Worth Quoting

3rd June 2013

“Imagine the people who believe such things and who are not ashamed to ignore, totally, all the patient findings of thinking minds through all the centuries since the Bible was written. And it is these ignorant people, the most uneducated, the most unimaginative, the most unthinking among us, who would make themselves the guides and leaders of us all; who would force their feeble and childish beliefs on us; who would invade our schools and libraries and homes. I personally resent it bitterly.”

Issac Asimov and bloody well said!

The religi board at the front of my old house. It was great fun. Sometimes my posts were rubbed out! Haha. The religites didn’t really approve.

Why I’m voting YES

Originally posted on CAMERON McNEISH, Writer & Television Presenter:

SOMEONE said to me recently that Alex Salmond has “divided a nation” with the independence referendum, but if division is about discussion, about debate, even friendly argument, with so many people engaged in something as important as the future direction of my country, then I’m absolutely all for it.

I heard someone discuss this on the radio the other morning and he said his family were Italian – and they often have loud, vociferous family arguments about kinds of things – but they still loved each other… 

I think it’s wonderful that a small nation like Scotland can reach this point in considering its future direction with what has been a campaign of hope, optimism and positivity.

But before I set out my reasons for voting Yes I should remind folk that I’m not a politician – mind you, that’s not stopped Danny Alexander from becoming First Secretary to the…

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Wikipedia and Shonky Charlatans

It’s been a long time between posts. This got under my skin though.

Jimmy Wales has been asked via a change.org petition to include complementary and alternative medicine as scientifically sound articles in Wikipedia. The petition is thus:

[Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia: Create and enforce new policies that allow for true scientific discourse about holistic approaches to healing.

1. Petition by
Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology

Wikipedia is widely used and trusted. Unfortunately, much of the information related to holistic approaches to healing is biased, misleading, out-of-date, or just plain wrong. For five years, repeated efforts to correct this misinformation have been blocked and the Wikipedia organization has not addressed these issues. As a result, people who are interested in the benefits of Energy Medicine, Energy Psychology, and specific approaches such as the Emotional Freedom Techniques, Thought Field Therapy and the Tapas Acupressure Technique, turn to your pages, trust what they read, and do not pursue getting help from these approaches which research has, in fact, proven to be of great benefit to many. This has serious implications, as people continue to suffer with physical and emotional problems that might well be alleviated by these approaches.

Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia, left the organization due to concerns about its integrity. He stated: "In some fields and some topics, there are groups who 'squat' on articles and insist on making them reflect their own specific biases. There is no credible mechanism to approve versions of articles.”

This is exactly the case with the Wikipedia pages for Energy Psychology, Energy Medicine, acupuncture, and other forms of complementary/alternative medicine (CAM), which are currently skewed to a negative, unscientific view of these approaches despite numerous rigorous studies in recent years demonstrating their effectiveness. These pages are controlled by a few self-appointed “skeptics” who serve as de facto censors for Wikipedia. They clothe their objections in the language of the narrowest possible understanding of science in order to inhibit open discussion of innovation in health care. As gatekeepers for the status quo, they refuse discourse with leading edge research scientists and clinicians or, for that matter, anyone with a different point of view. Fair-minded referees should be given the responsibility of monitoring these important areas.

I pledge not to donate to your fundraising efforts until these changes have been made.]

ACEP’s logo. Pretty and pretty meaningless
ACEP - The Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology

I find the arrogance of this organisation breathtaking. That there are currently 7,781 signatories is depressing in the extreme. There is nothing scientific about CAM and Wikipedia rightly doesn’t allow spurious claims rather than peer reviewed research into Wikipedia.

Of course, Larry Sanger wasn’t talking about ACEP even though they try to co-opt his reasons for leaving Wikipedia. Everyone has a tendency to confirmation bias and cherry picking but this citing of Sanger’s words out of context is egregious. Here is where and why Sanger said what he did – it is under the heading We can do betterhttp://blog.citizendium.org/?p=286

Here is Jimmy Wales’ response to ACEP’s petition on change.org:

‘No, you have to be kidding me. Every single person who signed this petition needs to go back to check their premises and think harder about what it means to be honest, factual, truthful.
Wikipedia’s policies around this kind of thing are exactly spot-on and correct. If you can get your work published in respectable scientific journals – that is to say, if you can produce evidence through replicable scientific experiments, then Wikipedia will cover it appropriately.
What we won’t do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is the equivalent of “true scientific discourse”. It isn’t.’
________________________________________
Posted on March 23, 2014

There are currently four hospitals of homeopathy in the UK. This number has decreased because many more GPs are not referring their patients to these places. That they ever did is a worrying reflection on the standard of medical training in the UK.

