The Cruelty Of Time and Writing

“Time is the fire in which we all burn”

From: Soren (Malcolm McDowell) to Captain Picard in Star Trek: Generations.

The original on which it is based is:

“Time is the fire in which we burn” from:

I’ve bolded the first occurrence:

Delmore Schwartz – Calmly We Walk Through This April’s Day

Calmly we walk through this April’s day,
Metropolitan poetry here and there,
In the park sit pauper and rentier,
The screaming children, the motor-car
Fugitive about us, running away,
Between the worker and the millionaire
Number provides all distances,
It is Nineteen Thirty-Seven now,
Many great dears are taken away,
What will become of you and me
(This is the school in which we learn…)
Besides the photo and the memory?
(…that time is the fire in which we burn.)

(This is the school in which we learn…)
What is the self amid this blaze?
What am I now that I was then
Which I shall suffer and act again,
The theodicy I wrote in my high school days
Restored all life from infancy,
The children shouting are bright as they run
(This is the school in which they learn . . .)
Ravished entirely in their passing play!
(…that time is the fire in which they burn.)

Avid its rush, that reeling blaze!
Where is my father and Eleanor?
Not where are they now, dead seven years,
But what they were then?
No more? No more?
From Nineteen-Fourteen to the present day,
Bert Spira and Rhoda consume, consume
Not where they are now (where are they now?)
But what they were then, both beautiful;

Each minute bursts in the burning room,
The great globe reels in the solar fire,
Spinning the trivial and unique away.
(How all things flash! How all things flare!)
What am I now that I was then?
May memory restore again and again
The smallest color of the smallest day:
Time is the school in which we learn,
Time is the fire in which we burn.

Why this? Why Now?

The Internet is many things, but one only dimly perceived by most is that it is a cruel fire in which we find friends, Soul Mates even, just to discover they are long burned.

Now you can make the case that this is no different from finding Plato, or Keynes, or Einstein in a football movie comedy; but they are different. You know when you see a black and white film that the person is long gone (yet the essence…) You know when you pick up an old book, the odds are strong that they too have crisp become. (Yet the essence remains…) But a blog page is New! Fresh!! NOW!!!

They have a smiling photo.

They have a crisp mind with kindred spirit.

They talk of things current to life today.

Oh Joy, you think, a new person to know and perhaps befriend.

Yet “Time is the fire in which we burn.”, if not yet me, sometimes, them… (One has hopes for the essence…)

I was looking up things. Economic things. Things far divorced from thoughts of the frailty of life, the rarity of special people. Time and space and destiny. I was looking up information about economic downturns and collapse. (To finish that promised “China Unwind #2” posting before it becomes “The HISTORY of the China Unwind”…) I found an interesting posting:

Deutsche Bank FC Problems and Revenge of the Nerd

by Tanta on 11/14/2007 09:30:00 AM

I have been asked literally dozens of times in comments of this blog, in emails, and even in posts on other blogs, to comment on this post on I am Facing Foreclosure.Com regarding the dismissal of a foreclosure suit filed by Deutsche Bank.

“Nerd” is usually used in the context of computer programmers and hacker types… But deep down in their soul, the Economists and Accountants of the world know it applies to them as well. Never mentioned in polite company, they “know the drill”. Unloved but necessary. Doing something everyone utterly depends upon, does not understand, and wishes would just go away. Uninterested in anything to do with the workings of it at all. THE fastest way to stop an interesting “other” from exploring a bit more who you are and what might make you an interesting person is to answer the question: “So what do you do?” with any of “Computer geek”, “Accountant”, or “Economist”. Suddenly you will find that they need a ‘freshener’ for their completely full drink. So it goes.

Cops often have a similar response, so rarely mention what they really do at parties. But at least they have the “risk” and “physicality” angles working for them. And yes, as a trained Economist who was a Law Enforcement Eagle Scout, who works in Computer Geek land (especially “computer security”) I’m a “3-fer” at parties… So I usually say “I’m a consultant”… ;-)

Yet here was a “money person” calling herself a “Nerd”. I was entranced.

