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Crazy for the Storm, and the inner connection to the Infinite

Crazy for the Storm, and the inner connection to the Infinite

image (top): Wikimedia commons (link), with marker "flags" added to correspond to map below.
image (bottom): Google maps, mountains north of Rancho Cucamonga, California (link), with marker flags and line-of-sight outlines added (light blue), plus route in dotted red line.

In his critically-acclaimed memoir Crazy for the Storm (2009), Norman Ollestad shares a wide window onto his relationship with his amazing father, cut short by a terrible plane crash in the San Gabriel Mountains in 1979, into his emotions and experiences during his harrowing journey down the mountain alone at the age of eleven but already having had the experience of facing danger and overcoming his fears in not one but many previous situations as a result of his remarkable upbringing, and into life as it was in his world growing during up the 1970s and early 1980s in the Topanga Canyon area, and does so with such a degree of literary composure and immediacy that we are actually pulled through that window and allowed to experience it with him.

Many others have already written about why Crazy for the Storm is such a remarkable and valuable book and the unique way it raises important subjects worthy of long and thoughtful consideration: how the experience of being forced beyond his comfort level so many times helped young Norman Ollestad make it to safety down an icy mountain face and through several situations in which one false move or one loss of resolve could have led to a very different outcome, how passing on lessons from fathers to sons involves a delicate balance between challenging or pushing too much and too little, how Norman's relationship with his father, tragically cut short too soon, nevertheless led directly to his ability to survive the remarkable journey off the mountain.

Another aspect of the book, juxtaposed with the vivid descriptions of the treacherous ice-chutes and snow-pits that young Norman must negotiate on his way down the mountain, and just as vividly depicted, is the treacherous landscape of growing up in the turbulent world of a 1970s childhood filled with its own ice-chutes and snow-traps that threaten to drag him down many different times, but which he ultimately negotiates as well -- in part through the relationship with his father that continues to sustain him even after the crash, in part through the different relationships with the other adults around him through those difficult times, and in part through his own determination and his own growth through all of what he saw and chose and learned and did as he grew up to be his own man and ultimately become a father himself.

It has been a few years since I myself first read this memorable book, but as I have thought more about it recently, it occurs to me that there is one other extremely important aspect of the narrative that has not really received very much discussion even though the book itself has been widely acclaimed and extensively commented upon.

Perhaps it is because, among many somewhat uncomfortable subjects that the book touches upon, this subject is even more taboo than any of them -- and that is the fact that there are some very clear aspects of what could be called "second sight" that turn out to play a very large role in the survival story, but which are not at all explainable by the conventional paradigm of consciousness or what we might call "the ideology of materialism" and which most critics therefore appear to have decided to simply leave out of their discussions (I could be wrong and there could be other reviews of the book which mention this important aspect of the narrative).

The implications of this aspect of the narrative are so important that I think they deserve a brief mention here, but I will try to do so without any "plot spoilers" for those who perhaps have not yet read the book (although those who are extremely sensitive to any plot spoiling may want to stop here and read the book first).

And of course, discussing this aspect of the story is in no way intended to take away from the importance of all the above-mentioned factors that also helped Norman Ollestad survive that harrowing ordeal.

The general description of this aspect of the story is that during his descent, young Norman Ollestad made his way towards something that he later went back and determined he could not have seen, due to the terrain, until he was much lower down the mountain.

Not only that, but it turns out that there were two other people whose actions on that tragic day of February of 1979 were critical to Norman's being found after he had made it down to a road (and thus whose actions proved to have been critical to his very survival), both of whom acted on something that could be called sudden intuition or an unexplainable "hunch," and one of whom felt she had heard the crash itself (and actually been awakened by it) even though when she told the sheriff's deputy about that, he told her that was not possible based on the location and distance that she had been from the actual site of the crash.

Each of these particular aspects of the story (in my opinion -- it should be stressed that what follows is some of my own perspective and commentary, and I am not suggesting that Mr. Ollestad would agree with any of the following discussion) point towards a very important aspect of something that has been discussed in many previous posts under the general heading of "The Inner Connection to the Infinite," which have presented evidence that the ancient texts and sacred traditions of the world were given to humanity in order to (among other things) point towards a connection to something that has been variously referred to as a supreme self, a higher consciousness, an inner divinity, our True Self, a divine twin (described not only in the Greek myths of Castor and Pollux but also in some New Testament era texts such as the Gospel of Thomas) -- depicted as the divine charioteer in the Bhagavad Gita -- and which actually stands behind or above or in some way separate from what we normally think of as our "mind" and our "senses" and which is yet accessible at all times internally, not separate from ourselves (this is why divinities in many allegorical texts are shown to appear instantly, or upon the act of meditating or upon reciting a mantra or upon speaking their name).

Some might look at the above assertion -- that the ancient myths are pointing towards an always-available inner connection with a higher self -- and respond: "Well, of course they are! Those ancient myths are talking about the subconscious! They are just using different terms than Freud used when he applied a more scientific approach to the same subject, starting in the late 1800s and especially in the first few decades of the 1900s, and that other analysts have expanded upon since!"

And certainly it must be admitted that aspects of what has been discovered about the role of the subconscious do play an important role in our lives and may indeed connect to some of the things that the ancient wisdom was trying to teach us about our inner connection with the infinite.

But our own individual subconscious, no matter how powerful the subconscious mind may actually be (and I'm willing to agree that it may be tremendously powerful) cannot be used to explain our ability to see and know things that we ourselves could not possibly have known, such as the fact that an airplane had hit a mountain somewhere too far away for any physical human senses to have detected, or such as "seeing" an area that we had never seen before or known about previously, and which could not be physically seen due to the folds of the terrain and the fact that a massive ridge-line of mountain blocked it from our view.

These things speak to an "inner connection to the Infinite" that goes beyond what we ourselves could have known without connection to something beyond even the power of our own individual subconscious mind.

The same can be said for the various programs which some authors have written about in which taxpayer-funded agencies and even the military used "remote viewing" to locate downed helicopters or discover other information which cannot be attributed to simply "tapping into the subconscious," because one cannot expect their "subconscious" to have had any way of knowing the location of a helicopter which crashed in another country, for example.

If these programs and incidents are real (and there is enough evidence presented by different authors to suggest that at least some of these remote viewing programs probably did in fact take place and achieve certain successful results in some cases), then they also provide evidence that the "inner connection to the Infinite" may be about more than connecting with one's subconscious mind.

