Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cold Front

Cold Front: Conflict Ahead in Arctic Waters

by David Fairhall

NY: Counterpoint, $26.00

Reviewed by Russell A. Potter

In the wake of a new near-record ice minimum in the summer of 2011, there is likely to be an increased flow of portentious, dramatically-titled books warning us about the future of the Arctic -- too many for even the most voracious of concerned readers. Some, such as Shelagh Grant's excellent Polar Imperative, will focus on questions of sovereignty; others, such as Roman Shumenko's Arctic Oil and Gas, will look at these resources (and the environmental hazards of retrieving them); still others will address the impact of warming on indigenous peoples, wildlife, or coastlines. So it is quite natural to feel overwhelmed, the more so at a point where the troubled economies of so many nations around the world have added to the list of urgent concerns already facing us in the more populated temperate zones.

But the problem at the top of the world is very unlikely to go away; indeed, by many measures, we seem to have already passed the tipping point at which catastrophic Arctic meltoff is inevitable. So a more rational question, at this juncture, is the one David Fairhall asks pointedly in Cold Front: given that there is almost certainly going to be less and less Arctic ice coverage, and perhaps at some point none in the summer -- what does this mean for the nations whose shores it touches -- nations which include not only Norway, Denmark, and Canada, but the two old superpowers of the "Cold War" era, Russia and the United States? Fairhall, a writer for the Guardian with extensive experience with geopolitical issues of that era, is well-situated for the task, and indeed the most valuable part of this volume is its sharply-sketched account of the history of the Soviet Union's, and then Russia's, commitment to its northern coasts and ports. The sheer magnitude of these efforts, both in the construction of the largest, nuclear-powered icebreakers, and in terms of the amount of raw materials that could be tapped were the Northeast Passage to be predictably navigable, is dramatically described, and indeed they might well be the largest single economic shifts wrought by an even sometimes-open Polar Sea.

Fairhall has other bases to cover, however, and the book seems just a bit thin in places; the Arctic is a region so vast and complex in its many aspects -- its waters, its coastal shelves, its mineral resources, its fauna -- that there's really no way a book of this length can encompass it. Nevertheless, there are several other sections that offer incisive analogies for the potential of a navigable north, particularly those on the Suez and Panama canals. The economic impact of these massive nineteenth-century undertakings, indeed, provides us with what may be the only modern analogies for the savings in fuel and transportation costs, and the resulting expansion and shifting of global markets, that will be the almost certain result of continued warming (indeed, one might note that it was during the construction of the Panama canal that Peary first met Henson). There's also a brief but lovely overview of the British romance of the Northwest Passage, and a reflection on the profound historical irony that a once-treacherous ice-choked passageway that claimed the lives of some of England's greatest navigators may, in the very near future, be at least a reliable summer waterway, as navigable by a multi-ton freighter or tanker as by an Inuk in a kayak.

There will be, as I've said, many books to come on the subject, but if one wants a strong sense of the overall economic and political impact of the predicted retreat of polar sea ice, Fairhall's book is an excellent place to start.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The First Panoramas

The First Panoramas: Visions of British Imperialism

by Denise Blake Oleksijczuk

Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press

$29.95 (paper) $90.00 (cloth)

Reviewed by Russell A. Potter

Those familiar with the earliest Panoramas exhibited by Robert Barker and his son Henry Aston Barker will know why a review of this book appears here, in the Arctic Book Review: the very first panorama of the Arctic, depicting his Majesty's ships "Dorothea" and "Trent" in Spitzbergen, was shown at their London venue in 1819-1820. This places it at the very end of the period covered in this lovely new book, which stretches from 1789 to 1821, and of course also makes this book an ideal introduction to the form, execution, and subject matter of the earliest great circle panoramas that preceded it. Never before have these enormous paintings -- not a one of which survives -- been given this kind of detailed accounting. Too often, in both books and online publications, one sees the same small set of images: Mitchell's aquatint showing a cross-section of the Panorama, along with one or two of the printed keys. Yet here are keys to nearly every one of Barker's early views, and they are far more varied and delightful than many might have assumed. Along with them, a complete set of Well's images of Barker's first panoramic view, of Edinburgh, an array of other period ephemera, and a complete timeline showing both the views in the upper and lower circles, make this quite a fabulous volume before one has even read a word of the text.

