"With neighborhoods in Brooklyn along the L line — among the city’s busiest subway routes — in anguish over losing their train to Manhattan for 18 months, New Yorkers living in so-called subway deserts have a message: Welcome to the club." [more inside]
Monster flash flood, August 30, 2015, Southern Utah: A massive thunderstorm stalled up this basin and dumped billions of gallons of water in around and hour and a half.
In 1987, guitarist Paul Speer and pianist David Lanz teamed up with videographer Jan Nickman to create a video album inspired by the Southwest of the United States. Desert Vision is instrumental music that feels influenced by Vangelis, Trevor Jones, and Pat Metheney coupled with video that soars dramatically across the landscape or introspectively ponders nature from the ground. Eagle's Path Seguaro Desert Rain Sculptures Canyon Lands Carlsbad White Sands Stormlight Tawtoma [audio only]
The ‘driest place on Earth’ is covered in pink flowers after a crazy year of rain. The Atacama Desert in Chile, known as the driest place on Earth, is awash with color after a year’s worth of extreme rainfall. (SLWaPo, plenty of pics, not a slideshow)
Two short videos from last year's RISE Lantern Festival outside Las Vegas. This year's evnt is scheduled for this weekend in the Mojave desert. [more inside]
The Unknown Fields Division is a "nomadic design research studio that ventures out on expeditions to the ends of the earth to bear witness to alternative worlds, alien landscapes, industrial ecologies and precarious wilderness." [more inside]
Welcome to the Polish Sahara! Glaciers and medieval industrial degradation created the Bledow Desert, a small area of scrub and blowing sands in Poland. Former WWII training ground - now a tourist destination.
“The point that she opens the egg sac is the point that she stops feeding,” says Mor Salomon, a biologist at the Israel Cohen Institute for Biological Control. “We have tried giving them food in the lab, but it just doesn’t work—they just don’t feed.” -- Absurd Creature of the Week: The Spider Mother That Barfs Up Her Guts to Feed Her Kids, by Matt Simon for Wired.
The Chinchorro mummies are found in northern Chile and southern Peru; the oldest of them date to thousands of years before the first Egyptian mummies. Some of them mummified naturally, but most were intentionally mummified. The hot, arid conditions of the Atacama desert aided in this process. However, these mummies are now the latest victims of climate change, as increased humidity encourages bacterial growth that is transforming them into black ooze.
Confusion Through Sand. (YouTube.) An animated short in which "a nineteen year old finds himself alone in a hostile desert, scared as hell, and trained to react." [Via]
A grim and forbidding land, devoid of human habitation, intolerant of the inexperienced, and merciless when it judges the foolhardy. On May 4, 1942, twelve men of the South African Air Force boarded three Bristol Blenheim Mark IVs and took off from the oasis of Kufra in the Libyan Desert. Only one made it back alive. [more inside]
In the 1950s, to clear an area for missle testing, the Australian government forcibly resettled a number of nomadic Aboriginal families. One was overlooked --- continuing to roam the desert without contact with any other humans, until 1984.
KQED has been posting its Truly CA documentary videos on YouTube, including Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea, a touching look at the rise and fall of the accidental ocean that is less than 100 years old in its current form, narrated by John Waters and featuring interviews from residents who have seen its better times. [more inside]
The (Golden) Wheel spider is a huntsman spider native to the Namib Desert of Southern Africa. Like most other huntsman spiders, Wheel spiders don't spin webs, but build burrows in the sand that are reinforced by their silk, in an attempt to hide from their primary predators, the parasitic Pompilid or Spider Wasp. Enter the gymnastic abilities (and source of the name) for the Wheel spider, where the spider will curl up and roll down slope up to 1 meter per second to escape. But Wheel spider isn't the only huntsman to utilize a unique method to flee down hill. There's also the Moroccan flic-flac spider, named for the flic-flac motion of some gymnastic maneuvers (German video; turn on captions and translation for some assistance; description in English). The movement of this spider have inspired some robot designs (more information). And there are other "wheeling" insects, because it's faster to roll than run downhill. If the documentary footage of the Golden Wheel spider is all too serious, here are some clips of the Wheel spider set to music: let the good times roll, and this spider rollin' they hatin'.
