Falling Leaves: the Ardes blog

Monthly archives for "March 2015"

Unknown Civilisation Discovered

Ray Drainville

Archaeologists have confirmed previous reports uncovering an unknown civilsation in the Honduran rain forest in Mosquitia. There have been rumours of the existence of “the White City” or “The City of the Monkey God” (paging Indiana Jones) virtually since the Spanish arrived in Central America, but no one had been able to find it. Several people claimed to, of course, but their “discoveries” had never been confirmed.

The first indications of the site’s existence—really, I should write “sites’ existence”, since they have found clusters of cities—was done a few years ago with special airborne, military-grade radar called LIDAR. LIDAR itself is fascinating: lasers hit the ground millions of times per second, and can bounce off foliage to uncover difficult-to-see, human-built structures. National Geographic has an article about the technology looking at my native Connecticut—the accompanying imagery which illustrates the technology well. Indeed, LIDAR could revolutionise archaeology. Mapping out human structures in a rain forest is extremely difficult work—what would take years to map out on the ground can be done in minutes.

What’s also interesting is the claim that this is an unknown civilisation—presumably the finds are sufficiently different from neighbouring people like the Maya, Aztecs & Olmecs. What a treat to be able to see this stuff. I have an amateur’s interest in Central American archaeology, and these photos bring back some good memories.


Ray Drainville

The extraordinarily useful Big Ben Twitter account tweets BONG every hour & the number of BONGs it tweets will inform you of the hour. Who says Twitter is useless?

Actual favourite Twitter feeds: Very British Problems (samples: “Expressing your rage by saying ‘you’re welcome”’ as loudly as possible”, “‘I’ll bear that in mind’—Translation: I’ll ignore that completely”) & Riker Googling, which informs us of No. 1’s uncleared searching history (samples: “evasive maneuvers keyboard shortcut”, “acknowledged emoji”, & “kobayashi maru let’s play”).

Manchester Punk

Ray Drainville

Frank Owen has written a wonderful personal account chronicling the violent emergence of Manchester’s punk scene in the 1970s. A mixture of reminiscence, social history, chronicle & photo essay, it’s a gripping read about a febrile moment in musical history.

The Manchester scene exploded after a handful of now-legendary performances by the Sex Pistols, with sometimes 20 or fewer attendees. But those attending the shows went on to become members of Joy Division, the Buzzcocks, the Fall & included even bloody Morrissey from the Smiths (who was already cultivating his young fogey persona).

As a transplanted American, I have a doubtless skewed take on British punk, skewed still further by my own personal tastes. Most Americans will think of British punks as the blokes with the multi-coloured, spiked hair you’d see strolling around London back in the day. Not me: Manchester was the place, partly because my musical interests lean more towards post-punk, and Manchester was instrumental (ha ha) in its development. Intellectual & arty in a way that London punk was not, Manchester punk held greater appeal.

I still recall when I first moved here & a colleague of my wife’s was talking about Manchester. I remarked to the man (a young fogey himself) “Ah, what a legendary music scene”, to which he responded “Mmm, yes, the Hallé Orchestra”. How can you reply to that?