Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.

Archive for May 19, 2014

An underwater nuclear test being conducted during Operation Dominic, Pacific Coast off California; ca. May 11th 1962

I'm not a scientist, smart person or even reasonably clever in any way.....But, by the size of that blast wave you would have to image the absolute sheer devastation of all aquatic life within a few hundred yards...also any sea creature that depends on gentle clicks and soft squeaks would have been seriously annihilated or needed 300 ibuprofens....

Imagine the sonar shock animals would have received from these!!! (I’m not a scientist, smart person or even reasonably clever in any way…..But, by the size of that blast wave you would have to image the absolute sheer devastation of all aquatic life within a few hundred yards…also any sea creature that depends on gentle clicks and soft squeaks would have been seriously annihilated or needed at least 300 ibuprofens.)

This isn’t even the impressive part. The impressive part comes right afterwards…

Watch this video of the explosion:

Drury Lane, London; ca.1876

When I was a child, I always thought it was dreary lane. From the looks of this I might not have been that wrong.

Second apartment on the right must be where the muffin man lives.

How did pre-colonization Midwestern Native Americans deal with tornados?

There is the account of Iseeo, a Kiowa informant to the anthropologist James Mooney. The Kiowa called tornadoes Mánkayía. Mánkayía was a great medicine horse, or a horse-like spirit.

Here is an excerpt from Iseeo’s account. Iseeo was a member of a war party returning from a raid against the Utes, when they encountered a tornado near the Washita River in Oklahoma.

Suddenly, the leader of the party shouted for the men to dismount and prepare for a hard rain. Soon, too, with the approaching cloud, lseeo recalled hearing a -roar that sounded like buffalo in the rutting season. Sloping down from the cloud a sleeve appeared, its center red; from this lightning shot out. The tremendous funnel tore through the timber bordering the Washita. heaving trees into the air.

Some of the young men wanted to run away, but the older, more experienced Kiowas knew what must be done. They called for everyone to try hard and brace themselves. The elders drew their pipes from saddlebags and lit them. They raised their pipes to the storm spirit, entreating it to smoke, and to go around them. The cloud heard their prayers, lseeo explained, and passed by.

This group, at least, tried to make peace with Mánkayía so that they could escape unharmed.


Read more of the account (last page, PDF) here, and the whole article is certainly interesting.(

The source is Mankaya and the Kiowa Indians: Survival, Myth and the Tornado. By Michael Marchand. pg. 19 Heritage of the Great Plains, VOL. XXVI, #2 SUMMER 1993 Emporia State University.

Tolkien (and the genre of high fantasy):

J. R. R. Tolkien is unquestionably the most influential figure in high fantasy, and I think it is not unreasonable to say that he and C.S. Lewis were the originators of the subgenre. The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings were both published during the mid-1950s. Earlier in their respective literary careers, Hobbit was published in 1937 and Perelandra in 1938, the former was not yet the fully-developed high fantasy of Lord of the Rings and the latter would be better described as science fiction. Tolkien and Lewis were good friends, of course, and often discussed their writings with each other.

The roots of Tolkien’s works lie primarily in medieval writings, especially Anglo-Saxon poetry and Norse epics like Beowulf and the Volsung Saga. Influences from farther afield, including the Finnish national epic the Kalevala, show up from time to time in his writings as well. Tolkien was, of course, a professor of Anglo-Saxon (and later of English language & literature) at Oxford, and was interested in poetry and languages since at least his late teenage years. In addition to being one of the all-time best selling authors in human history, he was an accomplished linguist, literary critic, and translator. The Book of Jonah in the Jerusalem Bible was translated by Tolkien, he made a complete translation of Beowulf as well as a highly influential lecture on it entitled Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics, he did etymologies of Germanic W words for the Oxford English Dictionary, he wrote a vocabulary of Middle English, and he published translations of three Middle English poems: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo. One particularly interesting aspect of Tolkien’s writings, from a meta-literary perspective is that they are framed as a collection of writings which he discovered and translated from Elvish (Silmarillion and related works) and the Common Tongue of Middle Earth (the Red Book of Westmarch, written by Bilbo and Frodo– the former of whom translated some Elvish source material for use in the book). Truly an irrepressible enthusiasm for philology. Also, if you read Lord of the Rings out loud to yourself, you will find many examples where Tolkien wrote sentences that pretty much could have been lines of alliterative verse, the style of Old and Middle English that many poems were written in, including Sir Gawain & the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo.

Tolkien believed the world suffered from disenchantment: that along with the modernization of the Industrial and Victorian eras had come a reduced sense of wonder at the world, and a diminished willingness to believe in the fantastic and the terrible. In his essay, On Fairy-Stories (seriously, read it, it’s great), he explained his views on faery-stories and the importance of fantasy and mythology. He felt that they had been tamed, that the connotation of “fairy” (he often used the spelling “Faery” or “Faerie”–the spelling was important to him, as a discriminating philologist) had become domesticated and defanged, something you would meet in your garden rather than a dark forest, something adorable rather than something which should make you tremble. He felt that such stories described the world on a spiritual plane in a way that mundane stories about the real world could not. (more…)