September Pieces Of My Mind #2

I'm a closeted boardgamer. I'm a closeted boardgamer.
  • Is the gents' loo in the new Stonehenge visitors' centre fitted with Aubrey holes?
  • Heh. Here's a nice piece of home-made Scandy English: "the people living in the castles would spend their days doing chores, quarrelling, sleeping and eating". The author probably means that castle dwellers would often "quarrel" with attacking troops.
  • The Kings of Leon have a very odd singer. I can't decide if he's interesting or just bad.
  • Borrowed one of the more recent Pratchetts that I haven't read yet. Realised that it's about a quarter-century old.
  • Twitter just suggested that I follow this guy who describes himself as "Archaeologist / Powerlifter / Ambassador for Viking Warrior Nutrition". Yep.
  • OK music lovers, check out this detail in "Whole Lotta Love". Plant doesn't come in on the beat with the chorus, "Y' wanna whole lotta love". He's intentionally like a quarter beat late every time. Micro-syncopation, says my musicologist friend.
  • Listening to the Stones' "Gimme Shelter" for the first time. Was convinced at first that it was a Soundtrack of Our Lives song that I'd forgotten about. Then the female background singer came in and it started sounding like Primal Scream. That's what it means to establish a style, I guess.
  • Both the drummer and the bass player for the Jimi Hendrix Experience died from alcoholism at about age 60. )-:
  • Ran the roleplaying exercise about the ethics and urban planning issues around burial excavations again. This year the random number generator assigned the role of Satanists to a born-again Pentecostal student and a Muslim student. They thought it was a blast. (-;
  • I don't have impostor syndrome. That's when you're an expert at something but feel like a fraud. I've quite a realistic perspective on my strengths. But imagine being given a university course to teach, and it's been conceived and prepared by someone else whose skill set has almost no overlap with yours...
  • Elderly relative likes something I've written on-line, wants to share it on a web site for people with similar interests. Does not post a link to my piece: instead creates a PDF file containing my piece and has the keeper of the web site put the PDF in their repository. Um... Well... That works, I guess.
  • I commute several 100 kms once a week to teach. This of course costs me money for air tickets, bus rides and hostel stays. And though I can get a lot of work done during the commute, it does cost me a certain amount of time = more money. But it also costs me considerable time = money spent in simply booking all the air tickets and hostel nights. So though the gross salary is fine, my net income ain't.
  • It's Godt-haab. Not God-thaab. No sibilant there.
  • Wife vacuumed a lot of spilled instant coffee pellets. Now the vacuum cleaner makes the house smell like stale coffee.

More like this

"Godt-haab. Not God-thaab" God hamn? Gott hopp? Hope of good-tasting Greenland sharks?
"one of the more recent Pratchetts"
Avoid the Recent recent Pratchetts. Those are mainly written by his daughter, I assume TP wrote the basic outlines but it is not the same.
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Me haz a skeptic moment: "Fingerprints from the right index finger can reveal your ancestral background: study"…

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 30 Sep 2015 #permalink

It’s Godt-haab. Not God-thaab. No sibilant there.

The trend, at least on this side of the Atlantic, is to use Greenland Inuit names for places in Greenland, so I call it "Nuuk". No sibilant there, either.

I've seen the "-haab" or "-hab" particle in other Danish Greenland place names. I would agree with Birger's first guess, that it means "harbor".

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 30 Sep 2015 #permalink

Someone needs to look at his right index fingerprint to figure out if he is African American or European American? Why am I finding this underwhelming?

You pay US$100 to the people at 23andMe, spit in a plastic tube, and they'll tell you all you want to know about your 'ancestral background'. No fingerprint-gazing required.

Alternatively, in the case of Americans, your appearance in the mirror is usually a bit of a clue.

By John Massey (not verified) on 30 Sep 2015 #permalink

Someone needs to look at his right index fingerprint to figure out if he is African American or European American? Why am I finding this underwhelming?

That basically reads like a press release. Shorter: Our scientists found something interesting and published their results in the Journal of Exhaustive Studies of the Inconsequential.

There is also an ethical boundary here. It's not a medical study, so HIPAA rules don't strictly apply, but fingerprints are a standard method of identifying people, which is something researchers on human subjects are supposed to avoid. I also found the statistical power underwhelming (N=60 is not that much).

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 30 Sep 2015 #permalink

Plant doesn’t come in on the beat with the chorus, “Y’ wanna whole lotta love”. He’s intentionally like a quarter beat late every time. Micro-syncopation, says my musicologist friend.

