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Showing posts from April, 2007

Limbo, book covers and lyric poets

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It's now official. Although
In the 5th century, St. Augustine declared that all unbaptized babies went to hell upon death. By the Middle Ages, the idea was softened to suggest a less severe fate, limbo,
this concept is set to be rejected in official Catholic theology.At ...By It's Cover, Jim has a wonderful collection of old book covers, such as

and many others.Rogue Classicism gives us a lovely fragment from the Greek lyric poet Praxilla. From her 'Adonis in the Underworld':
Of all the pleasures in the upper world
what I miss most is sunlight
after that the stars, a full moon
summer's late season harvest of fruits
cucumber, apple, pomegranate, pear.

Oddest book title

Winner of the Diagram Prize for oddest book title, as reported in Australia's ABC News Online, goes to 'The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification by Julian Montague.
Montague himself says he is surprised to have won the accolade.
"I was so deeply into the project that I was a little number to the fact that the title could surprise other people," he was quoted by Britain's The Independent newspaper as saying.

Textfiles and right turns

Jason Scott is a beautiful writer. Even if you have no interest in the subject matter (the early BBS scene, the demoscene, etc, which is actually damn interesting), reading his essays is still a joy. Here is a lovely piece on early software crackers (from this essay):
And with these skills came two types of personality; the quiet get-it-done utilitarian software cracker, and the Oompah-Band-Playing Showboater, who would be more than happy not just to crack the software but tie it into a little bow, fixed up and optimized, and better than when you found it initially. At the risk of a totally silly analogy, imagine a car thief that returns your car a day later with better shocks and fuel efficiency. And photos of all the women he picked up in your car. Including your daughter. That's hubris, that's in-your-face. It's rude, crude, but it contains panache.Me and UPS both avoid left turns.

Random numbers, flickr photos

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Best regards for First Day of the Writing of the Book of the Law, and blessings upon our Holy Prophet.It seems that if one asked to pick a number between 1 and 20, 17 is the number most often chosen, by far:
...the number 17 was picked much more often -- almost 18 percent of the time, compared to the 5 percent you might expect from this sample.
and interestingly, prime numbers are also picked disproportionately often.I've just uploaded a few more snapshots of the 1988 Cape Town Castle excavations to flickr:
and a previous uploaded snapshot from the restaurant at Tsitsikamma National Park:

Eat the sorcerer

Dieneke's Anthropology Blog has a summary of a couple of posts on cannibalism. The first is from the Smithsonian magazine, and regards the Korowai of New Guinea, and their practice of consuming people suspected of being khakhua (malevolent male sorcerers):
...Bailom shakes his head. "Human flesh tastes like young cassowary," he says, referring to a local ostrich-like bird. At a khakhua meal, he says, both men and women—children do not attend—eat everything but bones, teeth, hair, fingernails and toenails and the penis. "I like the taste of all the body parts," Bailom says, "but the brains are my favorite."
He also mentions this story from Eitb24, the 'Basque News and Information Channel', regarding cannibalism among the Aztec. A caravan of about 550 Spanish were captured at what is now known as Tecuaque:
The caravan was apparently captured because it was made up mostly of the mulatto, mestizo, Maya Indian and Caribbean men and women given to the …

Early modern Homo sapiens from China

Exciting analysis of early modern Homo sapiens remains from Tianyuan Cave, China. From the BBC:
Researchers found 34 bone fragments belonging to a single individual at the Tianyuan Cave, near Beijing.
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Radiocarbon dates, obtained directly from the bones, show the person lived between 42,000 and 39,000 years ago.
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The Tianyuan remains display diagnostic features of modern H. sapiens. But co-author Erik Trinkaus and his colleagues argue, controversially, that the bones also display features characteristic of earlier human species, such as relatively large front teeth.
The most likely explanation, they argue, is interbreeding between early modern humans emerging from Africa and the archaic populations they encountered in Europe and Asia.