Some of the previous posts on this subject have discussed the many ways in which human beings seem to be able to cultivate this connection to the higher self or the invisible world, and indeed it seems that we are actually constituted in such a way that there are numerous ways to do so -- and numerous disciplines which have been practiced throughout the centuries in different cultures around the world. They range from various techniques of meditation (one of the most important and widespread of the categories of techniques), to various forms of shamanic drumming and rhythmic rattles and bull roarers and other percussion-like instruments, to the use of various plant substances designed to induce trance conditions, to certain types of ecstatic dance or deliberate movement, to practices such as chi kung or qigong or Tai Chi Chuan or other "internal arts" from ancient China, to the practice of Yoga, the recitation of mantras, and many more.

And yet one might interject at this point that, even if there are countless ways of connecting with the Infinite, eleven-year-old Norman Ollestad did not seem to have practiced any of the above disciplines prior to suddenly finding himself in a situation in which his ability to "see" something which he could not actually see with his physical eyes would turn out to have been very important to his survival.

At least, he does not talk about any years of practicing qigong or Yoga or the recitation of mantras and the deliberate practice of meditation in his account of his life before the age of eleven.

It is possible -- in fact, it is probable, and a very reputable source has told me that this was a factor in her own life -- that traumatic experiences or life-and-death situations can indeed bring out our inner connection to the Infinite, even if we have never consciously experienced that connection before (and especially if we are still fairly young).

This certainly makes sense, since the ancient scriptures tell us that this inner connection is always accessible to us -- that we are, in fact, always connected to our higher self, even though we are not always aware of it.

And while that might certainly have been a factor in this particular situation in which the eleven-year-old Norman Ollestad found himself, I would also suggest at least the possibility that he had actually been practicing a discipline, and fairly consistently, which can lead some people to connect to the invisible "waves of the universe" and to knowledge which is from somewhere else -- and that discipline which he had been practicing was . . . surfing.

In fact, Norman Ollestad's father had introduced him to surfing before he was even old enough to ride a board himself, and rode on his father's back instead, and later took him on significantly challenging surf trips including one where he experienced a personal triumph of getting tubed on a wave in Mexico -- by the time he was eleven years old!

After that first tube ride, his father (who had witnessed it) let him know that he had been to someplace very special. The exact words that his father used, recounted in the book on the bottom of page 109: "Someplace beyond all the bullshit."

Interestingly enough, that could very well be a "technical description" of the Infinite, at least as conveyed by some of the world's ancient sacred texts.

The Tao Te Ching, for instance, informs us that the Tao itself cannot be named, cannot be defined, cannot be described. If it is named in words, then whatever it is that can be captured in words is not the eternal Tao. The Tao is beyond all our mental constructions, all our human constructions, all our "verbal virtual reality" in the insightful and helpful phrase used by Dr. Darrah Westrup in a talk that is discussed in this previous post.

Or, as the fourth of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (probably written down by the third century BC, and possibly containing wisdom far older than that) expresses it in the 31st verse, "Then all veils and uncertainty fall away."

This, in fact, is what I would propose the book Crazy for the Storm really gets in touch with.

Because the book is absolutely masterful in recounting the doubts, the vulnerabilities, the uncertainties, the self-questioning, the feelings of inadequacy, and all the other "veils" that we fight through in this life (certainly in adolescence, but really this struggle is never ending -- or else there would not have been any need for anyone to practice Yoga or study the Yoga Sutras, since human beings could just wait for adolescence to pass if this uncertainty was strictly an adolescent problem).

And it shows how Norman Ollestad had to conquer those in order to survive on the mountain. And to survive growing up in the 1970s in and around Topanga Canyon in California.

Which he did.

In large part because he was pushed by his Dad.

And in equal measure because he found what he needed to find inside himself (after all, his Dad could not make him get into that tube in Mexico -- young Norman had to get inside that big wave for himself).

We should all be grateful to him for sharing such a personal story with the world.




Above (at top) is an image which I believe conveys some of the steepness of the mountain face which young Norman Ollestad had to make his way down alone, in extreme weather, after an unbelievably traumatic experience.

Based on my reading of the Google Map with "terrain" selected, the map below the image corresponds to the line of mountains shown in the photograph; the black arrow shows the summit of Ontario Peak (elevation 8,696 feet or about 2,651 meters) and the red dotted line shows an approximation of the route down the mountain from the crash site, based on descriptions in the text and the map in the beginning of the book.

Below is a closer view with slightly better resolution of the section of the topo map showing Ontario Peak (from Google Maps) -- keep in mind that as the topo lines get closer together (closer to one another) the steepness of the terrain is increasing:

Below is another view of the same topo map, this time with approximate crash site and route down the mountain indicated:

And below are two more images of Ontario Peak and the face of the ridge-line, the first without markings and the second with markings (as with all of the above markings, these are based only on my own "map recon" and the descriptions and map in the book -- not on any personal knowledge of this location or any personal visit there, although I will admit that I do happen to have a lot of professional training and experience when it comes to topo maps):

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

I could be wrong about any of these estimated possible routes when matching them to the photographs, but in any case, the severity of the terrain and the sense of the challenge that the eleven-year-old Norman Ollestad faced in descending the mountain should be clear  enough from these photographs.

Here is a link to a contemporary newspaper account from February 21, 1979, describing his survival. 

Surfing and Herman Melville's Moby Dick

In surfing, as in almost every other human endeavor, situations often arise in which there are a limited number of resources (in this case, ridable waves) which are seen as desirable by a large number of people (in this case, surfers who wish to ride those waves).

Even though there are no official government policemen sitting in the lineup to keep "law and order," surfers do not erupt into violence every time they are faced with crowded conditions, fighting over every wave that arrives.  Instead, a simple and effective informal "code" arose among surfers many decades ago, which enables surfers to peaceably cooperate so that everyone has an opportunity to catch waves.  

The etiquette basically dictates that when two or more surfers want to catch the same wave, it belongs to the surfer who takes off on the wave first and "deepest" -- that is to say, closest to the point at which the wave begins to break (the "curl" of the wave, where the blue or green water breaks and turns white and foamy).

In the image below, for example, two surfers have caught the same wave.  Surfer A, to the right as we look at the picture from our perspective, has caught the wave slightly before another surfer, Surfer B, seen to our left as we look at the picture.  Surfer A has caught the wave first, but even more importantly, he is closer to the curl of the wave, which can be seen fanning out to the right (as we look at the image -- the curl is really to the left of Surfer A as he rides the wave, because the wave is "a right" from his perspective: he is riding to his right, and Surfer B is to his right down the line of the unbroken wave).