Yet if the visual panoply of this volume is truly panoramic in its breadth, the text is far more focussed, zeroing in on just three of Barker père's projects: Edinburgh, London, and Constantinople. The reading of these canvasses is very close indeed; in the case of the Edinburgh view it hinges almost entirely on the Battle of Prestonpans, the site of which occupied just one small patch of a vast canvas, and one paragraph of description. The reading of the view of the Fleet at Spithead is similarly prismed, centering on the response of King George (who peered at it with a spectacle-glass) and Queen Charlotte (who pronounced that it made her sea-sick). The discussion of Barker's depiction of Constantinople is perhaps the broadest, but like the other two it centers on a fairly literalistic reading of the painting's subject, as an embodiment of imperialism and an invitation for the viewer to take up, and share in, the monarchical perspective of the painting.

The final chapter, which looks at the printed keys provided to viewers of these paintings, is to my mind the most fascinating; one can see the Barkers almost fidgeting with the visual space of the key, veering from the abstract lines of the Spithead key, to circles with the subject on their edge and descriptive text within, and finally to the strip-format of opposing views which became the norm for most of the rest of the establishment's life. These keys, many of them never before reproduced, make for a remarkable study in themselves, the more so as the paintings to which they once promised an explanatory gloss are now forever lost. A lovely fold-out, which shows color versions of the aquatints of Constantinople above a graphical timeline of the views shown in the great and smaller circles, is a special treat, and will be a worthy reference in and of itself. In this day when so many such things are only available online, it's a delight to find a resource this rich upon the printed page, where it is most at home.

All in all, I would recommend Oleksijczuk's book to anyone who has picked up the fascination with what Ralph Hyde has dubbed "panoramania" -- and it would be a valuable addition to any library with a commitment to holdings in the history of art, and of mass culture, between and within which the panorama lies.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Book of Ice

There's no question that Paul D. Miller, a.k.a. DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid, is a potent and persistent media innovator, ever building new and surprising bridges between sight and sound, dada and data, academic and popular worlds. A typical Spooky project has at least three media arms: a multimedia performance, a musical mixtape, and a graphical interface, whether virtual or concrete; it can be attended as a performance, popped into a pod, and slid onto a shelf.

His Book of Ice is one part of such a project, complementing his remarkable Terra Nova: Sinfonia Antarctica suite. Unfortunately, it's the weaker part; without the visual and musical motion of his performance piece, the book seems strangely static and immobile. There are a couple of brief, somewhat inscrutable introductions by scientists, a typically wide-ranging tour-de-force essay by Spooky himself, and a couple of interviews. There's some interesting stuff in each of them -- I was especially fascinated by Spooky's referencing Georges Méliès's Conquest of the Pole, a clear print of which was only recently discovered (although the text incorrectly gives its date as 1902, not 1912) and Cook's Truth About the North Pole, an amateurish self-promotional film released the same year. But these are, of course, films about the "other" pole; there's not much about Frank Hurley's majestical Antarctic footage, and though the book contains a series of lovely historical photos at its end, there are no captions or comments to even identify their subjects, nothing to put them in context. The most visually striking part of the book, in fact, is a series of posters and logos announcing a "Manifesto for the People's Republic of Antarctica," though such a manifesto doesn't seem to appear in the book, and there's no reference to the (delightful) novel by John Calvin Batchelor which would seem to have anticipated this phrase.

For those who have been able to see and hear Miller's live show, The Book of Ice makes a visually engaging, thought-provoking souvenir. But, on its own, it doesn't really seem to reach a critical mass; what we have here is not so much a berg as a series of icy fragments, enticingly evoking a larger landscape that we never really get to see.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Arctic E-Books

The world of e-books, in many ways, is as much an unexplored region as was the Arctic a century and a half ago. Will people be willing to pay for a virtual product with cold hard cash? And will electronic "books," so-called, ever be able to do the things that old-fashioned paper books have always done -- be loaned to a friend, donated to a library, or bequeathed to one's offspring?

