enigma of world’s oldest computer solved, ancient palimpset by archimedes also included other works

thinking bout things, bigger.

Enigma of ancient world’s computer is cracked at last

A 2,100-year-old clockwork machine whose remains were retrieved from a shipwreck more than a century ago has turned out to be the celestial super-computer of the ancient world.

Using 21st-century technology to peer beneath the surface of the encrusted gearwheels, stunned scientists say the so-called Antikythera Mechanism could predict the ballet of the Sun and Moon over decades and calculate a lunar anomaly that would bedevil Isaac Newton himself.

Built in Greece around 150-100 BC and possibly linked to the astronomer and mathematician Hipparchos, its complexity was probably unrivalled for at least a thousand years, they say.

“It’s beautifully designed. Your jaw drops when you work out what they did and what they put into this,” said astronomer Mike Edmunds of Cardiff University, Wales, in an interview with AFP. (photo at the link.)

The Aztecs had a pretty sophisticated grasp of time and the movement of celestrial bodies, but they didn’t really flourish as a sophisticated culture until the 13th-15th century. So their calculations and findings about time and astronomy were at least 1300 years or more after Hipparchos.

Its not celebration of ancient Greeks day, but I happened across this story too. Between the lines: A rare Ancient Greek text is found 

The Archimedes Palimpsest, sold at auction at Christie’s for $2 million in 1998, is best known for containing some of the oldest copies of work by the Greek mathematician who gives the manuscript its name. But there is more to the palimpsest than Archimedes’s work, including 10 pages of Hyperides, offering fresh insights into the critical battle of Salamis in 480 B.C., in which the Greeks defeated the Persians, and the battle of Chaeronea in 338 B.C., which spelled the beginning of the end of Greek democracy.


Hyperides lived from 390 or 389 B.C. until 322 B.C. and was an orator who made speeches at public meetings of the citizen assembly. A contemporary of Aristotle and Demosthenes, he wrote speeches for himself and for others and spoke at important political trials. In 322 B.C., Hyperides was executed by the Macedonians for participating in a failed rebellion.

It is thought that the writings or in this case the ancient transcriptions of Hyperides writings are important because of the history of the war mentioned in the article and because he was a kind of devotee of language and made speeches that were like performances. So they would be both a history and an example of early stage craft and drama.


tiffany thiesen’s flower tattoo, using the n-word about bush, guard your nuts

tiffany thiesen’s flower tattoo

 The N-Word Unmentionable lessons of the midterm aftermath.

The ways our free press has served the powers it was supposed to afflict range from the belabored (Judith Miller’s WMD “scoops” in the Times), to the grandiose (Tom Friedman’s op-ed manifestos for a new political species: the pro-war-if-it-works liberal), to the perverse (Christopher Hitchens’s flogging, in Slate, of a left-wing fifth column so much worse than the Bush-Cheney-Halliburton complex). My favorite editorial pledge of allegiance was a syndicated column by Kathleen Parker welcoming the ministrations of Bush’s domestic spies because, hey, she wasn’t conducting any phone business more controversial than making appointments to get her highlights done.

We have become such “good Americans” that we no longer have the moral imagination to picture what it might be like to be in a bureaucratic category that voids our human rights, be it “enemy combatant” or “illegal immigrant.” Thus, in the week before the election, hardly a ripple answered the latest decree from the Bush administration: Detainees held in CIA prisons were forbidden from telling their lawyers what methods of interrogation were used on them, presumably so they wouldn’t give away any of the top-secret torture methods that we don’t use. Cautiously, I look back on that as the crystallizing moment of Bushworld: tautological as a Gilbert and Sullivan libretto, absurd as a Marx Brothers movie, and scary as a Kafka novel.

From Nixon to Dubya’s current reign modern conservatives might be better termed Nazi-lite. You can go to work, do some shopping, and order a pizza – everyone has all the illusions of freedom absent the political foundations on which a sustainable democracy rests.

It is a sad era when not even your nuts are safe,  Cops crack possible nut-nabber syndicate 

The tipster had read about the thefts and called police Sunday after seeing workers transporting boxes from various nut processors between a rental truck and the warehouse, Merced County Sheriff‘s Detective Vince Gallagher said.

Investigators suspect that the almonds in the warehouse were stolen from Central Valley orchards, and they are examining whether the importer was selling them to stores, Gallagher said.

Growers in California‘s Central Valley produce about 80 percent of the world‘s almonds.

They couldn’t break into a fruitcake factory and steal all the fruitcake so that millions of Americans could be spared having a rum soaked door-stop.

time is not on your side, MAC versus vista, wal-greed-mart

time is not on your side 

I haven’t done anything on tech for a while. As Windows Vista will be coming out soon and considering the time of the year a lot of people will be trying to decide to go with a new MAC ( that can boot with Windows) or get a new machine with Vista installed. For MAC veterans who tend to be very loyal its a no brainer. On the other hand Windows vets might need a little help to decide. The part that compares MAC and Vista starts about half way down, but if you want a good introduction into Vista the rest might be useful too, Windows Vista FAQ

Q. Can I run Windows Vista on a Mac?

Yep. The two major options for running Windows on a Macintosh system–Parallels and Apple’s Boot Camp–both support it.