The intended syncopation is on the last syllable, which comes a quarter beat ahead of the downbeat. The primary stress is on "love", with secondary stresses on "wan" and "whole". Plant has to enter a quarter beat late in order to get that effect. The reason it's unusual in popular music is because most of it is at too fast a tempo for any but the best-trained musicians to pull off, and most of what isn't too fast is intended to be slow enough that this rhythm wouldn't fit the song. But it's also not unprecedented: "Polythene Pam" by the Beatles pulls a similar trick, e.g., with, "She's the kind of a girl who makes the News of the World".

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 30 Sep 2015 #permalink

Old Britons were Norman Bates!
“Preservation society: how bronze age Britons mummified the dead”…
(excerpt) “Bronze age Britons may have mummified their dead by tossing them into peat bogs or smoking them over a fire, according to archaeologists who have studied the bones of hundreds of ancient locals.
The leathery corpses may have been kept in homes for decades and rolled out for special occasions, or used to assert families’ legal rights to the land their deceased ancestors had worked in the distant past, they said.”
If the boyfriend says “come home to me and meet my parents” it might get rather ghoulish?

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 01 Oct 2015 #permalink

Shit, there is another school shooting in USA.
Also, the Egyptians are hyping the unknown grave chamber. Have they not learned from the about the cavities in Cheop's pyramid that turned out to be trivial?

By birgerjohansson (not verified) on 01 Oct 2015 #permalink

There's no such thing as a trivial cavity, Birger.

By John Massey (not verified) on 01 Oct 2015 #permalink

Speaking of coming home to meet the parents, when we were in Kota Kinabalu when my daughter was a little kid, our local tour guide fascinated her by telling her that her grandfather had a number of human heads hanging in his living room as decoration.

My daughter was very put out when I refused to purchase a poison dart blow pipe to bring back to HK with us, on the grounds that it was too long to fit into the suit case. I had visions of her picking off her class mates with poison darts and bringing their heads home to hang on the walls.

By John Massey (not verified) on 02 Oct 2015 #permalink

John, your daughter might have liked the Briton bronze age funeral customs. On "talk about your family day" at school she could have had a Bart Simpson moment; "and this arm fell off my great-grandpa". :)

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 02 Oct 2015 #permalink

Speaking of people achieving room temperature, do some Chinese still do amcestral worship?
In the west, the only way for old people to mess with the family is to shame them into visiting the hospital, where the ambience makes everyone depressed.
When the dead still are part of the family, it gets complicated. If the roof falls in, it means grandpa is displeased about getting buried close to the barn, and want to be re-buried somewhere less smelly. You can fuck up your relatives generations after you are dead!
Why haven't we got that system (envious glare) ???

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 02 Oct 2015 #permalink

In the west, the only way for old people to mess with the family is to shame them into visiting the hospital, where the ambience makes everyone depressed.

In some countries, including the US, you can write your ungrateful relatives out of your will. I've seen this happen. You have to be careful about how you do it (wills can be and sometimes are challenged), but if you are wealthy enough for this to matter, you can afford the lawyer who can instruct you how to do it.

I don't know about Sweden, but in some European countries, dead people are only allowed to be buried for 50 years; then they have to make way for the more recently dead. I learned of this custom in Austria from a news story about Erwin Schrödinger: because he was somebody famous, his relatives got special permission to keep him buried for 100 years instead of the usual 50.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 02 Oct 2015 #permalink

Birger - I would generalise and say that to some extent, all Chinese still engage in ancestor worship in some form.

To give you an idea, the calendar of my iPhone 6+, which I bought in HK, came with important festivals already inserted, and April 5 is marked as "tomb sweeping day".

Eric, we dug up my mother in law after she had been buried for 14 years.

By John Massey (not verified) on 02 Oct 2015 #permalink

#17 - It's true, there is no absolute freedom of speech in Australia. Hate speech is a legal offence. That explains why I am often shocked by things that some Americans come out with, that they evidently think nothing of.

And there is much better gun regulation than in the USA, but there are still too many firearms, legal and illegal, among the community for my liking. But very few hand guns and very few military assault rifles - those are illegal.

By John Massey (not verified) on 04 Oct 2015 #permalink

The American amendment to the constitution allows Americans to have arms for "a well-organised militia".
It was a concession to the Southern states, who kept militias to fight slave uprisings and hunt down escaping slaves. Those militias were a serious business, not even priests were exempt from service.
Then a party-pooper named Lincoln came along...

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

And there are people who will tell you that Traditional Chinese Medicine is all "woo".

No, wrong. Some of it is, some of it isn't.

By John Massey (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

-Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell has died. He was 67 years old.

