Charles Brian Orner
SOSTENUTO - A Novel

Notes

Interested readers will discover additional details here in a wide variety of areas, including the arts, astronomy, business, culture, environment, gaming, geography, language, history, literature, music, mythology, philosophy, politics, religion, and science. Spend a little time with the notes; it'll pique your interest. Then buy the book. Most notes have been taken from public sources such as Wikipedia. The remainder are given attribution.

Chapter 32

1    Scientology promises the ability to hone one’s “theta perceptics” (senses of the thetan rather than the physical “meat body”) and promises “communication with the theta universe” with enhanced ‘perceptics’ such as “hunches, predictions, ESP at greater and lesser distances, communication with the dead, perception of the Supreme Being, etc.” - Science of Survival, 50th anniversary edition, 2001, p. 576.
2    The Seveso disaster was an industrial accident that occurred around 12:37 pm July 10, 1976, in a small chemical manufacturing plant approximately fifteen kilometers (nine miles) north of Milan in the Lombardy region in Italy. It resulted in the highest known exposure to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) in residential populations, which gave rise to numerous scientific studies and standardized industrial safety regulations. The EU industrial safety regulations are known as the Seveso II Directive.
       The Kuwaiti oil fires were caused by Iraqi military forces setting fire to a reported 605 to 732 oil wells along with an unspecified number of oil filled low-lying areas, such as “oil lakes” and “fire trenches,” as part of a scorched-earth policy while retreating from Kuwait in 1991 due to the advances of Coalition military forces in the Persian Gulf War. The fires were started in January and February 1991, and the first well fires were extinguished in early April 1991, with the last well capped on November 6, 1991. During the second US invasion of Iraq in 2003, approximately forty oil wells were set on fire in the Persian gulf within Iraqi territory, ostensibly to once again hinder the invasion.
       The Sidoarjo mud flow or Lapindo mud (informally abbreviated as Lusi, a contraction of Lumpur Sidoarjo wherein lumpur is the Indonesian word for mud) is the result of an erupting mud volcano in the subdistrict of Porong, Sidoarjo in East Java, Indonesia that has been in eruption since May 2006. It is the biggest mud volcano in the world; responsibility for it was credited to the blowout of a natural gas well drilled by PT Lapindo Brantas, although some scientists and company officials contend it was caused by a distant earthquake. 
       At its peak Lusi spewed up to 180,000 cubic meters of mud per day. By mid August 2011, mud was being discharged at a rate of 10,000 cubic meters per day, down significantly from the previous year, when mud was being discharged at a rate of 100,000 cubic meters per day. It is expected that the flow will continue for the next twenty-five to thirty years.
      “The Dwarves tell no tale; but even as mithril was the foundation of their wealth, so also it was their destruction: they delved too greedily and too deep, and disturbed that from which they fled, Durin’s Bane” - Gandalf, from The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien.
3    As opposed to earth tones.
4    In ancient Roman religion, Ceres was a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships. She was originally the central deity in Rome’s so-called plebeian or Aventine Triad, then was paired with her daughter Proserpina in what Romans described as “the Greek rites of Ceres.” Her seven-day April festival of Cerealia included the popular Ludi Ceriales (Ceres’ games). She was also honoured in the May lustration of fields at the Ambarvalia festival, at harvest-time, and during Roman marriages and funeral rites.
5    Wilkes-Barre’s economy took a major blow from Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972. The storm pushed the Susquehanna River to a height of nearly forty-one feet (twelve meters), four feet above the city’s levees, flooding downtown with nine feet of water. While no lives were lost, 25,000 homes and businesses were either damaged or destroyed; damages were estimated to be $1 billion, with President Richard Nixon sending aid to the area. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Wilkes-Barre attempted to repair the damage from Agnes by building a levee system that rises forty-one feet; it has successfully battled less threatening floods of 1996, 2004,and 2006. However, from September 6 to September 8, 2011, heavy rains from the inland remnants of Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Katia offshore funneled heavy rain over the Wyoming Valley and into the Susquehanna River watershed. The Susquehanna swelled to record levels across the state, and in Wilkes-Barre crested on September 9 at an all-time record of 42.66 feet (13.00 meters), nearly two feet higher than the previously disastrous water levels from 1972’s Hurricane Agnes. Wilkes-Barre was spared from any major flooding by the levees built on the river banks of the city.
