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(November 15, 2002)

Eruptions and erections

So, where did Hawaii come from then?

Yes you do ….

Imagine a sphere of boiling, seething custard (at zero gravity, obviously), with a thin skin on the outside. The skin is actually made up of several distinct pieces, all sliding around the top of the custard.

Every now again, the custard erupts through the skin, and a new lump is formed on the surface. Everything settles down for a while, and the skin slides on until the next eruption.

Over the course of time, you get a series of lumps all in a line, and that’s how we got Hawaii. Of course, the sea erodes the old lumps, and there is now a chain of old Hawaiis stretching across the sea to Siberia, getting stubbier and stubbier along the way.

What’s my weight doing? Don’t interrupt.

The news is, there’s a new Hawaii on its way, to the east of ours. Although it won't reach sea level for another thirty thousand years, it already has a name – Loihi.

So, if the transhumanists among you were wondering where to celebrate Accidents’ 30,000th anniversary, wonder no more.

If you must know, it seems to have stabilised around the 86/87kg mark. Good progress, but I was hoping to stabilise around 82/83. Two thirds of the way, so not bad, but not good enough. You can expect measures, and you can expect to hear about them.

Here’s the bit you’ve all been waiting for, the bit about erections.

To quote the Guardian review of David M Friedman’s A Mind of Its Own: A Cultural History of the Penis:

“A Roman boy was often given a bulla, a locket containing a replica of an erect penis, to wear around his neck. Known as a fascinum, this penis replica signified the boy’s status and power. Today […] anything as powerful or intriguing as an erection is said to be fascinating.

A lovely story, but my etymological dictionary says fascinating derives from fascinum, meaning witchcraft. A warning to take books with names like A Cultural History of the Penis with a pinch of salt.

From now on, all my pieces will contain at least one snippet about sexual organs, just to make you all read the improving stuff.

posted by Jon 15:56
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