-The Nobel Prize in Medicine has been awarded to laureates who have developed therapies that have revolutionized the treatment of some of the world's most devastating parasitic diseases, which affect the poorest populations.
Youyou Tu from China discovered Artemisinin, a drug which reduced the mortality rates for Malaria patients. William C Campbell, an Irish researcher based at Drew University in the US, and Satoshi Omura of Japan discovered a new drug, Avermectin, which has helped to lower the incidence of River Blindness and Lymphatic Filariasis

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

And there are people who will tell you that Traditional Chinese Medicine is all “woo”.

No, wrong. Some of it is, some of it isn’t.

Was this discovery part of TCM?

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

While Mankell is most widely known as a writer of detective fiction, he also wrote many other works, many having to do with Africa, where he lived as well as in Sweden.

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

Mankell especially spent much time in former Portugese colonies, mainly Mozambique.
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"Are the voices in your head normal?"…
This reminds me of a bit of home-made Scandy English from Martin's namesake Martin Kellerman aka "Rocky".

Rocky (lies in bed) "When you travel a lot people keep saying 'you are running from something"
R (continues): "Run from what? Your life? I would not want to get caught dead with your life!"
(Neighbour in adjacent room): "*My* life?"
R. "No, the fictional voice in my head that is saying 'you are running from something"
N: "Oh, him? Just tell him to mind his own bees wax"
R: "No, there is no reasoning with that asshole!"

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

I just watched the documentary The Man Who Saved the World
It is about S. Petrov, the former officer of the Strategic Rocket Forces of USSR who realised a missile alert in 1983 must be due to a software error and contrary to protocol did not pass on the order to launch.
It cost him his career (this is the Soviet Union we are talking about; the brass wanted a low-ranking scapegoat so they could bury the embarassing incident) but he prevented WW III.

By birgerjohansson (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

#24 - Yes.

By John Massey (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

Birger @27: That's not the only time the planet has been on the brink of nuclear war.

I have collaborated with some of the scientists whose experiment was involved in this international incident. They had duly notified the proper authorities in Russia, but the information wasn't relayed to the operators of the early warning radar at Olenegorsk near Murmansk. The rocket apogee of 1453 km happened to resemble the profile of a submarine-launched Trident missile, especially after jettisoning a stage. The operators did not initially notice that the rocket's trajectory was northward from Andøya, away from Russia. The response was passed all the way up to Boris Yeltsin, who was handed the nuclear briefcase.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 05 Oct 2015 #permalink

Eric. Those growing up now will consider us insane who accepted the whole "mutual assured destruction" paradigm.
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Complicated relations: Cotton-top tamarin

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 06 Oct 2015 #permalink

I always considered it insane, and I haven't been growing up for quite a while.

By John Massey (not verified) on 06 Oct 2015 #permalink

Dr. Seuss would have agreed with you, John. There isn't a need for an Itsy Bitsy Big Boy Boomeroo.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 06 Oct 2015 #permalink

Scientists win Nobel chemistry award for work on DNA repair
So one of the Nobel Prize winners is a Swede with connections to the UK! Tomas Lindahl was born 1938 in Stockholm and has worked in cancer research in the United Kingdom.

Here's what the Nobel team's press release says about him: "[He] demonstrated that DNA decays at a rate that ought to have made the development of life on Earth impossible. This insight led him to discover a molecular machinery, base excision repair, which constantly counteracts the collapse of our DNA.

[my comment: We see here how current life reaps the benefits of the otherwise “invisible” evolution among microscopic life forms that predated the Cambrian explosion.
By the time the trilobites arrived, proterozoic evolutionary ”inventions” had already done the heavy lifting about the basic life processes.]

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 07 Oct 2015 #permalink

Birger might get a few moments of amusement from this:

My guess is that 130 is on the low side, and that he's closer to 140. The one thing that counts against that is that he is religious - but I can never tell with Putin whether he is genuinely religious or just puts on a good show.

By John Massey (not verified) on 08 Oct 2015 #permalink

"Televangelist: Satanic temples are hidden in Planned Parenthood clinics as ‘legal cover’ for child sacrifice"
We no longer need professional comedians.

By birgerjohansson (not verified) on 08 Oct 2015 #permalink

According to Wiktionary, a quarrel is a square headed crossbow bolt (I presume diamond-shaped with one of the points at the business end), and derives from the Vulgar Latin quadrellus, the diminutive of a square, whereas in its meaning as an argument it derives from the Latin querrella meaning complaint.

So it's one of those confusing English words that has two different meanings derived from two different roots via Norman French/Middle English that just happened to end up as the same word.

Oddly, I knew that a quarrel was a crossbow bolt when I was a small boy because I was very fond of reading books about Robin Hood the Saxon/English hero with his doughty long bow fighting against those dastardly, despicable Normans with their cowardly and much less honourable crossbows.