The hospitals are funded by the National Health Service, the UK’s publicly funded health system. No one really knows how much is spent by the NHS on homeopathy and other complementary ‘medicines and treatment’. In 2009, The Guardian ran an article based on an FOI that turned up some horrendous figures.

‘Homeopathy, which many doctors argue has an effect only in the mind of the believer, cost the cash-strapped NHS £12m over three years, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act.http://www.theguardian.com/society/2009/jun/10/complementary-medicine-nhs-more4

Another article cites some more alarming figures:

‘However, the Committee’s report suggests the figure could be even higher. The £12 million does not take into account the running costs of the four homeopathic hospitals in the UK, nor the £20 million spent refurbishing the Royal London homeopathic hospital from 2002 to 2005.https://fullfact.org/blog/homeopathy_how_much_does_the_nhs_pay-2206

That’s enough to make me spit chips.

To get back to the reason for this post, I checked out the group that tasked Jimmy Wales with including CAM as scientifically sound articles in Wikipedia.

It is an American organisation – I suppose I should have guessed that – though with the scientific Dark Age spreading its envelope far and wide, ACEP could have originated anywhere. Here is their self-description:

ACEP is the Home for Energy Psychology: Championing EP techniques such as Thought Field Therapy (TFT), Tapas Acupressure Technique (TAT), Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), Comprehensive Energy Psychology (CEP) and more.

Well, that made me spit more chips. This organisation offers certificated training courses in this guff and from the photographs on the site I see quite a number of oldies like me. It must be lucrative. Of course, they are registered as a non-profit organisation ‘of licensed mental health professionals and allied energy health practitioners who are dedicated to developing and applying energy psychology.’ “Energy” here used in the literal meaning of “activity” or “operation”. Well, whoopee do.

Wikipedia has an article on energy psychology here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_%28psychological%29
Much of the attempt to garner authority is citing references from Freud and Jung. They also try to credit their theories by citing fMRI studies. There is no citing of anything that would stand as research or a proper study.

I have a few friends who are psychologists and I used to know a couple of psychiatrists. I doubt that anyone of them would touch ACEP with a barge pole. I certainly wouldn’t. I am glad that Jimmy Wales won’t either.

 

A Smidgen of Sophists – World Congress of Families, Sydney 2013

Veronique:

Thanks to Chrys, I now know about this organisation. It is so heartening when the Catholics understand when they have to live their lives in the reality that we actually live in.

 

Originally posted on Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear:

As a young woman, I felt strongly that, should I have an unplanned pregnancy, I would not want to have an abortion.

But then the day came when, duped by a man who told me he was sterile, I agreed to unprotected sex when I was not on the pill. The next day this wicked Welsh charmer blithely told me he’d ‘made up’ the part about being sterile.

I fell into a panic. The very last thing I wanted was to be pregnant to this bastard who’d so easily lied to get into my pants! Sure, I’d been stupid, but should I really have to pay for that moment of stupidity for the rest of my life?

I visited the Family Planning Clinic and they gave me a ‘morning after’ pill. I’m not even sure if it was legal then, but they gave it to me. The relief was overwhelming.

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Assisted Suicide in the News – Again

You know whenever you come across polls, surveys and other methods that attempt to quantify the public’s attitudes to assisted suicide, euthanasia and just plain suicide, the majority opinion seems to be well in excess of the halfway mark.

YouGov has conducted an online poll of 4,437 British adults for the Westminster Faith Debates. This is a religious organisation commissioning a survey. Well done although I suggest they didn’t warm to the results.

Dr Anne Turner with her son - to Dignitas

Dr Anne Turner with her son – to Dignitas

‘Overall 70% of those questioned said they backed a change in the law.’

