Just Another Sighting, Or Is This One For Real?

I don’t think I have to recount the new stories that are currently making headlines.  Chances are you’ve heard about the revelations concerning Goldman Sachs and Wall Street, the oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico from the rig that burned and sank last week, Greece and Portugal in financial turmoil, and the fuss over the tougher illegal immigrant law in Arizona.  Speaking of which, did you hear about opponents of the Arizona law launching a boycott of Arizona Iced Tea?  What an ignorant bunch.  Anyone who reads the label on the bottle will know that Arizona Iced Tea is made in Brooklyn!

But the news story I want to hear more about isn’t getting much attention.  That is the report of a team of Chinese and Turkish Christians claiming they found Noah’s Ark on Mt. Ararat.  So far the only mainstream news source I’ve seen carry it is Fox News.  Here is the link; I want to thank Chris Bortz for e-mailing it to me.

Has Noah’s Ark Been Found on a Turkish Mountaintop?

And here is the website of the explorers:


And here is the video I saw on YouTube, showing the explorers crawling around in rooms lined with ice and tooled wood.

So far, so good.  If the pictures and video can be trusted, this looks like the real McCoy.  It’s more convincing than the Durupinar formation, anyway.  Durupinar is a strange-looking hill near Dogubayazit, Turkey, that had many folks in the 1990s (myself included) thinking it was the Ark.  The age they gave for the wood, 4,800 years old, is close enough to my estimate of the time since the Flood (5,260 years) to make this find worthy of further consideration.  Now is it asking too much for a secular group, like a professor and students from a major university, to come to Turkey and take a look at this?  I will be watching for follow-ups to this story with great interest.

Three More Lexi Videos

From Friday to Tuesday it was either overcast or rainy most of the time.  So rainy that I had a little car trouble, when driving around on Monday night.  That seems to happen every April around here.  However, it’s too early to tell if we got enough rain to make up for the dry weeks we had earlier.  It has also gotten unseasonably cold.  In the 50s most of the time, and this morning it is 36, with the weatherman warning of patchy frost in some areas!  I know, the last possible frost date in central Kentucky is May 3, but I’m still getting used to the idea of everything outside being pretty, with flowers, lush grass and green leaves, for a full month before the last frost date.  In Florida, most of the plants waited until after the frost date to bloom.  Now the forecast has it getting warmer and sunny for the rest of the week.

And in family news, yesterday Lindy and Adam posted three more videos of my granddaughter Lexi on Facebook.  Yes, she’s a month old already.   Here they are, for those who aren’t tired of watching cute videos.

Bath time:

Bouncy seat:

Her first movie star pose:

We are thinking of going to visit them in Georgia next month, but no definite plans have been made yet.

(By the way, on Monday I read that YouTube is now five years old.  Currently it hosts 120 million videos, and it would take at least 600 years to watch them all.  No wonder Leive and I don’t miss the TV!)

The Year of the Horse

According to the Chinese calendar, 2010 is the Year of the Tiger, but here in Kentucky, it is the Year of the Horse.  Of course, with Lexington’s reputation as the horse capital of the world, you could say that every year is the Year of the Horse for us.  What makes this year special is that there are more and bigger equine events than usual.  To start with, last week saw the end of the spring races at Keeneland, and the Rolex three-day event.  Then this Saturday comes the annual big one, the Kentucky Derby.  If you turn on the radio, you’ll hear the hype building for it; the station I listen to in the morning is broadcasting from the Kentucky Derby Museum.  That museum was flooded during last summer’s rainstorms, and has just reopened, now that the repair work is complete.

Later in the year we’ll host two events that normally aren’t held in Kentucky, the World Equestrian Games  and the Breeder’s Cup.  Whew, it looks like the horse in the above picture is exhausted already!

The Geico Gecko’s Co-Worker Is Dumber Than A Neanderthal

You may have heard the news story from last week, which reported that the fellow who did the voice-overs on the Geico commercials was fired, after that auto insurance company learned he had called FreedomWorks, a Tea Party group, and left an offensive message about the group being full of mentally retarded killers.  Let this be a lesson in how political extremism can make otherwise normal people act stupid.  Here’s the story, in case you missed it:

Lawrence O’Donnell Defends GEICO Voice-over Actor Who Called Tea Partiers Mentally Retarded Killers

Besides the gecko with an Australian accent, Geico has also run ads in recent years featuring laptop-using Neanderthals, and they complain about the slogan for the company’s website: “It’s so easy, a caveman could do it!”  Well, now we ought to add a clause to the beginning of that slogan, so it reads:  “Acting like a butthead; it’s so easy, a caveman could do it!”

