A Penny Drops Moment

Sadly, today is Dave Gorman’s last show on Absolute Radio. I’m vaguely thinking about tuning in live over the interwebs – if I can figure out the timezones and such – or I may just wait for the podcast.

In any case, one of the subjects frequently discussed on the show were ‘Penny Drops Moments’ – that is the moment when you suddenly realise something incredibly obvious that’s been staring you in the face for ages. I had one of those the other day, so thought this an auspicious date to write about it.

Many, many years back, when ah were just a lad (sorry, I seem to have gone all Yorkshire, give me a minute to apply a smack to the head… ouch!… that’s better), many years back there was a paranormal themed show named Strange Things on local radio station RTR. Every week the hosts would pick a ‘strange thing’ as a subject and put together a selection of interviews, music and general irreverent discussion about it. One week, they chose the subject of Satanism, and in between a biography of Aleister Crowley and ridiculous urban myths about Boya Quarry, they interviewed the self proclaimed ‘Pope D.K.D Cadaver’ of the Church of the Subgenius about his ‘Satanic Church of the Sacred Excrameditation Bowl and Divine Slack’.

This interview was a riot. You can actually judge for yourself just how much of a riot because one of the first things I ever posted on Wyrmworld was a transcription of it – happening to have recorded it off the radio when it was broadcast (the transcription even includes some audio files of the original ranting! Magic! :)).

I was reminiscing about this interview the other day, when I realised something. Something that had been staring me in the face for years. The name of the ‘Pope’. D.K.D = Decay D = Decayed. Pope Decayed Cadaver! An obvious reference to the Synodus Horrenda! D’oh!

The Synodus Horrenda, for those whose knowledge of weird and bizarre history isn’t quite up to scratch, is one of the strangest and most disturbing incidents in the entire strange and disturbing history of the Catholic Church. Known in English as the Cadaver Synod, it took place in 897 during one of the various power struggles that surrounded the Papacy, and involved the then Pope Stephen VI (or VII – it’s complicated) having the decaying corpse of his predecessor Pope Formosus dug up, and put on trial for various abuses of power. The trial mostly consisted of the rotting corpse being propped up on a chair while Pope Stephen yelled questions and accusations at it, and ended with the body being stripped of its Papal vestments, having its fingers cut off, and being thrown into the Tiber River.

(You may think Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair is weird – Catholicism has you beat every time!)

So there, a penny drops moment of the strangest kind!

Civil Engineering

I just heard that Dave Gorman is leaving Absolute Radio, which means no more Dave Gorman podcast. Booooo!!!

(It also means that Magna Carta Travel and Discount Airfares will never make it onto Fail Lane, and Danielle Ward will never have to figure out what GBOB* means. Sad times indeed.)

But hey, life g0es on. Particularly in New York City.

Somewhat appropriately given the effects of Hurricane/Frankenstorm/Superstorm Sandy I was thinking a few weeks back about how one could go about protecting New York (or at least Manhattan) from sea-level rise – inspired by this particular post on BLDGBLOG.

I eventually decided that the optimum way would be the construction of a number of dams, as follows…

* At the southern end of Arthur Kill at Perth Amboy
* At the northern end of Arthur Kill at Bayway
* Across the Verrazano Narrows
* Across the Hudson River between the George Washington Bridge and Harlem River
* At the northern mouth of the Harlem River
* At the north end of Randalls Island
* Two dams at the south end of Wards Island – blocking the East and Harlem Rivers

Additional to these, levies would need to be raised along the Harlem River.

The idea would be to limit flow into Upper New York Bay to the Hudson, Hackensack and Passiac Rivers. The level of the bay would be controlled by letting water in through the Hudson dam, and pumping it out down Arthur Kill. If flow down the Hudson became too great, it would be diverted through the Harlem river into Long Island Sound.

What’s interesting about this idea is that the level of the bay would be highly controlled, meaning it could easily be lowered by a few metres. This would expose large areas of land for development – once they had been properly dried out and decontaminated from years of pollutants. Sales of the land involved could even make the entire project economically feasible – which it almost certainly isn’t at present 🙂

So that’s the idea. No real point to it, just an idle exploration of the hydrology of New York City that I thought deserved permanent recording before I forget about it and come up with some other crazy idea.

* I don’t know. Figure it out.