"The Hef" on Wikipedia
David Segal, "The Country That Wants to ‘Be Average’ vs. Jeff Bezos and His $500 Million Yacht," New York Times, July 29, 2022
Documentary about the Albany Bulb before, during, and immediately after its emptying.
We sailed from Amsterdam with despatches from their High Mightinesses the States of Holland. The only circumstance which happened on our voyage worth relating was the wonderful effects of a storm, which had torn up by the roots a great number of trees of enormous bulk and height, in an island where we lay at anchor to take in wood and water; some of these trees weighed many tons, yet they were carried by the wind so amazingly high, that they appeared like the feathers of small birds floating in the air, for they were at least five miles above the earth: however, as soon as the storm subsided they all fell perpendicularly into their respective places, and took root again, except the largest, which happened, when it was blown into the air, to have a man and his wife, a very honest old couple, upon its branches, gathering cucumbers (in this part of the globe that useful vegetable grows upon trees): the weight of this couple, as the tree descended, over-balanced the trunk, and brought it down in a horizontal position: it fell upon the chief man of the island, and killed him on the spot; he had quitted his house in the storm, under an apprehension of its falling upon him, and was returning through his own garden when this fortunate accident happened. The word fortunate, here, requires some explanation. This chief was a man of a very avaricious and oppressive disposition, and though he had no family, the natives of the island were half-starved by his oppressive and infamous impositions.
The very goods which he had thus taken from them were spoiling in his stores, while the poor wretches from whom they were plundered were pining in poverty. Though the destruction of this tyrant was accidental, the people chose the cucumber-gatherers for their governors, as a mark of their gratitude for destroying, though accidentally, their late tyrant.
-- The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen, by Rudolph Erich Raspe
At the beginning of the war, two British chemists, V. E. Yarsley and E. G. Couzens, prophesied with surprising accuracy and quaintly utopian innocence what middle-class childhood in the 1970s would be like. â€œLet us try to imagine a dweller in the â€˜Plastic Age,â€™â€ they wrote in the British magazine Science Digest.
This creature of our imagination, this â€˜Plastic Man,â€™ will come into a world of colour and bright shining surfaces, where childish hands find nothing to break, no sharp edges or corners to cut or graze, no crevices to harbour dirt or germs, because, being a child his parents will see to it that he is surrounded on every side by this tough, safe, clean material which human thought has created. The walls of his nursery, all the articles of his bath and certain other necessities of his small life, all his toys, his cot, the moulded perambulator in which he takes the air, the teething ring he bites, the unbreakable bottle he feeds from . . . all will be plastic, brightly self-coloured and patterned with every design likely to please his childish mind.
Here, then, is one of the meanings of the duck. It represents this vision of childhoodâ€”the hygienic childhood, the safe childhood, the brightly colored childhood, in which everything, even bathtub articles, have been designed to please the childish mind, much as the golden fruit in that most famous origin myth of paradise â€œwas pleasant to the eyesâ€ of childish Eve. Yarsley and Couzens go on to imagine the rest of Plastic Manâ€™s life, and it is remarkable how little his adulthood differs from his childhood. When he grows up, Plastic Man will live in a house furnished with â€œbeautiful, transparent, glass-like materials in every imaginable form,â€ he will play with plastic toys (tennis rackets and fishing tackle), he will, â€œlike a magician,â€ be able to make â€œwhat he wants.â€ And yet there is one imperfection, one run in this nylon dream. Plastic might make the pleasures of childhood last forever, but it could not make Plastic Man immortal. When he dies, he will sink â€œinto his grave hygienically enclosed in a plastic coffin.â€ The image must have been unsettling, even in 1941; that hygienically enclosed death too reminiscent of the hygienically enclosed life that preceded it. To banish the image of that plastic coffin from their readersâ€™ thoughts, the utopian chemists inject a little more technicolor resin
into their closing sentences. When â€œthe dust and smokeâ€ of war had cleared, plastic would deliver us â€œfrom moth and rustâ€ into a world â€œfull of colour . . . a new, brighter, cleaner, more beautiful world.â€
-- Donovan Hohn, "Moby-Duck, or, the Synthetic Wilderness of Childhood," Harper's Magazine, January 2007.
Without warning he would hang out a signal putting the most junior lieutenants in command of their respective ships, and then he would plunge into intricate manoeuvres calculated to turn the anxious substantive captains, looking helplessly on, grey with anxiety -- but those junior lieutenants might some day be commanding ships of the line in a battle on which the destiny of England might depend, and it was necessary to steel their nerves and accustom them to handle ships in dangerous situations. In the middle of sail drill he would signal "Flagship on fire. All boats away." He called for landing parties to storm non-existent batteries on some harmless uninhabited cay, and he inspected those landing parties once they were on shore, to the last flint in the last pistol, and treated excuses with a disregard that made men grind their teeth in exasperation. He set his captains to plan and execute cutting-out expeditions, and he commented mordantly on the arrangements for defence and the methods of attack. He paired off his ships to fight single-ship duels, sighting each other on the horizon and approaching ready to fire the vital opening broadside; he took advantage of calms to set his men to work towing and sweeping in desperate attempts to overtake the ship ahead. He worked his crews until they were ready to drop, and then he devised further tasks for them to prove to them that they had one effort left in them, so that it was doubtful whether "Old Horny" was mentioned more often with curses or with admiration.
-- C.S. Forester, Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies (Boston: Little, Brown, 1958), 157.