Kage Baker had a real fondness for The Weird.
It always merited the caps. It came in cycles, or pulses, or at least in lengths that might have been considered seasons if they had not been so arbitrary and impossible to predict. But from time to time, it would become obvious that a time of The Weird was upon us, and peculiar things would be happening all around us for a while.
It is specifically not the constant low-level flow of Company antics that make the news all the time. Lost cities, animals, art, and literature being recovered are business as usual, if you are in the know (and you, Dear Readers, tend to be); The Weird is something else altogether, not a single event but a span of arrant peculiarity.
We’re in one now. Maybe it’s the approach of the vernal equinox, which looks as though it might be observed in the breach in all of North American except California. In California, aside from one 4-day storm, we have apparently been in summertime since, oh, around last Halloween. However, just over the Rockies, the next Ice Age is beginning in the Midwest; Niagara Falls has frozen solid (again) and the Great Lakes are obviously giving birth to the sort of glaciers that gouged them out in the first place.
Ragnarok reportedly began on February 22nd, according to at least one Viking festival and an ancient horn in York, England; not to mention the local weather in Europe. It takes a while to get going though, requiring at least 3 winters to reach its peak, so they’re still on schedule so far.
In other arenas of The Weird, it is asteroid flyby time: which is the best asteroid time to have, of course. A biggie flew by last month, but we don’t know where it got to – it’s been missing since shortly before it was expected to whizz by, and we seem to have lost it … in the meantime, though, another one is zipping by today (more or less as I write this) well inside the orbit of the inconstant moon but not low enough to get sucked in and put an end to our civilization. Which it could probably put a fair dent in, as it’s the size of 3 double-decker busses.
Apparently inspired by all the traffic, the Sicilian Space Program has launched a model cannolo into the edge of Space. The SSP is three guys with a camera, a helium balloon, a cannolo made of plaster of Paris (organic cannoli being of doubtful survivability at heights) and a space capsule made of a plastic cooler. You may admire their epic feat here:
The US, in the meantime, is still considering sanctions against Russia for their invasion of Ukraine. Which is definitely the moral high ground, except that Russia is the only country still getting people to and from the International Space Station – where I believe we still have a guy. How are our relations with Sicily, I wonder? Probably weird as hell.
It has been discovered that young alligators and crocodiles can climb trees. And do. The weirdest thing about this finding is that no one noticed before. I’d have thought crocodiles in the trees would have caught someone’s attention before now.
A species of shark thought extinct for decades (the smoothtooth blacktip shark) and previously known only from a specimen in the Vienna Museum, has been found! In accordance with my personal theory of what happened to the Paleolithic megafauna, the sole specimen was located dead, on a slab, in a fish market. In Kuwait. The original specimen in Vienna was found in Yemen. This seems to indicate that somehow, when not being eaten by humans, the smoothtooth blacktip shark lives in the desert. Weird.
Some archeologist has declared that Stonehenge is a giant Neolithic musical instrument: a sort of xylophone, evidently. He has demonstrated this by eliciting bell-like tones from scraps of bluestone at the Preseli quarry. So far, no one has allowed him to take a hammer to the actual stones of Stonehenge, which is nice considering it is a World Heritage Site and has already been considerably messed about with over the last 1,000 years. On the other hand, archeologists and religious fanatics have sometimes been actively encouraged by the UK government to mess about with them, so I am sure he’ll be out there whacking the dolmens before long.
Then the various UK Druidic sects can rally in a rare moment of unity and fight him off. In the meantime, Fenris will be seen stretching out across the sky over the hills of distant Wales, And Storm Giants will be wading in from the North Sea …
Watch out for the alligators in the trees, folks. It’s the season of The Weird.
Now, if only we could get those alligators to pollinate…
The alligators could at least pollinate avocados, you know?
Kathleen, I’m shocked and amazed you missed the news about the giant virus found in the permafrost in Siberia. Not only is it giant (clearly visible under a microscope) but it’s 30,000 years old. When they defrosted it, it sprung back to life and killed the amoeba the scientists gave it. Giving it the name Pithovirus sibericum doesn’t sound too imaginative to me but they revived it nd I certainly couldn’t have. I would have left sleeping virus lie. Although the scientists say that it attacks/infects amoebas it will not infect humans or other animals. HMmm.
