Random weirdness for the week of May 23, 2017

miceinspace

Since the latest nonsense story about the Doomsday Vault – that it flooded it can’t handle a bit of rain and – is just regular weirdness it’s not worthy of this space (instead we put it on the front page, because of course we did). But the real winner for this week’s wacky vault tie-in goes to Space.com for their article headlined “Freeze-dried space sperm gives rise to healthy baby mice.” The sperm was frozen on the International Space Station for nine months before the pups were born, suggesting animals and humans might someday be able to reproduce in space, according to the article. “This work also raises the possibility of a ‘doomsday vault’ for sperm in space that could help preserve animal species from disasters on Earth, much as the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway, does for plant species. The sperm-vault idea is similar to one depicted in a novel by the author of ‘A Game of Thrones,’ scientists added.” Setting aside the question of exactly how one obtains mouse sperm and the fact sex in outer space would be scientifically challenging and gross, we’re wondering how humanity would retrieve the seeds of its loins after Armageddon. Besides, our Doomsday Vault is only using one of its three storage rooms for seeds these days. Just imagine the huge increase in number and weirdness of articles if we issued an invite to “come into the vault.” One more thing: our official Bag Lady points out that while scientists are obviously sperm mad, what happens after doomsday when they reach the vault (again, a lot more challenging in space than here) and realize the other half of the conception process is missing…

On a seriously more sexy (if you’re into phallic symbols) or less sexy (cold water being an inhibitor) vault tie-in, plans are underway for the world’s first ice archive to “Preserve Glacier Memory,” according to iflscience.com. Basically the idea is to transport ice cores (which, like tree rings, can reveal weather patterns over huge amounts of time) to Antarctica. But it seems the recent “scare” about the “flooding” of the seed vault is raising questions. “Antarctica is the perfect place to store valuable scientific data and material, due to the ice’s deep-freeze ability to protect items at a regulated temperature and provide defenses – though climate change may be casting doubt on the future of its infallibility,” the website’s article notes. “The Svalbard Global Seed Vault – or ‘Doomsday’ vault – gave the world a scare recently when the permafrost surrounding it began melting due to record temperatures in the region. Luckily, no seeds were lost, and hopefully, by the time the Bolivian ice core samples arrive in 2020 the Ice Memory Project will have built its fortress to secure the study of climate change for generations to come” …

Finally, since this week’s rant is all about sex by a guy who makes the 40-Year-Old Virgin look like a male slut, this week’s Parachute Travel Journalism Award goes to matadornetwork.com for an article titled “8 reasons Svalbard is the most unique place on earth.” The headline alone reveals these folks aren’t the cream of the journalism crop (“8” should be spelled out and “earth” should be capitalized…and similar problems with other words are rampant throughout). Also, does anyone really think “Freeborn Aiden” is the author’s real name? Anyhow, the author says he arrived in a “tiny plane” – are there secret flights other than SAS and Norwegian Air jets that arrive daily, especially in December when he arrived? Calling out maybe 25 percent of the other lunacies: pregnant women are “encouraged” to go to the mainland before their due date (nope: required), home to 3,000 polar bears (nope: outdated estimate of population for Norwegian/Russian Barents Sea region); “nobody pays tax” (definite nope…we’ve got a 16.9 percent income tax and some others on earnings income, etc.). But all this is admittedly pretty petty stuff, so why are we bothering? The claim we’re home to “the world’s northernmost pick-up bar.” Really? Hmmm…the fact we have no idea which bar that is means we’re even worse journalists than Freeborn (very possible since we’ve been asked a few times by visiting writers where the red-light district is) or your odds of scoring (or not) are roughly equal anywhere you can get drunk enough to make doing the small-town walk-of-shame the next morning worth it.

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