The NULL Solution = Episode 146

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The NULL Solution = Episode 146

…The world-wide public cannot get enough; so intriguing, so foreign to those with the least bit of an astronomical leaning…

Astronomy Picture of the Day – NASA

“If I can interrupt, my favorite moment was when we drove Solution into a river. What a kick to see how she handles underwater!”

It certainly was a kick, just not quite for the reasons he described. He leaves out the juicy parts, like the actual force field enforced by a riddle-master; a two-way closed door that is stuck shut. AND that, in everyone’s qualified opinion, he is back with his family and Rick is back tending to his nuts, is a flat-out miracle.

“Let’s take a look at the pictures your drone took, after you men were safely inside the drone and on your way back to Earth. I hear you named it the Martian Mule.

While she speaks, the director in the control room is showing file footage. That “structure” is visible in the distance, as will be the ash plume that rises just as high, without strong prevailing winds to spread it out.

“We were happy to have Mars in our rearview mirror,”… that and an alien behemoth {Collapsar Axis}. No footage of that though. This is a time for celebration not worry.

Pistachio Growers Association Incorporated. PGAI

“Lt. Commander Stanley, Prez Roy tells me you have officially retired?”  People want details and Randi Gilbert II delivers.

“Yes, I bought a little pistachio grove in California. A few cattle, some chickens and a small herd of quarter horses too.”

“Sounds like that will keep you busy.” She turns, “What about your plans Gus McKinney… with your time off, I mean?”

“Well, my daughter Marscie is growing like a weed. I think I’ll watch her develop, teach her about space stuff, maybe do a little sky watching on the side.”

“Aren’t you tired of looking at stars?”

“There’s more out there than stars and planets Randi …”

Bzztt… Fresh pictures of the Green {formerly red} Planet abruptly pop onto the broadcast. The public cannot get enough; so intriguing, so foreign to those with the least bit of an astronomical leaning. It seems someone in the studio control room was afraid that Gus may be referring to approaching unmentionable alien fortress.

RG II thanks her all-star guests and signs off from this exciting and informative new episode of Good Morning Mission Control.

The NULL Solution =

Episode 146

page 144

The NULL Solution = Episode 67

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The NULL Solution = Episode 67

…I want to ride to the ridge where the West commences
and gaze at the moon till I lose my senses…

— It has been pretty quiet in the neighborhood, both the Milky Way and the King Ranch spread – each 200 x 200 square {parsecs and miles respectively} each. No UFOs, no Lorgan, no problem.

The same approx. area as the country of Andorra {tucked in the Pyrenees}, King Ranch acreage is much easier to patrol than the parsecs of space. Even the most adventurous steer will not exceed the boundaries of barbed wire, streams or shotgun toting neighbor, whereas the Space Colony 1 pioneers, disappeared into the thin air of a controlled NASA situation.

“Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above
Don’t fence me in
Let me ride through the wide open country that I love
Don’t fence me in

Let me be by myself in the evenin’ breeze
And listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees
Send me off forever but I ask you please
Don’t fence me in

Just turn me loose, let me straddle my old saddle
Underneath the western skies
On my cayuse, let me wander over yonder
Till I see the mountains rise

I want to ride to the ridge where the West commences
And gaze at the moon till I lose my senses
And I can’t look at hobbles and I can’t stand fences
Don’t fence me in

Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies
Don’t fence me in
Let me ride through the wide country that I love
Don’t fence me in.”

Gus is in good voice this morning. He knows the Cole Porter lyrics by heart. It was his anthem back when he was thirteen and feeling his oats.

Mindy is calling to him by the most basic form of communication, “Gus McKinney, get your ass in here right now!” she shouts at the top of her lungs.

Those shouts carry across Waller County, most of which the King, Crippen and McKinney families own. Save the small settlements here and there, which are mostly grouped around the ubiquitous Walmart Megastores.

He skillfully reins his chestnut stallion back around to the house, from where he was headed, which was… oh he forgets.

“I need a shower Sweetie,” admits the wandering wrangler.

Unpretentious and a good mother, his wife requires some alone time as well – which does not include riding a horse to the back-back-back forty.

The NULL Solution =

Episode 67

page 69

Game Changing Archaeology – WABAC Discoveries

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Archaeological Discoveries

That Change Our

View of History

History is far more complicated that we would like to believe. Even in our schools today, different versions of events are being taught to students, depending on the country they’re in and how those events in history affected that country. “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past,” right? Nevertheless, we also have archaeology, which sometimes helps us to better understand what happened regardless of what was written down in centuries past. And sometimes, some such discoveries turn the way we saw history right on its head.

 10. Ancient Fast Food

We generally tend to think that fast food came about fairly recently, right? And it does make sense, after all, given the faster pace the world is moving nowadays as opposed to the slower ancient times. In fact, the first such shops, which were serving fish and chips, opened in Britain during the 1860s. Then, in the 1950s in the US, the drive-through restaurants became popular, and… well, you know the rest.

But taking a quick snack for lunch and then hurrying on your way is not something new and has been going on since ancient times. This place was the so-called thermopolium, or “place where (something) hot is sold,” and it was a common sight all throughout the Greco-Roman world; particularly in larger towns and cities. These thermopoliaare, in fact, the forerunners of all present-day restaurants. They usually consisted of a small room that opened onto the street and specialized in two or three items such as spiced wine, meats, cheese, or lentils. These establishments were quite tiny and almost never had tables for people to sit at. There was only a counter with several embedded earthenware jars called doliawhere the food was stored.

