Saturday, June 30, 2018

We're Not Paranoid or Anything...

America’s Doomsday Bunkers

Far into the unforeseeable future, when nuclear war and biological warfare had decimated the human population, killed most living beings and irradiated the earth with radioactive fallout, a small population of five thousand in a remote underground shelter in southwestern South Dakota would be one of the few surviving pockets of civilization scattered throughout America. 

That’s the plan of California-based survival company Vivos. A couple of years ago, the company acquired this 18-square miles complex called Black Hills Ordnance Depot, about eight miles south of the town of Edgemont, and completely retrofitted it with state of the art amenities such as an internal power generation system, deep water wells, biological, chemical and radiation air filtration systems, sewage discharge, critical support equipment etc.

The Black Hills Ordnance Depot, now Vivos xPoint in South Dakota. Photo credit: Vivos

The complex contains over five hundred nuclear-hardened concrete military bunkers, partially buried underground and protected by thick berms of earth, to resist a surface blast wave, as well as radioactive fallout. The property is “strategically and centrally located in one of the safest areas of North America, at a high and dry altitude of 3,800+/- feet, well inland from all large bodies of water, and 100+/- miles from the nearest known military nuclear targets,” Vivos says on their website.

Each bunker is capable of withstanding a 500,000-pound internal blast, and can hold 10 to 24 people and the needed supplies for a year or more. The bunkers are separated from each other by an average of 400 feet in all directions, that Vivos says will work in their favor by providing security, protection and privacy. 

The Black Hills Ordnance Depot (BHOD) was constructed in 1942 and originally functioned as munitions storage facility during the Second World War and the Cold War period. The bunkers were called Igloos because of their characteristic shape. 

An igloo. Photo credit: Vivos

The complex was once spread over 33 square miles and contained over 800 igloos and all the amenities of a well-planned town including living quarters for over 1,000 people, an Army hospital, a post office, church, shopping center, movie theater, including a theater, swimming pool, bowling alley and other mainstays of a small American town. 

The igloos held all kinds of ammunition including chemical weapons and the deadly sarin and mustard gas. During World War II, the site also held Italian prisoners of war. After serving its purpose, the facility was closed in 1967.

Families can now lease the bunkers to be used as shelters in the wake of a catastrophic event, such as a nuclear war, a viral pandemic or an asteroid strike at one-time upfront payment of $25,000 per bunker, plus a 99-year lease of $1,000 per year. Shared bunkers are also available at $7,500 per person. 

Aside from the facility at South Dakota, Vivos also has shelters in the state of Indiana in a Cold War era bunker capable of accommodating 80 people. Vivos is also building a luxury private shelter in an underground complex in Rothenstein, Germany.

Also see: Survival Condo Project: A Luxurious Underground Doomsday Bunker

Photo credit: Darlosity/Wikimedia

Photo credit: Vivos

Photo credit: Vivos

Photo credit: Vivos

Photo credit: Vivos

Vivos xPoint - The Largest Survival Shelter Community On Earth

TerraVivos  Oct 11, 2016  2 min. 58 sec.
Vivos xPoint is the largest survival shelter community on Earth. Located near the Black Hills area of South Dakota, these 575 military bunkers are spread over an area of 18 square miles, in one of safest areas of North America. Each bunker will be privately owned, with enough floor area to comfortably accommodate 10 to 20 people for a year, or more, of autonomous shelterization. Don't be left out. Join us while you still can.

No Matter How Carefull You Are...

Recycling game rigged against U.S. consumers

The Japan Times  by Faye Flam  Bloomberg
Americans were not set up for success in recycling plastics. Even before China stopped accepting plastic refuse from abroad, 91 percent of potentially recyclable plastic in the U.S. ended up in landfills — or worse, in the oceans. Europe does a little better, with only 70 percent getting tossed.

Why such terrible rates? Partly because some changes that were supposed to make recycling simpler ended up making it almost impossible.

University of Georgia engineering professor Jenna Jambeck said that indeed, part of the reason China is now refusing to process American and European plastic is that so many people tossed waste into the wrong bin, resulting in a contaminated mix difficult or impossible to recycle.

In a paper published recently in Science Advances, she and her colleagues calculated that between now and 2030, 111 million metric tons of potentially recyclable plastic will be diverted from Chinese plants into landfills.