Interestingly in this survey 56% of those responders following Catholicism supported a change in the law. The percentage changes were upwards for those not so active in public adherence to their faith. Anglicans, Jewish and Sikh faiths had a majority in favour of a change in the law.

Typically a spokesman (this time for the Church of England) opined that such surveys were the wrong way to go about testing opinion on this issue. Presumably because the results didn’t match his expectations.

In April this year, another petitioner for the right to die with the help of a doctor has made a case that continues the legal challenge mounted by the late Tony Nicklinson.

The inability or refusal of the legal and political fraternity to address this issue head on seems to me to smack of the utter meanness that religion displays in its mantra that suffering is the way to god. It may be naïve to describe it in this way and no doubt I can be taken to task for being simplistic about religious faith and its aspirations. I don’t really give a damn.

Religiosity is simplistic in essence and its tenets are man-made injunctions both for and against specific behaviour. I hold no brook with religiosity of any stripe. Why should I? I am not religious. My point is that I should not be held prisoner to religious privilege in the political agenda nor should any medical attendant have to suffer threats or indictment for murder under a ridiculous archaic and exceedingly antiquated law.

This law was made under the thrall of religiosity and is really and truly antiquated in the 21st century. We have a population (at least in developed countries) where medical technology is able to increase longevity (not necessarily quality of life) with medications and palliative care et al.

Some of us do not want that sort of longevity. Some of us have had enough and some of us, like Nicklinson and Lamb, Purdy and others, want help to end our assessment of the travesty of our lives.

He has mounted a challenge to the law

Paul Lamb – He has mounted a challenge to the law

What is so hard about this? I really do not understand why UK law would consider the compassionate act of a medical person in administering a drug that would end such a life to be murder. It isn’t murder when a vet puts a dog, cat, horse, donkey, cow or any other animal under an anaesthetic and then administers a lethal dose to end its suffering. We are just animals after all. We like to think that because we have developed consciousness that we are special and ‘above’ other animals. Our physical bodies attest that this is not so. We are like every other mammal; we just don’t call each other ‘it’. With tears, love and regret we acquiesce to the induced death of our best loved domestic companions. We grieve, sometimes for years if not decades. If only we could do this with our best friends and family easily with no religious angst.

It is over ten years since the first Briton went to Dignitas to end his life.

Ten years of over 180 Britons having to pay thousands of pounds to go to a Switzerland-based clinic, located in an industrial estate, to end the lives that they consider intolerable. And, make no mistake, it is they who know their lives are intolerable, not some granny state. The extra cost of taking a family member as support for the end of their life is substantial. The Act governing this was made in 1961. Those travelling with the patient could be indicted. So far no one has. That’s not quite good enough They have to be legally immune from arrest as accessories.

They have had to make this decision well before their self-assessed use-by-date because they have not been able to access their own country’s NHS system to find the compassion and willingness to help them through this final hurdle. Why? Maybe it is partly because there is an established religion in this country. There may be a fear of funds for politicking being withdrawn. Maybe big pharma has something to do with it. But I doubt it. 180 people is hardly worth the effort. Many more would not have the funds to enable such a Dignitas visit. So let’s quadruple the number just for fun. 720 people out of a population of some 55 million. And the sky will fall in?? Our moral values will fail – you have to be joking!!

Britain likes to see itself as civilised but I question this. Especially in relation to assisted suicide, the shilly shallying over acceptable criteria to employ for such a euthanasia act is quite pathetic.

In Australia there is currently a window of opportunity::

‘there’s a bill about to be introduced into NSW State Parliament that would give patients the legal right to request a humane, medically-assisted death (voluntary euthanasia). This option includes robust legal safeguards and would only apply to individuals suffering from painful terminal illness.’

It still doesn’t go far enough but it is a start. The Northern Territory passed an Act which was overturned federally because the Northern Territory was ‘just’ a territory and deemed unable to make its own laws. So a mealy mouthed religite conservative put up a bill overturning the Territory’s bill after only one or two people had made use of it.

This quote from the lobby group GetUp says much the same thing I have blogged about before:

‘ … too many Australians choose to end their suffering by the only legal means available to them. Options such as ending life support treatment, cutting off food and water or suiciding, often violently. These options are distressing, prolong suffering and cause further grief and anxiety. They can also push family, friends and medical support away when they’re needed most.’

