margin-top: 28px; The Unlikely Times: 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ancient things never change

Over the weekend, a conversation turned to the somewhat tired topic of people who believe that Stonehenge and the Pyramids (a.k.a. anything ancient and big which took a lot of effort) could not have been built by humans. We glossed over it quickly and got on to more satisfying topics. But that very night I was reading the History of the Danes, by Saxo Grammaticus, written about 1200 A.D. And here was this funny parallel:

"That the country of Denmark was once cultivated and worked by giants, is attested by the enormous stones attached to the barrows and caves of the ancients. Should any man question that this is accomplished by superhuman force, let him look up at the tops of certain mountains and say, if he knows how, what man hath carried such immense boulders up to their crests. For anyone considering this marvel will mark that it is inconceivable how a mass, hardly at all or but with difficulty movable upon a level, could have been raised to so mighty a peak of so lofty a mountain by mere human effort, or by the ordinary exertion of human strength. But as to whether, after the Deluge went forth, there existed giants who could do such deeds, or men endowed beyond others with bodily force, there is scant tradition to tell us."

It's sobering to note that these things were ancient even 800 years ago. Sadly, it's easier to believe in supernatural causes than to believe that some group of humans just worked very hard. Compared to today, yes, there were "men endowed beyond others with bodily force" back then: simply men who would work themselves (or slaves) to death for goals whose importance has since been lost. 6 to 10 ordinary people can flip a car. We've all probably seen videos of bodybuilders pulling fire engines or bulldozers, even using just their teeth. I can easily picture what 100 or 1,000 strong men can do. I just don't see a disconnect. These things have never been impossible.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Getting reamed

Here's what my friend Doug would call "one of those moments of serendipity when things just come together."

I was printing packing slips to mail out a bunch of eBay lots, when I ran out of paper. I went out to the garage to grab another ream. I looked at the stack and said, "Six reams, okay, I won't have to buy paper for a while." That's good. I have a knack of always trying to inventory things.

But when I got back to the computer and clicked on the next order, the customer's last name was Reams!

Now I know from experience that if you read books with the TV on in the background, about every two hours a word will be spoken at the same moment that you read the same word in print. Depends on the types of shows & books. But in over 10 years of genealogy research, having seen tens of thousands of names, and having shipped out over 10,000 batches of stamps around the world ... I didn't know Reams was even a real last name. Never saw it until just now, less than 10 seconds after counting my reams of paper.


Friday, February 18, 2011

words of unwisdom

With enough research we can prove that everything is something, except when something is nothing, and nothing is good enough.

My "strange utterance of the week" when responding to facebook messages. I like the ring of it. Clearly i've been corrupted by old Bob Dylan songs: "I've heard you say many times | that you're better than no one | and no one is better than you. | If you really believe that | you know you're got nothing to win | and nothing to lose." From "Ramona."