I read the article. It is biting and incisive. It covers the key points Very Well. Lingers over the way that “The Manager In Charge” doesn’t like it when you say “Excuse me, but what you are about to do will hurt you and I think you ought to reconsider.”

A profoundly “Career Limiting Move” (as I’ve found out more than once…) though I also found how to deliver the message in such a way that The Messenger could escape first… “consulting” helps… Much like ancient Barber-Surgeons had the “Itinerant Surgeon” who would come to town, do the risky surgery, and move on quickly before the Rabble decided to Lynch The Messenger that their favorite was about to die no matter what. The Accountant, the Computer Geek, and the Economist (who often gets to inform TPTB that their polices are crap, and their country is doomed economically) are most comfortable with a nice jet airplane near to hand and a ticket to safer ground…

One rapidly either “gives up” and becomes a sycophant “yes man” saying whatever the client wants to hear (in such a way so that you are not to blame), or you become the “Itinerant Expert Consultant” who delivers the bad news and hits the tarmac at the jetway before dinner…

You might recognize the “yes man” behaviour in present “Climate Science” which is really just “Tell me the size of the Grant and I’ll tell you how many decimal points of agreement my finding will match to your policy; and how ‘robust’ it will be labeled.” You may, if you think about it, recognize the Nerd-dissing behaviour in how skeptics are treated. Nobody hates The Truth more than those who have been paid to deliver The Really Good Yarn… and have not yet left town.

Some snippets (bold mine):

Until then, I intend to amuse you (or perhaps just myself) with a story. The first point of this little exercise is to convince you that sometimes things happen because somebody screwed up a bit of paperwork; it is not always a case of things happening because of Organized Predatory Conspiracy to Defraud mortgagors. The second point is to indulge myself in a few minutes of childish vindication of my years spent as Detail Obssessed Literal-Minded Small Picture Pain in the Ass Who Doesn’t Play Ball. To everyone who has ever jumped my personal case in the last 20 years about my habit of making a big deal over “technicalities,” I have a message to send. Via Deutsche Bank’s foreclosure department.

As a fellow “Detail Obsessed Literal-Minded Small Picture Pain In The Ass Who Doesn’t Play Ball”, I was in love with this soul.

That she got “vindication” was just honey pecan sauce on the whole sad affair.

(For those unfamiliar with my position, I have a posting somewhere in history here where I did a ‘causality dive’ and found that the CRA Community Redevelopment Act signed by Clinton was the ‘root cause’ of the whole financial debacle. Not the banks. They just found a way to third party the (required by law) excessive risks. Talk about being a “financial nerd”, just point out that the CRA was the root cause at a Democrat Dominated event and prepare to be roasted – without waiting for time to light the fire…)

Further down, we have:

Aha! You say. That Tanta: she single-handedly brought down a major banking fraud ring! She blew the whistle on a big name bank who tried to pass off millions of dollars worth of someone else’s loans as its own, for ill-gotten gains! How exciting! Will Julia Roberts play Tanta in the movie version?

Hardly. As a matter of fact I knew perfectly well, as did everyone else involved, that Bank of the Country had merged with Bank of the Region, and was legally its successor in interest to these mortgage loans. That wasn’t a secret; it had been in the newspapers. The problem was that some dweeb had failed to write the endorsement correctly (it should have been Bank of the Country, successor in interest to Bank of the Region, to Bank of the Nation. Or perhaps someone should have used one of Bank of the Region’s old stamps to endorse the note from Region to Country on the same day that it endorsed it from Country to Nation).

and the “end game”:

On the one hand, mistakes just do get made, in any business. On the other hand, the mortgage industry’s back room got incredibly sloppy during the boom. You had experienced closing and post-closing staff laid off and replaced by temps who don’t know an endorsement from a box of Wheaties, you had loans being sold by brand-new entrants into the business with no experience in these legal transactions, you had gigantic pressures to move loans through the pipeline into a security as fast as possible and paperwork be damned, you had a business too comfortable working on reps and warranties and indemnifications–on a promise to make it good if it ever blows up rather than fixing it now. You had regulators of big depositories that were sound asleep when it came to such operational “trivia.”

