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Businessmen, Progress, and a Ridiculous Question

“Much  of the best energy of the world is wasted in living in the past or dreaming of the future. Some people seem to think any time, but the present is a good time to live in. But one man who move the world must be a part of it. They must touch the life that now is, and feel the thrill of the movement of civilization.”

“Many  people do not live in the present. It does not know them. They are buried in books; they live in archives, and in history, but the great throbbing pulse of the world they do not touch. They are not a part of the world; they are never attuned to it.”

“The young man who would win must plunge the current of events. He must keep step with the march of progress, or he will soon be far in the rear. The current of the times must run through his veins, or there will be paralysis somewhere in his nature.” ( The Business Journal).

Because of this all-encompassing philosophy, the young man who would win must plunge the current of events is claiming to be the standard bearer of progress, of civilization, and even of the march of progress, because the current of the times must run through his veins. Everyone else, and above all those studying in the archives and history are excluded from the great throbbing pulse of the world, and so they do not touch the life that now is, namely, the progress and civilization.

But the people who  study in the archives and history know that, from the historical point of view, the idea of progress is far from easy to define, while it is a true-life event that many people only understand the progress both from a technical point of view, and as a continuing development of machines.

But the people who study in the archives and history know that,  so understood, the progress  is an unfinished concept, because it lacks the other side of the coin, namely,  the progress of society. Social progress has been very difficult to obtain in all Western societies, and as a result of fierce social struggles for political rights and democracy. So social progress is still a work in progress in this respect, not only in advanced industrial societies, but particularly out of them, viz. in those countries where there is insufficient income to meet minimum consumption needs.

As I have read  in The Businessman’ Handbook, the idea of progress is linked with the word civilization. Let me simply remark that today the word civilization is usually  written between quotation marks. This is a matter of great importance:

“People increasingly now use the word in quotation marks or with mocking sarcasm or speak not of progress in civilization but in barbarism” ( J. Colton).

And the most remarkable test of how  we are progressing toward barbarism are international and terrible new tragedies and  weapons, ruined economies and annihilation of the young generation. No one can deny these facts, because these facts are not debatable, taking place before the eyes of all. But today one would says that we can’t stop progress and civilization.

In the ‘Paean’ to the Invincible Businessman, I read:

“Men with strong individuality,

Are in demand everywhere,

As never before

In the history of the world!”

But had The Business Journal not assumed that history is a waste of time, and that we should live in the present?

What a ridiculous question!



The Business Journal, October 1910, No 2, p. 10.

Colton, J., “Foreword,” in Progress and Its Discontents, Edited by G. Abraham, A. Chodorow & R. Harvey Pearce, University of California Press, 1982,  p. XI.





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Africa’s Real State of Affairs

A Rwandan friend recently sent me a 9-minute speech via Whatsapp, thinking I might have already heard it. About a week later, I finally listened to it for the first time. I’m glad I did. Attributed to Kenya’s Professor Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba – current Kenya School of Laws Director and a former director of Kenya’s Anti-Corruption Commission – the speech which seems to be fairly recent (2014/15) brings up a question that crops up whenever an African nation is celebrating its “independence”: How “free” are we really? Are these the throes of neo-colonization or the remnants of colonization? Is Pan-Africanism dead? More importantly, are we actually thinking or simply living and acting in oblivion?

In his proactive speech he is said and quote

“When I look at Africa, many questions come to mind. Many times I ask myself, what would happen if Mwalimu were to rise up and see what is happening. Many times I will ask myself what will happen if Kwame Nkrumah and Patrice Lumumba were to rise up and see what is happening. Because what they would be confronted with is an Africa where the Democratic Republic of Congo is unsettled.


“There is a war going on there but it is not on the front pages of our newspapers, because we don’t even control our newspapers and the media. “


As I speak to you the Central African Republic is at war. But we talk of it only mutedly. As I speak to you now, in South Sudan, the youngest nation in Africa, the Nuwera have risen against the Dinka. As I speak to you now, Eritrea is unsettled. As I speak to you now there is unease in Egypt, as there is unease in Libya. In Niger it is no better, in Senegal in the Cassamance, it is no better. In Somalia it is no better. Africa is at war with ourself.

This is what they would be confronted with. They would be confronted with an Africa which statistician and romantic economists say is growing, but which in truth is stagnated. That is the Africa that they would be confronted with. They would be confronted with an Africa which, as Professor Mlama intimated in our presentation here, is an Africa which is suffering from schizophrenia – it does not know herself.


“They would be confronted with an Africa whose young men and women have no interest and no love for their continent.”


They would be confronted with an Africa where young men and young women are constantly humiliated at embassies of European countries and the United States as they seek the almighty green card. They would be confronted with an Africa where young men and women from Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali and Mauritania drown in the Mediterranean as they seek to be enslaved in Europe. This time around, Africans are not wailing and kicking as they are being taken away to be enslaved, they are seen wailing and kicking as they seek to be enslaved in Europe and America. This is the tragedy of Africa.

They would be confronted with an Africa where people have lost their self-pride. An Africa where Africans are not proud of their things. An Africa where in the hotels of Dar es Salaam or Nairobi, even food has foreign names. When we fry potatoes we call them French fries even when they are fried in Dar es Salaam.


“They would be confronted with another Africa, an Africa which does not tell her story. An Africa whose story is told by Europe and America – the CNN, Radio Deutsche-Welle, Radia France.”


