June 28, 2006
As of yet, only 2% of the ocean has been explored. And last year alone, over 13,000 previously undiscoverd new species were discovered. So what does one call an undiscovered species?
In 1892 Dr. Anthonid Cornelis Oudemans, director of the Dutch Royal Zoological Gardens at the Hague, published his definitive work on cryptozoology – long before cryptozoology was even a popular idea. Titled The Great Sea-Serpent, this comprehensive work not only describes some 150 sightings (dating back to the 16th century) but also presents various hoaxes and alternative theories.
Oudemans dared to name the Sea-serpent: Megophias megophias. He concluded that the infamous cryptid was something very much like an elongated seal. For this and his other varied conclusions, the reception of the volume was "respectful but cold."
But you can judge it for yourself... a PDF of Oudemans' The Great Sea-Serpent (illustrations and all) has been online for some time. Have fun!
Oudemans may have written the book on sea-serpents but it's Bernard Heuvelmans who is broadly recognized to have been the father of cryptozoology. In 1958 he wrote his ground-breaking volume entitled On the Track of Unknown Animals. But I'm much more interested in his 1968 volume, In the Wake of Sea-Serpents. Because I like the ocean. It's blue. And mysterious. And I like the idea of undiscovered creatures in the ocean. And the book is fun to read (or browse through).
June 25, 2006
For the past 19 years, Chinese artist Cai Guo-Quiang has been busy: paintings, sculptures, performance art (mostly fireworks and explosions) and temporary exhibits. As explained on his site, his work draws on a wide variety of traditions and materials such as "fengshui, Chinese medicine, dragons, roller coasters, computers, vending machines and gunpowder."
This river, made out of bamboo and resin, is a good example of one of his works (plus it's incredibly whimsical and I like it). In 2001 it snaked its way across the floor of the Musee d'Art Contemporain de Lyon. If visitors wished, they could explore the twists and turns of the river in one of three yak skin boats.
Cai Guo-Quiang's roller coaster was first exhibited in 2001 in Lyon, at our same Musee d'Art Contemporain, but the photo above is from its 2003 exhibit in Gent, Belgium (and it's multiple-rooms this time). Of course it's not exactly built for thrills but you do get to stare at Guo-Quang's ceiling mural as you putt along!
June 24, 2006
Yes records are undeniably cool. Now, with this working paper record player, they're simply too cool. It's designed and built by Simon Elvins and here's what he has to say about it...
To play the record the handle needs to be turned in a clockwise direction at a steady 331/3 rpm. The paper cone then acts as a pick up and amplifies the sound enough to make it audible.
• Drinking From Your Voice – Previous post
What a great discussion (in the previous post). Provoking and informative and passionate, and it seems to represent a large spectrum of what's felt about this historic time and how it continues to impact us.
Here's a sampling of some of the comments...
Armyguy quoted a number of Western statesmen who were directly or indirectly involved with WWII. I think it doesn't hurt to pay attention to their assessment of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki:*
General Dwight David Eisenhower, Commander in Chief of the Allied Forces in Europe said,
Japan was at that very moment seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of 'face'... It wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing.
Admiral William D. Leahy, President Truman's Chief of Staff said,
The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons... In being the first to use it [the atomic bomb], we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages...
I was not taught to make war in this fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.
Leahy also wrote,
The dropping of the first atomic bomb was an act of pure terrorism. It fulfilled no military purpose of any kind.
Paul Nitze, Vice Chairman, U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey said,
Certainly prior to 31 December 1945... Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.
Field Marshal Montgomery, Commander of all UK Forces wrote,
It was unnecessary to drop the two atom bombs on Japan in August 1945, and I cannot think it was right to do so .... the dropping of the bombs was a major political blunder and is a prime example of the declining standards of the conduct of modern war.
UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill said,
It would be a mistake to suppose that the fate of Japan was settled by the atomic bomb. Her defeat was certain before the first bomb fell.
All of that was from one reader. Thanks armyguy!
