Sunday, April 29, 2007

Friday, April 27, 2007

Pulled out of a previous post's comments, Steve says, intriguingly:
Also-- a better "re- creation" may be the ongoing efforts to breed quaggas out of (possibly conspecific) Burchell's zebras with quagga- like markings. That was going quite well last time I heard-- should check...
And a little Google later, I find that it continues apace, despite the founder's death.
On 20 January 2005 the most quagga-like foal was born in our selective breeding programme. The striped area of its body is not only much reduced, but the body stripes themselves are considerably narrower and fainter than usual, more so than in some of the museum specimens of the former quagga population. However, there are some stripe remnants on the hocks. Such remnants are not present on the museum specimens.
Sadly, the aurochs may not be as accessible, genetically, as the recently divergent quagga.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Nihil interit.
Works by mathematician Archimedes and the politician Hyperides had already been found buried within the book, known as the Archimedes Palimpsest.

But now advanced imaging technology has revealed a third text - a commentary on the philosopher Aristotle.

If anyone's got a senior essay they wouldn't be too horrified to share with me, I would very much like to read it.

This is not aimed at anyone in particular (I still have a copy of Peculiar's, but not jack's); the more, the merrier. Proclus, if you're still about, I could (if possible, and not too much trouble) use another look at yours.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Heck Cattle. Good name:
Heck cattle were developed in the early 20th century by the Heck brothers in Germany in an attempt to breed back modern cattle to their presumed ancestral form, the Aurochs (Bos primigenius primigenius). Heinz Heck working at the Hellabrunn Zoological Gardens in Munich began creating the Heck breed about 1920. Lutz Heck, director of the Berlin Zoological Gardens, began extensive breeding programs supported by the Nazis during World War II to bring back the Aurochs. The reconstructed aurochs fit into the Nazi propaganda drive to create an idyllic history of the Aryan nation.
Sadly, when you cross cows with cows, you don't get aurochs.
The general consensus among biologists today is that the Hecks' original methodology used to "recreate" the aurochs was flawed: once a genetic lineage is gone, it cannot be "bred back". Some go as far as to consider it outright deceitful. For example, Professor Z. Pucek of the Bialowieza Nature Preserve has called the Heck cattle as the "biggest scientific swindle of the 20th Century".
Aw, heck.

Friday, April 20, 2007

My pre-emptive last word about the 2008 election:
CLEON (putting down the bench for DEMOS) Look! I am the first to bring you a seat.

SAUSAGE-SELLER And I a table. (He places his sausage-tray in front of DEMOS.)

CLEON Wait, here is a cake kneaded of Pylos barley.

SAUSAGE-SELLER Here are crusts, which the ivory hand of the goddess has hallowed.

DEMOS Oh! Mighty Athene! How large are your fingers!

CLEON This is pea-soup, as exquisite as it is fine; Pallas the victorious goddess at Pylos is the one who crushed the peas herself.

SAUSAGE-SELLER Oh, Demos! the goddess watches over you; she is stretching forth over your head.... a stew-pan full of broth.

DEMOS And should we still be dwelling in this city without this protecting stew-pan?

CLEON Here are some fish, given to you by her who is the terror of our foes.

SAUSAGE-SELLER The daughter of the mightiest of the gods sends you this meat cooked in its own gravy, along with this dish of tripe and some paunch.

DEMOS That's to thank me for the peplus I offered to her; good.

CLEON The goddess with the terrible plume invites you to eat this long cake; you will row the harder on it.

SAUSAGE-SELLER Take this also.

DEMOS And what shall I do with this tripe?

SAUSAGE-SELLER She sends it you to belly out your galleys, for she is always showing her kindly anxiety for our fleet. Now drink this drink composed of three parts of water to two of wine.

DEMOS Ah! what delicious wine, and how well it stands the water.

SAUSAGE-SELLER The goddess who came from the head of Zeus mixed this liquor with her own hands.

CLEON Hold, here is a piece of good rich cake.

SAUSAGE-SELLER But I offer you an entire cake.

CLEON But you cannot offer him stewed hare as I do.