In this case, the wave rightfully belongs to Surfer A and Surfer B is "dropping in" on Surfer A by taking off along the line that Surfer A wishes to follow, a line which proceeds down the still-unbroken  (green) barrel of the wave, away from the breaking curl of the wave.

This code is so well-known and so widely-used that it has been written about many times.  It is explained quite clearly on the world-renowned Surfline website, in a web page entitled "Don't drop in on or snake your fellow surfer." However, it is important to note that this widely-followed piece of surfing etiquette did not arise because it was first written down as a rule or passed as a "law" somewhere: it arose naturally among surfers as an effective way to govern the allocation of relatively scarce resources (waves) among relatively crowded conditions (in the image above, you can see that there are quite a few surfers at this particular break -- you can see several in the water to the left of the letter "B" as you look at the picture).

In fact, the situation in the image above had a happy ending: Surfer B realized he was about to drop-in on Surfer A, and he rapidly turned back over the wave to get out of Surfer A's way.  You can see this taking place in the images below.  In image 1, on the left, Surfer B is dropping in, and then in image 2, a split-second later, Surfer B turns and disappears back over the lip, leaving the wave to Surfer A:

This example of a natural code of etiquette arising among individuals who operate in an environment where there are no actual policemen or lawyers or other representatives of government, and yet who are able to peaceably allocate scarce resources amongst themselves, brings to mind the chapter in Herman Melville's Moby Dick (1851) entitled "Fast-Fish and Loose-Fish."  There, Melville writes:
Perhaps the only formal whaling code authorized by legislative enactment, was that of Holland.  It was decreed by the States-General in A.D. 1695.  But though no other nation has ever had any written whaling law, yet the American fishermen have been their own legislators and lawyers in this matter.  They have provided a system which for terse comprehensiveness surpasses Justinian's Pandects and the Bylaws of the Chinese Society for the Suppression of Meddling with other People's Business.  Yes; these laws might be engraven on a Queen Anne's farthing, or the barb of a harpoon, and worn round the neck, so small are they.
I.  A Fast-Fish belongs to the party fast to it.
II.  A Loose-Fish is fair game for anybody who can soonest catch it.
In fact, it is remarkable that the code here articulated by Melville is precisely the same code which arose among surfers, it requiring only the substitution of the word "wave" for "fish" to admirably summarize the code of wave-catching etiquette just described.

Many philosophers have advocated the need for a political state -- often defined as an entity which maintains a monopoly on the legitimate use of force -- by arguing that in the absence of a state, mankind would fall into a state of complete violent chaos.  This view was most famously and influentially argued by Thomas Hobbes in his Leviathan, published in 1651.  There, Hobbes argued that in the state of nature life would be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."  The last three words of this phrase have become almost universally known and cited.

However, the examples of the surfer's code and the whale fishery tend to refute this view of mankind's inherent brutishness.  Both activities (surfing and whaling) are conducted outside the reach of normal laws and legislators, and in both cases the participants "have been their own legislators and lawyers."

Proponents of voluntaryism and some forms of libertarianism (among others) argue that the institution of states actually leads to greater levels of violence and more "brutishness" than would occur in their absence.  While they don't generally cite either surfing or Moby Dick as evidence in favor of their arguments, it seems possible that they could.

The use of an example from the immortal Moby Dick is not meant to imply that the author of this blog in any way condones the killing of whales.  To the contrary, several previous posts have discussed arguments against the regular slaughter of animals for food or any other purpose -- see for instance:

Dolphins and consciousness

(mobile readers please scroll down to read the post)

Here is a link to an amazing new report on research that has been ongoing since 1984, recording the vocalizations of individual bottlenose dolphins (and including recordings going back to 1975).  Published on February 20, 2013 in the online Proceedings of the Royal Society B [Biology] and entitled "Vocal copying of individually distinctive signature whistles in bottlenose dolphins,"  the report demonstrates that bottlenose dolphins appear to develop their own signature whistle patterns, and that the animals will call out to other bottlenose dolphins with whom they have close relationships using the signature pattern of the other dolphin!

This is an astonishing discovery.

The report states:
Bottlenose dolphins produce a large variety of narrow-band frequency-modulated whistles and pulsed sounds for communication [12]. As part of their repertoire, each individual also develops an individually distinctive signature whistle [13,14] that develops under the influence of vocal learning [1517]. Individuals listen to their acoustic environment early in life and then develop their own novel frequency modulation pattern or contour for their signature whistle [15]. The result is a novel and unique modulation pattern that identifies the individual even in the absence of general voice cues [18].
The report goes on to explain that, while rare, instances in which other dolphins "copied" the signature whistle pattern of another dolphin have been observed in enough instances to suggest that it is not caused by chance. The researchers explain, "It has been argued that copying of signature whistle types is equivalent to addressing other individuals."  

The authors studied the dolphins extensively to try to determine whether the whistle copying was for affiliative (what we might call "friendly" or "bonding") purposes, aggressive, or deceptive purposes.  The research strongly suggests that this whistle-copying is affiliative.  For example, the researchers write, "The results of a permutation test clearly showed that signature whistle copying occurred between closely affiliated pairs of animals (p = 0.0006)."  They also state, "Frequent copying of signature whistles would therefore render the identity information of the whistle unreliable. The rare copying of signature whistles may, however, be particularly suited to addressing close associates [2325]."

Here is a Discovery News article which discusses the report, entitled "Dolphins call each other by name."

The implications of this report are profound.  It clearly indicates individual consciousness among these dolphins.  Not only are the dolphins aware of their own identity, crafting "their own novel frequency modulation pattern," but they are also aware of the specific identity of their fellow dolphins, sometimes calling out the name of another with whom they are closely bonded.  In one case, the report describes two bonding dolphins calling out one another's whistle patterns in a back-and-forth manner, with one dolphin doing so 13 times and the other 11 times!

While the report's authors declare that this self-naming behavior and bonding behavior is the result of Darwinian natural selection, that is complete conjecture on their part (based, of course, upon their assumptions about the origin of dolphins).  No evidence is presented in the report that dolphin species were observed before they evolved this behavior, and then were watched as they did develop this behavior (with those that did not develop it being killed off by natural selection prior to passing on their DNA).  Thus, the report's author's are engaging in conjecture when they write:
Bottlenose dolphins live in fluid fission–fusion societies with animals forming a variety of different social relationships [20]. This social organization, coupled with restrictions in underwater vision and olfaction, has led to natural selection favouring designed individual signature whistles [12,14] instead of relying on the by-product distinctiveness of voice features [19].
It is possible that there are other explanations for this behavior besides "natural selection favouring" it.   For example, it is possible that consciousness originates somewhere outside of physical beings, and that our brains transmit consciousness, in a way analogous in some manner to a radio or television which transmits a signal that originates elsewhere.  This possibility has been discussed in earlier posts such as this one, which also pointed to a fascinating examination of the topic by Chris Carter entitled "Does Consciousness Depend on the Brain?"  