Mysterious lake in Tunisian desert turns from turquoise to green sludge "The lake appeared in the Tunisian desert like a mirage; one minute there was nothing but scorching sand, the next a large expanse of turquoise water."
"During the medieval period, there was over a century of drought in the Southwest and California. The past repeats itself." After three consecutive years of below-normal rainfall, California faces its most severe drought emergency in decades. Exacerbating the problem is the fact that the deserts of Southern California have been turned into livable spaces only by huge feats of engineering that divert massive amounts of water from other parts of the state and the country. Marc Reisner's 1986 book Cadillac Desert documents the history of acquiring and diverting water to the American Southwest. A four-part documentary based on the book was released in 1997. Part 1: Mulholland's Dream // Part 2: An American Nile // Part 3: The Mercy of Nature // Part 4: Last Oasis
Out in a forgotten, dusty corner of Southern California, just east of the Salton Sea, Leonard Knight let his love and devotion to the Lord inspire a Technicolor vision on the desert floor. His creation came to be known as Salvation Mountain. On Monday, Leonard Knight passed away at the age of 82. [more inside]
Sometimes called the "Alan Lomaxes of India," the founders of Amarrass Records are on a mission to record and revitalize interest in traditional music from India, Turkey, and beyond. Over 100 videos on their YouTube channel chronicle their field recordings and festivals featuring artists like Lakha Khan, the Barmer Boys, Bombino, and many others. [more inside]
Pinky & Bunny are cute little kitties who live in the Mojave Desert. Their friends are Mimi & Kim (and sometimes grumpy old Daisy). They like to make videos about contemporary issues with a progressive view. Bunny died on Jan 25, 2013. [more inside]
Not little fluffy clouds in Arizona, but little squishy, um...orbs. In the desert near Tuscon, thousands of tiny purple spheres have appeared, isolated from the rest of the terrain. The mysterious objects, described as being like "gooey marbles that ooze out a water substance when squished," have yet to be identified.
In 1996, a family of German tourists went on vacation in the desert Southwest of the US. They disappeared in Death Valley sometime late July of that year, and despite repeated searches, their remains were not found until 2009. Tom Mahood details how that happened.
In the telling it has the contours of a creation myth: At a time of great evil and great terror, a small group of scientists, among the world’s greatest minds, secluded themselves in the desert. In secrecy and silence they toiled at their Promethean task. They sought the ultimate weapon, one of such great power as to end not just their war, but all war. They hoped their work would salvage the future. They feared it could end everything. - Prometheus in the desert: from atom bombs to radio astronomy, New Mexico's scientific legacy
The Edge Effect. Daniel Kukla spent March of 2012 as an artist in residence at Joshua Tree National Park.
Namibian Fairy Circles "By comparing photos taken over a 4-year period, Walter Tschinkel confirmed something other scientists had suspected: The circles were alive—or at least they were dynamic. A number of circles appeared and disappeared over this time period. Extrapolating from the data, Tschinkel calculated that most smaller circles arise and vanish every 24 years, whereas larger circles last up to 75 years. Overall, the lifespan averaged 41 years."