SAUSAGE-SELLER (aside) Ah! great gods! stewed hare! where shall I find it? Oh! brain of mine, devise some trick!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I get the feeling I'll be spending a lot of time looking at this site.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Neoliticul ne ofera spectaculoase culturi cum ar fi cele de la Cris, Gumelnita, Boian, Petresti, Vadastra si celebra cultura Hamangia cu statuetele Ganditorul si Sotia sa care denota un inalt rafinament artistic si o tehnica avansata (mil. 4-3 ien). Un alt moment de varf pe plan european il reprezinta inegalabila ceramica policroma de la Cucuteni.
Kunstformen der Natur.

Saturday, April 14, 2007







By the way, this is how a lady answers her enemies:
Carry this answer back to Rigby, and tell that insolent rebel, he shall have neither persons, goods, nor house. When our strength and provisions are spent, we shall find a fire more merciful than Rigby; and then, if the providence of God prevent it not, my goods and house shall burn in his sight; and myself, children, and soldiers, rather than fall into his hands will seal our religion and loyalty in the same flames.

Monday, April 09, 2007

My final post for a while: really this time, it's 10:30 at night and the computer must be disassembled almost immediately. I had wanted to say something intelligent about the rumours of a Tintin movie, but that's not going to happen. But fans may wish to check out the translations of the names Thompson and Thomson ("Thompson with a p as in psychology", "Thomson without a p, as in Venezuela"; originally Dupond et Dupont) into other languages: Hernandez and Fernandez, Kadlec and Tkadlec, Skapti and Skafti, and so on.

I'll predicatably leave you with some photos, from a blessedly untrammeled mountain range in western Wyoming last August:

A peak we climbed:

Surreal and spectacular limestone terraces at 10,000 feet:

The view from high up:

An unusual perspective on the Tetons:

Mrs. Peculiar taking a break on a typical section of trail:

The hike out (with Mrs. Peculiar for scale center right):

So long! Hold down the fort, Odious! I'll do my best to check in from time to time.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Texts from Holy Saturday

"By Mine own will, earth covers me, O Mother, but the gatekeepers of Hell tremble as they see Me, clothed in the blood-stained garment of vengeance: for on the cross as God have I struck down Mine enemies, and I shall rise again and magnify thee."
--Canon from matins of Holy Saturday

O Saviour, Sun of Righteousness, Thou dost set beneath the earth: therefore the Moon, thy mother, is eclipsed with grief, seeing thee no more.

When she received Thee in her bosom, O Creator and Saviour, the earth shook in fear, and with her quaking she awoke the dead.

Thou hast gone down beneath the earth, O Creator of light, and with Thee the sun's light has also set; creation is siezed with trembling and proclaims Thee the Maker of all.
--Lamentations of Holy Saturday

Today hell groans and cries aloud: "My power has been destroyed. I accepted a mortal man as one of the dead; yet I cannot keep him prisoner, and with Him I shall lose all those over whom I ruled. I held in my power the dead from all the ages; but see, He is raising them all."
--Vespers of Holy Saturday

Melito of Sardis on Passover:
It was indeed a strange spectacle,
here people beating their breasts, there people wailing,
and grief-stricken Pharoah in the middle,
seated on sackcloth and ashes,
palpable darkness thrown around him as a mourning cloak,
clad in all Egypt like a tunic of grief....

The death of the first-born was swift and greedy,
it was a strange trophy on which to gaze,
upon those falling dead in one moment....

Listen and wonder at a new disaster,
for these things enclosed the Egyptians:
long night,
palpable darkness,
death grasping,
the angel squeezing out the life,
and Hades gulping down the first-born.

But the strangest and most terrifying thing you are yet to hear:
In the palpable darkness hid untouchable death,
and the wretched Egyptians were grasping the darkness,
while death sought out and grasped the Egyptian first-born
at the angel's command.

If anyone grasped the darkness
he was pulled away by death.
And one of the first-born,
grasping the material darkness in his hand,
as his life was stripped away
cried out in distress and terror:
"Whom does my hand hold?
Whom does my soul dread?
Who is the dark one enfolding my whole body?
If it is a father, help me.
If it is a mother, comfort me.
if it is a brother, speak to me.
If it is a friend, support me.
If it is an enemy, depart from me, for I am a first-born."

Before the first-born fell silent, the long silence held him and spoke to him:
"You are my first-born,
I am your destiny, the silence of death."


