Signs, Portents, and Appetizers

Was thinking about various factors that influenced the discovery of America – by which I mean Columbus’s voyage. Not Saint Brendan or Madoc,  not the Phoenicians, not the Romans, not the Solutreans.  Not Basque fishermen.  Not Leif Ericsson or Bjarni  Herjólfsson either, because, although they really did get there, the information didn’t spread far. The same for Polynesian contacts – they did visit South America, but since they themselves were isolated from the Old World, it didn’t go anywhere.

First, they had cheap, reliable ships that were up to the job.  I emphasize cheap.

Columbus and European civilization _knew_ there was land on the other side – China, if nothing else. They knew the world was round.   Unfortunately for Columbus,  potential backers also knew how _big_ the world was, and how very far it was to China ( he had a fruitful delusion about this.)

One factor must have been the discovery of a number of useful islands in the Atlantic: the Azores, Madeira, the Canaries ( rediscovered, really – already inhabited and known to the  Romans). An expedition that merely found another Madeira would have more than paid for itself.  Legend placed plenty of other islands out in the Atlantic,  from Antillia to Huy-Braseal.

Could Columbus have known about Leif Ericsson and Vinland?  Just barely possible: there were people in Iceland that remembered Vinland, but the story wasn’t generally known in Europe. And even if he had heard, he was going far south of their discoveries.

People have occasionally wondered if sea beans had something to do with it. Sea beans, or drift seeds, at least the ones we’re interested in, are buoyant seeds come from tropical plants in the New World.  They can float long enough to reach the shores of Western Europe. When you found a sea-heart on the beach, something that clearly did not originate in Europe, surely that unknown land felt a bit more real.

 

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110 Responses to Signs, Portents, and Appetizers

  1. akarlin says:

    (1) Eurasians would have discovered the Americas eventually. The Atlantic being much narrower than the Pacific would be an obvious Cochranism.

    (2) Ironically, given stereotypes, the Chinese were actually much more “free market” about exploration. Their treasure fleets were – to put it bluntly – floating bazaars subsidized by the Ming state, where individual merchants could buy a stall to carry on independent trade relations with merchants at the polities they visited. But it’s not something that the state itself made profits on, they were just massive vanity projects at the end of the day and nomadic threats were closer to home. Hence the ultimate reason why they were scrapped around 1435.

    The European voyages were more profit oriented and could thus sustain themselves indefinitely.

    speculatively, one might make a comparison between the US/Soviet space programs of the Cold War and what SpaceX is attempting to do right now.

    • Woof says:

      To find the new world you needed both the technology to do it and the motivation to make it happen. Considering the dynamism and competitiveness of the various European states, it really was just a matter of time.

      • Frau Katze says:

        The Portuguese had been working their way down the coast of Africa for quite a while, intending to go all the way around. That’s where Columbus learned to sail. But they turned down his proposal to go West because they said it was too far away. And it was, but they didn’t realize there was another continent not that far away.

        The less knowledgeable Spaniards were willing to take a chance. Columbus thought he had arrived in Asia. I can’t remember if he ever changed his mind.

        It was definitely just a question of time. It wasn’t that far way. One Portuguese expedition accidentally landed in what is now Brazil. They had to tack back and forth to suit the way the winds blow, They overshot and ended up in South America. (This was after Columbus’ voyage). They eventually did get to India of course.

        Europe benefitted by not having a single authority as in China. In fact, they benefitted from that many times.

    • shadow on the wall says:

      speculatively, one might make a comparison between the US/Soviet space programs of the Cold War and what SpaceX is attempting to do right now.

      Exactly the same thing, except there is no profit in space.

      Overseas colonies of old times had gold, silver, slaves, rare spices, silk, sugar, tobacco, cotton, etc etc.
      What is there on the Moon or Mars to get rich quick?

