Woolly mammoth, coming soon to an Arctic tundra near you. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons via CC by SA 2.0)

Off the Rock and under the radar March 8 – 15

Sorting through the media mud so you don’t have to

The Beachcomber offers this weekly collection of stories from everywhere but Washington D.C., for readers looking to climb out of the rabbit hole for a moment and reconnect to the world.


South Korea: The impeachment of president Park Geun-hye became official last Friday, when South Korea’s constitutional court upheld the results of a December parliamentary vote. The daughter of the late dictator Park Chung-hee was a polarizing figure in South Korean politics since coming to power in 2012. She was ultimately brought down by a scandal that involved her friendship with a woman named Choi Soon-sil, with whom she reportedly shared confidential government documents and who used this connection to help her daughter get into a prestigious university, as well as obtain funding for the same daughter’s equestrian aspirations. The far-reaching scandal has also led to the arrest and indictment of Samsung’s head, Lee Jae-yong, who allegedly used Choi’s influence to obtain government approval for a merger. Quartz offers this detailed timeline of Park’s life and recent events.


Australia: Tesla CEO and SpaceX head Elon Musk recently promised the state of South Australia that Tesla would build it a 100-megawatt battery storage farm within 100 days — or it would be free of charge. The promise came via a Twitter exchange with Australian billionaire and Atlassian CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes, as reported by The Verge. The Land Down Under’s current power crisis, noted in a previous Off the Rock installment, is at the heart of the deal — trying to stay cool in a nuclear blast furnace can be taxing on one’s power grid. Musk has good reason to be confident: Tesla built an 80-megawatt farm in California in just 90 days last year.


Siberia: Ross Andersen wrote this fascinating piece for The Atlantic about Russian father-and-son scientists who have come up with a mammoth plan — as in, literally cloning woolly mammoths — for slowing or preventing the melting of the Arctic permafrost and to avoid a climate change disaster. A link to the audio version is embedded in the story.


Wyoming: A couple of Vox staffers recently set out in search of the hidden treasure of Forrest Fenn — a Romanesque chest filled with approximately $2 million worth of historic jewelery, gold and gems from the artifact hunter’s own collection, that he hid somewhere in the Rocky Mountains in 2010. The piece, which presents as a virtual master class in multimedia reporting, includes text, photos, audio and video to tell this entertaining, if not curiosity piquing, story.


U.K.: Since Off the Rock has been following the road to Brexit, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that Prime Minister Theresa May got the green light she needed from parliament on Monday to go ahead and trigger article 50, and formally begin the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. In related news, the pound sterling has lost nearly 20 percent of its pre-Brexit vote value, and is currently at its lowest point since May’s mid-January announcement that the U.K. would also leave the EU’s single market.


Texas to D.C.: “A Democrat and a Republican heading back to the Hill to vote are stranded in Texas. YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!” If we believed in click-bait headlines, that’s probably how we would have introduced this. But this story on NPR of two Texas congressmen — one a Democrat and one a Republican — who ended up on a 1,600-mile road trip together when their flights back to Washington were canceled, truly deserves the read. So head on over here and rejoice in the knowledge that there might be some hope for cooperation and respect after all, and at least a couple of our elected officials seem decidedly human. Also, we couldn’t not include this because these guys played “The Final Countdown” on the way into D.C. after two days on the road and racing the clock. That, if nothing else, buys them some Off the Rock real estate. (PS. We’re not technically breaking our own rule about no D.C. news, since the story originated in Texas…)

More in News

Amid recent busy days, fire district moves ahead with planning efforts

district commissioners and chiefs are moving ahead withplans for next year and beyond

Briefs: VARSA survey, toy drive and north-end road work

Island adults invited to take VARSA’s annual community survey Every year, as… Continue reading

Ferries responds to Triangle route concerns

The Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth Route Frequently Asked Questions document is seven pages long

After five years of locally-made spirits, Vashon’s only distillery will move off-island

Seattle Distilling moves its operations off-island and a new brewery gets set to move into the space

Island artist enlists help of woodshop students

At Bergstrom’s former home in Frankfurt, Germany, she made thousands of the fuzzy creatures

Benefit concert raises $5,000 for Puerto Rico

Hundreds of islanders gathered at the Vashon Theatre last Wednesday night for a benefit concert

Vashon Fresh program ruled viable, VIGA plans for next year

An online marketplace that enabled islanders to buy local, sustainably grown food this summer proved

Islanders’ senior care business thrives, seeks island caregivers

Nearly seven years ago, islanders Rob and Marilyn Oswald started a caregiving business

Vashon and Maury Islands are home to an abundance of flora and fauna. To learn about these species and hundreds of others, stop by the exhibit that will open this Friday at the Land Trust Building. (Kieran Enzian Photo, left; Maria Metler Photos center top and right; Kelly Keenan Photo center bottom)
The nature of Vashon: Explore the island’s biodiversity an upcoming exhibit

By SUSAN RIEMER Reporter Islanders will soon have a new opportunity to… Continue reading

After Monday windstorm, hundreds still without power Tuesday

Roughly 450 of the island’s Puget Sound Energy customers were without power… Continue reading

‘It has not been sacrifice’: School board member steps down after 12 years

Bob Hennessey believes in government. He has worked in it his whole… Continue reading

Triangle task force will discuss schedule changes next month

The Triangle Route Improvement Task Force has moved on from trying to… Continue reading