The only UNESCO World Heritage site in French Polynesia

is the Marae at Taputapuātea on Ra’iātea Island.  It doesn’t really look like much now to be honest.  The only other people there on a visit last spring were a few white tourists getting what sounded like a pretty tedious lecture in French.  Two guards were chilling under a tree.  When I sort of tentatively started to walk on the marae’s volcanic rock base, one of the guards gave me a whistle and like a don’t do that gesture, but didn’t bother getting up.

But that’s 2019.  We have to picture the marae as it was, when it was at its most magnificent.  Covered with vines, when the great drums sounded:

Marae became fearful places.  They were dark, shaded by groves of sacred trees… People spoke of these places as the jawbones of the gods, biting the spirits who passed into the dark underworld where they were consumed by the gods while the stone uprights on their pavements were called their niho or teeth

High priests told the early missionary John Osmond:

Terrible were the marae of the royal line, their ancestral and national mare!  They were places of stupendous silence, terrifying and awe-inspiring places of pain to the priest, to the owners, and to all the people.  It was dark and shadowy among the great trees of those marae.

After raids:

canoes beached by the marae, wailing conch trumpets sounded, and the heads and genitals of their most high-ranking victims were tightly bound with the multi-coloured plait sennit of the god, destroying the mana (ancestral power) and fertility of their lineages and districts.  Some of these corpses were hung up in the sacred trees, while others were used as canoe rollers

So tells Dame Professor Anne Salmond in her book:

I looked forward to reading the rest of Dame Professor Salmond’s book, it’s incredible.  She makes the point that when Europeans first made contact with Tahiti, they tended to think of it as like this unspoiled paradise.  But Polynesia was in the midst of its own turbulent history, the Europeans arrived at a particular moment in Polynesia’s development.  There’d just been a violent takeover by islanders from Bora Bora.

They weren’t waiting around for guys in ships to show up.  There was a whole scene!


TMI

CIC of USS Spruance, 1975. USN-1162165.

But the most intriguing chapter is Hone’s study of a critical but largely unrecognized reorganization that transformed Navy operations beginning in late 1942. The problem was that commanders of warships were being cognitively overwhelmed by all the new information thrown at them in battle. In addition to traditional sightings and signaling, they were now receiving reports by radio from aircraft and from other ships, as well as from radar readings. The Navy’s answer was to design a new Combat Information Center on each ship. Through it, all that data could be continually funneled, sifted, integrated and passed to the captain and others on the vessel who might need it, like gunners. Such an improvement may seem mere common sense, but then many great innovations do seem obvious — in retrospect. Interestingly, Adm. Chester Nimitz told skippers what to do (establish the new centers) but not how to do it. This meant that different ships devised different approaches, which provided the basis for subsequent refinements.

CIC aboard an unknown destroyer escort during WWII, found here

Really interesting paragraph from Thomas Ricks, writing about this book:

which I will read when I have time, Trent Hone sounds serious!

Late 1942: is that the point in time where the age of information overload began?  Sorting, digesting, processing the enormous amounts of information that flow our way, telling signal from noise, is that a/the prevailing cognitive problem of the post 1942 world?

Tom Ricks=boss.


Training Literature Field Unit No. 1

Helytimes began in 2012.  Our idea was

  1. become good at writing for the Internet
  2. a writer should have a website
  3. have a space to collect, digest and share items of interest.

We’ve tried to come up with a mission statement or guiding purpose, but the truth is, this is stuff we had to get out of our head.

The healthiest thing to do was share it.

The best way to put it might be a place to share crazy interesting things we’ve come across.

Since then we’ve published over 1,050 posts.  We’re just now starting to get good at it, in our opinion.

Here are the twenty-one most popular posts:

  1. No On Measure S (by guest Hayes)

The moral here is probably that we should start a local LA news-and-takes site written by other people.