What Makes the Philippines a Funny Place

(I got this in my e-mail yesterday.  The following is an article from a British journalist stationed in the Philippines. His observations are so hilarious!!! This was written in 1999. I believe Cardinal Sin and Joker Arroyo have retired since then, but otherwise everything in it is correct; just ask my wife Leive.)

Matter of Taste
By Matthew Sutherland

I have now been in this country for over six years, and consider myself in most respects well assimilated. However, there is one key step on the road to full assimilation, which I have yet to take, and that’s to eat BALUT.

The day any of you sees me eating balut, please call immigration and ask them to issue me a Filipino passport. Because at that point there will be no turning back. BALUT, for those still blissfully ignorant non-Pinoys out there, is a fertilized duck egg. It is commonly sold with salt in a piece of newspaper, much like English fish and chips, by street vendors usually after dark, presumably so you can’t see how gross it is.

It’s meant to be an aphrodisiac, although I can’t imagine anything more likely to dispel sexual desire than crunching on a partially formed baby duck swimming in noxious fluid.

The embryo in the egg comes in varying stages of development, but basically it is not considered macho to eat one without fully discernable feathers, beak, and claws. Some say these crunchy bits are the best. Others prefer just to drink the so-called ‘soup’, the vile, pungent liquid that surrounds the aforementioned feathery fetus…excuse me; I have to go and throw up now. I’ll be back in a minute.

Food dominates the life of the Filipino. People here just love to eat. They eat at least eight times a day. These eight official meals are called, in order: breakfast, snacks, lunch, merienda, merienda ceyna, dinner, bedtime snacks and no-one-saw-me-take-that-cookie-from-the-fridge-so-it-doesn’t-count.

The short gaps in between these mealtimes are spent eating Sky Flakes from the open packet that sits on every desktop. You’re never far from food in the Philippines. If you doubt this, next time you’re driving home from work, try this game. See how long you can drive without seeing food and I don’t mean a distant restaurant, or a picture of food. I mean a man on the sidewalk frying fish balls, or a man walking through the traffic selling nuts or candy. I bet it’s less than one minute.

Here are some other things I’ve noticed about food in the Philippines :

Firstly, a meal is not a meal without rice – even breakfast. In the UK , I could go a whole year without eating rice. Second, it’s impossible to drink without eating. A bottle of San Miguel just isn’t the same without gambas or beef tapa. Third, no one ventures more than two paces from their house without baon (food in small container) and a container of something cold to drink. You might as well ask a Filipino to leave home without his pants on. And lastly, where I come from, you eat with a knife and fork. Here, you eat with a spoon and fork. You try eating rice swimming in fish sauce with a knife.

One really nice thing about Filipino food culture is that people always ask you to SHARE their food. In my office, if you catch anyone attacking their baon, they will always go, “Sir! KAIN TAYO!” (“Let’s eat!”). This confused me, until I realized that they didn’t actually expect me to sit down and start munching on their boneless bangus. In fact, the polite response is something like, “No thanks, I just ate.” But the principle is sound – if you have food on your plate, you are expected to share it, however hungry you are, with those who may be even hungrier. I think that’s great!

In fact, this is frequently even taken one step further. Many Filipinos use “Have you eaten yet?” (“KUMAIN KA NA?”) as a general greeting, irrespective of time of day or location.

Some foreigners think Filipino food is fairly dull compared to other Asian cuisines. Actually lots of it is very good: Spicy dishes like Bicol Express (strange, a dish named after a train); anything cooked with coconut milk; anything KINILAW; and anything ADOBO. And it’s hard to beat the sheer wanton, cholesterolic frenzy of a good old-fashioned LECHON de leche (roast pig) feast. Dig a pit, light a fire, add 50 pounds of animal fat on a stick, and cook until crisp. Mmm, mmm… you can actually feel your arteries constricting with each successive mouthful.

I also share one key Pinoy trait —a sweet tooth. I am thus the only foreigner I know who does not complain about sweet bread, sweet burgers, sweet spaghetti, sweet banana ketchup, and so on. I am a man who likes to put jam on his pizza. Try it! It’s the weird food you want to avoid. In addition to duck fetus in the half-shell, items to avoid in the Philippines include is pig’ s blood soup (DINUGUAN); bull’s testicle soup, the strangely-named “SOUP NUMBER FIVE” (I dread to think what numbers one through four are); and the ubiquitous, stinky shrimp paste, BAGOONG, and it’s equally stinky sister, PATIS.

Filipinos are so addicted to these latter items that they will even risk arrest or deportation trying to smuggle them into countries like Australia and the USA, which wisely ban the importation of items you can smell from more than 100 paces.

