Comments

  1. #1 John Massey
    January 28, 2014

    Nice to hear your voice after so many years.

  2. #2 Martin R
    January 28, 2014

    Thank you! I’d love to hear yours as well!

    I have just started reading Hong Kong author Louis Cha’s celebrated The Deer and the Cauldron. I’m sure you read his newspaper back in the day?

  3. #3 John Massey
    January 28, 2014

    Not in 1959!!!

  4. #4 John Massey
    January 28, 2014

    It did have the reputation of being a good paper though, reputedly the paper read by the educated middle class.

    But I have to say I am not a fan of wuxia, mostly, although I’ve watched one or two wuxia movies that I enjoyed, but I think because of the eye-candy cinematography more than anything. House of Flying Daggers is a visual treat, almost like the director was playing colour jokes on the viewer.

  5. #5 Martin R
    January 28, 2014

    I hear that in House of Flying Undies, it’s almost like the director is playing off-colour jokes on the viewer.

  6. #6 John Massey
    January 28, 2014

    Ha.

    My wife and daughter will tell you that my taste in Chinese films is absolutely appalling. On my glowing recommendation, they sat through Painted Skin II and thought it was dreadful rubbish. I love it. It’s a cinematographic masterpiece. Cue evil fox spirit jokes.

  7. #7 Birger Johansson
    January 28, 2014

    I wish there was an app for editing, making the questions louder and easier to hear, but I got the gist from context.
    (OT) 300,000-year-old hearth found http://phys.org/news/2014-01-year-old-hearth.html

  8. #8 John Massey
    January 28, 2014

    But then my daughter is a big fan of Kunqu, so…make of that what you will. It was suppressed during the Cultural Revolution, which I guess means it can’t be all bad.

  9. #9 Birger Johansson
    January 28, 2014

    Cinemathographic masterpieces have a different target audience than, er, kung fu films or westerns. In fact I was a philistine myself until I discovered Tarkovsky..
    — — —
    Martin, not only is archaeology only valid locally and regionally, now evolution is the same :)
    “A Missouri Bill Would Allow Opt Out From Evolution” http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2014/01/27/a-missouri-bill-would-allow-opt-out-from-evolution/#more-25374
    Coming up next: “Round Earth/ flat Earth: optional choices.”

  10. #10 Birger Johansson
    January 28, 2014

    John I read a recent estimate that the Cultural Revolution killed in excess of 1,5 million just on the countryside, the assholes repressed almost everything.
    More depressing Chinese news: “Activists claim China is housing giant whale shark slaughterhouse” http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/01/27/activists-claim-china-is-housing-giant-whale-shark-slaughterhouse/

  11. #11 John Massey
    January 28, 2014

    Qesem Cave seems a really interesting site. I’m almost desperate to know who was using it.

  12. #12 John Massey
    January 28, 2014

    Birger, yes. I would guess from stories I have been told, that would be a low figure. I first went to the Mainland in 1982, and it was abundantly clear that the whole thing had been a dreadful disaster. I mean, what the hell was the point of burning all of the engineering and geology books in university libraries? I don’t think it is possible to make any sense of the things that happened.

  13. #13 Birger Johansson
    January 28, 2014

    John, if they find coproliths it may be possible to tell the difference between recent contamination and old human DNA. Mitochondrial DNA mutates so fast it should be possible to tell lineages apart.

  14. #14 Birger Johansson
    January 28, 2014

    Political and religious fervor taps into the same potential for organised mayhem. Group dynamics similar to lynch mobs? Here in Västerbotten we executed more witches than the Americans did in Salem. Same idiocy, different symptoms.
    (And North Swedish stalinist branch of communism continued being in denial about Soviet until they faded into irrelevance)

  15. #15 Eric Lund
    January 28, 2014

    Witch hunts continued in England and mainland Europe for several decades after Salem. Malleus Maleficarum is one of the most evil books ever written (along with the manifesto of you-know-who). The total death toll over more than two centuries was well into the thousands, if not tens of thousands.

    I wonder how much the exposure to the evils of two world wars, where State and Church were major contributors, helped bring about the decline of religiosity in Europe. The US has not had firsthand experience of total war since the Civil War, and even then it only directly affected part of the country. Except for the vicinity of Gettysburg, the part of the US north of the Mason-Dixon line has never experienced modern warfare, and the western half of the contiguous US has only suffered a few Japanese balloon-borne bombs (parts of Hawaii and the Aleutian Islands saw battles in World War II).

  16. #16 Birger Johansson
    January 30, 2014

    OK, here is a news item that comes in handy whenever someone claims to have found evidence of the Ark:
    “Another Precursor to the Flood Story Found” http://www.foxnews.com/science/2014/01/24/ancient-tablet-reveals-new-details-about-noah-ark-prototype/
    The vehicle described would have been a circular coracle made of reed from Euphrates/Tigris and predates other flood stories. If you live on a flat plain and there is a big flood, it can drench anything within the 20-mile radius you have travelled all your life, so it would indeed have covered “the whole world” :)

  17. #17 Birger Johansson
    January 30, 2014

    Eric, John, here is a link you might find interesting
    “The urge to dehumanise others is itself all too human” http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22129521.500-the-urge-to-dehumanise-others-is-itself-all-too-human.html

  18. #18 John Massey
    January 31, 2014

    “We now know that we are all prone to grouping the people around us according to how they look, where they live or what they believe”

    Birger, I appear not to be part of ‘we’.