These places were frequented mostly by slaves or people who did not have the means or facilities to cook for themselves. And as it so happens, these thermopolia were also frequent hangouts for all sorts of shady characters. These places were even abolished on several occasions for this exact reason, since they harbored all sorts of effeminate Greeks and thieving slaves,” as Plautus, a Roman playwright from the 3rd century BC, once said. There were, however, some fancier establishments too, with some tables inside and even some frescoes painted on the walls. One such ornate restaurant called the “Thermopolium of Asellina” was discovered in Pompeii and is one of the best preserved in the world.

9. War is Older Than We Thought

War was commonly believed to have originated alongside the advent of civilization. This, of course, doesn’t mean that people weren’t killing each other even before that. After all, the reptilian part of the brain, which we all have and which pushes us towards things like hate, envy, aggression, dominance, and territoriality among others, was also found in people more than 10,000 years ago. This means that before the discovery of agriculture and animal husbandry, people were only able to kill each other through the occasional murder or small family skirmishes. But after people began settling down and growing in number, more organized and coordinated forms of battle were invented; things like raids or wars, for instance. The fact that structured hierarchies and slavery also appeared during this time also helped wars along.

Nevertheless, an archaeological discovery made in 2012 in Kenya seems to indicate that small scale wars were also taking place even before agriculture appeared there. On the banks of the Lake Turkana, archaeologists came across 27 skeletons dating back to somewhere in between 9,500 to 10,500 years ago. These skeletons once belonged to men, women, and children which archeologists believe were members of a semi-nomadic tribe that settled close to the lake. All of the skeletons showed signs of blunt force trauma or wounds from projectile weapons.One of the women had both of her knees shattered and showed signs that her hands were bound when she died. Who attacked them, or what really happened is not known, but no other massacre on this scale has ever been discovered from so long ago.

8. Europeans and America

Christopher Columbus and his men are no longer believed to be the first Europeans to discover the American continent. Today it is fairly common knowledge that Leif Ericsson, an Icelandic Viking explorer, was the first European to come across to North America when he was blown off course on his way to Greenland from Norway almost 500 years before Columbus. In the Saga of the Greenlanders which talks about Leif Ericsson and his travels to Vinland, present-day Newfoundland, there is mention of a Bjarni Herjólfsson, who also made it to a land west of Greenland when he too was blown off course by the wind, even before Leif Ericsson himself. But whatever the case may be here, some newer archaeological evidence points to the fact that the Europeans made it to North America even before Europe had a name, or at least the name of “Europe.”

Several dozen stone tools have been found along the East Coast in six distinct locations. One in Pennsylvania, three from the Delmarva Peninsula in Maryland, one in Virginia, and another one was discovered by a scallop trawler some 60 miles off the Virginian coast. All of these tools bear a striking resemblance to the stone tools used by the prehistoric Solutrean tribes from present-day western France and northern Spain. What’s more, all of them were dated somewhere in between 19,000 to 26,000 years ago. Because of this time period, most archaeologists have rejected the idea of being just a simple case of coincidence based on the too-similar design. Furthermore, one of the stone knives discovered in Virginia revealed under chemical analysis that it actually originated in France.

The reason for the relatively small number of tools found on the East Coast dating from that period also explains how those Stone Age Europeans got to America in the first place. Back in those times, the planet was going through an Ice Age, and like the Native Americans who crossed into America from Asia over the Bering land bridge, so did these Solutreans cross over what is now the north Atlantic, Iceland, and Greenland. As shown by that knife found by the scallop trawler 60 miles off the coast of Virginia, the sea level was far lower than it is today. And since these people stayed mostly around the coast, many of their tools are also underwater. Another archaeological discovery that places Europeans in North America longer ago than previously believed is an 8,000-year-old skeleton found in Florida. When subjected to a genetic marker test, this man’s remains revealed high levels of European markers, not found in Asians.

7. Australians and America

Another archaeological discovery, this time from Brazil, points to the fact that Australians also made it to the Americas long ago. Several human skulls discovered there match the characteristics of those from places like Australia and Melanesia. Similarly, some 33 skulls found on the Baja California peninsula in Mexico also point to this theory. And according to the stone tools and charcoal discovered at the site in Brazil, these people could have inhabited the area for nearly 50,000 years. The theory is that they arrived in the Americas by boat across the Pacific. Though seemingly impossible for people from 50,000 years ago, cave paintings in Australia have shown some boats that were actually built to withstand the ocean. Moreover, in 1947 Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl and a few others made it across on a balsa wood raft.

Archaeologists also believe that these people died out with the appearance of the Asian peoples coming in from the north via the Bering land bridge. This is because the shape of the skulls changes from those with an Australian appearance to those with a Mongoloid appearance between 9,000 to 7,000 years ago. The only survivors could be tribes of people who lived in the Terra del Fuego region of South America. This is the southernmost tip of the continent, and the people who still live there show hybrid skull features of both mongoloid and negroid ancestry. If proven true then Native Australians could be the first Americans ever.