  1. Sundown, Gordon Lightfoot (1974)

  2. Mountaineering Movies on Netflix Instant, Ranked

  3. Fred Trump

  4. Cinderella and Interrogation Technique

  5. The Great Debates 

  6. Karl Ove Knausgaard

  7. Fascinated by: Ray Dalio

  8. How Big Was Mexico City in 1519?

  9. American Historical Figure Who Reminds Me Of Trump

  10. Losing The War by Lee Sandlin 

  11. Conversations With Kennedy

  12. Oil Wells In National Parks

  13. THE WONDER TRAIL 

  14. Gay Hobo Slang

  15. Vertigo Sucks

  16. Jackie Smoking Pregnant

  17. The story of Cahokia

  18. Ireland should take in two million refugees 

  19. Twenty Greatest Australian Artistic Accomplishments of All Time 

  20. The White House Pool 

One lesson here might be to have more local LA journalism written by other people.  Keep meaning to start a whole site for that but I do have a full-time job plus several other projects.

In our opinion the most successful post on Helytimes was

Record Group 80: Series: General Photographic File Of the Department of the Navy, 1943-1958 

although it didn’t crack the top 21, just felt like a time where we added something of value to the Internet and readers responded.

It’s about the work of the Naval Aviation Photographic Unit, also known as the Training Literature Field Unit No. 1, assembled by the great photographer Edward Steichen.

One thread of Helytimes is attempts to reach into the past and find the sources that give us understanding of the past.

Two personal favorites:

Everything is something.

and

Special Snowflakes

This has been the annual performance review and address to the Helytimes readership:

That photo taken by one of Steichen’s guys, Wayne Miller:


Few have ever ventured

img_9599

having a look at my National Geographic map of the Channel Islands

says the NPS:

The freighter Chickasaw, with its cargo of children’s toys, ran aground on the south side of the island in a heavy storm in 1962. Since the time of this photo, the Chickasaw has further deteriorated leaving very little wreckage visible to visitors.

and from this one, CA Wreck Divers:

The wreck of the Chickasaw remained one of Southern California’s most prominent wrecks as her large hulk stood fast for many years.   However, the exposed site gradually wore down her hull and those that visited her periodically saw her swallowed up the ocean, piece by piece, as her hull disintegrated into the surf line.  Today, nothing remains visible of the ship, except for her smoke stack that lies on the shore.

Given the unprotected location, sharp wreckage and high surf typically found on the site, few have ever ventured to dive the wreck.


The Canny Admirals

the-canny-admirals

Found this picture of John McCain Sr. (the Senator’s grandfather) and William “Bull” Halsey on Wiki while looking up something or another.

mcain

Here’s McCain Sr and Junior (the Senator’s dad) at the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay.  McCain Sr. dropped dead four days later.

 


Feejee mermaid

feejee-mermaid

To go on display!  But back in Massachusetts.  Is is worth a trip?

The original object was exhibited by P.T. Barnum in Barnum’s American Museum in New York in 1842 and then disappeared. It was assumed that it had been destroyed in one of Barnum’s many fires that destroyed his collections…

There is controversy today on whether the Fiji mermaid actually disappeared in the fire or not. Many claim to have the original exhibit, but Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, has the most proof that their exhibit is the actual original. It does not look completely the same, but it does have the same flat nose and bared teeth. The thought that the fires could have altered the appearance of the mermaid are reason for it not looking completely like it did in Barnum’s possession.

Well, if I can’t make it to Cambridge I can always make my own:

A guide to constructing a Fiji mermaid appeared in the November 2009 issue of Fortean Times magazine, in an article written by special effects expert and stop-motion animator Alan Friswell. Rather than building the figure with fish and monkey parts, Friswell used papier mache and modelling putty, sealed with wallpaper paste, and with doll’s hair glued to the scalp.


How big are places compared to other places?

img_7009

Traveling across the South Island of New Zealand by train, I was trying to work out for myself how big exactly the country is.

img_7126

It looked big

With the help of OverlapMaps, here’s a comparison of New Zealand to California:

screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-10-48-54-am

The total land area of New Zealand, says Google, is 103,483 mi²

In US state terms, that makes it just smaller than Colorado, at 104,185 mi².

screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-10-39-55-am
screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-10-40-59-am

Colorado has about 1 million more people.

