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It seems that famed Titanic-finder and underwater archeologist Robert Ballard now is hunting for Noah’s Ark, or at least the Flood.

In an interview with ABC News’s Christiane Amanpour, Mr Ballard explains that he investigated a theory proposed by two scientists from Columbia University that there was a massive flood in the Black Sea region. They believe that the Black Sea was once an isolated freshwater lake surrounded by farmland until it was flooded by a torrent of water.

“We went in there to look for the flood,” he told ABC News. “Not just a slow moving, advancing rise of sea level, but a really big flood that then stayed … The land that went under stayed under.”

Although they did not find the Ark, they found an ancient shoreline which Mr Ballard believes is proof such an event did take place. He believes that, by using carbon dating shells found along the shoreline, it took place around 5,000 BC.

“It probably was a bad day,” he said. “At some magic moment, it broke through and flooded this place violently, and a lot of real estate, 150,000 square kilometers of land, went under.”

This puzzles me a bit because I thought the theory of a catastrophic flood event in the Black Sea was already well developed – something to do with a violent geological shift that opened up the area to a sudden inflow from the Med.  Indeed, I have a memory from what must be at least ten years back of somebody claiming to have come across one or more drowned communities.   Maybe these Columbia wallahs are the fellers I’m thinking of and this is follow-on research of that same developing theory.

So this doesn’t seem to me to be such big nooz.

But it did remind me of a favorite old Bill Cosby bit:

The concerto grosso from “Alexander’s Feast” by Handel.   This has been one of my favorites since I was a kid.

Why yes, I was an oddball kid.  Why do you ask?

Dear Local Classickal Station,

I had the sense when you started spinning “holiday musick” CD’s immediately after Thanksgiving (with a whole week of November left to go) that this was going to be a bad, bad year.  I had no idea, however, that by December 11 – still two weeks out – 75% of your playlist would be devoted to such tunes.   I can only assume, although it’s not yet posted, that your list will reach full holiday saturation point very, very soon.  I also know very well from past experience that by dawn on December 26, there will barely be a trace of Christmas left in your programming.

Why would you do this?  Why would you pound your listeners’ ears so relentlessly with Christmas musick so far in advance, only to stop cold on the second day of Christmas itself?  A motive occurred to me just yesterday, when one of your deejays said after a selection, “You know, this recording and the other holiday favorites you hear are available for purchase on our website…..”


Of course, I may be being entirely too cynical or even paranoid.   It’s just that this year the forces of crass commercialization and unbridled consumerism seem to be poisoning the holiday spirit more than ever before, and I’m afraid it has influenced my attitude toward these things.

However, whatever the case may be,  the fact of the matter is that if I have to listen to Jessye Norman singing “Ave, Maria” or a “White Christmas” medley or “If Bach Had Written ‘Jingle Bells'” one more time, I’m likely to go Scrooge and start saying it with an axe.  For my own sanity and the safety of my radio, therefore, I consider it best just to flip over to the CD function and listen to my own musickal collection instead.

I’ll see you on the other side.

— Robbo the Port Swiller


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December 2012