Saturday, December 24, 2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Friday, December 02, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
'Katy's Brown Mark 2', the second attempt to create a beer my wife will drink without wincing. Lots of malt, and a fair bit of hop bitterness (Chinook) and aroma (Hallertauer).
Rosehip Saison: tried this last night and loved it. Comes off almost like a wheat beer (and all these are mit hefe) but with a citrusy, honey finish.
Christmas Beer: a cute idea--the malt is the gold, the spices the frankincense, and the honey the myrrh (on account of those wacky Georgian beys) that utterly flopped. Star anise is not to be played with lightly. Tastes like black licorice scrapped from the bottom of a movie theatre after a week.
Stout: Good enough that only four bottles are left.
Oracular Ale: same recipe as last time, only with dried nettle added in hopes of preventing kidney failure. So far so good!
Hawthorn flower mead: No idea. It'll be another three months before we taste this one. Lots of spiders went into it.
Strawberry wine: See hawthorn, minus spiders.
Spiced red currant wine: I got the spices right for this one--they're background rather than PCs. Still, we won't really know for six months.
Blackberry wine: The old standby. Hot (28-30 proof), sparkling, tasting of jam gone bad, yeast, and diesel fuel. I had to make five gallons this year to meet increased demand.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
Statuettes of well-known people defecating are a Christmas tradition in Catalonia, dating back to the 18th century. Catalonians hide caganers in Christmas Nativity scenes and invite friends to find them. The figures symbolise fertilisation, hope and prosperity for the coming year.If you say so. There's a picture, possibly NSFW. Hat tip Chas.
Monday, November 07, 2011
Thursday, November 03, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
I was always a lackluster philosophy student, so this is a challenge better suited to Odious' talents. I'll merely note that the, oh let's say, chile relleno greater than which no chile relleno can be conceived obviously exists, inasmuch as an existent relleno is clearly greater than a non-existent one.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
"It became very clear that something very odd was going on there," said McMenamin. "It was a very odd configuration of bones."
First of all, the different degrees of etching on the bones suggested that the shonisaurs were not all killed and buried at the same time. It also looked like the bones had been purposefully rearranged. That it got him thinking about a particular modern predator that is known for just this sort of intelligent manipulation of bones."Modern octopus will do this," McMenamin said. What if there was an ancient, very large sort of octopus, like the kraken of mythology. "I think that these things were captured by the kraken and taken to the midden and the cephalopod would take them apart.....
Even more creepy: The arranged vertebrae resemble the pattern of sucker discs on a cephalopod tentacle, with each vertebra strongly resembling a coleoid sucker. In other words, the vertebral disc "pavement" seen at the state park may represent the earliest known self portrait.
I've enjoyed a couple visits to Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park over the years, but the next trip will be seriously enlivened by the possibility that it's a fossilized kraken lair.
Update: In the unlikely event the exercise is beyond any of our readers, National Geographic and Pharyngula take some Occam's razor to this story. They focus on the self-portrait idea, though, which is pretty damn out there, but don't much mention the the notion of the midden, which seems much less bonkers, even if it's not overly endowed with evidence.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Thursday, October 06, 2011
I'm not sure O&P has any readers who don't also read the Querencia blog, but on the off chance such a person exists, here is my son Eli, born October first (his actual due date!) at a whopping 9 pounds 12 ounces. We were trying for a home birth, but it eventually became clear that the western medicine safety net was warranted, so he came via C-section in St. Vincent's Hospital, the same place I was born. A second generation honky native of Santa Fe is a fairly rare thing.
Here he is with his state-of-the-art baby monitor:
He's named after Eli Tripp, my departed and much-missed best friend from my Montana years. Steve posted an excellent tribute to Eli a while back, and I'm not up to matching it. Joseph is a family name from his mother's side, and also a nod to Steve, who shares it as a middle name.
Eli and daughter Phoebe, sharing her father's wicked grin:
And for good measure, here's the last picture with our Eli on the inside, two Mondays ago in our local mountains:
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Friday, September 23, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Thursday, September 15, 2011
One interesting obscure term along these lines is "prong," (which doesn't make it on the map). The only examples I am aware of are in southern New Mexico's Black Range.