While the jury is still out on such issues, there is certainly one realm in which the e-book fills a much-needed role: in bringing books back into availability when their original publishers have decided to allow the title to fall out of print. And no such book is more welcome here than John Wilson's North With Franklin: The Lost Journals of James Fitzjames, which was first reviewed in these virtual pages nearly eleven years ago here. For those who can't readily lay hand on a used copy of the lovely Fitzhenry and Whiteside hardcover, there is an easy alternative, as Wilson's novel is now available via Smashwords, a site which includes both books original to the e-book format as well as out of print books whose rights have reverted to their authors. Smashwords is the friendliest of sites, offering previews and downloads in just about every e-book format around, and its authors enjoy a robust royalty from downloads.

All of which got me to wondering what other Arctic books of note might be available in similar formats. Amazon's Kindle store has a variety of free classics, among them Sherard Osborn's Stray Leaves from an Arctic Journal. A mere 99 cents brings you Best's voyages of Frobisher, Back's narrative of his voyage aboard HMS Terror, or Nansen's Farthest North. Recent trade books, such as Andrew Lambert's The Gates of Hell, go for $12-$15. There are a quite a few hard-to-find books (in their physical format at least) that can be had instantly, such as Peter Cappelotti's By Airship to the North Pole, or Robert Edric's novel The Broken Lands. At the high end, you can even get the complete text of Mark Nutall's three-volume Encyclopedia of the Arctic electronically for a mere $364.00 (not too bad, perhaps, when one considers that "hard" copies go for $800+ on abebooks).

There are, of course, a host of polar classics available as free Google books, though these may not necessarily offer the clearest display, or have meaningful search functionality. Yet despite the wealth which beckons, seemingly free or at minimal cost, for me there will never be a substitute for the actual, physical books. My own library includes first editions by Franklin, Elisha Kent Kane, William Edward Parry, and a host of more recent books. Their look on the shelves, their feel in the hand, their ease on the eye are, and always will be, incomparable. Nevertheless, for those who are seeking a quick upload of a hard-to-find book, or planning a vacation where the hunger of reading is great and space is at a premium, the array of e-books in this area is vast, and steadily growing. One wonders, as did Ted Betts, whether some some sort of 19th-century "Kindle for Sir John Franklin" might, at least, have saved a good deal of room in the stores on a certain polar voyage.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

As affecting the fate of my absent husband

As affecting the fate of my absent husband: Selected Letters of Lady Franklin concerning the search for the Lost Franklin Expedition, 1848-1860.

Edited, and with an introduction and Notes, by Erika Behrisch Elce

Toronto: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2009.


Lady Jane Franklin was, in many ways, a more public figure -- and a more successful one -- than her famously missing husband Sir John. She deployed so many rhetorical fusillades from her residence in Pall Mall that it became commonly known as "The Battery," and although her quest was, in the end, only partly successful, it was with some justice that The Times could refer to her as "our English Penelope."

The past two decades have seen dozens of books on the final Franklin expedition, but only a very few have focused directly on the woman at whose call more than 36 ships were launched into uncharted Arctic waters. Penny Russell's 2003 book This Errant Lady uses Jane's journals and letters to illuminate a cross-country trip through Australia that she undertook while Sir John was governor of neighboring Van Diemen's Land, and it remains, I feel, the most immediate portrait; from its pages one can imagine, at least for a moment, what an encounter with her Ladyship might have felt like. Kenn McGoogan's 2005 biography, Lady Franklin's Revenge, gives a much fuller portrait, and although its title hints at some criticism of her methods, the book as a whole offers an admiring view. And so it was with great eagerness that I looked forward to Erika Behrisch Elce's As affecting the fate of my absent husband.

Elce's book is a significant landmark; it offers, for the first time, a complete collection of Lady Franklin's public correspondence, the very letters in and through which she masterfully summoned up public and private support for further searches. It's beautifully designed, aptly edited, and accompanied by just the right amount and kind of contextual materials that will aid the ordinary reader's enjoyment of the volume, and yet satisfy the more scrutinizing expert. My only disappointment is that her private correspondence, save for a couple of brief notes to Benjamin Disraeli, is not represented here; while it's true that to include it would have meant a very different, and larger undertaking, I certainly hope that at some point this can be done. I can testify from experience to the difficulty, expressed by many previous scholars, in reading Lady Jane's small and closely-written handwriting, and not all of her letters and diaries are readily available, although the Scott Polar Research library has a substantial collection. If, as I hope, a complete and substantial publication of these materials is undertaken, I certainly can't imagine a more capable editor than Dr. Elce, whose engagement with her subject, and grasp of the rhetorical landscape on which this lone figure stood so tall, are extraordinary.

