Random weirdness for the week of June 21, 2016

iceconcert

Greenpeace, in its latest “Save the Arctic” stunt in Svalbard, rigged one of the more elaborate sound stages for Italian pianist Ludovico Einaudi, who performed his original composition “Elegy for the Arctic” on a floating platform near Wahlenbergbreen on Monday.

The performance was part of a cruise in the archipelago by Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise that is carrying numerous artists and others participating in the awareness campaign. “Being here has been a great experience,” Einaudi said. “I could see the purity and fragility of this area with my own eyes and interpret a song I wrote to be played upon the best stage in the world. It is important that we understand the importance of the Arctic, stop the process of destruction and protect it”…

eclipsetimelapse

Radical rays: A time-lapse photo by Thanakrit Santikunaporn of Thailand shows the progress of the March 20, 2015, total solar eclipse in Svalbard every three minutes.

The summer solstice is this week, but since the “longest day” in Svalbard is no different than any other than the three-and-a-half month long midnight summer we decided to offer something related to the sun that’s hotter. Photos from the total solar eclipse last March 20 are still winning contests so often it’s tiring, but this is actually something we haven’t seen yet. This sequence by Thailand’s Thanakrit Santikunaporn showing the eclipse’s progress every three minutes was named the winner in the Beauty category in Earth & Sky’s annual “The World at Night” photo contest earlier this month…

kenyaguides

The lion kingpins: Tubula Ole Nabaala and Rokoi Olkumumare don survival suits during a visit to Svalbard, where the Kenyan guides met with local polar bear guides to discuss common experiences. Photo courtesy of Basecamp Explorer.

Two former African lion hunters who now protect the species are visiting Svalbard next week to share their experiences with the archipelago’s polar bear guards. “We are making major changes in culture and our way of life to cherish predators,” said Tubula Ole Nabaala, who refers to himself as “Derreck” in English, in an interview with Aftenposten. “We live with them now. Not against them. But we can be even better, learn more.” He and Rokoi Olkumumare are members of Masai, a semi-nomadic tribe in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. By tradition, they had to kill a lion with a spear as boys to become men. And while certain traditions still hold true, such as striving never to wear Western clothing, changes in the wildlife population – and increasing numbers of tourists – are forcing them to adapt to protect that traditional presence in their lives as well. They are now working as guides for Basecamp’s Maasai Mara facility and they are visiting Basecamp’s guides in Svalbard to share their experiences regarding conservation and wildlife management – and of course to see snow…

Bless a certain reporter at TV2 for asking U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry the question we said was at the top of our list last week: Just how frickin’ scary is it for us caught between Russia and the U.S. that Donald Trump might actually become president of the latter this fall? Kerry, a presidential nominee himself back in 2004, characteristically danced around the question at press conference by declaring “I am not allowed by our laws to get in the middle of the race, and so I can’t answer that question directly.” The questioner retorted by stating “but you’re in Norway now.” Kerry, taking the laughter in stride, offered his own rebuttal by noting “Yeah, well, I’m in Norway now, but I think there’s a little thing called TV over here. But I give you great, great high grades for trying.” Still, he managed to eek out enough of a generic PC answer to satisfy: “What candidates say in an election is critical – any candidates, on either side, or from wherever they come politically and ideologically. And nothing is more important to the world right now than American leadership. So I believe that the people of America need to weigh and will weigh very carefully who is going to keep our country safe, who is going to keep us on a direction of building relationships – not breaking them – and who is going to be able to connect to the values and the hopes and the aspirations of people around the world. Americans, I’ve learned personally, are pretty darn good at making those judgments, and I’m confident in the American people.” Which seems to show a lot of faith, seeing as how only 36 percent of “the people” can name all three branches of government…

The annual barrage of travel stories about Svalbard always has plenty of howlers and one of the best this week is a USA Today article headlined “10 secret places you need to go before everyone else” (there’s your first clue). Svalbard is second on the list, with the article touting the “unique scenery and wildlife — including polar bears, reindeer, walruses and seals — and few tourists.” Um, actually checked out those huge ships and our crowded streets these past couple of weeks? The best line: “Of course, with the threat of polar bears, carrying a firearm is recommended.” Enquiring minds definitely want to know the source of that bit of wisdom…

Speaking of insanely great lines, we’ll leave you this from a UK newspaper columnist regarding Thursday’s Brexit vote: “Logos, pathos, and ethos have begotten bathos, which has left the outcome tighter than a scrotum on Svalbard.”