6. How Old is Our Friendship with Dogs?

There is no debating that wolves were the first animals ever to be domesticated by humans. Even before animal husbandry became a thing, man and wolves (which then turned into dogs) were hunting together in a sort of synergy that benefited both species. But how old is this interspecies collaboration, really? Common theories place the beginning of this relationship somewhere around 15,000 to 18,000 years ago and it happened separately in both China and the Middle East. This is without a doubt far older than any other domesticated animal in the world. Dogs were well established as part of human society around 10,000 years ago, and in Germany for instance, humans and dogs were sometimes buried together as long as 14,000 years ago.

But the discovery of a canine skull in the Altai Mountains in Siberia pushes this timeline by at least another 15,000 years. Radiocarbon dating has placed the skull somewhere around 33,000 years old, and its genetic markers indicate that it more closely resembled modern-day dogs than actual wolves. The similarity between modern dogs and this particular skull was also evident thanks to its shape and size. Another old canine fossil dates back to around 31,000 years ago and was discovered in Goyet Cave in Belgium. And even though its mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) indicates that it does not share its matriline with any extant wolves or dogs, its skull morphology is more similar to a dog than an actual wolf.

5. The Oldest Writing in the World

Three inscribed tablets that were found in what is now present day Romania may contain the oldest writing system in the world. Each of them is about two and a half inches wide, each has markings on it, and all of them are dated back to around 5300 BC. They were found in 1961 in a ritual pit, alongside other clay and stone offerings and the bones of an elderly woman, probably a sort of priestess. The Tartaria Tablets, as they are known, are thought to have belonged to theTurdas-Vinca culture that inhabited the area during that period. But despite the importance of the discovery and what they stand to represent if proven to be the real deal, the tablets are still shrouded in some controversy. For instance, Mesopotamian experts disregard the Tartaria Tablets by saying that the symbols on them are not actually writing, but only decorations. Other experts believe that these tablets actually contain an early form of Sumerian script since some of the symbols found here are identical to pictograms found in Jemdet Nasr in Iraq.

A German linguist and Mesopotamian script specialist by the name of Harald Haarmann strongly believes that the symbols on the tablets are an early form of writing. He bases his assumptions on the many other symbols that are part of the so-called Danube script found throughout the region on various other ceramic objects and which number roughly the same as the Egyptian hieroglyphs. A more recent discovery from 2009 has brought to light a Neolithic workshop that was once manufacturing clay tablets. Another 120 similar tablets were found at the site, some containing symbols similar to the ones at Tartaria. If these symbols are ever proven to be authentic and part of an actual ancient script, then the cradle of civilization could be moved from the Middle East to Eastern Europe.

4. The City of the Sun in North America

Native Americans usually lived in tepees, right? Well, yes… at least, some of them did. But in fact, many Native North Americans lived in large cities before the arrival of the Europeans to the continent. One notable example is Cahokia, or the City of the Sun. It is located in in the state of Illinois, close where the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers merge. This area is one of the most fertile on the continent and here one Native American culture, the Mississippians, made it their home. But they didn’t just live in tepees, but rather in grand cities of some 20,000 people strong. Cahokia was at its peak between 1050 and 1200 AD, and during this time, it was bigger than any other European counterpart.

And here is where this tepee misconception comes into play. It was so ingrained into white people’s imaginations that when they came across some earthen mounds in the region, they initially attributed them to retreating glaciers. When they did eventually realize that these were actually man-made, they attributed their construction to Phoenicians, Vikings, and even a lost tribe of Israel. Pretty much anyone other than the Native Americans themselves. And Cahokia is big. It spans over an area of about six square miles and had a total of 120 earth mounds. The city was carefully planned and organized, with plazas, residential areas, and elite compounds. The largest of the earth mounds found here is about 100 feet tall and contains more than 25 million cubic feet of earth, carried here in willow baskets 50 pounds at a time. Known as the Monks Mound, this is the largest earthen structure in the Western Hemisphere.

Fairly little is known about the civilization that built it, however. We do know that their trade network was vast, reaching from the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians and from the Great Lakes to Florida. They practiced human sacrifice and relied heavily on corn for nourishment. Today, however, only 70 of the original 120 earth mounds have survived and there is a four lane highway running right through the historic site.

3. Cambodia’s Medieval Cities

The Khmer Empire was one of the most powerful in Southeast Asia, and probably in the world at the time. It existed in between 802 AD to 1431 AD and extended over what are now Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. They ruled over the region including where the temple complex of Angkor Wat is located. The temple complex itself is one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia and consists of many architectural marvels besides the obvious temples found there. Back in 2012, a team of archaeologists made use of state of the art laser technology called LiDAR. This technology has the ability to see through dense vegetation and map the topography under the jungle canopy. What they discovered was amazing, to say the least. They used LiDAR again in 2015, in a project that became the most extensive airborne survey used for archaeological purposes ever. Some 734 square miles of terrain was scanned and it revealed an unimaginable network of roads, water ways, and densely populated cities, unrivaled anywhere in the world at the time.

Lead archaeologist on the project Damian Evans had this to say about the discovery: “We have entire cities discovered beneath the forest that no one knew were there – at Preah Khan of Kompong Svay and, it turns out, we uncovered only a part of Mahendraparvata on Phnom Kulen [in the 2012 survey] … this time we got the whole deal and it’s big, the size of Phnom Penh big.”