Via Strange Maps.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Even more terrible was the Palden Llamo, one of the divine protectors of Buddhism but also a devouring mother who sacrificed her own children. She rode upon a lake of entrails and blood, clutching a cup made from the skull of a child born from incest, her thunderbolt staff ready to smash the unbelievers and her teeth gnawing on a corpse. Her horse's saddle was made from the flayed skin of her own child, who had become an enemy of the faith, and snakes wound through her hair. Like many gods, she bore a crown of five skulls and a necklace of severed heads. Her ostensible purpose was to defend Buddhism against its enemies, and in particular to guard the Dalai Lama, but she must have terrified many true believers as well. The Tibetans considered Queen Victoria to be one of her incarnations.Emphasis mine. Of all the sentences not to have an end-note! From The Bloody White Baron, a biography of the appalling Baron von Ungern-Sternberg: as Steve put it, "one of the most disturbing minor figures of history.... be glad that he is minor."
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
This is something of an inversion of the dish karnıyarık ("riven belly"), which is a large eggplant stuffed with meat and other goodness. In this instance, one fries some small eggplants and stuffs them into the (nicely seasoned) meat, leaving the stems exposed:
Then you fry them a bit:
Make up a sauce from tomatoes, onion, garlic and seasonings:
Pour the sauce over the meatballs, bake for half an hour and serve:
Recommended, especially if, like me, you enjoy eggplants but wish to downplay their vegetable nature.
Wolfert calls this dish "ormuk kebabi," but a Google search for the phrase produces only a single irrelevant website in Hungarian. Ormuk certainly sounds Turkish rather than Arabic, but my casual searching has only found the word to be a) the name of a volcano near Lake Van [pg. 6] and b) "A fine, soft fabric, made of the hair of young camels in Turkestan." My curiosity is piqued.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Sunday, August 28, 2011
1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien. Damn straight.
2. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
3. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card. Fuck you, philotes.
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert. That is, everything by Frank Herbert.
5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin
6. 1984, by George Orwell
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov. All of them. Even the ones after the trilogy that had incomprehensible telepathy.
9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley. The best book about writing and the regret that follows. What, you thought it was about children?
21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
22. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood. Assigned in my junior year of high school. A lot more impressive then.
23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King. Fine, italics. The first and no others.
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
25. The Stand, by Stephen King
26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
28. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman. Entirely responsible for my goth phase, about which no further information will be given. There are no pictures.
30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings. The worst LotR clone since Terry Brooks.
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
49. Childhood's End, by Arthur C. Clarke
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson
59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Worthy of every Nebula they won.
60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
61. The Mote In God's Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. This and not Blood Meridian?
64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist. What's more, I've been to Krondor.
67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks. And the other books beyond the first three. I just don't know why.
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard. I never saw these as wish fulfillment; rather, as the explication of a peculiarly Texan philosophy of life.
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
70. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore. Ha! One nerd-bullet dodged!
74. Old Man's War, by John Scalzi
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke
77. The Kushiel's Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde. My sister liked this, so I didn't read it.
83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks. Ditto.
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson Bad style, and three for eight on interesting ideas.
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn. Not proud of that one.
89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan
90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley. I was pleased to see Sunshine here; it's McKinley at her best, which is very good, and is often under-rated.
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson. I'll just read Genesis, by Fred Turner.
96. Lucifer's Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony. Way too many of these, sadly.
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis. Nice to see these get some recognition.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
I recently enjoyed an overnight backpack in eastern Nevada's Snake Range (probably better know as Great Basin National Park). Anyone interested in seeing my attempts to capture Nevada's beautiful landscapes would do well to look in on my photoblog (and keep checking, I've got quite a backlog). But two things I've learned since I returned merit mention here on Odious and Peculiar.
What do Neal Stephenson's Anathem and the Snake Range have in common? They're both connected to the 10,000 Year Clock project:
...a huge Clock, hundreds of feet tall, designed to tick for 10,000 years. Every once in a while the bells of this buried Clock play a melody. Each time the chimes ring, it’s a melody the Clock has never played before. The Clock’s chimes have been programmed to not repeat themselves for 10,000 years. Most times the Clock rings when a visitor has wound it, but the Clock hoards energy from a different source and occasionally it will ring itself when no one is around to hear it. It’s anyone’s guess how many beautiful songs will never be heard over the Clock’s 10 millennial lifespan.Read the whole thing. I don't generally care for people mucking about with the landscape in indulgence of their own obsessions (see Christo and his planned hybrid of nuisance and eyesore which he wants to inflict on the Arkansas River), but this is pretty damn cool:
The Clock is real. It is now being built inside a mountain in western Texas. This Clock is the first of many millennial Clocks the designers hope will be built around the world and throughout time. There is a second site for another Clock already purchased at the top of a mountain in eastern Nevada, a site surrounded by a very large grove of 5,000-year-old bristlecone pines.