Can we all please be civilised in the proper sense of the word and leave superstition, religiosity and misplaced pro-life quasi-arguments behind?

People who have made a decision to die because life has become intolerable need help not hindrance.

For those of you who haven’t seen The Barbarian Invasions http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0338135/

I suggest you watch it.

Rape & criminality; rape & the norm

Protesting the Delhi rape case

Protesting the Delhi rape case

Rape is very much in the news at the moment. A young medical student was raped in Delhi by a gang of young men and has since died of her internal injuries.

Then there were some apparent copycat gang rapes in India.

Just hours ago, The Indian Express reported that three Buddhist monks were among the four people arrested for gangraping a 14 year old girl in Kalimpong.

Two young Aid workers in Libya were gang raped a few days ago in the name of Islam because of some fatwa.

Lara Logan before being raped

Lara Logan before being raped

It seems rape is becoming (and has been) so commonplace that reporting rapes is a bit of a yawn, a line or three in the local paper and nothing in the western press.

There’s the so-called Steubenville rape where two college students forcibly raped and photographed their young victim. The outcry is that the sentence was far too light thus adding to public perception that rape is not that much of a crime. Bloody hell – you should try being a woman. Men tell themselves that women ‘really like the sexual violence’ that is rape. Why is it that men never, ever get it? Why do they think that their sexuality is all there is?

Groups of young Muslim men in Europe are gang raping young European women and this whole problem with rape is escalating. Wikipedia has some horrific statistics from all over the world.

Inconsistent definitions of rape make for different rates of reporting etc.

Sweden seems to have a very high rate of rape – possibly due to over recording of individual cases where in other countries multiple rapes within a family are recorded as a single instance. Maybe the figures show really diligent recording rather than a drastic increase in the incidence of rape.

This is a nice little story that will make you vomit about a 7 hour rape marathon by 12 afghan men perpetrated on a Swedish mother. She now can’t walk, is incontinent and in psychiatric care. Presumably her family is bringing up her two children. Forgive me for being unable to append suitable photographs to this post. They would be horrific if they were available.

This is an horrendous account of rape of two young girls over a 2 year period by a gang of young Muslim boys and men in France. Europe is having an increasingly tough time where women will end up being terrified of going out. Maybe that’s the way of Muslim women too. The thing is that these boys (scores of them) were locals.

This happened in Birmingham where a Muslim gang has been gaoled for raping girls as part of a celebratory ritual.

How isolated would you feel.

How isolated would you feel.

Then there’s another one, this time in Glasgow:  a young girl raped on a double-decker bus.

These cases are reported in the western press but why is it that the western world has been silenced about reporting the extent of these abuses. We have statistics and more statistics but no one is up in arms about the steadily rising incidence of rape in Europe. Why is the reporting consistently suppressed? I didn’t have to look far for reports in the news of other countries. There seems to be no co-ordinated effort to bring world-wide attention to this revolting crime.

It seems that because young Muslim men are taught to see western white women as unclean and brazen that raping them doesn’t even register as wrong on their radar. Europe is experiencing more and more of young Muslim gangs deliberately targeting European women for rape.

In South Africa child and baby rape is among the highest in the world. Some uneducated African people believe that raping babies because they are virgins will prevent and/or cure AIDS. South Africa has the highest HIV-positive numbers in the world with around 11% infected. Of course, the Catholic Church has been instrumental in this increase with its ban on and lies about condoms. US and Australian foreign aid money have a veto on any money being used for contraceptives so that keeps the rate high as well.

All armies seem to consider rape of the vanquished women as their right. Their leaders seem not to interfere and references are made in religious writings of antiquity. In today’s world rape is still used as a weapon of war.

A lot of rape is seen as culturally acceptable in certain countries. We are told that rape is a traditional way of maintaining power and control over women. We are led to understand that men are essentially frightened of women and their procreative power and want to subdue and otherwise punish women for having the womb. Then we are told that women are unclean because they menstruate. Don’t let them into a house of worship while they are bleeding, don’t shake them by the hand, don’t let them into your bed. Make them have a bath before you touch them.