There are, I am certain, many treasures yet to be found. In one of her most poignant missives, addressed to James Anderson in December of 1854 and reprinted in William Barr's admirable volume for the Hakluyt Society, one can hear the poignant voice of a woman whose range extended from a roar down to a pointed whisper:

You will receive, I am sure, with kindness the earnest wishes of one who is most deeply interested in the important mission with which you are charged. May God strengthen and guide you in the execution of it ... I do not expect my dear husband to be among the survivors --if you should meet with his corpse which I think will be found wherever the ships are found, I beg you to bring me his locks of hair and I also entreat of you to bring me sealed up and directed to myself all of the letters you can find addressed to him or me ... The ordinary journals of the officers must of course be unearthed as they may be able to guide your researches -- but it is the private letters and papers I desire to be kept sacred from every eye but my own.

Ler us hope that we will hear more of this voice again, and soon.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Antarctic Fiction

Although some of us here at the Arctic Book Review take a dim view of the place we like to call "the other pole," there's no denying that this region of the earth, nearly as much as the North, has had a deep and abiding attraction to writers of fiction. The granddaddy of them all, of course, is Edgar Allan Poe's Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, which combines elements of exploration narrative, memoir, and fantasy so effectively that Poe's British publisher initially believed it to be a factual account. Pym ends on a strange, ambiguous note, in a region where the water runs white and a mysterious pale figure appears but does not speak. The apparent lack of resolution is "explained" in an editorial note by Poe, who says that "Pym" unhappily died before being able to complete his narrative, which of course has not prevented others from taking up where Poe left off. H.P. Lovecraft, in his At the Mountains of Madness (1936) imagines an archaeological expedition launched in part to investigate strange inscriptions modelled on (and at one point quoting) those in Pym; after ascending an Antarctic mountain range taller than the Himalayas, the scientists discover a weird, lush tropical world in which "elder things" -- a variety of species with impossible evolutionary features -- lie in wait. Making a film of Lovecraft's novel has been a longtime dream of director Guillermo del Toro, but at present the project appears to be dead in the (icy) water.

The idea that the poles hide secret tropics is far older than Lovecraft; the idea goes back at least to 1888, when an Antarctic jungle featured in American writer James De Mille's Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder; Jules Verne's Adventures of Captain Hatteras gave the North a tropic as well, complete with an active volcano in its center. But in recent years, these sorts of geographical fancies have given way to more political ones, to tales which project the issues and anxieties of the present onto the one last continent which is not the territory of any nation (albeit it has its zones of influence).

The earliest of these, and one of the best, is John Calvin Batcheolor's 1983 opus, The Birth of the People's Republic of Antarctica. Batchelor, who has since quit writing novels and become a radio talk show host, opens his tale with a sentence worthy of Melville: "I am Grim Fiddle." In other hands, such a phrase might be the start of a luridly overwritten melodrama, but Batchelor weaves a weird yet entirely compelling narrative involving a hippie commune in Stockholm, a Swedish civil war (!), and a vast wave of refugees on boats who create their own uneasy nations on an Antarctic coast newly rendered habitable by global warming. Grim Fiddle becomes, in course, the last great hope against an opposing tide of "New Benthamites" (named after Jeremy Bentham, the father of utilitarianism), as well as a sort of accidental Moses to the fractious tribes who find themselves fighting over limited resources at the bottom of this brave new world.

From the viewpoint of today's even more contentious world, Batchelor's neo-Nordic political meditation may seem almost nostalgic; nowadays, the people who claim everything is political are less often progressives who believe in a voyage toward a better tomorrow, but fear-mongers who are looking for things, and people, to throw overboard. Which brings us to our second two novels, both published this year. Mat Johnson, in his Pym, has made the most direct evocation of Poe since Lovecraft, but it's as sociopolitical fodder for wry fancies, not a realistic voyager's tale, while J. Zornado, taking the pulse of today and projecting it 39 years into the future, discovers in the Antarctic wastes an almost-alien planet -- "Little Earth" -- on which will be fought battles between the "gods" of old (avatars, apparently, of old science gone mad) and the scattered tribes of wanderers who populate their domain.