Jambeck said that China used to turn a profit by importing the stuff from American and European recycling bins and turning it into useful material. But as other countries attempted to simplify things for consumers with “single stream” recycling — think of one big blue bin for paper, plastic, metal and glass — the material reaching China became too contaminated with nonrecyclable items. The instructions to put everything in one bin seemed appealing but made it much easier to do recycling wrong.

Plastic matters because it takes centuries to degrade, and there’s a lot of it. Jambeck has estimated that the world has produced more than 8 billion metric tons since the 1950s. To help grasp this quantity, paleontologist Jan Zalasiewicz has estimated that this is enough to wrap our entire planet in cling wrap. Others have calculated that it would make four mountains the size of Everest.

A study Jambeck led in 2015 calculated that about 8 million metric tons of plastic garbage is added to our already polluted oceans each year, killing sea birds, turtles, marine mammals and other creatures. Some breaks down into particles that infuse the fish and shellfish people eat.

How did things go so wrong? I posed the question to Princeton University historian Edward Tenner, author of the new book “The Efficiency Paradox,” as well as a classic on unintended consequences, “Why Things Bite Back.”

He wrote back that single-stream recycling has burdened us with a heavy cognitive load: “This very morning I finally found out how to treat a milk carton with a plastic spout. What about film-protected take-out coffee cups? Toothpaste tubes? Only after your message did I pay any attention to the Wikipedia article on resin codes — and I, like you, am a science and technology writer!”

Yes, trash has become complicated, with products that used to come in cans now in combinations of cardboard and plastic. And then there’s the brain-draining complexity of yogurt tubs — one of the items, along with dirty take-out containers, that The New York Times said Americans are recycling incorrectly. I put on my reading glasses and studied a carton of Greek yogurt. I discovered all sorts of mysterious symbols, which may have something to do with the lack of GMOs or gluten.

There were explicit instructions not to put this product in your freezer, which I might have guessed to be the case, but not much help with the container disposal. A tiny, barely perceptible resin code was stamped on the bottom. It was a 5, I think, which means it’s polypropylene, and is accepted as recyclable in some communities and not others.

“Making efficient systems work can be surprisingly inefficient for the human mind, at least for mine,” said Tenner. “It’s easy to do the ‘right thing’ only to discover you’ve made it more difficult to protect the environment.” It’s not just a few of us messing up: Remember that 111 million metric tons of plastic headed to Chinese landfills.

Well-intentioned recyclers probably aren’t the worst offenders; one Waste Management executive quoted in The Times said he had seen “everything from Christmas lights to animal carcasses to artillery shells.”

While there ought to be a fine for the carcasses and Christmas lights, for the most part the answer to contaminated recycling streams is not to keep berating consumers over getting Resin Code 5 wrong, but to commit to advancing clean plastic technology. Even if consumer participation in recycling were 100 percent, we wouldn’t be close to recycling 100 percent of the material, said chemical engineer Megan Robertson, who co-wrote a piece in Science last November on the future of plastics recycling. Much consumer waste is simply not recyclable, often because it combines materials.

Given what scientists already know how to do, the future could bring a greener, more fool-proof system. Right now, she said, she and other scientists are starting to develop ways to recycle mixtures of plastics — a tough job because many plastics repel one another like oil and water. One of the reasons China imported recycling was that it was possible there to hire cheap labor to sort the different plastic types by hand. (Worth noting: Over that same span in which recycling streams have become more contaminated, labor in China has also become scarcer and more expensive.)

Another problem is that nearly all current “recyclable” plastics can’t go back into packaging but get a second life as a handbag or lawn chair before settling into landfills as their final resting place. 

They’re not really recycled so much as “downcycled.” The other author of the Science paper, Jamie Garcia of IBM Research, has invented a new kind of plastic that can be recycled back into the same kinds of containers hundreds of times. Adopting such a material would require a new approach at recycling facilities, and in the short term could cost more.

Curing the plastic problem is a lot like fighting cancer. Even if everyone stopped smoking, there would still be cancer. And even if we all figure out whether our municipalities accept yogurt containers, plastic waste will still pollute the environment. 

Compliance won’t be a cure until innovations from the lab set us up for success.

Science writer Faye Flam is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist.

