More mandatory history….

I have been to Russia, eastern Russia, Kamchatka, 25 years ago, an unforgettable trip, 1994, three years after the Soviet Union dissolved. Long story, but along the way, on a bus coming from a little town called Anavguy in the north, a man in a uniform got on, from an army base we passed. He could speak a bit of English. He gave me a business card, because this was freedom, right? The hustle, and the Russians picked it up fast. I asked him what he was doing in his army base and he looked at me and said, “Protecting our nation from you.” He was dead serious. Back then I thought he was a little crazy. No more. Grab a cup of coffee, no, several cups, and listen to this piece by someone who is a true independent journalist, who has worked for Russian media and U.S. media. Well worth the time, believe me. The best summary of what happened after the Soviet Union ended I can offer….

 

Sobering, thoughtful, and damn necessary

I stumbled on this video tonight and, as someone who worked in China for several years, made many trips there, and made many friends there, and as someone who grew up listening to my father recount his year there in 1934 while on a scientific expedition, this video made compelling sense to me. It is dark, but it is real, and in the three years since it was produced I suggest nothing has changed….The initial section on Bikini Atoll is a work in itself…

One word at a time….

So…..been thinking about another tale for years, a fourth in this little series that did not start our as a series, but kept getting derailed by finishing earlier tales, then producing them with IronTwine Press….went back to the proven system, research and good old handwritten notebooks, jotting notes, thoughts, ideas, plot threads….finally started five weeks ago, really writing, you know, sitting down and actually writing…..it’s now March, spring’s coming, and I’m deep in it, 40,000 words almost, and seeing where the threads are going, chasing each one…..It is such an adventure…And meanwhile, getting reviews for the second in the series Adrift, good ones, actually, and here’s one…

https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?f=114&t=99582

Ah ha….

My theory concerning the development of the “modern” mind – modern humans – is that when two “different species” of hominins  interbred (i.e, neanderthal and archaic humans, or neanderthal and denisovian) something happened with the wiring of the brain which enabled the telling of stories, imagination concerning possible futures, and hence the passing of culture generation through generation through stories….This article below may suggest this theory is correct….

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/cave-that-housed-neandertals-and-denisovans-challenges-view-of-cultural-evolution/

 

Discoveries

I think we lose sight of how much we have learned in the last 30 years about our solar system.  There is a science fiction film, Europa, which is pretty telling, about one of Jupiter’s moons, and here is a video about one of Saturn’s moons, same theses – that beneath the frozen ice surface lies a salty ocean of liquid water….

Space

I am deep into structuring and framing another tale, gathering information, imagining story lines, meeting characters, absorbing what I can about existing and emerging debates and conflicts as politicians, scientists, and the rest of us argue on about what is truth, what is belief, what is known, what is “settled.” To me a continuing source of wonder, delight, fascination and joy is the constant puncturing of our self-satisfied views that we know nearly all of what needs to be known.  Any new approach to a theory, whether it be the flat-ness of the earth, the existence of the ice ages, or the structure of the cosmos itself, is always – ALWAYS – met with scorn, disbelief, dismissal, and some times violent death. I earlier posted short pieces about possible discoveries of vast sources of water deep in the earth , which contradict settled science. Just the other day Chuck Todd went on a rant on TV about how climate change is settled science and opponents to the belief should not be given air time.

There seems to be a new debate in the scientific community, rising from theories propounded within the last 70 years, and now gaining strength from the incredible finds of our space telescopes and deep space probes, about the basic structure of the universe itself, arguing that the primary force linking our cosmos is electricity, not gravity.  I am going to post some videos about this, narrated by Don Scott, a retired professor from the University of Massachusetts, my home town and the place where I went to graduate school. It thrills me to see someone from that not so little land grant college now discussing grand theories.

We forget how recently it was we extended our eyes and selves beyond earth. On the first day of 2019, this year, for example, there was the Ultima Thule fly-by, four billion miles from earth, a billion miles beyond Pluto, sending back photos. The Hubble space telescope has been in orbit now since 1990, nearly 30 years, more than a full generation, and in that time we have learned countless things about distant star systems and galaxies When I was a child, and young man, even middle aged, we had none of this information. We had no capacity to gather this information. This will date me, but I recall when I was in about the sixth grade in the 1950s we all gathered in the junior high auditorium to watch (on a 17 inch black and white TV, which we could hardly see of course) the launching of America’s answer to the shocking Soviet Sputnik launch. The Russians astonished us by getting into space before we did, and of course we raced to respond. Russia had launched two sputniks by the time we responded, and the teachers gathered all of us, the sixth grade wandering over to the junior high and joining the seventh and eighth graders, in the auditorium to watch, LIVE, on that tiny TV, as America blasted off to meet the Russian threat. We were excited, this was a total departure from normal school, giddy with excitement, why, we were even getting to watch TV in school! It was to be a signature moment, being present for America’s response, and we all sat there squirming with anticipation, all the teachers behind us, also giddy, watching this history making event.

Then the rocket exploded on the launch pad. I even found a video showing that explosion, posted below (scroll down for the video). In a way, that moment was our collective loss of innocence, a humbling moment indeed. Of course just over 10 years later we landed on the moon (though there is a really big community who refuse to believe this) which was a great demonstration of what this country could do when it put its mind to it, and is what some are saying we should do again now with a Green infrastructure program, and maybe we will.  I can remember that moment today just as if it happened this morning, watching that rocket explode, hearing in the voice of Walter Cronkite (I think this is where he cut his chops as America’s space broadcaster) disbelief and amazement. It was a national humiliation but of course we refused to admit it.

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/mg7j4q/watch-the-spectacular-inferno-of-americas-first-satellite-attempt