      BTW, I agree with you that all these Buck Rogers space fantasies are just cover story for US MIC. This conspiracy theory explains so many suspicious things about Elon Musk, his life and work 🙂

      • skeptic16 says:

        I can see Musk and the techies deluding themselves that Martian colonies are practical. I CAN’T see SpaceX investors seeing them as profitable. Assuming SpaceX’s rockets can bring people safely to Mars, what are they going to do there besides struggle to survive? Why isn’t SpaceX developing the self sustaining life support technology for such a colony.

        Maybe the investors see some of the technology spin-offs from such an impractical objective as being profitable. But I wouldn’t rule out that SpaceX is a repeat of Howard Hughes’ “Glomar Explorer” being a cover for a CIA attempt to recover a sunken Soviet submarine. SpaceX is a private company and can conceal its finances to a degree that a public company can’t.

        Musk’s business practices and personal behavior are questionable, to say the least. If SpaceX is a front for a covert pentagon/intelligence agency operation, that would explain the leniency of federal regulators. Even the other defense contractors seem to leave him alone. Kind of like how Epstein was left alone because he was “associated with intelligence”.

    • Coagulopath says:

      (1) Eurasians would have discovered the Americas eventually. The Atlantic being much narrower than the Pacific would be an obvious Cochranism.

      Without Columbus, the Americas would have been discovered in 1500 by Pedro Álvares Cabral There were some other explorers before him, but they seemed inspired by Columbus.

  2. ghazisiz says:

    The things that you find on a beach can definitely stimulate the imagination. I remember as a teenager in the 1970s finding litter from a Soviet ship on a beach, and how that opened up my mind to a vast world out there behind the Iron Curtain.

  3. Gord Marsden says:

    I can’t find the book but I remember the author was Ian Wilson ,he contends that Columbus had a letter regarding the Grand Banks and Bristol fiasherman that was in the Vatican library , Japanese fishing floats ,glass from forever never spurred on native Americans to explore west

  4. teageegeepea says:

    What is a “sea-heart”?

  5. Frau Katze says:

    A bigger factor than a bit of stuff on a beach (I am guessing) was the extremely hostile Muslims in North Africa. They were furious about being kicked out of Spain and Portugal. Otherwise, overland trade would have been a better bet than sailing around Africa.

    There was overland trade in Lebanon and such but the Italians had a monopoly on it.

    • The Black Death made the idea of avoiding the Middle East more attractive, even though Europe only had a confused idea about that. They did know what direction the plague seemed to come from. People wanted to trade, and so went north, south, and eventually west on the Atlantic.

      Also, finding fish in the North Atlantic would likely have eventually resulted in the discovery of Nova Scotia, whatever Columbus did.

    • Cat Rationalist says:

      Maybe you mean Ottomans starting to blockade trade between Europe and India? North Africa barely had any influence.

      • Frau Katze says:

        No, I simply mean that the North Africans across the Mediterranean from Spain refused to trade with Spain. They were Muslims and were angry that Spain kicked all them out. You do know that they had been in Spain for a considerable time? Spain had two small enclaves in North Africa but it was no go, the locals were hostile (the enclaves are still there).

      • Frau Katze says:

        Partly the Portuguese expeditions down the coast were exploration. As someone else mentioned they discovered Madeira in 1419. Who knew what else was out there?

  6. Smithie says:

    Did the Phoenicians circumnavigate Africa during the reign of Necho II, as Herodotus claimed? Is it plausible?

    • Frau Katze says:

      Herodotus seemed to have accepted lots of crazy stuff that people told him.

      I’m doubtful about Phoenicians circumnavigating Africa, given how long it took for Portuguese to do it.

      Mind you, to trade they wanted to get to India and that made the trip much longer. They did finally get there. And had to fight to get a spot on the land. Unknown ships showing up without warning were not unreasonably considered dangerous.

      Part of the problem with sailing near Africa were the lethal diseases in the sub-Saharan part. Apparently the Portuguese did learn about this, no doubt from experience.

      Apparently their maps they made were concerned top secret. Lots of money and lives to get those.