Carved into the mountain are five room-sized anniversary chambers: 1 year, 10 year, 100 year, 1,000 year, and 10,000 year anniversaries. The one year anniversary chamber is a special orrery. In addition to the planets and the Earth's moon, it includes all of the interplanetary probes launched during the 20th century, humankind's first century in space. Among others, you'll see the Grand Tour: Voyager 2's swing by of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. The Clock will activate and run the orrery once a year on a pre-determined date at solar noon.It's one of the better things I can imagine filthy rich people doing with their money. And in regard to the Nevada site, as much as I love the wilderness of the Snake Range, the area they're talking about is already impacted by mining and attendant road access. This is probably the only time rich outsiders purchasing an old mining claim might be good news. Mount Washington, the planned clock site, is visible below, towards the right, three ridges back and lighter than the other peaks (limestone, not quartzite).
Seems like a good site to me. And the Texas clock will surely be the coolest thing in the state, and may even provide some public access to a region that's mostly off-limits.
For those who haven't read Anathem, the Stephenson connection is that he was asked to imagine such a clock, and those imaginations developed into the central conceit of the novel. (And what's more, I have just learned of the existence of Anathem music.)
Only vaguely apropos, on my recent sojourn in the Snakes I photographed an odd timberline flower which caught my eye, and only later realized that it appears to be Holmgrem's buckwheat (Eriogonum holmgrenii), an endemic unique to the Snake Range:
Sunday, August 21, 2011
The way became very steep and we led the horses, thank God, while Rezo encouraged them with strange Ratchuelian cries of 'Achoo!' and 'Brrr!'....This is of interest because, while the scene is in Ratcha, i.e. the Caucasus of northwest Georgia, anyone who has ridden a horse in Mongolia* will recognize these commands as the Mongol words for "Giddy-up!" and "Whoa!" Perhaps not amazingly surprising, given the central events of Mongol history, but interesting to see it far away and in liguistically very different country.
*Not too ridiculous a clause, given that this blog does in fact have a few such readers.
Friday, August 19, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
Tuesday, August 02, 2011
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Click to enlarge. This is why you don't put out kitchen grease fires with water, kids!
The sequential view:
Friday, July 15, 2011
Friday, June 17, 2011
Sunday, June 05, 2011
Friday, June 03, 2011
A number of texts from antiquity have contentiously suggested the ancient Romans could transport live fish by sea. For instance, the scientist, Roman officer and historian Pliny the Elder spoke of transport of parrotfish from the Black Sea to the coast of Naples.
[Researchers] estimate an aquarium behind the mast of the ship could have measured about 11.4 feet by 6.5 feet by 3.3 feet (3.5 m by 2 m by 1 m) for a capacity of approximately 250 cubic feet (7 cubic meters). For comparison, an average bathtub has a volume of about 7 cubic feet. If properly maintained, it could help keep at least 440 pounds (200 kg) of live fish such as sea bass or sea bream, they noted.
Cronaca again (who has lots of good stuff lately).
Thursday, June 02, 2011
Wednesday, June 01, 2011
"...attempted to build an army of fearsome 'speaking' dogs..." ["Oh God, the enemy wants another treat!"]
"...The bizarre 'Wooffan SS' experiment..."
"[The Airedale] was said to have speculated about religion, learnt foreign languages, wrote poetry and asked a visiting noblewoman 'could you wag your tail?' The patriotic German dog even expressed a wish to join the army, because he disliked the French."
"...a Dachschund named Kurwenal..." [for the Wagner fans]
"...there is no evidence it ever actually came to fruition and that the SS were walking around with talking dogs..." [You don't say. And neither do the dogs.]
Words fail, indeed.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
"...there are some very important things that absorb UV light and therefore appear black, contrasting strongly with the snow. This includes urine - a sign of predators or competitors; lichens - a major food source in winter; and fur, making predators such as wolves very easy to see despite being camouflaged to other animals that can't see UV."
Friday, May 27, 2011
What I'd really like to post in Dylan's honor would be Tom Russell, Eliza Gilkyson and Joe Ely singing Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts, but I can't find a linkable version. So just buy the recording.