And this kind of thing with Deutsche Bank and the foreclosure mess is the result. And when Wall Street analysts stand up and demand that companies beef up back rooms, pay veteran employees rather than outsourcing, and slow the hell down so that things are done right the first time, I’ll eat every promissory note I’ve ever endorsed. For every little Tanta with her hands on her hips demanding competent but expensive operations, there’s some Chainsaw Al out there “streamlining” the company.

Do read the whole posting. Taking a couple of paragraphs out of the middle is NOT doing justice to the flow of it, or the sense of the person.

For me, the basis was set. I loved this person. A “fellow traveler” in life. Caught between the demands of El Patron for “my way or the highway” and the demands of morality and what is right. Cast out for telling folks that what they are asking for is a cup of hemlock, and that while I’m quite able to create it (or a dozen other more effective and less unpleasant potions) perhaps they ought to consider a more appropriate potion, like just a year or two in the county jail or even just a small reduction in their bonus this year…

Such is life. But at least I had “Tanta” as a new “Friend to be”.

But Wait, there’s more!

A bit of looking found this:

In Memoriam: Doris “Tanta” Dungey

by Bill McBride on 12/08/2008 12:43:00 AM

From December 2006, until she passed away from ovarian cancer on Nov 30, 2008, Tanta was my co-blogger. Tanta worked as a mortgage banker for 20 years, and we started chatting in early 2005 about the housing bubble and the changes in lending practices. In 2006, Tanta was diagnosed with late stage cancer, and she took an extended medical leave while undergoing treatment. While on medical leave she wrote for this blog, and her writings received widespread attention and acclaim.

With that, I found I was enamored of Juliet, but she was long gone… and the great script writer had a tragedy in mine, not a comedy and certainly not a romance. Heck, not even a docudrama or a documentary…

Thus, this posting.

One hopes the Internet keeps Tanta alive and well in cyberspace long enough for many folks to come to “know” her. (The French and Spanish have two words for “know”. One means basically “be acquainted with” the other “to understand fully”. Conocer and saber. It is at times like this that I miss the distinction…)

So here I sit, mildly despondent over the loss of someone ( 8 years ago ) that I’ve never known, who I can never know, who I very much would like to know. Such is the cruelty of time, space, and the Internet. In a larger sense:

The cruelty of time, and writing.

So many great people through so much of time. So many interesting souls, lost. A few semi-preserved in a small subset of writings. Like the burnings of the Library of Alexandria. Lost to the fires of time.

Farewell Tanta! I hope to become your friend in the coming years and perhaps even come to know you. Even if it is a one sided relationship. Perhaps we can work something out… in time.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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23 Responses to The Cruelty Of Time and Writing

  1. Larry Ledwick says:

    Nicely done!
    I have also on occasion come across postings from individuals I found an instant kinship with only to find out that they had long since quit doing what they were doing or as in this case gone on to some other dimension.

    I believe in infinite time and infinite possibilities, and as such, am confident that in some parallel reality you and Tanta are chatting as old friends on the porch some place.

    I at times ponder “I wonder what so and so is doing now?” someone I used to call a close friend that the tides of time has taken on a separate journey to some unknown destination. Is the girl I was madly in love with in school still alive? Does she ever think of me and different decisions made? etc. etc.

    I think we all do that in some way shape or form.

