Sunday, November 05, 2023

A real musical oddity from the French Baroque: Tableau de l’Opération de la Taille, i.e. Scene of Cutting for the Stone by Marin Marais.

Tableau de l’Opération de la Taille begins with a somber section in the key of E minor and tempo marking Lentem (slowly), freely performed. It is followed by a contrasting lively piece titled Les Relevailles in the key of E major, tempo marking Gay, joyously celebrating the patient’s return to life. The score is annotated in considerable detail, guiding the performer in what the music is attempting to convey. As Joseph Kiefer accurately observes: “The music successfully depicts the apprehension, fear, agitation, and other emotions of the patient as well as the mounting tension of the operation itself, building up to the climactic extraction of the stone.”Les Relevailles is etymologically of particular interest. It refers to an ancient ritual that designates a period after delivery when the mother needs to regain her strength. Historically this period lasted 40 days and may be related to the religious ceremony known as “churching.”

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

 Dealing with dinosaurs: Darren Naish recounts cassowary wrangling.

Including a note for the speculative fiction crowd: "Cassowaries themselves might think of us as slightly unusual members of cassowary kind. Keep this in mind when imagining a hypothetical zoo housing non-bird dinosaurs. At least some such animals would likely become sexually fixated on humans."

Thursday, May 11, 2023

 The smurfs are an obvious reference to the Barallot heresy. Gargamel represents the Dominicans.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Huchen and taimen appetites have also found their way into folklore. Ainu stories from Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido speak of monstrous taimen (known as chirai in Ainu) large and voracious enough to eat deer, bear, and humans whole. In Mongolia, legend tells of an especially harsh winter when starving herdsmen discovered a giant taimen trapped in river ice. Relieved to find food, the herdsmen chopped off pieces of its flesh. They survived the winter, but when the river ice melted in spring, the giant taimen came onto the land, tracked them down, and ate them all.

More taimen lore and biogeography here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

 "Two or three years ago they were just another snake cult."

To believe that psychedelics had a central role in our evolution I would need to see them at the center of religious iconography regarding knowledge and creation worldwide. And this would have to be the case from the beginning. This seems like an impossibly high bar to clear.

And yet, this is true of snakes, which are worshiped all across the globe, and have been from the beginning. One strange coincidence is how often they are associated with knowledge, despite having a peanut for a brain. What no one has noticed is that snakes themselves contain a hallucinogen: their venom. I argue that there was an ancient psychedelic snake cult concerned with selfhood from which modern snake symbolism descends.

 Filed under "sure, why not?".

Saturday, December 31, 2022

 I missed this when it dropped, but there's an examination of St Brides done by the Assume Nothing podcast. I've not far in, but so far it is relatively unsensationalized.

Their own summary:

Ireland, 1984. St Brides School for young ladies opens its doors in the quiet fishing village of Burtonport, county Donegal -- but all is not as it seems.

The mistress and 'girls' appear to believe that they live not only in a different century, but in an entirely different world.

They are The Silver Sisterhood...

Most of the St Brides games may be found on Internet Archive. If you like that sort of thing, they are the sort of thing that you will like. 

Happy New Year! 

Thursday, December 01, 2022

As do so many, I have occasionally wondered about the idiom tace is Latin for a candle. Here is the phrase's history, though its logic is no clearer than before. At least I now know how it's traditionally pronounced: /ˈteɪsiː/ (generally with a Monty Python accent, I trust). 

Related and perhaps even stranger:

The usual explanation of brandy is Latin for a goose is that it must be read as What is the Latin for goose? (The answer is) brandy, with a pun on the word answer: the homophonous Latin noun anser means goose, and brandy was drunk as a digestive after the eating of goose, in the same way as an answer follows a question. A variant, brandy is Latin for fish, first appeared with the following explanation in London Labour and the London Poor (London, 1851), by Henry Mayhew (1812-87), English social researcher, journalist, playwright and advocate of reform:
We are told that the thirst and uneasy feeling at the stomach, frequently experienced after the use of the richer species of fish, have led to the employment of spirit to this kind of food. Hence, says Dr. Pereira, the vulgar proverb, “Brandy is Latin for Fish.”

Via Languagehat, of course.

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

 Via Odious: King of the Hill dubbed into Tocharian. You're welcome.

Friday, October 28, 2022

 More Hegel discovered. Just what we need?

I spent a fairly pleasant winter a couple decades ago 'working' at around 12,000 ft., mostly just reading Phenomenology of Spirit in a small shelter with a propane heater that had a minor leak--which only enhanced the hypoxic environment. I still have my notes but they look like marginalia from Miskatonic University.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Monday, September 12, 2022

 Razib Khan's latest quiz. Median score is 16. I got 27, and felt pretty good about it.

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". 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.