funny, while this site tended to focus on more serious topics (hopefully I kept some parts of it fun). Naked Man in the Tree was a place I could to develop my thoughts and viewpoints about the world and was never truly meant for public viewing. Of course if anybody wanted to take the time out to read what I have written and constructively criticize or appreciate my writing, I was happy with that too. I didn’t need it to be private although it was created as a playground for my personal creative adventures. This is in part why my entries rarely have any association with each other. This is why in one entry I will write a modern translation of an ancient Arabian story and in another entry write about an ecological disaster. These are things that interest me personally and I never meant to appeal to a “base.” This is also the reason why I will go months without updating.
I am about to graduate with a Masters degree in 2 months which (I’m sure you can imagine) has been the biggest thorn in my side stunting my creativity in favor of prudence. And although this child has been neglected, it has not been forgotten. In fact, it is quite the opposite. This child has been coming to adulthood in my head and I am going to create a new project site that will become my highest priority outside of financially supporting myself. In this new site you can expect the following:
1. Revised and updated articles on the topics you have already read on this site.
2. Audio-versions of the text for those of us who have more time to listen than to read.
3. A wide variety of new topics to be discussed with an addition of other creative projects.
4. Far more frequent updates.
5. Increased opportunities for discussion.
And let’s face it, this is good news. The only problem with this good news is that unlike this site I am going to create a “reservoir” of articles and projects before I begin the site which will take me a large portion of my Spring and Summer of 2010. When this reservoir is complete I am going to create a professional layout on an actual domain name (it’s already chosen and saved) with an incredibly user-friendly interface (not so much like this one). The best part is I’m actually leaving out a few of the best surprises for when the site actually opens (hopefully this fall). Unlike the site I had before Naked Man in the Tree, I will share the location of my new site to everybody who visits this site, so please continue to return for the actual posting of the address. However, at this point I DO plan on posting a few more entries before I create my own site.
Finally, I want to relate how impressed I am with the visits to this site despite my infamously infrequent updating. Each day hundreds to thousands of visitors flock to this site for some reason or another. It is clear that when I discipline myself and create something it can be appreciated, and my future site will be almost completely about enhancing your experience as a visitor to my site. I appreciate all the positive, thoughtful, and caring comments that I have received while creating these entries. Every single positive or thoughtful comment is the true payment I receive for my labor (because everyone knows I’m not doing this for the money). At the end of this article I am going to share a couple of organizations that came to me for some help.
Now it’s time for some bad news: National Geographic, stalwart in their understanding of the natural world, has three pieces of information crucial to our greater understand of our Ocean’s problems.
In June, 2008 and in May, 2009 I wrote an entry on The North Pacific Garbage Patch and The State of our Oceans respectively. The North Pacific Garbage patch entry was largely about the fact that plastics can’t easily decompose and spend time meandering for years in oceanic stasis around an unimaginably large groggy abandoned forgotten vortex in the Pacific Ocean. It touched on the fact that with each new tide that comes in on many islands, including the United States’ Hawaiian islands, a new disgorging of plastic is left behind in its wake. A big concern was that the plastics would not biodegrade for hundreds of years, floating seemingly forever. Also, I alluded to the idea that Bisphenol A (BPA) is likely the cause behind higher female birth rates.
National Geographic contributed more knowledge to the community at large in this August, 2009 article entitled Plastics Do Break Down in Ocean, After All – And Fast. “Ha!” laughs the sociopath skeptic “I knew you were all left wing environmentalist crazies who make up problems that don’t exist. You all were worried that the plastic would never break down in the ocean and here is National Geographic proclaiming that they not only break down in the ocean, but they break down quickly. All of that worry for nothing.”
Although it is true that plastic does break down in the ocean at a much lower temperature than was previously expected, by all accounts this is not a good thing. Instead of our ocean water consisting largely of 2 things – Water and Salt – now we are making ourselves a little chemical cocktail that just so happens covers 70% of the entire planet. Our ocean was so old-skool, you know? I mean how plain can you be? Salt and water were the 2 main ingredients in the ocean when the dinosaurs reigned the planet for goodness sakes. Can we please get an upgrade?