Daisuke Colson, another reader, says,
My grandma lived in Hiroshima. She's dead now, but luckily she was able to raise her children before she passed due to some unknown condition linked to radiation poisoning. Lucky, because otherwise I'd not exist! Grandfather lived in Nagasaki. He was lucky to be out of town during the time. Other Grandfather was in the American armed forces. Grandma cheered him on.
War, although tragic, is neither evil nor heroic. It's just an effect of human nature. The Japanese do not brag about wartime heroics, it's not a topic that is mentioned. In the fog of war, there were choices made during that time, that we can look back on and say "ahh, that was a mistake", but over all.. It played out the way it did.
No one says the American's were wrong. Most Japanese are very thankful of the generosity with which the American's treated them. MacArthur was a good man. Many Japanese knew they were in over their head during the war, but at the end they were left little choice, as the homeland was at stake, and there was fear of being taken over by a country like Russia which was viewed as ruthless. Japan is still paying it's dues to the countries it has invaded.
War happens. Japan had bad timing. The Atom bomb is an amazing power. It's amazing that man could create something like this. It was excessive, but understandable. -shrug-
Many cowardly, brave, barbaric, ruthless, compassionate..etc deeds have been carried out either inside of us, or by our ancestors at some point in time. It would not be a well thought out opinion that indicates otherwise, I believe. Unless you're not a participant of humanity. If so, I'd like to meet you!
There was a short comment from reader "none" that got me thinking. He said (amoung other things) that the bombs "jump started the Cold War." Could it all really have just been for a show of power? With the U.S.S.R. looming in the distance, did we just wanted to flex our muscle to show them how powerful we were? Maybe it had nothing to do with Japan; like the bully, beating up the skinny kid with his big new stick when he's really just out to scare the other bully (who's on his way, around the corner). Ah! But he never realizes that the other bully will just bring a bigger stick to school the next day!
Ralph Bard, Under Secretary of the Navy at the time, seems to be one of many who gives creedance to none's comment. He said,
In my opinion, the Japanese war was really won before we ever used the atom bomb. Thus, it wouldn't have been necessary for us to disclose our nuclear position and stimulate the Russians to develop the same thing much more rapidly than they would have if we had not dropped the bomb.
Thanks to everyone for your comments! I appreciated all of them!
a. Tinian island, August 5th, 1945. The tail of the Enola Gay is being edged back into position over the pit in which rests the Little Boy bomb.
b. Little Boy, in the pit, waiting to be loaded into the bomb bay.
d. Hiroshima, from the Red Cross Hospital, about a mile from the center of the blast.
e. Photograph by U.S. Intelligence, to help analyze the destructiveness of atomic weapons.
* I check on a few of these quotes but not all of them.
June 15, 2006
In an flash, 10,000 civilians were killed in Hiroshima. In the days and weeks to come, thousands more would die. The hypocenter (the orange sphere) was triggered at about 600 meters above Aioi bridge. This miniature illustrates that exact point in time.
Here's another Hiroshima model, in striking before-and-after format...
Update: Thanks so much for all these great comments! Please keep it up! And just so you know, these miniatures do not overtly lay blame to one country or another. As far as I understand their purpose is more left up to the viewer, though there is text in one of the museums about the state of nuclear proliferation.
Here are some excerpts from the account of P. Siemes, survivor of the Hiroshima blast...
More and more of the injured come to us. The least injured drag the more seriously wounded. There are wounded soldiers, and mothers carrying burned children in their arms. From the houses of the farmers in the valley come word: " Our houses are full of wounded and dying. Can you help, at least by taking the worst cases?" The wounded come from the sections at the edge of the city. They saw the bright light, their houses collapsed and buried the inmates in their homes. Those that were in the open suffered instantaneous burns, particularly on the lightly clothed or unclothed parts of the body. Numerous fires spring up which soon consumed the entire district. We now conclude that the epicenter of the explosion was at the edge of the city near the Yokogawa Station, three kilometers away from us.
