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Strange Daze

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. — CS LewisThe Rhinoceros  Clara, a 2-yo domesticated female rhinoceros was sold (or maybe gifted) by Jan Albert Sichterman, director of the VOC,4 to captain Douwe Mout van der Meer. The good captain transported Clara on his ship the Knappenhof from Assam to Rotterdam, where it arrived on 22 Jul 1741. After a brief rest in Leyden, the captain’s home, he intended to display Clara throughout Europe. Van der Meer turned out to be a brilliant impessario. Using a specially built cart pulled by eight horses, he toured Clara throughout Europe and she was a sensation. Rhinomania soon swept through Europe. She was received by royalty and fed beer by commoners.5 Poems and songs were written about her. She was sketched, engraved and painted and her likeness appeared on everything from porcelain to snuff boxes to mantle clocks. French women ever wore their hair à la rhinocéros.The Rhino: a bizarre experimental all-terrain vehicle, 1954    A few years later, he came up with the concept of an enormous vehicle nicknamed “The Rhino”. Defining features were its massive slanted front wheels, which had six-foot diameters and weighed 1,500 pounds each. The wheels were also hollow, which allowed the Rhino to float, meanwhile, a hydrojet propelled it forward along the water body. The odd-looking vehicle weighed five tons and could travel with ease through deep sand, mud, and water. On the highway, it reached up to 45 miles per hour, but in water, it couldn’t surpass speeds of 5 miles per hour

Haas Driver Romain Grosjean’s F1 Car Goes Up In Flames, Spears Through Barrier, Splits In Half. Grosjean Walks Away Ernest Hemingway — ‘There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.’

Trial by Fire, Trial by Rain   The 1973 Indy 500. 1732h, Tuesday, May 30th, 1973. The clouds came in “low and black” and soon the downpour began. On the 133rd lap of the Indianapolis 500 starter Pat Vidan waved the red flag and ordered in the few cars that still remained on the track. Even if the storm had passed it was obvious that there wouldn’t be enough daylight left to complete the race, but by this time that didn’t matter: it had been a long, difficult month and no one wanted to be on that track for even a minute longer. Rain had delayed the race for three days and now, after only 332 miles, it was mercifully ending it.

This Old Ford Concept Wagon Really Should Have Happened  The rear bench has grown into a wraparound couch that curves and follows the other side of the car, leaving a nice large open area in the middle. The passenger’s seat has become a Captain’s Chair, and can swivel to engage the seating area in the back of the car, instead of being locked down, uselessly staring out the windshield.

The Age of Cant    Cant is the vehement public expression of concern for others, or of anger at an opinion casting doubt on some moral orthodoxy that is not, and cannot be, genuinely felt, its vehemence being a shield for insincerity and lack of confidence in the orthodox opinion. Doctor Johnson defined cant as “a whining pretension to goodness, in formal and affected terms.” Cant is contagious, and, when widespread, it creates an atmosphere in which people are afraid to call it by its name. Arguments then go by default; and if arguments go by default, ludicrous, bad, or even wicked policies result.

I think that we live in an era of cant. I do not say that it is the only such age. But it has never been, at least in my lifetime, as important as it is now to hold the right opinions and to express none of the wrong ones, if one wants to avoid vilification and to remain socially frequentable. Worse still, and even more totalitarian, is the demand for public assent to patently false or exaggerated propositions; refusal to kowtow in such circumstances becomes almost as bad a sin as uttering a forbidden view. One must join in the universal cant—or else.

Participants in the Beautiful Leg Contest at Palisades Amusement Park, New Jersey, USA in 1951 wear pillow cases over their heads so that the judges can only judge their legs.The Book of Kells  From its absolutely relentless level of illustration, decoration and illumination. Giraldus Cambrensis, the 13th century historian, described it as “…the work, not of men, but of angels,” and the author Umberto Eco, more recently and perhaps closer to the mark, described it as “the product of a cold-blooded hallucination.” The manuscript, written around 800 AD, may have been done at the monastery in Iona, Scotland, or in the Abbey of Kells, County Meath, Ireland. Or it may have been started in Iona and finished at Kells, or whatever; but by ca.1000 appears to have been in the possession of the Abbey at Kells. In 1007 The Annals of Ulster states that “the great Gospel of Columkille, the chief relic of the Western World (primh-mind iarthair domain), was wickedly stolen during the night from the western sacristy of the great stone church at Cenannas on account of its wrought shrine.”3 The manuscript was recovered “after two months and twenty nights under a sod.”The Declaration of Independence In 1820 Stone, a Washington lithographer, supposedly copied the original using a wet-transfer method, where a sheet of dampened paper was pressed upon the original until a faint ink impression was transferred to the sheet. The process gave Stone a good outline but also irreparably damaged the original. Stone took three years to etch this copy onto a copper lithographic plate, which fortunately turned out to be remarkably accurate. The plate was purchased by the Department of State and they printed 200 official copies on vellum followed by an edition of several thousand unofficial copies:

Who says there’s no good news? Reports: Israel Assassinates “Father” Of Iranian Nuclear Bomb Program Mohsen Fakhrizadeh  Based on early reports, his car was “stopped by explosive and then he was killed by shooting.”Gobekli Tepe – the World’s First Temple?   Located in modern Turkey, Gobekli Tepe is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. The discovery of this stunning 10,000 year old site in the 1990s CE sent shock waves through the archaeological world and beyond, with some researchers even claiming it was the site of the biblical Garden of Eden. The many examples of sculptures and megalithic architecture which make up what is perhaps the world’s earliest temple at Gobekli Tepe predate pottery, metallurgy, the invention of writing, the wheel and the beginning of agriculture. The fact that hunter-gatherer peoples could organize the construction of such a complex site as far back as the 10th or 11th millennium BC not only revolutionizes our understanding of hunter-gatherer culture but poses a serious challenge to the conventional view of the rise of civilization.Chang and Eng  The twins became naturalized US citizens, adopting the last name Bunker and settled down in rural North Carolina. Comfortable, but unable to retire, they became gentleman farmers. In a remarkable turn of events the the twins met the Wilksboro sisters Adelaide (Addy) and Sarah Ann (Sally) Yates. Against local opposition to the “unholy alliance” the twins married the sisters on 13 Apr 1843. Within a year both Addy and Sally had a child and eventually the twins would father no less than 21 children. Of course, if two’s company and three’s a crowd than four is something else altogether. As their families grew the sisters started quarreling and eventually the twins set up seperate housholds. They would alternate between them – three days at a time – for the rest of their lives. The War nearly wiped out the twins’ fortunes and accompanied by their daughters Katherine and Nannie, they left in 1868 for a European tour, including England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany and Russia. On the trip home Chang, who had become a heavy drinker, suffered a stroke leaving him partially paralyzed. The twins would never tour again. On the night of 17 Jan 1874 Chang suffered another – this time fatal – stroke. Eng immediately recognized his own fate and died three hours later of what was variously described as “shock” or “fright.” He was quite literally scared to death.

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  • Hale Adams November 30, 2020, 7:02 PM

    About that quote from C.S. Lewis ….. the second half of it is even more to the point, these days…..

    “They [the omnipotent moral busybodies] may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

    Hale Adams
    Pikesville, People’s Democratic Republic of Maryland
    (Governor Hogan’s mask finally slipped)

  • mmack November 30, 2020, 7:40 PM


    Thanks for the link to the story on the 1973 Indianapolis 500. In the strange way that separate people can live parallel lives my first trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a racing event was Pole Day qualifying in 1982. Like the author I went with my father, saw Kevin Cogan and Rick Mears break the track qualifying record, and was there when Gordon Smiley slammed into the turn 3 wall. Luckily we were on the main straightaway and didn’t see the carnage the crash inflicted. Sadly Gordon was the first driver fatality at IMS since 1973. To bring it full circle Gordon Johncock, the 1973 Indianapolis 500 winner would hold off Rick Mears to win his second and final Indianapolis 500 that year. Until 1992 it was the closest finish in the history of the race. And on that cold, windy May 24th of 1992 I stood in the grandstands and watched Rick and Gordon, the heroes of ten years prior, turn their last race laps at Indianapolis. Both fell out well before the end of the race that saw their record finish eclipsed.

    Both of Gordon Johncock’s winning cars sit in the IMS Hall of Fame museum. Gordon’s ill fated 1973 Eagle / Offenhauser #20 is an oddly beautiful car in its Day-Glo red paint festooned with STP decals. Oddly beautiful because of the story behind its win that day in 1973.

    1973 was a lot like 1964, another tragic year at Indianapolis. With new money and new technology (new rear engined chassis and Ford motors in 1964, big wings, turbocharged engines putting out massive horsepower, and treadless racing slicks in 1973), performance jumped ahead of safety. And people paid for it. But designers, drivers, and sanctioning bodies learned their lessons.

    Grosjean’s accident was a near carbon copy of Swede Savage’s crash. Romain’s around to Tweet because of what we’ve learned since then.

  • John Venlet December 1, 2020, 6:29 AM

    In regards to Gobekli Tepe being the first temple, archaeologists in Turkey now claim to have found an even older temple site, Karahan Tepe. “Much older,” they claim. I guess they’ll have to re-write history once again. Breakthrough Discovery: Karahan Tepe is Older Than Göbekli Tepe

  • Jahaziel Maqqebet December 1, 2020, 8:46 AM

    Link to the movie, Stormy Weather with Lena Horne, Bojangles, Cab Calloway and the Nicholas Brothers (the older one has a fabulous first name)

  • Sam L. December 1, 2020, 9:34 AM

    I saw the race on TV. The crash, the fire, and Grojean coming over the barrier to safety. Amazing! I’d had my doubts about the halo, but, DANG, it WORKED. Saved his life.

  • ghostsniper December 1, 2020, 1:46 PM

    “…Rick Mears break the track qualifying record…”
    At christmas 1984 we were at the Indy museum and Mears winning car was on display. I have a pik of myself sitting in that car with our 5yo son on my lap. It was a tight fit (I was 29 at the time) and I bet I wouldn’t fit today.

  • Fuel Filter December 2, 2020, 4:31 PM

    Sam, I went thru ALL the vids on blew toob I could find bout 24 hrs afterwards. There were a couple of awesome reports dissecting and explaining precisely how it happened from the beginning of the jam up earlier in the pack (like in the second row), stop action, the whole nine yards!

    Then the other one I found was the crash specifically. How the rescue team got to him, the first marshal’s response and how that in particular prob saved his life, etc.

    Really good vids! Both bout 12 min. You should look them up…

  • Bear Claw Chris Lapp December 4, 2020, 7:46 AM

    A very imposing word for me. Years ago the big boss had one of those name blocks on his desk. It said, “CAN’T MEANS WON’T”. That has stuck with me ever since. If you were in his office sitting it was in your face. He was correct.