Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The beehives are still today
Bubbles rise in the wine
Against the sky a skein of geese
Against the wind a traveller strides.

--Xiaoxia Wei

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

From this charming thread, Sumerian proverbs about dogs.

"The dog understands, 'Take it!' It does not understand 'Put it down!'"

Corpus.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Teach yourself Sakha. Someone is doing the labor of translating a key Russian test into English. It's remarkable how cognate it is with Turkish for something way out in Siberia.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

We'll never know for sure what it was like to hear the Homeric epics performed 2,800 years ago, but I can't help but think that this Kurdish singer of tales must come close:



Hat tip: Poemas del Río Wang

Sunday, August 04, 2019

An album of Irish music largely composed by artificial intelligence: good luck telling which tunes are AI by ear.

Now if only they'll turn the software onto Serbian brass bands!

Friday, July 12, 2019

This is a good article about Portland:
Were most people in Portland stunned when Trump was elected? Sure, but they did not malinger, they marched, they marched and marched and kept marching, women’s marches, “Not my President!” marches, marches for LBGTQ rights, for minority rights, an Earth Day march, a May Day march, marches against homelessness and ICE, for police accountability and immigrant rights, so many marches an alt-weekly ran a “Resistance & Rallies” listings category. Marching provided the warm spurt that doing something can bring, and if they did not seem to have much effect on the machinations of government, they at least brought people together. Including, it must be said, unwanted people. While marchers might have been moved to bring donuts and deodorant to the Occupy Wall Street squatters in 2011, these new kids, these anti-fascists with their dark hoodies, did not seem so much about protest as revolution, the news showed them setting cars on fire and smashing storefronts. Or maybe those were other people in hoodies? It was hard to tell, the marches had become confusing. Anyone was potentially frightening now but especially another new faction, these Nazi-lite looking guys carrying flags, throwing punches, maybe deflecting punches but did it matter? Portland was not going to become the next Charlottesville, not when the city’s historical record included the 1988 beating death of an Ethiopian immigrant by a group of thugs calling itself White Aryan Resistance. But why go back that far? There was the 2017 stabbing deaths aboard the light rail of two good Samaritans as they tried to protect two teenage girls—one a Muslim in a hijab, one who was black—from a ranting self-described “white nationalist.” And yes, the killer had a history of mental illness, but still, he’d expressed support for Trump, and anyone who supported Trump was by association a racist and a threat, and there was no room for that kind of hate in Portland, not at public assemblies meant to promote peace, and maybe the authorities needed to do something about these people.
ht: Samizdata 

Monday, June 24, 2019

Apropos of nothing at all: Minerva Expelling the Vices from the Garden of Virtues.

Minerve chassant les Vices du jardin des Vertus, Mantegna (Louvre INV 371) 02.jpg

Andrea Mantegna, 1502, housed in the Louvre.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

The letter X is made to vex. What did children's alphabet literature do before x-rays and xylophones were going concerns? Xanthippe was apparently a popular choice:

alphabet book letter x

Or:
X is a letter that seldom is used,
But its shape will remind us how sinners abused
Their Saviour and God, when, with brute, cruel force,
They compelled Him to bleed and die on the cross!
And, an entire alphabet mocking the Cubists.

Via Languagehat.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

From a Clerk of Oxford:

this series of talks given recently in Oxford (in connection with the Bodleian Library's exhibition Tolkien: Maker of Middle-Earth) on the subject of the medieval languages which interested and influenced Tolkien. There were lectures on Old and Middle English, Medieval Welsh, Gothic and Old Norse (my contribution)
Late to the party but unabashed.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Our failure to accept the Aristotelian idea of substance is at the root of our modern failures of thought. If you deal with every unacceptable conclsion by denying the existence of any rational category, you will lose the ability to think.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Welsh Neanderthals

Excavations at the cave by Amgueddfa Cymru between 1978 and 1995 unearthed a total of 19 teeth, discovered found deep inside the cave. These have been identified by experts at the Natural History Museum, London as belonging to an early form of Neanderthal..

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Spring Thing 2019 is here.

I'll be reviewing such IF as catch my eye.

Monday, April 08, 2019

Yet another attempt to answer that eternal question: were the Gracchi worth the hassle?

Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Soviets filmed The Hobbit in 1985. They include some of the songs.

Needless to say, if you watch this you have nobody to blame but yourself. But it's still not as bad as at least two of the three Peter Jackson films.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Fantasy birding: sadly nothing to do with simorghs or war shrikes or the like. Valuable tool for education and public engagement, or yet another death knell for our relationship with the non-human world? I have my suspicions, but I'd be happy to be wrong.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Lambing season!
As an aside, the piebald lambs like this flecket are noticeably friendlier. Another data-point for the domestication/neoteny theory.

