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Smithsonian Article on Real Cargo Cult

by mojotoad (Monsignor)
on Feb 14, 2006 at 19:02 UTC ( #530207=perlnews: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

The latest issue of Smithsonian has a great article on an actual Cargo Cult on the remote island of Tanna in the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu.

From the article:

In the morning heat on a tropical island halfway across the world from the United States, several dark-skinned men—clad in what look to be U.S. Army uniforms—appear on a mound overlooking a bamboo-hut village. One reverently carries Old Glory, precisely folded to reveal only the stars. On the command of a bearded “drill sergeant,” the flag is raised on a pole hacked from a tall tree trunk. As the huge banner billows in the wind, hundreds of watching villagers clap and cheer.

Chief Isaac Wan, a slight, bearded man in a blue suit and ceremonial sash, leads the uniformed men down to open ground in the middle of the village. Some 40 barefoot "G.I.’s" suddenly emerge from behind the huts to more cheering, marching in perfect step and ranks of two past Chief Isaac. They tote bamboo "rifles" on their shoulders, the scarlet tips sharpened to represent bloody bayonets, and sport the letters "USA," painted in red on their bare chests and backs.


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Re: Smithsonian Article on Real Cargo Cult
by zentara (Archbishop) on Feb 14, 2006 at 20:31 UTC
    Yeah, they just had a special on them on the travel channel, the "land divers" of Vanuatu (Pentecost). I got a kick out of it, they had alot of free time, because it was easy to live off the land. So the men would spend all their evening time getting high together on some kind of plant juice. The women all complained to the camera crew, that the men waste all their time getting high. :-) I guess our civilizations have one thing in common.

    I'm not really a human, but I play one on earth. flash japh

      They had them on (no lie) ABC's Wide World of Sports a very long time ago. I wonder if those people (New Zealanders?) who "invented" bungee jumping knew about these guys.

      It's got to take guts and self-confidence (or drugs and hubris) to build a tower by tying a bunch of wood together, tying a rope to one foot, and jumping off.


      " When in doubt, use brute force." — Ken Thompson
        Yes it does. But they didn't show any cripples in the tribe, so apparently they "do it right". The particular show I watched, showed how they did it in detail. They put alot of soft dirt at the bottom. They said the worst problem is not the length, because they can correctly determine vines that don't exceed the height. But they have a mechanism for "breaking the fall", where there is a collapsable piece of wood, which acts as your springboard. This wood is tied to the vines, so that it cracks, at full vine extension, and gives a soft springiness to the last few feet of fall (like a bungee stretch). If that peice of wood malfunctions, I guess it really hurts. :-) And there is a team member, who has to cut a support rope after you leap, with split second timing, in order for this all to work.

        It was interesting, the champ was treated like a SuperBowl hero, and got the right to take extra wives. :-)

        I'm not really a human, but I play one on earth. flash japh

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