In that case, as some have suggested, animals have varying capacities of transmitting consciousness, some possessing brains that are more capable of rendering a "clear transmission," and some less capable of doing so.  Dolphins may possess brain structures that are capable of channeling a very high level of consciousness, such that they actually give themselves names and know the names of their loved ones.

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that consciousness does exist outside of the brain, and that it does continue on even after the physical death of the body, just as the destruction of an individual television or an individual radio does not destroy the radio or television broadcast that was being received by that device.  Other posts that have explored this subject include "One of the most famous NDEs ever caught on film," "The ideology of materialism," and "A heartfelt portrait of John Blofeld from Daniel P. Reid."  

In fact, it is probably safe to say that there is at least as much evidence for this hypothesis than for the natural selection hypothesis, and that we have just as much right to conclude that dolphins vocalize the names of themselves and others because they are intelligent beings manifesting consciousness than because natural selection favored the survival of those who designed signature whistles.

Further, because dolphins have been known to surf, which is one of the highest activities that a conscious being can participate in, I think that we can argue that this hypothesis has a lot going for it.

I have surfed with dolphins before myself (or rather, I have been joined by dolphins while surfing), and had them playfully swim right under my board at high speeds in groups of three, and I can attest that they project a powerful sensation of their own consciousness (as do many other animals).  This study adds a whole new dimension to that evidence, and it should really cause all of us to reflect on the implications of this new information.

For example, in light of this new knowledge, is it really ethical to keep dolphins in captivity against their will?

How about training them to perform in live performances or play parts in television shows and movies?  Or conscripting them against their will to serve in the military?  Or killing them for food?

Thinking about the fact that dolphins appear to "give themselves names," it seems that doing violence against dolphins really highlights what Simone Weil wrote in her treatise against violence, that it "turns anybody who is subjected to it into a thing."  It turns, as she says, a "somebody" into "nobody" -- it robs its victims (and ultimately its perpetrators as well) of their personhood -- the very thing that an individual name represents! 

This subject really points to the violence that is perpetrated against many other animals under various excuses, all of which were condemned by many ancient philosophers, including Plutarch and Ovid.  There is evidence that many other species of animals manifest consciousness to varying degrees (see for instance "Moving report of elephants mourning . . . ").  In light of that thought, should we be disturbed by the horrendous treatment meted out to animals destined for slaughter and conversion into food products?

This new information about dolphins who give themselves individual names is truly amazing, and the researchers who brought it to our attention should be commended for doing so.  It also appears to have many important ramifications which are worth pondering deeply.

Prop 37, genetically-modified food labeling, burritos, and stir-fry

I like to make burritos -- burritos for breakfast, lunch, dinner, early morning surf trips, you name it.  Burritos can be vegetarian, with just rice and beans and salsa and lots of cilantro.  Burritos can be spicy, with Dave's Insanity Sauce (caution -- just looking at a bottle of this sauce can make your hair start to stand up and your eyes begin to water).  Burritos can be filled with leftovers and wrapped in tinfoil to take to work the next day (especially if you have a toaster-oven where you work).  And, in case I haven't said it before, burritos can be wrapped up and taken with you on the drive to the local break for an early-morning surf session (along with a big travel mug of hot black coffee).

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the Mission-style burrito (originating in the Mission district of San Francisco) is a work of art, and different taquerias have their own unique style and loyal followings.  But because I have lived all over the country -- often in places where they do not have taquerias that serve Mission burritos -- I have had to learn how to roll my own.  Once you know the proper sequence of moves, it's not difficult at all to roll a great burrito, but it helps to have the right kind of tortilla.  I've tried just about every tortilla sold in stores, and my favorites are the really big, extra-large and extra-thin tortillas that have writing in Spanish all over the packages.

However, the sad fact of the matter is that just about every tortilla you will encounter in just about every supermarket in California likely contains genetically-modified ingredients, unless you are in an organic grocery store or a Trader Joe's (which promises no GMOs in foods carried under their Trader Joe's product label).

Editor's note: what does any of this have to do with the subject matter of this blog?  It has quite a lot to do with it, because it is about looking at the evidence for yourself, analyzing the various things that people are telling you, and making your own decisions about what to believe -- doing your own "due diligence."

There are currently eight GM foods authorized for sale as human food or ingredients in human food in the US (for more discussion and links to resources about these eight crops, see this previous post): 
  • corn (a huge percentage of which is now GM in the US, as well as all the varied corn products made from GM corn, including corn syrups, corn starches, corn oils, etc)
  • soy
  • cottonseed (consumed by humans as cottonseed oil)
  • canola
  • sugarbeets (and therefore most sugar and foods containing sugar as an ingredient, unless it specifically says "cane sugar")
  • more than half of Hawaiian papaya (some sources now say 80% of it)
  • a small percentage of zucchini
  • a small percentage of yellow crookneck squash.
Try going into any of your local supermarkets and looking through every package of tortillas that they have for sale.  Every single package, from every single brand, will probably contain corn, cottonseed oil, or both.  If they are not labeled as "organic" or "contains no GMO ingredients," then you can assume that the cottonseed oil and the corn come from genetically modified plants.  Most typical supermarket chains carry several brands of tortillas, but typically not one of those brands in the store will be organic or state that its ingredients do not come from GMO sources.  

Perhaps this is just because there really isn't a market for tortillas made without genetically-modified ingredients.  Perhaps people just don't care.  After all, if people rebelled against genetically-modified tortillas on their burritos, then nobody would buy those tortillas and the stores would stop selling them, or the tortilla brands would start offering some non-GMO tortillas as an option. 

That's a great argument, but if the companies believe that people don't care about GMO ingredients, then why are so many of them spending so many millions of dollars to try to prevent the labeling of all foods that contain GMO ingredients?  If they really don't care, then adding the words, "Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering" or "May be Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering" should not be such a big deal to shoppers, by that argument.  More on that in a moment. 