Colorado: 5.356 million (2014)

New Zealand: 4.5 million

Pop wise New Zealand is about the size of Kentucky or Louisiana.

img_7030

The folks at Brilliant Maps do fantastic work in this field.  Here are some of my favorites:

Los Angeles and other cities overlaid on The Netherlands:

holland-empty-city

Not sure I totally understand what’s going on here.

Cali and Madagascar:

cali-madagascar

The size of the Pacific:

allcontinetspacific

Map by Chris Stephens, from naturalearthdata.com

US population in Europe:

Created by: reddit user Tom1099

Created by: reddit user Tom1099

US in China by population:

How the US population fits into China by reddit user jackblack2323

How the US population fits into China by reddit user jackblack2323

OR:

us-china-too

Map by reddit user gotrees

Size of different islands:

The relative size of the 24 largest islands in the world, map by reddit user evening_raga

The relative size of the 24 largest islands in the world, map by reddit user evening_raga

And The Circle:

Map created by reddit user valeriepieris

Map created by reddit user valeriepieris

Here’s one more for you, from OverlandMaps:

screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-11-05-22-am

Australia’s population is 23.13 million or so, so it’s about three million people bigger than Florida (20.2 mill) and smaller than Texas (27.46 mill).  Whole lotta room down there.  About as many people as Illinois and Pennsylvania put together, in a land area (2.97 million square miles) that’s about as big as 51 Illinoises.

img_7210

one of Australia’s more densely populated areas.


Sounds bad

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 10.37.45 AM

from Gothamist


Triggerfish selfie

via this blogpost, “25 Creepiest Creatures of Narragansett Bay,” ht Sis.


San Francisco

IMG_1415

Right before Christmas had a chance to visit San Francisco — always great!IMG_1447

In San Francisco you can really feel like you’re halfway in the ocean.  IMG_1387

Finding myself with an idle hour I went to go check out Diego Rivera’s mural Allegory of California over at the City Club in the former Pacific Stock Exchange building.  The City Club was all done up for a Christmas party.

IMG_1408

Pictures of the mural often leave out the amazing ceiling part:

IMG_1400

Rivera painted this one in 1931,   He modeled the lady on tennis champ Helen Wills Moody, who was at that time one of California’s most famous daughters:

helen wills

She was a painter herself:

Wills was an artist by avocation. She received a degree in fine arts along with a Phi Beta Kappa key from the University of California, and painted throughout her life. She was delighted to be chosen as the model for Diego Rivera’s two-story mural “The Riches of California,” commissioned for $2,500 in 1930. Wills and the first of her two husbands, the financier Frederick Moody, invited Rivera and his wife, the painter Frieda Kahlo, to a celebratory tea after the mural’s unveiling at the former San Francisco Stock Exchange.

For Wills, who confessed to suffering the intangible pangs of “a restless heart,” tennis and painting were the best antidotes for melancholy. She maintained an artist’s studio at her residences in San Francisco and later in Carmel, once sold 40 paintings for $100 each and illustrated her own articles for The Saturday Evening Post.

Here’s one of her own drawings:

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 1.26.20 PMLifting that one from San Francisco’s Lost Art Salon.   Reader Schoboats calls our attention to a good detail from Wills Moody’s NY Times obit:

Perhaps Wills’s most infamous match, and certainly the one she extolled as the focal point of her playing career, was her only meeting with Lenglen, the queen of the continent, in a much ballyhooed showdown at Cannes in 1926. Lenglen was 26 and tactically superior; Wills was 20 and physically stronger. Lenglen won the raucous encounter, 6-3, 8-6.

There was a prizefight atmosphere, with tickets scalped at a then-shocking rate of $50 each, and an international gallery of spectators that included King Gustaf, a group of stowaway French schoolboys in a eucalyptus tree at one end of the court and Wills’s future husband, Frederick Moody, who introduced himself to her after the match. Wills was fond of noting that although she lost the match, she not only gained perspective on necessary changes to her game, which tended to be without nuance and relied on battering her opponents into submission with repetitious forehand ground strokes, but also gained a husband.

