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March 3, 2013

Help us, Fluorosphere
Posted by Teresa at 09:55 PM *

Behold the film documentaire, Histoire de l’amérique - La conquête de l’ouest.1:

We cannot make sense of it. Why does American history apparently begin with a giant meteor striking the Appalachians? What’s up with Daniel Boone et les Shawnee? And for ghod’s sake, why is there an interview with Donald Trump?

Comments on Help us, Fluorosphere:
#1 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2013, 10:37 PM:

It's a competition to see who can be wrongest?

#2 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2013, 10:45 PM:

Wrongest or rightest; either's fine. I'm honestly stumped by that thing.

#3 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2013, 10:49 PM:

They say that the asteroid stuck millions of years ago, and helped create the Cumberland Gap, and Wikipedia agrees. Seems like they put a lot of stress on the importance of the Cumberland Gap in the expansion westward by Europeans. I haven't watched all the way to the Donald, and don't think I will. The earlier interviews seemed like the usual gassing on about the American Character of Exploration. (In my family it involved draft dodging, which I consider a perfectly good reason to emigrate!)

#4 ::: Charlie Dodgson ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2013, 11:27 PM:

Continuing from Janet: they mention the Cumberland Gap as the portal to the West through which Boone led an expedition before the Revolutionary War to settle Kentucky, against both the Shawnee (who had already killed his son James), and the British, who had forbidden Western expansion. Trump's mouthinag platitudes about the Boone party's courage and determination; you'll have to ask the filmmakers why they needed to hear those platitudes from Donald Trump, but Brian Williams (who says about the same) is just as much of a mystery to me.

This segment continues with the Lewis and Clark expedition (giving full credit to Sacagawea for saving their hides), and fur-trapping.

Meh.

#5 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2013, 11:32 PM:

The meteor is a chunk of the planet Krypton. I don’t have to tell you of the importance of kryptonite to the Lois and Clark expedition, mentioned later in the video. In addition, this particular chunk seems to have carved out the Cumberland Gap, an important geological feature named after the clothing store where Prince William worked in college.

Daniel Boone was hired in 1775 by the Transylvania Company to fight vampires in the New World. In the footage, you can see his men cutting the wooden stakes necessary for this undertaking.

The Shawnee are identifiable from their face-paint as early sports fanatics. My knowledge of sports is pretty thin, so I don’t know exactly what’s going on in that scene, but I think there’s an appearance by Kentucky Wildcats coach Paul Bryant at the very end of the video.

Trump is identified as an “homme d’affaires”, or man of adultery, an important social role in French culture.

#6 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2013, 11:37 PM:

Janetl has the part about the meteor and the Cumberland Gap right.

The video goes on to say that after the American Revolution, the king of England forbade American expansion and exploration to the West. Daniel Boone realized while swimming in the James River and talking to the Shawnee that they could defy the king if they went through the Cumberland Gap.

So Boone and a bunch of his boon companions set off through the Cumberland Gap, but they thought the map said "Cucumberland" and didn't bring any lunch, reckoning that they could make sandwiches along the way. But they were wrong, so all they had was larvae for grub.

It was hard going through the Cumberland Gap, because there was a lot of undergrowth where Boone and his group were walking, unlike the high ground where the Shawnee were, which had lots of space between the trees. The Shawnee didn't like all the vandalism they were seeing by the Americans, so one night they attacked the American encampment. Boone and his men ran away, except for two of them, each of whom was massacred and then... I don't think we have a word for this in English, but they say in French that those two men were "scalpé."

So that was all a waste of time, especially since if they just waited a few years they could have gone in through New Orléans after Napoleon Bonaparte sold it to the Americans. Lewis and Clark explored through the new territory they got, and were the first American Citizens to reach the Pacific Ocean over land.

These guys also didn't pack food, and were reduced to eating vegetables and even their horses before Sacagaweah found them and led them to food. Nobody had any idea how big the Rockies were.

But then! They discovered beaver in the Rockies. Beaver was very popular in Europe, even though they did not have any. Several hundred intrepid hunters went to the Rockies to set traps for beaver, but most of them died due to bears attacking them while they were sending texts instead of looking where they were going.

Also, Indians were adaptable and started hunted buffalo while Americans were hunting beaver.

Donald Trump is in there just so he can be a representative of the average American, just like Colin Powell, Buzz Aldrin, and Tom Brokaw. Tom Brokaw says that the Owner's Manual for America says, "Keep heading West." Colin Powell said that Americans like to move on leaving a trail of problems in their wake. Buzz Aldrin says that Americans have always admired explorers, and that is why he punched that guy that time.

