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All posts for the day July 27th, 2016

Breaking the Silence, by Alexandra Fuller, photographs by Robin Hammond

When I saw the previous article on Wrangel Island, my first thought was that this was going to be an article on global climate change. To my pleasant surprise it wasn’t. Then I turned the page and found an article on the other recurring theme of these issues, unrest in Africa.

The unrest, this time, surrounds the then-34-year-old reign (all things considered, I hesitate to use the term “administration”) of Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe. In, apparently, the interest of full disclosure, Fuller tells us that she lived for a time in what was then Rhodesia and that her parents were active in keeping the white minority in power. She introduces Mugabe with these two sentences: Robert Gabriel Mugabe exuded an air of conciliatory magnanimity. My mother wasn’t buying it.

This sentence bothered me. I spent the rest of the article looking for bias. Granted, Fuller describes her parents’ efforts as “a questionable cause,” but still, I am not sure what purpose the sentence about her mother serves.

The rest of the article is largely a chronology of the reign of Mugabe and a look into the things that the people of Zimbabwe are doing to rebel against Mugabe.

Our Fertilized World, by Dan Charles, photographs by Peter Essick

I spend too much time surrounded by faux science pro-“organic” propaganda. The opening sentence of the blurb: If we don’t watch out, agriculture could destroy our planet, had me prepared for more of that sort of thing. The little voice that asks whom the writer would let starve to get the organic utopia he wants was just getting warmed up when Charles outright admits that our culture depends on the existence of artificial fertilizer.

Our Fertilized World is not so much pro-organic as anti-overfertilization. We see some of the studies being done to find better ways to fertilize it without overfertilizing.

Next up in National Geographic articles (to be posted on or around July 31, I think?), the little voice in my head is really, really bothered by nitrogen being given an atomic number of 123. And 127.