Posts Tagged ‘archaeology’

A Quiet Sunday Post

April 13, 2014

{Much has been in transition here at Elwood Manor: a job change, obligatory after-work coursework of an unhelpful nature, various demands on my limited resources and some general readjustments. These have conspired to limit my inane stream of posts, but I’ve caught up on things (for now at least), so here’s a meager offering of tidbits I’ve found interesting of late}.

Slate’s feature on Your Inner Fish looks at why religious nutjobs Creationists hate the Tiktaalik. This Devonian example of tetrapod evolution had both lungs and gills, could probably do push-ups and had a face only a mother tiktaalik could love.  Is it because it’s a prime example of an organism transitioning between life in the water and life on land, or that it was discovered pretty much where geology and evolutionary theory predicted it would be that pisses them off so?

In other news of the backward, they’re still trying to overturn the consensus that the Earth orbits the Sun. You can’t make this stuff up… which is what makes a parody like this one so damned cutting! It only hurts because it comes out of Kansas!

Lots of sturm und drang over a scrap of ancient papyrus in which there is discussion of Jesus’ wife. My reading of the fragments makes it sound more like a hypothetical discussion, for what it’s worth, though I seem to remember Sunday School discussions indicating that Jesus wouldn’t have been called ‘rabbi’ (teacher) unless he was married. So He could walk on water, but marriage is a bridge too far for some? Given the Paulian attitude toward women (and sex in general), it’s amazing that this religion found any foothold at all.

Of course you don’t have to be a backwoods snake-handler to screw with science, as Greg Schiller can attest. He’s the science teacher at LA’s Cortines School of Visual & Performing Arts who was suspended in February because some idiot thought two of his students’ science projects looked “dangerous”. Maybe it’s only a coincidence that Greg Schiller is also the teachers union representative at the school and had been dealing with disagreements with administrators over updating the employment agreement under which the faculty works? Parents and students are rallying around Mr. Schiller. Let’s hope they can overcome the LA school system’s apparent stupidity and/or duplicity.

The Heartbleed bug in OpenSSL is one of the really big software DOH!s in recent memory. XKCD gave the best quick explanation out there. has a long-form exploration.   Bloomberg reports that the NSA had exploited the bug for years, but the NSA denies it (predictably). We all know that the NSA never lies and is always right, right?



Painting a Rosier Picture

October 15, 2013

A study of hand prints on cave walls suggests much of Paleolithic cave art was created by women, a Penn State archaeologist says.

The Ancient Paths: Discovering the Lost Map of Celtic Europe is an enthralling new history that argues that Druids created a sophisticated ancient society to rival the Romans.

Just over a thousand years ago, someone sealed up a chamber in a cave outside the oasis town of Dunhuang, on the edge of the Gobi Desert in western China. The chamber was filled with more than five hundred cubic feet of bundled manuscripts. Discovered in 1900, the manuscripts are now being carefully digitized… because that’s what we do with old manuscripts.

Today viral jokes spread by email, Twitter, or blogs. But in 1910, jokes went viral by telegraph.

A loving look back on the age of airships from The Atlantic.

Is the term “dickhead” more endocentric than exocentricOne linguist’s opinion.

There’s always fun reading at The Poison Review! Take, for instance, “Is that a jellyfish on your leg or are you just glad to see me?  Priapism and Irukandji Syndrome“.

Get ready for the new, improved botulinum H!

Swiss radiation experts have confirmed they found traces of polonium on clothing used by Yasser Arafat which ‘support the possibility’ the veteran Palestinian leader was poisoned.

Not winning! New WaPo/ABC Poll: 74% of Americans Disapprove of GOP Shutdown Craziness.

False equivalence: how ‘balance’ makes the media dangerously dumb. We’ve seen it in climate change reporting; we see it in shutdown coverage.

On letters from climate-change deniers” carefully explains the Los Angeles Times’ decision to not print letters to the editor that dispute global warming: “it’s asserting a factual inaccuracy”.

Aorta-gate! Senator Jim Inhofe falls prey to liberal Hollywood “Theory of Circulation” hoax, gets bypass surgery from Illuminati “doctors”!

Veterans Slam Tea Party Politicians For Hijacking Protest Against War Memorial Closures“. Apparently, failed teabag-rats will even turn on veterans when they need a publicity fix.

Shocking terrorist attack on GOP office! These evildoers will stop at nothing!