Perhaps you do not fancy burritos to the same extent that I do, but if you head over just a few aisles to the Asian food section (where I also like to spend a lot of time), you will find a similar predicament when trying to purchase soy sauce in most grocery stores.  You will find a host of different soy sauce brands, as well as some "low-sodium" options and some "lite" options, but unless you are shopping in an organic store or other specialty grocer, you will probably not find a single soy sauce that states that it does not contain genetically-modified ingredients.  You can generally take that as a sign that the soy sauce was made with transgenic soy, at least if you are shopping in the United States, where over 90% of soy grown for human consumption is genetically modified. 

And, if you get frustrated at this dilemma, wondering how you will make your stir-fry without any soy sauce, and you decide to purchase some pre-made stir-fry sauce (maybe some General Tso's sauce, or some teriyaki or some sesame-ginger sauce or something) to use in place of soy sauce until you can get down to the organic food store or the Trader Joe's and buy some non-GMO soy sauce, good luck finding one that is not made with soy, or with high-fructose corn syrup, or with sugar.  

Since high-fructose corn syrup is made from corn, almost all of which is now genetically-engineered in the US, and since more and more sugar beets  will now be genetically-engineered, and since (as we've already seen) the vast majority of soy is GMO (and soy is an ingredient in just about every sauce product in the Asian aisle of the grocery store), you won't be able to get out the door without some GMO ingredients to add to your stir-fry, if you shop in most grocery stores in America today. 

But that's no problem, because nobody really cares about consuming GMO ingredients, right?  Again, if that's the case, why are so many powerful interests lining up to prevent the labeling of foods that might have been produced or "partially produced" with genetic engineering? 

Could it be that those powerful interests understand that the real reason most consumers don't have a hard time shopping for tortillas or soy sauce is that most consumers are completely unaware of the extent to which every product they are comparing already contains GMOs?  Labeling, such as the labeling that would be required in California if Proposition 37 passes this November, would lift the veil on this situation, and would open a lot of consumers' eyes to the fact that they are purchasing a lot more food made with genetically-engineered ingredients than they currently could imagine. 

The campaign to prevent this from happening -- to prevent consumers from being told if a product contains genetically-engineered ingredients -- is just beginning to produce advertisements, but there is little doubt that they will be ramping up in earnest over the coming weeks.  This "No on 37"  website contains links to videos, most of which contain reassuring messages from doctors (all of whom are no doubt well-intentioned and sincere in their opinion that genetically-modified foods are safe for human consumption), such as the video below:

As discussed in previous blog posts on this subject, there are many who argue that genetically-engineered foods are not harmful to humans, including the doctors in the above video.  However, what is not mentioned in these videos is the possibility that genetically-engineered foods (which almost always use genetic material from viruses and bacteria) may be harmful to the symbiotic bacteria which live inside of us and which are essential to human life and health.  There are also concerns that these modifications may be harmful to human genetic material or directly harmful to humans in other ways.  Some people may say that such fears are ridiculous, or unscientific, but shouldn't each shopper be allowed to make an informed decision on that question for himself or herself?  

The "No on 37" website where this video originated argues that such labeling would be costly and that it would raise prices for everyone without giving them any useful information.  This 52-page report, linked on the website, makes that argument.   These arguments get closer to the heart of the issue.  

Concerns over the cost of food to the consumer is a valid point, but the real issue is the cost to the producer of the food, and the cost of keeping GMO and non-GMO foods separate (if labeling is suddenly required).  The consumer is currently being asked to accept the idea that GMO foods are nothing to worry about, in order to save money for the companies involved in growing these foods.  The argument is that unless consumers accept such ingredients, it will be impossible to provide food.  

But this is a false argument.  To use an analogy from a text written long before genetically-modified foods were invented, this is like trucking companies arguing that they cannot effectively deliver goods around the country unless they are permitted to drive over the front lawns of houses when the roads are congested.  If such an assertion is accepted, and everyone allows truckers to drive their big rigs over their home's front lawn whenever they feel like it, then that system will come to be seen as inevitable.  However, if the laws protect citizens from the uncompensated intrusion of trucks on their property, then trucking companies will have to come up with systems to get goods where they need to go without driving all over people's front yards -- and what's more, trucking companies will come up with those systems!

The argument that "It's just too difficult to deliver non-GMO foods anymore" is exactly this sort of false argument, and yet it is one that will increasingly be heard as the debate over Prop 37 heats up.  Below is an example of such an argument:


This argument basically says to consumers, "GMO ingredients are everywhere, and there's no going back.  Therefore, don't ask us to label them."  This is at least a more honest approach than saying, "GMO foods are safe, and therefore we shouldn't label them."  This argument is saying that so much of our food supply now has GMO in it that it is just too hard to label it all.  

The "too hard" excuse, however, does not withstand concerted analysis, however.  The government does not seem to have any problem forcing every tobacco product to carry a label, no matter how difficult it is to do so.  The government also requires all foods to contain detailed lists of their ingredients, calories per serving, grams of total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrate (broken down into dietary fiber and sugars) and percentages of the USDA recommended daily allowances of a variety of vitamins and minerals.

Perhaps it would be more accurate to read between the lines, and to say that when someone argues that "GMO ingredients are everywhere -- therefore it's too hard to label them all," what they are really saying is that "GMO ingredients are everywhere -- if we labeled them all, we might cause a panic."

However, because there are alternatives available on the market, this argument also does not hold water.  Even opponents of GMO labeling admit that consumers who are concerned about genetically-modified ingredients in their food can seek out alternatives, such as organic foods (even if labeling opponents feel such concerns are misguided, since GMOs are totally safe, in their opinion).  If everything that contained genetically-modified ingredients were labeled, it is likely that the demand for such organic foods (and other alternatives that announced they did not use GMOs in their ingredients) would increase.  

Opponents of GMO labeling argue that it would be a "hidden food tax that would especially hurt seniors and low-income families who can least afford it," but the fact is that the food companies are probably enjoying the business of many "seniors and low-income families" who are currently buying GMO products (such as tortillas) because they have no idea that they are buying GMO ingredients.  In other words, the companies that sell these foods to these groups are able to sell more such foods than they might be able to sell if labeling laws were passed -- because their products would become less attractive.  

If that happened, foods with GMO ingredients might have to lower their prices in order to compete with the alternatives that they do not have to compete against right now to the same degree.  In other words, certain consumers may already be paying more for foods which enjoy less competition than they would face once those consumers learn the truth about what's in their food.

