June 4th, 2013


The Oceanic Plastisphere

Only one type of plastic does not float *in salt water at least*, and that is type I PETE plastic, the hard clear kind that drink bottles are made of. It is the most abundantly manufactured kind, and it does not float.

Types of Plastic:
3 PVC (rafts)
4 CDPE (bags)
5 PP
6 PS (polystyrene)
7 Other

I posted once about the Great Pacific Waste Dump, basically just parroting media hype. It turns out the plastic in the ocean is mostly in tiny bits instead of in a big island of capped bottles. It is thickest in the five GYRES on the planet, which appear to me to be doldrums where there are no tradewinds or strong currents. The most directly alarming thing about the litter of plastic bits is that it is covered in life that is migrating in a whole new way. Barnacles, biofilm and plankton all hitch a ride or get tangled in the mess. We had NO IDEA what this is going to mean in the long run. A new name has been coined for all the microorganisms on the polypropylene and polyethlene in the ocean: the Plastisphere. The only organism named by Emelia DeForce PhD in last night's Science Pub talk was Vibrio, the same genus as cholera. I was dying to ask if MRSA was on the plastic around Hawaii but we left because the line was long and we were done. All the factoids in this post are courtesy of Dr DeForce.

Plastic is made from crude oil into nerdles (sp?), which are small balls of hard petroleum product. Those can then be shipped to the manufacturers who combine them with additives and make their product.

Are the Sunnis like the Tea Party in any way?

Just yesterday I finally stopped ignoring the Middle East and looked up a few things. Like who is Shia and who is Sunni. And who has nukes and where. And what exactly an Islamist is. It was....a useful exercise. Anyone else out there taking an interest in this juncture of history? I'm ready to be educated.

It just seems to me, after one *ok a fraction of one* day of looking into it, that the majority Sunnis in most of the Middle East have been supremely frustrated trying to deal with their less conservative, more secular Shia neighbors. And it seems clear to me that America has at least attempted to enact a separation of church and state, even though those words do not appear in the constitution. It was in the First Amendment to the US Constitution that Congress was to "make no law respecting respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". As wikipedia points out, lots of nations have this idea in their code, and there is a great range of shades of gray in its execution. Here in America we do fairly well, but nowhere near a perfect score. For one thing, the constitution has no control over the states and what local laws might be passed. Which may be how we have gigantic crosses along Interstate 5 in Washington State. Not so different from other places, where religion is supposed to guide personal and political life. Here we seem only able to elect Christian presidents. We like to think that we are above it, but we are surely not.

So I know I am rambling and I will call it quits. If you have an opinion about what is the crux of what is going on--in Syria, Turkey, Kurdistan, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Russia or any other involved party, feel free to comment and tell me! I'm building a mind map.

**Created Syria tag.