Crapstone, Devon – Guesswork Etymology

The residents of Crapstone, a small village in Devon, England, don’t know and mostly don’t care how their village got its name, nor why someone would choose to give a place such a name.
They don’t know, but I could give them a few suggestions…

  1. The word crap is a form of the word crop, which means the cultivated produce of the ground, such as wheat.

  2. The word crap derives from the Middle English crappe, meaning chaff – the inedible casings of cereal grain, considered waste material and historically ploughed into the ground. The word crappe in turn comes from Old French crappe and Latin crappa and crapinum, all of which also mean chaff.

  3. The crap in Crapstone may refer to the game of craps, in which the dice would often be rolled against a back-stop such as a kerb or stone, possibly leading to such a stone being called a craps-stone.

  4. The Rhaetian word for mountain or stone is… can you guess? Yep; crap. There are many mountains in Switzerland whose names start with Crap, one of the most famous being Crap Sogn Gion (Stone of St. John). Admittedly this would turn Crapstone into something like Stonemountain, Stonehill or… Stonestone. It could be worse, right? (It already is.)


The Hercules-Corona Borealis Great Wall – Wait… What?!

It’s become a scientifically accepted theory that the universe is a star’s fart away from being 13.8 billion years old. Easy to wrap your head around, right? Right. Of course it is.

Our star, the Sun, or Sol, is 4.6 billion years old. That’s roughly 1/3rd the age of the universe.  Wow. Old-timer. Not really; our Sun is a comparatively young individual compared to other stars.

The Milky Way itself is roughly 13.2 billion years old, but of course looks much different now to when it originally began to coalesce. The Milky Way is 100,000 light years at its widest point. As far as galaxies go, ours is pretty damn small. File that away, I’ll get back to it later.

Back to the age of stars. Well within the confines of our Milky Way (or, as I prefer to call it, the Via Lactea) is a star known as SM0313. This star was born 13.6 billion years ago from one of the primordial supernovae, less than 200 million years after the Big Bang that supposedly kickstarted the entire universe. SM0313 is 400 million years older than the galaxy in which it snugly resides. Compared to our Sun, SM0313 is a doddery old pensioner – the oldest survivor of a great and terrible time…

Or perhaps not.

Remember, we’re talking about the ‘known’ universe, the ‘observable’ universe. Science is the beating heart of human knowledge, and knowledge is the fantastic progression that widens our scope of understanding. From believing the Earth was flat, to believing the Earth was the centre of all things, to believing the Earth was a mere 4,000 years old, we’ve come a long way. Or, rather, some of us have.
Science has brought us to where we are now – a place with a plethora of facts, each of which has shattered a previous concept. But, as far as I’ve always been concerned, the ultimate age of existence is not something we’ve identified yet. I accept there was a Big Bang. I utterly accept that as an undisputed fact. But, unlike most people who prescribe to scientific methodology, I don’t accept the Big Bang as being the be-all of creation. To do so is synonymous with the Christian/Hebrew faiths prescribing to their deity, the unimaginately-named ‘God’, as being the creator of all things. One singular occurence? One moment on the cusp of a timeless void?
No, you can take your Big Bang Theory and put it on the shelf above the original Theory of Evolotion that stated Man descended from Cro Magnon, Neanderthal, and so forth. A shelf high above religion, but nonetheless archived in the ‘Previously Held Beliefs Room’ of humanity.

Back to sizes. The largest known structure in the universe, until recently, was the Huge Large Quasar Group (or U1.27), a cluster of 73 quasars situated far out at the rim of the universe, and stretches 4 billion light years across, compared to the Milky Way’s comparatively tiny diameter of 100,000 light years. By the way, a typical quasar (or active galactic nuclei) has a luminosity of about 100 times that of the entire Milky Way. In other words, a single quasar is brighter than hundreds of billions of stars combined. Jaw-dropping? Absolutely. But Huge-LQG was knocked off the top spot some months ago as the biggest cosmic structure.

The universe is almost 13.8 billion years old, and some 29 gigaparsecs (93 billion light years) in diameter, which means we can see approximately 46-47 billion light years in any direction from the Earth. No matter how far humanity extends its reach, we will always be at the centre of the observable universe (though I can see that fact being shelved in the future, too.)

