Beware The Ides of March


William Shakespeare wrote “beware the ides of March” in his play Julius Caesar. A soothsayer warns Caesar to beware the Ides, two acts later Caesar is assassinated. In the play and reality, Julius Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March, March 15 in the year 44 BC.

Ides derives from a Latin word, meaning “to divide”. In the ancient Roman calendar every month had an ides. In March, May, July and October Ides fell on the 15th, the 13th of every other month marked the Ides. Ancient Rome meant for Ides to mark full moons within calendar months, a concept which soon ran afoul of unapologetic differences in  lengths of calendar and lunar months. In Rome the Ides of March resembled our modem day deadline to file income tax, Romans considered March 15 a annual deadline for settling debt.

By penning caution to Caesar in the play Julius Caesar, Shakespeare immortalized the Ides of March 15. Fear not, Julius Caesar’s coincidental demise on the Ides of March is nothing more than a historical footnote. Superstition has nothing to worry about.

https://www.history.com/news/beware-the-ides-of-march-but-why

“Bee”hemoth Wallace Lives


In January 2019 natural history photographer Clay Bolt captured images of Wallace’s Giant Bee. Considered one of the 25 “most wanted lost” species by Global Wildlife Conservation’s Search for Lost Species initiative, Wallace’s Giant Bee hadn’t been seen in 38 years. Thirty eight years is a long time to miss Wallace’s 6 cm wingspan, science considered the species extinct. Bolt said –

“It was absolutely breathtaking to see this ‘flying bulldog’ of an insect that we weren’t sure existed anymore.

To see how beautiful and big the species is in real life, to hear the sound of its giant wings thrumming as it flew past my head, was just incredible.”

Discovered in 1858 on the Indonesian island of Bacan by British entomologist and  namesake Alfred Russell Wallace (1823-1913), the last sighting of Wallace’s Giant Bee (Megachile pluto) occurred in 1981 when American entomologist Adam C. Messer documented six nests in Indonesia. Two specimens found in February and September of 2018 sold on eBay without a twinge of lost species conscience. Clay Bolt’s capture, imaging and release of a single female giant bee affirm the tenacity of waning species.

Elusive Wallace behemoths build nests inside active tree dwelling termite colonies. With  impressive jaws, females collect and spit out balls of tree resin, forming protective compartments within termite domain. Giant bees depend on low lying forests for resin and termite colonies. Little as we know about resin ball spitting tree dwelling termite colony squatter Indonesian giant bees, science begs us to realize how remarkable it is to photograph one.

 

See the source image

Wallace’s giant bee dwarfs the common honey bee in size. Image © Clay Bolt/claybolt.com.

https://earthsky.org/earth/found-worlds-biggest-bee-wallaces-giant-bee?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=7db7df99b0-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_02_02_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-7db7df99b0-393970565

 

Portal Turkmenistan


If the Republic of Turkmenistan draws a blank you’re not alone. Geography of the former Soviet Union and Central Asia lean toward murky guesses at best. If it helps Turkmenistan is bordered by Kazakhstan to the northwest, Uzbekistan to the north and east, Afghanistan to the southeast, Iran to the south and southwest, the Caspian Sea to the west. Annexed by the Russian Empire in 1881, named Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic in 1925, Turkmenistan gained independence in 1991 upon dissolution of the Soviet Union. Today, with a population of barely 6 million, Turkmenistan is one of the most sparsely populated places in Asia.

In 1971 Russian geologists thought they’d found a substantial oil field near the village of Derweze, Turkmenistan (commonly know as Darvaza) Engineers quickly moved in, made camp and started drilling to assess oil reserves. What they found was a massive natural gas pocket, the ground collapsed swallowing drill rigs and the work camp. Worried lethal methane gas could poison nearby residents, authorities set the pit ablaze. They thought it would burn itself out in a few weeks. Over 50 years later, fire rages on.

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2014/07/140716-door-to-hell-darvaza-crater-george-kourounis-expedition/

Known today as the gate or portal to Hell, virtually all tourism in Turkmenistan is attributed to viewing the Darvaza Crater. No one knows how long it will burn, but geologists suggest it’s one of the largest natural gas reservoirs in the world.

Ponder Saharan Night Skies


Take a moment to ponder timelapse perfection by Lucie Debelkova – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClDKSZTXcuOz4lC_Zv183Ng Lucie travelled along ancient trade routes from the Atlas mountains, across the Sahara to Marrakech during darkest Moon phases to capture night skies without light pollution. Dark skies reveal the Milky Way of our ancestors – mesmerizing, irrefutable and bristling with thought provoking imagination.

 

The People vs. Donald J Trump


Ponder the words of New York Times contributor David Leonhardt ….

“The presidential oath of office contains 35 words and one core promise: to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Since virtually the moment Donald J. Trump took that oath two years ago, he has been violating it.

He has repeatedly put his own interests above those of the country. He has used the presidency to promote his businesses. He has accepted financial gifts from foreign countries. He has lied to the American people about his relationship with a hostile foreign government. He has tolerated cabinet officials who use their position to enrich themselves.

To shield himself from accountability for all of this — and for his unscrupulous presidential campaign — he has set out to undermine the American system of checks and balances. He has called for the prosecution of his political enemies and the protection of his allies. He has attempted to obstruct justice. He has tried to shake the public’s confidence in one democratic institution after another, including the press, federal law enforcement and the federal judiciary.

The unrelenting chaos that Trump creates can sometimes obscure the big picture. But the big picture is simple: The United States has never had a president as demonstrably unfit for the office as Trump. And it’s becoming clear that 2019 is likely to be dominated by a single question: What are we going to do about it?

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He has already shown, repeatedly, that he will hurt the country in order to help himself. He will damage American interests around the world and damage vital parts of our constitutional system at home. The risks that he will cause much more harm are growing.

President Trump meeting with members of his cabinet at the White House on Wednesday.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Some of the biggest moderating influences have recently left the administration. The defense secretary who defended our alliances with NATO and South Korea is gone. So is the attorney general who refused to let Trump subvert a federal investigation into himself. The administration is increasingly filled with lackeys and enablers. Trump has become freer to turn his whims into policy — like, say, shutting down the government on the advice of Fox News hosts or pulling troops from Syria on the advice of a Turkish autocrat.

The biggest risk may be that an external emergency — a war, a terrorist attack, a financial crisis, an immense natural disaster — will arise. By then, it will be too late to pretend that he is anything other than manifestly unfit to lead.

For the country’s sake, there is only one acceptable outcome, just as there was after Americans realized in 1974 that a criminal was occupying the Oval Office. The president must go.”