That is the Africa they would be confronted with. They would be confronted with young men and women who have no pride in Africa. When they want to enjoy themselves they sing the praises of football teams from Europe and America. It is Manchester United, it is Arsenal, it is Real Madrid and Barcelona. Not Yanga, not Mufulira Wanderers, not Gor Mahia, not FC Leopards. No, that is the Africa that they would be confronted with. They would be confronted with an Africa which does not enjoy its theatre and drama. That Africa celebrates Leonardo di Caprio, it celebrates Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. The Africa does not celebrate Genevive Nnaji of Nigeria or Rita Dominic or Olu Jacobs of Nigeria. It does not celebrate Bongohood or Nollywood or Riverwood. It celebrates Hollywood. That is the Africa which with they would be confronted. They would be confronted with African women whose greatest source of joy is cheap Grade B Mexican soap opera: la patrona, la muher de me vida.

Why must we remind ourselves of these realities? Because throughout the ages, the battle has always been the battle of the mind. If your mind is conquered, then you are going nowhere. And that is why in the age of enlightenment in Europe, the great René Descartes said “Cogito ergo sum.” I think, therefore I am.


“And therefore if Africans are to begin to make a contribution in their affairs, Africans must begin to think. But the question is, are we thinking?”


We have universities in their numbers. Tanzania has universities including Dar es Salaam. Nairobi has universities as indeed Kampala, as indeed South Africa, Johannesburg. We have all these universities. We have engineers, but our roads are not being made by Tanzanian civil engineers, it is the Chinese who are present in this assembly who are making our roads. So we have engineers who cannot even make roads. We have doctors whom we have trained, but when we are sick – particularly if we are of the political class – depending on who colonized you, if you are colonized by the United Kingdom, you rush to London. If you colonized by the French, you rush to Paris. If you are colonized by the Portuguese, you rush to Lisbon, and if you are colonized by the Spaniards, you rush to Madrid, Spain.

And recently, because the Asians are beginning to get their act together, we run to India. And very lately, because the Arabs are also beginning to get their act together, we run to Dubai. Notwithstanding that we have the Kenyatta hospitals of this country, the Muhimbilis of Tanzania, the Chris Hani Baragwanaths of South Africa and the Mama Yemos of Kinshasa in Zaire or the DRC. But we have no faith in our doctors.

In the area of education we also don’t have faith. Our political class introduced something that they call free education, that is free indeed. Free of knowledge. Because they are so suspicious of those institutions, that the typical African politician will not dare take their children to those schools. Their children will be educated in the British system, in the American system, so that when they graduate they go to the United Kingdom, to the United States.


“Not that there is anything wrong with those institutions, but the agenda is wrong because our leaders long lost the script and ought to be described for who they are – our misleaders.”


But we are co-authors of our own misfortune. Whenever we are given an opportunity to elect our leaders, we are given a blank check. And if you permit me a little latitude, and if you give me a blank check and you allow me to analogize and you say that I am given the blank check to buy a Mercedes Benz, what we do is when we are called upon – having been so empowered – we buy what we call a tuk-tuk from India and we expect it to behave ike a Mercedes Benz. How does that happen?


“Because what we do is to elect thieves. We elect hyenas to take care of goats and when the goats are consumed, we wonder why.”


Agree or disagree with the Professor? Got ideas of your own? We’d love to hear your perspective!

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Everyday animals that were terrifyingly big in prehistoric times
April 26, 2018

