Archives for July, 2008

News on Antikythera

Back in November of 2006 I blogged about new research into the Antikythera device, a Greek 1st century BC astronomical simulator. The news at the time was that: … computer-aided X-ray tomography … has allowed a team of scholars to understand better how the thing worked and to decipher more of its many inscriptions. Using…

Bob Lind Gets Grant

Affärs- och Kapitalnytt reports that the Scanian bank Sparbanken Syd has given an $8300 grant (SEK 50,000) for archaeological fieldwork and research: “a first instalment for excavations” at a cemetery in Ravlunda parish. Well done! Unfortunately, the bank has chosen to give the money to our old friend Bob Lind, a homeopath and amateur archaeoastronomer…

Big Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet heads today’s edition with a two-page story about surgical hymen (re-)construction. The news is that a number of tax-funded Stockholm clinics offer the procedure for a fee of about $40 (SEK 260), and ample space is also devoted to an explanation of why the whole thing is controversial. (Patriarchy, honour-based…

Estonian Chicken Spam Nightmare

So it’s the 80s, Estonia is under Soviet rule, and your job is to direct movie commercials. And when you get the assignment to promote kana-hakkliha (processed chicken meat), you know exactly what it will take to make the product a big seller. You need nightmarish imagery, a heavy, psychedelic sound track and dramatic cutting.…

Birthday Clustering

Yesterday my glorious daughter turned 5. Today my radiant son turned 10. In the maternity ward five years ago I quipped to the nurses, “The kids being born one day apart, I suppose I’m only fertile for one week each year”. Replied one of them, “I think you’re probably only romantic for one week each…

Once in the early 90s two Stockholm girls went to college to major in Chinese. They became friends: one was half-Chinese, the other had spent part of her childhood in China. They would one day become the Architect and the Sculptress. But first they went to China to pursue their studies, and made friends with…

Chaosium’s Basic Role-Playing

Anybody got a copy of Chaosium’s 1980 game-rules booklet Basic Role-Playing? And the 1982 Worlds of Wonder boxed set, specifically the Magic World booklet? I’d love to have a look at them (photocopies or a brief loan would be fine), since combined and translated they became the first Swedish role-playing game, Drakar och Demoner (1982).…

Google as an Emergent AI

Here’s a cool update on the old Programmer Mel story, a tech-nerdy short story by George Dyson on Google as an emergent AI. It’s sort of a fantasy-fulfillment tale for the boomers who seem to make up the bulk of the Edge crowd. This time Mel is named Ed, probably in honour of Ed Nather…

Mahna Mahna

When was the last time you saw the Muppets perform “Mahna mahna”?

Fireweed

On my evening walk, while listening to a Skepticality interview with secular humanists Mel Lipman and Lori Lipman Brown, I took some pix of fireweed growing in weird places. (That’s Epilobium angustifolium, Sw. rallarros, mjölkört, “railroad man’s rose”, “milk plant”). The plant propagates by wind-borne seeds like thistledown, and they can apparently sprout anywhere. Some…