And speaking of Dylan and Russell, Steve (lucky bastard) has a sneak preview of Russell's upcoming album Mesabi. I'll look forward to much on it, including A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall with Lucinda Williams. More glimpses into his recent songwriting are at Tom Russell's own blog.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Funny, people of a certain mindset have long held similar suspicions about Mormon cloud-seeding in the Wasatch depriving innocent ski areas further east. Such a notion could certainly explain this year's peculiar snowpack. Come on, LDS! Some of that snow is rightfully ours! I expect aircraft loads of it to start shipping to the Gila postehaste!
Friday, May 20, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Click to enlarge. La Nina is clearly visible here: anything south of about Tierra Amarilla, NM has really missed out (though it looks like the Whites in Arizona got a little love yesterday). The snowpack in the Great Basin and Utah is seriously insane, 300% of normal in a lot of areas, and normal is already a lot of snow in the Wasatch. It's going to be quite a year on the Idaho rivers, and a crazy awesome year on the Yampa.
Monday, May 16, 2011
Friday, May 13, 2011
Monday, May 09, 2011
Sunday, May 08, 2011
The wind hissed as if welcoming usWorst poem ever? Not by a long shot; it's a crowded and competitive field. But Major James Abbot's eulogy to his eponymous town does approach McGonagall territory.
The pine swayed creating a lot of fuss
Friday, May 06, 2011
Initially inspired by Claire Berlinski, in the less prurient context of impending Turkish Internet censorship, I hasten to add.
Thursday, May 05, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Saturday, April 02, 2011
Lot of overlap between a parody of bad fantasy and good Terry Pratchett. I expect it took a certain amount of willpower for Scalzi not just to keep writing.
Update: And a follow up, a statistical look at fantasy novel titles.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Pyrard de Laval says in 1616: ‘(in Goa) they have no glass windows, instead very fine and straight oyster shells are used, inserted into wooden frames, allowing the light to come in as if it was of paper, as they are not as transparent as glass.'Photographer Rajan Parrikar has some pictures of Goan nacre windows, though only from the outside, alas. I imagine that accurately rendering the quality of interior light filtered through the shells would be a consummate challenge for any photographer. It brings to mind the large sheets of mica used for window panes in Spanish missions in California, another effect I would love to see in person.
I highly recommend a look at Parrikar's blog and photo galleries. The twin poles of his world seem to be Goa and Iceland, an unusual combination to say the least, but he does excellent justice to both.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
I'm not sure that PT is archiving shows indefinitely anymore, so if you're interested, listen soon!
A prehistoric South American giant short-faced bear tipped the scales at up to 3,500 pounds (1,600 kilograms) and towered at least 11 feet (3.4 meters) standing up, according to a new study.
The previous heavyweight was a North American giant short-faced bear—a related extinct species—that weighed up to 2,500 pounds (1,134 kilograms). The largest bear on record in modern times was a 2,200-pound (998-kilogram) polar bear shot in Alaska in the 19th century.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Hat tip: Skolai Images.
Update: Or did it have something to do with a comet shower?
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Via Strange Maps.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011
Friday, March 04, 2011
The movie that he most longs to make is an adaptation of a grandly ridiculous H. P. Lovecraft novella, “At the Mountains of Madness,” in which explorers, venturing into Antarctica, discover malevolent aliens in a frozen, ruined city. Some of the aliens mutate wildly, which would allow del Toro to create dozens of extreme incarnations. He said, “If I get to do it, those monsters will be so terrifying.”Looks like a serious longshot, though, as what he's talking about will cost the earth (insists on two weeks of on-location filming in Antarctica). Read the whole thing, and don't miss the ancillary video as a reminder of why del Toro might be the guy who could pull it off. There's a lot of interesting stuff about The Hobbit movie as well. Reading it, I'm not too upset that he's off the project, but I sure hope some of his designs make it onto the DVD special features.
Hat tip to Steve.
Thursday, March 03, 2011
- Somehow, this brings strongly to my mind the more paranoid stories on modern-day Pravda. Something to do with that Slavic soul we hear so much about, I guess.
- I find the excerpts barely readable, in the stylistic sense. Substantial (though far from total) blame can go to the translator. But it makes me wonder how Tolkien comes across in translation. I can't imagine these stories without his philologist's pen evoking all those pre-1066 ancestral memories buried in our dictionaries. I suppose it likely does well in the Germanic languages.* Yet another big score for us native English speakers!