Phnom Penh is the current capital city of Cambodia. This survey has shown that the Khmer Empire was able to design and implement an elaborate water system on a grand scale, centuries before archaeologists believed the technology even existed. This new discovery also disproves the theory on how the Khmer Empire eventually collapsed. Up until 2015, it was believed that they were invaded from the north and people fled south. But the lack of any cities in that direction disproves this theory. In any case, Angkor is now, without a shadow of a doubt, the most extensive urban settlement in the world prior to the Industrial Revolution. This is, of course, if LiDAR technology doesn’t discover any others.

2. The Gold Crucifix of Denmark

One beautiful afternoon in 2016, an amateur metal detector in Denmark came across a gold crucifix in a field near the town of Aunslev, Østfyn. After he posted his discovery on social media, some people advised him to take it to a local museum, which he did. Here, the curator dated the Birka crucifix to somewhere in the first half of the 10th century AD. It is made out of finely articulated goldthreads and small filigree pellets, and has a loop through which a chain once went. What is really interesting about this find is that it’s dated between 900 and 950 AD, leading historians to believe that the Danes were converted to Christianity earlier than previously believed.

Prior to this discovery, the earliest representation of Jesus on a cross in Denmark came in the form of the Jelling Stones – two large rune stones dated to 965 AD, and which are located in Jutland. These stones commemorate Harald Blåtand, or Harald Bluetooth, for his role in converting the Danes to Christianity. What this tiny cross does is push back the period when these Vikings became Christians by several decades, at a minimum.

1. The Appearance of Agriculture

It’s a common belief that agriculture started off in what are now Armenia, eastern Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, and Iran around 11,000 years ago. Then it spread to the rest of the Old World. And while this is still true, new archaeological evidence shows that agriculture actually developed in two distinct parts of this particular region, known as the Fertile Crescent, and each then spread to different parts of the world independently. Genetic evidence has proven that there are stark differences between people living in the southern Levant, like Israel and Jordan, and those from across the Zagros Mountains in western Iran. Each of these groups of people developed their own style of agriculture and animal husbandry, favoring different plants and animals for domestication. They lived in complete isolation from each other for centuries or even millennia before they actually met.

And it is believed that they only came in contact in eastern Turkey when both groups were in search of obsidian needed for all sorts of tools. It’s also believed that these people met, intermingled, exchanged agricultural techniques and ideas, and then migrated westward into Europe. Those who remained behind, however, went their own separate ways, spreading their distinct forms of agriculture to other parts of the world. Those living in the southern Levant eventually traveled to East Africa, going through present-day Egypt and down the Nile and the Red Sea coast, while those living in western Iran made their way north into the Eurasian steppe and then eastward into present day India and Pakistan. While this discovery doesn’t seem like much given that both of these populations emerged from the Fertile Crescent region, it does change our perspective of how history and the start of civilization actually played out.

Game Changing Archaeology

“Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

– WABAC Discoveries

“Food Crimes” – Shocking New Drama from WIF


Astounding Facts


Food Waste

Climate change is a serious problem – probably the most dangerous predicament humanity has ever been in. And every second that goes by and we’re not doing anything about it, the more dangerous things are going to become, and the harder it will be to fix them. But let’s not kick off this list on such a gloomy note, and instead look at what can be done to change that. The answer is as simple as what caused all of this in the first place – namely, the little things. Slight tweaks in our habits can go a long way, without us having to revert to a pre-Industrial, 18th century-lifestyle to get there. And yes, we are on topic here, in case you were wondering.

 Some call this the Age of Efficiency, in which Mother Earth forces us to, in a manner of speaking, evolve or get out of the away. And one of the first and easiest ways to become more efficient as a species is to address food waste. Up until fairly recently in our history, we didn’t have to bother ourselves with waste of any kind. But in more recent decades, however (with the spread of consumerism), we can no longer afford this luxury. Luckily, in what some call “the world’s dumbest problem” many see an opportunity – and that is, of course, wasted food.

10. The Overwhelming Statistics

There is a tremendous amount of food being wasted around the world. In fact, roughly one third of all food goes to waste, either during production and retail, or thrown away by the consumers themselves. That’s about 1.3 billion tons per year, or about half of the world’s entire cereal production. In the already developed parts of the world, like Europe and North America, consumers’ behavior plays a bigger part in food squandering than in developing countries. Here, on the other hand, technical, managerial, or financial constraints have a much larger role. The lack of infrastructure, agricultural grants, advanced harvesting and transportation technology, or adequate cooling facilities, account for most of the food waste. In all, developing countries lose 40% of their discarded food during harvest and processing, while already developed countries waste 40% of their food at the retail and consumer levels.

On average, rich countries produce almost 2,000 pounds of food per person per year, whereas poorer regions produce slightly above half, or 1,014 pounds. Out of these, European and North American consumers alone squander some 230 pounds, whereas consumers from Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia are responsible for 17 pounds each. Every year, consumers from these rich areas waste almost as much as the entire food production in Sub-Saharan Africa – 222 million and 230 million tons, respectively.