Life in the 21st century is hard enough, but just imagine how much more stressful your commute would be if you had to speed past Incredible Hulk-sized “terror birds” trying to flip over your car, or if your windshield kept getting smeared with the remains of insects bigger than volleyballs. Suddenly traffic jams don’t seem so bad, right?
These days, most animals you encounter tend to be on the smaller side. Sure, there are notable exceptions, such as elephants, giant squids, and that insanely enormous blue whale. However, back in the good old days of yore — you know, the millions of years before human civilization dominated the globe — the ancestors of today’s animals grew to proportions so monstrously enormous that even Indiana Jones might faint. Get ready to see all your favorite animals in a whole new light.
Sloths were bigger than elephants
Everyone loves sloths, those designated couch potatoes of the animal kingdom. Sure, they’ve got some mean claws, but they’re so small, slow-moving, and relaxed that you wouldn’t be surprised to find one smoking a joint. However, BBC shows that back in prehistoric times, the forests were prowled by so-called “giant ground sloths,” also known as Megatherium, which were huge enough to take down any woolly mammoth that gave them a mean look. At least they were still vegetarians. Phew.
Today’s sloths cling to tree branches, but their 20-foot-long ancestors wandered around on four legs, occasionally standing upright in order to rip down any tree branches they felt like snacking on, according to
Mental Floss . These ancient ground sloths were so different from their contemporary great-grandchildren that when Thomas Jefferson studied one of their fossils, he determined it was a big cat of some sort. Even weirder, there was a species of giant sloth called Thalassocnus that dove underwater for food. If a giant ground sloth got into a fight, it was protected by armored plates on its back, neck, and shoulders, reminiscent of an armadillo.
Giant ground sloths managed to survive for a surprisingly long time, according to National Geographic, as there’s evidence the last ones were still strolling down the beaches of the Caribbean a mere 4,500 years ago.
Camels that were 12 feet tall
Camels are already massive creatures, like mammalian dinosaurs, and they have a massive personality to match. However, about 100,000 years ago, the Independent reports that some camels were a whole lot bigger. The “Syrian camel,” which wandered the grounds of present-day Syria, stood at a staggering 12 feet tall … which means that, yeah, it was about the size of an African elephant, or almost twice the size of today’s camels. If a regular camel is a “ship of the desert,” then a Syrian camel was the Titanic.
As it happens, Syrian camels actually weren’t desert creatures because the area of Syria they wandered around in is believed to have been savanna grassland at the time. It’s unknown why or how the Syrian camels died out, though early humans may have hunted them into extinction. Regardless, it’s interesting to imagine an alternate reality timeline where Syrian camels still existed and were, like their smaller descendants, domesticated. Just imagine a Sahara desert sunset, with those distinctive orange sand dunes populated by people riding on the humps of elephant-sized camels.
Crocodiles that could swallow a human in one gulp
All of us hairless apes might think we’re at the top of the food chain, but let’s face it, the biggest badasses on Earth are definitely scaly crocodilians. Although a Vice article claims they’re basically ageless wonders,
other researchers say that’s an exaggeration. Still, they can live 70 to 100 years and are seriously fearsome as soon as their teeth get sharp. It’s no wonder that these mighty beasts have shined their grinning mouthfuls of sharp teeth upon countless arrays of weaker animals (you know, like us) for millions of years. After all, crocodiles swam with dinosaurs, and they’re still swimming today.
However, crocodiles have experienced some evolutionary changes since they first appeared on Earth. Specifically, these huge prehistoric animals have gotten a lot smaller. For example, the ancient crocodile Machimosaurus rex, an ocean-dwelling species described here by National Geographic, had a powerful body over 30 feet long. If that sounds like one big crocodile, well, prehistoric freshwater crocs like Sarcosuchus imperator grew to a jaw-dropping 40 feet, about the length of an average bus. According to
Newsweek , these colossal crocodiles had teeth comparable to those of a Tyrannosaurus rex, and their heads stretched over 5 feet long. Just imagine the nightmares one of these crocs would have given Captain Hook.
Beavers the size of a black bear
Today, there are only two species of beavers remaining in the world, but according to the BBC, prehistoric beavers used to come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties. Beavers have always been impressive engineers, and the beavers of ancient times dug fascinating spiral burrows into the ground using their teeth. And repeatedly chomping down on dirt sounds a lot less pleasant than using a shovel, so you’ve got to give them credit for dedication. Out of all these old school beaver varieties, the Goliath of the beaver population was a creature called Castoroides, which scientist William Korth describes as “a beaver on steroids.” Your average Castoroides was about 10 feet long and weighed almost 500 pounds, with giant teeth about as long as bananas.
The tail of a Castoroides was less paddle-like than the tails we see on beavers today, but these ancient, big prehistoric animals were probably fantastic swimmers. There’s also evidence that these big ol’ beavers may have built dams similar to the ones their descendants would one day be famous for. Castoroides died out about 10,000 years ago, leaving us with the little beavers we know today.
Bugs that were the size of birds (or bigger)
If insects and arachnids give you the willies, look away now. That “clock spider meme” might’ve been creepy enough, but there was a time when just about any bug, from flies to cockroaches, was too big for a flyswatter to handle, according to National Geographic. For example, while real dragons probably never existed, the skies of Earth were once dominated by giant dragonflies, who boasted wingspans equal to that of a seagull. Seriously, take a second to imagine seeing that perched on your window. Meanwhile, CNN reports that 6-foot-long scorpions were creeping along the ocean floor about 5 million years ago, snapping their enormous claws at anything stupid enough to get in their way.
The award for ultimate arthropod of all time probably goes to Arthropleura . According to paleontologist Hans-Dieter Sues , Arthropleura was very similar to present-day millipedes, except it was over a foot wide with an armored serpentine body that extended over 6 feet. Luckily, if Arthropleura’s habits resembled those of the millipedes we know today, it probably only snacked on dead plant matter. Nonetheless, it’s surprising that some aspiring horror director hasn’t yet made a horror
movie featuring these many-legged creatures developing a taste for humans.
Gigantopithecus, the real-life Sasquatch
