Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Geography: The Congo basin

Having started near Antarctica at Kerguelen, then moving far north to Svalbard,  I decided to hit the middle of the earth.  My eyes scanned for a few moments before the large, green area of the Congo leapt-out.

I am amazed at the earth and its differences.  The far cold south and north are filled with information of things within scarcity, of how humanity has carved out some existence (sometimes failed) within near unendurable climates.  Barren, desperate places, but beautiful to the eye, fill my images.google.com searches.  Brilliant-white peaks, and unforgiving arctic oceans juxtaposed to remote satellite stations and international vaults are now compared with the most lush, green and vibrant landscape one could ever imagine on earth.

The Congo Basin is vast, and as much as Kerguelen is described as "one of the most remote places on earth," so has The Congo, relatedly, hidden its mysteries, even until present times.

It is called "The Heart of Africa" and "The Second Lung of The Earth" (The Amazon being the other).

It is vast.  It is practically half the size of the lower 48 states.  Yet this is mostly untamed, unexplored jungle, filled with huge marshes and some of the most uncrossable river in the world: The Great Congo River.  It is the deepest river in the world.

It is the place where died "Dr. Livingston" (yes, of the, "Dr. Livingston I presume" fame).  He called The Congo River, "that horrible river."

At The Congo's southeast corner lies 1/6th of all the fresh water in the world in Lake Tanganyika.  It is called, "an inland ocean" and described as more ocean than lake, with large waves crashing its shores.  It is the 2nd deepest and the largest fresh water lake in the world.  Divers compare the fish in it to deep ocean fish.

The fauna of The Congo are vast in number and variety.  One type of antelope lives only there, in the marsh, some 15,000 of them.  Ancient lung fish evolved some 300 million years ago, that can fall into suspended animation during even years of drought are there.  Then there are the elephants, gorillas and big cats.  And then there is poaching....

And there is the constant deforestation....

The Congo is filled also with human misery and great political upheaval.  Warlords control large sections of it, and legitimate governments are forced to make pacts with them to maintain power.   The United Nations keeps a perpetual presence in The Congo.

And it is both one of the most wealthiest places in the world, and one of the most poor at the same time.  The poverty of The Congo is some of the worst on the planet, with people earning as little as 35 cents a day, in mines said to drive one mad.  Child labor is ubiquitous and other human exploitation.  The individual earning so very little produces gold, that in short order is sold for many magnitudes of money later in European markets.  The gold and diamonds buried within The Congo are estimated to be wroth $23 trillion (that's trillion) dollars.  Yet, due to the lack of infrastructure, governmental stability and general in-cohesion of the people living in there, these vast reserves of mineral wealth go untouched and managed and mostly exploited (illegal mining is as rife as poaching).

And so I continue learning about The Congo.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Movie Review: **Spoiler Alert** The Hobbit: An Unexpeted Journey

-Opening scenes at Bag End were well done.  The entire interchange went well, even Bilbo's obstinance at having his abode intruded to his being mildly interested in the "quest" and map, to his final signing of the contract.

-The troll scene went badly.  The book's dialogue and sequences were abandoned to highlight Bilbo's worth.  (A main issue up until the entering of Mirkwood -- of Bilbo basically being a poop-popsicle to "Thorin and Company" was side-stepped by Jackson by tossing in a couple/few more instances of Bilbo's bravery.  His only real value was evidenced to the dwarves after leaving Gollom with the ring.  My memory of Balin muttering to himself, "Bilbo, Bilbo, Bilbo...." being deeply impressed with the Hobbit sticks about now.)  But anyhow, the troll scene sacrifices that instance of Gandalf's prowess to give it instead to Bilbo.  And some key lines omitted that I longed to see.  It is the first instance we get in "The Hobbit" (and in the entire cosmos if it is the first book we read) of Gandalf's will and wisdom and control of middle earth.

-The tree-top scene was also changed, and the super-orc is put in our faces with a rivalry between him and Thorin that we all know the ending of.  The problem is there was no such rivalry in the books at all, but iswydtj (I see what you're doing there Jackson).  And I accept it, but I think Tolkien would cringe (he would cringe anyhow).  Those of us who have read The Hobbit (many times here), know how this rivalry will end, that never existed, albeit, a final battle between the two does.

-The dialogue with the eagles is entirely tossed.

-The elves are kept quite serious prior to and in Rivendell although Tolkien has them presented almost nonsensical from memory.

-The meeting of the 4: Galadriel, Saruman, Gandalf, Elron all meet to talk.  It is decent, but I think draggy to the non-fans.  It was violent to me in presentation and I was both shocked and some what delighted that they did it.  It was clearly out of Unfinished tales, albeit, 50% invented, and the best part of that meeting left out -- wherein, Gandalf blows smoke rings and passes his hand through one, indicating to Saruman, "You'll never have what you want" -- when Saruman suggests Gandalf is up to something over his relationship with the Hobbits <-- I was sad that Jackson didn't go there.  This part in Unfinished Tales is very powerful.  A chiding by Saruman at Gandalf over the hobbits and his concern with them, entirely absent.

-Gandalf discussed the 5:  I almost came.  I cannot believe Jackson did this, and it alone was enough to justify the entire movie.  Had he called them: Istari, I would have passed out.  He mentions "The 2 Blue wizards," and even uses Tolkien's own words when questioned in an interview, "I do not recall their 'middle earth' names."  Gandalf fails to give their 'Western' names (Alatar and Pallando).

-Radagast: I mean fucking wow.  Lol!  This makes me a Saruman fan.  He's hugely in the movie, and 95% fabricated.  A sleigh pulled by rabbits -- I mean, gmafb....

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dead Space: Chapter 4

Dead Space 3 is coming.  This inspired me to get back into Dead Space 1.  Here's a vid I put together of chapter 4:

Here's my play last night starting chapter 4 (just completed chapter 3 too last  night):

My raw footage of Dead Space: Chapter 4

*Spoiler* mini-boss
*Spoiler* I die

Music is by Awolnation who were apparently recruited solely by Red Bull by touting "free use of our recording studio."

I'm having trouble finding the name of the song but I _think_ it's "Worm Bitten Apple":

Here's more info on the song

Awonation Band on Wikipedia

I ripped it off "The Athlete Machine" Red Bull vid:

The Athlete Machine by Red Bull Kluge
^way cool...