    Side note on that whole idea of distant bonds through time. Some 30 years ago I was working for the state of Colorado and happened to meet a Colorado State patrol trooper. I instantly liked the guy, but to the best of my knowledge I had never in my life met him before. His job brought him and I together on occasion to work on projects, but we never really became friends in the sit down and have a beer sense. He had a very unique name. Years after he took retirement and moved to the southern part of the state, I was looking through old papers my Mom had saved. In the bottom of the box were some birthday cards for me from when I was about age 4 or 5, one of them was signed “Happy birthday Larry” and that state patrol troopers name. He had lived a block away from me as a young child and we had lost contact when my parents moved to a new home. Somehow we both sensed that connection but did not know where it came from. There is some part of us that crosses boundaries like time and distance. Don’t ask me to explain how, but I know it happens.

  2. omanuel says:

    I would probably be dead, and certainly insane, if I had not discovered the 12 Step AA Program in 1996. Now I surf the stormy waves of life (good fortune and misfortune) knowing that a benevolent Higher Power is in control. For example,

    My message to the AGU President requesting permission to meet openly in public with AGU and NAS (National Academy of Sciences) members to receive and openly respond to experimental evidence the Sun is the pulsar remnant of a supernova that made our elements and birthed the solar system 5 Ga ago, . . .

    This was the basis for a new message to Climate Sceptics, with copies to the Presidents of AGU and NAS (National Academy of Sciences), asking if their actions reflected control of US policy on geo-engineering of planet Earth in the way President Eisenhower warned in his farewell address to the nation in January 1961:

  3. EM – maybe the word you were searching for was “grok”. I think most people here would know the background to that.

  4. David A says:

    “This thing all things devours:
    Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
    Gnaws iron, bites steel;
    Grinds hard stones to meal;
    Slays king, ruins town,
    And beats high mountain down.”

    Tolkien of course.

    In Sanskrit time is a part of Maya, the cosmic illusion, that which appears to divides the indivisible, creating separation in space and time, the appearance of duality. The Vedas teach that humans are guaranteed three things, birth, existence, and death, in an almost endless cycle. “To overcome the veil of duality was perceived by the ancient Rishis to be mankind’s highest goal.”

    E.M, are you in San Jose now, or still on your cross country journeys?

  5. E.M.Smith says:


    Thanks! And thanks for the story. Life does that kind of thing sometimes. Treasure it when it does. I found that I was in the same dorm as one of my cousins my first year of college. We had met all of once, about a dozen years earlier. Took a while to put it together ;-)


    It is better to stay alive and watch the show… you can always hope to outlive the bastards and then write their obituary ;-)


    Just don’t call me Valentine ;-)

    I was actually looking for the “know” of “acquainted with” (but that is too weak, saying basically that I’ve got a mild awareness where “connaise” is a polite form of “I know” meaning we are friends and I’m familiar with them) as opposed to the “I KNOW” of “deeply understand” ( or “sais” which is a bit rude when used with a person as it implies you know them so well you can control and manipulate them – closer to “grok” in a way). English just gives you “know” and then you have workarounds… so we get “I kinda know” (too vague) and “I’m acquainted with” (too distant) or “I am a close friend of” (that implies an emotional connection), and “I fully understand” (too much understanding implied) and it is just so inadequate at times…

    @David A.:

    At this particular moment, I’m in Silicon Valley. In a “few weeks” I hope to be back in Florida. It might happen sooner (if my car is out of the repair shop sooner) or later (if the car is not ready or the spouse is not ready…)

    On Sanskrit:

    Odd you would mention it. In just the last couple of days I finished up a “few decade” project to find THE most pure and ancient form of indo-european language, to find “the root” as it were for Celtic et. al. I was most interested in bypassing the strangenesses that accumulated in the Germanic line (what looks like a Semitic substrate language, likely Phoenician as they were ‘in the area’ of the entire Atlantic coast when the Celts ran into the coast…) I won’t go into all of it as “a posting” is in the works… but the punch line was that when you roll it all back, the indo-european language family originated north of Anatolia and spread out. Mostly Celtic over much of Europe. Slavic broke off and went East. Germanic ends up north (perhaps through Thrace…) and melds with a local substrate language (then tosses out 1/2 the mechanisms and becomes English as a kind of fancy pigeon).