6    George Emil Banks (born June 22, 1942) is an American spree killer, sentenced to death by electrocution, but later declared by the court to be too psychotic to execute. Banks, a former Camp Hill prison guard, shot thirteen people to death on September 25, 1982 in Wilkes-Barre and Jenkins Township, Pennsylvania, including five of his own children. Banks said he killed his children because he felt they would be tormented by the cruelty of racial views against mixed race children. Since his conviction, Banks has tried to kill himself four times and has gone on hunger strikes that required him to be force fed. A psychiatric report filed in the case says Banks believes he is in a spiritual fight with an Antichrist in New York, that Pennsylvania was controlled by the Islamic religion and he has engaged in a “private war with President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.”
       Jesse Fell was an early political leader in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He was the first to successfully burn anthracite on an open air grate. His method and ‘discovery’ in 1808 led to the widespread use of coal as the fuel source that helped to foster America’s industrial revolution.
7    Zeno’s paradoxes are a set of philosophical problems generally thought to have been devised by Greek philosopher Zeno of Elea (ca. 490–430 BC) to support Parmenides’s doctrine that contrary to the evidence of one’s senses, the belief in plurality and change is mistaken, and in particular that motion is nothing but an illusion.
       The Coalsack Dark Nebula (or simply the Coalsack) is the most prominent dark nebula in the skies, easily visible to the naked eye as a dark patch silhouetted against the southern Milky Way. It was known pre-historically in the Southern Hemisphere and was observed by Vicente Yáñez Pinzón in 1499. The Coalsack is located at a distance of approximately six hundred light years away from Earth, in the constellation Crux.
8    The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) was an American think tank based in Washington, D.C. established in 1997 as a non-profit educational organization founded by William Kristol and Robert Kagan. The PNAC’s stated goal is “to promote American global leadership.” Fundamental to the PNAC was the view that “American leadership is good both for America and for the world” and support for “a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity.” With its members in numerous key administrative positions, the PNAC exerted influence on high-level U.S. government officials in the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush and affected the Bush Administration’s development of military and foreign policies, especially involving national security and the Iraq War.
9    At this scale, the average orbital distances of the planets are as follows: Mercury: 8 meters, Venus: 16 meters, Earth: 22 meters, Mars: 33 meters, Jupiter: 114 meters, Saturn: 209 meters, Uranus: 420 meters, Neptune: 657 meters
10    At this scale, the average distance from the Earth to the Moon, is 5.6 centimeters, or 2.2 inches.
11    Only four per cent of the mass of the Universe is in the atoms that make up the stars and planets. And we’ve only ever seen half of that with our telescopes. Twenty-three percent of the mass of the Universe is invisible, “dark”, matter. We know of its existence only because its gravity tugs on the visible stars and galaxies. No one knows what it is. And seventy-three per cent of the mass of the Universe is dark energy. Discovered only in 1998, this invisible stuff fills all of space and it has repulsive gravity. To say we are at sea in understanding dark energy is a bit of an understatement. Our best theory of physics is quantum theory. It has given us lasers and computers and nuclear reactors, an understanding of why the sun shines. But when quantum theory is used to predict the energy of the vacuum – of the dark energy – it gets a number which is one followed by 120 zeros times bigger than what we observe. This is the biggest discrepancy between a prediction and an observation in the history of science.
