Friday, August 29, 2008

I finished Moby-Dick days ago

The white whale weighs on my mind.

The Impossibility of Knowledge

"A Frenchman is self-assured because he regards himself personally both in mind and body as irresistibly attractive to men and women. An Englishman is self-assured as being a citizen of the best-organized state in the world and therefore, as an Englishman, always knows what he should do and knows that all he does as an Englishman is undoubtedly correct. An Italian is self-assured because he is excitable and easily forgets himself and other people. A Russian is self-assured just because he knows nothing and does not want to know anything, since he does not believe that anything can be known."

--Leo Tolstoy

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Whaleships of *Moby-Dick*

Eliza, presumably of Nantucket - Chapter 7 The Chapel
Devil-Dam, presumably of Nantucket - Chapter 16 The Ship
Tit-bit, presumably of Nantucket - Chapter 16 The Ship
Pequod, of Nantucket - Chapter 16 The Ship
Goney (Albatross), of Nantucket - Chapter 52 The Albatross
Town-Ho, of Nantucket - Chapter 54 The Town-Ho's Story
Jeroboam, of Nantucket - Chapter 71 The Jeroboam's Story
Jungfrau (Virgin), of Bremen - Chapter 81 The Pequod Meets the Virgin
Bouton de Rose (Rose-button, or Rose-bud), of France - Chapter 91 The Pequod Meets the Rose-Bud
Samuel Enderby, of London - Chapter 100 Leg and Arm. The Pequod, of Nantucket, Meets the Samuel Enderby, of London
Bachelor, of Nantucket - Chapter 115 The Pequod Meets the Bachelor
Rachel, presumably of Nantucket - Chapter 128 The Pequod Meets the Rachel
Delight, presumably of Nantucket - Chapter 131 The Pequod Meets the Delight

historical whaleships:
Jonas-in-the-Whale - Extracts; Chapter 55 Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales
Essex, of Nantucket - Extracts; Chapter 45 The Affidavit
Globe, of Nantucket - Extracts
Commodore Preble - Extracts
Hobomack - Extracts
Glacier - Chapter 35 The Mast-Head
Union, of Nantucket - Chapter 45 The Affidavit
Pusie Hall, of England - Chapter 45 The Affidavit
Amelia, of England - Chapter 101 The Decanter
Rattler, of England - Chapter 101 The Decanter
Syren, of England - Chapter 101 The Decanter

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Posted a big lot of old photos at the Adventuria blog. Here're some...

U.K., Bermuda
nautical archaeology field school
Radigan Neuhalfen

Russia, Kamchatka, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky

Sea of Japan, Far Eastern coast of Russia

Radigan Neuhalfen, self-portrait

Russia, Ural
archaeology dig

Turkey, Istanbul

Ukraine, Crimea, Black Sea

Russia, Siberia, Novosibirsk

Russia, Siberia, Novosibirsk

U.S.A., Illinois
archaeology survey
Radigan Neuhalfen

U.S.A., Minnesota, Minneapolis
archaeology van

Mexico, Yucatan
archaeology course

U.S.A., Texas, San Antonio
Radigan Neuhalfen

U.S.A., North Dakota

U.S.A., North Dakota

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Move Over, Batman

"#1. The Black Condor

"Do please sit down, because this one is a doozy. Little Richard Grey was born in Mongolia during a scientific expedition his parents were members of. The expedition was attacked by bandits and everyone died except for baby Richard, who was later found and raised by condors. If huge carrion eating birds don't know how to raise a baby, then who does?

"Not bad for a bird that doesn't even live in Mongolia, or anywhere near Asia for that matter.

"By the way, did we mention that the condors taught him how to fly? Yes, apparently being raised by birds means you can slap aerodynamics in the face.

"Richard only has the power to fly and possibly also the power to eat rotten dead things."