I hope this helps.

#7 ::: Charlie Dodgson ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2013, 11:37 PM:

The more conventional translation for "homme d'affaires" is businessman. However, Avram's translation is just as accurate for Trump in particular...

#8 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2013, 11:44 PM:

I am getting wiser by the minute.

#9 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2013, 11:44 PM:

I am deeply concerned that our country will suffer a Meteor Gap by not having enough meteors hitting our mountains to create passes vital to commerce.

Russia is clearly ahead of us in getting hit with meteors.

#10 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2013, 11:48 PM:

Trump's comments are on "perseverance" as an American trait. I suspect that Trump didn't know that he was commenting on Boone's Wilderness Road.

The Louisiana Purchase is identified as the most important in history. The contributions of the French Voyageurs to American westward expansion are also stressed.

As others have said the meteor is credited with opening the Cumberland Gap.

Y'all do know that you can turn on captions in YouTube videos, yes? My ability to read written French far exceeds my ability to understand spoken French.

#11 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2013, 11:49 PM:

This is, apparently, part one of an on-going series.

#12 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2013, 11:52 PM:

After poking around on Google a bit, I think that the video linked to in this posting is a sort of highlights reel from a longer series of programs. According to the French television listings, this program was made in Britain.

I found one listing which appears to say that the program it describes is about the interaction between Europeans and aboriginal peoples. It says that the Indians were the first victims of the American dream. It also says that it will put its audience into the skins of the people of the past, which seems as if it would be unbearably itchy.

Another says that the millions of beavers living in the Rockies attracted hundreds of trappers and thousands of people prospecting for gold. Also, steamboats.

Hmm, my French language skills might be getting just the least bit rusty.

#13 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 12:20 AM:

I'm surprised at how much of the French I can actually understand, since I haven't studied it since grade school. Memory's a funny thing! I did get that the meteor made a gap that people could get through, and the later graphics made it clear which one it was (I'd thought it was going to make the Great Lakes basin, silly me).

#14 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 12:23 AM:

the importance of kryptonite to the Lois and Clark expedition,

Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex?

#15 ::: Michael Walsh ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 12:53 AM:

Fairly sure the History Channel ran it as "America the Story of Us" Here's the trailer: http://youtu.be/Wk1nrgm55gQ .

#16 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 01:10 AM:

Cripes, if Dan'l Boone and Lewis and Clark can be guyed like this, I'd love to see these guys' take on Australian exploration:

The Bathurst Gap was a way through to the western plains, check. Burke and Wills were the same as Lewis and Clark, except for dying of acute incompetence, no check for that. Captain Sturt dragged a boat a thousand miles through scrub and desert, looking for a sea that wasn't there, uh, ditto. Ernest Giles described as "meadow" a gibber plain that the Aborigines avoided, for the excellent reason that it couldn't support life.

You had the Dust Bowl. Here, Goyder drew a line on a map - the 10" isohyet - and everyone ignored it, homesteaded the land beyond it, and then dried, fried and blew away.

Some loon found water one time in Lake Eyre, and pelicans nesting, and told everyone that the lake must be permanent, on account of Cooper's Creek. Only it turns out that Cooper's Creek reaches Lake Eyre and puts, you know, actual water in it about one year in eight, and it seems that pelicans can fly. Who knew?

You have Hole-in-the-Wall, we have Rum Jungle, (which is up there with Strangeways Prison and Bangkok for the most appropriately named places on Earth). Not to mention Mount Disappointment, Lake Despair, Cape Tribulation, Ugly Gorge and the Bungle Bungles.

There has to be material there for a documentary.

#17 ::: Lylassandra ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 02:31 AM:

I suspected it was America, the Story of Us from the inclusion of Trump, though I didn't bother to watch this particular clip. My mother the history prof picked this series up to see if there were any bits she might want to show her students. She spent the entire thing fuming that the likes of Sheryl Crow were being asked to comment on history like they knew anything about it.

It did have some decent graphics though, and an interesting emphasis on the things that allowed America to happen-- the Gap in question, and also things like the telegraph, barbed wire, trains, and computers. Honestly it succeeded more in the technology department than in the people department.

#18 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 02:35 AM:

And more recently, built Australia's largest dam in empty highland wilderness not that far from Melbourne. Without considering *why* there was empty highland wilderness not that far from Melbourne.

The main reason is that it doesn't rain there.