- On a similar note, ever a borderline Luddite and nature Romantic, I still find myself siding with Gandalf in excerpted dialog. Who cares if Mordor may eventually produce the iPad?
- Many things indicate that the author is not a very serious Tolkien fan. I leave their identification as an exercise to our nerdy readers.
Needless to say, I'm in no rush to read the whole thing.
*Also Finnish, maybe? I have the sense, almost totally derived from folk music, that there are certain vocabulary and idioms, mostly Ingrian- and Karelian-oriented, that hint at a more tribal, barbaric, pagan past. What other languages have such a tension? Maybe the Turkic tongues, when they prefer old steppe vocabulary over other terms. The Turks seem to do this when they use ak and kara in lieu of beyaz and siyah (white and black). The latter are the dictionary words, but the former show up in the family names, toponyms, songs, strong idioms and such, from Turkey to Mongolia. (Digression: karakurbağası="dark frog" i.e. "toad.") I suppose their equivalents of Latin and French are Arabic and Persian; no doubt the tension was much stronger before Atatürk's linguistic reforms (makes you wonder what we'd be speaking had Tolkien been to England as Mustafa Kemal was to Turkey). But nothing's even in the same league as English for this stuff. Hooray for us!
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Our back yard rated a pretty respectable Mag 4, not half bad for being a literal stone's-throw from the biggest intersection in a state capitol.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Monday, February 21, 2011
Via Steve, who will no doubt blog it better shortly.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Saturday, February 19, 2011
The official kilogram, a cylinder of platinum and iridium maintained by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, is more than 130 years old... Some scientists now believe the official kilogram may be losing mass...As my source for the story puts it, "An honest imperial pound would never show such inconstancy."
And what happened to all that wonderful rationality of the meter being derived from some well-rounded fraction of the earth's dimensions?
Over the years, the official meter has been redefined several times and is now “the length of the path traveled by light in a vacuum during a time interval of 1/299,792,458 of a second.”Gone the way of Brumaire, Pluviôse, Fructidor and hopes of guillotines in Piccadilly Square, I suppose. Mustn't be unkind, though, they're only poor Parley-Voos after all.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Reference, though I heard it on Performance Today, in an introduction to Mendelssohn's Reformation Symphony (which, musically at least, is much better than its title).
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
Monday, February 07, 2011
Sunday, February 06, 2011
A notable contribution to a request for mountain poetry:
When I was about 20, my English grandmother introduced me to a 91-year-old friend, an old village vicar who had long retired. He was just about blind, bent and shriveled, but he still had a curious mind and quizzed me about what I had been doing. I've been in Wales, I said, climbing. He shuffled over to his dresser and out came album after album of his mountaineering photos from the days of hemp ropes and hard men. He didn't give me the photos (god, I wish I could get at them now), but he did give me a copy of this poem, a farewell, as he called it, which he wrote at age 90. His name was Herbert Bell.
Dancing, dancing, I wish to die dancing,
Fully to use my limbs, which have carried me
Facing from rock to rock
In dark and dawn, sunrise and sunset,
Seeking we knew not what, only to move further and further
From dull convention's rule.
Three times I slipped, and nearly fell and died.
So would my days have ended,
Killed by too much vigour wrongly placed.
Dancing and ever dancing
Sometimes in excess of misery, unsupported, and unappreciated.
Yet I gave my best, Yet not always my best,
For the true dancer glories not in himself,
But in the fine pattern, paired with his partner
So that the whole may make a perfect figure,
One with the universe of life and being.
So Moses slipped away, when he knew that his work was done,
To die in his desert mountain. I would rather slip away
Dancing in our crowded island.
Let there be no mourning when I go.
You and I are old. The bonds of love must be untied.
Love is eternal, Sweet moments make life stronger.
Friday, February 04, 2011
The BBC's Human Planet Explorer site is not recommended if your time is valuable. But it does have Abyssinians fighting off raiding cliff baboons with slings, Shetlanders dressing up as Vikings, among much else.
This, for instance, is bound to go viral. You saw it here first, alas.
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
Monday, January 31, 2011
Friday, January 28, 2011
Behold the ever-patient Yak,And:
With four explorers on his back.
He treks for miles across the snows,
Wearing a bracelet in his nose;
And when they stop to have a snack,
It's slices of the useful Yak!