    The oldest remaining European roots being Latin and Ancient Greek (at about 3 kyears) But very good linquists have already ploughed this ground. They found Ancient Persian and Sanskrit close relatives of each other and of Greek and Latin. Sanskrit is attested from about 4000 years ago. Roughly the same as Hittite (another Indo-European language and a candidate for oldest ancestor of the Germanic line, IMHO) who were around about 1600 BC or only 400 years after the early Sanskrit. The bottom line is that THE oldest and best attested form of The Ancients language is Sanskrit.

    The others have largely been warped and smeared over time into semi-broken things. Latin confounded several case endings. All the “romance” languages lost more. Germanic lines melded with “something else”, lost a couple of case endings (or all of them) and came out mangled. (English being the most mangled, but oddly very usable). So it goes.

    The highly inflected languages being the most conservative, saved more of the old ways. Slavic and Greek family. I looked at both and learned some of each. Yet even Greek has changed over time. Modern Greek a distant relative of ancient Greek… You might think it has 3000 years of “continuous use”, it doesn’t. It has 3000 years of constant change and the same name. While in India Sanskrit was preserved as a “sacred language”. It, too, has a couple of variations, but they are well understood and documented.

    So now I have my answer. Perhaps too late to be of use: THE oldest form of Indo-European that is well attested and relatively pure is Sanskrit. That is what I ought to learn to really get “inside the head” of the ancient ones. Sadly, it is likely too late for me to really “get it”. I have too much else to do, and not enough time for it all. Too many other languages already “in the way” of purity. Oh Well. Vedic Sanskrit is the oldest form, so that’s the target. Unfortunately, my “skill” with strange alphabets is limited, so I’ll likely never get to read any in the original text orthography. At best I’ll get a few words / lines in modern fonts / transliterations. (Unless I have a couple of more decades than expected in front of me… hey, a guy can hope! ;-)

    Interesting to note about it: It is attested from just AFTER the 4200 ya Bond Event. That Bond Event at 2200 BC did a real number on Europe and Asia and even down into the Middle East and Anatolia. It is likely the proto-indo-european speakers got scattered over the rest of the place during that event (driven south and both east and west) and then spread out back north on the return of warmth, over Europe (largely as Celts and Germanics) and Euro-Asia (as Slavs). With one branch going south and east into northern India and taking Sanskrit with them. Most Celtic is now extinct. Germanic is a mess of melded forms (with both drops and additions). Slavic is conservative, but also changed with Russian relatively new to writing and stability. Leaving the more southern (Latin & Greek) lines and the Sanskrit as least changed. So if you would like to know how people spoke and thought just after that event, ancient Latin, Greek, or Sanskrit get you closest, with Sanskrit being ‘at the horizon’ and the others a thousand years later more or less.

  6. p.g.sharrow says:

    EMSmith; while your lack of intercourse with Tanta about such concepts is unfortunate. It was really her loss as she never knew you. You at least, have some memory of her existence, The Internet “is forever” and never truly forgets. Everything you write here is available to everyone in the world, in any language, for all time. A truly awesome invention in human evolution…pg

    As to the “lier loans”, many of the people involved knew they were defective and just moved them on down the pipeline, chasing the immediate profits and ignore consequences. A prime example of Government Over Regulation that resulted in the well practiced private organization that had served for generations being overturned by politicians and their greedy friends…pg

  7. Rob Hannah says:

    I miss SeaBlogger…

  8. Ariel Shields says:

    I just got a nee Kindle Fire (being computerless for some time now) and am more than thrilled to see you blogging and appaeently doing well again, sir. As always, I deeply loved the above article and the dialogues it inspires in those who read it. Many blessings to you x