[  ]..Q. How does Windows Vista stack up against the most recent Apple OS?

In our 2005 World Class Awards, we named Apple’s OS X 10.4 (“Tiger”) the third-best product of the year, while Windows XP wasn’t mentioned at all. But Windows Vista at least narrows the gap between operating systems that hail from Redmond and Cupertino. In part this is because Vista adds so many features–from decent integrated search to Gadgets (aka Widgets) to fancy 3D effects–that Tiger already has.

With Leopard, the next generation of OS X, due out next spring, Mac owners will get some new features that may put Windows users farther back in their rear-view mirrors. For instance, judging from previews, Leopard’s Time Machine continuous-backup utility may be superior to Vista’s Backup, System Restore, and Previous Versions data-recovery features.

Artists Protest Over Planned Eakins Sale 

 Several dozen local artists dismayed by a university’s decision to sell Thomas Eakins’ masterpiece “The Gross Clinic” joined Sunday the fight to keep the painting in its hometown.

Thomas Jefferson University announced Nov. 11 the planned sale of the painting for $68 million to a partnership of Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton and the National Gallery of Art in Washington. The university set a Dec. 26 deadline for a counteroffer.

This Eakin’s painting has been featured in every survey of American art book that I have ever read it deserves ti stay where it is. Yes the money will supposedly be used for research and infrastructure improvements, but those needs are hardly new for any university. Wal-mart’s participation in this little bit of black-mail is ironic since its profits in 2004 for example were 11 billion dollars. Wal-mart could write that university a check for  the amount of the Eakins painting as a donation and hardly miss it.

photo: river rocks, lost jewish tribe from india, oklahoma comes to terms with tattoos


wearing smooth larger 

Community from India claims to be lost Jewish tribe

KIRYAT ARBA, WEST BANK — When Tzvi Khaute came six years ago from a remote corner of India, claiming to be of the lost Jewish tribe of Menashe, Israeli authorities didn’t buy it.

Things may be starting to change. About 1,000 members of the Bnei Menashe community are now Israeli citizens, and 218 others, the largest single group so far, began arriving recently.

I just found this curious. The Menashe hyperlink is to the entry on Wikipedia and goes more into the history of this lost tribe.

Like the tribal story in some places time passes at a different pace, Tattoos more socially acceptable

Because Oklahoma finally gave in and legalized tattooing, one tattoo parlor has already opened up in Stillwater.

In our grandparents’ day, people who got tattoos were those in the military or in jail. That’s obviously no longer the case, because tattoos are much more acceptable among people our age than they were half a century ago.

Tattoos are more ubiquitous today than ever, and traditional attitudes about those with tattoos have shifted.

It’s no longer as big a deal as it used to be to get inked. That is, the stigma associated with tattoos has faded and given way to a hip culture in which tattoos are on their way to becoming the norm, and the un-inked could soon be in the minority.

Celebrities, both male and female, have no problem displaying their newly-inked designs on the red carpet, something that was unheard of in the “Golden Age of Hollywood.” And many consider getting a tattoo for an 18th birthday a rite of passage.

But as tattoos become increasingly present in our lives, vestiges of stereotypes still remain in situations, such as job interviews and even character judgment. Some schools of thought still exist that view tattoos as badges for delinquency and associate tattoos with lower-class status.

This is an old-fashioned point of view. It’s not fair to judge job applicants based on what they have on their skin, because it is unlikely to hinder their ability to perform well career-wise.

If tattoos in Oklahoma were originally against the law because the state was concerned about enforcing the health regulations that we have to have in order to have a legitimate tattoo industry that’s understandable, but if the law was about social taboos, well welcome to the 21st century where police officers and nurses have tattoos.

yellow warbler wallpaper, an interview with the master of modern gothic

A great photo of a yellow warbler with his reflection in a marsh. Larger version of the photo here and a brief post-it notes type description from enature here.

I think I’ve read maybe one Stephen King novel, but I have seen all the movies based on his works. I find it an interesting contrast that much of his work is so macabre yet he seems to be a very thoughtful even sensitive person. Maybe his writing serves as a kind of public catharsis, I want to share my nightmares

Stephen King married Tabitha Spruce in 1971. He had met her in the library at the University of Maine, where they were both students. They live in Maine to this day – in Bangor – and have three grown children.

She is also a novelist. Although he insists that the character Lisey in his new novel is not his wife, he does acknowledge that his book is a homage to the ‘invisible’ wives of famous authors. ‘The book is a celebration of monogamy, in a way,’ he says. ‘It is also about how even in the most intimate relationships we are always holding something back.’

