“The Aeroplane Dinosaur of a Million Years Ago” by W. H. Ballou
From the August 15, 1920 edition of the Ogden, Utah’s Standard-Examiner:
Back in the steaming Jurassic time, the Stegosaurus was the weird and titanic flying squirrel of its age. With its huge plates placed alternately on each side of its back it could depress these to form planes that buoyed it in a swift rush from elevation to elevation, or that like the old gliders from which the aeroplane was evolved, lifted up the body under the driving impetus of the enormous hind legs carrying it in flight for hundreds of feet, a weird spectacle, indeed, if man could have seen it, must have been the soarings of these monsters. But many thousands of years had still to pass before even the hairy ancestors of man could evolve.
Of course, the Stegosaurus could not fly like the birds. Even if the reptile had flapped its plates ever so swiftly it could not have risen above the ground by their means alone. It had, nevertheless, partial command of the air and so is entitled to be considered the father of all heavier-than-air machines.
Mermaid Figurine by Tom McCarthy from Significant Objects
Pollution of coastal waters can have / the black sun of melancholy / signature of all things I am here to / test for indicator organisms such as / Love or Phoebus, Lusignan or Biron / based on weekly or fortnightly water sampling
The beach zone is modeled as / the grotto where the siren / (see Fig. 1) / wind-generated surface advection and / have lingered in / with parameter estimation / limit of the diaphane / with uniform pollution concentration
Wild sea money / dc and dt: decay and mixing / language tide and wind have silted / to a build-up of pollutants during / the night of the tombs, you who consoled me / (see Fig. 2)
The coastline is roughly aligned with / the sighs of the Saint and the cries of / prevailing wind positions at this / lolled on bladderwrack / in the chambers of / pollution forecasting, modeled by / the grid where vine and rose enmesh
Two brief field surveys, carried out to / walk upon the beach / accumulated rainfall and runoff pollution which / snotgreen, bluesilver, rust / where U is wind and T is days / have modulated on the lyre of / drainage flow-rates for / the mermaids singing, each to / the ‘first-flush effect’, as visible in Fig. 3 / forehead is still red from the Queen’s kiss
— Tom McCarthy
Significant Objects is a literary and anthropological experiment that demonstrated that the effect of narrative on any given object’s subjective value can be measured objectively.
The project auctioned off thrift-store objects via eBay; for item descriptions, short stories purpose-written by over 200 contributing writers, including Meg Cabot, William Gibson, Ben Greenman, Sheila Heti, Neil LaBute, Jonathan Lethem, Tom McCarthy, Lydia Millet, Jenny Offill, Bruce Sterling, Scarlett Thomas, and Colson Whitehead, were substituted.
The objects, purchased for $1.25 apiece on average, sold for nearly $8,000 in total. (Proceeds were distributed to the contributors, and to nonprofit creative writing organizations.) The project’s organizers, Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn, are currently working on the third phase: a collection of stories, which will be published by Fantagraphics in 2012.