Pym announces itself from the very start as a sharp satire: Chris Jaynes, an African-American professor obsessed with Poe's Pym is denied tenure at an elite private college, his collection of books removed from his office and dumped out in the rain on his front porch. Along with his Little-Debbie-munching Sancho Panza, Garth Frierson, he and a rag-tag band of characters displaced from the blogosphere embark on a collective Quixotic quest, searching the deepest South for the 'heart of whiteness' predicted to be found there by Toni Morrison. They discover a mysterious race all right -- what the narrator dubs "snow honkies" -- but there's very little mystery in the elaborate business that brings them there. There are a few hilarious moments, but for this reader, it's such a self-conscious exercise in over-the-top intellectual parody that all the fizz goes out of the narrative long before journey's end. If what fiction is for is to admire the author's cleverness, let this novel win a prize -- if not, then perhaps there's some other better reason to undertake a journey.

Which brings us to 2050. There is a danger in constant sly irony, and yet another danger in too much seriousness; either can be fatal. J. Zornado begins in the middle register, part Frank Herbert and part Sam Beckett, as, Vladimir-like in his dim futility, Vilb Solenthay lurches back and forth across a desert landscape, carrying water in what we belatedly, horribly, realize are human "skins." In some ways, 2050 harks back to Batchelor's book, painting a dire and dessicated landscape as vast as that of Earthsea or Middle Earth – to the latter of which, indeed, its “Little Earth” is indebted. Its reluctant hero may remind some of Bilbo, though instead of a wise wizard he has only the counsel of a young girl whose sanity and motives are questionable; his journey, like Bilbo’s, involves the crossing of a mountain pass and a trail through a vast and unusually dense forest. Yet the “gods” we meet here are of quite a different sort; unlike Tolkien’s warring forces of good and evil, these gods are asymmetrical and ambiguous, with uncertain and variable powers, motives, and histories. This first volume has the task of introducing us to them.

Zornado does a remarkable job of plunging us headfirst into a richly-imagined world. Of course, we recognize it as Antarctica – but clearly something has happened; there is neither water nor ice, and snow exists only in Vilb’s half-remembered dream- visions; illumination comes from the "arclight" -- an Aurora Australis of sorts, not natural but generated by some strange power source deep beneath the ground, and it's fading. At the same time, in this newly-reissued volume, the first of a trilogy to be brought forth by Iron Diesel Press, we sense a far longer journey, not merely to the present abode of these "gods," but an uncanny recursus which promises to take us at once back to our own past, and forward to a perilous future. The latter part of the first volume brings the reader around via a tightening spiral of past and present that draws ever nearer the centers of power; here we get our first indications that the "gods" of the novel are the embodied forms of an elite group of scientists in whose hands the continent of Antarctica was first transformed. We also see the long shadow of events from before the end of the world, getting glimpses of the ambitions and conflicts between these scientists, as well as of a figure known as Leventhal who, it appears, was the Oppenheimer of them all.

I reviewed the original edition of 2050 at length when it came out a few years ago -- but this is in essence a new book entirely, framed by a new preface, and shaped and shaded throughout by the gravity of the two volumes to come. It's as strong a start to a significant act of world-building as any I know in the realms of fantasy or science fiction; its readers' only frustration will be the wait, but it will not be long: the second volume is to be published just a year from now.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Polar Imperative

Polar Imperative: A History of Arctic Sovereignty in North America

By Shelagh D. Grant
Toronto: Douglas & McIntyre

Reviewed by Russell A. Potter

Canada's sovereignty over its Arctic territory has been a hot-button issue of late, the more so under the government of Steven Harper. The sight of live-fire interdiction drills, flag-plantings on Hans Island, and the flying of a government minister for a live video at the site of the rediscovery of HMS Investigator in Mercy Bay are all signs of how central the issue has become. And yet, while willing to put out a good deal of money and resources for such shows of force, the federal government of Canada has shown much less interest in supporting the social and infrastructure needs of its Arctic inhabitants, particularly the Inuit. How did this state of affairs come about?