It is the hottest place in the world, and the driest. It is home to thriving commerce and to desperate, hopeless poverty. It is the Sahara, an eternal source of fascination and terror. Part 2. Part 3. [Hat tip: Longform]
The food desert has been a regular topic here on MetaFilter, posts about which often highlight a particular narrative about the effects of meager food choices for poorer urban communities, negatively affecting health and choice among low income people. Though not always. Some new studies indicate the situation in the US might be more like the latter, not quite as dire as is usually asserted. [more inside]
Flawed Symmetry of Prediction: time-lapse landscape, astrophotograpy and painting in high definition
Flawed Symmetry of Prediction is a 4 and a half minute long video, compiling time lapse images of abandoned buildings in rural, desert settings, plus strategic lighting and an optical illusion painting or two. See also: On the Inside Looking Out (The Brain of Infinity), another "street art" time-lapse video. If you want to see single images in more detail, photographer/videographyer Jeff Frost has a portfolio site up with some of pictures. [more inside]
The Bedouin are an ethnic group of tribes that live in the deserts of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Sinai Peninsula, amongst others. The Bedouin have lived a largely nomadic life, developing a menu, style of dance and sport they can call their own. Today they are a culture in transition as "startling changes over the last two decades have irrevocably altered the nature of life for the bedouin and for the land they inhabit." However a glimpse into their past can be seen through this great collection of images taken between 1890 and 1920.
Libya's National Transitional Council has gotten used to uncovering Moumar Gadhafi's perplexing objects and bygone lifestyle-detritus (previously), though rarely have these objects been sentient and requiring immediate care. When the NTC arrived in Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte, they encountered his abandoned menagerie of rare-breed animals. Accordingly, the reserve has been taken over by fighters loyal to the NTC, together with volunteers stirred by the animals' plight. One such volunteer, [w]ith a doctorate in international relations, Mohamad Al Majdoub makes an unlikely curator for Gaddafi's animals, but he feels that caring for the menagerie is all a part of forging a free Libya. "We have to protect it," said Majdoub. "They are part of Libya's patrimony. They are part of our future."
The US government is hoping to save millions by deleting half of its websites, including this one for the endangered desert tortoise that costs about $125/year plus eight hours of staff time. If the internet can raise money to build a statue of robocop in Detroit, surely we can save this website? Is it worth it? Do enough people use it? What other websites are going down that we should save?
On the 29th January 1942 the first ever Desert Island Discs was broadcast. Surpassed only by the Grand Ole Opry it is the second longest running radio show in history. Beautiful in its simplicity - each castaway is asked to choose eight pieces of music, a book and a luxury item for their imaginary stay on the desert island. For those who have not come across it before aquaint yourself with its iconic theme tune 'By the Sleepy Lagoon' here. Then for newcomers and old hands aquaint yourself with the wonderful new BBC website with searchable archives of 2852 episodes detailing castaways choices, and now with more than 500 episodes available for free download.
Old school hardware hacker, Postscript enthusiast, electronics writer, woo debunker, all around geek, and now amateur archaeologist Don Lancaster (prev 1, 2) needs you. And maybe some of your nerdy gadgets. [more inside]
Desert Gazette, "Mojave Desert, True Facts Legends and Lies". With links to other sites about the Mojave, including the excellent Digital Desert. Stories of life and death in the desert. The blogger, Walter Feller's photographs. About the Mojave Desert.
When the State of Israel was founded in 1949, along with the arable land they inherited a vast, arid desert called the Negev. At that time, David Ben-Gurion envisioned it as Israel's last frontier. Today, as Israel bulldozes unrecognized Bedouin settlements there, this low-key narrative in Zionist history is getting a little more sunlight. [more inside]
In 1957, Frank Herbert was a journalist and writer of short stories, on his way to Florence, Oregon to do an article about the U. S. Department of Agriculture's attempts to control sand dunes that were shifting. The USDA was searching for something to stabilize the dunes, and they came upon European beach grass. Herbert's research was for an article tentatively titled "They Stopped The Moving Sands." The article was never completed, but his research of dune stabilization lead to larger ecological matters, and eventually the novel Dune. This year marks the 45th anniversary that novel. The world of dunes, both fictional and real, has changed quite a bit in the years. [more inside]
Welwitschia mirabilis lies around the Namibian coastal desert like misshapen heaps of horticultural debris, either singly or in untidy clumps. Each plant has two huge leaves lolling out from its gaping trunk that collect moisture from the sea fogs. These plants would win no awards for beauty - the Regius Keeper of Kew Gardens described them as "one of the ugliest" plants brought to England, and it's hard to disagree with the Daily Mail's description of it as "hideous ... leprous ... snaking and sinister". None the less, it is a tourist attraction in its own right and supports the Namibian coat of arms where it symbolises fortitude and tenacity. If you're still hanging out for some Welwitschian goodness, here's a video and lots more photos on Wikimedia Commons. You can even try growing one yourself!