Keeping in mind the size of the known universe, let’s move on to the main reason for this entire post.

The Hercules-Corona Borealis Great Wall, a gigantic hypermassive galactic wall, is situated 10 billion light years from Earth,  Coincidentally, the Her-CrB GW is also 10 billion light years across at its thickest point.
I’ll say that again: 10 billion light years across.
One structure.
Remember that what we’re seeing today is the ghost of how the Great Wall looked 10 billion years ago; this means that a cosmic structure of 10 billion light years in diameter existed when the universe was allegedly only 3.8 billion years old. But, according to the modern models of the evolution of the universe, such a complex and massive structure could not have existed only 3.8 billion years after the Big Bang.
In other words, the Her-CrB GW is impossible, and yet it exists, and its existence shatters all working theories on the age of the universe.

The exact time at which the Big Bang took place is indisputable; it happened 13.8 billion years ago. And yet the newly-discovered Great Wall – so distant, so ancient – lies out there and shakes its head at our Big Bang Theory. It speaks to us from a time long past, from a place so utterly far away, and it smiles knowingly, its eyes glittering with hints of deeper secrets, and it says,

“You’re doing great, guys, but it’s time to go back to the drawing board again, for I am here, and I’ve been here so very long.”

And it is right. The existence of the Hercules-Corona Borealis Great Wall 10 billion years ago as the singularly greatest structure in the universe, at a time when the universe was young and yet to reach much of its future playground, defies the Big Bang Theory. In fact, it laughs at it. And as a teaser it gives us a teasing message:

“If you think my existence is theory-shatteringly spectacular, you ought to see what I can see on the other side of me…”

This Herculean structure could not have originated from the Big Bang. And if the Big Bang was the beginning of all existence, then how, and more importantly when, did the Hercules-Corona Borealis Great Wall come into existence? When did it begin to coalesce, and with matter that originated from where? If it was so hypermassive 10 billion years ago, it must have begun coalescing many billions of years earlier. Which makes the Great Wall unquestionably older than the Big Bang itself.
Back to the drawing board, indeed.

Famous Personalities And What Their Names Really Mean

Foreign languages can be tricky beasts, especially for those non-natives who think a particular name sounds cool, but are completely naive to its actual meaning. For anyone with an interest in etymology (like me) here’s a few examples of well-known names, German, Dutch Gaelic, and what they really mean…

Bart Simpson – In German, Bart means Beard, so the yellow pituitary dwarf is ironically called Beard Simpson, even though he’s destined never to grow one.

Kiefer Sutherland – In German, Kiefer means Jaw. I’m pretty sure Donald Sutherland didn’t realise what the name he was choosing for his son really meant.

Engelbert Humperdinck – The German word Engel means Angel. The suffix -bert (also in names such as Robert and Albert) comes from the Old English behrt and the Old High German behert, which mean bright. Often in German and Old English the adjective appears after the noun, so flipping them the correct way around for modern English usage, we arrive at Bright-Angel. It beggars the question: What was Arnold George Dorsey (the famous singer’s real name) thinking when he chose his performing moniker?

John F. Kennedy – The name Kennedy has roots in several related Gaelic meaning. The word ceann and its variants mean head or leader/chief. The word éidigh and its variants mean ugly or helmet. So Kennedy literally means either ugly head, ugly chief, or helmet-headed. Fitz is an Anglo-Norman prefix which means son of. Gerald is an old German name; ger means spear, and wald means rule (wald also, and more commonly, means wood/forest, but not in this case). And John, of course, means Graced by Yahweh. So, the erstwhile president of the USA was literally called
Graced-by-Yahweh, son of Spear-Ruler Ugly-Head. Cue the graffiti at JFK International Airport…

Charles Darwin – The founder of the theory of evolution was very likely aware that his name was about as generic as it gets. Charles is a variant of Karl, which comes from the Germanic word Kerl, meaning Man, or Guy. Darwin originates from Old English deorwine, meaning dear friend. Hence, one of the greatest contributors to science was known as ‘a guy who was a dear friend’.

Albert Einstein – Al comes from Germanic adal, cognate with edel, meaning noble. Bert (see Engelbert Humperdinck) means bright. Ein in German means One, and Stein in German means Stone. So, the man who discovered relativity was literally called Bright-Noble One-Stone. But German being German, ‘Einstein’ more precisely means ‘a place surrounded by stone walls’.

