Thursday, May 10, 2018

I strongly suspect that more or less everyone in the world who would find this useful already knows about it, but nevertheless: Eastern Orthodox liturgical texts in various Alaskan indigenous languages.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Peculiar's post about fishing for salmon in Nevada got me thinking about how skewed our baseline intuitions are regarding faunal populations. We are very poor at considering how abundant animal life was even three or four hundred years ago, let alone imagining back in deep time. We wildly underestimate what "normal" looks like.

On that subject, here's a charming paper which uses historical Chinese sources to estimate gibbon populations over a four hundred year span, before local extinction.

They (gibbons) appear in some of the Judge Dee stories, I believe as a deliberate attempt to give an air of authentic antiquity (the stories themselves being written over a millennium after that perspicacious gentleman's life). The Van Gulik novels are worth tracking down, being the work of a Dutchman writing English mysteries based on deliberately anachronistic Chinese stories of the eighteenth century written using Tang dynasty sources. Guardians against cultural appropriation can work out who owes what to whom.

I'm giving this a 'primates' label, optimistic that it will see heavy use.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Remembering when one could fish for salmon in Nevada. Not in the Pleistocene, either, just before they dammed the Snake.
We now value tolerance over physical courage. Steve Bannon is literally Hitler.

There, I just saved you ten minutes.

Not disputing the above, mind you; just vexed at shallow classicism.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

I now know where John C. Wright gets his ideas: mad Roman semi-demi-scientifiction.

Compare the following passages. First, from Titans of Chaos:

"I saw Mulciber's giants, fallen, with technicians in long brown coats walking across helmet-tops, directing spider-machines at their repairs. I saw fleets and battle-barges of Mavors, thrown onto shoals and rocks, with lizard-faced Laestrygonians bailing and shouting orders to running sailors.
I saw one group of Atlanteans in outer space, abandoning a tumbling space vessel, which glowed cherry red as its orbit decayed into the poisonous atmosphere of Venus. Atlanteans in black and silver armor dropped out of the airlock like pearls on a slightly curving string, one after another, and fell out and away from the dying ship."

Now,  Lucian of Samosata's A True Story
"That day we were entertained by the king; in the morning we took our place in the ranks as soon as we were up, our scouts having announced the approach of the enemy. Our army numbered 100,000 (exclusive of camp-followers, engineers, infantry, and allies), the Horse-vultures amounting to 80,000, and the remaining 20,000 being mounted on Salad-wings. These latter are also enormous birds, fledged with various herbs, and with quill-feathers resembling lettuce leaves. Next these were the Millet-throwers and the Garlic-men. Endymion had also a contingent from the North of 30,000 Flea-archers and 50,000 Wind-coursers. The former have their name from the great fleas, each of the bulk of a dozen elephants, which they ride. The Wind-coursers are infantry, moving through the air without wings; they effect this by so girding their shirts, which reach to the ankle, that they hold the wind like a sail and propel their wearers ship-fashion. These troops are usually employed as skirmishers. 70,000 Ostrich-slingers and 50,000 Horse-cranes were said to be on their way from the stars over Cappadocia. But as they failed to arrive I did not actually see them; and a description from hearsay I am not prepared to give, as the marvels related of them put some strain on belief."

This post took me over an hour to write, since I got caught up reading Titans and forgot that I was writing it. This said by way of fairly direct recommendation.