Yes! The chemical companies of the planet are happy to oblige. Again, referring to our oceans as a “plastic soup” our NEW ocean is already consisting of large quantities of BPA and styrene trimer which are wrecking havoc indiscriminately on biological systems across the planet and found as ingredients in our most inexpensive products. Which is part of the irony of course, because the cost they create are so exorbitantly expensive the human race just prefers to turn a blind eye to the problem rather than immediately and appropriately address it. What else is new? The article lists a myriad of everyday products that are made with our new oceanic chemical compounds. Also, the article briefly mentions that almost half of all seabirds eat plastic garbage on accident (you mean they don’t get any nutritional value out of our material defecation? Sounds to me like we need to build new birds!). Also, they throw out the arbitrary number of species (267) negatively affected by our plastic garbage. I love that it’s only 267, no more and no less. I don’t have any scientific data to back this statement up, but I am going to go out on a limb and guess that ALL ocean species are affected by our plastic garbage. But hey, who am I?
This research was conducted by a chemist named Katsuhiko Saido from Niho University in Japan. I like how he kindly sums up his feelings on his study: “Plastic, he said, should be considered a new source of chemical pollution in the ocean.” Oh, you think so? Maybe after it gets argued in congress for months with billions of dollars poured into propaganda only to find ourselves exactly with the same rules and laws as before, then we’ll think about treating plastic as pollution. But kudos to Saido for saying what needed to be said and having the data to back his statement up! So Saido gets to go on my list of people we need to listen to (note: I did not use the words should, could, might consider… I used the word need). Also on this list (which you can find in my Ocean entry) are Callum Roberts, Jeremy Jackson, Steve O’Shea, Daniel Pauly, and Robert Diaz. Again, there is no other alternative than to physically raise these divine professors over our heads and crowd surf them directly to the leaders of the planet and force the leaders to listen to their professional advice.
Why? Why? Why were only a small handful of us given the capability of foresight on a planet covered in an identical species that has none? We are poor Prometheus, painfully aware of our gift of foresight, clearly acknowledging the horrifying tsunami of repercussions about to douse us, and we live on a planet inundated with Epimetheus, filled with afterthought and excuses. It is no wonder why Epimetheus was the cause of mankind’s misery by accepting Pandora as his wife! With no foresight, always creating a convenient excuse, our planet easily teams 10:1, no 1,000:1, no 1,000,000: 1 of Epimetheuses to Prometheuses. But I digress…
Plastics and their negative influence on the ocean is not new as I had written about the North Pacific Garbage 2 years ago. And I was not even one of the first to be aware of it. But the North Pacific Garbage Patch is only the grotesque superstar in a morbid production as National Geographic reports a Huge Garbage Patch Found in the Atlantic Too. If I could give it a name, I’d probably give it the Mid-Atlantic Garbage Patch as it’s determined to be about the size of Cuba to Virgina. I thought this was a nice touch because both the Pacific and Northern part of the hemisphere were totally stealing all the limelight. Now we can at least enjoy a nice swim in some tropical chemical soup. Doesn’t that sound appealing? Well too bad, because the package is already signed, sealed, and delivered.
In all honesty, I don’t believe the North Pacific and the Mid Atlantic are anywhere near the total of these delightful little garbage vortices. The Southern Hemisphere gets nowhere near the love that the Northern Hemisphere does and my spidey sense tingles at idea of more trash vortices down there – particularly the Indian Ocean, which seems to be more of a favorite to malnutritioned pirates than scientific study. So what are some details about Miss Mid-Atlantic in our first annual garbage patch beauty pageant? Well she is a bit more petite than her famous sister in the Pacific only weighing in at 520,000 bits of plastic per square mile while Miss North Pacific weighs in at a buxom 1.9 million bits of plastic per square mile. But, don’t discount Miss Mid Atlantic yet, she promises she’s working on her curves and before you know it, she’ll be just the same size as her sister, or bigger!
