« Yet Another Election Day | Main | Veterans' Day: "Your Buddy misses you" »

November 08, 2013


Dear Obsidians, sorry to not post here for such a long time and then come in with some shameless self-promotion; such is life when you self-publish. I have a new book of poetry online, "Analogies for Time", available either on Kindle for a couple bucks or in pdf format for free. Meredith Sue Willis gave it a very flattering review which has links to the text. I'd be honored if you take a look.

I heard a lecture last year that the Babylonians too had a fully developed musical notation that preceeds the earliest known Greek one. A few tunes have been deciphered.

Thanks for posting that, I hadn't seem that.

Discoveries like this are amazing, and it serves as a constant reminder both how much has been lost to history and how much can still be recovered.

It made me think of my personal favorite historical mystery:


These "revelations" are hardly new. The BBC article is relying on material that was being analyzed and discussed in the quiet backwater of Classics 20 years and more ago. There was even a recording of the very brief fragment of the Orestes'music making the rounds.

I took a class on ancient Greek music (I was the lone interloper from the school of music into the classics department) at Texas about 6 or so years ago.

As far as I know, this is not a new discovery -- as NickT points out -- but it is pretty cool. Of course, our tuning system being what it is, we're not always well equipped to hear exactly what was meant. But we can get pretty close.

Well, BBC article is a lot easier to link to that an article in Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik (example chosen for maximum irony) Perhaps I should link to those things, but I generally take my cue for these posts as things that are or perhaps soon will be, in the 'mass' media. And, for some values of 'new', 'within the last 30 years' is cutting edge. As always, guest posts are welcome!

My first attempt at this post started out with an observation about how the reconstruction of Indo-European was, imho, one of the most amazing feats of the academy and going on to note that current scholarship is, by comparing epic poetry from several different cultures/languages, they are getting at being able to reconstruct the _syntax_ of Indo-European. But I worried that I might put y'all to sleep...

A mixolydian!

Yeah, well just wait 'till they get all the manuscripts together, converted to modern musical notation and the lyrics translated....

...and discover that it's "Stairway to Heaven".

Congratulations, Modesto!

Well, there is a sacred Greek chant that, if performed properly, will lead to all men in the audience cutting off their private parts. Be grateful that the tune has not yet been fully restored (unless you're into emasculation).
It's also highly debatable, whether we should wish for a maenad song score to be discovered (unless you are into getting creatively torn apart by frenzied females, esp. from your own family).


According to the NYT by way of Balloon Juice, the one word understood by everyone across languages and cultures is "Huh?"

Just be careful when you use 'Arghh!'. Although it is known everywhere, the meaning can be radically different in different places.

I thought "Arghh" was an invented word from Snoopy cartoons. My family used it to indicate humorous frustration.

I love the "Huh?" I picture a Gary Larson cartoon of people the world over looking puzzled and asking, "Huh?"

My first attempt at this post started out with an observation about how the reconstruction of Indo-European was, imho, one of the most amazing feats of the academy and going on to note that current scholarship is, by comparing epic poetry from several different cultures/languages, they are getting at being able to reconstruct the _syntax_ of Indo-European. But I worried that I might put y'all to sleep...

Not me. I love that sort of thing. I mean, not enough to seriously study it, but I sure as hell like reading and hearing about it.


This is horrific.

I experienced more than several big typhoons in the Philippines 35 years ago -- stranded on smaller islands for days with little food -- walking from the bus stop in Manila into the lobby of the building where I worked in water up to my chest, sitting at my desk all day dripping wet and then spending hours in the evening getting back to my place several kilometers away, every San Miguel beer garden under water along the way --- spent a couple of days in Tacloban City once --- even two million dollar sets constructed for "Apocalypse Now" swept away before they could be used, like a pile of leaves in a stiff breeze.

The volcano eruptions that wiped out Clark Air Force Base a couple of decades ago (not there for that) were bad too.

But this.....

So, LJ, where is the link to the Indo-European stuff. No fair teasing us like that and then leaving us hanging!

I'll try and write a post next week (which possibly equals 'real soon now')

Somebody got lost in a storm...


In Texas, where you speak inside the restaurant and there are vermin in the parking lot waiting to kill you for speaking.

That's the Republican Party.

How come Governor Perry didn't show up to shoot these vermin coyote with the weapons in the parking lot?

What, his imaginary poodle with the big dick wasn't threatened?

Too bad Kennedy's motorcade didn't pass through that parking lot so the vermin Republican filth could get another shot at him.

I agree with pretty much everything the Count has said in his 10:20 pm comment except for the insinuation that Kennedy was assassinated by a Republican.

But there may be some juicy blackhelicopterness behind that that bears looking into.

Count, has it occurred to you that, if Governor Perry had showed up, he would like as not have been one of the vermin in the parking lot?