Shetland markings. Warning: rabbit hole.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Nordic-related miscellany:
 *(Inspired by this collection of aerial images of the Eldgjá flows)

Monday, March 04, 2019

You know what limited this sort of thing in the past? Dueling.
The world of young-adult-fiction Twitter, or YA Twitter, is a very intense place, prone to constant callouts and opinion-policing, particularly on matters of identity and social justice. And things seem to have only gotten worse since Kat Rosenfield wrote the definitive article about this subculture for Vulture, "The Toxic Drama on YA Twitter" in 2017.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Death by wallpaper

SHADOWS FROM THE WALLS OF DEATH, printed in 1874 and measuring about 22 by 30 inches, is a noteworthy book for two reasons: its rarity, and the fact that, if you touch it, it might kill you. It contains just under a hundred wallpaper samples, each of which is saturated with potentially dangerous levels of arsenic.
Ars enecat, vita brevis, hmm?

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Brandon is unimpressed with the Colorado General Assembly's proposal:
I would argue on the basis of this that the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is in fact a violation of the principles of republicanism; that, because of this, Congress has the authority to overturn it if it ever is completed; and that, in fact, Congress has the constitutional duty to do so. While states do have the right to determine how to allocate their electors, the United States has the constitutional duty to guarantee that they do so in a form consistent with republican government.

Thursday, February 21, 2019


Supreme Courtship is a comedic visual novel adventure game, where you learn about the people and proceedings of our nation's highest Court. In Supreme Courtship, you’ll be able to:
* Join a bench with young, stylish versions of your favorite Justices - Justice Ginsburg, Chief Justice Roberts, and more!
* Master the powers of the third branch of government!
* Experience the world’s first Judicial Friendship Simulator

Thy mercy on Thy people.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Making of a Gentleman
“The base assumption is gentlemen are born into a role via class and family. What separates them is not education, not their upbringing, but what they choose to do with it. Austen has a higher standard, I argue, for acceptable marriage-material gentlemen. They make life better for those around them,” Thomas said.
This interpretation is, of course, wrong. A couple in Austen are suited for each other not because they make 'life better for those around them', but because each makes the other a better person--where 'better person' means more virtuous according to the deeply religious sentiments and rather Shaftesburian moral philosophy of the author. Austen is more concerned about the state of her characters' souls than their income. This is obvious when one compares the various couples at the end of, say, Pride and Prejudice.

This is among the most-ignored aspects of English literature, right up there with our blindness to Shakespeare's sincere worriment about male chastity.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Rossetti gleefully reported to William Bell Scott on September 28, 1869 that the wombat had effectively interrupted a long and dreary monologue from John Ruskin by patiently burrowing between the eminent critic’s jacket and waistcoat. This must have been a marvellous thing to watch happen.
 Apparently Rossetti and his circle had quite a thing for wombats.

Friday, February 08, 2019

Since cursory Googling has not revealed an extant one, here's a (moderately Lovecraftian) mnemonic for the Proterozoic geologic periods:
Six red obelisks stand calmly, each steeply tilted, cold, eternal.
[Siderian, Rhyacian, Orosirian, Statherian, Calymmian, Ectasian, Stenian, Tonian, Cryogenian, Ediacaran]
You're welcome!

Monday, February 04, 2019

John C. Wright on H. G. Wells v. C. S. Lewis v. Arthur C. Clarke.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Saturday, February 02, 2019

The Fourth Riddle is interactive fiction based on Turandot.
In the press of the crowd, old Timur's hand was torn from your shoulder. You tried to reach him, but you were too late to grasp his hand again, and you saw him borne away in the surging sea of people, the gulf between you growing ever wider.

Timur is frail and blind. You haven't guided him along such a long, long road to lose him now.
ht: Emily Short

NB: I haven't played it through. Caveat lector.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Exporting our vices to weaken our competitors is worse than launching plague-ridden corpses over the city wall with a trebuchet.

Japanese anime has conquered China. In Chinese, the term “2D culture” (erciyuan wenhua) describes both the television shows, video games, anime (cartoons), manga (comic books), music, and movies inspired by Japanese pop culture and the millions of Chinese who consume these products every week. This “second dimension” is one of the fastest-growing industries in China—with more than 200 million consumers, the market is projected to reach more than $30 billion by 2020. 
But the runaway success of Japanese pop culture among China’s youth has caused confusion, shock, and anger in a country still bitter over historical grievances. Many Chinese see this as a war for the hearts of their children—one they’re losing.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Going to step out of my lane here and post a bit of music I just found and enjoyed: Rebecca Clarke's Morpheus.