Ah yes, trash, billions of infinitesimally small pieces being forever absorbed into our ocean with reckless abandon by our species and the best part is most everybody doesn’t even think twice about it! The centuries, nay, millenia of human descendants that must inhabit the planet after us in gloom and despair riveted with malnutrition, diseases, and cancer will daily fall to their knees and look to sky and ask their creator why they must suffer so greatly. They will be certain that we, today, could not possibly have foreseen how we poisoned our very home. But if they have any record of history, they will know that all the evidence was there, clear and broad as daylight, and ignored by a vain species brimming with hubris. Yes, we deliberately ruined our only home – a mode of dust suspended in a sunbeam (score! Carl Sagan reference!). We turned the car on in the garage, ran a hose from the tailpipe to the kitchen, reversed the sewers, threw everything from the refrigerator onto the floor (2 weeks ago uncleaned), and replaced anything consumable with DRAIN-O. There is time to still curb this negative impact, but being a citizen in the United States I can tell you my government has a hard time tying its own shoe, let alone saving the world today.
You think I’m being obtuse, don’t you? It’s okay, you can think that, I won’t throw you in solitary confinement for a month for telling me that (unlike the Warden at Shawshank!). But I know, you think that I am exaggerating the situation. Of course, if that is true then you never read my entries or checked my sources. But to show you how accurate I’m trying to portray our situation, National Geographic has created a documentary entitled The End of the Line, which talks all about the state of our oceans today, and how it is truly The End of the Line. What line? How about the line of a non-primordial ocean without consisting globally of poisonous man-made chemical compounds? Maybe we’re at the end of that line. Watch the documentary please – it has some of those on my list of people we need to listen to.
One point where I will give some credit is to the company Sun Chips, they appear to have created a chip bag that decomposes in 14 weeks! Sustainable thinking. I like it.
Generosity Opportunities and Karma Points!
Now have I made you feel terrible enough? Good. Because it’s all your fault and the entire purpose of this entry was to make you feel terrible. Why would that be my purpose? Now you are sufficiently feeling guilty enough to donate, aren’t you? Aren’t you? Oh, I kid, I kid. If you’re feeling guilty then that’s your own stupid fault. This isn’t one person’s fault, but it’s our collective fault. I’m just writing about things that I feel are important and I don’t care if you donate money to anything or not. In fact – you can go and throw your money away on cheap plastic toys, and designer clothes, and big screen tvs and not donate ANY of it – I hear it’s all the rage these days. But let me tell you about two organizations that e-mailed ME PERSONALLY for some help concerning their organizations. I am greatly humbled by any organization e-mailing me on the topics of our oceans as if I was someone who even lived near one or even worked in the field of science. These are two organizations dedicated to the cause of saving our oceans. I decided to donate what I could to them, but I am totally nowhere near rich (does anybody using a wordpress account have any money anyway?) and these organizations could use your help. They also could use fanfare and you should tell people about these organizations so they can be more well known and get even more money.
Project Kaisei – A man creating a documentary following this project e-mailed me for media information. I actually had the honor to see the trailer for the documentary and I was very impressed. I would share the link but I do not see it on the internet yet. Kaisei is the flagship of a fleet of vessels that are doing the legwork on cleaning up the Garbage Vortices. On this site you will find some great videos and some relief that at least a small handful of people are doing something about this garbage patch problem. They could always use donations which are easy to give at the bottom of the page. I highly urge you to consider it, but I’m biased, I like clean plastic-free oceans.
The International Seakeepers Society – The organizer of the newsletter for the International Seakeeper’s Society actually requested to use some of my writing for their upcoming newsletter! This felt really good to me for somebody to appreciate my writing that much. So look for me on the first quarter newsletter of the International Seakeeper’s Society! Why should you support this group? They are incessantly collecting data from the ocean which we can turn into useable information to help protect our oceans through various methods. If Project Kaisei is our legs then The International Seakeepers Society is our eyes. They are giving us awareness of our surroundings making the frightening specter of ocean trauma tangible and something we will then be able to tackle. Check out the section labeled “Our expanding fleet” for more detailed information! I know! It’s super tough to decide which organization to donate to, so you might as well donate to both. After all, they both asked me for some help, and I always like to give more help than asked for.