--Juan Arteaga, "The 7 Crappiest 'Super Heroes' in Comic Book History,"


"Lenin Bagsh"
Ulaanbaatar Hotel
Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar

Non-News - Democratic/Republican National Conventions

"Over time, the heavily scripted four-day affairs have been drained of controversy and spontaneity, offering little news for the media and scarce drama for those watching on TV.

"'The conventions are as dull as dishwater,' said Larry Sabato, a political-science professor at the University of Virginia. 'It amazes me that anybody watches them anymore....'

"In 1996, veteran journalist Ted Koppel famously yanked his Nightline crew out of the Republican convention, saying there was no news."


Friday, August 15, 2008

2008 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota

"Calling itself the RNC Flight Crew, it aims to organize a mass exodus from the metro area the week of the national convention.

"'We’re hoping to get a minimum of 30,000 residents to simulate an emergency evacuation of the city the first four days of September,' explains Eric Stoner, one of the co-founders of the RNC Flight Crew. 'We’d like to have 15,000 refugees escaping north along Highway 61 and another 15,000 heading southwest along 169....'

"'Our objective is to recreate scenes reminiscent of the evacuation of Paris or Warsaw in advance of the German Army’s approach,' Stoner says.

"Stoner says the idea for the Convention Exodus came after he and other organizers of the RNC Flight Crew studied The Society of the Spectacle during a community education class offered at Macalester College last year. Penned by Guy Debord, a French intellectual credited with co-founding the anarcho-artistic movement, the Situationist International, The Society of the Spectacle is credited with helping incite the 1968 uprisings in Paris.

"'Essentially, the Republican National Convention – like the Democratic National Convention – is nothing more than an empty spectacle, a perfect reflection of the empty spectacle of a consumer culture that has commodified every aspect of life, including politics,' Stoner claims. 'Nothing of note, or even of minor news value, is going to occur at the Xcel Center during that time.'

"But despite that, he says, 'The RNC is going to attract a swarm of 15,000 media people and tens of thousands of demonstrators, all of them drawn like moths to the flame by the chance to be part of the spectacle – and hence make themselves feel as if they are "real." As far as we are concerned, everyone involved in the debacle is part of, rather than a solution to, the stupidity of the society in which we live.'

"'What,' he asks, 'can any sane person do except run away from this kind of craziness?'"


Jorge Luis Borges

"From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"In his essay 'El escritor argentino y la tradici├│n' Borges notes that the very absence of camels in the Koran was proof enough that it was an Arabian work, inferring that only someone trying to write an 'Arab' work would purposefully include a camel. He uses this example to illustrate how his dialoguing with universal existential concerns was just as Argentine as writing about gauchos and tangos (both of which he also did)."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Grelling–Nelson paradox

An example of Russell's paradox.

“From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

“Suppose one interprets the adjectives 'autological' and 'heterological' as follows:

“An adjective is autological if and only if it describes itself. For example 'short' is autological, since the word 'short' is short. 'English,' 'unhyphenated' and 'pentasyllabic' are also autological.

“An adjective is heterological if and only if it does not describe itself. Hence 'long' is a heterological word, as are 'abbreviated' and 'monosyllabic.'

“All adjectives, it would seem, must be either autological or heterological, for each adjective either describes itself, or it doesn't. The Grelling–Nelson paradox arises when we consider the adjective 'heterological'....

“Is 'heterological' a heterological word? If the answer is 'yes', 'heterological' is autological (leading to a contradiction). If the answer is 'no', 'heterological' is heterological (again leading to a contradiction).”

Dead Horse

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Conqueror

"When you think of Genghis Khan (Mongolian, conqueror of half the known world, shrewd military tactician, Mongolian, mass murderer, Mongolian, vengeful, Mongolian) who do you picture? John Wayne, right? Exactly. And that's why he was an inspired casting choice for Howard Hughes' 1956 epic The Conqueror. Speaking before the film was made, Wayne said 'the way the screenplay reads it's a cowboy picture, and that's how I'm going to play Genghis Khan. I see him as a gunfighter.'"