The list of donors contributing money for organizations seeking to dissuade voters from passing Prop 37 in California tends to support the conclusion that the real opposition to the labeling of GMO foods comes from companies whose businesses directly benefit from the use of GMO ingredients or the sale of GMOs themselves (the chemical companies who have patented seeds and plants containing transgenic traits).  The pie charts below show the current list of donations to both sides of Prop 37:


As of publication of this post on August 31 of 2012, the donors against who are named on the chart have contributed $25,075,009.  The largest donor is also the largest producer of genetically-modified organisms and has contributed over $4.2 million to date.  Other donors include big soda companies (which use a lot of high-fructose corn syrup in their products, as well as sugar, both of which are largely produced from crops with large percentages of GM plants, such as corn and sugar beets).

In contrast, the pie chart below shows donors who have contributed money to persuade for the labeling requirements in Prop 37, as of August 31:


The largest donor on the "yes" side, Dr. Mercola, does sell some health products, but they are primarily in areas that do not compete directly against products with GMO ingredients (the eight genetically-engineered plants listed above are not ingredients in most vitamins or supplements of the variety sold on Mercola websites).  While the next two largest "yes" donors have a more-direct competitive interest in the issue, the fourth-largest donor, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, does have a small line of all-natural snack bars, but is primarily known for selling soap and other personal-care body products, which are not in competition with food items.  Further, it is clear from the two pie charts that the amounts given by the largest donors on the "no" side dwarf the contributions of the largest donors on the "yes" side (to date, the largest "yes" donor -- -- has given $1.1 million to support the labeling initiative). 

To date, the donations to pass the labeling initiative from named entities on that website total only $3,294,326.  In other words, the "no" donations outnumber the "yes" donations by about 7.6 to 1.  This appears to be primarily due to the number of very large and well-capitalized corporations with an interest in defeating this initiative.

Strangely, none of the websites arguing against the labeling initiative voice what is perhaps the strongest argument for their position, which is the philosophical argument saying that the government should not use force to intrude upon the private property of citizens, including using force to make private companies or individuals place labels on products that they sell.  This argument would say that private citizens who produce goods for sale should be allowed to offer those to other private citizens, who can choose to buy them or not buy them.  If the buyers are concerned about the product, they can ask the maker of the product for details about it, and if they don't get an answer (or if they don't like the answer that they get), they can go elsewhere.  This argument would say that the government does not have the right to infringe on the private property of the citizen in this way, forcing the citizen to slap a label on his or her goods, and doing so at the point of a gun (or at least with the threat of jail and other sanctions, where people are kept against their will and guarded by people with guns).  

This would seem to be a very good argument indeed.  The best counter to it would be an argument from the exact same principle, stating that the current state of affairs allows unwanted violation of property (including one's own body). 

For starters, genetically-modified organisms, by their very nature, are able to reproduce and spread into other people's crops, which is a violation of property as well.  That this takes place has already been demonstrated in courts of law.  Therefore, citizens who wish to avoid GMOs by growing their own corn, soy, or canola on their own property may suddenly discover that they have some genetically-modified plants that invaded all by themselves.  

Similarly, as the speaker in the last video embedded above makes clear, it is exceedingly difficult to keep GMO and non-GMO products separate in the "food stream" that he describes, leading to the situation in which GMO foods are basically shouldering their way into places and foods that they are "not invited."  Further, because GMOs are a relatively new entrant into the food supply, it is quite possible that many consumers are not even aware that genetically-engineered ingredients are in their tortillas or their soy sauce (or a host of other products -- as many as 70% of all items on grocery shelves, according to the study linked above which was provided by the "No on 37" website and written by opponents of GMO labeling).  

Because a vast majority of consumers are probably unaware that so many of the foods they are buying now contain genetically-modified organisms (when the same products did not just ten or fifteen years ago), it could be argued that this injection of GMOs into their food (and thence into their bodies) is similar to air pollution or water pollution and thus an invasion of their property (their body being included in that description).  

Thus, while this line of argument (with some justification) says that governments should not tell companies and individuals what they can and cannot do with their property, including with products that they offer for sale, there is an obvious exception to that statement, which is that companies and individuals cannot invade the property of others in the process, which means that they cannot drive their trucks over peoples' lawns without permission, and they should not be allowed to invade their customers' bodies without their knowledge either (whether by pumping dangerous chemicals into the air their customers breathe, or by slipping potentially harmful DNA from viruses and bacteria into the corn, soy, canola, cottonseed, and sugarbeets that they eat, or that produce ingredients in other foods that they eat or drink).

There can be little doubt that if consumers knew that every tortilla and every bottle of soy sauce or teriyaki sauce in their supermarket contained genetically-engineered ingredients, some of them would seek other alternatives.  There would probably be enough demand for such alternatives that supermarkets would begin to stock non-GMO alternatives next to all the GMO products in each of the various aisles of the store.  

However, it is also clear that the truly staggering quantity of supermarket items which now contain GMO ingredients represents a new status quo that has numerous powerful defenders who will use a wide variety of methods to prevent this status quo from changing.  These interests absolutely do not want labels which would reveal to consumers the extent to which their groceries contain genetically-modified organisms.  

It will be very interesting to see how this fight turns out in California.  It may be such an important issue that it will have repercussions for the rest of the world as well.

Eddie Aikau: May 04, 1946 - March 17, 1978

May 4 is the birthday of Hawaiian hero Eddie Aikau, born this day in 1946.

He was an intrepid North Shore surfer and lifeguard whose willingness to brave the often fearsome Pacific Ocean saved many lives.  His love of Hawaii and desire to preserve and resuscitate Hawaiian spirit and pride are evident in the one part of the above clip in which Eddie Aikau can be heard speaking for himself.

It was these two powerful aspects of his personality that tragically led to his disappearance at sea, when he set out alone to paddle for help, on the third voyage of the Polynesian Voyaging Society traditional vessel Hokule'a, after the Hokule'a had capsized twelve to fifteen miles from shore, and after he and the other members of the crew had waited ten hours in the water without sign of rescue.

His heroic life is truly an inspiration and an example to all people.

One incident of his life that is not as often mentioned, but which also illustrates his stature and the respect that he commanded, was his negotiation of a reconciliation of the tense and violent situation that had developed on the North Shore surrounding the sometimes disrespectful remarks and published statements from non-Hawaiian surfers, as related in the movie Bustin' Down the Door.  The situation is described in detail in the film, beginning around the 55:00-minute mark (although to truly do the story justice, the entire film prior to that point should be seen).

At about 1:12:00 in the film, Rabbit Bartholomew and Ian Cairns, who had published some of the most provocative statements and become the principle targets of those who wanted revenge, describe how they were holed up in a South Shore hotel (in danger of their lives) and heard a knock on the door.
Rabbit:  There was a knock on the door one day, and we opened up the door, Ian's -- I'm there, and Ian's behind me with a tennis racket -- and it was Eddie Aikau.

