First off, a bit of business: The comments on blog posts are not working correctly. Most new comments will post correctly, but some replies are not going through. I’m working with my service provider, Weebly, to resolve the issue, but they are having a hard time finding the problem. They’ve escalated it to whatever their higher level of tech support is, and they are busy working on the issue. I hope it will be resolved soon. [Update: With the problem still occurring as of 8:30 PM, I have been in touch with Tech Support yet again, and they are going to try again to resolve it.]
Last evening I received a call from GoDaddy, the company from which I bought my domain name because, frankly, it was cheapest. GoDaddy’s customer service representative wanted to talk to me about a “quarterly review” of my account, which has never happened in the five years I’ve had this domain. He also wanted to ask me if I had the opportunity to make use of my domain name by putting up any content. I asked him whether it wouldn’t have been easier to type my domain into his browser to see if there is content rather than call me to ask. He didn’t have an answer for that, and I hung up.
I also discovered today that I neglected to report the last published ratings for Ancient Aliens, from January 13, when a rerun of the show aired on the History Channel after Curse of Oak Island, unknown to me until I came across a mention of the Nielsen ratings today. That episode attracted 1.537 million viewers, only half of the 3 million who tuned in to Curse. Of them, 400,000 were in the 18-49 demographic. (Yes, 1.1 million of its viewers were 50+.) This doesn’t really tell us much about Ancient Aliens since it was a rerun, but since H2 doesn’t release ratings information, it’s the only hard number we have for the current season.
On a happier note, my new book Foundations of Atlantis received its first review yesterday, from speculative fiction writer Don D’Ammassa, who said that it was “actually more interesting than I expected it to be.” Good to know expectations are so low! He found some of the pieces to be “rather tedious” to read, but that is less my fault than that of the ancient authors; the pieces were chosen for their importance, not their entertainment value. It is, after all, primarily a reference book. Even I, with my enormous tolerance for boredom, have trouble caring about the endless mystical mumbo-jumbo of the Kore Kosmou. Nevertheless, “it is nice to have them gathered all together in one place,” D’Ammassa said.
To stick with the Atlantis theme, I should let you know that after my piece last week on the media coverage of Mark Adams’s new book Meet Me in Atlantis, the author generously had his publisher provide me with a review copy of the book. Dutton (a division of Penguin Random House—the company that distributes my Cult of Alien Gods internationally on behalf of Prometheus Books) overnighted me a copy, which I have started to read. I’ll be sharing my thoughts after I’ve finished the book.
I do have to thank Adams for his volume having reminded me of something that I had read a long time ago in Stephen Williams’s Fantastic Archaeology, that Ignatius Donnelly had sent a copy of his Atlantis: The Antediluvian World (1882) to Charles Darwin, who replied unhelpfully that he was skeptical of Donnelly’s thesis. I had wondered at the time why no one quoted the letter in full, and its excerpt in Adams’s book revived my curiosity, so I tried to find out. It turns out that Darwin’s handwriting is so awful that no one can quote the whole letter because so many words are illegible! Here’s a copy of the letter as published by the Minnesota Historical Society, along with my best guess at a transcription, as amended by the thoughtful comments in the comments section below.
March 2d, 1882
Contrast this with the response Donnelly received a few days later from the British Prime Minister, William Gladstone, himself a believer in some rather strange ideas about prehistory, particularly as it concerned the Homeric question—he believed Greek mythology to be a corruption of the Bible, for one thing.
10 Downing St., Whitehall, March 11, 1882.
It’s hard to imagine a major world leader, let alone the head of government for the most far-flung empire on earth, confessing to a belief in Atlantis today, though I’m sure it’s happened. The president of Turkey, after all, asserted his belief that medieval Muslims built a mosque in pre-Columbian Cuba.
The Prime Minister’s letter was used in Donnelly’s marketing materials and reprinted in Harper’s Weekly and Harper’s Bazaar, a celebrity endorsement for the ages. Did I mention that his book had been published by Harper Brothers, the owners of those magazines? No? Well, it was totally a coincidence, I’m sure.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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