      • Smithie says:

        In 600 BC or so, the Bantu peoples might not have advanced very far, bringing falciparum with them. I also wonder if they might have drawn on people with resistant genes, or whether it would have been too early.

        Though, I think it might have been easier in one way: they would not have had to deal with Muslims who may have been hostile to them. They wouldn’t have really had to circum-navigate either. Just get from an outpost near the Red Sea to one probably on the Atlantic coast of North Africa.

        The Romans had one near the southern extreme of Saudi Arabia at the Farasian Islands, about 3900 km from Rome

        I’d say that Egyptians had the surplus wealth needed to finance such an expedition. Probably the curiosity too. Necho II built some sort of precursor to the Suez Canal.

    • syonredux says:

      “Did the Phoenicians circumnavigate Africa during the reign of Necho II, as Herodotus claimed? Is it plausible?”

      It’s certainly possible. And there is the interesting detail about how “as they sailed on a westerly course round the southern end of Libya (Africa), they had the sun on their right,” which lends credibility to the tale.

      Hanno’s exploratory mission down the West Coast of Africa is also of interest. Although he didn’t circumnavigate the continent, people are always debating just how far south he got (Senegal? Gabon?).

      • Smithie says:

        I thought there was some story that they had chimp or ape skins in a temple somewhere. Though I suppose it might have been monkeys.

        I’m not sure the thing about the sun is that impressive. I think Greeks could have guessed at that. If they had said something about the Southern Cross, or about Bushmen, then that would have clinched it. But maybe they did, and it didn’t survive?

        • Smithie says:

          Whoops, my mistake: I guess the stars that make up the Southern Cross were visible in parts of Europe, or at least the Med back then.

          • Frau Katze says:

            Not visible until 35°S.

          • Frau Katze says:

            Sorry, parts may be visible further north, 35°S gives you a good view all year. You can see some parts at 25° S. That’s still very far south of the Mediterranean though,

          • Frau Katze says:

            Now I’m reading you can see parts from the northern hemisphere. I give up on this,

          • Frau Katze says:

            Here’s what Wikipedia says about the Southern Cross. Note that no one would have even thought of it as a cross pre-Christianity.

            The bright stars in Crux were known to the Ancient Greeks, where Ptolemy regarded them as part of the constellation Centaurus.[1][2] They were entirely visible as far north as Britain in the fourth millennium BC. However, the precession of the equinoxes gradually lowered the stars below the European horizon, and they were eventually forgotten by the inhabitants of northern latitudes.[3] By 400 CE, the stars in the constellation we now call Crux never rose above the horizon throughout most of Europe. Dante may have known about the constellation in the 14th century, as he describes an asterism of four bright stars in the southern sky in his Divine Comedy.[4] Others argue that Dante’s description was allegorical, and that he almost certainly did not know about the constellation.[5]

            • Smithie says:

              Carthaginians practiced crucifixion close to that time, though it is unclear if the practice took place at the time of the putative expedition.

              Of course, the point is somewhat moot because the stars have changed position in the sky.

        • syonredux says:

          Lots of debate as to what the “gorillas” actually were (chimps? gorillas?):

          “[W]e arrived at a bay called HORN OF THE SOUTH. And in this bay was an island which looked like the first, having a lake and in it another island filled with wild savages. The biggest number of them were females, with hairy bodies, which our [Lixitae] [prior brackets in original; also called the Nasamonians, a Libyan tribe] interpreters called “Gorillas”. Chasing them, we could not catch any of the males, because all of them escaped by being able to climb steep cliffs and defending themselves with whatever was available; but we caught three females who bit and scratched their captors and they did not want to follow them. So we had to kill them and flayed them and we brought their skins to Carthage[.]”

          — Hanno, Periplus 88–99

        • syonredux says:

          “I’m not sure the thing about the sun is that impressive. I think Greeks could have guessed at that.”