  19. #19 John Massey
    January 31, 2014

    “A television documentary due to be broadcast later this year will follow attempts to build the ark according to the ancient manual.”

    Oh good, an ark building TV reality series.

  20. #20 John Massey
    January 31, 2014

    Not that I think I am particularly special, you understand, but I just offer myself as a data point to falsify the statement: “We are all prone to doing this.” So, no, we are all not.

    On the other hand, if it means that, although at least some people never do this, they are still prone to doing it, they just successfully resist this innately evil human trait, even if they are not conscious of doing that, then the statement is not falsifiable or testable, and therefore not science.

    I note chimpanzees kill other chimpanzees, but they are not actually dechimping them, they are just killing them. Modern humans are the only creatures who deny that other humans are members of the same species, even though we have no way of testing that. And we are all prone to doing it, even though some of us notably don’t do it, to the extent that we appear to be pushing in the opposite direction.

    When Europeans first arrived in the Swan River, the immediate reaction of the indigenous people was to befriend them. Maybe they had not been informed of this new religion.

  21. #21 Birger Johansson
    January 31, 2014

    In the interest of dispelling myths, I am providing a link to a book I found at British Amazon. I do not know if it includes references to the Sami/ Lapps but it should cover the neolithic and the bronze age:

    “Ancestral Journeys: The Peopling of Europe from the First Venturers to the Vikings” http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ancestral-Journeys-Peopling-Venturers-Vikings/dp/050005178X/ref=pd_sim_b_4

    Book description: ”This pioneering book brings together for the first time the latest genetic evidence and combines it with archaeology and linguistics to produce a new history of Europe. Who are the Europeans? Where did they come from? In recent years scientific advances have yielded a mass of new data, turning cherished ideas upside down. The idea of migration in prehistory, so long out of favour, is back on the agenda. Visions of continuity now have to give way to a more dynamic view of Europes past, with one wave of migration followed by another, from the first human arrivals to the Vikings.”

  22. #22 Eric Lund
    January 31, 2014

    “We now know that we are all prone to grouping the people around us according to how they look, where they live or what they believe”

    The conjunction in there is “or”, not “and”. I’m willing to believe that some people are not prone to grouping others based on one of those three traits, but still are prone to do so based on the other two. It’s less likely, but still possible, that some people avoid this tendency for two of the three traits but are prone to doing so on the third. I’m skeptical that claims to be exempt from all three tendencies are true. Part of this is because humans are known to be all too good at rationalizing their irrational behavior.

    More specifically: while modern transport and communications have made it easier to avoid stereotyping based on appearance or where they live, it has made it easier for us to surround ourselves with people who believe more or less the same things we do. There is a well-known tendency for internet forums to succumb to group-think, and to think poorly of those who do not believe as they do. Lurk on any blog covering US politics, whether left or right, and you will see this phenomenon. Or for a more satirical view, see Dr. Seuss’ The Butter Battle Book, featuring a war started over the question of whether one should eat toast with the buttered side up or down. Speaking for myself, I know that there but for the grace of $DEITY go I.

  23. #23 John Massey
    February 1, 2014

    Eric: I read “grouping the people” wrong – I read it as literally grouping them around me, not classifying them.

    Birger: I spotted and almost bought that book. What discouraged me somewhat is ‘the latest genetic evidence’ is a brave claim, given the rate at which genetic evidence for migrations into Europe in the Neolithic is coming out now.

    I still might buy it, though.

  24. #24 dustbubble
    February 4, 2014

    John, Jean Manco hangs out on the Anthrogenica board mostly nowadays, and maybe Molgen, after the massive, long-running Belgian one I forget the name of went tits-up, and World Families became basically moribund.
    That’d be the first place I’d go to ask awkward questions. It’s all very civilised and informative.

    They’re (the amateur genetic massive) pretty good at staying on top of stuff, and doing their own data-crunching, certainly way ahead of any peer-reviewed authors, and there are not too many lunatics (although there are a few fairly spectacular ones :) . If in doubt just ask the regulars, some of whom are serious academics and nobody’s fool).
    Jean M is a bit fixated on (and can get slightly prickly about it) eneolithic/beaker models, though. Mainly as a result of parsimony of hypothesis, which is not a crime, I hope.

  25. #25 John Massey
    February 5, 2014

    Thank you. Just quickly browsing, I suspect I have already spotted one of the spectacular lunatics, so I should be OK, I think :)

    Thanks again.

  26. #26 dustbubble
    February 5, 2014

    Oh I forgot to say the author of the book you were looking at generally favours an owl of some sort as an avatar, but has fairly consistently stuck to the username “Jean M” throughout the years, if you want to tackle her about stuff.

    Does historic buildings research, I believe, used to do a bit of work for TimeTeam. And is completely sold on the David Anthony/Mair-Mallory/even Gimbutas model, as distinct from the Childe/Renfrew/Cavalli-Sforza etc. one.
    They all seem to be currently OK with everything steamrolling in from Parts Unknown to the East, first early farmers, then more farmers, then men with hats, and men with horses, you get the picture. Sorry dragging this way offtopic Martin.

  27. #27 Jean M
    February 19, 2014

    Teeny correction. I never worked for Time Team. I knew people who did and know some keen fans. That’s all. :)

    Ancestral Journeys does mention the Saami.

    The “latest genetic evidence” obviously missed papers that came out late last year and early this year, but aimed to surf ahead of what was in the offing. So it is pretty much on song for now.

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