It's the mid-19th century and the American whaling fleet, the wonder and envy of the maritime nations of the world, is struck by one hammer blow after another. Yankee whalers are contending with icebergs, storms, rogue whales, sharks, hostile natives, and disease. Now conditions are getting even worse, and the chances become ever slimmer a whaling master and his crew will return from a voyage safe and profitable. The scarcity of whales, the increasing dangers of going further into the Arctic, and the roving Confederate privateers are making this already difficult profession ever riskier. Many whalers give up the life — but some carry on the vocation.One such man is a tall captain from Wethersfield, Connecticut, Thomas William Williams. Not only does he go out on voyage after voyage, but he even takes on board with him his tiny wife, Eliza, and his infant son and daughter. The Lost Fleet
's thrilling narrative recounts Williams' remarkable career, including a daring escape from the Confederate cruiser Alabama and a daring rescue and salvage of lost ships off Alaska's coast. A family saga, a true narrative of adventure and death on the high seas and a detailed and well-researched look at the demise of Yankee whaling–Songini has crafted an historical masterpiece.
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My next book is out by month's end. It's violent, sad, heartbreaking, real. In short, everything that a McDonald's Happy Meal is not. Check it out here. No, it is not another book about Whitey Bulger–a not very interesting man, I must add. It covers the rise of Raymond Patriarca, the don of the New England Mafia at the Dawn of the New England Mafia. It follows the basic decimation of Raymond's empire by Joe Barboza and the FBI. Did I mention it covers the multiple gang wars going on during the 1960s? Well it does quite a bit of that, too. More later.
So it appears this latest soggy Noah epic is as contemporary as Rousseau, who rejected modern civilization and progress as evil delusions. I imagine this must at least be better than the version with George C. Scott as the species saving mariner. (By the way, the scene in Sodom is a really creepy and bizarre one–beats anything I've seen in Provincetown.)
But, I must tell all my fundamentalist friends that not only is the tale of Noah a dark and bleak one, it's not even an original yarn. There is a Semitic tradition of ¨flood" stories and Noah is just one iteration of that…It does however show a youthful YHWH regretting having made the human race, which is kinda silly if he's omniscient. Like he didn't realize his children, made in his own image, would be such a bunch of rotten stinkers? Then again, he was an adolescent God at that time, and not the only deity out there. Just the most ferocious.
And what about the fish and the whale? Why are they spared? Aren't they pretty nasty to each? Sharks are awful mean….
As I've observed before, lumber suppliers could have made a killing selling Noah wood for his ark….Of course, they would have had to spend the money earned rather hastily….
At the end of the day, one must conclude Noah is still one El of a story.
This article notes there is a celestial echo from the creation–hinted at in Genesis 1. A powerful story that gives cohesion to the human narrative.
But how much more exciting is it to actually see the authentic mechanics of God's handiwork? This gravity echo is not a poetical guess, as the early creation myths are. This has some evidence–something we always need to apply to our worldview to keep it fresh and accurate.
In short, the universe is so much bigger, scarier, more beautiful and richer than any of our stone or bronze age prophets could have imagined. For those of you who are monotheists, this is an opportunity to get excited. Really. God is a really savvy technologist.
Finally walked the Brooklyn Bridge. I remembered from David McCullough's "The Great Bridge" how much suffering went into erecting this lofty and grand connector. Lots of bends for the workers; it ruined the lead architect, who'd survived the Civil War. Now walking it…The great buildings lay in front of you like you are in an art gallery about to bid. And of course, dominating the skyline, the new sinuous World Trade Center building: slim, smooth and glassy, with eye bending curves, stabbing the open air.
You walk, making little human steps to cover the miles, very small, yet elevated. And, there, at the edge of the boardwalk covering the roof the bridge, hucksters selling trinkets and portraits. One second a good deal on a key chain–two inches further, a precipitous drop to the automotive feeding frenzy below.
All in all, a great structure–with the human element always present, as Ken Burns' fine documentary makes mention. I know fear for all public monuments. Our leaders have mortgaged what we should be giving to our grandchildren. If Trump buys it, however, he doubtless will cover the bridge in reflective glass, reshape the towers into massive capital T's, and all the working class walkers and drivers will be ejected so that only the very rich can enjoy the connection of the two boroughs.
Been off for a while, my dear readers…Will start to populate the blog with the latest adventures and thoughts…Now, you can all go back to sleep.
We can't even have a harmless international—yet very local and traditional—event without some punk wreaking havoc on innocent people. This bomb went off by the Boston Public Library in one of the most beautiful urban sites in America. This is a really bad thing–and really bad that the media are covering it 24/7, often with nothing to say, and spreading pointless speculation. Once again, this is exactly the attention a sick mind wants…
That some ran to the explosions to aid the injured is also encouraging.Yes–even in the worst of times, the best in people–sometimes only a few people–comes out. That courage and decency are also part of the human instinct farm defeats any terrorist's purpose.
I love train stations and the trains themselves. I love the gong-bell signaling their arrival. Unlike a plane, I can follow a train easily–I can see and predict infallibly where it's going on its tracks. I can even walk along the tracks to the destination…At least hypothetically.
Trains are terrestrial–they don't vanish into the sky. They take people to places without airsickness. Terrorists tend not to blow them up and they can't be hijacked to Cuba…All things fade and vanish, but when I hear the train bell in my little town at night, snow or rain, I'm reassured. From the other end of the universe, another life-form in another time dimension can look and set his watch by the train in my town at midnight, as the flakes gently fall. We all belong to a cosmos that has human trains running steadily.
Memories of the Blizzard of '78: My aunt and three cousins coming over to my family's flat in East Walpole. Father and uncles all stuck at their places of work. Play, no school; lots of fun. It was like a big game. We made tent cities in a bedroom out of blankets and sheets. All those people were my universe. We were a big family and all connected just as the snow forms a layer on all things and connects them. And two of those kids who I played with during that blizzard died early deaths, my parents and uncles and aunt are also gone. And snow doesn't comfort me like that anymore. But I do still like to play in it.