Thursday Odds and Ends: A Blow to the Younger Dryas Comet Hypothesis, Lovecraft among the Alt-Right, and More!
Do you remember back in December when I described the cheap Chinese mechanical watch I bought on eBay? At the time, I had expected that it would last six months before crapping out, but it turns out that I was being overly optimistic. The M. G. Orkina brand mechanical watch died this week. I went to wind it, and the winding stem fell off, followed by several small gears that disengaged from the movement, stopping the watch. The watch lasted just about eight weeks. It was a learning experience. Apparently it is possible to make crap that is so cheap that it fails to meet even my lowest expectations.
While I am waiting to find a better watch for everyday wear, I bought this $11 Chinese number on eBay. This time, though, it has a Japanese quartz movement, so it should last the life of the battery. It’s a heavy and quite solid watch. The downside, however, is that while it looks beautiful and I like it very much, the “stainless steel” case and bracelet are almost certainly thinly plated base metal and will probably wear out in a few months.
I really like the watch overall, so I’ve been looking around to see if there is a decent quality watch of similar appearance, but all of the name brand ones I’ve come across have had quite ugly dials until you get into the $500+ range, which is just ridiculous.
So, I’ll ask all of you: Do you know of a decent watch of similar appearance that won’t break the bank and will last for a few years or more? I’m not unwilling to pay for quality, but I’m not going to spend more on a watch than my smartphone.
The Comet That Wasn’t?
Today I have two small but interesting things to discuss. First, I learned today that new research is casting even more doubt on Graham Hancock’s contention that a lost civilization succumbed to the destructive power of a cosmic impact during the Younger Dryas.
Dr. Tyrone Daulton of Washington University in St. Louis attempted to restudy areas where the advocates of the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis alleged that nanodiamonds had been found. According to the original researchers, particularly Douglas Kennett, these diamonds were thought to have formed as the result of the impact of a massive comet and could be found in many locations around the world. Daulton reexamined these areas, and he found no diamonds at all. Daulton and his team actually located the exact same outcroppings where Kennett had reported the discovery of nanodiamonds. After careful analysis, the results were surprising: ““Despite my efforts, I was unable to locate any diamonds,” he told Western Digs. Daulton said that he things the original researchers mistook small copper spheres for nanodiamonds because of their similar refraction patterns.
Retesting samples from other sites where nanodiamonds were allegedly found returned similar results, namely that the diamonds weren’t there.
Daulton’s research article, which is available for free from the Journal of Quaternary Science, was published online in December and in print in the January edition.
“We are talking about a sample with the greatest reported concentration of nanodiamonds of all Younger Dryas Boundary sites,” Daulton said. “If that measurement cannot be reproduced, it draws into serious question the abundance measurements performed at all other Younger Dryas Boundary sites.”
While it goes without saying that no one study can be conclusive, if confirmed, this is pretty damning evidence against the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis, not to mention Graham Hancock’s use of it to fantasize about the fate of Atlantis.
It probably goes without saying that Graham Hancock has not responded to the new evidence, but he did find time between December and now to promoted Magicians of the Gods repeatedly and to tweet about how cosmic impacts are “the hidden hand in human history.”
Lovecraft Among the Alt-Right
I also learned today that when I referred to so-called “alt-right” intellectual Jason Reza Jorjani’s book Prometheus and Atlas as a funhouse mirror version of my own work on the connections between fringe history, pseudoscience, speculative fiction, and racist and colonialist ideology, I was more correct than even I would have guessed. A regular reader directed me to an item on the website of Jorjani’s publishing house, Arktos, which he runs as editor-in-chief of the company’s American operations. Would it surprise you to learn that Jorjani published H. P. Lovecraft, or rather, just his racist stuff?
Arktos media publishes a collected edition of Lovecraft’s amateur journalism from the years that he self-published The Conservative, a sort of proto-blog amateur newspaper. The newspaper had previously been published by Necronomicon Press in both unabridged (1976, 1977) and selected (1990) editions. The thirteen issues, which contain a mix of Lovecraft’s writings and those of his friends, included much of his most racist and rightwing nonsense. The introduction to the Arktos edition blandly states that “Lovecraft’s racialism followed logically from his hierarchical view of life.” The introduction also praises Lovecraft’s views as “internally consistent and well-grounded.” Read into that what you choose, but note that the author, self-described advocate of “elitism” Alex Kurtagic, praises The Conservative as the only publication to have truly earned its title. Kurtagic once wrote a book of rightwing essays titled (in German) “Africa Must Go to Hell.” As a music publisher under the name Supernal Music, he released album covers featuring—and I am not making this up—Nazis, Neo-Nazis, and Esoteric Hitlerist and ancient astronaut theorist Miguel Serrano. The musicians he published were criticized for fascist lyrics.
I bring this up because it is yet another example of how Lovecraft’s shadow hangs over the various flavors of fringe history, a story I’ve been following since I first reported on it in 2004, and one that even purveyors of fringe history now take as a given. Here, the author’s explicit racism and his reactionary politics (at least up to the last decade of his life) are considered a feature and not a bug. Nevertheless, his close connection to ancient mysteries, ancient astronaut theories, and the other detritus of Theosophy and fringe history seems to make him into a siren song that cannot be resisted.
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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