Even our own simian relatives once put us to shame, according to National Geographic. Gorillas might seem pretty big, but they had nothing on Gigantopithecus, an ancient ape that stood 10 feet tall and weighed over 1,000 pounds. These guys were about the closest you could get to a real-life King Kong. Gigantopithecus lived in what is now China, but it died out about 100,000 years ago, probably because its massive size came with — you guessed it — a massive appetite. If only lasagna dinners had been invented a few millennia earlier, maybe things could’ve been different.
However, according to the Smithsonian, plenty of cryptozoology enthusiasts have theorized that some Gigantopithecus might secretly still be alive today. Where are they hiding? Well, if you find one in the North American woods, you’d call it “Bigfoot,” and if it’s climbing the Himalayas, it’s a “yeti.” If the infamously unproven ape-man is really out there, it would make sense that he’d be a Gigantopithecus. But until some sort of incontrovertible proof arrives, we’ll have to chalk this one up as one of the many interesting Bigfoot theories out there .
A shark that could eat today’s sharks for breakfasts
Probably the most terrifying creature to ever swim in the ocean was megalodon, a shark so enormous it could swallow a great white in one gulp. According to National Geographic, megalodon means “giant tooth,” which is a fitting name for an animal with jaws powerful enough to crush an automobile. Megalodon was about 50 feet long, and shark expert Dr. Peter Klimley has explained that, “A great white is about the size of the clasper, or penis, of a male megalodon.” Thanks, Doc.
Since tasty human divers weren’t splashing around 10 million years ago, it’s theorized that megalodon instead satisfied its voracious appetite by eating live whales. Despite being so powerful, megalodon went extinct about 2 million years ago, perhaps due to a combination of cooling waters and competition from more social predators like orcas.
As with Gigantopithecus, some believe these giant sharks still prowl the waters today. According to
Time, this is because in 2013, the Discovery Channel aired a sci-fi mockumentary titled Megalodon: The Monster Shark That Lives. Understandably, 79 percent of viewers came out of this broadcast believing the colossal sharks were still alive, and the network subsequently earned major criticism from shark experts. For what it’s worth, there’s still no convincing evidence that the ocean we know today is holding any sharks even half the size of a megalodon.
Super salamanders with toilet-like mouths
The term “dinosaur” is Greek for “terrible lizard,” but as any dinosaur-loving second grader will tell you,
dinosaurs weren’t lizards. Neither are salamanders, though these amphibious creatures are often confused for a lizard, despite the fact that they’re more closely related to frogs. Lizard or not, today’s salamanders tend to be cute little critters, but 200 million years ago, Earth’s waters were the home of a 6-foot-long salamander, whose head was the size of a coffee table. According to paleontologist Stephen Brusatte, this amphibian was called Metoposaurus algarvensis, or as he puts it, “the super salamander that nearly ate your ancestors for breakfast .”
According to the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology , the Metoposaurus lived in the Triassic period alongside the dinosaurs, but it died off before they did. Though these super salamanders were only around for a relatively short time, they were quite interesting creatures, possessing wide, flat heads that opened and closed much like a toilet seat. Maybe that’s where the phrase “potty mouth” came from.
‘Rats’ that could’ve charged a bull
Yeah, that’s right. Not only were bugs once the size of house cats, but some rodents were even bigger. Anyone who felt traumatized by the 1959 B-horror film Killer Shrews (which was probably no one, considering the film was goofy enough to earn a spot on Mystery Science Theater 3000 ) would not be happy to learn about the existence of Josephoartigasia monesi, the so-called “fossil rat” from present-day South America. Despite this nickname, these “rats” more closely resemble today’s capybara, a South American animal which is the largest living rodent in the world.
According to National Geographic, these sharp-toothed fossil rats could’ve trampled right over any capybara today, considering they were bigger than a bull and weighed over 2,000 pounds. Though J. monesi’s tiny molars have led researchers to believe they were probably herbivores that fed on aquatic plants, the animals also possessed some seriously deadly incisors that could easily fend off attackers. So while those wisecracking robots Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot might’ve laughed off those “killer shrews,” they’d probably want to steer clear of the real-life version.
Snakes that were as long as a school bus
Probably every millennial kid suffered from nightmares after they watched an enormous prosthetic snake swallow Jon Voight in the 1997 thriller Anaconda , which went on to inspire four lesser-known sequels. Real-life anacondas don’t get quite so enormous, but 58 million years ago, the tropical jungles of Colombia were home to an even bigger snake called Titanoboa cerrejonensis. According to the Smithsonian, the fossil evidence of Titanoboa reveals a snake that grew to over 40 feet long, and weighed over 2,000 pounds.
To get a sense of just how big this snake’s girth was, imagine it slithering in front of you, and imagine that the tallest part of its legless body was about as high as a human waist. Get the picture? Needless to say, Titanoboa could eat just about any other animal it wanted to, with the LA Times counting crocodiles (as seen in the sculpture above) and giant freshwater turtles among its favorite dinners. It’s believed these enormous serpents saw their demise due to changing climates.
Giant, flightless, big-headed ‘terror birds’
No, we’re not talking about dinosaurs. Tyrannosaurus rex is certainly one fearsome grandpa, but birds have another ancestor who might’ve been even more horrifying. Meet the rampaging, flightless giant we now call the “terror bird,” according to the BBC. Imagine if a mad scientist fused the DNA of an ostrich and a vulture, then tinkered with the genes until the creature’s head was disproportionately huge and its body was 10 feet tall, and you’ll get an idea of just how scary these terror birds really were. One of the most powerful carnivores in Earth history, these huge prehistoric animals are often depicted cawing with glee as they devour everything from horses to wolves to saber-toothed cats. Based on the behavior of the terror bird’s descendants, it’s believed these avian carnivores may have attacked prey by picking it up and repeatedly smashing it against hard surfaces, breaking the bones. Sounds painful, but it gets worse: In case you were hoping these creatures were the heavy lumbering type, National Geographic reports they were actually fast-moving and agile. Yikes!
Anyhow, terror birds killed and ate everything in their path for almost 60 million years before dying out a mere 2.5 million years ago. Honestly, if they were alive today, it’s hard to imagine humanity would’ve ever survived.