From these various anthropological approaches, a basic dichotomy has emerged between two types of societies from very different ecosystems: societies born in rain forests and those that thrive in deserts.... Begin with religious beliefs. A striking proportion of rain forest dwellers are polytheistic, worshipping an array of spirits and gods.... But desert dwellers... are usually monotheistic. Of course, despite allegiances to a single deity, other supernatural beings may be involved, like angels and djinns and Satan. But the hierarchy is notable, with minor deities subservient to the Omnipotent One. This division makes ecological sense.... Desert societies, with their far-flung members tending goats and camels, are classic spawning grounds for warrior classes and the accessories of militarism.... Rain forest cultures also are less likely to harbor beliefs about the inferiority of women; you won’t be likely to find rain forest men giving thanks in prayer that they were not created female, as is the case in at least one notable desert-derived religion.... (Previously, previously, previously)
The Dzrtgrls explore mines, ghost towns, rockhounding spots, petroglyphs, geocaching and metal detecting sites, and take lots of great pictures in the process.
Nestled amid the red buttes of Papago Park in Phoenix, the Desert Botanical Garden hosts one of the world’s finest collections of desert plants. Home to 139 rare, threatened and endangered plant species from around the world, the Garden offers interesting and inspiring experiences, while their website offers gardening help including good growing guides. The Desert Botanical Garden has educational programming and research for children as well as adults. The internationally acclaimed living collection of over 20,000 desert plants, with particular emphasis on those inhabiting the Sonoran Desert, continues to serve the public and scientific community. [more inside]
Lost Tribes of the Green Sahara. "How a dinosaur hunter uncovered the Sahara's strangest Stone Age graveyard."
Very nice High definition video from Phillip Bloom music is "28 Ghosts IV" by Nine Inch Nails. Deer Vegas music is Deer Stop" by Goldfrapp [more inside]
The Light-Painter of Mojave D: An Interview with Troy Paiva (previously) about his photography and his new book, Night Vision: The Art of Urban Exploration. [Via BLDGBLOG]
Lost America is a purdy website featuring night photography of ghost towns, urban exploration, decommissioned military facilities, airplane graveyards, and other roadside abandonments of the American west.
Iconic joshua tree has fallen... many fine photographs centering on the national park and lots of information about the trees are included on this fan site. via [more inside]
Jonson takes pictures of The Salton Sea, which is a strange place, like some kind of huge, perpetual, Burning Man, but by a huge, salty, polluted, manmade lake with distant shores, dying fish, has-been resort towns, Salvation Mountain, fundie dinos, fountains of youth, and nice churches. [via mefi projects] [previously] [howdy]
Death Valley car trip photos including some panoramas of the racetrack and its mysterious stones, and cute kids. via
You may know that some of the Tatooine parts of Star Wars were filmed in Tunisia . But did you know you can spend the night in Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen's distinctive underground house? In the middle of the desert, local people have taken up residence in the 30-year-old set.
The moral terrain of the desert. Mary Austin describes a desert "where the borders of conscience break down... where the boundary of soul and sense is as faint as a train in a sand-storm... [where] the senses are obsessed by the coil of a huge and senseless monotony” -- is that the desert of photographer Richard Misrach? Joan Didion describes a "country so ominous and terrible that to live in it is to live with antimatter, [where] it is difficult to believe that 'the good' is a knowable quantity... [T]here is some sinister hysteria in the air out here tonight” -- is that the desert of photographer Bill Lesch? Possibly the most depressing are these suburban deserts.
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