Sunken Past

When a Drought Uncovered Ghost 
Towns & a Scary American Future 

At face value, these ruins hold a certain charm. Cities flooded for progress, they took to the depths a vanishing world of temples and playgrounds. Now they fire up the imagination about lives that laid dormant for so long.
But as they reemerge, a frightful vision of decay awakens, one that a climate gone awry may turn into routine. In Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and the U.S., what once stood impervious is now shadows on a beaten land.
Mankind has been using the age-old mechanical power of falling water for thousands of years. But the technological explosion of the Industrial Revolution made it possible to be harnessed in large scale, and the 20th century saw an acceleration of this process.
Soon, these machines were transforming even the most inhospitable areas into arable lands, and the age of massive, miles-wide crops was born. It was far from such a neat progression, but water turbines became as inexorable as the force of nature they were designed to harness.
With power, however, came great irresponsibility. Soon, they were large enough to divert the ancient course of rivers, and favor some land properties over others, richer states rather than needier ones (we’re looking at you, California).

THE GATES OF BLACK CANYON
The Hoover Dam, built to tame the Colorado River in 1935, is seen as one of the 20th century’s greatest architectural marvels, and still provides water and electricity to two million acres in three states. It also killed the town of St. Thomas, and drove some 500 souls away.
Drought conditions, which have worsen since 2002, have now rescued those ruins from the bottom of Lake Mead, and exposed a haunting landscape of half demolished buildings and silence. They’ve also (more)
_______
Read Also:
* The Third Rock
* Going Under
Continue reading

Sendoffs

Good Evening, I’m Chip
Fortuna. God’s Off Today

Legendary sportscaster and political commentator Chip Fortuna, who died 60 years ago today, belonged to the golden era of journalistic expression, one devoid of fears of embarrassing powers that be and unbound by the politically correct.
Controversial he was and in not a few well-publicized brawls, he emerged bruised and execrated by his own peers. Dopes, he’d mutter. A maverick, he could always come out with the perfect quip to ultimately vindicate his position.
A perfect fit for the expression larger than life, many a time he was described as a combo of Ernest Hemingway and James Cagney, and hard-boiled was another expression that was probably created to define his sheer manliness.
There was no half measure to Chip. He could be as viciously cruel, especially when drunk – his operating mode – and unabashed loyal, evidenced by the many potshots he took defending his friends.
Despite his large 6’3″ frame, he could be nimble at tango and a charmer with the ladies. He did well as a war correspondent, becoming fluent in six languages and learning to curse in seven others.
Not a bad banjo player either, according to contemporary Django Reinhardt. But since he detested boasting about anything, no list of celebrity friends will follow, lest not mistreat Chip any more than peacetime has already.
A wolf of another age, it’s easy to imagine his displeasure with the comforts of the modern era. Nonetheless, he would’ve been impressed by the many new ways people invented to justify not moving a muscle to change the world.
For at heart, he was an idealist who’d do no better alive today, than his outdated habit of calling woman dames, and Asians, (more)

____________________________________________
=====================================

Good evening, I’m Chip Fortuna,

* stepping in for god, who’s playing softball for charity at Rikers Island.
 * substituting for god, who got arrested last night. Cops hate the you know whom you’re speaking to routine.
* doing it for god, who’s in bed, with a migraine and some cough. Don’t worry, I gave him soup and some aspirin.
* subbing out for god, who’s locked his keys inside the car. I told him he’s not having mine.
* standing in for god, who’s running a marathon, you know, for the kids.
* replacing god, who’s refused to come out of his room today. He must apologize to Aunt Eve; she’s very hurt.
* filling in for god, who’s home nursing a shiner. He got into a fight with a homeless man at the local soup kitchen.
* stepping in for god, who’s taking the cat to the vet. Tough job because they simply hate each other’s guts.
* substituting god, who’s visiting grandma upstate. She’s doing time for armed robbery.
* doing it for god, who’s at home all day waiting for the cable guy. The damned box never worked properly.
* subbing out for god, who’s banned on the air for as long as he keeps screaming his hair is blond. His pubic hair.
* standing in for god, who simply can’t handle it today. You people…
* replacing god, who’s finally getting back his driver’s license. It was taken away years ago for DWUI.
* filling in for god, who got arrested again, last night, for exposing himself on the subway.
* stepping in for god, who’s having some memory issues. Last night, he couldn’t remember who he was.
* substituting for god, who got caught partying at a motel with some teens. I need to pick him up downtown.
* doing it for god, who’s making some dough shooting pool at Billy’s.
* subbing out for god, who was fired after some child porn was found stashed in his cabinet files.
* standing in for god, who’s skipped town and is on the lam. Watch out, he’s armed and may be dangerous.