The East 96th Street Moon

 Image Credit & Copyright: Stan Honda
Explanation: A very full Moon rose over Manhattan's Upper Eastside on June 28, known to some as the Strawberry Moon. Near the horizon, the warm yellow lunar disk was a bit ruffled and dimmed by a long sight-line through dense, hazy atmosphere. Still it fit well with traffic and lights along East 96th street in this urban astroimage. The telephoto shot was (safely) taken from elevated ground looking east-southeast from Central Park, planet Earth. Of course, the East 96th street moon was the closest Full Moon to this year's northern summer solstice


Friday, June 29, 2018

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

1989 - American Indian Activist Russell Means testifies at Senate Hearing

C-SPAN   Oct 24, 2012  17 min. 48 sec.

From the C-SPAN Video Library - Mr. Means harshly criticizes the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian leadership of reservations. Russell Means died October 22 at the age of 72. This was his first of six appearances on C-SPAN. Entire Hearing:

Why the Sioux Are Refusing $1.3 Billion

PBS NewsHour Aug 24, 2011 7 min. 38 sec.

Members of the Great Sioux Nation could pocket a large sum set aside by the government for taking the resource-rich Black Hills away from the tribes in 1877. But leaders say the sacred land was never, and still isn't, for sale.

Lakota in America

Square  Nov 13, 2017  14 min. 46 sec.

"Lakota in America" is the third film in Square's For Every Kind of Dream series. Genevieve Iron Lightning is a young Lakota dancer on the Cheyenne River Reservation, one of the poorest communities in the US. Unemployment, addiction, alcoholism, and suicide are all challenges for Lakota on the reservation. For nearly a hundred years, it was illegal to practice Lakota customs. Now, the Cheyenne River Youth Project is working with young people like Genevieve to create a stronger economic and cultural future—and they’re using their Lakota heritage to get there. See the other films at Learn how you can support CRYP at 

Britain Has Wildfires. Who Knew?

Hills Ablaze Above Manchester as U.K. Wildfire Rages for 4th Day

Wildfire swept across the moors near Manchester, England, on Tuesday.CreditAnthony Devlin/Getty Images
The New York Times  by Palko Karasz

LONDON — A wildfire raged for a fourth day through dry grassland to the east of Manchester in the north of England on Wednesday, as Britain sweated through one of its hottest and driest summers on record.

The blaze started on Sunday on Saddleworth Moor, an expanse of hills cloaked in purple heather that is popular with hikers and home to bird species including the endangered golden plover and curlew and the common red grouse. It has since spread over an area of seven square miles, and firefighters have requested help from the military.

“It’s dry as a tinderbox up there,” said Brenda Warrington, leader of Tameside Council at a news briefing in the early afternoon. “A lot of wind is fanning the flames.” She said the situation was very changeable because wind had risen again in the area since the morning.

Press Association via Associated Press

Smoke from the fire could be smelled drifting over Greater Manchester, one of the largest urban areas in Britain.

Southern parts of Europe have seen large expanses of dry forests ablaze during hot summer months in recent years, but large wildfires rarely hit Britain.

“The scale of this fire is unprecedented, and we believe it may be the biggest in living memory,” Amanda Anderson, director of the Moorland Association, which works on preserving the highly prized landscapes, said in a statement, adding that gamekeepers who cultivated grouse on the moor for shooting had usually kept the risk under control.

Britain has 75 percent of the world’s heather moorlands, according to the Moorland Assocation.CreditOli Scarff/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
“Keepers are acutely aware of the risk of wildfire at this time of year and are used to dealing with fires quickly,” she said.

More than 100 firefighters were at work with a total of 29 engines, according to a statement from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, which said it had help from neighboring fire services and a helicopter from the local water company.

Dave Keelan, the service’s assistant chief fire officer, said in the statement: “We have been liaising with a military adviser on the scene and following those discussions we have requested military assistance from the Ministry of Defense and those discussions are ongoing.”

 Four separate areas were ablaze, firefighters said, and the fire was embedded in the peat in some of them, making it harder to extinguish.CreditOli Scarff/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Another fire service spokesman, Leon Parkes, said at the briefing that the fire was in four different areas of moorland, and embedded in peat, making it extremely hard to extinguish.

Officials said they were hoping for heavy rain, but the long-term forecast was not promising, suggesting at least 10 more days of warm, dry weather.

