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Posts Tagged ‘Explorers

“Speech was given to man to disguise his thoughts”*…


Bare-handed speech synthesis: “Pink Trombone.”

[image above: source]

* Talleyrand


As we hold our tongues, we might send exploratory birthday greetings to John Wesley “Wes” Powell; he was born on this date in 1834.  A geologist and ethnologist, he published the first classification of American Indian languages and was the first director of the U.S. Bureau of Ethnology (1879-1902).  In 1869, despite having lost his right arm in the Civil War, Powell outfitted a small party of men in wooden boats in Wyoming, and descended down into the then unknown Colorado River. Daring that mighty river for a thousand miles of huge, often horrifying rapids, unsuspected dangers, and endless hardship, he and his men were the first (white explorers) to challenge the Grand Canyon.



“The more advanced a society is, the greater will be its interest in ruined things, for it will see in them a redemptively sobering reminder of the fragility of its own achievements”*…


With its mathematical layout and earthworks longer than the Great Wall of China, Benin City was one of the best planned cities in the world when London was a place of “thievery and murder.” So why is nothing left?

This is the story of a lost medieval city you’ve probably never heard about. Benin City, originally known as Edo, was once the capital of a pre-colonial African empire located in what is now southern Nigeria. The Benin empire was one of the oldest and most highly developed states in west Africa, dating back to the 11th century.

The Guinness Book of Records (1974 edition) described the walls of Benin City and its surrounding kingdom as the world’s largest earthworks carried out prior to the mechanical era. According to estimates by the New Scientist’s Fred Pearce, Benin City’s walls were at one point “four times longer than the Great Wall of China, and consumed a hundred times more material than the Great Pyramid of Cheops”…

More on the fabulous city and its fate at “Benin City, the mighty medieval capital now lost without trace“– one of the Guardian’s excellent “Story of Cities” series.

* Alain de Botton, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work


As we “Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!“, we might recall that it was on this date in 1498 that Vasco da Gama, landed at Kappad (or Kappakadavu locally), a famous beach near Kozhikode (Calicut), India. The first European explorer to make the journey, his expedition gave the Europeans a sea route to reach the wealth of the Malabar Coast, and resulted in European domination of India for about 450 years.



Written by LW

May 20, 2016 at 1:01 am

Non-Sequiturs from Around the World, Part 42…

From the good folks at Blogadilla (“the Tijuana of the Internet”), a list a handy phrases to interject just as a new member is joining a conversation:

Best ‘Out of Context’ phrases to disturb people who have just joined the conversation:

• And that’s why you should never eat movie theater hot dogs.
• Because it was technically “art,” they had to drop the charges.
• So they named the medical condition after me.
• And that’s why I am no longer welcome in Turkey.
• So I’ve been out of prison for 2 years and I still like to do it.
• And so my childhood best friend will soon be my step-son.
• Because I didn’t know that the restraining order applied to the entire cemetery.
• So we were disqualified from the Iditarod because they weren’t technically dogs.
• And I still have it in a jar of formaldehyde in my closet.
• And the residents of Nukumanu Island still regard me as a god.
• Because she was my second cousin, the State of Arkansas had no case against us.
• Because ‘Baby Fighting’ is technically legal in Guatemala.
• And now the security at Disneyland has the right to shoot me on sight.
• Because we thought ‘Nursing School’ meant something totally different.

As we choose our words and wait for our openings, we might recall that it was on this date in 1500 that Christopher Columbus was arrested (by the co-Governor recently arrived from Spain) for crimes against the people of Haiti; Columbus and his two brothers were returned to Spain in chains on October 1 of that same year.

Christopher Columbus

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Written by LW

August 23, 2008 at 1:01 am

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