--Danny Harkins,

Sunday, August 10, 2008

1908 and 1912 Pattern British Army Cavalry Swords

"From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"The 1908 Pattern Cavalry Trooper's Sword (and the 1912 Pattern, the equivalent for officers) was the last service sword issued to the cavalry of the British Army. It is widely considered the most effective cavalry sword ever designed, although ironically its introduction occurred as swords finally became obsolete as military weapons....

"King Edward VII described the sword as 'hideous' when the pattern was submitted to him for formal approval, and had to be persuaded of its utility before eventually conceding the point."

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Ice Storage

"From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"In 400 BC Persian engineers had already mastered the technique of storing ice in the middle of summer in the desert. The ice was brought in during the winters from nearby mountains in large quantities, and stored in specially designed, naturally cooled refrigerators called yakhchal (meaning ice pits). A large underground space with thick insulated walls was connected to a qanat, and a system of windcatchers was used to draw cool subterranean air up from the qanat to maintain temperatures inside the space at low levels, even during hot summer days. As a result, the ice melted slowly and ice was available year-round."

Golden Gate Bridge


They say roses are red
And violets are purple
Sugar is sweet
And so is maple syrple

--Roger Miller, "Dang Me"

The Last Ten Years

On 1998 August 5, I began recording where I spend each night. Of the 3,655 nights from 1998 August 5 to 2008 August 5, the top twenty locales account for 3,475 nights:

1. Mongolia ... 1,184
2. U.S.A., California ... 675
3. U.S.A., North Dakota ... 467
4. U.S.A., Minnesota ... 325
5. Russia ... 182
6. U.S.A., Louisiana ... 112
7. U.S.A., Colorado ... 104
8. U.S.A., Arizona ... 75
9. Canada ... 53
10. Costa Rica ... 43
11. Mexico ... 38
12. U.S.A., Wisconsin ... 36
13. U.S.A., Washington ... 31
14. France ... 29
15. U.K., Bermuda ... 28
16. Australia ... 22
17. Panama ... 20
18. Israel ... 19
19. Pacific Ocean ... 17
20. Guatemala ... 15

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Gorge in the Mountains

The sun hides not the ocean, which is the dark side of this earth, and which is two thirds of this earth. So, therefore, that mortal man who hath more of joy than sorrow in him, that mortal man cannot be true--not true, or undeveloped. With books the same. The truest of all men was the Man of Sorrows, and the truest of all books is Solomon's, and Ecclesiastes is the fine hammered steel of woe. "All is vanity." ALL. This wilful world hath not got hold of unchristian Solomon's wisdom yet. But he who dodges hospitals and jails, and walks fast crossing graveyards, and would rather talk of operas than hell; calls Cowper, Young, Pascal, Rousseau, poor devils all of sick men; and throughout a care-free lifetime swears by Rabelais as passing wise, and therefore jolly;--not that man is fitted to sit down on tomb-stones, and break the green damp mould with unfathomably wondrous Solomon....

And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar.

--Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Yeasty Ferment

From regarding me curiously, he turned his head and glanced out over the leaden sea to windward. A bleakness came into his eyes, and the lines of his mouth grew severe and harsh.

“Then to what end?” he demanded abruptly, turning back to me. “If I am immortal—why?”

I halted. How could I explain my idealism to this man?

“What do you believe, then?” I countered.

“I believe that life is a mess,” he answered promptly. “It is like yeast, a ferment, a thing that moves and may move for a minute, an hour, a year, or a hundred years, but that in the end will cease to move.”

“But the hopelessness of it,” I protested.

“I agree with you,” he answered. “Then why move at all, since moving is living? Without moving and being part of the yeast there would be no hopelessness. But—and there it is—we want to live and move, though we have no reason to, because it happens that it is the nature of life to live and move. It is because of this life that is in you that you dream of your immortality. The life that is in you wants to go on being alive for ever. Bah!”

--Jack London, The Sea-Wolf

Courrier des steppes

"Le Courrier des steppes est une association franco-mongole dont l’objectif est de mener des actions sociales en Mongolie."