Tell me angel, what turned you away?
The slaughter of the sheep or the life of the Lord?
The death of the sheep or the type of the Lord?
The blood of the sheep or the spirit of the Lord?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Oh, very well. Last night's post inspired me to spend a little more quality time with the scanner before packing it away. Let's put proper closure on the Grand Canyon photos. First, another shot to make you wish you lived at Havasu:

The western Grand Canyon is vast, harsh and very little explored away from the river, especially in summer. The heat is satisfyingly punishing, frequently reaching the 110-115 degree range. One of our group reported that when he woke up at 2:00 in the morning, his watch thermometer still read 99. The heat is frequently accompanied by winds, intensifying the blast furnace effect and bereft of the slightest trace of moisture. Straying far from the water is intolerable; sometimes one has to get soaking wet in the evening to get to sleep, and even repeat the procedure after an hour or two. It's a very satisfying desert experience.

An action shot from Mrs. Peculiar, yours truly on the oars:

Another notable difference between the lower Canyon and the more frequently depicted upstream sections is the presence of lava. In the very recent geologic past, a number of volcanoes burst out of the Uinkaret Plateau, which forms the northwestern rim of the Canyon and is one of the most remote chunks of the lower 48. The Grand Canyon already existed in pretty much its present form, and the lava flows ran southward and dropped off the rim. In some areas you can see clearly where the lava flowed between butresses in the walls and around obstacles. A more dramatic spectacle of geology is hard to imagine!

(Note the darker rocks forming a horizontal band at center: that's the lava.)
Despite the post-apocalyptic heat and dryness, the area is subject to punishing thunderstorms, such as this one from our last night on the river:

These storms in the lower Canyon are a significant source of anxiety for boaters, inasmuch as the takeout road up Diamond Creek is notoriously eager to flash flood. A friend of mine once witnessed two commercial outfits' vehicles, Mack truck-sized rigs, being rolled over and over in a debris flow accompanied by plenty equally large boulders. They're in Diamond Creek Rapid now, along with numerous others, no doubt.

Fortunately for us, damage to the road was minor and only delayed our shuttle vehicle by an hour or so. Here's the scene, with us and two other parties waiting for our rides. The creek and I are both in the middle of the road.

Stay tuned: one more photo post to come.

Yeah, 12 is about right.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Mrs. Peculiar and I are undergoing the dubious joys of moving presently, gearing up for six months or more of sweet seminomadism. As I'm not of the type who has WiFi devices implanted in his body, nor any similar arrangements, my days of regular blogging are numbered, numbered to about four, to be precise. (Incidentally, the next person who pesters us about an infernal cell phone, because, "How, oh how, will all and sundry keep in constant, pestersome touch?", is highly liable to lose the tip of her nose.) Therefore, here is a last set of Grand Canyon photos.

The Grand Canyon is well known for it's whitewater, but the rapids are remarkably difficult to catch on camera without highly inconveniencing everybody. But to give you an idea, here's a shot of Granite from a trip several years ago:

Here's Mrs. Peculiar beside Tapeats Creek, an intursion of moist lushness into a vertical, stony desert:

A major tributary of Tapeats Creek is Thunder River, which bursts out of a hole in a limestone cliff and cascades without delay straight down the side of the Grand Canyon. Click to enlarge, and note the three hikers just left of center for scale:

Looking back towards Tapeats from Thunder Spring. Our more geologically astute readers will note a visibly slanted pink layer at the canyon bottom. That is Shinumo Quartzite; it and its siblings of the Grand Canyon Supergroup were laid down flat in Proterozoic times, tilted to their present angle, eroded, and then covered with Tapeats Sandstone at the bottom of a Cambrian sea, followed by the many, many other sedimentary layers of the Colorado Plateau:

A little downstream from Tapeats, Deer Creek falls from a sandstone slot 150 feet into the Colorado. Sorry about the lack of scale; a person at the base of the falls would be treading about eight feet of water in the pool while being peppered with bullets of spray:

Finally, a shot of the idyllic Havasu Creek. Everyone on earth would want to live there if it weren't scoured by 20-foot walls of water every decade or so:

I do have some worthwhile shots of the less-photographed lower canyon, but they aren't scanned and I'm not optimistic about making that happen by Sunday.

Philosophical kisses.

I particularly like the Socratic kiss, which is "really a Platonic kiss, but it's claimed to be the Socratic technique so it'll sound more authoritative; however, compared to most strictly Platonic kisses, Socratic kisses wander around a lot more and cover more ground."

Still not as good as our own ranking of philosophers, though.