9. Food Equals Money – Wasting One Means Wasting the Other

Tax cuts seem to be a trending topic nowadays. Now, regardless of the fact that taxes are what make a middle class broad and stable, governments usually sell these tax cuts to us as a great way to save money. But we have a much better alternative for you. While the planned tax cuts are said to save low-income households some $40 per year, the average household of four can save around $2,000 just by being more conscious about their food management behavior. It is said that, on average, one American family throws away about a quarter of all the food they buy, which is the equivalent of anywhere in between $1,365 to $2,275 annually. In total, the United States wastes 35 million tons of food this way every year, which is the equivalent of $165 billion. Worldwide, this sum jumps to roughly $1 trillion.

In an estimate by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), food waste has risen in the United States by 50% since 1990 and is now three times as high as it was during the 1960s. One element that has exacerbated the problem, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), is the steep rise in portion sizes and calorie density. Over the past 20 years, hamburgers have expanded by 23%, soft drinks have increased by 52%, while chips and pretzels have grown by 60%. Pizza, on the other hand, remained more or less the same, but it now has 70% more calories than it had in the ’80s. An average Caesar salad doubled, and a chocolate chip cookie quadrupled their respective calorie counts. Supermarkets have also employed various psychological tricks and tactics to make their customers impulse-buy. From offering various product samples, to providing us with big shopping carts, and strategically placing products around the store, they make us buy more than we actually need. One great way of avoiding these traps is to make a shopping list and then stick to it.

8. Fridges, Plates and Food Trays

In general, humans love wide open spaces. Interestingly enough, however, the same thing doesn’t apply to food. Like portion sizes, plates have also grown over the years. Whether it was the larger food portion or the larger dinner plate that came first, we have no way of knowing, but since the 1960s, average plates have increased by around 36 percent. And when we have a big plate, we tend to pile on more food, regardless of whether we will be able to eat it or not. Color contrast also plays a role here. Scientists have discovered that people tend to add more food to their plate if their colors –the food’s and the plate’s – match. The opposite happens, however, if the plate is similar to the background (such as the tablecloth). So, in other words, if you want to eat more greens, you should do it on a green plate against a red tablecloth.

Something similar applies to food trays. A big tray will make people add more to it, with much of the food ending up going to waste. Jill Horst, the director of residential dining services at the University of California Santa Barbara, noticed this in her college dining hall. In 2009, Horst decided to eliminate food trays altogether, and food waste dropped by 50%. Students can still eat as much as they want, but they now have to manage their trips and portion sizes.

But when it comes to our homes, oversized fridges are the main cause for food going bad. Like the plate, fridges have also increased in size, especially in the United States, where we have 25 cubic feet (and larger) models. By contrast, most European fridges are around 10 cubic feet. We’re not comfortable with a seemingly empty fridge, and we tend to want to fill it. But a lot of food products can still spoil in a fridge after only a week, and a big one makes us buy more than we would be able to consume during that time. Refrigerators were also proven to decrease the value of food we put inside. Surveys have shown that we feel less guilty if we drop a carton of eggs that’s been sitting in the fridge for several days, as opposed to when we just got home with it from the supermarket.

7. Land, Water, and Biodiversity Simply Wasted Away

Another way of looking at our own inefficiency when it comes to food is to analyze the three criteria listed above. In 2007, the total land area used on food that eventually ended up at the dump was around 1.4 billion hectares. That’s more than Canada and India put together! The major contributors when it comes to food waste are meat and dairy. Now, even though these make up just 4 and 7 percent of all the wasted food, respectively, these squandered animal-based products take up a whopping 78% of the surface area mentioned above. To better understand this phenomenon, we should be aware that an area roughly the size of the entire African continent is made out of pasturelands, while a third of all arable land available is used for animal feed.

What’s more, roughly 10 million hectares of forest worldwide are being cleared annually. Food management inefficiency contributes to a large degree here – over 74% – with agricultural lands expanding into wild areas at an unprecedented rate. Overfishing is of serious concern, as well. It’s estimated that by 2048, there will no longer be any more commercially viable fish left in the oceans. This is in part because fishing is still seen as hunting, where fishermen catch as much as they possibly can – not because of demand, per se, but because other fishermen might catch them if they don’t. Secondly, size-selective fishing has cut the average size of fish in half over the past four decades, and has severely hindered their capacity to replenish their populations. Moreover, bycatch – or marine species caught unintentionally and then discarded – amounts to 27 million tons annually (since 1994). Over 300,000 whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and porpoises also die in fishnets every year.   

When it comes to our fresh water supply, 70% goes into agriculture, 20% is used in industry, while the remaining 10% is for everyday, domestic use. Wasted food accounts for a quarter of all available fresh water on the globe. That’s equal to 3.6 times the amount of total water used in the United States, the annual discharge of the Volga River (the largest in Europe), or about 60 cubic miles in total.

6. Just a Quarter of All Food Waste Can Feed All the World’s Hungry

Yes, this is the sad reality we are currently living in. On average, the United States throws away enough food to fill up 730 football stadiums to the brim every year – half of which is untouched, fresh, and completely edible food. That’s equal to 20 pounds for every man, woman, and child per month. In other words, the United States, like many European countries, has twice as much food stacked on supermarket shelves and in restaurants than it actually needs to feed the American people. If we were to take into account the amount of corn, oats, and other edible plants used as animal feed, the United States has four times as much food as its population needs. And yet, 1 in 7 Americans need to use food banks or are struggling to put food on the table. That’s nearly 50 million people.