It’s a Wonderful World

August 27, 2013

The Onion called it in 2008: Sources Warn Miley Cyrus Will Be Depleted by 2013

Schizophrenia just ain’t what it used to be. ‘For an illness that is often characterized as a break with reality, psychosis keeps remarkably up to date.’

“…There is no Cause of Fear, tho’ possibly there may be of Laughter”: How 3 street drugs got their start

“Running of the Bulls” meets “Crashing of the Drones” in Virginia. Only 5 were injured, none of whom were insurgents prior to the event

TooMuchCoffeeMan: “Would you rather work retail or..?“. Wheeler is also selling the original artwork for his “McDonald’s Hot Coffee Lawsuit” strip (which is well worth a read)

Terror of the Tokoloshe: The Untold Story of Southern Africa’s Hairy Invisible Ghost Rapist

Beach looks at “Pre-Viking Vikings in the Faroes

Nick Redfern presents an argument against “Flying Triangle” UFOs being mere top-secret aircraft

Missile silo homes are okay I guess, but houses in water towers have better light

Obesity: it’s not just for humans any more. Both wild and domestic animals are putting on the pounds

In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Inca Empire was the largest South America had ever known. Rich in foodstuffs, textiles, gold, and coca, the Inca were masters of city building but nevertheless had no money. In fact, they had no marketplaces at all

Roman-era nano-tech that starts out green, turns red

More colorful nano-tech: Peter Dinklage hula-hooping in a gay bar in Canada

All that Syria stuff-

The Supervillain Syndrome: why dictators like Assad just can’t quit while they’re ahead.

Syria strike due in days, West tells opposition – sources

Brown Moses shows how open-source photo interpretation works in “Finding The Exact Location Of An Alleged Chemical Munition, And What It Could Mean

RogueAdventurer Blog has analysis of the delivery systems photographed at the scene of the crimes in Syria.

Planning is everything: “Required Sorties and Weapons to Degrade Syrian Air Force Excluding Integrated Air Defense System (IADS)”, an analysis by Christopher Harmer, Senior Naval Analyst, Institute for the Study of War (31 July 2013). The author has stated elsewhere that punitive strikes that don’t advance policy are “stupid

Mapped: 34 Places In Syria Likely to Get Hit With a U.S. Cruise Missile. Call them ‘neighborhoods in transition’.

Science, security and secrecy

August 9, 2013

In 1974, President Richard Nixon announced his resignation, effective the next day, following damaging new revelations in the Watergate scandal… and the world was a brighter place.

Following the shutdown of Lavabit (alleged to have been Edward Snowden’s secure email provider), Silent Circle has preemptively ended their secure email service as well, citing the lack of security inherent in all ‘store-and-forward’ email protocols. The general upshot is that all U.S. based ISPs are under the thumb of a surveillance police-state, with no ethical way to claim that your communications are secure.

New reconstructions of ancient proteins have provided clues to the habitat and origins of life on Earth. The resurrected protein, a version of the protein thioredoxin, is thought to have existed almost four billion years ago in single-celled organisms linked to the earliest ancestor of all life. The ancient thioredoxin survived temperatures of more than 110 C, as well as being stable in acidic environments.

Bloody typical: of course the new Mars Explorer Barbie wears pink space boots.

U.S. researchers reported on Thursday that an experimental malaria vaccine proved highly effective in a small, early-stage clinical trial in people. The vaccine tested is delivered intravenously and not through injections, which could be impractical for use in a widespread vaccination program, but it’s a HUGE step forward.

WiredThe Most Bonkers Scientific Theories (Almost) Nobody Believes Anymore.

It’s not ready for the next Terminator movie yet, but it’s pretty danged neato anyway: a Gauss machine-gun!

Narconon Arrowhead in  McAlester OK has lost state certification. After four deaths and several lawsuits I should certainly hope so!

Actress and recent Scientology refugee Leah Remini has filed a missing-person report for Scientology leader David Miscavige’s wife, who has not been seen in public in six years. Maybe she’s just working in the No-See Org?

Death from above, below and within

August 7, 2013

The meteorite that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February may have been a member of a gang of asteroids that still poses a threat to Earth, a new study says. The evidence is circumstantial, but future observations could help to settle the question.

For centuries, people have reported hearing a sound made by meteors as they streaked across the skies overhead, but that’s not as crazy as it might sound!

How the USAF keeps tabs on space junk.

In 2012, wind energy became the number one source of new U.S. electricity generation capacity for the first time – representing 43 percent of all new electric additions and accounting for $25 billion in U.S. investment, according to a Department of Energy report released this morning.

