Adult Enough

Dear J-

I could open with an I remember when but I suspect I’d lose most of you within moments.

I just finished an actual by-God adult novel, by which I mean not the kind that comes with a nondescript cover and sales are restricted from minors but the sort that’s targeted towards an adult audience; this one was about the Mary Celeste, which was found adrift with cargo intact and in good order, but mysteriously abandoned at sea with no trace of crew or captain. Water covers nearly 80% of this planet and so we must go to sea, we must go to float for some of our lives, whether we pay for the privilege or choose it as a career. If all life has common origins then we have cousins in the sea as well, teeming with life and specialized adaptations for aquatic existence.

The novel itself was entertaining and purports to present a reasonable explanation of events – it’s not bad, honestly, and the plot is entertaining, though I wonder at times whether a particular point is true or if it was made up to keep the story moving along. Here Wikipedia is of little help; I’ve now been trolling its depths long enough to realize that history is selective and heavily edited. I like to provide unassailable facts and perform fact-checking, which I suppose is something I shouldn’t be doing for free, but there you have it: if your sole stop is Wikipedia then you’re missing a lot from the wider world, but at the same time, it’s easy enough to make an article authoritative and exhaustive using what’s already available on the web.

I’ve learned, since starting, that there’s an archive of old California newspapers at UC Riverside that dates back to circa 1900; that some out-of-copyright books are wholly scanned on the Internet Archive at archive.org; that Google itself has taken to digitizing old newspapers from medium-sized towns, so if you’ve got some event that happened in Spokane or Gadsden or Eugene then you’re in luck: site:google.com/newspapers and you’re good. The guy on the other side of the aisle is watching YouTube videos — which I do as well, mainly to keep up with my music videos and catch the ones I didn’t have a chance at watching, years ago, but these tools, what’s available now is amazing and that’s what keeps me coming back: I wonder if I can find … [and often: YES].

Mike

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