Things learned on the web recently:
LEARNED: What a murmuration is.
WHERE: From the video above (found here, if you wish to embed it yourself). Yesterday, while driving across a bridge in Hampshire County, W.Va., I spotted my own, smaller murmuration pirouetting above the hills. I just learned this word from the enchanting video above, which I posted to my Facebook feed some days ago. But not all of you are my Facebook comrades, you see. But even if you’ve seen it once, it’s worth seeing again, especially when you’re once again knocked back on your heels by the latest headline of human scurviness or lying political malfeasance (talking about you, Ricky, Herm and Newton).
Witnessing a murmuration is a reminder there are mysteries afoot in creation. Plus, I love to hear the gasp of wonder, the sharp intake of awe, from the woman holding the videocamera as this united breath of birds goes whispering overhead while they paddle.
Discussing the small murmuration I saw wheeling across the West Virginia skies yesterday, my passenger friend and I observed that seeing such a thing — thousands of individual beings moving in an aerial ballet — was like seeing Nature thinking. Or perhaps a manifestation of Mother Nature’s atomic-level being. Dibs on the band name Murmuration. But I’ll bet it’s already taken.
LEARNED: There are no nuclear bombs in my backyard. Or nuclear missiles in West Virginia. So they say. That’s at least according to the map at the link below. Plus, a definition for the word “zombie” that’s more unpleasant than the flesh-chomping sort.
WHERE: In a 11.09.2011 post, “The Nuclear Bombs in Your Backyard,” Mother Jones published a searchable map detailing all known nuclear missile sites, plus nuclear power plants, in America. West Virginia shows none, although given the Greenbrier Resort’s history as a Cold War, post-nuclear, subterranean Congress, one has to wonder what other secrets lie out there in the Appalachian hills. (I have a friend who swears he know a guy who has a friend who alleges he spotted Dick Cheney in the woods near the Greenbrier quite soon after 9-11).
Probably the more eye-opening — and chilling, given American’s tumultuous, hateful politics — info from the story is this:
“The United States currently has 5,113 atomic warheads deployed in silos, bombers, and submarines, mostly in the continental US. That doesn’t include thousands of “zombies” being kept in reserve and a backlog of more than 3,000 warheads awaiting dismantlement.”
LEARNED: Neo-Nazis use the number 88 as code for an abbreviation of the phrase ‘Heil Hitler’ (H being the eighth letter of the alphabet).”
WHERE: From this 11.26.2011 Der Spiegel article. While the American media is transfixed with the Jerry Sandusky/Penn State child sex abuse scandal, the discovery of a murderous Neo-Nazi cell in Zwickhau has the German press in full-bore media coverage, at least, judging from Der Speigel’s online English edition. Investigators found a list kept by the Neo-Nazi cell that includes names and addresses of 88 people, including at least two politicians who are members of the German federal parliament, the Bundestag, and representatives of Turkish and Muslim organizations.
WEB COMMENT of the WEEK (from a comment on Kevin Drum’s Mother Jones blog):
“The genius of right-wing populism is to take ignorance and make it an emblem of American authenticity. People like Cain and Palin excite the base not because they’re really telling them anything they don’t know but because they tell it in a way that mocks the seriousness of politics itself. It’s all bullshit! And they don’t lie about it! Now, what channel is that football game on? “