  9. I come here because of posts such as this, well done. I really liked your post on Gobekli Tepe , I made a copy of it ( . There must have been a language to support that civilisation. I see that you mentioned there that the standard theory was that civilisation began about 3000BC. Well I have found that around 7000BC in Turkey they were smelting lead (probably by accident when they they making lime) and making polished concrete floors (Israel and turkey). I theorise that this is made from from a lime mortar with limestone aggregate set by lighting fires at the entrance to rooms to carbonise the lime. The strength of some samples tested were as high as good modern concrete ( upto 60 MPa) . By the way look at my small post on the Pyramids and geopolymers ( It is sad how much technology is lost and history is distorted by non-technical people

  10. E.M.Smith says:


    Language is, most likely, at least a few hundred thousand years old (based on when the genetics supported it). I’ve generally been been of the POV that there was some kind of of pre-YoungerDryas civilization that “had issues” crossing that 11 KYA comet impact event. The present modern civilization rose from about 4 KYA, but my personal opinion is that there was a (several?) precursor Civilization(s.?) prior to it.

    I’ll happily look at your posting. IMHO, there was a fairly advanced civilization living at low (coastal) elevations prior to an asteroid / meteor impact at the Younger Dryas and that it screwed up a (potentially global) civilization that had a fairly mature science, art, technology and language. That is what was meant when it was said “Solon, oh Solon, you Greeks are such children. Lacking any science or history that is truly old and hoary with age. Many have been the destructions of mankind.”. (Rough paraphrase from memory)

    I have no doubt what so ever that in 15,000 BC there was a global society with commerce and shared understanding. What puzzles me is the lack of evidence. Where are the cities, language atestaments and “stuff in the ground”. I’m left with a ‘special pleading’ that it is 400 foot down under the oceans.

    There was a global communication and a global commerce, but when the rock from space struck the ice shelf over Canada, it ended. All we have left is some murmurs about Atlantis. And those rocks at Gobekli Tepe…

    There was some kind of great society prior to The Fall, but we can’t quite tease it out now, due in large part to the burning of the library at Alexandria (several times…) and our own stupidity on several fronts.

    I fear that things (like the rise of Islam via a huge birth rate and ‘gentle’ immigration) and (the general move to “political power first, truth maybe someday” in things like Global Warming) will essentially doom the world to a mystical magical world view. That ends in sorrow and destruction.

    In short, we lost a great deal, and I pray we can recover a bit of it before the next fall.

  11. Larry Ledwick says:

    Perhaps in the black sea region is one of those ancient civilizations.

    The genetic bottle neck hypothesis suggests a huge near extinction at about 70k years ago. Other views discard this idea and place the breeding population of Africa circa 70k BP at about 100,000 individuals.

    I think it unlikely that a population of that size did not have some means of communication at least proto language, when we now know that most mammals have some sort of audible vocabulary. (ie a dogs bark changes in recognizable ways depending on the circumstances it is trying to alert others too)

    Then we jump to about 50k BP for major groups to expand across the world, (ie Australian aborigine tribes date back at least 50 k BP from what I have seen) same for modern Europeans. Given the scant traces of known civilizations only 4000 years ago, I have no problem imagining civilizations analogous to Egypt dating back 10-12 k years BP and all traces of their works having been obliterated by more modern humans.

    Years ago a friend of mine took me on an arrow head hunting hike up near Salida Colorado along the Arkansas river. We were on the northern bank which is not easily accessed since the highway runs on the south side of the river as hit heads toward Canyon City. In that area you have long stretches of bank that has not been disturbed much since pioneer times or earlier. The guy who was taking us on the hike said, that the ancient Indians would pick up flint in the area and knap the flint pieces as they moved about. He said they were just like us, find what looks like a good camp site, and it was probably a good campsite 1000 years ago. Find a big rock that made a good place to rest and somebody probably took a break and sat on it 1000 years ago. To prove his point he walked over to a random group of large rocks and poked around a bit and next to one of them he found flint chips and failed arrow heads. Some member of the Indian band walking through that area many years ago sat on that rock one afternoon and spent some time making arrow heads. You see the same story in the middle east where cities are built on rubble from earlier cities. I suspect we just have not dug deep enough in those good locations to get down to the ancient residents camp sites.