We take off again with the hand cart. The bright day now reveals the frightful picture which last night's darkness had partly concealed. Where the city stood, everything as far as the eye could reach is a waste of ashes and ruin. Only several broken skeletons of buildings completely burned out in the interior remain. The banks of the river are covered with dead and wounded, and the rising waters have here and there covered some of the corpses. On the broad street in the Hakushima district, naked, burned, cadavers are particularly numerous. Among them are the wounded who still live. A few have crawled under the burnt-out autos and trams. Frightfully injured forms beckon to us and then collapse. An old woman and a girl whom she is pulling along with her, fall down at our feet.
Update 2: I recommend the film The Fog of War, an insightful interview with Robert McNamara, who takes an honest and insightful look back on his life – WWII, Japan and the Cold War are especially interesting... and disconcerting.
Update 3: For a response to this post, read Looming Comments.
June 13, 2006
One of my favorite blogs, Wohba!, is crazy about illusions and posts a ton of 'em (among other things). But this one, which he did himself, totally takes the cake! I'm sure I hurt my eyes staring at it... just trying to believe what I was seeing!
June 12, 2006
I've recently updated the gallery section of my site... deleted some things; added a few others.
(Clear browser cache for most recent images)
June 09, 2006
A New Dawn Rises!
I have a confession to make. Of late, I had begun to become discouraged with our Republic (of Tinselman). I had such hopes, such great ambitions for our fledgling nation. I dreamt that it might slowly grow, mature and eventually age, like the finest French Bordeaux. However, lately I've been forced to wonder, is the Republic of Tinselman forever frozen in that awkward prepubecent stage?
This was far too difficult for me to face alone, so I called Brad [Pitt] and before I could a word out he said, "Hey man, have you heard?! I mean, what d'you think?!"
"Brad" I said, "Of course I've heard. Everybody's heard. I can't get––"
He started laughing, "No, no... I'm not talking about Shiloh. I'm talking about the metropolis! I mean... the presentation! You know... From Emergence to Inferno. Oh God... it's gonna be great, I mean totally frickin' wonderful! I can't wait to see the look on their faces when we... oh god, oh god!" And he suddenly broke into uncontrolled laughter.
Finally Angelina came on the phone and I began to get it all straight. It turns out there was indeed to be a very important presentation. She wouldn't tell me a thing about it, other than it was created by "Wilmey", "Russ" and herself and was to take place in L.A. on June 7th. Of course, it took me a bit to realize who "Wilmey" was... turns out it's her pet name for our very own Adam Wilmer and... well, I did go to this presentation and... honestly, I guess there's no reason to waste anymore time... let me just describe it...
I arrived at Grauman's Chinese Theater at 2:14 in the morning – a discreet time. There were people everywhere. I knew not a one of them. At 3:00 a.m., I was sitting on one of the plush theater-seats next to Brad and Angelina. A moment later, the lights dimmed. A shimmering, lilting music began and the curtains parted to these words...
The Boys Presents...
From Emergence to Inferno
With Special Appearance by Angelina Jolie
Angelina elbowed me and pointed to her name. And I have to admit, I was beginning to shiver with anticipation! And I was bothered only slightly by the fact that the curtains were jammed halfway across the screen. Oh well. In the next moment I utterly forgot about it; I was simply lifted away (in a transcendental sort of way) by the sweet whispering emanating from the THX surround sound system. Angelina elbowed me again, mouthing the words, "that's my voice, that's me!"
Over a black screen, she said this (in her finest british accent)...
It is June 3, 1996. Two men... "the boys"... are standing above the ashes of the greatest city that ever was and ever will be. It is a sad moment. And yet, the boys are as happy as dancing happy little larks.
Suddenly an image appeared and there was Angelina on the silver screen, larger than life, and the boys behind her danced. I swear, they really were just like happpy little larks... it was uncanny (see top photo).
Angelina: The boys wanted it to snow today. This is what they told me. Silly boys... it does not snow in L.A.. But they said it would cover the ashes... a snow-veil, so to speak. I slapped both of them, playfully. Brad laughed when I did that. Then the boys slapped me back. Then I accidentely knocked one of Wilmey's teeth out. He he!