12    Centaurs are small Solar System bodies with a semi-major axis between those of the outer planets. They have unstable orbits that cross or have crossed the orbits of one or more of the giant planets, and have dynamic lifetimes of a few million years. Centaurs typically behave with characteristics of both asteroids and comets. They are named after the mythological beings that were a mixture of horse and human, centaurs. It has been estimated that there are around 44,000 centaurs in the Solar System with diameters larger than one kilometer.
13    A sungrazing comet is a comet that passes extremely close to the Sun at perihelion – sometimes within a few thousand kilometers of the Sun’s surface. Although small sungrazers can completely evaporate during such a close approach to the Sun, larger sungrazers can survive many perihelion passages. However, the strong evaporation and tidal forces they experience often lead to their fragmentation.
14    Hypervelocity is very high velocity, approximately over 3,000 meters per second (6,700 mph, 11,000 km/h, 10,000 ft/s, or Mach 8.8). In particular, hypervelocity is velocity so high that the strength of materials upon impact is very small compared to inertial stresses. Thus, even metals behave like fluids under hypervelocity impact. Extreme hypervelocity results in vaporization of the impactor and target. For structural metals, hypervelocity is generally considered to be over 2,500 m/s (5,600 mph, 9,000 km/h, 8,200 ft/s, or Mach 7.3). Meteorite craters are also examples of hypervelocity impacts.
15    A centaur is a mythological creature with the head, arms, and torso of a human and the body and legs of a horse. In early Attic and Beotian vase-paintings, they are depicted with the hindquarters of a horse attached to them; in later renderings centaurs are given the torso of a human joined at the waist to the horse’s withers, where the horse’s neck would be. This half-human and half-horse composition has led many writers to treat them as liminal beings, caught between the two natures, embodied in contrasted myths, both as the embodiment of untamed nature, as in their battle with the Lapiths (their kin), or conversely as teachers, like Chiron.
16    As of December 12, 2013 there are 1,488 known comets that come within ~twelve solar radii (~0.055 AU). This accounts for nearly one third of all comets. Most of these objects vaporize during its close approach but a comet with a nucleus radius larger than two to three kilometers is likely to survive the perihelion passage with a final radius of ~one kilometer.
17    Aquarius is a constellation of the zodiac, situated between Capricornus and Pisces. Its name is Latin for “water-carrier” or “cup-carrier.” Aquarius is one of the oldest of the recognized constellations along the zodiac. It was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century AD astronomer Ptolemy, and it remains one of the eighty-eight modern constellations. It is found in a region often called the Sea due to its profusion of constellations with watery associations such as Cetus the whale, Pisces the fish, and Eridanos the river.
18    In Greek mythology, Astraea or Astrea (English translation: “star-maiden”) was a daughter of Astraeus and Eos. She was the virgin goddess of Innocence and purity and is always associated with the Greek goddess of justice, Dike (daughter of Zeus and Themis and the personification of just judgment) Also, She is not to be confused with Asteria, the goddess of the stars and the daughter of Coeus and Phoebe. Astraea, the celestial virgin, was the last of the immortals to live with humans during the Golden Age, one of the old Greek religion’s five deteriorating Ages of Man. According to Ovid, Astraea abandoned the Earth during the Iron Age. Fleeing from the new wickedness of humanity, she ascended to heaven to become the constellation Virgo.
       Mount McKinley, [native name Denali (Koyukon Athabaskan for “The High One” is the highest mountain peak in North America, with a summit elevation of 20,237 feet (6,168 meters) above sea level. At some 18,000 feet (5,500 meters), the base-to-peak rise is considered the largest of any mountain situated entirely above sea level. Measured by topographic prominence, it is the third most prominent peak after Mount Everest and Aconcagua. Located in the Alaska Range in the interior of US state of Alaska, McKinley is the centerpiece of Denali National Park and Preserve. The first verifiable ascent to McKinley’s summit was achieved on June 7, 1913 by climbers Hudson Stuck, Harry Karstens, Walter Harper, and Robert Tatum, who went by the South Summit. In 1951, Bradford Washburn pioneered the West Buttress route, considered to be the safest and easiest route and therefore the most popular currently in use.

Brian Orner