***

Orientals; well at least he’d never call them broads and once punched a guy in Chinatown for using a slur.
Chip took along with him the now obsolete concept of doing something nice for someone just for the kicks of it. In any case, he’d get quickly deranged by so many flukes and grandstanding phonies babbling around all the time.
A carnivore who suddenly became a vegan before the word was even invented, the reason he gave for the change put to shame many a Christian preacher: for the animals, he chuckled, unconcerned that people would think it out of character. Out of safety, no one ever dared to call him a pussy, though.
But it was the way he’d wrap his on-air chronicles that remains the most distinctive feature of his complex legacy. Suffused with his quicksilver wit – sharp tongued and absolutely merciless – they stand as a journalism chapter of their own, still being taught at classrooms across the land.
Tonight, we’re all Chip Fortuna, standing in for god, who could never do a better job anyway. Glad to get acquainted, Skipper.

Blood Money

Digging for Gold &
Finding a Rat, Instead

There are two sure ways to change one’s social status, we’re told: win the lotto, or find a lot of cash. What we’re rarely told about, though, is that pesky moral itch that troubles some: where’s this coming from? That’s surely enough to put a chill on that big blast in Vegas.
What if you’d come across a cache of dough? Yay, you’re rich. But wait, you’d say. Was this stolen from natives? Jews? drug fiends? If you’d been in the mountains of Poland, or in the sea and farms of Colombia, in the past few months, you’d certainly wonder. As you should.
So, fine, what if you don’t ask those questions? No sweat, take the money and run. Who knows, you may have people you want to help, will wind up running a charity or something. Good for you. Just be sure not call anyone from that bus station, once you’re done and broke.
The Internet is full of heart-warming stories, about nice chaps finding cash and instead of running, returning it all. Which is great but doesn’t turn anyone into a certified saint. Then again, there’s always the possibility that it’s too good to be true. A con. A hoax.
There are many ways to screw up the few chances one gets in this life. Even if there’s no nobility on starving, or natural enlightenment for being poor, time on Earth goes very fast. That means that, even making a wrong detour may lead you to redemption. Or something. Just don’t call, etc.

A 2-PART, 300-YEAR BATTLE
The Spanish Armada’s 1588 defeat to the British didn’t stop their nations’ centuries-old rivalry (which set today’s dominance of their languages). In May of 1708, one of its ships, the Galleón San José, lost another battle to the Royal Navy and sank off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia.
Last week, when Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos tweeted the wreck’s discovery, staking a claim over its estimated record $17 billion treasure, he immediately set up yet another 3-way battle, this (more)
_______
Read Also:
* Freaky Links
* Small Classes
Continue reading

Iceman Cometh

Meet Oetzi, the
5,000 Year Old Man

The ancient shepherd, whose body was found in 1991 in the border of Austria and Italy, has now finally shown his face. Dutch artists Alfons and Adrie Kennis reconstructed it based on his facial bone structure and suddenly, you can actually picture him climbing the slopes of the Austrian Alps.
Europe’s oldest human mummy, he’s believed to have met a violent death at about 45 years Continue reading

Warring States

A Pot of Soup Made
Before Jesus’s Birth

It’s 2,400 years old, it’s obviously cold and the bones in it are green. On the upside, it’s still liquified, it may’ve been cooked for a member of the land-owning class and it’s paired with a glass of an odorless concoction believed to be wine.
That’s the latest discovery of a group of Chinese archaeologists excavating an empty tomb in Xi’an, China’s capital for over a Continue reading