Then there’s the small matter of the purple ice cream. I have never been able to get my brain around eating purple food; the ubiquitous UBE leaves me cold.

And lastly on the 2 other subject of weird food, beware: that KALDERETANG KAMBING (goat) could well be KALDERETANG ASO (dog)…

The Filipino, of course, has a well-developed sense of food. Here’s a typical Pinoy food joke: “I’m on a seafood diet. “What’s a seafood diet?” “When I see food, I eat it!”

Filipinos also eat strange bits of animals — the feet, the head, the guts, etc., usually barbecued on a stick. These have been given witty names, like ADIDAS” (chicken’s feet); “KURBATA” (either just chicken’s neck, or “neck and thigh” as in “neck-tie”); “WALKMAN” (pigs ears); “PAL” (chicken wings); HELMET” (chicken head); “IUD ” (chicken intestines), and BETAMAX” (video-cassette-like blocks of animal blood). Yum, yum. Bon appetit.

“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches”– (Proverbs 22:1)

WHEN I arrived in the Philippines from the UK six years ago, one of the first cultural differences to strike me was names. The subject has provided a continuing source of amazement and amusement ever since. The first unusual thing, from an English perspective, is that everyone here has a nickname. In the staid and boring United Kingdom , we have nicknames in kindergarten, but when we move into adulthood we tend, I am glad to say, to lose them.

The second thing that struck me is that Philippine names for both girls and boys tend to be what we in the UK would regard as overbearingly curtesy for anyone over about five. Fifty-five-year-old colleagues have them. Where I come from, a boy with a nickname like Boy Blue or Honey Boy would be beaten to death at school by pre-adolescent bullies, and never make it to adulthood. So, probably, would girls with names like Babes, Lovely, Precious, Peachy or Apples. Yuk, ech ech. Here, however, no one bats an eyelid.

Then I noticed how many people have what I have come to call “door-bell names”. These are nicknames that sound like -well, doorbells. There are millions of them. Bing, Bong, Ding, and Dong are some of the more common. They can be, and frequently are, used in even more door-bell-like combinations such as Bing-Bong, Ding-Dong, Ting-Ting , and so on. Even our newly appointed chief of police has a doorbell name Ping . None of these doorbell names exist where I come from, and hence sound unusually amusing to my untutored foreign ear.

Someone once told me that one of the Bings, when asked why he was called Bing, replied, “because my brother is called Bong”. Faultless logic. Dong, of course, is a particularly funny one for me, as where I come from “dong” is a slang word for, well, perhaps “talong” is the best Tagalog equivalent.

Repeating names was another novelty to me, having never before encountered people with names like Len-Len, Let-Let, Mai-Mai, or Ning-Ning. The secretary I inherited on my arrival had an unusual one: Leck-Leck. Such names are then frequently further refined by using the “squared” symbol, as in Len2 or Mai2. This had me very confused for a while.

Then there is the trend for parents to stick to a theme when naming their children. This can be as simple as making them all begin with the same letter, as in Jun, Jimmy, Janice, and Joy.

More imaginative parents shoot for more sophisticated forms of assonance or rhyme, as in Biboy, Boboy, Buboy, Baboy (notice the names get worse the more kids there are-best to be born early or you could end up being a Baboy).

Even better, parents can create whole families of, say, desserts (Apple Pie, Cherry Pie, Honey Pie) or flowers (Rose, Daffodil, Tulip). The main advantage of such combinations is that they look great painted across your trunk if you’re a cab driver.

That’s another thing I’d never seen before coming to Manila — taxis with the driver’s kids’ names on the trunk.

Another whole eye-opening field for the foreign visitor is the phenomenon of the “composite” name. This includes names like Jejomar (for Jesus, Joseph and Mary), and the remarkable Luzviminda (for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao , believe it or not). That’s a bit like me being called something like Engscowani” (for England , Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland ). Between you and me, I’m glad I’m not.

And how could I forget to mention the fabulous concept of the randomly inserted letter ‘h’. Quite what this device is supposed to achieve, I have not yet figured out, but I think it is designed to give a touch of class to an otherwise only averagely weird name. It results in creations like Jhun, Lhenn , Ghemma, and Jhimmy. Or how about Jhun-Jhun (Jhun2)?

How boring to come from a country like the UK full of people with names like John Smith. How wonderful to come from a country where imagination and exoticism rule the world of names.

Even the towns here have weird names; my favorite is the unbelievably named town of Sexmoan (ironically close to Olongapo and Angeles). Where else in the world could that really be true?