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Historical animals that may never have existed.
April 25, 2018

The human desire to capture, chronicle, and categorize every animal we come into contact with has resulted in a rich record of terrestrial creatures, both living and extinct. But there’s a problem with that insatiable desire to be the person responsible for discovering and classifying the fauna of the past (and sometimes even of the present) — mistakes happen, and sometimes historical animals are misidentified, cobbled together out of bones that don’t actually belong to them, or just made up entirely. That means the animals of the past may not really be animals at all, but figments of someone’s imagination and/or eventual characters in the Harry Potter franchise.
Thankfully, it’s not a mistake that biologists and paleontologists tend to make on a regular basis, but it happens often enough nowadays to be amusing. It also probably warrants correction, especially if you’re the sort of person who just can’t have fun with 140-foot sea monsters and islands that kill people.
Godzilla frog
When fossilized tracks were found in the Elk County woods near Pittsburgh in 1948, paleontologists weren’t sure what they were, but the press knew. “Heavy, definite imprints in the sandstone,” wrote a local reporter, “as though made by a giant chicken as it hopped across the surface.”
Happily, the giant chicken analogy didn’t persist because humans can handle T-rexes, mammoths, and megalodons, but giant chickens would definitely put us all over the edge. According to Wired , it was clear to paleontologists that the tracks had been made in a time before chickens — millions of years before KFC or birds of any kind. In fact, in that particular era of geologic time, insects and amphibians ruled the world. That led people to speculate that the tracks had been made by a giant frog, which would have had legs about 2.5 feet apart.
The identity of the track-leaver didn’t move beyond speculation until 1983, when two paleontologists decided to have another go and determined the tracks couldn’t have possibly been left by a vertebrate, in part because there was a long, continuous groove down the middle that a hopping animal would not have left behind. Also there was the part where no one had ever found additional evidence of giant frogs from that era. Instead, they decided, the tracks were probably left by a giant sea scorpion. Good thing giant sea scorpions are way, way less terrifying than giant frogs. Or giant chickens. Thanks, paleontologists.
A chimeric penguin
Early paleontologists were sort of like kids with boxes of jumbled legos. “Hmm, these parts don’t actually look like they came from the same set, but they were in the same box, so … that means this rocket ship has wheels and a grappling hook.”
And in that way, many fossilized creatures made the journey from never existing to totally existing to totally never existing. Just total bloopers of historical animals . One such example is the Hunter Island penguin.
According to Mental Floss , in 1980 scientists were excavating a “prehistoric trash heap” on Hunter Island in Tasmania when they discovered a set of penguin bones that appeared to be different from the bones of any other known penguin species. So they gave the bones a name — Tasidyptes hunterivan — then congratulated themselves on being such awesome species discoverers. And they lived happily ever after.
Until 2017, when someone decided to ruin everything and do some DNA testing on the bones, and oops … they were actually bones from three different very much not-extinct penguins. Curse you, modern forensics science . You are no fun at all.
Cambodia’s national not-really-an-animal
In another tale of DNA totally ruining decades of tradition and the hopes and dreams of children, another animal that probably never existed is the kouprey, which was declared Cambodia’s national animal in 1960.
In 1937, a hunter shot an odd-looking bull ox. The creature weighed nearly a ton, had crescent-shaped horns (big ones), and didn’t seem to resemble any known species of ox living in the area. Less than 100 years before that, Paul du Chaillu gained international fame for being the first Westerner to confirm the existence of the gorilla, so it was kind of a holy grail to be the discoverer of a brand new species. That’s probably why no one really questioned the conclusion that the unfortunate creature was a member of a heretofore unheard-of genus. According to National Geographic, even the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology was on board, displaying the stuffed and mounted specimen as a “new species of ox.”
Live “koupreys” existed in the wild in small numbers, which prompted its rise to the status of “Cambodia’s national animal” as well as nationwide efforts to preserve the species. And then researchers from Northwestern University in Chicago had to come along and DNA-test all the fun out of the kouprey, concluding that the animal was actually just a feral cross between two very common types of domestic oxen. Let’s give those scientists a round of applause and the Nobel Prize for party-pooping. Oh, sorry. The Nobel Prize for
scientific party-pooping.
A ginormous spider
You know what the world needs? A giant spider. You know, a Frodo-eating, Harry Potter menacing, freaking enormous spider .
Just kidding. The world does not now need — nor has it ever needed — a giant spider. So thankfully, Megarachne, the spider with a foot-long body and a leg span of 19+ inches (roughly the size of a raccoon) did not actually exist. Or did it? No! Shut up. It never existed. Please, some of us have to sleep tonight.
Here’s the story of Megarachne, as told by Wired: In 1890, a paleontologist named Mario Hunicken, who clearly wanted to be remembered as the guy responsible for haunting the nightmares of every man, woman, and child in the entire world, announced he’d discovered the remains of a giant spider in Argentina. Then he hid it away in a bank vault so no one could ever question that giant spiders once roamed the Earth.
Then in 2005, biologists reclassified Megarachne as a giant sea scorpion. Yes, that’s only marginally better than a giant spider, but still, praise all the deities. The only people who were really bummed about the reclassification were the producers of a BBC documentary featuring Megarachne as a giant spider, which was ready to air pretty much at exactly the same moment scientists decided Megarachne was never actually a thing. Everyone else can probably agree the non-existence of a giant spider really is the best thing ever.
The fake sea serpent that everyone so wanted to be real
The word “dinosaur ” was coined in 1842. After that, fossil collecting became a national pastime, but not everyone was qualified to do it. Amateurs assembled skeletons all wrong, turning upright creatures into belly-dragging iguana-beasts, and sometimes the bones of several creatures would get mixed into one skeleton, much like what happened with the never-actually-existed Hunter Island penguin.
