Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Rumor has it that McCartney would have played Frodo, George Harrison would’ve portrayed Gandalf, Ringo Starr would’ve been Sam, and, funnily enough, John Lennon would have played Gollum.

Fortunately, Tolkien himself had the wisdom to cast this idea into the fires of Orodruin.

Monday, November 08, 2021

Multiocular O - just going to quote Wikipedia:

Multiocular O () is an exotic glyph variant of the Cyrillic letter O. This glyph variant can be found in certain manuscripts in the Old Church Slavonic phrase "серафими многоꙮчитїи" (serafimi mnogoočitii, "many-eyed seraphim").

There are apparently other instances of Old Church Slavonic scribes playing around thus, rather like people dotting their i-s with little hearts or me turning the letter S into a python given the slightest excuse. 

Hat tip: Odious.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

 Highlander: a Celtic Opera

Yes. That Highlander. Not, frankly, recommended except as a curiosity.

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

 The Ambracian gulf is a lowland lament with brekekekex! from Preveza, koax! from Amphilochia and an answering koax! from across the mountains from Missolonghi.

-Patrick Leigh Fermor, Roumeli, Travels in Northern Greece

Thursday, June 17, 2021

 This article details--no, it doesn't summarize well. Here's an entrée:

"Out of this group would arise several radical separatist movements with overlapping membership, including a religious one called Lux Madriana—worshiping a female god with rituals supposedly passed down from a “magical matriarchal community” in a distant past—and an elaborately fleshed-out otherworld called Aristasia. Much like the rich fantasy worlds created by Tolkien or the Brontë sisters, Aristasia became an ever-growing obsession for its creators, with its own customs, calendar, literature, and history, to the extent that some of the worldbuilders eventually dropped out of university to attend their own unofficial Aristasian school instead. In Aristasia there were two genders, both female (assertive brunettes and demure blondes); the decadent modern world was known as The Pit; and the word for person was not man but maid."

FURTHER: A short, somewhat melancholy history of Aristasia-in-Telluria

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Washington, man... where cattle rustling is white-collar crime.

Exhibit A:

Cody Easterday, has admitted to a scheme in which Defendant [Easterday] has falsified records and submitted fictitious invoices in order to defraud Plaintiff [Tyson] out of more than $225 million. Among other things, Defendant has manufactured documents in order to hide the fact that it was reporting to Plaintiff approximately 200,000 cattle that simply did not exist

Exhibit B

A newly filed federal lawsuit alleges WSU researchers stole blood samples and trade secrets used in a proprietary genetic test to rate the beef tenderness of cows prior to slaughter.

Re. the latter I will note that the term "Callipyge Gene" is really wasted in being applied to tenderness of beef.


Sunday, February 21, 2021

 All empires should be judged by their drink. Thus:

Soviets: vodka

English: gin

Mongols: arkhi (though I can't find a good source for the history of this one)

America: moonshine, Heaven preserve us

French: wine

Chinese: baijiu

Zulus; Egyptians; Incans; Sumerians: lite beer

Mexica: hot chocolate

The Deep Sea.

I was not prepared for some of the mammals.

Monday, February 08, 2021

 Fun toy: Scroll around the globe and eavesdrop on local streaming radio. Language lovers will have a great time. Music lovers will be intensely frustrated by the realization that most of the world now listens to the same crap we do, albeit sometimes in their native languages. But there may be rewards for the persistent.

Friday, January 29, 2021

 For all you liguistomasochists out there: Tongue twisters in Klallam, a Coast Salish language from Washington's Olympic Peninsula. Click on them for sound.

Here's a map of Klallam toponyms if your interests that way tend.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

 Vedius Pollio and execution by lamprey... Wikipedia's notes claim that it must rather have been morays. Appalling and rather tough to credit either way, even by Roman standards, but nonetheless remarkable.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

 A summary of the state of social science

Criticizing bad science from an abstract, 10000-foot view is pleasant: you hear about some stuff that doesn't replicate, some methodologies that seem a bit silly. "They should improve their methods", "p-hacking is bad", "we must change the incentives", you declare Zeuslike from your throne in the clouds, and then go on with your day.

But actually diving into the sea of trash that is social science gives you a more tangible perspective, a more visceral revulsion, and perhaps even a sense of Lovecraftian awe at the sheer magnitude of it all: a vast landfill—a great agglomeration of garbage extending as far as the eye can see, effluvious waves crashing and throwing up a foul foam of p=0.049 papers. As you walk up to the diving platform, the deformed attendant hands you a pair of flippers. Noticing your reticence, he gives a subtle nod as if to say: "come on then, jump in".

...it isn’t surprising that this [necrophagous] habit in armadillos has led to various concerns and superstitions: the idea that armadillos might excavate graves and consume the recently deceased is present in several areas, most famously in the Paraguayan Chaco. There are also all kinds of rumours about armadillos being especially abundant, or especially plump and healthy, in or near cemeteries.

An odd tidbit lifted from this longer piece from Tetrapod Zoology on predatory armadillos.

Sunday, September 06, 2020

 Przewalski' horse cloned.