I’m convinced that’s where the Bumble comes from.
. . . when they’re not being gobbled by pythons, that is.
Tom – or otters. There was a report just now (with photographs) of a juvenile alligator being killed and eaten by an otter. Baby gator, mature otter: we tend to forget otters are related to weasels, because most of the time they are laid-back surfer types. But they are apex predators in most places where they live.
Lynn – oh, I did see the giant virus report. It’s the second or third one found, but the others have been free-floating in the ocean; this one was in deep freeze. I just didn’t think it was weird. Not weird enough, anyway – things frozen in the ice crop up all the time!
Catahoula Leopard Dogs can climb trees. They’re the state dog of Louisiana and are totally awesome in that they have eyes like multi-colored stained glass (often one brown and one blue) and nobody knows where the hell they came from: they were just sort of THERE one day, maybe a mix of indigenous Indian dogs and something called Spanish war dogs. Maybe space aliens brought them.
They’d be useful for climbing trees and capturing those baby alligators before they fall on people’s heads.
One of my friends breeds Catahoulas. Lovely dogs. Most Coon Hounds can climb trees, too.
Ah, yes, the ancient, undoubtedly harmless, virus. And we know that, how?
Never mind. Let’s just mention, in this context, the scheme to restore the Wooly Mammoth to it’s rightful place upon the earth- but, Not In My Backyard!
I do wonder about that virus. It only eats amoebas, right? But what else has it had the chance to taste, lately? I suspect we’ll find out.
I personally love the idea of mammoths and mastodons restored. However, it would pretty much necessitate returning large tracts of land currently under cultivation to a pristine prairie state. Here in California, places like the Carrizo Plain, the Central Valley, the Channel Islands, the LA Basin … we could put them back and then let Coastal Mastadons roam as they used to: but man, think of the HOA’s setting their hair on fire!
Vamping off of John’s comments, have you looked at the website of The Long Now Foundation, that is considering how to de-extinct various animal species… ranging from the Passenger Pigeon to the Atlantic Grey Whale. I’ve got to wonder if they are a Company cover-story, or just fellow-travelers…
Probably a cover, a shell company. Somewhere way down the corporate trail is Dr. Zeus … personally, I think the idea of bringing back the passengers pigeon is kind of insane: unless we restrict their breeding somehow. When they were in their prime, they were THE most numerous vertebrate in the Western Hemisphere. Imagine the cities under clouds of pigeon dung … on the other hand, it’s a nice organic fertilizer. Maybe we could donate Detroit to the pigeons.
No one has noticed the little gators in the trees before? Sure they have, but the babies gave their famous distress call and their mom ate the noticers. We used to live at the north end of alligator range (Wilmington NC) and I personally know lots of people whom alligators have attempted to eat.
Medrith – apparently,the surprise is now many and how often juvenile crocodilians take to the trees – which I still think is peculiar, because baby alligators in the trees ought to be rather apparent. Baby komodo dragons also spend a lot of time in the trees – mostly because the ground is covered with adult komodo dragons – and biologists are so aware of this habit that they say the ecologiesof the two populations almost constitute speciation! If not for the fact that the arboreal individuals grow into the terrestrial ones … of course, unless they do take to the trees, evidently the odds that little komodo dragonets will grow up at all is pretty low.
I have been out in the woods, swamps etc. with people who did not see the deer, fox, raccoon, million birds, big snake or whatever- some of them just don’t notice. I had a very entertaining moment years ago- brought my husband a glass of iced tea where he was working in our woods and pointed out the fairly substantial black rat snake 2′ over his head. Until that moment I had not known he was afraid of snakes. He can MOVE for a big guy!
Medrith – the biggest part of finding the entertaining weirdity is just to pay attention. Become detail-conscious. As a beneficial side effect, it reduces one’s chances of being bitten by the indigenous livestock – and rat snakes, while fairly harmless and useful per se, have a vigourous bite: no fangs, but lots of teeth. And they’re constrictors, too, which are not good to have fall around your neck …