Sometimes, though, these misassembled fossils are cool. So cool, that museums say things like, “We know this is wrong but it’s just way too cool to do anything about.” According to Atlas Obscura, in 1845 a “fossil prospector” named Albert Koch found some vertebrae from an extinct giant whale called a basilosaurus. He assembled them into a 140-foot serpent he called “the water king,” or hydroarchos. Anyone who knew anything about fossils could have called baloney on Koch’s creation, but King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia had no idea because what Prussian king knows anything about paleontology? King Wilhelm was so impressed that he paid actual money for the monster and had it displayed at the Royal Anatomical Museum, even though the museum’s scientists had their suspicions.
After that success, Koch decided to build another hydroarchos, which he sold to a museum in Chicago. It remained on display, even though curators knew it wasn’t an actual animal, until the Great Chicago Fire destroyed it in 1871. But hey, at least those curators understood the value of fun.
Prehistoric France’s own unicorn
Most of the animals found in prehistoric paintings are based on real historical animals. In Lascaux, France,
artists depicted stags, horses, cattle, bison, predators like bears and big cats, and even animals that no longer exist in Europe, like the woolly rhinoceros. But one puzzling creature in the Lascaux cave complex is one that probably never existed at all: It’s been dubbed the Lascaux unicorn, but it appears to be a composite of several animals. According to Paleolithic and Neolithic History, the unicorn is nearly 8 feet long and has the body of a woolly rhino, the shoulder of a bison, the head of a lion, and the tail of a horse. It got its name from not one but two long, straight horns that look sort of like unicorn horns except that there are two of them. The unicorn also has a giant potbelly, leading some researchers to suspect it might be a fertility symbol.
It’s always difficult to say how past observers arrived at their conclusions, though. Looking at the Lascaux unicorn, to the untrained eye it’s just another bison, albeit a fat one with really strange horns. Maybe it’s not really a composite. Maybe whoever painted it just wasn’t that great at painting. Still, it’s fun to imagine prehistoric France being full of horses, woolly rhinos, and unicorns. Unfortunately, there isn’t any additional evidence that such a creature ever existed.
A camelopehoundvaark (or something)
The Set animal is ancient Egypt’s version of the Lascaux unicorn. Some Egyptologists think it’s a composite of multiple historical animals, and others wonder if it’s a now-extinct creature. Depending whom you ask, it’s either an antelope, a greyhound, a donkey, a camel, a long-snouted mouse, a giraffe, an aardvark, a boar, a jackal, a hare, or about a bazillion other creatures that live in or around Egypt that you’ve probably never heard of.
According to Images of Set author Joan Lansberry , some Egyptologists have speculated the Set animal is the extinct Sivatherium, a strange-looking creature with a long nose and wide horns thought to be an ancestor of the modern giraffe. The Set animal was built more like a greyhound, though, which wouldn’t make the dumpy, thick-necked Sivatherium as a candidate.
Lansberry thinks the Set animal, which is often (but not always) depicted with an erect tail and erect, square-tipped ears, is actually an ancestor of the modern Saluki, an Arabian hunting dog. Traditionally, Salukis have their ears docked much the same way breeders dock the ears of a pitbull, except with square tips. That doesn’t explain the bizarre, aardvark nose and the forked tail the Set animal developed over the years, but it at least offers a logical genesis for a creature that appears only in Egyptian art and hieroglyphics.
Islands that drown people on purpose
You know that scene in The Empire Strikes Back where they landed on an asteroid and then the asteroid tried to eat them? The Greeks had an ocean-dwelling version of that creature — it was known as aspidochelone, and it wasn’t just one or two sailors who came home with stories about it. Regular sightings of aspidochelone were reported for centuries, beginning (at least as far as the historical record is concerned) in the second century A.D.
According to Ancient Origins , aspidochelone was always huge and was sometimes mistaken for an island. Particularly unfortunate sailors might stop there for a cookout, and then when the creature noticed that someone had just built a campfire on its back, it would dive back down into the water and drown everyone and their hamburgers.
Aspidochelone was probably based on a real animal. Older descriptions of it said it could attract fish with a sweet odor it emitted from its mouth, which is a behavior that could (at a stretch) be attributed to a whale. Today we admire and respect those giants of the sea, but it’s not hard to see how a second-century sailor might see an enormous whale open its mouth and jump to a “that island just tried to eat me” sort of conclusion.
The panther that roams the outback
People have been seeing Bigfoot for well over a century, and tales of the Loch Ness monster have persisted since Saint Columba in 565 A.D. Not to be outdone, a crypto creature also roams the outback of Australia. Sightings of a large, black feline have been reported for generations, but like just about every Bigfoot, Loch Ness monster, and similar animal said to exist just outside the reach of scientific evidence, no one has ever been able to find its remains or capture a decent photo of one.
Still, according to the Sydney Morning Herald , more than 500 eyewitness accounts point to something, even if it’s just a population of escaped circus animals or a very large, especially terrifying feral house cat . What’s less likely is that Australia has a native population of big cats. Australia actually has only one remaining indigenous predator (the Tasmanian devil ). Its two largest indigenous predators ( the marsupial lion and the
marsupial wolf) are both extinct.
An animal identified as a large Maine Coon cat was recently shot and killed in the Blue Mountains National Park, prompting speculation that maybe it was the source of the panther legend, although it was evidently someone’s pet and was named Gregory, which makes it a sort of unlikely explanation for “generations” of sightings. Still, the Blue Mountain Panther is probably explainable, but it’s taken a stupidly long time to find the answer.
Bigfoot gets his own national preserve
Because Bigfoot and all his cousins simply will not leave humanity alone, here’s a legend beloved by so many people that it got its own national preserve.
In Bhutan, Bigfoot is called “Migoi.” According to High Country News, Migoi is a giant man-beast standing 8 feet tall that can evade capture by walking backward and becoming invisible. Stories of the Migoi have persisted for centuries and are so widely believed that the government set aside 253 square miles of forest specifically for its protection. Yep, protecting Bigfoot was not a side benefit of establishing a national park; it was the sole reason for establishing a national park.
The good news is that other, actual creatures get protected by default simply because they happen to share a habitat with the totally-not-imaginary Migoi. The Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary is also home to the Himalayan red fox, snow leopards, the Himalayan black bear, the red panda, and a species called the “barking deer.” So although Migoi probably doesn’t really exist and probably never did, it’s at least able to do some good from its place in not-history.