With her new book, Polar Imperative, Shelagh D. Grant provides an eloquent and well-documented answer. And, as it turns out, the Harper government is far from the first in Canadian history to discover in the issue of sovereignty a convenient, seemingly innocent vehicle for political advantage. First, however, Grant lays out the kinds of legal and political arguments which have evolved in the field of international law, and without which "sovereignty" as such cannot be understood. There are many ways a claim of sovereignty can be made; prominent among them are discovery (I was here first), cession (you can have it, I don't want it), subjugation (I conquered it), and contiguity (it's in the midst of lands I already claim). One might think, given all the flag-plantings, that discovery was the strongest claim, but it practice is can be the weakest; land discovered but not occupied, or without the effective exercise of control, may be deemed "inchoate" -- undeveloped or temporary -- and thus liable to the claims of others who may, in fact, come much later.

Then comes the history; Grant offers both a panoramic view and a number of illustrative episodes of the most significant turning points in Canada's, and other nations, Arctic claims. It turns out that Canada has acquired its northern lands by nearly all of the above means: British explorers discovered it; having done so they then ceded it to Canada; Ellesmere Island, though in parts first discovered by Americans, lost its claims there because Canada both occupied them and exercised control. Indeed, Canada's two most northerly outposts, Resolute and Grise Fiord, were both established in order to cement claims of sovereignty. They were also settled, forcibly, when the Canadian government took a number of Inuit families, urged them on with false promises, and then abandoned them. Grant briefly mentions these "High Arctic Exiles," as well as native groups used in a similar manner, but I was disappointed that the larger dimensions of the injustice -- what a nation will do to people in order to wave its flag -- seemed so briefly passed over.

There is, of course, a lot of ground to cover; Grant's narrative stretches from Frobisher's voyage to the D.E.W. line to the era of Russia's underwater flag-scatterings a few years ago. Along the way, there are some fascinating diplomatic dramas, such as the British government's lengthy attempt to "give" the Arctic sea islands north of Barrow Strait to Canada, a move that bounced back and forth through several governments on both sides of the Atlantic before it finally came to pass. Grant touches on the search for Franklin, as well as the later dash for "farthest north," and how these narratives became part of a perceived claim -- by loss of life, as well as discovery -- of the Arctic as a region with a particular role in Canada's history and identity. Here, alas, there are a few errors of fact: Sir Francis Leopold McClintock was never a "whaling captain," and his 1858-59 expedition, although "private" at its outset, was retroactively deemed to have been a period of active service in Her Majesty's Navy. It's a slight, mistake, though in a narrative where "private" and "public" can make such a difference, it's significant.

Nevertheless, the book as a whole is expertly documented and eminently readable. My personal favourites tend toward the grand delusions, none of them more extravagant than the United States' attempt to create a permanent subterranean settlement, "Camp Tuto," deep inside year-round glacial ice; the station was to be powered by a nuclear power plant, and featured tunnels large enough to drive enormous trucks through them. The plan had to be abandoned when shifts in the glacial ice made it clear it could never be stable. Canada, for its part, attempted to establish its own Arctic fortress at Resolute, connecting the oversize airport to the town and Inuit settlement area with a graded highway, under which ran an enormous "Utilidor" pipe, capable of carrying enough raw materials, electricity, water, and fuel for a settlement twenty times its size. Neither side, ultimately, entirely realized their cold-war era dreams, although Thule AFB was built, and the Inughuit inhabitants displaced -- another injustice which has been found illegal by the world court, but the United States refuses to recognize. And this, in the end, is the problem with sovereignty: it turns out that the body of international law on which it is supposedly founded is often in conflict with the views of various nations, and yet these nations cannot be compelled to accept international judgments.

At the present moment, for instance, Canada's sovereignty is under no real threat; though the U.S. and others may believe the Northwest Passage to be an international waterway, they still go through the motions of asking to use it; though the Russians may scatter little titanium flags on the floor of the Arctic Ocean near the Pole, they as yet have shown no sign of searching for resources there (although contracts are being signed for their Arctic oil reserves closer to the mainland). Canadians, at least, should be able to sleep a bit better at night, the more so if this book is on their nightstand. By showing the long history of the vagaries of Arctic sovereignty, Grant's book makes it clear that these fears and posturings are nothing new, and in this case at least, the more we know about this history, the less likely we are to hit the panic button when next it rears its head.