Ludwig Van Beethoven – The name Ludvig comes from Old High German hlud, meaning famous, and Wig, meaning war. Van is Dutch for from (cognate with ‘son of’). Beet in German translates to patch, bed or plot, all referring to vegetables and such. Hoven is Dutch for Garden. So, the famous composer was literally called Famous-War, son of Vegetable-Garden. Can anyone name a famous war that was fought in an allotment?

Heinrich Himmler – The name Heinrich is cognate with the English name Henry, and comes from Old High German heimerich. The basic meaning of the name is ‘powerful ruler’. In German, a Himmler is a person who lives in a topographically high place (close to Heaven, or Himmel). So the criminal mastermind behind the Holocaust was a ‘Powerful Ruler Who Resides Near Heaven’. Hmm.

Blanket Jackson – Michael Jackson clearly wanted to get the message to the world that his motherless son is white (which is arguably false), therefore he opted to call him Blanket. Blanket comes from French blanchet, meaning white or undyed wool or cloth. Blanchet in turn comes from blanc, which means white. shrug I wonder if he knows his name is cognate with Blanche from The Golden Girls? Either way, it don’t matter if you’re Blanket white.


Famous People & Characters

I’ve updated this page of some of my artwork with tweaked versions of my first two Gigi Edgley sketches, and a brand new third sketch of the gorgeous Gigi Edgley (Chiana from Farscape). Also on this page (so far) are a sketch of Seven Of Nine (Jeri Ryan), Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones, Yuna from Final Fantasy x/x-2, and my rendition of an obscure 80s zombie flick called The Video Dead.

Famous People & Characters.

Faith Vs. Proof – Another Religion/Science Rant

A harmony between modern empirical proof and archaic faith systems can not exist. Humanity is and always will be a divided beast; on one side we have people who believe in and/or worship all-powerful entities that promise a life everlasting beyond the flesh, and on the other side there are people who don’t believe in gods, but instead accept the results of slow but steady scientific progress and a growing understanding of nature and evolotion both global and universal. You can’t marry those two ways of thinking together; to even assume a harmonic co-existence between believing in a god and accepting all scientific realisations is, frankly, oxymoronic.

I can believe in an entity capable of creating what to our ancient ancestors was the known universe – the Earth, its Moon, four other planets visible to the naked eye (called wandering stars, back then), the Sun and a sprinkling of stars in admittedly a much more beautiful night sky than the modern one – a very small area of a single galaxy among billions.

I can believe such creation to be plausible, but I don’t believe that’s how we, as humans, came to be here. I don’t believe it because of the evidence of evolution and the ever-deepening understanding of an ever-increasing universe.

I also don’t believe it because – and this is the part that usually shakes most beliefs – I know that when I die it’ll all be over, I may as well have never existed. I’m not going anywhere except back to star dust, and that terrifies me but I’ve accepted it because there is not one nugget of evidence throughout all of history to prove otherwise.

Although I can accept that entities with great abilities could and possibly do exist somewhere out there, either as a result of lengthy evolution or something more primal and unknown, I still could never conscionably worship such an entity, even if science went on to discover that, yes, after all we really were created by a more evolved being or race thereof. It still doesn’t give such entities the right to command my praise and the praise of an entire species. In fact, the Sun worshippers were the closest to the truth. We are a random and unlikely occurence of nature, improbable but almost certainly not alone in the universe… and our creator is the universe itself. I’m never going to worship that, but I’m always going to respect it.

The Last Story for Wii Review

The Last Story, one of the most lauded RPGs on the Wii platform, from one of the biggest names in JRPG history, Hironobu Sakaguchi, could just as easily have been named ‘The Generic Story’, or ‘The Cliched Story’, or ‘The Done-To-Death Story’.

Indeed, the least impressive part of the whole game is the story itself. Young man and his friends meet princess. Young man befriends princess. Princess has an evil suitor and an evil uncle in charge of the kingdom. Young man, friends and princess get caught up in war against creatures from other island. Young man develops super powers… You’ve heard it all before, you’ve played it a dozen times or more. There’s nothing new here. Continue reading