IMG_1399

Maybe next time I’m up there I will get to see Making Of A Fresco:

making of a fresco


Record Group 80: Series: General Photographic File Of the Department of the Navy, 1943-1958

women mechanics

Fair to say I’m more interested than most people in old photos.

Sandwich man

There are amazing collections of old photos in various US government archives, but they’re not always easy to find or sort through online.

lawrence britton

Somehow I stumbled on this US Navy photographic archive.

pilot tells

“Pilot Tells of Dive-Bombing Wake Island in ready room of USS Yorktown (CV-10), 10/1943” is the title of that one.

pinup girls

“Pin-up girls at NAS Seattle, Spring Formal Dance. Left to right: Jeanne McIver, Harriet Berry, Muriel Alberti, Nancy Grant, Maleina Bagley, and Matti Ethridge.”, 04/10/1944″

Tarawa sign

“Sign on Tarawa illustrates Marine humor and possible lack of optimism as to duration of war., 06/1944”

Much tattood

“Much tattooed sailor aboard the USS New Jersey, 12/1944”

crewmen

“Crewmen aboard USS Yorktown (CV-10) dash to stations as general quarters sound., 05/1943”

Filipinos

“Filipinos with their ‘bancas’ loaded with wares, paddle out to anchored destroyer to trade with crew., 06/1945”

christmas

“Personnel of USS LEXINGTON celebrate Christmas with make-shift decorations and a firefighting, helmeted Santa Claus., 12/1944”

graves

“Graves of U.S. Marines who died taking Tarawa, before headstones were prepared. In background are the first tents put up after occupation of the island., ca. 11/1943”

Pelilieu

“Marines installing telephone lines under fire on Peleliu. In the background is seen part of famous Bloody Nose Ridge, scene of the fiercest fighting on Peleliu., 09/1944”

USSNJ

“Sailor asleep between 40mm guns on board the USS New Jersey (BB-62)., 12/1944”

f6f

“F6F taxies into position after landing on board the USS Lexington (CV-16)., ca. 11/26/1943”

Sandwich torpedo

“Sailor eating sandwich beneath propellers of torpedo being loaded aboard U.S. submarine at New London, Connecticut., 08/1943”

Children

“Children in Naples, Italy. Little boy helps one-legged companion across street., 08/1944”

torpedo men

“Torpedomen relaxing beneath rows of deadly torpedoes in torpedo shop., ca. 05/1945”

Lord knows what you’d find if you dig through the archives in person.  This is just what’s digitized and online.

Neptune party

Happy Memorial Day, errboddy.

a nation's sorrow


Removing fish from an abandoned Thai shopping mall

Thai mall 1

HT to Tyler Cowen for the link to this, no doubt of interest to Helytimes readers.

Thai mall two


Kon-Tiki

Who was it who recommended this to me?  Hayes?  Thanks!  It’s on Netflix Instant.

Heyerdahl’s third wife was Miss France 1954:


Nantucket Shark Mystery

From The Boston Globe:

A dead shark was found lying in front of the Sea Dog Brew Pub in Nantucket this morning and removed by the Department of Public Works.

The Department of Public Works assures is this is not a common occurrence:

“It’s not too often we find sharks on land like that,” said John Braginton-Smith, a foreman for the department.

He offers a theory:

“In summertime, someone can get one too many beers in them and think that’s amusing,” he said.

(ht Chestnut Hill office.  Photo is credited to Jimmy Agnew with caption “A fishy mystery.”)


The Crabfish

The Crabfish is a ribaldhumorousfolk song of the Englishoral tradition. It dates back to the seventeenth century, appearing in Bishop Percy’s Folio Manuscript as a song named “The Sea Crabb” based on an earlier tale.

Lyrics, dating to 1620 apparently, are found here:

“Fisherman, fisherman, standing by the sea,
Have you a crabfish that you can sell to me?”
By the wayside i-diddle-dee-di-doh.