Internationally, well over 800 million people endure regular hunger or are malnourished. The 1.3 billion tons of food discarded for various reasons worldwide is enough to feed more than 3 billion people, or 10 times the population of the United States. Now, if we were to save a quarter of all the food wasted, we would be able to feed over 870 million people – more that the world’s entire hungry population. When looking at these numbers, we can see why some people call this the world’s dumbest problem. This incredible amount of excess can only be characterized as a success story that started some 12,000 years ago with the Agricultural Revolution. But our incredibly poor management pushes the planet’s ecological limits to the brink of collapse, and this success is quickly turning into a tragedy. It is estimated that by 2050, there will be over 9 billion people on Earth. Will the other 1.5 billion people have enough to eat, or will they go hungry?

5. Unsustainable Beauty Standards

Over the past several decades, we’ve gotten so used to the food abundance all around us that we’ve begun to grade our food in terms of its appearance. Never mind the fact that ‘ugly’ foods are totally good to eat – if they don’t meet absolute perfection in terms of their shape, size, or coloring, we simply throw it away. And by we, we’re referring to the farmers who grow this food in the first place. They’re not really to blame here, however, as they are the ones who have to bear the financial cost of this wasted food. A slight bump, a variation in color, or any other simple imperfection can downgrade a piece of fruit or vegetable from a Class I to a Class II, with a price decrease of two thirds or more.

This makes it completely unprofitable for the farmers to even pick them up – spending even more money, time, and energy in the process. Under normal circumstances, farmers throughout the entire agricultural industry have to leave more than a third of their harvest to rot on the ground because of these government-approved grades and standards. But these undesirable fruits and vegetables could easily find their way into the hands of people who actually need it, right? Yes, but unfortunately the cost of picking, packaging, storing, and shipping this produce is not covered by any reliable government grants or tax breaks, and farmers have to, first and foremost, look after their own bottom line.

And once these top grade foods do make it onto the shelves, supermarkets and grocery stores have to overstock so as to give the appearance of abundance. They are fully aware that if only a few items remain on display, people generally don’t want to buy them. This trend happens because we tend to assume that the last option is, more often than not, a bad option – which in this case is just false. And as a result, this overstocking leads to many items going bad, either on the shelves or in the store’s warehouse.

4. If It Was a Country, Food Waste Would Be the Third Largest Emitter of Greenhouse Gases

See? We told you that climate change stuff in the intro was on topic. Agriculture is, without a shadow of a doubt, humanity’s biggest impact on the planet. It takes, by far, the largest amount of land and water of any other activity. Soil degradation and water pollution are topics that we won’t even begin to touch on in this list, and instead, we’ll only try and focus on air pollution instead. After all, the change in the chemical composition of our atmosphere is what causes global warming and climate change in the first place. Worldwide, food waste accounts for 3.3 billion tons of CO2 and CO2 equivalents in the atmosphere. To put this into perspective, if it were a country, it would rank as the 3rd highest emitter after China and the United States – and that’s without actually subtracting these countries’ own share of wasted food. Nevertheless, these emissions can be broken down into two parts.

First, we have methane gas emissions coming from rotting food. If we were to throw away an apple core or a banana peel somewhere in the woods, it wouldn’t be a big deal. But when hundreds upon hundreds of tons of organic material are piled in landfills, this food waste begins to decompose in an air-depleted environment, which leads to the creation of methane gas. And as some of us know, methane gas is 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2. American landfills are responsible for 17% of all the country’s methane emissions. Second, we have all the energy that’s used to produce this food in the first place. It is estimated that for every one kcal of food, farmers use 3 kcal of fossil fuel energy. And this is before taking into account food processing, transportation, or storage. In 2003 alone, the United States consumed over 300 million barrels of oil on food that made it straight to the dump, where it almost immediately began churning out methane gas.

3. Misleading Expiration Dates

We don’t know about you guys, but we here at TopTenz used to suffer mini heart attacks every time we realized that the yogurt we’ve been so feverously munching down on was two days past its expiration date. But if you are anything like us (and if you are, our sincere condolences), then rest assured because as it turns out, almost all of these dates are complete BS. The bad news here is that these expiration dates are at best an approximation, and at worst, a way for food manufacturers to make a quick buck by indirectly telling us to throw away perfectly edible food and then go out and buy more. To date, only baby formula has a federally-required expiration date stamped on it, while all the other ‘best-by’ labels are up to the manufacturers themselves.

Expiration dates began appearing around the early ’70s when much of the population stopped growing and making their own food and began buying it from grocery stores. These stores then came up with the idea of an ‘Open Dating’ system, which is when a manufacturer voluntarily stamps a date on its food product, loosely indicating when the item will reach peak freshness (not when it will go bad). This method was used by retail stores to determine for how long to display it on their shelves. The ‘Closed Dating’ system, on the other hand, shows the date when the item was produced. Though helpful at first, this system ended up being taken too literally by consumers and is now a much bigger problem than a solution. Even though it’s almost impossible to determine how much edible food is thrown away based on these dates, surveys have shown that 54% of consumers believe that eating food past their best-by date is a health risk. What’s more, 91% of consumers have said that they occasionally throw away food past their ‘sell-by’ date, while 37% said that they always toss their food after its ‘best-by’ date.