You cannot please the caribou,Both by Katrina Moore, née Hincks, an intrepid and cultured lady of the best old-fashioned kind. I must try and track down more of her writing. Found these in David Roberts' The Last of His Kind, highly recommended if mountaineering history is your cup of tea.
No matter what you say or do;
He just morosely glares at you.
[The] report, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, found the key factor affecting their advance or retreat is the amount of debris – rocks and mud – strewn on their surface, not the general nature of climate change.These observations regarding debris bring to mind the reported construction of artificial glaciers by Balti villagers in times past:
Glaciers surrounded by high mountains and covered with more than two centimetres of debris are protected from melting.
Debris-covered glaciers are common in the rugged central Himalaya, but they are almost absent in subdued landscapes on the Tibetan Plateau, where retreat rates are higher.
In contrast, more than 50 per cent of observed glaciers in the Karakoram region in the northwestern Himalaya are advancing or stable.
The last glacier to be started, we were told, had been made 35 years earlier by the grandfather of the present rajah. It had been built to an ancient formula, with ice blocks coming from male and female glaciers (their difference was not made clear). These blocks were deposited in a high valley and covered with charcoal and thorn bushes, on top of which 50 goatskins of water were placed. The water was to help keep the ice cool and to augment the ice supply when the water froze in winter. After 20 years of gradually adding ice and snow, the glacier became strong enough to support itself and send a constant supply of water in the nonwinter months to the dry fields below.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
I leave attempts to find any actual meaningful content in this article as an exercise to the reader (the study may or may not contain some, but you'd never know it from the Daily Mail).
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
The community lives in a cluster of villages near the Turkish city of Trabzon in what was once the ancient region of Pontus...If you're interested in this region, I highly recommend revisiting this post (which we blogged in 2008) on Kazim Koyuncu and Black Sea Ethnorock.
Linguists found that the dialect, Romeyka, a variety of Pontic Greek, has structural similarities to ancient Greek that are not observed in other forms of the language spoken today. Romeyka's vocabulary also has parallels with the ancient language....
"Use of the infinitive has been lost in all other Greek dialects known today – so speakers of Modern Greek would say 'I wasn't able that I go' instead of 'I wasn't able to go'. But, in Romeyka, not only is the infinitive preserved, but we also find quirky infinitival constructions that have never been observed before – only in the Romance languages are there parallel constructions."
The villagers who speak Romeyka, which has no written form, show other signs of geographic and cultural isolation. They rarely marry outside their own community and they play a folk music on a special instrument, called a kemenje in Turkish and Romeyka or lyra as it is called in Greek....
Romeykas-speakers today are devout Muslims, so they were allowed to stay in Turkey after the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, when some two million Christians and Muslims were exchanged between Greece and Turkey.
Via Cronaca, of course.
Sunday, January 02, 2011
And not a word he spoke, for
His beak contained a piece of Brie,
Or, maybe, it was Roquefort:
We’ll make it any kind you please—
At all events, it was a cheese.
Beneath the tree’s umbrageous limb
A hungry fox sat smiling;
He saw the raven watching him,
And spoke in words beguiling:
“J’ admire,” said he, “ton beau plumage,”
(The which was simply persiflage).
Two things there are, no doubt you know,
To which a fox is used,—
A rooster that is bound to crow,
A crow that ’s bound to roost,
And whichsoever he espies
He tells the most unblushing lies.
“Sweet fowl,” he said, “I understand
You’re more than merely natty:
I hear you sing to beat the band
And Adelina Patti.
Pray render with your liquid tongue
A bit from ‘Götterdämmerung.’”
This subtle speech was aimed to please
The crow, and it succeeded:
He thought no bird in all the trees
Could sing as well as he did.
In flattery completely doused,
He gave the “Jewel Song” from “Faust.”
But gravitation’s law, of course,
As Isaac Newton showed it,
Exerted on the cheese its force,
And elsewhere soon bestowed it.
In fact, there is no need to tell
What happened when to earth it fell.
I blush to add that when the bird
Took in the situation
He said one brief, emphatic word,
Unfit for publication.
The fox was greatly startled, but
He only sighed and answered “Tut!”
THE MORAL is: A fox is bound
To be a shameless sinner.
And also: When the cheese comes round
You know it ’s after dinner.
But (what is only known to few)
The fox is after dinner, too.