Archive for ‘sea stories’

January 23, 2012

wetropolis, or “let’s build a town on the Andaman Sea”

The CGI “photos” of Wetropolis (via Likhit) are fascinating, but I have reservations about the practicality of this seasteading project off the coast of Thailand, and not just because it looks so expensive that it’s probably by default a playground for the rich (I have to admire the chutzpah of putting actual Thai watercraft in the shot – it’s like showing Fred Flintstone’s feet poking out of the bottom of his sleek sportscar).

For instance, it might be a little sanctuary in the event of widespread flooding, but how does it then connect to the land, which probably won’t enjoy the same protection. And, didn’t some Tsunamis come through there not so long ago? How tall are those stilts? How fast can the living units go up and down on them? Is it actually a better idea than just living on a bunch of boats tethered together?

For my money, this gallery of 6 designs for floodproof homes pretty much covers the gamut of such projects, from the immediately practical and largely familiar to architect’s renderporn to the sustainability fantasies that schools and studios seem to be encouraging this year. And this project shows a very interesting proof of concept for something or other, although probably not commercial shipping.

November 28, 2011

technology and landscape

This is more interesting than anything I might have to say about it – the ironic effects of landmines on the preservation of natural landscapes, placing woods, meadows, and even remote country roads off-limits, fatally tainted terrains given back to animals and vegetation. Reminds me of the surveys of Bikini Atoll 50 years after the nuclear tests, which found wildlife in considerably better condition than that which had been exposed to tourism over the same period.

At the other end of the landthreat spectrum, Tsunami Escape Pod is a great name for a band, but the artifact sadly doesn’t look either as functional or as gojirapunk as you might hope. … it measures 4 feet in diameter, can house up to four  adults [um? For how long?] …Inside you won’t find any safety-belts or webbing and there doesn’t seem to be much padding – just a vertical bar which survivors are expected to hold onto while bouncing off buildings and debris. Right. Also, on the plus side a buoyant sphere is a good choice of shape for dealing with unpredictable threats but on the minus side, it’s completely uncontrollable, unstabilizable, and incapable of dealing with threats like sudden acceleration or crushing by other flotsam. Reminds me of Roger Dean’s retreat pod, only more paranoi.

It looks like even if you get swept out to see there’s no chance of escaping google – which is part of a robot vessel/sensor-pod scheme, to gather data about the oceans. Which in turn reminds me of how little we know about the deep sea, and how comparable such ventures are to the Mars Rover.

September 5, 2011

Life in Nelson’s Navy was a grim as you thought

…except, perhaps, if you happened to be NAM Rodger. Via The History Blog, evidence from disinterred skeletons tells us that RN recruits of the “Nelsonian” period suffered from scurvy, had peg legs and bad teeth, but were mostly not the urban poor. The last point seems highly interesting, but hard to draw conclusions from.

Link to Channel 4’s own press release.

the C4 TV program – viewable in England, but not alas France or the US.

May 6, 2010

Gevelsteen for the Nijenburg (-org)

Jacob Ketel’s house commemorated with a gevelsteen. And a website.

also: trompe l’oeil gevelsteen on a ladies’ guesthouse.

What’s a gevelsteen?

May 6, 2010

Bontekoe’s Journal as a Dutch Audiobook

right here. I hardly ever listen to Dutch, I mostly just read it. This could be mighty handy. Although maybe not best for keeping me awake on the road.

April 22, 2010

women and children first

from a review on History Cooperative (Journal of American History 96.1, June 2009):

In January 1852 the Birkenhead sailed for South Africa, carrying soldiers and some families. On February 26 the ship struck an uncharted rock just off the South African coast and joined many other sunken ships around the peninsula aptly named Danger Point. …The lifeboats on the Birkenhead were inadequate, and the soldiers were ordered to stand fast until their families had been evacuated. All the women and children (some 20 or so) survived, but 454 of the 600 military personnel either drowned or were eaten by the great white sharks that infested the sea off Danger Point. The courage and discipline of the soldiers was celebrated by Thomas Hemy’s 1892 painting The Wreck of the Birkenhead; recorded as “Birken’ead drill” in the 1896 Rudyard Kipling poem “Soldier an’ Sailor Too”; and in 1917 exalted by King George V as “the splendid tradition of the Birkenhead, ever cherished in the annals of the British Army” (“The Birkenhead Tradition,” London Times, March 29, 1917, p. 7)

from Women and Children First: Nineteenth-Century Sea Narratives and American Identity. By Robin Miskolcze. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007. xxiv, 220 pp. $45.00, ISBN 978-0-8032-3258-7.)The View from the Masthead: Maritime Imagination and Antebellum American Sea Narratives. By Hester Blum. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008. xiv, 271 pp. Cloth, $59.95, ISBN 978-0-8078-3169-4. Paper, $22.95, ISBN 978-0-8078-5855-4.)

seems to suggest that the famous cry dates from 1852. There had to be some start date, I guess.