As wikipedia says "Heavy rainfall in 2010 and 2011 has increased Melbourne's water storages to levels not seen for ten years. The Thomson Dam ... by the end of 2011 had reached 54.4% full."

#19 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 05:00 AM:

Of course, one of the more salient features of Australian exploration was that by the time People (as in white, male, colonial, properly credentialed people) got around to exploring the place, all the good names had been taken. Which is why Australian place names tend toward the bleedin' obvious (The Great Sandy Desert; the Nullabor Plain; the Snowy Mountains; the Southern Ocean; Western Australia etc) or the Surly Native variety (eg all the placenames ending in "up" here in Western Australia[1]; Wagga Wagga; Wooloomooloo; Kalgoorlie; Canberra etc).

[1] The standard explanation is that the syllable "up" indicates a place where water could be found. My suspicion is that the Nyoongar peoples are having a bit of a laugh, and it actually means something along the lines of "daft wadjella[2] who doesn't know what he's looking at".
[2] wadjella - white fella, as pronounced through a language which has more gutturals than fricatives.

#20 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 05:21 AM:

Megpie71 @19:
My suspicion is that the Nyoongar peoples are having a bit of a laugh, and it actually means something along the lines of "daft wadjella who doesn't know what he's looking at".

Reminds me of that quote from The Light Fantastic:

When the first explorers from the warm lands around the Circle Sea travelled into the chilly hinterland they filled in the blank spaces on their maps by grabbing the nearest native, pointing at some distant landmark, speaking very clearly in a loud voice, and writing down whatever the bemused man told them. Thus were immortalised in generations of atlases such geographical oddities as Just A Mountain, I Don’t Know, What? and, of course, Your Finger You Fool.

Even early Pratchett nailed it uncannily often.

#21 ::: Cal Dunn ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 06:16 AM:

Dave Luckett: not to mention Mount Buggery and The Pimple!

But I still reckon the best ever Australian place name is the Harold Holt Memorial Swimming Centre.

(for non-Australians: Harold Holt was our Prime Minister until he went swimming in 1967 and never came back)

#22 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 07:09 AM:

Quebec might be willing to buy Louisiana back at the original rate and set everything straight.

#23 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 08:36 AM:

Hearing Michael Douglas dubbed with a French-from-France accent reminds me of my trip to Quebec City before 2009's worldcon, and I kept catching ads from one station's showing of "HellBoy", with the blue-collar devil sounding like someone from l'Académie Française.

#24 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 09:36 AM:

Place and landmark names . . . here in New England we've got Mount Monadnock, which gets its name from an Abenaki word meaning "mountain that stands alone."

Which is why we've got at least four other peaks in the region named some variation on "Monadnock," including the one across the river from our house. And geologists in the US will use "monadnock" in the lower case for the kind of isolated mountain that in Europe is called an inselberg.

#25 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 10:57 AM:

Bob Webber @12:

After poking around on Google a bit, I think that the video linked to in this posting is a sort of highlights reel from a longer series of programs.
That would explain a lot. I was wondering how vertically stretched footage of the Grand Canyon came into the story of the voyageurs.
I found one listing which appears to say that the program it describes is about the interaction between Europeans and aboriginal peoples. It says that the Indians were the first victims of the American dream.
Not unless "American dream" is a new term for swine and/or Eurasian and African diseases. The big die-off amongst the indigenous populations happened before there were any significant English-speaking settlements, much less anything that could be construed as the American dream.
It also says that it will put its audience into the skins of the people of the past, which seems as if it would be unbearably itchy.
Yes. I'd just as soon limit myself to seeing events through their eyes.
Another says that the millions of beavers living in the Rockies attracted hundreds of trappers and thousands of people prospecting for gold. Also, steamboats.
I caught the "gold and silver" part, and wondered how it connected to the beaver trappers.

A segment on steamboats in the Rockies (aside from Steamboat Springs) would give us an exciting glimpse of a hitherto unknown chapter of Western exploration. I expect it's connected somehow to the river pirates of Saskatchewan.

Tom Whitmore @13:

I did get that the meteor made a gap that people could get through, and the later graphics made it clear which one it was (I'd thought it was going to make the Great Lakes basin, silly me).
Here we recite the usual points: the Cumberland Gap wasn't lost, Daniel Boone didn't "discover" it, his group of settlers weren't the first into the area, it's not the only way across the Appalachians, and if it didn't exist the settlers would have come down the Ohio and up the Mississippi. The true part is that it was an important early route, and Daniel Boone got the best PR.