Ian:  And he just came in and said, 'Look -- you know there are men, men with knives and guns, that want to kill you, for the things you've said in the magazines . . .'

Rabbit:  And he said, 'But, it's gone too far, it's gone beyond the North Shore, it's gone into a much heavier element,' and he said, 'My family, my Dad -- Pops Aikau -- has sent me in, to try to calm the waters a bit here, because it's a very, very serious situation for you two.'

Clyde Aikau:  We did what the Hawaiians called a ho'o pono pono; a ho'o pono pono is, you know, if you've got people who don't agree on something, somehow you bring them, you bring them to your home and then you sit them down and you just hash it out.
This action of reconciliation, in which Eddie Aikau can be seen once again as the one who went into the "stormy waters" of a very intensely-charged situation, was extremely significant for the history of surfing.  It is no exaggeration to say that he probably saved lives by his actions, as well as to say that he may have prevented the derailment of the start of modern professional surfing.

In this incident, just as in the other brave actions he took during his life, Eddie Aikau can be seen to have acted to preserve the dignity, respect, and world-famous Spirit of Aloha of Hawaii and the Hawaiian people and culture.

Our prayers are with the Aikau family this day.

Rest in peace -- Respect.

Hogbacks of the California coast

I recently wrote a blog post examining "The unbelievable bathymetry of Mavericks."

In that post, I noted the amazing underwater features (which others have also discussed, and which in this particular stretch of the Pacific Ocean help to focus the wave energy that makes Mavericks one of the biggest and most powerful waves in the world) and suggested that conventional explanations for these features have some problems.

In particular, I noted that conventional explanations such as the suggestion that ancient uplift may have curved layers of strata, which were then tilted and sheared off (the "plunging folds" explanation), did not seem to fit the evidence (for one thing, I pointed out that "the curves are clearly further apart at the point of greatest 'hairpin turns' rather than closer together as we might expect if they were actually caused by tectonic uplifting"). I then suggested that the graceful curving patterns found not just at Mavericks (off of Pillar Point at the north end of Half Moon Bay) but also for hundreds of miles along the Northern California coast could more likely be the product of volcanic lava flow, or even of glacial carving.

In fact, although I did not make this point in the previous post, the fact that these graceful parallel patterns appear intermittently along a stretch of coast for hundreds of miles is yet another argument against the "plunging folds" explanation.

However, towards the end of the post I did admit that I was not certain of "the exact mechanism that carved the graceful channels in the original deeply-scored washboard," although I did believe that either lava or glacial ice were the two most-likely candidates. I noted that these two mechanisms could easily fit within the framework of the hydroplate theory of Dr. Walt Brown, while the conventional explanations seemed to be somewhat vague and inadequate in light of the evidence on the ground.

Since then, however, I have been in contact with Dr. Brown and he suggested that based on several pieces of evidence, he does not believe that either lava or glacial flows are a likely explanation for the curving ribs that are so evident in the seafloor near Mavericks and along the coast to the north and south. In fact, he wrote that "for a variety of reasons I don't believe those features were produced by glaciers, icebergs, reefs, faults, or volcanic eruptions" (the reason he mentions reefs, icebergs, and faults in that list is that other conventional explanations try to explain these distinctive features by referring to the proximity of the San Andreas Fault, although how the fault could produce such swirling parallel curves is not explained; the other candidates in the list have also been mentioned, including the possibility that the bottoms of passing icebergs floating above might have carved out these patterns, which is so unlikely I did not even take the time to refute it as a possibility in my previous post).

Dr. Brown offered a very different explanation -- he believes that these features found at Mavericks and up and down the California coast look like classic "hog backs." He cautions that "several tests would need to be done before definitely saying those features at Half Moon Bay are hog backs." One such test would be to find similar hogbacks east of the beach (we will return to that line of testing in a moment).

Hogbacks are geological features formed by steeply tilted strata which become exposed, revealing long parallel ridges that resemble the sharp spine of a wild boar (in the US, wild pigs are often called "razorbacks"). The mechanics behind the hogback feature are somewhat different from those being argued for the tilted uplift process that supposedly produces "plunging folds" and which some believe may be responsible for the curves beneath the waves at Mavericks. A hogback is created when forces lift and then shear an entire stack of sediments, generally for many miles: see the diagram below.

I adapted the above diagram (my own rough sketch) from a diagram found in this excellent photo-essay examining a famous hogback feature, the San Rafael Swell (in Utah). The San Rafael Swell in one of many dramatic hogback features in that part of the country which are associated with the uplift of the Colorado Plateau (which Walt Brown explains in his book in the extended discussion of the formation of the Grand Canyon).

The drawing above shows that hogback geology is associated with a formation called a "monocline," which is a place in which the strata have been bent by the uplift of a portion of the earth below them, such that they resemble (in Walt Brown's analogy, see note 47 on this page of his book) a handkerchief draped over a large book sitting on a table (the handkerchief represents the strata, and the large book represents the uplifted geology).

The fact that there are many places in the world today in which the strata gracefully bend up over an uplift in this manner is a piece of supporting evidence for the hydroplate theory, which holds that the strata were all laid down rapidly during the flood event (in which they were sorted into their characteristic layers by liquefaction on a massive scale). If the strata were laid down over millions of years successively, with each becoming dry and brittle in the ages before another layer was laid down, then we would expect the strata to all bend and break at every monocline.

However, in some places, where intense shearing took place or where the uplift may have taken place after the strata had some centuries to harden following the flood, the monocline will produce a sheared-off layer of upward-tilted strata, such as can be seen at the left side of the drawing above. These layers will be exposed in great parallel lines running for many miles -- in some cases for hundreds of miles.

Note that this mechanism takes care of one of my objections to the "plunging fold" explanation -- I noted that at the hairpin curves, the parallel ribs at the bottom of the sea near Pillar Point and the Mavericks break are often further apart, rather than closer together (we would expect them to be closer together if they were caused by tectonic uplift at one point, tilted over and then sheared off). Because hogbacks are caused by an entire "layer cake" of strata being stretched upwards by an uplifting monocline and then shearing, rather than by tectonic folding which would compress the layers together at the point of greatest bending, the layers may well be further apart at the curving places, unlike what we would expect with the "plunging fold" explanation.

Hogbacks can also be found in conjunction with rings around domes that resemble a volcanic crater, such as in Sonoma, California and in Sundance, Wyoming and in the Dakota Sandstone Hogback.