          Interestingly enough, that detail about the sun made Herodotus doubt the veracity of the story:

          “These men made a statement which I do not myself believe, though others may, to the effect that as they sailed on a westerly course round the southern end of Libya, they had the sun on their right – to northward of them. This is how Libya was first discovered by sea.”

        • saintonge235 says:

          The Greeks could only have guessed about the sun being on the right hand if they knew about the equator. There’s no evidence they did, and Herodotus says he flat out doesn’t believe the story about the sun.

          I do believe they made it, once.

    • random observer says:

      It may have been an advantage in one way that they sailed from Egypt down the east coast, round the Cape, then up the west side.

      Portuguese sailors trying to go the other way were apparently long frustrated by strong northeasterly winds starting at Cape Bojador in Sahara, which would blow them unaccustomedly far from shore, by period standards, without too much knowledge about how to struggle back east or what was ahead. At this point they would already be south of the long-known Canary islands and being blown SW away from them into the unknown. Though towards Brazil, had they only known at the time.

      Discovery of a way around this opened up the African west coast route farther south as well as permitting the discovery and settlement of the Azores.

      I read of this as a kid and the place name at least stuck with me. It’s one of those things from the heroic age of navigation that makes me think of space anomalies in Star Trek.

      The Phoenicians were sailing the other way- I have no idea whether they had comparable navigational hazards to overcome on the east coast headed southward. Maybe their ships had partial oar power, as well, given the era. Old-school, but maybe useful.

      • dearieme says:

        The many years the Portuguese spent learning the wind patterns and currents in the Atlantic seem to me to be the rational way to explore. Or the way the Polynesians explored by sailing against the direction of the prevailing winds, taking advantage of brief periods when the wind blew the other way (according to Irwin’s wonderful book on their voyages).

        Gaily setting off down the East African coast without a clue as to how they might get back if they needed to seems an implausible stunt to me. Unless, like Columbus, they were pursuing a nonsensical theory which just happened to serve them well.

  7. Frau Katze says:

    The motives of the Vikings I find a bit puzzling. They seemed to be out just looking around. They did find Iceland. It wasn’t a major find, but it was something. Greenland too, but it was too cold (and there were competitors) for the long run. Their ships were too small to support the landing in North America. It was a long way back home. They weren’t officially sponsored. They were just a bit too early.

    The Spaniards had better ships and they were closer, plus they (unknowingly) brought the disease weapon, perhaps most significant of all.

    They Vikings did better in Great Britain and France, establishing distinct settlements. Expeditions from both places headed to North America after hearing about Columbus.

    • Gord Marsden says:

      Under certain conditions in the Arctic the land will appear to whel up and can be seen for 1000 miles , the Vikings may have seen Greenland from Iceland and North America from Grrenland , they were farming in Greenland and where there hundreds of years

    • DRA says:

      The Vikings did settle Iceland, and perhaps some Irish established themselves there before that. From Iceland to Greenland isn’t that far to travel, and the Vikings seemed to harvest walrus ivory and export it to Europe.

      I also wonder about the possible transmission of chicken pox (via shingles perhaps) to the new world. The timing was about right for the collapse of the mound builders in North America and Mayan in Central America. The travel time from Europe may have been to long for other old world diseases, But shingles can transmit chicken pox over the generations.

      Does anyone know if somebody has checked mummified or frozen bodies from that time period for the virus?

      • Frau Katze says:

        Iceland: One can tell from the Y chromosome that most of the men that settled Iceland were Norse. From the mitochondrial DNA, most of the founding women were Irish.

        Whether the Vikings bought the women (somewhat unlikely) or looked for volunteers (unlikely) or seized the woman after fighting the men (plausible) is unknown.

        I don’t know anything about chicken pox. It does not seem to have been a disease that featured much in the New World. That just means that the (several) books I have read on the topic don’t mention it.

        I’ll check wikipedia now.

      • Frau Katze says:

        It seems that people confused chicken pox with mild smallpox at times. It was singled out and described in the 1500’s. The little I could find does not suggest it was ever a severe disease (but of course we don’t know the more remote history).