Dave Luckett @16:

Cripes, if Dan'l Boone and Lewis and Clark can be guyed like this, I'd love to see these guys' take on Australian exploration:
I would absolutely watch a documentary series about the exploration and settlement of Australia.
The Bathurst Gap was a way through to the western plains, check. Burke and Wills were the same as Lewis and Clark, except for dying of acute incompetence, no check for that.
I just read the Wikipedia entry. That was an interesting episode. Never join an expedition that's using novel pack animals for the first time on that continent. For that matter:
The expedition took a large amount of equipment [which] all together weighed as much as 20 tonnes. As committee member Captain Francis Cadell had opposed his appointment as leader of the expedition, Burke refused his offer to transport the supplies to Adelaide by ship and then up the Murray and Darling Rivers to be collected on the way; everything was instead loaded onto six wagons. One wagon broke down before it had even left Royal Park and by midnight of the first day the expedition had only reached Essendon on the edge of Melbourne. At Essendon two more wagons broke down. Heavy rains and bad roads made travelling through Victoria difficult and time-consuming. (...)

The expedition reached Swan Hill on 6 September 1860 and arrived in Balranald on 15 September 1860. There, to lighten the load, they left behind their sugar, lime juice and some of their guns and ammunition. (...) At Bilbarka on the Darling, Burke and his second-in-command, Landells, argued after Burke decided to dump the 60 gallons (≈270 litres) of rum that Landells had brought to feed to the camels in the belief that it prevented scurvy. At Kinchega on the Darling, Landells resigned from the expedition, followed by the expedition's surgeon, Dr Hermann Beckler. Third-in-command Wills was promoted to second-in-command. They reached Menindee on 12 October having taken two months to travel 750 km (470 mi) from Melbourne -- the regular mail coach did the journey in little more than a week. Two of the expedition's five officers had resigned, thirteen members of the expedition had been fired, and eight new men had been hired.

By this point, you know it can't end well.
Captain Sturt dragged a boat a thousand miles through scrub and desert, looking for a sea that wasn't there, uh, ditto.
What I can't believe is that they rowed back, upstream all the way, in the heat of an inland Australian summer. Could they not have followed the coast back to Melbourne?
Ernest Giles described as "meadow" a gibber plain that the Aborigines avoided, for the excellent reason that it couldn't support life.
Not a lot of excuse for that. I've seen the North American equivalent look deceptively green a week or two after an unusually heavy rain; but even if that was the case, at 19th C. exploration speeds its transitory nature would have been obvious. Not listening to the Aborigines is just dumb.

Have you ever read about Coronado's expedition to find the Seven Cities of Cíbola? They got all the way to Kansas. I like to imagine that I'd have noticed earlier than he did that there was no evidence of population or commerce on the scale required, and that none of the settlements along the way had any gold.

You had the Dust Bowl. Here, Goyder drew a line on a map - the 10" isohyet - and everyone ignored it, homesteaded the land beyond it, and then dried, fried and blew away.

Some loon found water one time in Lake Eyre, and pelicans nesting, and told everyone that the lake must be permanent, on account of Cooper's Creek. Only it turns out that Cooper's Creek reaches Lake Eyre and puts, you know, actual water in it about one year in eight, and it seems that pelicans can fly. Who knew?

California's Salton Sea is like that. It's been an on-again off-again thing for hundreds of thousands of years.

So much struggle and grief go into making it possible for the locals to nonchalantly say "Yeah, it does that sometimes. Weird, huh? We did a field trip there when I was in school."

#26 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 11:09 AM:

Teresa @8 I am getting wiser by the minute.

Following abi's precept of making us smarter, wiser, or more joyful, this thread is making me perhaps a trifle smarter, but much more joyful.

#27 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 11:10 AM:

Jo @22: If you can arrange it, what we'd really like is to get Spain to take back Florida.

#28 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 11:18 AM:

Hey, if we're returning to original settlers, can the Dutch get New Amsterdam back? They have water engineers, and they haven't crashed a financial system since the Unfortunate Incident with the Tulip Bulbs...

Maybe timeshare? Partial custody?

#29 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 11:25 AM:

abi @ 28... can the Dutch get New Amsterdam back?

I liked "New Amsterdam" myself, but that TV series didn't last long.

#30 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 11:40 AM:

Teresa @8 - You had help from a bunch of wise guys.

#31 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 11:46 AM:

28
Only if we give New Sweden back, too.

#32 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 12:46 PM:

#25 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden
...Never join an expedition that's using novel pack animals for the first time on that continent

...referring to Scott taking ponies for his trek to the South Pole?