“Yes sir, yes sir, that indeed I do.
I’ve got a crabfish that I can sell to you.”
By the wayside etc.

Well, I took him on home and I thought he’d like a swim,
So I filled up the thunderjug and I threw the bastard in.

Late that night I thought I’d have a fit
When my old lady got up to take a shit.

“Husband, husband,” she cried out to me,
“The devil’s in the thunderjug and he’s got hold of me!”

“Children, children, bring the looking glass.
Come and see the crabfish that bit your mother’s ass.”

“Children, children, did you hear the grunt?
Come and see the crabfish that bit your mother’s cunt.”

That’s the end of my song and I don’t give a fuck.
There’s a lemon up my asshole and you can have a suck.


HMS Bounty

The HMS Bounty, a 180-foot sailboat, is shown submerged in the Atlantic Ocean during Hurricane Sandy approximately 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, N.C., on Oct. 29. Of the 16-person crew, the Coast Guard rescued 14, recovered a woman and is searching for the captain of the vessel. (US Coast Guard via Reuters)

via The Big Picture. The original HMS Bounty is somewhere underwater here, at Bounty Bay, Pitcairn Island.

Luis Marden discovered the remains of Bounty in January 1957. After spotting remains of the rudder (which had been found in 1933 by Parkin Christian, and is still displayed in the Fiji Museum in Suva), he persuaded his editors and writers to let him dive off Pitcairn Island, where the rudder had been found. Despite the warnings of one islander – “Man, you gwen be dead as a hatchet!” – Marden dove for several days in the dangerous swells near the island, and found the remains of the fabled ship: a rudder pin, nails, a ships boat oarlock, fittings and a Bountyanchor that he raised…

 Later in life, Marden wore cuff linksmade of nails from Bounty.


Ship’s Cats

A good Wikipedia page, well-illustrated.

Here’s Blackie, with Winston Churchill:

Here is Convoy:

Sadly, Convoy was lost when the HMS Hermione was sunk in the Mediterranean in 1942.

Here is Peebles, known for shaking hands with strangers:

Pebbles served on the HMS Western Isles, which was used to evacuate children from Guernsey before the German occupation.

And here is Tiddles:

When he sailed around Australia in 1801-3, the explorer Matthew Flinders had a cat named Trim.  According to Flinders, Trim was eaten by slaves in Mauritus some years later.  Here is a statue of Trim in Sydney:

Mrs. Chippy deserves and will receive more extensive coverage at some future date.


The Glorious First Of June

The Glorious First of June (also known as the Third Battle of Ushant, and in France as the Bataille du 13 prairial an 2 or Combat de Prairial) of 1794 was the first and largest fleet action of the naval conflict between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the First French Republic during the French Revolutionary Wars. The British Channel Fleet under Admiral Lord Howe attempted to prevent the passage of a vital French grain convoy from the United States, which was protected by the French Atlantic Fleet, commanded by Vice-Admiral Louis Thomas Villaret de Joyeuse.

In the immediate aftermath both sides claimed victory and the outcome of the battle was seized upon by the press of both nations as a demonstration of the prowess and bravery of their respective navies.


The Pogues And The Dubliners – The Irish Rover

Was anyone ever uglier than Shane McGowan?  Not criticizing, just saying.

MacGowan claims to have been introduced to alcohol and cigarettes by his aunt on the promise he would not worship the devil. In a 2007 interview with the Daily Mirror he told a reporter: “I was actually four when I started drinking. I just remember that Ribena turned into stout and I developed an immediate love for it.” MacGowan says he tried whiskey when he was 10 and continued to drink heavily thereafter.

The wikipedia page on Shane no longer claims, as it once did, that his dental troubles were at least partially due to attempting to eat a vinyl record of “Sgt. Pepper” while on LSD.


The Atlantic encourages us to start “Remembering Project Gemini”

Will do! That there is the same Intrepid that’s docked in the Hudson River, seen here some twenty years after surviving two crashes from kamikazes.