Random weirdness for the week of Aug. 29, 2017

bearflame

Maybe they’re just getting back at us for overheating the planet and melting all that sea ice they used to hunt on. But apparently we need to start thinking about seriously upgrading what we consider adequate polar bear protection (not to mention the reference to them as “ice bears”) since, as you can see in the picture above, they’re more than a little hot under the collar. And while we’re not sure if flaming jackasses are meant to be a symbolic stand-in for humanity, Democrats, the Religious Right or just people who bray about stupid things (uh-oh), the good news is that – as usual – ultimately this ends up being about mankind maintaining his spot at the top of destructive food chain. Because, as the website kotaku.com puts it, “Beast Battle Simulator Makes Your Flame-Thrower Polar Bear Dreams Come True.” Yup, it turns out some geeks are offering a militant version of an animal simulator (featuring goats and warthogs and zebras, oh my) where you can equip God’s creatures with items like shotguns and cannons and then have them engage in life-or-death versions of fútbol and King of the Hill on surfaces that – yea! – include frozen tundra. So, to borrow from a cliched conundrum, would you prefer to be a bear with one BFG or an eider with 100 grenade launchers? …

firstsunsetcoming

Revenge served cold: Lie to local kids about the sun rising/setting every day and they’re likely to tell you jump in – the water’s great. Photo by Terje Nilssen / Visit Svalbard.

School started last week, which means it’s a great opportunity to totally screw with impressionable young minds with “facts” such as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. That, of course, is total nonsense most of the year in Svalbard (since we spend seven months either in total light or darkness), but this week is one of those amusing occasions that causes computer chips to experience Y2K meltdowns. The first sunset in nearly four months was Saturday, followed by the first sunrise – also on Saturday. Followed by another sunset on – wait for it – Saturday. There is, obviously, no way to enter that on a standard sunrise/sunset computer/website database. All part of the reason we have such a warm glow about this place – along with the the fact that there will be less than 20 hours of daylight this weekend and none at all within about nine weeks…

lifeboat2

Good news, bad news: If you’re able to stretch out like this in a lifeboat after a shipwreck we’re guessing at least a neighbor or two won’t shut up about those left behind. Photo courtesy of Norsafe.

We generally despise PR pitches by companies for their products, but every once in a while something legitimately cool crosses the wires (i.e. the pizza chain that used kayaks to deliver food to Hurricane Harvey victims, to cite an outside example from this week). A pitch involving small boats closer to home – and much cooler, literary speaking – is the company that stuck 24 people in a prototype lifeboat at 80 degrees north latitude for 30 hours in May. “During the 30 hours we experienced calm water, but were also exposed to several hours of waves rolling the lifeboat 30 degrees and pitching it 20 degrees,” said Jan Jaap Boot, one of the technical consultants for the company, who called it the most realistic simulation of being in distress in her 26 years of work. Still, we gotta take lines in the press release like “the participants felt that the temperature, air quality and space in the vessel was sufficient at all times” with the grains of salt in the sea water. Among other things, the 24 testers were “squeezed” into a lifeboat with a capacity for 55, and everyone was physically and mentally healthy when they entered. Which makes the “general consensus” claim the boat can handle a full load for five extreme days at sea a bit overboard. Still, they did admit the test revealed numerous things needing improvements, including bench seats that were too hard and toilet seats that were too few in number. And it’s not like we’ve seen the inside of an Arctic-region lifeboat in real life (being journalists, it’s a coin flip if we’d want to), so we figured why not give a plug to – oops, no space left to name the company. Sorry guys (but feel free to advertise).

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