Hello, old friend! Bottlenose dolphins can remember their friends after 20 years apart, study says. Each dolphin has a unique whistle that functions like a name, allowing the marine mammals to keep close social bonds.

Robert Krulwich on dinosaur sex. ‘Nuff said.

Wil Wheaton is more than a little ticked off at The Discovery Channel over their utterly bogus “Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives” crockumentary. What’s next, Discovery Channel,  “Megalodonado? 

Jonathan Yoder, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gives us the rundown on what we do and don’t know about brain-eating amoebas.

Free energy, cancer cures and breakthrough technologies: where did all those amazing discoveries go?

Here’s 15 things everyone would know if “the media” was “liberal”. How many of these facts have you heard lately? You’ve heard more about the royal baby, right?

Robert Reich thinks he knows three reasons the GOP wants to keep unemployment high…besides them just being bad people.

Atlantis, Vikings, Nazis and HAARP!

July 20, 2013

Behold the Ellora Caves in the Indian state of Maharashtra: a official UNESCO World Heritage Site that consists of 12 Buddhist, 17 Hindu and 5 Jain temples and monasteries carved right out of the the vertical face of the Charanandri hills between the 6th and 10th century.

The YouToobs has the Nova episode, “The Secret of the Viking Sword”, in which an anomalously good grade of steel was used to make the finest Viking swords… but only for about 150 years, then the secret was lost. And there were crap knock-offs, too! Another article on the Ulfberht swords.

Apparently the Vikings were into importing brides from North America to Iceland, as revealed by mDNA studies. How do you say “I wish they all could be Beothuk girls!” in Norse?

The obligatory Viking kittens link.

An newspaper advert from 1800 in which a wife reports a husband to be missing, and hopes he will stay that way.

Another historical note: if the preacher drowns the guy ahead of you in the baptism line, you might suddenly remember a previous engagement. Does the baptism count if you don’t survive it?

Nazi ideologues had a particular weakness for Atlantis. Hollywood moguls had a particular weakness for Nazis.

Nothing but respect from Dr. Gonzo in his obituary for Tricky Dicky:

“Nixon had the unique ability to make his enemies seem honorable, and we developed a keen sense of fraternity. Some of my best friends have hated Nixon all their lives. My mother hates Nixon, my son hates Nixon, I hate Nixon, and this hatred has brought us together”.

There goes the youth vote! Virginia’s teabagger Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli really wants to make oral sex illegal.

Creepy parent tricks, episode 6000: “I Measure Every Single Thing My Child Does. And I track it on spreadsheets. Really—every single thing. Even every poop. And it makes me a better parent”. Just keep telling yourself that while you enjoy that nice nursing home in Somalia your kids picked out for you.

Do you ever wonder what astronauts talk about in space? Here, Apollo 10 astronauts debate the provenance of a turd found floating in their capsule.

The Air Force’s total fuel bill in 2012 topped $9 billion (with-a-B), so they’re taking a cue from geese and testing “vortex surfing”.  If that doesn’t work they’ll just start flying Priuses covered in feathers.

Study shows direct link between outgoing personalities and a love of spicy foods. Hmmm, that would make me the most dynamic person in the tri-county area, if true. Maybe I should leave the basement more often.

“Why BMW Drivers Are Jerks to Cyclists”. I endorse theories #1 and #4. I’m not sure they should even be separate theories.

As yummy as they may look in cross-section, you really shouldn’t eat golf balls. Unless you a jerk that drives a BMW, in which case you should have ‘seconds’, too.

Even the Illuminati has to pay its bills: HAARP (the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) shut down in early May 2013 due to lack of funds. I guess the wackosphere didn’t get the press release. (My confidential sources say HAARP was secretly replaced by LAARP, it’s the perfect cover!)

House Republicans reject a proposal to ban gun sales to – wait for it – suspected terrorists! Because terrorists stick together in the melting pot that is our great nation!

Magick and Rocketry (that covers everything!)

July 18, 2013

When the history of the American space program is finally written, no figure will stand out quite like John Whiteside Parsons. He became a vital link in two mighty chains in human history: rocketry and ritual magic. His science was built on intuition, and his magic on experiment. An acolyte of Aleister Crowley, an employee of Howard Hughes, a victim of L. Ron Hubbard, and an enthusiastic phone buddy to Wernher Von Braun, he was an unorthodox genius, poet, rocket scientist, devotee of the black arts, sci-fi junkie and the host of epic orgies on Pasadena’s stately Millionaires’ Row. In other words… a perfect role model!

More news on the Skylon space plane – UK Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts confirms the government’s £60m investment in Reaction Engines Ltd.