#33 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 01:43 PM:

Carol Kimball @32, TNH @25:

Worked out OK for Hannibal. His problems started later.

#34 ::: Fragano Ledgister hath once more been Gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 01:50 PM:

abi #33: Yes. It was the Lecter series that did him in.

#35 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 01:54 PM:

I thought the giant penguin had been Scott's big problem. That and the lion.

#36 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 02:44 PM:

There should be a standard unit of measurement that represents the number of puns per word in a piece of writing--roughly a measure of pundensity or pundensation.

This is brought to mind by Avram's #5 above, which scores very high in whatever the units are. For such a short piece, it is saturate with pundensate.

Possible unit names: the quibble (milliquibble, kiloquibble); the Finnegan (shortened to Finn in milliFinn, kiloFinn). Or for that matter the Avram (with syncope to millivram, kilovram, etc.)

In any case--hat's off. How have I never thought of the Lois and Clark expedition?

#37 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 03:04 PM:

The Lois and Clark Expedition makes me think of comics filmed as Ken Burns documentaries.

#38 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 06:43 PM:

Carol Kimball @32: Scott taking ponies to the South Pole was one case I had in mind. Obviously, there's Burke and Wills using camels in Australia, which was why the subject came up.

In the 1850s a number of U.S. officials, most notably Jefferson Davis, hatched a scheme to import camels for use in the American Southwest. The animals had a mixed reception. While they were undeniably suited to the climate, they spooked livestock that had no prior acquaintance with camels. The real problem, though, was that (1.) Jefferson Davis stopped being the Secretary of War and went off to become the President of the CSA, depriving camels of their biggest advocate; and (2.) once the Civil War started, the U.S. military establishment didn't have time for the camel experiment. They met various fates. Some quantity of them escaped into the desert and went native. Their descendants were still turning up in the first decades of the 20th Century.

Still odder: when the First Crusade was traveling through Asia Minor, they lost so many horses that some knights were reduced to riding oxen, and sheep, goats, pigs, and dogs were used as beasts of burden. No one was happy about this, least of all the animals.

I'm sure instances could be multiplied.

As I see it, novel pack animals are an indication that the people running the show are distracted. It may be because the situation is falling apart so badly that those with loads to carry are having to use any animals they can get. Alternately, it might happen because someone decided to add gratuitous new complications to an expedition, military operation, theatrical production, etc., during the planning stages. Whatever the cause, it's a sign that management's attention was not where it should have been.

Okay, one more instance: a big-budget movie, Troy, released in 2004. It bombed. While the llamas were not the direct cause of this, I don't think it's a stretch to suggest that the same lack of a coherent governing intelligence that caused other shortcomings in the finished product was responsible for the presence of a pair of llamas in Troy's public market during the scene where the Greek ships first arrive.

#39 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 06:48 PM:

38
Teresa, I remember reading that the deserts of the Southwest aren't what camels' feet evolved with, so the camels had sore feet as well.

#40 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 07:10 PM:

At least the camels were hardy enough to survive the experience and then some, as there are still feral camels in Australia. The ponies didn't really do quite so well in Antartica.

#41 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 10:12 PM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden: The Lois and Clark Expedition makes me think of comics filmed as Ken Burns documentaries.

I suspect Plastic Man would need a different director entirely--maybe Pete Smith, or the Beetlejuice era Tim Burton? And the horrid Wachowski script should not be used. (I don't think I've ever read a script that's worse. If you consider the Goldman script for Captain Marvel/Shazam! the gold standard for golden-age superhero film scripts, the Wachowski script for Plas is the flaming paper bag of dog poo standard.)

#42 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2013, 10:21 PM:

We export camels to Saudi Arabia. Fact.

#43 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2013, 12:00 AM:

When taking the historic train up White Pass in Alaska, which parallels the gold rush trail from Skagway to the Yukon River, the guide told us that the minors, who were required by the Mounties to have a ton of supplies apiece, used everything they could think of to help them get those supplies up that pass. Including pack sheep.

I can tell you I wouldn't want to walk up that pass once, unladen, much less ten or more times, carrying everything I could. And there were, we were told, so many men on that pass trail simultaneously that if you stepped out of line, you might have to wait hours before being able to get back in line. (Did I mention that the trail is often so narrow that it's single file? Straight up on one side, and straight down on the other?) If a pack animal died, whether horse, mule, dog, or sheep, they'd just unload it and kick it over the side. What they did about any such unfortunate men who died, the guide didn't say.