The primitiveness with which men and their religions and politics view fully 52% of human population is really quite worrying.

We have the three Abrahamic religions, all of which downgrade woman while attempting to put her on a pedestal out of reach.

As law and order come under pressure of immigration, ghetto living, poverty and lack of work, as the societies start to break down as they surely are, the reporting of cross cultural gang rapes of white women (and men) by so-called Asian gangs – Pakistani and Afghan youths and men, but not Chinese, Japanese or Filipino – is seen as political incorrect. So we don’t really understand the extent to which this casual rape culture has infiltrated our societies.

There are any number of blogs, websites and organisations on the web, none of which seem to tie in with each other. The feeling that we are sliding backwards into a barbarism that doesn’t even belong in the Middle Ages has to be dealt with somehow. Why don’t we do it? Are we so terrified of the potential violence? It is a violent crime against much frailer and more defenseless women and children.

The numerous articles are around if only we would look. It all needs media coverage big time, so that something HAS to be done by different countries’ authorities.

Antibiotics, their overuse; viruses & bacteria, their supremacy

This coronavirus looks deadly and is

This coronavirus looks deadly and is

I have long thought that we will succumb to the bugs of the world. Infectious diseases have been and still are the bane of animal life on this planet. Our ability to isolate bacteria and devise antibiotics to combat the spread of infectious diseases is a profound achievement in medicine. Vaccines and antibiotics have been available for well over 50 years in the developed world. In the interim, we have been able to address the mortality rate due to infection and restrict the bacterial spread of some of the most virulent kind throughout communities.

Public Health agencies monitor, recommend and control as much as possible the spread of infectious disease within our burgeoning urban areas. Cities pose a great problem as people crowd in their millions into close surroundings. The megacities pose a greater problem and:

 as of 2011, there are over 20 megacities in existence … having populations in excess of 20 million inhabitants each.

It is estimated that by 2030 three out of five people will live in cities. The containment of infectious diseases is of vital importance when so many people live cheek by jowl. The use and possible over use of antimicrobial drug therapy has led to problems that are now being warned against by Public Health agencies in a number of developed countries.

streptococcus pneumoniae. Clever little one this. Knows where to hit.

streptococcus pneumoniae. Clever little one this. Knows where to hit.

The problem is that as microbial resistance leads to the emergence of new highly infectious bacteria and viruses, the discovery and development of new antibiotics has not kept pace. This is in part what Britain’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Sally Davies’ report addresses. She highlights three issues requiring attention:

*the emergence of microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites) that are resistant to antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs,

*healthcare-associated infections, which are a concern for all people accessing health services, and

*the social and environmental context in which infections occur

This is a very comprehensive report with many contributors. I am not a microbiologist and I haven’t read the whole 154 page report. I did, however, read the introductions to each of the 11 chapters and that formulates a comprehensive overview.

Superbugs can evolve resistance easily

Many superbugs can evolve resistance easily

I have also been reading some reports in the online newspapers about the effect on the food chain of the use of antibiotics in agriculture as well as the over prescription of antibiotics in human societies. It is only just starting to jolt me into understanding how we have been using and abusing the use of antibiotics. These two links lead to articles in The Scottish Farmer, both of which have to do with using antibiotics in herd management as a cheap insurance policy.

Louise Slaughter, the only microbiologist in the US Congress has tabled a Bill aimed at slowing down the spread of super bugs.

Agricultural use of antibiotics accounts for the majority of antibiotics sold in the United States. I am not sure about the UK or other countries. A problem arises when milk from a dairy cow being treated with antimicrobials is fed to calves. It is classed as unfit for human consumption. Farmers, loath to waste food, have fed the waste milk to calves. In this way, antimicrobial drugs enter the food chain. Davies considers the risk of transferring resistance from animals to humans to be minimal. This abstract in PubMed details a survey dealing with this.

Reducing the risk of herd disease needs to be placed far more on good farm management than on the easy option of throwing antibiotics at herds as an insurance policy. It is too fraught to keep doing it. Responsible  use of antibiotics in farm animals needs to be addressed. RUMA is an organisation comprising many different and concerned bodies and makes this point.

