The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Category: superstition

The Cocovore’s Fallacy. How a German Escapist’s Coconut Utopia Went to Hell in a Handbasket.

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“Man, how noble in reason…” – Hamlet. Photo courtesy of Christian Kracht, author of Imperium.

Did you ever read the book The Beach? The story of the turn-of-the-twentieth-century German nudist and ideologist August Engelhardt reads like a heinously nightmarish, psilocybin-riddled version of Alex Garland’s novel.

In the late 19th century, in the wake of the popularly published works of Darwin and Thoreau, many German youths were looking to get back into nature, a movement known as Lebensreform (Life Reform).

Some actually did. Unfortunately, in 1902, Alex Garland’s prophecy was not yet at the disposal of the young Engelhardt, a nudist and proponent of Lebensreform left Europe for the South Pacific island of Kabakon (now Papua New Guinea) with a library of books and an even more simplified idealogical approach: He was going to live on nothing but coconuts.

Engelhardt’s theory was that coconuts–how god-like they sit atop their skyward perch, how infinite in faculty–were a magical substance of divine provenance bearing all the sustenance a man needs; and if apes live on raw fruit, why shouldn’t we?

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Bitten by a Shark During Her First Ocean Swim, A Colorado Woman Vows to Go Back in the Water

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Screenshot ©GoFundMe/Fox 31 Denver’s video (below).

Before she ever set foot in the surf at Cocoa Beach, Florida, 28-year-old Colorado woman Jill Kruse, who was about to wade into the ocean for the very first time of her life, felt that something was going to go wrong.

Many of us have this sneaking premonition around the sea, but after a moment or two, the reality of the situation seems almost silly to acknowledge: you have a one-in-11.5-million chance of being bitten by a shark, according to the University of Florida’s “International Shark Attack File”. What are those chances on your very first time in the ocean?

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Acadian Driftwood: The Legend of Actor Charles Coghlan’s Castaway, Homeward-Bound Metal Coffin

The handsome Charles Francis Coghlan, a 19th century French-born Anglo-Irish actor.
(b. France/Canada (?), 1841, d. Galveston, Texas, 1899.)

Things wash ashore over time. Sometimes they’re derelict fishing vessels, sometimes they’re legos. Sometimes they’re messages in bottles, and sometimes they’re caskets carrying the corpses of famous actors.

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Behold the Elusive Feegee Mermaid. “The Very Perfection of Art, Imitating Nature.”

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Throughout the mid to late 1800’s, P.T. Barnum’s traveling sideshows grew notorious through the showcase of ‘freaks’ of nature, curiosities and other oddities. Some of the human ‘live’ exhibits like Siamese twins, Tom Thumb, the bearded lady and the human skeleton were indeed caused by real mutations and deformities. Most though, were completely fabricated, constructed in imagination and held together by glue, smoke and mirrors.

One exhibit that drew thousands to the sideshow was the Feegee Mermaid, a grotesque mummified skeleton of a supposed half mammal and half fish version of a mermaid. Nothing like beautiful sirens in typically portrayed in ocean folklore, this thing looked like a mini monster that would happily eat your face.

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P.T. Barnum’s feegee mermaid from 1842. Originally published in: The New York Herald

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Pterodactyls, Mermaids, Cannibals, H-Bombs and Mormon Whales – Our Favorite Fake Ocean Stories from World News Daily

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The famed Savannah Hydrogen Bomb Found! Well, maybe not. 

World News Daily Report is an online candy store for birthers, truthers, tinfoil hat wearers, cryptozoologists right and left-wing conspiracy theorists. It’s the Weekly World News for a new era, and a poster website for PT Barnum’s famed adage “There’s a Sucker Born Every Minute.”

World News Daily churns out click-bait stories with the hopes that you’ll visit their real world advertisers like Starbucks and CNN. It’s a brilliant – and disturbing – business model.

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Would you like a latté and some Jesus to go with your $200,000,000 in gold? 

WWDR’s stories are passed around the Interwebs like a nuclear hot potato and its hard hitting reporters, Barbara Johnson and Bill Flanagan  seem able to scoop every other journalist on the planet at will. In fact, Bob is the real life brother of Tommy Flanagan, a Saturday Night Live Op/Ed contributor who fought alongside the Philippines’ Ferdinand Marcos in World War II.

Tommy Flanagan, brother of World News Daily Report’s Bob Flanagan.

Before I offend  too many of my gullible friends and colleagues, let me also point out that I’m also regularly lured into clicking on WWDR’s stories. But it doesn’t take much research to conclude that sites like this that keep Snopes.com in existence. Here’s a sampling of the ocean stories that might have acutally made headlines on TheScuttlefish – if they were true…

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Fata Morgana: The Floating Mirages That Once Fooled Sailors and Fueled the Legend of the Flying Dutchman

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Photo: Louise Murray/Visuals Unlimited/Getty Images

On August 14, 1643, a Jesuit priest by the name of Father Domenico Giardina was gazing across the Strait of Messina from Sicily when he perceived “a city all floating in the air, and so measureless and so splendid, so adorned with magnificent buildings, all of which was found on a base of a luminous crystal.” The vision then went on to become a garden, followed by a forest. Finally, warfare broke out amongst huge armies and then suddenly the entire scene disappeared. What gave?

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The History and Lore Behind the Adage, ‘Red Sky in Morning’

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‘Scarlet Sunrise’ Folly Island, South Carolina. WanderSea Photography by Carolyn Sotka, October 7, 2014

‘Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning. Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.’

One of the first known accounts of this old adage can be found in the Bible’s Gospel of Matthew, likely written between 50 – 90 A.D. According to the disciple Matthew, Jesus was approached by the ruling class of Israel, the Pharisees and Sadducees, who asked for a sign from God. Jesus was in continuous conflict with these groups, and that ultimately led to his crucification and death.

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The History and Lore Behind the Adage, ‘Red Sky in Morning’

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‘Scarlet Sunrise’ Folly Island, South Carolina. WanderSea Photography by Carolyn Sotka, October 7, 2014

‘Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning. Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.’

One of the first known accounts of this old adage can be found in the Bible’s Gospel of Matthew, likely written between 50 – 90 A.D. According to the disciple Matthew, Jesus was approached by the ruling class of Israel, the Pharisees and Sadducees, who asked for a sign from God. Jesus was in continuous conflict with these groups, and that ultimately led to his crucification and death.

Read more»