In the drawing above, I have modified the diagram found at the website discussing the San Rafael Swell, because at the San Rafael Swell the Colorado Plateau which caused the uplift is to the west (left side of the diagram). In the above diagram, which is also looking to the north, the Pacific Ocean is meant to be to the left, and the shoreline and geology of the Peninsula and points further east are to the right.

Note that (as the caption below the drawing explains), some of the layers will be lost along the uplifted terrain, although small sections of them might remain. This fact may well explain the geology of Pillar Point that is shown on Slide 7 in this excellent Surfline special feature depicting the bathymetry which create the waves at Mavericks, which was written in November of 2011 by Surfline founder Sean Collins, shortly before his death in December of 2011. The text in Slide 7 states that Pillar Point looks the way it does because it is a "pull-apart basin" created by the San Gregorio Fault (a small fault intersecting with the larger and more notorious San Andreas Fault), but it may well be that Pillar Point is a remnant of what I label as "layer C" in my diagram of a hogback formation in the drawing above.

The diagram above horribly oversimplifies the terrain between the Pacific Coast and California's Great Central Valley (depicting all of it as a single massif, while in reality it consists of a series of complicated ranges and valleys and higher ranges and wider valleys before you reach the highest range that separates you from the Central Valley). However, the main point of this oversimplification is to show that, if the swirling patterns off the coast at Mavericks (which seem to be part of a much more extensive complex of such parallel ridges stretching for hundreds of miles up and down the NorCal coast from Half Moon Bay, emerging only intermittently from the silt that blankets them and hides them) are actually a system of hogbacks, then there should be a corresponding and corroborating series of hogbacks on the other side of the uplifted area (just as there is on the right side of the drawing above).

As Walt Brown told me, if we find such hogbacks to the east, then we can be fairly certain that these mysterious features off the California coast are also hogbacks (although diving down and inspecting them would still be the ultimate test).

When we take a look along the western rim of the Great Central Valley, what do we find? Not only do we find hogbacks, but we find an enormous length of hogback formations, stretching just about as far as the deeply-scored and swirled terrain features that we located off the coast along the same latitudes. (There are also hogbacks along some of the highest mountains in the Bay Area east of Half Moon Bay, such as on Mission Peak and Monument Peak, as shown in photographs on this web page from a Bay Area resident).

Below is a diagram showing one small segment of the hogback series along the western edge of the Central Valley -- this is from an area just east and north of Clear Lake, one segment of which is called Devil's Elbow.

Note that this series of hogbacks is roughly parallel to the similar ridges at Point Arena pictured in the image at the top of this post. Point Arena is about as far north as I have been able to see these underwater hogbacks (if they are in fact hogbacks, which is looking more and more likely), and it is notable that the hogback lines also come to an end at roughly the same latitude in the northern area of the Central Valley (and that they do so with some swirling flourishes on the Valley side, reminiscent of some of the curves found in their undersea counterparts off the coast).

The reader is invited to spend some time looking at Google Maps to check out the distinctive terrain along the western edge of the Great Central Valley of California for himself or herself. The best way to see these hogbacks is to click on the "maps" square in the upper-right corner of the Google Map, and then select "Terrain." The best way to see the hogbacks under the water off the coast, however, is to select "Satellite" and then zoom down to the water's edge (the parallel ridge spines seem to emerge near promontories such as Pillar Point, Point Reyes, Point Arena, Morro Rock, Bolinas, and other similar points).

The hogback features can be traced all the way from the dramatic hogbacks at Devil's Elbow near Clear Lake down to the town of Coalinga and even a bit further south of that, roughly parallel to Morro Rock. The fact that the terrain features off the coast extend about the same distance north and south as the hogback lines along the western side of the Central Valley is another clue that Dr. Brown is correct in suggesting that the curved reefs that produce the surf at Mavericks are really submerged hogbacks.

As mentioned in passing above, the hydroplate theory has a much better explanation for hogbacks (and especially for the dramatically curved hogbacks in the seafloor near Mavericks) than the conventional theories of geology. The hydroplate theory maintains that the strata were all laid down rapidly as a result of a global flood, and that they were soft and pliant for some time after the floodwaters drained into the ocean basins.

They hydroplate theory also maintains that the ocean levels were much lower for centuries after the flood. This would allow the layers to harden, including those that are now submerged in twenty to a couple hundred feet just off the California coast. The sinking of the continents and the rising of the ocean floors took place over the next few centuries, due to the increased weight of the continents that thickened during the flood event (as a result of the buckling that pushed up mountain ranges such as those along the California coast and further east such as the Sierras and the Rockies -- these mountain ranges also sank down and pushed up plateaus such as the Colorado Plateau in the process of sinking down into the mantle). It is quite possible that the severe forces surrounding this "settling in" process in the centuries after the flood were the forces responsible for shearing the layers that now form the hogbacks under the ocean. It is also possible that these hogbacks (and the corresponding hogbacks on the Central Valley side) were bent and sheared during the compression event itself.

Note that there are also dramatic hogback lines on the eastern edge of the Central Valley, where it meets the uplifted hills that eventually lead up to the Sierra Nevada.

It is also possible that the rapid draining of the Central Valley some centuries after the flood created conditions that led to further uplift and the shearing that created some or all of the hogbacks of California. In his discussion of the evidence surrounding the formation of the Grand Canyon, Dr. Brown explains how the escaping water from trapped inland lakes on the Colorado Plateau stripped off layers of limestone, allowing upwarping of the basement rock which sprang upwards when the extra weight above it was removed.

Take a good look at diagram 113 on this web page of Walt Brown's book (about 7/8ths of the way down the page) -- it shows a cross-sectional drawing of the Kaibab Plateau (which he explains should really be called the Kaibab Upwarp or the Kaibab Uplift, as it is not technically a plateau). Note the layers on the right side of the diagram -- the East Kaibab Monocline. This terrain feature and the mechanism which produced it are both very similar to hogbacks and the forces that produced them.

As we noted in the previous blog post about the bathymetry of Mavericks, there are "grand canyons" stretching down into the Pacific just west of Mavericks and Half Moon Bay, and there are others up and down the coast. These canyons were clearly not carved after the oceans rose to their current levels, but before. It is possible that the forces which created the hogbacks of the Northern California coast were unleashed in conjunction with the draining of the Central Valley basin some centuries after the flood.

Thus, upon careful further consideration, it appears quite likely that the dramatic ridges below the surface at Mavericks (and further north and south along the California coast), which have only become clearly visible recently thanks to new underwater imagery released in 2007, are submerged hogbacks. This explanation is certainly consistent with the details of the hydroplate theory.

It is a possibility that deserves much more study from geologists.