Of course, it all comes down to our over breeding and allied to that is the desire of everyone to attain a lifestyle that has food, health and shelter at its heart. The first world alternative; and why not? It will, however, only exacerbate the problem of disease resistance.

So I still see it all ending in tears. The biggest worry we have as a global species is our rampant reproduction. Religious dogma and natural reproductive imperatives hold sway. What an ignominious end for what could have been called a supersmart species able to control its base desires with better use of its frontal lobes. Ah well.

We have been able to reduce infant mortality and stave off early death. Two prongs to our dilemma. And still, no one in power will address it as an urgent – if not the most urgent – issue.

Plastic wrap the world and it suffocates to death

Trashed - the poster

Trashed – the poster

The documentary Trashed has Jeremy Irons narrating a 98 minute film about waste, the amount of it and what we do or don’t do with it. I hadn’t even heard of this documentary and I do give a damn.

I came across mention of Jeremy Irons today in the online news as having been at Brussels on Thursday talking at the EU launch of its green paper on plastic waste. He is backing the EU campaign against plastic waste. It has to be legislated against because individuals don’t care enough to make the effort to refuse plastic packaging and bags. I know this from my Australian life.

Jeremy Irons at the EU 7 March 2013

Jeremy Irons at the EU 7 March 2013

Most people think of single-use plastic carry bags as the problem and, of course, they are. They are a symbol of our disposable society. Wales and the Republic of Ireland address the problem by charging for these bags and as a consequence their use has dropped by some 90% – hit ‘em in the pocket and they change their ways. Northern Ireland will be charging 5p a bag as of April 2013.

England and Scotland offer plastic carry bags hand over fist in supermarkets and other retail stores. A figure of 8 billion was mentioned in a Which article. Householders use them and some re-use them as bin liners giving them an extra use. Mostly they end up in land fill. I also found out that black bin liners can’t be isolated in recycling centres because they don’t register on the scanners. No more black plastic for me!

To my mind the problem with product packaging is much worse. There are many types of polymers used for plastic packaging and the ones that don’t degrade are a massive problem. It also seems to me that EU directives have had a lot to do with the proliferation of plastic wrapping. Maybe it also has to do with big money in the business of producing plastics of all types. Here’s the trailer for Trashed:

To apparently deter theft, manufacturers now wrap the smallest retail items in hard and unbreakable plastic containers too big to fit into a coat pocket. Apart from being a massive amount of non-degradable plastic to add to the waste stream, it is dangerous because it has to be cut and is as sharp as glass.

Everything, just everything is packed in plastic. A new electronic item – comes in a box, cushioned by moulded or custom-cut polystyrene with component parts wrapped individually in plastic bags. The instruction booklets are also wrapped in plastic bags.

The polystyrene has to go into landfill (as does polyurethane foam) – the recyclers can’t deal with it. The box is recyclable and the bags are as well (theoretically).

Milk bottles, soft drink bottles, plastic tubs of butter, jams, sauces and so many food items – all in plastic. Then there are plastic bags provided in the aisles to fill up with vegetables – one for each different type of fruit or veg. Tubs of prepared foods, salads with plastic forks included. Cling wrap over all other foods – that goes to landfill as well. Then there are the foil lined crisp and biscuit bags. The list just goes on. Sometimes I get angry and refuse any unnecessary packaging; most times I just get depressed as everyone around me accepts it all as the norm.

I suppose most people, by now, realise that if we survive to 2050 with some diminution in world population and consumption, we might make it to the end of this century. So maybe people no longer give a damn because we are all going to hell in a hand basket anyway. The basic problem of overpopulation is never addressed productively. Bandaids only.

When I see or hear of instances like whales being washed up dead having starved because their bellies were full of non degradable trash, or sea turtles whose stomachs were full of cigarette butts that had washed down the storm water systems, or see this:

Nicknamed 'peanut' for the deformity imposed by our waste

Nicknamed ‘peanut’ for the deformity imposed by our waste

I get depressed. Sometimes I end up in frustrated tears. I know I have posted a number of images

Canoeing through the Patch

Canoeing through the Patch

about the rubbish that we consumers produce and litter our planet with, but here are some more.

China's hidden waterways

China’s hidden waterways

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Great Pacific Garbage Patch