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.
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!
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.
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?
Helytimes began in 2012. Our idea was
- become good at writing for the Internet
- a writer should have a website
- 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:
The moral here is probably that we should start a local LA news-and-takes site written by other people.
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
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:
This has been the annual performance review and address to the Helytimes readership:
That photo taken by one of Steichen’s guys, Wayne Miller:
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.
Found this picture of John McCain Sr. (the Senator’s grandfather) and William “Bull” Halsey on Wiki while looking up something or another.
Here’s McCain Sr and Junior (the Senator’s dad) at the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay. McCain Sr. dropped dead four days later.
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.
Traveling across the South Island of New Zealand by train, I was trying to work out for myself how big exactly the country is.
With the help of OverlapMaps, here’s a comparison of New Zealand to California:
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.
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.
The folks at Brilliant Maps do fantastic work in this field. Here are some of my favorites:
US in China by population:
And The Circle:
Here’s one more for you, from OverlandMaps:
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.