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Brief Introduction to the History of Mexico

Educated in American schools for my entire life. Learning about Mexico was not a part of the school curriculum. Did a quick study on my own and am happy to present my findings. Just an overview.


Don’t know much about the history of Mexico except for two nations – the Mayans and the Aztecs; and two men – Cortés and Pancho Villa.


What was taught about the aforementioned nations? Well! They were great!! Advanced civilizations. Outstanding architecture. Really good math skills. A calendar! Sounds impressive so far. Human sacrifices as a part of worship. Say what? Sorry. But … should one truly mourn that these “great” kingdoms were finally conquered?  ( My opinion. )


What lessons were learned about the Spanish conquistador, Hernán Cortés? Time frame? 1500s. It was said that when he arrived in Mexico he took note of two things. One, there was gold; and two, the tribes were warring with each other. So he sat back and waited until they all but killed each other and whoever was left standing? Came in and knocked them down! Took over and claimed the country for Spain .


Have no appreciation for the so-called “art of war” but must admit … that was a smooth move.


As for the man Pancho Villa? He arrived on the scene in the 1900s. It depends on who tells his story or sings his song. Some count him as a bandit and an outlaw. Others laud him as a hero of the Mexican Revolution.


( My opinion. )
From my way long after the fact / backseat driver’s point of view? Looks like he always sided with the wrong person in charge, and made enemies when he should have been negotiating and compromising. His lack of diplomatic skills is what got him killed. He was assassinated in 1920. Mind you he had already retired and was no longer actively involved in the political “heat”. So what must one think? Gunned down by friend doing him a favor or an enemy returning a “favor”?




*** *** ***

That was then. This is NOW. All we ever hear on our news about Mexico is illegals coming across the U.S. border in the hope of a better life because drug cartels are warring on their side of the fence – roaming the streets, wreaking havoc and causing bloodshed, etc., etc. and the U.S. president will build a wall to stop them!

Sure can’t use the Cortés strategy and wait them out.
Americans can not afford to ignore Mexico. After all they are our next door neighbor.


* * *

Biographical links:


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My Tribute : Celebrating Asian-American Heritage in the USA

In the United States of America we have so much diversity in our people. The Native Americans were already here. Then people from everywhere else and made their home in this land. Not going to get into the details of U.S. history of how so many different people got here. The point is: We’re here!


Unfortunately, our American history books are very “selective” in retelling the stories of the American people.  In an effort to compensate for these serious “omissions”, somebody in the political arena (I guess but I don’t know who) decided to start dedicating certain months of the year to highlight the contributions of various groups of American citizens and honor their heritage.


As examples. For February, we have African-American History Month. For March, we have Irish-American Heritage Month. May is set aside for Asian-American Heritage. More specifically it is called Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.


I did a little research and want to share these links of interest. They are really interesting.


History articles, to “add on” to what was left out of most of our school text books:


The oddest thing is that when people say “Asian-American”, they (“they” as in “me and a few other ignorant Americans”) tend to think Chinese, Japanese, Korean and/or Vietnamese. From what I understand, India is in Asia. But for some reason, we never tend to think of Americans who are from India or have Indian (not Native American) descent. And the Pakistani folks are completely out of the loop. Also, Filipinos are included in this grouping but we usually don’t think of them either. Probably because some of them have Spanish-sounding names. (I said “probably”.) The article link below clarified some of my confusion as to the citizens who comprise this diverse group.  Although the map of Asia (featured image) found at Wikimedia Commons still has me somewhat befuddled.  (O.o)


Additional Reading:


Did you know?

Asian Americans are the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the U.S, with Asians now making up the largest share of recent immigrants.”

  • Quote Source: Piccorossi, Michael. The Rise of Asian Americans. Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project. N.p., 18 June 2012. Web. 08 May 2017.


I want to take this opportunity to honor my fellow Americans of Asian / Pacific heritage and to let them know that their contributions to the building of this nation are appreciated; not just during the month of May.


If you consider yourself to be of Asian / Pacific – American heritage, it would be wonderful to hear from you and to know how you are celebrating your heritage during the month of May.


Image Credits: By Cacahuate, adapted by Peter Fitzgerald, Globe-trotter, Joelf, Texugo, Piet-c and Bennylin. (Own work based on the blank world map) [CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons ; US flag found at glitter-graphics.com

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Saying the “H” Word: Hitler

Fortunately for me I’m not a politician. So it’s perfectly fine for me to choose Hitler as a topic for discussion. Whenever a politician mentions this man, it doesn’t matter what they were trying to communicate, the message gets lost because the only word anybody hears is the “H” word. Hitler! His name is almost like a cuss word to so many people. At least, it’s that way in the western world. Not sure if the non-western world has a different point of view about the man.


Adolph Hitler is by far one of the most notorious political leaders in the history of mankind.

Ya think? How could you not think that? Have you any idea how many different documentaries about this man have been televised? That’s just the documentaries. Add in the dramatizations or movies. Between Hitler and Henry VIII, you could be tempted to believe they are only two infamous cruel historical figures that ever existed.


Oh well! Might as well jump on the Hitler bandwagon and do a quick write-up on this bad guy who people can’t seem to get enough of.


Adolph (or Adolf) Hitler (1889 -1945)

* * *

Hitler quotes:

“If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.”

“He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.”


Certainly sounds like the type of chap you want as your next door neighbor.  Ya think?
* * *

  • Born in Austria
  • Moved to Munich in his early 20s
  • Soldier in the German army during World War I
  • Hated Jews so much he wrote a book about it!
  • Believed his “theory” about racial superiority was TRUE!
  • Appointed chancellor of Germany in 1933
  • Became Führer of the Third Reich * in 1934
  • Provoked World War II
  • His own men tried to assassinate him (Of course, that was just a movie: “Valkyrie”.  Or was it?)