Bonus Section for Word and Language Lovers
But wait! There’s more! If you are one of our first 100 customers you will receive a FREE… sorry. Really though, I have one more organization I would like you to donate to. After all, 3 donations is way luckier than 2. There will probably be a lot of good coming your way with 3 donations.
Librivox – I have totally become a Librivox fan lately and I have to tell you why. Librivox is an organization where anybody with a microphone (hey! That’s you!) reads stories that are in the public domain so that the rest of us don’t have to read them and can listen to them in the car or on the subway on our way to work. I have taken librivox up liberally on their offer of free audio books and have listened to everything from Grimm’s Fairy Tales to Rudyard Kipling to Mark Twain to Joseph Conrad. In fact (don’t tell anyone this because it’s super nerdy) I even PERSONALLY have read aloud multiple stories to add to librivox’s collection and they were super thankful and nice. And since one good turn deserves another (I always hear that idiom in the voice of the doorknob from the cartoon Alice in Wonderland) I am going to be super nice and thankful back by both donating and recommending that you donate to help librivox. In fact – librivox has never asked for donations before, but their site is getting so popular (because it’s so good!) that they are asking us to help cover the costs of free audio books. How can we say no? Help Librivox keep culture alive in the digital age! And go see if you can guess which stories I read!
Finally, I will leave you with a thought-provoking e-mail I left Merriam-Webster after attempting to search some definitions lately. Could you tell I was frustrated? If you loved language like I love language, you’d be frustrated too. Until next time!
m-w.com: For as long as I have used the internet I have used Merriam-Webster for my professional dictionary needs. However, as the years pass by, I am noticing a disturbing trend that must be addressed by a professional organization such as yourselves. It is so disturbing that I am e-mailing you with the hope and prayer that you might actually be unaware of how unprofessional and shockingly disrespectful to the user your website is.
While advertisements are crucial to the success of any website, no website uses quite the variety and cleverness of cruelty in their advertisements as your website. Whether those in charge of advertising are unaware of basic internet etiquette or are apathetic to it I am still unclear.
The ads found surrounding the page are natural and are to be expected. Even the pop-ups, as obnoxious and rude as they are to a user, are understandable. I guess you have to make money and if you truly believe pop-up ads are that successful then who am I to argue? But the fact remains that you are supposed to be a professional organization.
So when I choose your site (out of the many dictionary sites on the internet) to look up a word, and I type that word in the “Search” box, I do not think it is very professional of you to show me a PARTIAL definition to a word while an advertisement that could easily fit in the corner of my screen sits proudly in front of the definition purposefully obscuring it ensuring seething hatred toward whatever is being advertised and your website for participating in such rude advertising.
And when you finally do get the full definition, it is still surrounded by ads for Google and Bing hardly distinguishable from the definition. But what truly makes Merriam-Webster unique in their advertising is after you search for your definition and hunt for the tiny “skip this ad” button hidden to the side. Finally, the definition you have so longingly come for lay in front of you in its entirety and it is possible to begin to read it. And just when you do begin to read the definition a box from the corner of your site comes flying to the center of the screen, again, yes again, obscuring the definition until you click the tiny x to make it go away. Then at last, I am bestowed the honor of the definition in which I originally came.
The only websites that I have seen using such Machiavellian advertising tactics have been pornographic websites and infomercial sites. I hope your group remembers that you are attempting to appeal to an intelligent audience that actually cares about the definition of words and the advertising tactics you are using is flying in the face of what any intelligent person would consider respectful advertising.
Afterward, I got an automated response that promised a reply within 24 hours. It’s been like 168 hours, oh well.