Where else in the world could the head of the Church really be called Cardinal Sin? Where else but the Philippines!

Note: The Philippines has a senator named Joker, and it is his legal name.

The Xenophile Historian Newsletter, #17

This newsletter was sent out this morning.

The Xenophile Historian Newsletter, #17
( http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/ )

Greetings once again to all my loyal readers! Charles Kimball is here, to give you the latest news on my world history website. This is the first newsletter for 2010, and if you’re like me, so far it has been yet another busy year. In my family, the main event has been that my first grandchild was born last month, in Georgia. Normally I don’t send out a newsletter just four months after the previous one, but I have two major additions to announce and two smaller changes, so read on!


First and foremost, my North American history project, “The Anglo-American Adventure,” is finished at last. I started working on these history papers around the beginning of 2006, and they have consumed much of my free time since then; who’d have thought this would be a four-year project? The last paper in the series is called “Chapter 6: The Great White North,” and it covers Canadian history from 1867 to the present. In Chapters 1 to 3, I had enough room to cover both US and Canadian history, up until Canada became an independent nation in 1867. However, for Chapters 4 and 5, I had so much material that I only discussed the United States, and still those papers were the longest I have ever written. Therefore, I felt I needed to write one more paper to give the Canadians equal time, so here it is.

The original document, before I converted it into a webpage, was 45 pages, so I split it into two parts, to make my work easier on both eyes and search engine spiders. Topics covered include the following:

Part I (http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/northam/na06a.html)

The Story So Far
Early Canadian Politics, and the Mapleleaf Flag
The Original Provinces
The Red River Rebellion
British Columbia and Prince Edward Island Enter the Dominion
The Northwest Rebellion
The Laurier Years
The Klondike Gold Rush
Here Come Alberta and Saskatchewan
World War I, the Conscription Crisis, and the Unionists
The Mackenzie King Era
The Dominion of Newfoundland

Part II (http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/northam/na06b.html)

Postwar Canada
The Conservatives Return From the Wilderness–But Not For Long
Pierre Trudeau, Part I
The Rise of Quebec Separatism
Pierre Trudeau, Part II
Neo-Conservatism, Canadian Style
Political Uncertainty in the 1990s
Recent Events
Canada Today

And for those who missed the other history papers in this series, here they are once more:

Index Page


Chapter 1: Pre-Columbian America and the Age of Exploration (USA & Canada, before 1607)


Chapter 2: Colonial America (USA & Canada, 1607 to 1783)


Chapter 3: Pioneer America (USA from 1783 to 1861, Canada from 1783 to 1867)


Chapter 4: Industrial America (USA, 1861 to 1933)


Chapter 5: The American Superpower (USA, 1933 to 2009)


A Guide to U.S. Presidential Elections


The Black Muslims: A Special Feature


Read and enjoy!


The other new addition does not have to do with history, so it is in the category I call “beyond history.” In 1999 I launched a new folder with pages of philosophy, funny pictures, jokes, opinion pieces, and just random thoughts. To express the idea that life is too short to take completely seriously, I gave it the pompous title “The Holy Book of Universal Truths, K.U.P.”, with the initials standing for “Kimball’s Unauthorized Perversion.” In the years since, it has grown to encompass nine subjects, or chapters, which are as follows:

Chapter 1, Words of Wisdom from Various Sources (smart quotes)
Chapter 2, Some of my Favorite Stories
Chapter 3, Political Commentaries
Chapter 4, Essays on Various Topics
Chapter 5, They Really Said It (dumb quotes)
Chapter 6, Stuff That Won’t Go Away
Chapter 7, Netiquette
Chapter 8, Observations on the War on Terror
Chapter 9, Just For Fun

I don’t remember when I started Chapter 9, except that it happened before I moved to Kentucky, so I’m guessing 2004 or 2005. Now for the first time in years, a new chapter has been added. Called “Chapter 10, Secrets to Success,” it will share some of the things I have learned from positive literature and motivational lectures, in the hope that my readings and lecture notes will improve your life, too.

As with the other chapters, I don’t expect this one to ever be complete while I’m alive; I’ll just keep adding new stuff as I think about it. Here are the five pages I have so far:

Quotes from Successful People
Just Quit Now
Expect to Go Alone
Limit Your Options
My Success Bibliography

The first page of the new chapter is at http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/holybook/kup10.html


In my Near Eastern history series, I completed the long-promised rewrite of the first four chapters. Chapters 1 & 2 were done before 2010, so I don’t need to repeat the details of them here. Chapter 3 gained several new sections, so it’s worth reading again if you read it before; now I have divided it into two parts, the way I did with Chapter 2:



As for Chapter 4, I just corrected and updated a few paragraphs; not enough new material was added to require the creation of new sections.