        I would guess it was not brought by the Vikings. You have to consider the length of the voyage with all these infectious diseases.

        The Norse ships would not have been as fast as the later Spanish ships. If the voyage is long enough, any and all the sick will either be dead or recovered.

        This explains why cholera did not arrive in England from India until the era of steamships (or at least, steam-sail hybrids).

        To transmit smallpox to the new world, one would have needed at least one person affected but not yet showing symptoms to board the ship in Europe. Then there would need to be enough vulnerable people on board to keep it going until arrival.

        It took about three decades from 1492 before the right conditions brought smallpox to the new world.

        • DRA says:

          Thats why I suggested chicken pox, it avoids the issue of travel time, because shingles. I have never heard that anyone found evidence of the virus that causes shingles/chicken pox. However, I can’t find that anyone actually looked.

          Thanks for your effort on the subject.

          • Frau Katze says:

            But shingles occurs mostly in older people, hardly the type of person to undertake such a voyage.

            I can find very little on the topic. Just advice on trying to avoid shingles since almost all adults carry the virus.

            It appears to be a little-studied malady.

            • Aidan Kehoe says:

              There’s plenty of clinical experience with shingles (Herpes zoster), it does happen even in children as well as older people and the mechanism described is plausible, chickenpox has quite a severe clinical course in adults, it could well have killed millions.

              DRA’s suggestion of checking frozen or mummified bodies is completely reasonable.

        • engleberg says:

          Maybe cholera did not arrive in England from India until the Brits really annoyed the wrong Indians. ‘From now you eat and drink from my hand,’ said Kipling’s friend after the young Kipling annoyed a powerful Indian.

          • Frau Katze says:

            In the days of sail, the trip took six months.

            I didn’t come up with the theory myself, I read it somewhere, but I can’t remember where. Six months would be too long. It’s very contagious.

          • Frau Katze says:

            The Suez Canal, opened in 1869, would have shaved off a lot of time.

            • engleberg says:

              I’m suggesting some Indian mad about the Mutiny deliberately using biowar, keeping some source of cholera viable through the voyage.

              • Frau Katze says:

                It’s possible, but even if the angry Indian infected someone deliberately he couldn’t control what happened after the ship set sail.

              • gcochran9 says:

                He would have needed a time machine and I doubt that the Brits would have loaned theirs out.

              • gcochran9 says:

                Not just to cause the epidemic well before the Mutiny, but in order to learn about the germ theory of disease.

              • Frau Katze says:

                @gcochran9 You are right.

                I read a book about an outbreak of cholera in Hamburg: “Death in Hamburg” by Richard J. Evans. It occurred in 1892, after Koch showed that it was a waterborne infectious disease. Koch advocated sand filtration of the water supply and it worked.

                But Hamburg was beyond his control. The city retained a degree of autonomy from back in the day. The head doctor in Hamburg refused to believe Koch’s theories.

                The book meticulously goes through the numbers infected in Hamburg compared to a nearby urban region that used sand filtration. Only Hamburg was infected.

                If a German doctor could be this stupid even after the cause had been discovered, how could we expect Indians to know?

            • engleberg says:

              We could expect Indians to know a lot about cholera from practical experience, whether they had a germ theory of disease. ‘Witch’ meant ‘poisoner’, among other things, and keeping cholera actively moving through a pool of pets, livestock, or slaves would not be impossible. The Mutiny was preceded by a bunch of fits and starts and bad feelings.

  8. Daud Deden says:

    Of mythic potential: The legend of Quetzacoatl/Kulkukan leaving on a raft was a skewed memory of the Norse voyage, contact and departure, Aztlan being Iceland.
    Doesn’t fit chronologically, but neat idea.

  9. Cat Rationalist says:

    You forgot to add that winds and currents enable year-round travel between Caribbean and Hiberian peninsula (Icelanders didn’t have such luxury! )Unlike other routes, where people had to wait half for year for monsoon to change direction.