No mention of rockets is complete without a look at the history of jetpacks, rocket belts and other creative ways to achieve total immolation! Sing along, now: “I want to live a life of danger, I want to fly a ‘Space Ranger’!”.

“Have you heard the good news?”. This may be the fastest way to clear a Border Patrol checkpoint, ever!

Good news, everyone! For the first time since Moses chatted up the burning bush, Orthodox Jews can buy sexual lubricants that have been declared kosher.

A conservative Christian political consulting firm nearly gifted Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minn) with a vibrator. In hopes of helping with her migraines, CEO of Strategy Group for Media, Rex Elsass, intended to purchase an electronic head massager for the conservative congresswoman. He sent an employee off to buy the device, but the employee purchased something a bit different and mailed it to Bachmann. Sources familiar with the incident said that the Christian group intercepted the gift before Bachmann was able to open it.

Beach says the best guess on the end of Roman Britain is the same as it was a generation or a century ago: it was nasty, brutal and quick. “Think a very fat man, sitting down hard on a sack full of kittens”.

A woman describes her horror at having flesh eating maggots burrowing inside her head. Don’t jump to conclusions, this isn’t about Michele Bachmann this time!

A Mountie shot his wife dead after she attacked him with a knife because he welshed on a bet to have sex with her after losing a game on the Wii. Whos says Canadians are boring, eh?

Thank goodness for Ted “I shit myself to dodge the draft” Nugent, he’s found the solution to racism forever! No, I shouldn’t rephrase that, because blaming the victim always works.

Tavis Smiley: I’m waiting to hear the NRA say if Trayvon Martin had a gun, he might still be alive. Ouch!

And here’s the first photo of the Zimmerman jury:


In bonobos, attractive females are more likely to win conflicts against males. Sorry, Paula!

Tested at the Orwell Federal Penitentiary? Brain scans of inmates turn up possible link to risks of re-offending.

Graphene makes optical switches that are one hundred times faster.

Catholic priests vs. The Boy Scouts of America: a fight these guys really want to pick?

On March 21, 1976, David Bowie was on his “Isolar” trek around America (aka “The Thin White Duke tour”) and “Golden Years” was high on the US pop singles charts. But when the tour pulled into Rochester, NY for a concert at the War Memorial Arena his golden years could have been derailed when the singer and Iggy Pop were arrested on marijuana charges for an impressive amount of herb, about half a pound. Dangerous Minds has the rest of the story and the most elegant mugshot ever.

Are you paranoid enough?

July 17, 2013

Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Conversation” (1974) is becoming especially poignant of late. Lumber Liquidators should sponsor regular showings. Ohlook, and adolescent ‘Han Solo’ even!

Good news everyone! Remember how hard the Government Surveillance types fought to keep their ‘Stingray’ faux-cell tower spoofing secret? Well, the same thing can be done at home with cellular network extenders (AKA ‘cell phone boosters’, ‘femtocells’, et al).  Researchers at iSEC Partners will be presenting their findings at DefCon this year, which will hopefully mean that the technique will be rendered obsolete quickly. “You should assume that everything you’re saying is being intercepted,” said Doug DePerry, one of the company’s senior consultants. “That is a bit of a defeatist opinion, but sometimes that has to be the way it is.”

Evening! A man with a gun wants to ask you some questions. You’ve got nothing to hide, right?

San Francisco news station KTVU is facing some deserved mocking today after reporting that the pilots on Asiana’s disastrous flight 214 were named Captain Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk, and Bang Ding Ow. KTVU issued an apology and claimed those were the names given to them by the National Transportation Safety Board, where presumably other 13-year-olds are employed.

That anti-vaccination nutjob, Jenny McCarthy, will reportedly be  joining The View in September. Let’s give her a wider audience and see how many more kids die of preventable diseases, why don’t we, ABC? Here’s a petition to protest their disastrous hiring decision.

Elon Musk wants to revolutionize transportation. Again. The serial entrepreneur envisions a future where mag-lev trains in enormous pneumatic tubes whisk us from Los Angeles to New York in 45 minutes. Need to be in Beijing tomorrow? No problem. It’s a two-hour ride away.

The Navy is one step closer to adding a futuristic electromagnetic rail gun to it’s arsenal. Control of the high seas may soon go to the side that can generate the most energy.

Archaeologists working in Scotland have uncovered what they believe is the world’s oldest lunar ‘calendar’ (so far discovered), created some 10,000 years ago – 5000 years earlier than the first calendars of the ‘cradle of civilisation’ in the ancient Near East.