Took his own life – committed suicide when Berlin fell to the Russians

(That’s what “they” say.  I would prefer confirmation.  What really happened on April 30, 1945?)


* * *


→ For more lively discussion: Adolf-Hitler | Quora.com


(Over 8000 people are following this topic!)


* FYI:

The First Reich? Holy Roman Empire


The Second Reich? German Empire


The Third Reich? Nazi regime in Germany


Portrait credit: By Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H1216-0500-002 / CC-BY-SA, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, Link

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The Sound of Music : What Became of the Von Trapp Children?

It’s 2017; approximately 2 years since these events occurred. I missed the entire 2015 Oscars Awards and the next day’s entertainment news reports had nothing but praise for Lady Gaga who delivered a flawless performance of songs from The Sound of Music which were first performed by Julie Andrews.  If you missed it like I did, no worries because it’s on YouTube. She wasn’t as good as Ms. Andrews. Lady Gaga herself said it herself. Julie Andrews is “incomparable”. But it was a lovely tribute.


Image credit:  The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents a new print of the 1965 musical classic “The Sound of Music” as the fourth film in its series “The Last 70mm Film Festival” on Monday, July 30, at 7 p.m. at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents a new print of the 1965 musical classic "The Sound of Music" as the fourth film in its series "The Last 70mm Film Festival" on Monday, July 30, at 7 p.m. at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

The Sound of Music is a heartwarming family film, released in 1965 and 50 plus years later (2015 and beyond) people still enjoy this musical. Many of us even know the words to all of the songs. It’s the story of a real life family who fled their homeland, Austria, when the Nazis made it unpleasant to live there. Edelweiss or no edelweiss, they left home and everything behind, with absolutely no regrets.  The film is a marvelous film adaptation of the story of a widower, Mr. Von Trapp; Maria, the nanny he married; and the children. All 7 of them!


Sharing these links, in case you’re curious to know what became of the children. The real Von Trapp kids and the children who were chosen to play the roles in the film. It’s very interesting entertainment history and trivia.



  • ‘Our lives have really interwoven with each other’: Fifty years on from The Sound Of Music the actors who played the von Trapp children have remained lifelong friends …’ Source: Daily Mail


then and now


♥ ♥ ♥

Von Trapp children

The Real Von Trapp Children | Edelweiss Patterns Blog

♥ ♥ ♥




FUN FACTS: Did You Know?

  • Towards the end of the Second World War, the Edelweiss became the symbol of the German resistance against Nazism. (Source: True Facts about Edelweiss)


  • The Sound of Music was also a Broadway production, which starred Mary Martin as Maria.  It opened in 1959; and won 5 Tony Awards.  Read more.


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Continuing Education : Making Ancient History Accessible

In school, history was not one of my favorite subjects. Thought it was boring. Probably because we had to memorize a lot of dates and the events were not explained in such a way that you understood what ordinary people had to done to contribute to the world that we live in today.  Met my husband while attending the University of Miami, and his enthusiasm for recounting historical tales rubbed off on me. He actually got me to like it!


In addition to my husband’s enthusiasm wearing off on me, have to give some credit to the sisters at the Catholic high school I attended. They did sort of make me wonder a little bit about ancient history.


Been active on Google Plus for several years and check the posts stream frequently. This site’s posts often show up. They share very interesting tidbits about ancient history. Their account is called Ancient History Encyclopedia. The vision statement at their website clearly outlines their intent and purpose:


“At Ancient History Encyclopedia we believe that ancient history is too important to be found in expensive books, on private homepages with a nationalist agenda, or less reliable Wikis. The internet is available in every country on earth, and it deserves reliable high-quality educational history information.”



chocolate-1202606_960_720They really do accomplish what they set out to do. From their Google+ page or the website, you can research civilizations that existed thousands of years ago and you can even find information about the history of chocolate. Started following the AHE Tumblr blog. The archived posts dated back to June 2014. One of my “tests” for whether or not to follow a blog is to try out the random post feature. My first click yielded information about the Goths. OK! This blog seems like a winner! Would you like try a random post?


Do you like history?


Is there a favorite history blog you enjoy?


Here are some history blogs that you might like. 


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general knowledge by lucent, book review for history
April 9, 2017

general knowledge by lucent, book review for history, its good for  who will win the millione in india. like real examinations, general knowldege book been the book of the month I can say since wanted to learn some, country way of thinking.

General knowledge has 4 parts as i remember, chapter one is for indian life style and the ancient, middle ages the history until ages back. Book claims its legit information about ancient just like many authoritative books. it is good to learn about your country.  But history is hard to tell. revising old ages and ears is really huge responsibility. Then from ancient life style and how it developed you see the economy par. About trade and relation with other countries and high the score of indian economy in that ages. And their knowledge about their trade and lots.


World History is anther part, that I have not gone lots of information about since its in other international books, it resemble them in its contents.


fourth part is Indian Economy. This is also great in terms of giving all relevant information. Economy has much to do with raw facts and data. The presentation is quite lucid here. However, one needs to know the current economic issues before scoring good in this section. I would suggest readers to keep updating economic data while going through this section, i liked how this divided into many chapters., so if you are in hurry you go to the next one, and enjoy the information that you are looking for with no buzzing about other information that you may know or do not care to know

rating: this book is good and have lots of information, though, though im not history lover, i tried to get some infomation from this book and was hlepful.

It has rating of 3/5 and in india it self the rating is 3.5/5

so it is good book if it has that much rating

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