Welcome to Emory Valley

There's really no telling what might turn up in the Valley. Here's a few of them below, and here's Back to the Valley.
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Tom Boswell on the Olympic Bomber

This is a brief except from Tom Boswell's column in The Washington Post, 29 July, 1996:

When the bomber is caught, let's hope he hates the Olympics. The families of Alice Hawthorne and Melih Uzunyol deserve that, small consolation though it may be. The larger Olympic family, which now includes 197 nations and several billion people, deserves it,mtoo. When a great, good and powerful idea is attacked by evil men, at least we can hope it's been attacked on its merits.
...Racial supremacists should hate the Olympics. Extreme isolationists and super-nationalists should despise the Games. And those who resent the equal treatment of women, or, for that matter, the equal treatment of homosexuals, such as retired gold medal diver Greg Louganis, should be furious too.
In fact, all those who live to hate—and who can deny that they exist among us—should despise the Olympics. The most elemental tenet of the Games is that—for two weeks—any sane person should be able to put aside the part of his nature that is defined by race, nationality, sex or religion. Of course, the extremists of all stripes who plague our age are defined by their utter inability ever to subordinate the one warped part of their nature that drives them toward, and allows them to rationalize, acts of vicious madness.
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You never know what might turn up in the Valley, I said? Take those blasted Canada geese, for example. East Tennessee is not on their flyways; I never heard the Wild Hunt until I came to Maryland. But some twenty years ago, a storm blew in a flock of migrating Canadas. And guess what? Despite all that stuff they told us in school about the unshakeable instinct to migrate, and how you had to cage a bird to keep it from flying, those geese never left.geese
After all, why should they? They've got everything they want: nice short grass to graze, with no cover for predators; not many of those, anyway; generally mild winters, and, if the climate should act up, the nuclear power plants keep the water not just unfrozen but nice and temperate all through the harshest snows. A Canada's idea of heaven is a golf course, you know. And a nice municipal park, or a marina, comes in a very close second.
So, now the whole Clinch River Valley for miles up and down is absolutely swarming with Canada geese. I don't want to upset anybody, but ... those swans on the Chesapeake really ought to be killed. I would say the same thing about those ponies on Assateague, except that it's not necessary: next time they round 'em up, sell all of them! Exotic species introduced into an ecosystem are nearly always disastrous; either they overrun the native species (like the swans are doing, like the starlings did), or they have no competition and no predators, and they just run wild, creating havoc and devastation (like the ponies, like the rabbits in Australia, like the pigs in the Appalachians). Exotics should be weeded out, root and branch.

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Amazing new evidence for my Jungian Unified Theory of Aliens!

See, they dug up these eight plaster statures in what's now Jordan, at a site called 'Ain Ghazal. The statues fall into two groups: one set of three has faces that were apparently made by molding plaster directly over an individual human skull -- portrait statues; the other five are what reporter Amy Schwartz calls "stylized and distant, their faces less realistic... What this group looks like, oddly enough, is space aliens...the benevolent sort familiar from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," or the hypnosis-induced images featured in the less X-rated of alien abduction fantasies. Elongated necks, high skulls. Big, almond shaped eyes. Serene, detached expressions."
statues
The reporter goes on to discuss the belief that this means people are "hard-wired" to produce this image, that "Spielberg, Neolithic Man alien abduction fantasists all share the mental wiring that would lead them to associate the idea of alienness with these particular tpes of physical characterics. That's a pretty direct link to people living so many ages away, as intimate and disorienting as the jolt you get from looking at the details produced by the same unknowably distant artist or artists--those cheekbones, those kneecaps, the little hollow over the upper lip--and realizing that they're the product of someone who saw pretty much what anyone would see looking at a human face today."
Well, that's all well and good, and probably accurate. But -- in my mind, anyway -- it begs the question: why those physical characteristics?
And let's not forget another group, or several groups actually, that also share those characteristics: Elves. The Fair Folk. The Little People. The Fox Fairies. You know -- the others. The dangerous, alien, unknowable Others that share our time and space but don't, really, share anything. Their descriptions meld with UFO Aliens pretty nicely, especially if you consider the way we draw things described: Pliny's fairly accurate description of a rhinoceros turned into the medieval unicorn, because the words didn't convey the image with exactness.
So, what's going on? We used to talk about changelings and children stolen by elves, and young men who fell asleep near haunted hills and were snatched away. Now we talk about space aliens. Did the people of 'Ain Ghazal tell stories and dream dreams of their own "others", others they made statues of? I think they did; moreover, I think they -- and we -- are all 'remembering', in Jungian race-memory, something very real, and very other, that once dominated our days and nights and terrorized our species beyond our escaping it.
Dinosaurs.
Think about it. 'Raptors and other ornithopods might well be described as having slanted eyes, inhuman faces, calm expressions (ever see an actual emotion, an actual expression on a reptile's face?), long necks, big heads, slender arms with long fingers ... We remember them in the darkness at the base of our brains, in the place where race-memory warns us about loud noises and falling.
Not elves. Not skygods. Not space aliens.
Dinosaurs.

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The following bit was in Netsurfer Digest some time ago, and is still popular :

BACON AND LINKS

A strange force appears to be binding movie stars together. After careful investigation, a research committee has discovered that this force is... Kevin Bacon. Huh? This site takes any actor listed in the Internet Movie Database, and tracks them via the smallest number of movie links to that footloose guy. Example: Patrick Stewart, Star Trek's Captain Picard, has a Bacon number of 2, because he was in "L.A. Story" (1991) with Steve Martin, and Steve Martin was in "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" (1987) with Kevin Bacon. It's quite odd. As far as the authors can tell, none of the Movie Database's 174,000 actors has a Bacon number greater than 4. Good luck trying to get a 5. Bacon Site

Wow! Wierd, huh?
Well, no. Not really. Although it is admittedly fun. Especially when you start putting in names like Hedy Lamarr (she has a Bacon number of 2, because she was in "The Female Animal" (1957) with Yvonne Peattie, who was in "The Big Picture" (1989) with Kevin Bacon.) But seriously, folks, this kind of thing is prime example of the basic innumeracy that pervades our culture. It's been demonstrated (by Stanley Milgram) that out of the entire population of the United States, the average number of people linking any two randomly selected individuals is 5. The highest number is 10. And here we're looking at only 174,000 people, all of whom are actors. Of course they are connected. There are probably long-time character actors in that data base whose "magic index number" is lower than Kevin Bacon's.
If this strikes you as unlikely, read Innumeracy by John Allen Paulos.

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