  10. Ian says:

    What if, in parallel universe, the Earth had no America and they really would have found Asia?

  11. jb says:

    Europeans had ships capable of crossing the Atlantic well before Columbus; what they did not have was the necessary understanding of the winds. Two fascinating chapters in Alfred Crosby’s classic book Ecological Imperialism explain in detail how exploitation of the Atlantic Islands was the key to solving the puzzle of the Atlantic (and eventually Pacific) winds, enabling long distance European trade with not just the New World, but India and East Asia as well. The title of the book is a bit unfortunate, suggesting yet another Leftist screed against Western imperialism and ecological badness, but the book itself is nothing of the sort, and I highly recommend it.

  12. Citizen AllenM says:

    To sail from Portugal to Sweden required a tough ship, and if the weather was bad you had to survive the North Sea and be strong enough in sail to stay off the rocks of England.

    Or the sands of the Netherlands. In short, you needed a carrack at the least to do trade with northern Europe or to sail south to the Bight of Benin.

    In short, to survive the open ocean and go out away from land you had to have real sailing ability.

    Dragging up between Lisbon and Cueta could take a galley or whatever, but getting to the Baltic with efficiency required real navigation to get there. Sailing to Iceland required real navigation skills, and I would note Columbus had gone there- the islands in the Atlantic were a small stepping stone, but trade and pushing outward were the order of the day. If England hadn’t been so self absorbed in who gets to be King for nearly the entire 15th Century, it most likely would have had a good headstart into the Atlantic, but then again,so many northern powers were awakening and going out.

    • Coagulopath says:

      And as Greg alluded, Columbus’s planned voyage was impossible.

      Japan’s coast is approximately 20,000 kilometers from Portugal. If the American continent hadn’t been in the way, he’d have been screwed.

      Columbus believed the Earth to be about 50% smaller than it actually is. He furthermore insisted that the Eurasian landmass took up about six sevenths of the earth’s circumference.

      It’s kind of amazing how it worked out. Like bullshitting an answer when the teacher asks you a question and having it actually be correct.

      • Citizen AllenM says:

        Impossible, but possibly cheaper-I would also note that driftwood unfamiliar to the has been mentioned. Interestingly, there is one bird that flies west from Europe in migration- the Northern Wheatear- which would be noticed flying in from the ocean over the decades- that is your sign.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumelihisar%C4%B1
        This, on the other hand is the why it was becoming more important- trade was being controlled and taxed by those heathens…lol.

  13. dearieme says:

    I read somewhere that driftwood arriving in the Western Isles (of Scotland) was identifiably of different species than those familiar in Europe.

    Against that tale I offer (i) The Western Isles are, and were, near treeless, so how would the locals know? (Though visiting fishermen from the Lowlands, or England, or the Low Countries might know.)
    (ii) Are the trees of Labrador and the like sufficiently different from European varieties to be recognised as exotics?

    • deariemoi says:

      Ah, if the trees used the Gulf Stream they would probably have come from much further south than Labrador. Would southern US trees look exotic? I dare say they would.

  14. Patrick L Boyle says:

    I’m surprised at you. So much scholarship and yet you overlooked the oblivious refutation of your thesis that the earlier explorers had no influence on subsequent history. It is well known that Columbus sent his brother to Dublin to research the writings of Saint Brendan. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Brendan actually made the voyage, but it does mean that his voyage – real or fictitious – had had an impact on subsequent events.

  15. Henry Scrope says:

    I’m pretty sure there was fishing on the Grand Banks pre-Columbus, if so the fishermen would have seen seagulls flying to and from the West.

    How would you prove this? archeology of 15th century fish bones near Bristol?

  16. New Ledford says:

    When we finally find the Welsh Indians we can ask them if they sent word to Columbus.

    • Woof says:

      My second cousin’s best friend’s uncle’s third wife’s ex-husband’s mechanic said his nephew’s anthropology professor saw clear evidence that the Welsh found the new world in 1239, so there’s that.