According to the fire service, 34 homes were evacuated as a precaution on Tuesday, with residents allowed back on Wednesday. Four schools were closed on Wednesday, however, because of concerns about smoke.

Britain has been in drought conditions for the better part of two months, with temperatures regularly reaching 86 degrees Fahrenheit — well above average — and nearing records in some areas, especially in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The unusually dry and hot weather prompted a health warning in Manchester, where heat wave conditions were expected to continue.

Britain has 75 percent of the heather moorlands in the world, according to the Moorland Association. The fire has so far destroyed some 2,000 acres of Saddleworth Moor, The Associated Press reported.

Sometimes Miss Manners Says, "Kick 'Em in the Balls

White America’s Age-Old, Misguided Obsession With Civility

  by Thomas J. Sugrue
1n 1963 the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led a mass demonstration in Birmingham, Ala., to pressure the Kennedy administration to actively defend the civil rights of black citizens.  CreditBob Adelman Estate
Recent disruptive protests — from diners at Mexican restaurants in the capital calling the White House adviser Stephen Miller a fascist to protesters in Pittsburgh blocking rush-hour traffic after a police shooting of an unarmed teen — have provoked bipartisan alarm. CNN commentator David Gergen, adviser to every president from Nixon through Clinton, compared the anti-Trump resistance unfavorably to 1960s protests, saying, “The antiwar movement in Vietnam, the civil rights movement in the ’60s and early ’70s, both of those were more civil in tone — even the antiwar movement was more civil in tone, but certainly the civil rights movement, among the people who were protesting.”

But those who say that the civil rights movement prevailed because of civil dialogue misunderstand protest and political change.
As a candidate in 2016, Donald Trump used his own lack of civility to win the election.CreditDamon Winter/The New York Times
This misunderstanding is widespread. Democratic leaders have lashed out at an epidemic of uncivil behavior in their own ranks. In a tweet, the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, denounced both “Trump’s daily lack of civility” and angry liberal responses “that are predictable but unacceptable.” Senator Charles Schumer described the “harassment of political opponents” as “not American.” 

His alternative: polite debate. “If you disagree with someone or something, stand up, make your voice heard, explain why you think they’re wrong, and why you’re right.” Democrat Cory A. Booker joined the chorus

“We’ve got to get to a point in our country where we can talk to each other, where we are all seeking a more beloved community. And some of those tactics that people are advocating for, to me, don’t reflect that spirit.”

The theme: We need a little more love, a little more King, a dollop of Gandhi. Be polite, be civil, present arguments thoughtfully and reasonably. Appeal to people’s better angels. Take the moral high ground above Trump and his supporters’ low road. Above all, don’t disrupt.

This sugarcoating of protest has a long history. During the last major skirmish in the civility wars two decades ago, when President Bill Clinton held a national conversation about race to dampen tempers about welfare reform, affirmative action, and a controversial crime bill, the Yale law professor Stephen Carter argued that civil rights protesters were “loving” and “civil in their dissent against a system willing and ready to destroy them.” King, argued Carter, “understood that uncivil dialogue serves no democratic function.”

But in fact, civil rights leaders, while they did believe in the power of nonviolence, knew that their success depended on disruption and coercion as much — sometimes more — than on dialogue and persuasion. They knew that the vast majority of whites who were indifferent or openly hostile to the demands of civil rights would not be moved by appeals to the American creed or to bromides about liberty and justice for all. Polite words would not change their behavior.

For King and his allies, the key moment was spring 1963, a contentious season when polite discourse gave way to what many called the “Negro Revolt.” That year, the threat of disruption loomed large. King led a mass demonstration in Birmingham, Ala., deliberately planned to provoke police violence. After the infamous police commissioner Bull Connor sicced police dogs on schoolchildren and arrested hundreds, including King, angry black protesters looted Birmingham’s downtown shopping district. Protesters against workplace discrimination in Philadelphia and New York deployed increasingly disruptive tactics, including blockading construction sites, chaining themselves to cranes, and clashing with law enforcement officials. Police forces around the United States began girding for what they feared was an impending race war.
Whites both North and South, moderate and conservative, continued to denounce advocates of civil rights as “un-American” and destructive throughout the 1960s.