It quite upset me to learn as an adult that my surname was the name of one of the Normans who invaded England with William in 1066, and that there is still a village in Normandy with the same name (different spelling, but then they unconcerned about spelling in those days).

I had to completely reorder my thinking and regrade Robin Hood as a thieving blackguard.

By John Massey (not verified) on 09 Oct 2015 #permalink

Much easier for a blacksmith to make than some other regular shaped section, I guess.

By John Massey (not verified) on 09 Oct 2015 #permalink

The older arrowheads were wide thin blades in order to cause a big bleeding wound in an unprotected victim. Crossbow quarrels were designed to punch through sheet metal and ring weave. Nasty stuff, as illustrated by the dead from the Battle of Visby in 1361.

Yeah, that sounds like it was a slaughter.

By John Massey (not verified) on 09 Oct 2015 #permalink

John@38: Robin Hood is something of a legendary figure, so it's hard to tell what was true and what was myth. There are apparently several versions of the story, including at least one that claims Maid Marian was the brains of the operation.

Among my audio recording collection is a song, supposedly from the time of Henry VIII, about the courtship of Robin and Marian. The song makes no mention of Robin's troubles with King John or the Sheriff of Nottingham, but perhaps that would have made it something other than the light diversion this song appears to be.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 09 Oct 2015 #permalink

Eric, I have a book of 16th Century music which was originally for the lute or vihuela and has been adapted for the classical guitar. Much of it is really beautiful and quite complex. But there are chords which were very commonly (and easily) played on the lute which are such a stretch of the left hand of the guitar that practising them is almost torture.

Francis Cutting is one of my favourite composers, but he has caused me considerable pain in the past, and now continues to do so since my happy discovery that I am now capable of playing the guitar again, after a period of 5 years when I was unable to.

Once I made the amusing (to me) discovery that Sir John Massey was High Sheriff of Cheshire in 1601. Just lucky for that scoundrel Robin Hood that he was not still around then, or I have no doubt that my namesake would have dealt with him properly and promptly.

By John Massey (not verified) on 10 Oct 2015 #permalink

"But there are chords which were very commonly (and easily) played on the lute which are such a stretch of the left hand of the guitar that practising them is almost torture."

The reverse is true as well. The consensus now seems to be that little, if any, of Bach's work for lute were actually intended for the lute. To play them in the original keys and tunings is quite difficult, even more so than the normal technical difficulties in Bach's music, though some brave souls have managed.

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 12 Oct 2015 #permalink

#46 - It must be able to be correlated with a wetter period when making the trip was feasible by one route or another.

It's interesting that this individual had high altitude adaptation. The popular theory is that modern humans might have got high altitude adaptation by introgression from older human species.

By John Massey (not verified) on 13 Oct 2015 #permalink

"Children of Briton sentenced to 350 lashes over homemade wine appeal to PM "

We all agree that such punishment is too much. But this guy knew it. Why did he choose to live in a country like this? I have sympathy for people who have no choice being subjected to unjust punishment, but if you choose to live in such a country, and cooperate with those in power in order to make your pile, then it is just plain stupid to break the laws.

By Phillip Helbig (not verified) on 13 Oct 2015 #permalink

#53 - This goes a long way towards explaining past finds that suggested anatomically modern humans were in southern China much earlier than thought possible. It looks like they were, from a very early wave of migration, but they died out and left no trace in modern people now.

By John Massey (not verified) on 14 Oct 2015 #permalink

Misconduct in the astronomy department at Berkeley: It gets worse.
"In 1987, Marcy’s colleague in the search for exoplanets realized that he had handed her a revised copy of their joint grant proposal. On the copy Marcy had given her, both their names appeared, his as main investigator and hers, as co-investigator. But Marcy’s official copy, the one he had submitted to the funding agency, bore only his name.

She reported this to the department head, who fired her on the spot. Marcy was the rising star of his department. She then filed a formal complaint for professional misconduct against Marcy. But she was unable to recover her position and she left the field of astronomy. Following these events, a few people tried to draw the University’s attention to Geoff Marcy’s inappropriate behaviour with his female students."

-He has been doing his thing for three decades. And the administration did not give a damn. FUCK THEM!!!!

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 15 Oct 2015 #permalink

#15 - So does that mean Schrodinger's family have to wait another 50 years to see if he's alive or dead?

By Jim Sweeney (not verified) on 15 Oct 2015 #permalink

Robin Hood was only pinned in the reign of King John by the Victorians, I think, so there would have been no reason why it should have been mentioned in Tudor times.