History Of Romantic Photo Spot

Taiwan hosts a number of very romantic spots, but one in particular is a favorite for Valentine’s, engagement, and wedding photos: The Twin Heart Weir in Penghu County. Most people don’t know the history behind these stone hearts in the bay, but recently the Smithsonian reported that they don’t exactly have a very romantic background.

The stone walls are an ancient and ingenious way of catching whole schools of fish! When the tide is in, the water flows over the stone walls and the fish come with it, not realizing that when the tide heads out again, they’ll be trapped. Fishermen then walk the walls and make easy pickings of the fish – usually anchovies – stuck inside. Romantic, right?

The walls work well because fish have a tendency to turn around when they encounter a curved surface – which is why the weir can have a small opening to keep the water fresh and still not lose a lot of fish out of it. These particular walls (there are more all over Taiwan) date back to the late 17th century, and fisherman of the era would regularly catch about 1,000lbs of seafood a haul!

The practice of using weirs to fish was so effective that it wasn’t until the 1950s and the open availability of motorized boats that it was retired for more advanced technology. Most weirs have fallen in the more than half a century since they’ve stopped being used, but these and a select few across the country are being preserved as important historical reminders of Taiwanese ingenuity.

Sticky Situation in Mexico City

Mexico City has a (literally) sticky problem: the city is covered in discarded wads of chewing gum. It’s on sidewalks, public statues, and benches, walls, and handrails. There’s so much chewing gum litter in Mexico City that they have their own specialized sanitation to clean it up. Overnight, these gum fairies flood various parts of the city with “terminators;” dry vapor steam guns meant to make the gum less sticky and easily cleanable.

A shocking 80-90% of chewing gum fails to make it into trashcans, and it definitely shows. When the 15 person team descended on Francisco I. Madero Ave, they removed an estimated 11,000 pieces of gum over three nights, each doing an 8 hour shift! And how do these gum warriors feel about their jobs? “It gets boring,” one reported. We can imagine.

These sanitation works might want to blame their monotonous positions on one Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. It was this statesman who, sometime in the 1860s, introduced Thomas Adams to chicle. The inventor at first thought the natural tree gum could be used as a rubber tire substitute, but when that failed he produced Adams New York Chewing Gum for public consumption. The rest, as they say, was history.

Because Mexico City’s problem is so bad, and because the removal so time consuming – and boring – officials have organized an upcoming public awareness program to have residents recognize how damaging gum littering can be. Hopefully the program is effective in stemming the overwhelming tide of chewing gum in this and other historic cities!

Divisive Stonehenge Tunnel Is Approved

Stonehenge is a source of national pride in Great Britain, but for about 100 years the ancient monoliths have been very close to the A303 expressway, which most people think diminishes some of the magic of the countryside. Well, recently the Highways England agency has taken action by approving a $2 billion project to move the highway to a 1.8 mile long underground tunnel that would preserve the landscape while preserving the road.

The agency is making efforts to not disturb any artifacts left in the ground near Stonehenge by moving the proposed tunnel even farther away from the site than the current road. However, not everyone is satisfied that this will mean preservation of the ground. The Stonehenge Alliance, among others, thinks that any digging close to the henge will mean potentially disturbing important sites from the Neolithic or Bronze Ages.

The Alliance says, “We are shocked at Highways England’s indifference to UNESCO’s advice,” which was to scrap the tunnel idea entirely. “The project needs a complete re-think, not a minor tweak which still threatens major harm to this iconic landscape. The potential risk of loss, along with Avebury, of Stonehenge’s World Heritage Status casts shame upon our country and those responsible for caring for our heritage.”

The approval is only for the idea for the project, and the next phase, planning, will be extensive and thorough. Ground is not expected to be broken until 2021, with the tunnel being completed by 2029 – unless construction encounters any archaeologically significant sites, that is.