Agonized moderates argued that mass protest was counterproductive. It would alienate potential white allies and set the goal of racial equality back years, if not decades. Conservatives more harshly criticized the movement. National Review charged “King and his associates” with “deliberately undermining the foundations of internal order in this country. With their rabble-rousing demagogy, they have been cracking the ‘cake of custom’ that holds us together.” By 1966, more than two-thirds of Americans disapproved of King.

King aimed some of his harshest words toward advocates of civility, whose concerns aligned with the hand-wringing of many of today’s politicians and pundits. From his Birmingham jail cell, King wrote: “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’.” King knew that whites’ insistence on civility usually stymied civil rights.

Those methods of direct action — disruptive and threatening — spurred the Kennedy administration to move decisively. On June 11, the president addressed the nation on the “fires of frustration and discord that are burning in every city, North and South, where legal remedies are not at hand.” Kennedy, like today’s advocates of civility, was skeptical of “passionate movements.” He criticized “demonstrations, parades and protests which create tensions and threaten violence and threaten lives,’ and argued, “it is better to settle these matters in the courts than on the streets.” But he also had to put out those fires. He tasked his staff with drafting what could eventually become the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. Dialogue was necessary but far from sufficient for passage of civil rights laws. Disruption catalyzed change.

That history is a reminder that civility is in the eye of the beholder. And when the beholder wants to maintain an unequal status quo, it’s easy to accuse picketers, protesters, and preachers alike of incivility, as much because of their message as their methods. For those upset by disruptive protests, the history of civil rights offers an unsettling reminder that the path to change is seldom polite.

Thomas J. Sugrue is professor of history and social and cultural analysis at New York University and author of Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North.

Abalonia: The Island Nation That Never Was

It was meant to be a seafood paradise.
The wreck of the <em>Jalisco.</em>
The wreck of the Jalisco. Associated Press
In 1966, California newspapers began reporting a startling story. A B-movie actor and several California businessmen were making plans to build their own island. The chosen locale was 100 miles off the California coast, on a massive, submerged island known as Cortes Bank. Ostensibly, the goal would be to mine a rich vein of seafood, especially abalone. Only an accident kept them from building their island nation. It was going to be called “Lemuria,” the name of a lost continent. But the media coined another, more compelling name: “Abalonia.”

Cortes Bank has long been considered a valuable yet perilous spot. Ships need to dodge Bishop Rock, which lurks a few feet below the surface, marked by a warning buoy. The site fosters a rich environment of sea life, making it a diving destination today. It’s also a legendary surfing site, because Cortes Bank produces some of the tallest surfable waves in the world. For Joe Kirkwood, Jr., Richard Taggart, and Bruce McMahan, the attraction was the sea life: They hoped to build an island outpost where they could harvest and ship seafood plentifully and cheaply. However, they didn’t know about the waves.

The group was an eclectic bunch. Kirkwood was most famous for appearing in film versions of the comic strip Joe Palooka. He was also a talented pro golfer, and owned a bowling alley. Taggart and McMahan were California abalone canners. Also involved, among others, were savings and loan group president Robert Lynell and aquatic expert James Houtz.

Their plan was to drag a decommissioned World War II freighter, the SS Jalisco, to Cortes Bank and scuttle it in a shallow area. Afterwards, they would haul rocks and even garbage out to the Bank, to create a terra firma from which sweet, fleshy abalone could be harvested. And they would rule their new nation of Abalonia. In October 1966, Taggart gave the verbal equivalent of a shrug to the Los Angeles Times. “I know it sounds fantastic,” he said, “But we’ve consulted experts in international law and they say there’s nothing to prevent us from starting our own country if we want to.”
The <em>Jalisco</em> as it heads out to sea.
The Jalisco as it heads out to sea. Courtesy of Chris Dixon
Much of the history of the “Abalonians” has been compiled by a journalist, who also coined the term “Abalonians.” In 2011, Christopher Dixon published Ghost Wave, a history of Cortes Bank and the explorers, treasure hunters, and surfers obsessed with it. One chapter was devoted to the Abalonia tale. “The idea of someone trying to resurrect a sunken island is such an American idea to me,” he says.

By the time Dixon was writing his book, many of the Abalonians had died or gone to ground. Trying to find Kirkwood or someone associated with him was a bust. Until one day, someone anonymously sent him a package. Inside was a scribbled-over manuscript and fistfuls of photos of the Jalisco. The manuscript, says Dixon, was Kirkwood’s account of the dramatic sinking of the freighter and his own near-death, which he had apparently written up for Sports Illustrated but never published. Even better, he soon got a call from James Houtz, who was on the Jalisco that fateful November day.