  17. highmlowvindianguy says:

    Hi Dr. Cochran,
    Sorry for the off-topic comment.
    My wife, who is 10 weeks pregnant, works in a skilled nursing facility (no large outbreaks yet, so far). She is planning to get vaccinated later this week, but doctors have not been forthcoming about (theoretical) risks to the fetus from taking the vaccination this early in pregnancy (versus early in the second trimester).
    What would you recommend?
    Thanks,
    A worried husband

  18. Citizen AllenM says:

    Greg, how about the mutation update?
    I was pretty accurate back at the end of April, and now comes the next phase:
    The advantageous mutation is now upon us.

    Citizen AllenM says:
    April 28, 2020 at 9:23 am

    Looking at the current numbers, herd immunity will kick in at roughly 70%, with that taking two or three winters. In the USA, the overall death rate of infected looks to be 1%- so call it 2.1 million deaths over the next three years. The most likely scenario is we accept summer reopening, and have a fall outbreak that follows the colder weather- just like the traditional flu, and the 1918 pandemic history.

    Now, worldwide, I guess (and let us just call it a guess) that the overall death rate will be double that 1%-so 2% in the third world without drastic efficient Chinese style steps to contain the virus.
    So- India- over the next 2-3 winters will experience 35 million deaths- most of which will not be recorded from the virus.

    So, breaking the world up into efficient versus inefficient camps 1% versus 2%, plus 70% infected to reach herd immunity- 3 billion in the efficient camp- 20 million dead over the next 3 winters- 4 billion in the inefficient camp 56 million in the inefficient camp.

    Total dead at the end of the third winter- 76 million- yielding just a 1% total mortality worldwide.

    The funny part is I think these are really the lower bound of the overall deaths.

    The really interesting part is the statistical check provided by the excess death rate in Britain showing how it really is hitting the elderly and sick the hardest.

    Of course, just like the 1918 pandemic, there will be various hotspots and winners of the isolation and shutdown games.

    There, without advantageous mutation, is ultimately a speedbump for humanity.

    • Frau Katze says:

      The mutation is bad news. I’m sequestering at home due to my age (69). I’m not waiting for herd immunity. Our province (British Columbia, Canada) says they can vaccinate everyone who wants it by the end of the summer.

      Depending on herd immunity is something only a few folks have to do. They have medical conditions that preclude vaccination.

      Most people who are currently saying they won’t take a vaccine are the crazies. I don’t understand their motives.

  19. Kristor says:

    The medieval Norse had a skirmish with skraelings on a beach in Western Iceland. Learnt of it on a vacation in Iceland. The skraelings arrived from the West in kayaks. The Vikings won.

    Also check out World Trade & Biological Exchanges before 1492, by Sorenson & Johannessen. The Pharaohs used tobacco. Lots of other evidence of trade between the hemispheres going back thousands of years. Blew my mind.

  20. Coagulopath says:

    You know, I was reading the Mayan Popol Vuh – a collection of Pre-Columbian histories and myths – and there’s a part that says the founders of the Maya came from the other side of the ocean.

    I was interested for a second…then I Googled, and founds scholars saying that the “ocean” was probably the Gulf of Mexico (meaning they came from Chichen Itza or somewhere). Damn.

  21. Gordon William Marsden says:

    Inuit metalworking? found this while locking for the irish monk sculpture found in the far north

    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/gea.21497

  22. NBC News – Did English merchants beat Columbus to America?
    https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna47288320

    ………Found in a private Florentine archive,‭ ‬document records that a‭ payment of‭ ‬50‭ ‬nobles sterling was made to‭ “‬Giovanni Chabotte‭” (John Cabot‭) of Venice so that‭ ‬he could undertake expeditions‭ ‬”to go and find the new land.‭”

    Gavinthornbury

    • gcochran9 says:

      There are al kinds of people that have claimed that Columbus was really one of their posse, or that their guys beat him to the new world.

      The Vikings have a point. Everyone else is just lying.

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