The US government had several pieces of legislation in the works regarding these expiration dates, but with the exception of baby formula, none of them went into law – except maybe in our heads. In any case, this is by far the fastest and easiest way for any government to begin tackling the problem of food waste. In the meantime, everyday consumers shouldn’t take them too seriously and only use them as a base of reference. Even though they look official, they’re not.

2. The Landfill Lunch

With all the facts presented here about food waste, it could be quite hard to understand why politicians don’t talk about this issue, let alone do anything about it. To be fair, governments are oftentimes nothing more than the ‘mirror-reflection’ of the people they represent, and only after enough citizens actively demand something will things begin to change. Nevertheless, it’s never a bad idea to bring up the topic of food waste with the world’s political society. This is everyone’s problem, after all, and we all need to find a solution. And what better way to make politicians start talking food waste than to serve it to them at lunch, right? Well, this is exactly what happened during a 2015 UN Summit, where over 30 world leaders, including France’s then-president François Hollande and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, were seated at the dinner table and catered to by some of the world’s most prestigious chefs.

Everything seemed normal until they were presented with the US-themed menu. Prepared by renowned New York chef Dan Barber and former White House chef Sam Kass, the meal was comprised of, for starters, the so-called ‘Landfill Salad’, made out of vegetable scraps and sub-par apples and pears. The veggie burger was made out of “pulp left over from juicing,” and a “repurposed bread bun.” The fries were actually a kind of starchy corn used in animal feed, which makes up 99% of all the corn produced in the United States. And as refreshment, the distinguished guests were served “Chickpea Water”… or the liquid that’s drained from a can of chickpeas. In an interview, Barber said, “It’s the prototypical American meal but turned on its head. Instead of the beef, we’re going to eat the corn that feeds the beef. The challenge is to create something truly delicious out of what we would otherwise throw away.”

1. The Awesome Power of the Individual

As average citizens of the world, living in the relative comforts of anonymity, we oftentimes find it daunting and feel almost helpless to do anything about the global state of affairs. Even if we were to do our best and waste little to no food whatsoever, it would still feel like a drop in the ocean. But never underestimate the power of leading by example. Instead of feeling down – or worse yet, being part of the problem – disregard your negative feelings and focus on the positive. Convince several of your friends of the benefits of not wasting food, and before you know it, you might start a chain reaction that can alter the face of the world.

But let’s tone down the inspirational talk for a moment and focus on a real-life example instead. Selina Juul, a graphic designer living in Denmark, has been credited by the Danish government for singlehandedly helping the country reduce its food waste by 25% in just five years. Today, Denmark is the leading country in the worldwhen it comes to managing its food waste. The whole thing started several years ago when Juul established a lobby group called Stop Spild Af Mad (Stop Wasting Food). As a Russian immigrant, she moved to Denmark when she was 13 and was shocked by the sheer amount of food people were wasting on a daily basis.

“Coming from a place where there were food shortages and people queued for bread, I was amazed at how much was wasted in Denmark, so I started a Facebook page,” she said in an interview. Juul then began offering tips like, “encouraging people to make a list before they go to the supermarket or take a picture of the inside of your fridge with your phone, if you have no time.”

Three months later, and based on her ideas, Denmark’s largest supermarket chain began replacing its quantity discounts like “buy two get the third free” with single item discounts to minimize food waste. An average supermarket wasted on average 100 bananas per day, but after they put up a sign saying “take me I’m single,” the number of discarded bananas dropped by 90%. Today, every supermarket in Denmark uses at least one food-saving strategy. “She basically changed the entire mentality in Denmark,”said Maria Noel, communication officer at a Danish retail company.

“Food Crimes”

– Shocking New Drama from WIF


Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #170

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #170

… The Blountstown General Store is considering Love Dairies as sole supplier of milk and associated products, as well as growing demand for Savannah Cigar tobacco products…

Driver School-001

Willy can tell the difference in power and handling from the 1906 model that he drives, mostly on hills where, even fully loaded, they do not bog down.

“I be puttin’ her in a lower gear, Clete, like this,” he pumps his left leg twice on the left peddle, while shifting a stick back towards him. The sound of the engine becomes more earnest, but their speed of 15 miles per hour is maintained.

“That looks easy ‘nough, Willy. When are you goin’ to let me take the wheel?”

“Somewhere on the way back, likely on that open stretch we passed a ways ago.” He would rather do all the driving, but that defeats the purpose of training.

Welcone to-001

This day they have Road 12 to themselves. The route begins to wind close to Blountstown, calling for caution, especially on the inside of corners. On roads designed for wagons and autos, there is not room for anything but the Mack truck. Whenever Willy cannot see around a corner, he pulls on the air horn cord. That usually keeps the way clear.

  Once safely within the Blountstown village limits, they locate the new center for directions in towns across the country; the gas/service station replaces the local diner. There is usually one per town, as is the case in this one on the Apalachicola River. With a grunt and a mumble, a grease smeared hand points to Blountstown General Store, which is next to the Blountstown Barber Shop on one side and the Blountstown Saloon on the other. One wonders who either founded or owns the town. You are right.