Now a portion of this lost genetic diversity may be recovered by cloning historic Przewalski’s horse from frozen cells. Successful breeding can increase genetic diversity by reintroducing lost variants to the surviving population. This is the hope for the new foal, Kurt, who was cloned from cells that had been cryopreserved at the SDZG Frozen Zoo in 1980. These were cells from a stallion that was born in 1975 in the UK, was transferred to the US in 1978, and lived until 1998. He was recorded as Stud Book number 615 (SB615) and known as “Kuporovic” by his zookeepers.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

IF the knowing well how to expose any Infirmity or Vice were a sufficient Security for the Virtue which is contrary, how excellent an Age might we be presum’d to live in! Never was there in our Nation a time known, when Folly and Extravagance of every kind were more sharply inspected, or more wittily ridicul’d. And one might hope at least from this good Symptom, that our Age was in no declining state; since whatever our Distempers are, we stand so well affected to our Remedys.

--Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury, Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times

Monday, June 08, 2020

Graphic novelization of the Nart Sagas: recommended! They decidedly do NOT shy away from adult themes, should such things be a concern.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Just got word from MN that Uncle Hugo's has been burned. Feeling rather like Hamlet discovering the skull is Yorick's.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Those who have not read Cordwainer Smith are doomed to make history repeat itself.

Scientists have created a mouse embryo that's part human -- 4% to be exact.
The hybrid is what scientists call a human-animal chimera, a single organism that's made up of two different sets of cells -- in this case, a mouse embryo that has both mouse cells and human cells.


Now we wait for D'Joan.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Bronze Age swordsmanship.

Buncha HEMA-types and some archaeologists looked at the dings in ancient swords then whacked each other trying to replicate.

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

 One of the more wonderful things I have learned in some time:
[Exodus] says: “and the frog arose and covered the land of Egypt.” The word “frog” is written in the singular (“tzefardei’a” in the original Hebrew). What could the Torah be telling us? Rashi finds a Midrash that sees into the unusual wording of our verse: “There was one frog, and when they would hit it, it would spew out bands and bands of little frogs” (based on Midrash Tanchuma, Va’eira 14). Apparently, G-d caused one giant frog to emerge from the Nile. When the terrified Egyptians hit it, it spewed out smaller frogs. The more they struck it, the more frogs would come out. The more frogs came out, the more they would strike it. 
 There's a moral too. Happy Passover/Holy Week/Amphibian Appreciation!

Thursday, March 12, 2020

A grim but interesting read on architectural theory and urban warfare.
Contemporary urban operations play themselves out within a constructed, real or imaginary, architecture, and through the destruction, construction, reorganization and subversion of space. As such the urban environment must be understood not simply as the backdrop to conflict, nor as its mere consequence, but as trapped in a complex and dynamic feedbackbased relation with the forces operating within it – be they a diverse local population, soldiers, guerrilla, media or humanitarian agents. Indicative of the emergent relationship between conflict and space are urban warfare tactics that redefine a relation to the physical/architectural element of the wall.
It's worth considering that warfare may not simply require the destruction of the social and legal boundaries made manifest in our public and private spaces, but consist as such.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

We should all compact that, if in the course of writing an article one personifies an abstract concept (e.g., "the science says"), one is obligated thereafter to continue in the style of a Renaissance extended allegory.

On the Discourse of SCIENTIA and POTENTIA; their ill Relations and darksome Querulousness, at last overcome by the welcome Light of REASON, holding high her Lantern and joining their Hands; the Conquest and Remotion of MENDACITY and all that sundry foul Brood that pour forth from her spumy Loins; with frivolous and witty Asides by the AUTHOR

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Want to build a legacy and found a business for the ages? Brewing and distilling appear to be solid choices: The oldest company still in business in every (well, almost every) country. My own home is currently supporting the entrepreneurial traditions of Finland (Fiskars axe), Barbados (Mount Gay rum) and Trinidad and Tobago (Angostura bitters).

Monday, February 17, 2020

Scythians were known to be great drinkers, and Ossetian ceremonies typically involve the generous consumption of alcohol through repeated toasts. Indeed, the Ossetian word kwyvd (куывд) means both “toast” and “prayer”
 A sample of the many interesting things to be found on A Canadian in Ossetia.

Via Languagehat (who offers some gentle linguistic correction).

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Let it never be said that appalling '70s culture was solely an American phenomenon: the Russians could hold their own. Dschinghis really starts gettin' down around 2:26.

Thursday, February 06, 2020

A household at war with a ratel
Installed iron bars on their cradle
But then left them unlatched
And the baby was snatched:
What was left they scooped up with a ladle.

--D. Capoda

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Cephalopod attack! Though the cephalopod's the victim here:
Examination under ultraviolet light reveals the pterosaur tooth is embedded in the now phosphatised cephalopod soft tissue, which makes a chance association highly improbable.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Music inspired by a Great Basin wildlife refuge: The Malheur Symphony by Chris Thomas, performed by the Central Oregon Symphony. I like the middle movements best, particularly "Thunder" and "Curlew Scherzo."

Friday, January 24, 2020

A possible solution to the Dark Forest Theory is that any species advanced enough to make contact with interstellar life is vastly more likely to have evolved a Cooperate baseline strategy rather than a Defect one. Klingons, maybe; Reapers? Ehn.

Not that anyone should take the Drake equation seriously in any case. Our "I Love Lucy" reruns are not going to summon the fungi from Yugoth.

If anything is listening though: hi! We're ballistic cursorial hunters! Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Saturday, January 18, 2020

The largest geologic structures on the planet - do they drive volcanic hot spots and mass extinction-level flood basalts? We don't really know, but definitely maybe.