The masochism tango: Why do we love scary stories? Matt Kaplan looks at the science behind monsters old and new, and our perverse love of a good fright.

“What happens on Vega stays on Vega”: former NBA star Baron Davis claims he was abducted by aliens while driving from Las Vegas to L.A.

Here’s a historical Victorian UFO tale from a Harrogate newspaper.

There are many dying languages in the world, but at least one has recently been born, created by children living in a remote village in northern Australia. Warlpiri rampaku is spoken only by people under 35 in Lajamanu, an isolated village of about 700 people in Australia’s Northern Territory. In all, about 350 people speak the language as their native tongue.

The quest is to clone a mammoth. The question is: should we do it? After the dramatic display of a frozen carcass in Japan, the ethics of reviving an extinct species are under intense scrutiny.

This handmade gymnast robot can perform a quadruple backflip from the horizontal bar. It still only gets a ‘4’ from the Russian judge.

A Brazilian man has died after a cow fell on him through his roof as he was lying in bed.

Distractify has put together a compilation of the “funniest movie death scenes ever”, including a particularly amusing one with Arnold Schwarzenegger

#^^$&%, not Monday again!

June 10, 2013

Edward Snowden, American hero of conscience. The 29-year-old source behind the biggest intelligence leak in the NSA’s history explains his motives, his uncertain future and why he never intended on hiding in the shadows.

“My fellow Americans: I just wanted to see if you have any self-respect left“, explains the president.

Surveillance video shows a thief approaching a locked SUV in a driveway, carrying a small device in the palm of his hand: he aims it at the car and pops the locks electronically. He’s in, with access to everything. (I know many RKE systems are based on Microchip’s rolling code system, does anyone have more info on this exploit? I’d like to learn more about this).

“Tax the wealthy and corporations – as we once did in this country – and invest that money in the middle class-as we once did in this country.” Nick Hanauer warned Congress that rich people like him aren’t the engines of the economy. In testimony before the Senate Banking Committee he explained why, in fact, middle-class workers are the economy’s real job creators.

Standing With Stones is a fantastic documentary on the megaliths of Great Britain and Ireland, filmed over the course of a two year tour of the monuments. Get to know your stones, man, and hit the donate button to help the filmmakers out a bit.

Ok, now Zahi Hawass, former supreme ruler of Egypt’s antiquities, has had a conversion experience, and now believes that the robot-discovered “Gantenbrink doors” may hold the key to finding Cheop’s treasures after all.

The first quarter of 2013 brought the biggest quarterly decline in U.S. hourly wages since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started keeping track in 1947.

The Care of Books, by John Willis Clark, 1901, lists several interesting curses written into books to deter their theft.

If I did this I’d get arrested. A Spanish town has come up with an ingenious way to keep its streets clean of dog mess – by sending the offending deposits back to the owners in an official box marked ‘Lost Property’.

Send Moore some love. Sen. Coburn, not so much.

May 21, 2013

The city of Moore, OK is the site of incredible loss of life and destruction after a mile-wide tornado tore a swath through the town yesterday. Many casualties were children in a school that was demolished by the F-4 tornado. Donations are being accepted by the Red Cross, Salvation Army and others. Give till it hurts, people. They need it.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Total Ass-Clown), one of the 36 Republican senators who voted against disaster funding for Superstorm Sandy in January, has already said he would “absolutely” insist on cuts from other areas of the federal budget to offset  federal disaster aid for Oklahoma. I would humbly suggest, just to inject a bit of humanity into the discussion, we start by eliminating Sen. Coburn’s salary, auction off both his kidneys and sell what’s left to the pet-food industry.

More pre-Columbian transoceanic travellers? The largest ever genetic study of native South Americans concluded that Asian genes had been introduced into South America sometime after 6,000 years ago — the same time the Jomon culture was flourishing in Japan.

Need some innovative “green” power? Well, you can build a massive tower, or just go fly a kite.

The Secular Coalition for America on Monday dubbed Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller “the most unethical news publication,” after receiving what it described as “discriminatory and unethical emails” from an employee. The emails in question were sent by Christopher Bedford, a conservative columnist and editor, who appears to be a major skidmark in the shorts of American journalism.

You are entitled to believe what you will, but your beliefs must be subject to criticism and scrutiny just like mine

Thanks for this, IO9: polling organization Gallup has just released some fascinating statistics on how Americans ideas about immorality have changed over the past twelve years. Hmm, Sen. Coburn didn’t make the list?