Random weirdness for the week of July 17, 2018


During a summer when the dirty secrets of some budget-minded big-ship tourists are leaving ugly footprints, it’s interesting and maybe even a bit encouraging to get a sneak peak at a different type of “mega-boat” cruiser. For those who’ve noticed a couple of large ultra-luxury yachts in Longyearbyen’s bay this summer and wonder what the people/life is like aboard, a profile of recent such visitor by Superyacht Times suggests at least some are more seaman than stuffed shirts. Anil Thadani, 55, an engineer visiting with his 46.5-meter Latitude as part of a three-year Arctic tour, says he has a lifelong love of boats and bought his first “slightly dodgy” outboard motor boat in the early 1990s to explore in and around his home in Phuket. Ultimately he moved on to better things and wider exploration, but ended up going north when “a somewhat off-putting email from U.S. Homeland Security” cancelled his plans to cruise to Cuba. So he bought the Latitude, made in 2008, because “it’s not an icebreaker, but it feels like one and she’s very solid.” As for his trip here? “We took a hike on a glacier in Svalbard and we had two polar bears follow us. We had to fire a flare with a loud noise and it worked out okay. We had to abandon our plans for a BBQ on the edge of the water though!” For whatever reason, the magazine opines that because of such tales “it’s certainly not difficult to see why others want to follow suit…”


Can you spot the forbidden “seed store” in this picture? According to what seems to be an infinite number of mice with an infinite number of typewriters, trying to visit the store if you find it will land you in prison.

This week’s “World’s Worst Writing Not Published By Us” award goes to The MiceTimes of Asia – for the second time in less than two months as it has written yet another apocalyptic article that mentions the Doomsday Vault. The first was headlined “Secluded places on the planet where you can survive ‘the end of the world,'” described in choppy and confusing phrases how the seed vault “it’s selenoprecise was built for the protection of planting material of plants” is at least as desirable as resorting to cannibalism in the underground metro tunnels.  For its sophomoric story, the MiceTimes goes to the opposite ends of the Earth, proverbially speaking, by making the vault a place of danger in a story headlined “Visiting these places can result in arrest. Photo” (really, that’s the, um, full headline). Actually, we can’t say with 100 percent certainty they’re referring to the vault since the local entry is titled “Store seeds in Svalbard” (which the grammar suggests is an action, not a place, until they’re referring to the shelves of a story with flower/vegetable seeds). Anyhow, the full text of the entry: “Norway gave this store specially in case of nuclear war. Here it is assumed to borrow material for restoration of crops. Security storage is handled by a special military unit.” While there’s some interesting mini “scoops” in that text (who knew Pole Position Logistics was a specialized military unit?), it’s nothing compared to the article’s divine revelation on Area 51: “God knows guard has orders to shoot to kill, so tourists are not very many.” But returning to the vault, our question for the creatures at MiceTimes: what happens if you visit the “store seeds” after a nuclear war?…

Finally, returning to the theme at the top of the page of bold and misunderstood one percenters, how appealing does a book titled “The Polar Adventures of a Rich Amreican Dame” sound? It’s about Louise Arner Boyd who, according to a review by Geographical magazine, is an heiress and socialite “whose journeys around the Arctic between 1926 and 1955 are regularly dismissed in polar histories as being mere pleasure cruises not worthy of attention.” Um, wow, does a Google search suggest that’s wrong (there’s a book’s worth of reading on the first pages of hits alone), nor is the book the “very first authoritative biography of this shamefully ignored polar explorer.” Not sure what’s going on here, but we’ll note the reviewer, Felicity Aston, is an accomplished modern polar explorer herself, whose many feats including being the first woman to ski alone. across Antarctica. Also, an Amazon search shows she’s written a few books about her adventures, but nobody’s written one about her yet. So, hey, now you know about two “unknowns.”