We can never be wholly known? ‘Exactly. I think of my wife as holding a deck of 52 cards – if you ask me how many she is showing me I wouldn’t know. We are as close to each other as two people can be but one can never be sure how much you do and do not know about another person.

“I’ve been married 35 years so I guess we know more about each other than a lot of couples do. But even we don’t know everything. Some couples I guess give up trying to know. They give in and their marriage ends in divorce due to lack of interest, or the other partner straying outside the marriage. But sometimes creative people get creative about their marriage and find ways to revitalise it.’

Did his accident change his relationship with his wife? ‘It made me appreciate how vulnerable we all are. For a while I became overly protective about my family, especially when they walked on the street.

graphic art: travelers hit turbulence, some people still believe the fairy tale of thanksgiving

travelers hit turbulence 

Teachers emphasize the Indians’ side 

Teacher Bill Morgan walks into his third-grade class wearing a black Pilgrim hat made of construction paper and begins snatching up pencils, backpacks and glue sticks from his pupils. He tells them the items now belong to him because he “discovered” them. The reaction is exactly what Morgan expects: The kids get angry and want their things back.

Morgan is among elementary school teachers who have ditched the traditional Thanksgiving lesson, in which children dress up like Indians and Pilgrims and act out a romanticized version of their first meetings.

He has replaced it with a more realistic look at the complex relationship between Indians and white settlers.

Morgan said he still wants his pupils at Cleveland Elementary School in San Francisco to celebrate Thanksgiving. But “what I am trying to portray is a different point of view.”

Others see Morgan and teachers like him as too extreme.

“I think that is very sad,” said Janice Shaw Crouse, a former college dean and public high school teacher and now a spokeswoman for Concerned Women for America, a conservative organization. “He is teaching his students to hate their country. That is a very distorted view of history, a distorted view of Thanksgiving.”M’s

Crouse continues the Conservative tradition of denial. The nice white Christian Europeans universally treated native Americans with dignity and respect, the Holocaust either didn’t happen or wasn’t as bad as liberals say it was, the victims of Katrina are actually better off now and on and on. Her view of Thanksgiving is pure utter delusion. The Story of “Thanksgiving” – From chapter 17 of the book Where White Men Fear to Tread, by Russell Means

“When we met with the Wampanoag people, they told us that in researching the history of Thanksgiving, they had confirmed the oral history passed down through their generations. Most Americans know that Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoag had welcomed the so-called Pilgrim Fathers – and the seldom mentioned Pilgrim Mothers – to the shores where his people had lived for millennia. The Wampanoag taught the European colonists how to live in our hemisphere by showing them what wild foods they could gather, how, where, and what crops to plant, and how to harvest, dry, and preserve them.

The Wampanoag now wanted to remind white America of what had happened after Massasoit’s death. He was succeeded by his son, Metacomet, whom the colonist called “King” Philip. In 1617-1676, to show “gratitude” for what Massasoit’s people had done for their fathers and grandfathers, the Pilgrims manufactured an incident as a pretext to justify disarming the Wampanoags. The whites went after the Wampanoag with guns, swords, cannons, and torches. Most, including Metacomet, were butchered. His wife and son were sold into slavery in the West Indies. His body was hideously drawn and quartered. For twenty-five years afterward Matacomet’s skull was displayed on a pike above the whites’ village. The real legacy of the Pilgrim Fathers is treachery.

Americans today believe that Thanksgiving celebrates a bountiful harvest, but that is not so. By 1970, the Wampanoag had turned up a copy of a Thanksgiving proclamation made by the governor to the colony. The text revealed the ugly truth: After a colonial militia had returned from murdering the men, women, and children of an Indian village, the governor proclaimed a holiday and feast to give thanks for the massacre. He also encouraged other colonies to do likewise – in other words, every autumn after the crops are in, go kill Indians and celebrate your murders with a feast.

In November 1970, their decendants returned to Plymouth to publisize the true story of Thanksgiving and, along with about two hundred other Indians from around the country, to observe a national day of Indian mourning.”

moeraki boulders wallpaper, desktopography, then the buzzards came

moeraki boulders wallpaper 

While you can’t say that my taste in photos and graphic art isn’t eclectic I wouldn’t say that what I post is as consistantly edgy as the art desktops at Desktopography. You’ll need some patience for the page to load on a slow connection. Mosy have a nature theme, but it is not your ordinary take on the natural world. Then there is the added bonus of links to the artist’s web site(if they have one) where you can find more of what you like.

Childe Buzzard to the Dark Tower Came 

You see, our cell-phone tower is now the permanent nighttime home of over a hundred black-headed buzzards. Big, ugly buzzards. The kind you see playing tug-of-war with whole deer carcasses.

Small, but interesting photo at the link. Usually once a year I’ll get a small flock of turkey buzzards passing through. Though they’re easily scared away they will stare at you in a way that other birds don’t. A comment in defense of nature’s cleaning crew here.