    There is also the possibilities that some of those ancient civilizations were nomadic groups like north American plains Indians or mongols who did not build physical structures which would last long when abandoned.

  12. Larry Ledwick says:

    Interesting map of extent of ice age glaciation and the exposure of land due to lowered sea levels.
    I wish I could find a similar map of the mountain west in the US during the ice ages.

  13. Larry Ledwick says:

    Drat accidentally posted before adding the link.

  14. Larry Ledwick says:

    Related to Mediterranean and Black sea flooding events.
    One other source mentions that the Mediterranean flooding might have peaked at flow rates which approached 180 mph water flows. Wow that would have been a sight to behold and I can imagine the thundering water flow that must have been.

  15. Power Grab says:

    They say she died from ovarian cancer?

    According to Dr. Hamer, the emotional trauma associated with that is “loss conflict”. That sounds pretty general. I’m wondering if the “loss” in her case was money? her money? the money of people she worked for? Could it be the loss of a “game”, as it were? All of the above?

    Here is a very short summary of Hamer’s “German New Medicine” ideas:

    Well, IM-highly skeptical-HO, I would be inclined to speculate that it was the cancer treatment that did her in.

    At least, that’s what I believe I saw in the cases of my own parents.

    My mom was diagnosed with inflammatory carcinoma (she thought it was a breast infection), which I have read tends to kill in 3-4 months. She worked really hard to keep her spirits up and her attitude good, and she lasted about a year. She was in insurance and worked until about 2 weeks before she died. What happened two weeks before she died? I’m glad you asked. She was told that her cancer had metastasized to her brain; so they did radiation on her brain; she died within 2 weeks. She was 2 years younger than I am now. She died the year I got married.

    Fast-forward 8 years: My dad died within 2 months of his cancer surgery. They removed a cyst and tumor from his brain, both about the size of a tangerine. He never went home. (According to Dr. Hamer, a cyst is a tumor that is resolving.) Dad died about 2-1/2 weeks after my child was born. Oh, and Dad’s mother died the week before my child was born. Quite the month, that.

  16. E.M.Smith says:

    @Larry: has a not very good resolution one. Note how wide Florida is. from
    looks similar in a B&W kind of way. Most of the ice in Canada, USA gets slightly wider shores.

    Nice sea level map during the ice age. Lets you know where to move to in the next one ;-) from

    Florida and Gulf Coast gain a lot, everywhere else not so much… from looks like Colorado area becomes a desert…

    Same source, eastern USA vegetation / land:

    Outline of continent with main ice sheet and such in B&W:

    Western USA:

    Hopefully that gives you what you wanted…

    FWIW, we know there were folks living all over Europe with the same vocal abilities as us, the Neanderthals. Their genetics include the gene that lets us speak… so about 400,000 years, at least, that both lines had it. Likely longer… Folks have been gabbing a very long time.

    Most societies don’t do a lot of things that last for 100,000 years. Erosion alone erases just about everything. Add in that people prefer to live near water, and raise the sea level… So I suspect what evidence there is, is either under 300 to 400 foot of water, or buried under cities at great depth (where nobody much bothers to dig). Now add in that it’s hard to date a rock… and that mostly rocks are what survives… season with preconceptions about possible ages for pottery chunks and arrow heads, and you get “it all started in Egypt 5000 years ago”. So just how did their (rather complex) writing system suddenly spring into existence, eh? With metallurgy, masonry, boat building, agriculture, hierarchical society, jewelry, mirrors, etc etc etc… Then satellites have shown ancient cities under the sand in the Sahara, from when it was not sand.