The above image came on the screen and Angelina, still whispering dramatically, continued: "Who are the boys? Why are they important? To answer this vital question, we must push back the hands of time to... another time, another place, to what we like to call Out of Africa. That is where our dream was born. Emergence. The dream of a city. A city commissioned by own illustrious Khan. A city for the Republic of Tinselman. A city constructed of toilet paper rolls. A city conceived and built by sub-Mayor Wilmey and his trusty assistant Russ."
The Angelina in the film continued talking but I could no longer hear her. Now I was weeping uncontrollably. And oh, the next shot was so beautiful...
I didn't even need to hear Angelina to know what this was! A statue! Carefully sculpted to bring glory and honor to me! Khan Miller! But before I could soak it in, this popped onto the screen...
And Angelina was no longer talking. Now she was singing with the voice of an angel. It was a heavenly melody; her lyric went thus...
Four toilet towers,
Bring to them your commerce.
Big road leads straight to it,
In winters, springs and summers.
Then the voice seemed to almost transform into that of a man. It began singing operatically, very quickly (and deep) and, though it was not an especially attractive voice, it had a lot of heart. Immediately I knew it must be Adam Wilmer and he sang these words...
What about the orges?
We have an orge problem!
Someone kill the orges!
The orges are invading!
Then the slow sublime voice of Angelina...
Don't you worry 'bout the orges,
Our stormtroopers will chop their eyes.
We'll throw them in the orge-ovens,
And we'll be eating orge-pies!
It went on like this and there was all sorts of delightful bits, and the orge plot went weaving through all of it, continually growing in intensity, but the theater burst forth with youthful raw energy at the sight of the Khan's personal "parking garage" and "awesome cars" (which are guarded by his own pet dinosaur)...
Or there was the gruesome, but unexpectantly touching sequence: the Gehn Whark Hanging Tribute Ceremony...
And then the lush (and closely guarded) "Battery Park" that powers the city with four massive C cell batteries...
All said, the presentation was exhilarating. Wondrous! But nothing matched its daring climax... (I'm shivering).
For a moment, the sceen went black and Angelina, Wilmey and Russ began reciting a poem... or something like a poem, their voices inseperably woven together (and yet grossly contrasting). In solemn tones, this is what they said...
Life... all things end.
Even empires must eventually... die!
Decayed to ashes and covered,
By our grief;
A veil of snow.
The screeen slowly dissolved to an outdoor scene, very similar to the first image from the film, with the exception that Angelina, Wilmey and Russ were standing, hand in hand, behind the city doing this weird dance thing. And they continued with the poem...
Angelina: Fire cleanses all.
Wilmey: Fire is fun to play with!
Russ: Fire is pretty and orange.
Angelina: Fire is the symbol of eternal passion!
Wilmey: Do you have the matches?
Russ: No, you idiot, I thought you brought them!
Then... silence. It turns out Angelina had the matches. She bent down and... lit the city ablaze!
It was such a beautiful and fitting end for the Metropolis of Tinselman! The entire theater was sobbing! How perfectly stunning! How horrifyingly lovely! We wept.
Of course it ended exactly as it had begun... with the boys dancing over the ashes. And yet there was one small addition. It turns out Wilmey was really determined to see some snow, so he did this macro slow-motion salt shaker thing as Angelina spoke...
Mourn at the ashes,
There's enough to fill a silo.
Hearken to the silent veil,
And I will name my baby Shiloh.
A new dawn,
The Republic of Tinselman liveth...
I cried many times that night. And I had a great and an important realization. Yes... the Republic of Tinselman certainly is forever frozen that awkward prepubecent stage. We can never grow. We can never mature. We can never age. And all of this is awesome!!!
Note: Metropolis of Tinselman model and From Emergence to Inferno by Adam Wilmer. Wilmey deserves much thanks and kudos for such great descriptions of each and every area of the city! Please overwelm him with kind and flattering emails!
June 02, 2006
Hell on Wheels
Surplus Tank, by Joseph Peragine
Corrugated Tank, by Joseph Peragine
• Hell on Wheels – Solomon Projects (by Joseph Peragine)