The image of pack sheep has stayed with me.

#44 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2013, 12:10 AM:

Cally Soukup @43: "...the guide told us that the minors, who were required by the Mounties to have a ton of supplies apiece..." -- what about those who were of majority age? ;-)

#45 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2013, 06:15 AM:

So, a chord walks into a bar in Hong Kong. "I'm not serving you," the barman says. "You're A minor."
"You'll serve me right now!" the chord yells. "Don't you know I'm a Triad?"

#46 ::: Carol channels Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2013, 01:26 PM:

Alan Rickman in Galaxy Quest:
"not minors, miners!"

#47 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2013, 04:39 PM:

Tom @ 44

Oops. Umm, I'd say the ones of majority age needed a better plan to make money, given how few of the Stampeders even broke even.

#48 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2013, 08:14 AM:

Teresa @ #25: Daniel Boone got the best PR.

History is written by those best at writing it.

The city of Kalgoorlie-Boulder is founded on the site of a gold rush that began when a trio of prospectors found gold in the area. There are various versions of who actually found the gold, but official credit, name of main street, statue outside the town hall, etc., go to Patrick Hannan.

The reason Hannan gets the official credit is that he was the one who filed the paperwork for the gold claim, and that proves nothing except that he was the only one of the three who had his letters good enough for that task.

(Tom Flanagan got a pub named after him -- it's not a bad pub, actually -- and eventually a street, in the suburb of Hannans. If Dan O'Shea ever had anything named after him, it's not coming to mind at the moment.)

#49 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2013, 01:41 PM:

Worked out OK for Hannibal. His problems started later.

Actually, Hannibal lost a staggering number of troops crossing the Alps (Wikipedia says 68,000), and had to recruit most of a new army in Northern italy.

#50 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2013, 12:31 PM:

Re place names: When Donald Orth began his Dictionary of Alaska Place Names, he expected the biggest, most dramatic features to have the biggest, most dramatic names. Actually the biggest rivers, mountains, etc., tend to have names translating to "big river, big mountain, etc.," and it's the little creeks and so on that have names with stories in them. That's because if you are getting from place to place by dogsled, you don't really need to know where Denali ("the big one") is, but it's vital to know exactly which creek you're on. The same applies to travel along the shore. The big features get called Kodiak ("The Island") and the little coves and islets all have particular names.

The story is told that when the first European expedition to Alaska met an Aleut paddling his kayak, they pointed back the way the man had come and used mime to ask what was there. The man shouted up "That's the mainland!" which sounded, to Russian ears, like "Alyeska."

#51 ::: Calton ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2013, 07:40 PM:

#21: "I still reckon the best ever Australian place name is the Harold Holt Memorial Swimming Centre".

Compare to the Alferd Packer Memorial Grill at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Slogan: "Have a friend for lunch!"

(Alferd Packer's story, for them that don't know.)

#52 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2013, 08:04 PM:

Calton @ #51: what, their slogan's not "To Serve Man"?

(I thought you were kidding, but I Googled. Good grief!)

#53 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2013, 09:39 PM:

Lila, #52: Yeah. If I'm ever in the Denver area with enough free time to take a side trip, having lunch or dinner at the Packer is on my life list.

#54 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2013, 10:15 PM:

The Wikipedia article on the Harold Holt Memorial Swimming Centre soberly notes that it was named for Holt, who died during the construction and had been MP for the area, but says nothing about his having drowned.

I made a couple of minor grammar fixes, but refrained from adding to the content, because I'm not sure I could get the tone right. Because I'm not sure what tone would be right.

#55 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2013, 12:57 PM:

Alferd G. Packer Memorial Grill

According to tradition, the presiding judge, M.B. Gerry, allegedly told him:

When yah came to Hinsdale County, there was siven Dimmycrats. But you, yah et five of 'em, goddam yah.


#56 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2013, 05:19 PM:

Lyrics to The Ballad of Alferd Packer by Phil Ochs.

I think there's a poem somewhere too, but I'm not having any luck finding it.

#57 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2013, 08:45 PM:

And then there's Cannibal! the Musical.

--Dave, shpadoinkle!

PS: o hey, the preview mechanism adds a closing a-tag at the very end of the post if there wasn't one. Same for italics and bold, to combat the perilous possibility of those spilling down the comments page?

#58 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2013, 09:01 PM:

David DeLaney @57: Unfortunately, if you don't start your URL with "http://", it gets treated as relative to the current page. I think you meant to link to this?

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