Love Dairies2-001

Savannah Cigars-001 The general store is considering Love Dairies as sole supplier of milk and associated products, as well as growing demand for Savannah Cigar tobacco products. Both are important staples to this typical mill town, but mill owner, Hank (you guessed it) Blount, wishes this fair priced and prompt company could supply a third staple for his workers: whiskey.

If it were not for the profitable backhaul, which is the avoidance of running an empty truck back to warehouse, bartered quantities of lumber and flour; produced in Blountstown with the aid of rushing river water, channeled through paddle wheel and electric generator (Blountstown Power & Light), dealing with Hank Blount would have been out of the question. Herb Love has heard disturbing rumblings from the city, 25 mile southwest of Quincy, but images of a thousand families in need of nourishment tilts his better judgment.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Company Town-001

Episode #170

page 158

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #168

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #168


…To be sitting behind the wheel of a five ton truck is quite different from handling a team and wagon…

September Sunrise by Elizabeth Fraser

But when the sun sets, it also rises. Life picks up where even the most defining of moments leaves off. For some, like Alpha, must make their way back to a foreign place, departing from recognized comfort, for the promise of a bright future. For others, like his father, the everyday grind marches on. Not that there is no change, but old habits die hard. Change may be uncomfortable, but necessary.

And if you work for a man like Herbert Love, you can expect to be on the cutting edge of change. To be sitting behind the wheel of a five ton truck is quite different from handling a team and wagon. But to be a teamster, is to be an expert of the transportation of goods, as well as a trooper. Few of these teamsters are yet expert at navigating the inconsistent roadways in these monster vehicles. It can be said that Willy has done a good job of mastering the delicate balance of power and control, although from high in the noisy cab of the Mack truck, motorcars look like darting little rodents. He liked it better closer to the ground.

When Herbert Love decides to expand their territory out to the west, Jackson and Calhoun Counties, another smoking behemoth is to be added, officially making a fleet. Fleet is plural for ____?____, well it is plural nonetheless, which means they must train another driver. Though the job description is pretty clear, just what the qualifications are, is not.

Frank, the dairy pasteurizer, would make a good driver, but who would then keep the bottled milk fresh. Frank’s brother, Clete, who is in bottling, seems to be the next best choice. He is much younger than Frank, perhaps an egg or two short of a dozen, yet is always eager to learn. Eager will get you far in Loves’ world.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Two Eggs Short of a Dozen by Carol Chretien

Two Eggs Short of a Dozen by Carol Chretien

Episode #168

page 156

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #90

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #90

Da cows givin’ lot less milk, hens ain’t laying right an’ I ain’t seena bird for days… even da dogs don’t come out from da porch

“Anything new… down on the farm?”

Willy thinks on it a spell, finally commenting, “All da animals is actin differnt, funny.”

“What do you mean.?”

Da cows givin’ lot less milk, hens ain’t laying right an’ I ain’t seena bird for days. Even da dogs don’t come out from under da porch. Animals is smarter than folks give propers for. Too bad they ain’t one of ‘em that can talk.”

“You are so right.” Love has no explanation his own self. “Say, how is young Alfrey doing?”

  “I sees him Tursdees an’ Fridees, you know fo da city load, but he’sa studyin’ da rest of time.” Willy is beginning to accept, perhaps even allowing himself a pinch of pride about the academic leanings of his youngest son. With Hosea off in Atlantic City, involved in who knows what, he knows he best do his best in encouraging Alfrey in what he is good at; not that he could not have learned to make a good cigar. “He’s been learnin’ all summer too, ain’t stopped to play wit da rest of da keeds an’ such, not Alfrey. Ima tinkin’ da teacher is runnin’ out of things ta teach him.”

“I will contact the tutor. He needs to be a child.” The boy is Love’s pet project, never having a son of his own, yet neither has he supplanted Willy’s role of father.

Alfrey Campbell is the recipient of the best-of-two worlds; a father grounded in good old-fashioned values and a father figure with every resource God can bestow to man. “I think he should take ten days off or so. Is there anything you can think of to keep him busy?”

Ziggy-001“Doc Ziggy has bin after him fo stayin’ evree week we’s go to da city. He takes him fishin’ or goin’ doctorin’ fo the ol’ folks thereabouts ‘hassee.”

Herb is used to “‘hassee” sans the Talla-.

“That is a wonderful idea. He has a telephone.” Not everyone does. “I will ask if this Friday would be suitable.”

“Hold up, Mr. Love’” Willy interrupts. “We’va invite here to da Ferrell boy’s weddin’ to Missy Smythwick. We could go maybe an’ just leev Alfrey behind after.”


What a convenience the telephone has become. To arrange this situation a decade ago, you would have had to send a courier, or a mail train, wasting a week or more, depending on how far away the recipient is, as opposed to minutes. The only rub is that someone needs to be within earshot of the ringing box; if not now, maybe later (And to think that people used to marvel at telegrams and organized mail delivery). One must wonder what wonder the twentieth century will bring next.

“Excellent suggestion, Willy. That way you could take Mrs. Love along with you. She did so want to attend, but with me unable to shake my duties, it looked like she would stay home.”

Love does summarize.

“We have covered a lot of ground, Willy. Thank you for your good work and leave the arrangements to me.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #90

page 81

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