“You’re really taxing my brain, kiddo,” Houtz says when I reach him at his home in Dana Point, California. Now 79 years old and retired, he took a break from wrangling grandchildren to tell me how he joined the Abalonia venture. A diving and underwater demolitions expert, Houtz had served in the Navy. A self-professed thrill-seeker, he gained fame diving Death Valley National Monument’s Devil’s Hole, a geothermal pool that’s home to the world’s rarest fish. His experience turned somber when, in 1965, two young divers disappeared into its watery depths. Houtz was flown in to find them, but only found a mask. The publicity around the tragedy led to Houtz receiving a call from Kirkwood.

“It was nuts,” Houtz says of Kirkwood’s plan. But he was young and daring, only in his late 20’s. Soon, he was in, intrigued by the challenge. “In my opinion, the impossible takes just a little bit longer. A little bit more thinking.” And, of course, he wanted “a cut of the pie.” Serving as both an aquatic expert and financial backer (he took out a second mortgage on his house), Houtz says he was the one who came up with the idea of scuttling a freighter to build the base of Abalonia. The team found the Jalisco in a “mothball fleet” up in Berkeley. After stripping the ship of everything that could be sold for salvage, it was outfitted as a seafood processing enterprise. By planting the ship near Bishop Rock, the shallowest part of the Bank, fisherman could start harvesting seafood right away.
Jim Houtz, reminiscing over Devil's Hole.
Jim Houtz, reminiscing over Devil’s Hole. Chris Dixon/Ghost Wave
The dream of Abalonia was expansive. The spot would also be a hive for commercial fishermen, Kirkwood believed, and they could build a runway for planes. Ships could stop to refuel, and there could even be gambling. (Kirkwood denied the allegations that he wanted to build a casino, though Houtz, decades later, confided that he was considering it.) Even building the island would be subsidized, since Kirkwood claimed he was teaming up with City of Los Angeles to build Abalonia out of the city’s trash. It seemed like an impossible dream, but Kirkwood had a way of making it seem possible. Houtz remembers Kirkwood as boisterous and extremely charismatic: He had movie-star looks and “hair most guys would die for,” Houtz says. But Houtz also says that Kirkwood had an irresponsible streak, something that may have sunk Abalonia.

In Ghost Wave, Dixon conjectures that Kirkwood kickstarted the Abalonia venture in a rush, fearing the federal government would bring it to a halt. At the time, Houtz noted that there was a storm on the coast of Japan, but thought it wouldn’t have too much of an effect. On November 13, the Abalonians and their crews left out of the Balboa Bay Club late in the evening. The SS Jalisco was on its way, from where it was docked far up north in Richmond, California.* Barges full of rocks, provided by McMahan, were scheduled to follow soon after.

Houtz had already been to the Bank, scouting for the ideal way to lay the ship down. He had set down a runway of buoys, and with two anchors and long chains, he planned to put the Jalisco into a precise spot before scuttling it. While he had seen some of Cortes Bank’s large swells, putting down the planned “Volkswagen-sized” rocks would likely have protected the Jalisco, he says. Ironically, when the Jalisco arrived near Bishop Rock, they floated on a calm sea. “The kind you kind of dream about. It was just so flat and so smooth,” Houtz remembers. But soon, slight swells started rocking the freighter. The effects of the far-off storm, in the form of a massive North Pacific swell, was arriving.

Both man-made and natural disaster struck. In Kirkwood’s account, the Jalisco hit Bishop Rock late Monday night and started to take on water, an accident that he couldn’t be held accountable for. In Houtz’s account (which Dixon confirmed with another living crewman), the action happened the next morning. Houtz says he left much of the preparation of the Jalisco to Kirkwood. When Houtz, Kirkwood, and three others clambered aboard, one of the anchors and much of the vital anchor chain (necessary for situating the freighter) was missing, sold for extra money as salvage. Plus, the diesel engine that powered the chain spool compressor was broken. Putting the freighter in the right place would be nearly impossible. Meanwhile, the swells were getting larger, lifting the Jalisco up 20 feet and dropping it. One swell crushed the freighter against Bishop Rock. “It just thundered. It just crunched. It just hit,” Houtz says. The Jalisco plunged down: The hull had been punctured by Bishop Rock.
A barge of rocks, intended for Abalonia.
A barge of rocks, intended for Abalonia. Courtesy of Chris Dixon
The 7,000-ton freighter twisted and turned. A massive wave loomed, then swept over the freighter, snapping the anchor chain. Kirkwood grabbed ahold of a jackstaff, but the others were slammed against the side so hard that Houtz broke a rib. The Whitney Olson, the tugboat that had dragged out the Jalisco, valiantly came close to the side to rescue the trapped men. One man made it over, another jumped into the water. Houtz, Kirkwood, and another man, Will Lesslie, were left on the Jalisco, but not for long.