    Someday we’ll find those bits of proof of the precursor society, before it made a mad dash to the Nile in the collapse of the Sahara into sand…

    BTW, Another “someday” posting is about the end of the Neanderthal. It was a giant volcanic eruption just at the time they leave the record… Basically wiped out life in their geographic range, only leaving some DNA where they crossed with Cro Magnon around the edges. (Now that I’ve given the ‘tease’ maybe I’ll get around to the actual write up ;-)

    Oh, and there are “anomalous” artifacts in N. America indicating “people” were here way back before the accepted horizon. From 50,000 to 200,000 depending on which “unreliable” source you choose… IMHO folks had boats fairly early on and pretty much went everywhere there was water. The earliest boats we find were already fairly advanced designs, and all it takes is a nice log canoe to go a mighty long ways. Once you ford a river on a boat, you find floating along it mighty easy. Look what Lewis & Clark did with a canoe…


    Perhaps. THE goal of chemo is to get most of your body as close to death as possible without actually dying while the cancer can’t quite make it. Some newer classes of chemo are getting away from that into more targeted toxicity, but I’d likely pass on the whole idea and just let my clock run out on it’s own if “near end of shelf life” anyway…

  17. Larry Ledwick says:

    I pretty much agree with your observations, reliable history of prior cultures is probably limited to about 4k – 5k years for various reasons. Recent efforts by ISIS to erase prior cultures has answered some of my questions about why we have no artifacts of previous cultures. It is only reasonable I guess that every few thousand years you have some sort of mass insanity that feels compelled to obliterate “the ancients” for various political/religious reasons. So that is one agent of change above and beyond simple geological forces of flood, siltation and erosion. Then you have privation due to famine and cultural collapse where for simple survival reasons the artifacts of the prior civilization are cannibalized or absconded with. You also have simple greed and warfare (see slow theft of ancient artifacts from early Indian cultures here in north America and sale of artifacts from ancient Mediterranean cultures, see Carthage and Romes efforts to wipe out all traces of their former enemies)

    Add all those forces together and except for special occasions like Pompeii, Ozzie the ice man, and cities buried by mudslides or volcanic ash, and over building of sites by later civilizations you have very few pristine ancient cities and structures to look for. I think civilization goes through multi millennia cycles where periodically it crashes so thoroughly that even the local culture forgets about prior civilizations as they struggle for century time spans trying to get back on their feet as productive societies.

    I think it is mostly just a built in expiration date issue where even large structures like the great wall of China and the pyramids tend to disappear in something ranging from 3k -6k years. Many of the climates man likes to live in (warm moist semi tropical) like central America quickly erase surface features to casual observation.

    Side scan radar and some other modern technology like lidar and multi spectral imaging is constantly revealing ancient road systems and cities what were totally unknown even in the local area, perhaps only hinted at even in very old spoken histories,myths and legends and sagas.

    Once you get past the age of metals, metal detection and similar technologies become essentially useless, and only serendipity is left to lead you to discoveries.

    Modern remote sensing has been very successful in finding things like old camel routes and roads of the ancient world as they leave persistent traces from compaction and such in the soil that defy many common forms of erosion. Sahara temperate terrain buried under wind blown sand, the sand becomes the time capsule to protect the prior terrain features.

    It would be fun to have a “gods eye” view of ancient history just to know what existed before.

  18. cdquarles says:

    Hey Larry, Isaac Asimov wrote a short novel about a world that suffered periodic calamity roughly every 2000 years. I wonder where he got that idea from ;). He wrote it a few years before he died.

  19. Power Grab says:

    Re: “…I’d likely pass on the whole idea and just let my clock run out on it’s own if “near end of shelf life” anyway…”

    I agree. I have a really hard time accepting the concept of paying megabucks for someone to kill you slowly, while they think they’re saving your life.

    I wonder how hard it is to get them to take “No” for an answer?

  20. Larry Ledwick says:

    Another little bit of info on the genetic tracks we leave over time:

    Secondary to the above, as the world becomes a more cosmopolitan place and all the subgroups interbreed over and over, we should as a species slowly drift toward a universal “mutt” subtype.

    Just like dogs if left to go feral quickly revert to a body type similar to the African dingo, a universal human type should emerge over time, as the dough of population gets folded and kneaded by interbreeding across vast distances that in the past kept subtypes apart.

    What would be the key characteristics of the “Human Mutt”?

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