And finally, I removed the sandstone “Expedition theme” wallpaper from the history papers, so that now in most cases it is black text on a plain white background. The wallpaper remains on the home page and other pages that don’t contain historical essays. The colored scrollbars, however, will still be visible for those using Internet Explorer or Opera. I made the change because, as mentioned in previous newsletters, The Xenophile Historian has competitors. On the Internet, you don’t want to make webpages hard to read, or make it hard for a vistor to find what he is looking for; the typical websurfer has such a low attention span that he’ll leave in a minute if he isn’t satisfied by what he sees.


Where do we go from here? Well, every time I write about a new topic, that adds something I’ll probably have to keep up to date later on. It still takes me longer to create a new history paper than it does to update an old one, but I expect the updates to increase. Of course, once I’ve written about “the rise and fall of just about everybody,” it will be only updates after that, unless I can think of a new subject. Currently my history papers on India and Russia badly need updating, because I haven’t worked much on either in the past ten years, so I plan to take care of one or both of them next. Then after that, I will probably begin to work in earnest on one of the three regions I have not yet done a complete history paper for: Central Asia, Latin America & the Caribbean, and the South Pacific (Oceania).


That should keep you happy for a while. If you missed older issues of the newsletter and want to see them, they can be downloaded in a zip file from
http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/download/index.html . And the links below go to things I mentioned in previous issues, that are still valid. Please visit them, if you

haven’t already:

The Xenohistorian Weblog, this site’s official blog.


My world history textbook, “A Biblical Interpretation of World History.”



My Pre-Paid Legal website:


And my Blastoff Network webpage (new URL):


Take Care and God Bless,

Charles Scott Kimball

Today is Lenin’s 140th Birthday

Oh, you thought it was Earth Day?  Let’s hope it is just a coincidence that they’re on the same day; I’m not the only one who noticed that yesterday’s Reds can be found among today’s Greens.

Anyway, over in Russia an artist who is handy with Photoshop published a series of pictures to make an alternate biography of Lenin, showing us what the photos in history books would look like if the Bolshevik leader had lived to a ripe old age, instead of dying in 1924.  Now The People’s Cube, my favorite political humor site, has re-posted those pictures.  Check them out; do you think the world would be a better place if Lenin’s biography went like this?  We probably wouldn’t have heard from Stalin, anyway.

Lenin Still Lives!  (An Unofficial Biography in Pictures)

Let’s Celebrate the Fungus Among Us

My previous message ought to tell you that while I have lived in Kentucky for nearly four years, I still have things to learn about the local culture.  This week I have been hearing on the radio about another special event like “Thunder Over Lexington.”  This time it’s the “Mountain Mushroom Festival,” which takes place this weekend in Irvine, a small town about 30 miles southeast of here.  Click on the link below to find out more about it:


Now I wonder what happens to the visitor who goes there and says, “Hey, I’m a fun guy!”

Fooled By the Thunder

Here’s an amusing story I forgot to tell in my previous messages.  Do you remember when I said we’re having an unusually dry spring in Kentucky?  Well, last Saturday I went to Louisville to visit a friend.  Before I went over there, I was told that a big Pre-Paid Legal meeting (“Super Saturday”) was supposed to take place in Louisville that day, but it had been postponed because of thunder over Louisville.  Since the folks here aren’t as used to thunderstorms as an ex-Floridian like me, I figured that yes, a really bad storm would make them re-schedule some events.

However, in Louisville that day it was 62 degrees, and except for one cirrus cloud, the sky was absolutely clear; I couldn’t have asked for better driving weather.  On the way back I was thinking that Louisville’s weather forecasters must be worse than ours.  Only after I returned did I find out that “Thunder Over Louisville” was the name for an air and firework show!

Another big surprise came when I was flipping through the FM stations of Louisville, looking for something worth listening to on my car radio.  On 105.1 FM I heard a very familiar voice, and sure enough, it turned out to be Robert Vincent Sims, “The Garden Rebel.”  The last time I heard him, he was a landscaper from Lake County, FL, broadcasting a Saturday morning program on Orlando’s leading AM station, WDBO.  I didn’t know his program had hit it big nationwide.  It’s nice to see another Floridian becoming a big success, but since he still talks about central Florida plants (Orlando is in USDA Zone 9), I wonder how much of what he says is relevant in the rest of the country?  For example, cycads (also called sago palms) are a common sight in the front yards of Orlando, and a common source of questions on “The Garden Rebel,” but I have yet to meet somebody else in Kentucky who has heard of them.