Kirkwood refused to let go of the jackstaff, insisting that the water couldn’t wash him away. “Joe, you’re out of your mind,” Houtz remembers saying. Another massive wave was coming, a wall of green water. “I thought, holy mackerel.” Heavy barrels of diesel were tossed off the deck: looking as light, Houtz says, as after-dinner mints.

Sheltered behind the ship’s superstructure, Houtz was drenched but fine. But Will Lesslie and Kirkwood were taken overboard. A stunned Houtz, wearing a life jacket, leapt into the water and made it over to the Whitney Olson. An almost-drowned Kirkwood was swept beneath the entire length of the Whitney Olson, only to miraculously emerge relatively unharmed. Everyone on the Jalisco escaped with their lives.

The freighter wasn’t so lucky. Smashed by the waves, Dixon writes in Ghost Wave, “the entire superstructure tore completely free of the deck in a colossal mingling of water and steel.” Months passed before it sunk fully beneath the water. Houtz and the others were whisked away, to be interrogated by FBI agents who arrived via helicopter. “The air was let out of the balloon,” Houtz says.

Houtz emerged physically and financially battered. No seafood empire rose from the waves—his investment was shot, and his rib was broken. The Abalonians parted, and Houtz never spoke to Kirkwood again. Kirkwood managed to dodge legal repercussions for the Abalonia affair, though there was a Coast Guard investigation.

The concept of Abalonia may have been mad, but Kirkwood did well for himself, buying a Hawaiian golf course and selling it in 1987 for $50 million dollars. McMahan became a wealthy hedge fund manager whose lifestyle was the subject of tabloids. And maybe Abalonia wasn’t so bad of an idea after all. Another corporation started making noise about building an island at the spot soon after the Jalisco went down. The federal government squashed it by claiming Cortes Bank as U.S. territory.

As for Houtz, he soon recovered and event went back out to Cortes Bank. Occasionally is it clear enough to see San Clemente Island in the distance, he says. But other than the buoy, it’s a vista of empty sea. “It’s beautiful, but it’s eerie,” Houtz says.

Now, Cortes Bank is notorious, the rusted wreck of the Jalisco beneath the water making it even more dangerous for surfers (though it is a lush diving site). Houtz says he wasn’t aware of how massive the waves could get at Cortes Bank. He’s also not sure what would have happened if the Jalisco had been outfitted correctly. “The Jalisco was pretty fragile when it comes right down to it,” Houtz says. But he thinks that if it had been a calmer day, it might have survived long enough to be protected by the incoming rocks. Abalonia could have risen after all.

Yosemite in Black and White

A bit of an edit put together after visiting Yosemite National Park for the first time. Unfortunately I only had 24 hours in the park so I had to work fast to get enough shots to put together an edit.

The skies were blue so the colours weren't amazing. This was part reason for me to convert all the imagery into Black and White. 

Watch it HERE
Shot on the Canon C300mk2

Music Licensed through Audio Network Skye at Night by Oliver Ledbury

Gucci Hallucination Animations

More  The LinePRO

Watch it HERE

Illustrations & Paintings: Ignasi Monreal
Production Company: The Line
Animation Director: Bjorn-Erik Aschim
Producer: Sam Taylor
Compositing: Sylvain Magne, Tom Flavelle, Kye Dorricot, Jonathan Gallagher, Fiona Lu, Deborah Ho, Hugo Morais, Mathieu Dellabe, Russ Etheridge
Animaton: Venla O. Linna, Sylvain Magne, Tim Dilnutt, Duncan Gist
Additional Painting: Mike Shorten
3D Previs & Comp: Luke Gibbard