But two points. Perry's a coward. And second, those armed folks weren't up to his sartorial magnificence and thus must be demagogued from a discrete distance.

We are cautioned by many conservatives that we must be on the alert at all times for violence against our persons and therefore weapons must be carried and used in the event of trouble in, oh, movie theaters, churches, elementary schools, or in any old public place, where ever it is folks seem to be fond lately of packing heat in a suspicious manner, so I see no reason not to extend that rule to restaurant parking lots because let me tell you, if I'm going to my car after a meal and a discussion about gun control and I see a bunch of folks congregating in the parking lot looking at me while holding weapons with their business ends vaguely pointed in my direction, they'd better shoot me, otherwise they will be in a fight with any items I can find at hand to hurt them, including their toys which I will grab out of their hands and use on them.

If it's Ted Nugent, I'm not above snatching his guitar out of his hands and catching him on the underside of the chin with the edge of a Stratocaster and leaving pickup marks for his wife to soothe.

Yes sirree boy! You threaten me with multiple weapons in the parking lot of a Mexican restaurant and you're gonna have one of them Mexican standoffs on your hands.

There will of course be some tucking and rolling and radioing for backup on my part in all of this mayhem.

I see a bunch of white trash eying me while fondling firearms and I gonna feel like I'm in a bad part of town, on the wrong side of the tracks, you know what I mean, those places some conservatives tell us we've got to watch out for.

We got to be ready. We got to take them down before they hurt us.

If that's the way they want it to be in this country, I can play by those rules.

As to who shot Kennedy, based upon generally accepted assassination accounting, it was probably Oswald, but I have a crackpot (no helicopters involved) theory about the invisible force of ambient hate in the atmosphere and its gravitational effect on trigger fingers in a heavily armed populace and it seems Oswald merely got there first while plenty of others of the John Birch persuasion, particularly in Texas (no offense to my Texan friends) and the National Security State of the time, ended up being bridesmaids in the hunt, though it remains hard to believe he acted alone.

The bridesmaids celebrated afterwards and put the Kennedy wanted posters in a drawer for posterity.

Their grand kids hang out in parking lots threatening unarmed women. That's what I call atmosphere.

A kind of roiling ambience thick with threat.

Getting ready for Barack Hussein Obama to visit, I spose, even though Ted Cruz has warned him off from crossing the border from Kenya and visiting Texas.

Seems to me Kennedy was warned too.

The dream of some grows closer:


I prefer origami guns, but ....

I'd advise restaurants in Texas and a few other states to have in-house 3-D gun printing facilities available (perhaps a station by the salad bar) for their customers in case the latter peer out the windows and see conservative Republican yahoos gathered in the parking lot bristling with firepower.

That way, when your done discussing gun control over drinks, you can come out guns-a-blazing, because who wants to put up with a passel of pistol-toting pukes yelling "Alright, put down yer doggie-bags and tell us what it was you was talking about over yer chimichangas. And consider yer words carefully, cause we could see yer lips moving thru the window, ladies, so watch how you 'splain yerselves."

Just shoot as many of them possible.

Debate over.

That happens enough times and we'll be well on our way to getting the weapons off the streets and back in the closets of these yahoos for their kids to find and blow their brains out and leave the rest of us alone.

In 1967 these yahoos sang a different tune when the folks engaged in open carry were black.

Y'all be careful out there now:


Yes, bobbyp, one wonders what the crowd of geniuses in the restaurant parking lot would have done if the Ghost of Fred Hampton had stepped out for a smoke.

Back to musical notes, I watched Werner Herzog's documentary "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" (the Chauvet Cave in southern France with magnificent neolithic cave paintings) today and along the way they spoke of flutes found in nearby caves fashioned from ivory or the bones of birds in which the flute stop/holes were precisely on the pentatonic scale, which is not quite as interesting as lj's example, but still ...

They demonstrated an atlatl spear-chucker thingy too, which was used against neighboring cave-dwellers who wouldn't stop playing their flutes after curfew.

Shad up with that racket, ya moonbeams!

I'm playing the flute for cripes sake.

One more toot and I'll see you in the parking lot!

Not much has changed.


Not all 3D printers are alike. This particular one uses a laser powerful enough to locally melt metal particles together, and is unlikely to be the kind of thing just any person can cheaply and easily lay their hands on.

But "printed guns" sounds cool, so it's news.

My company has been using that technology to make single metal prototypes that have something like 90% of the strength of a forging, without the setup cost of having to forge one. This kind of thing is, I think, industry-wide. It's just not really used to make handguns because it's (guessing, here) faster and cheaper to forge them in mass production.

Those flutes I mention were 30,000 to 40,000 years old.

3-D flutes.

Maybe more than 40,000.

Making music, and the technology associated with making music, is one of the most ancient things humans do.

Speech is older, control of fire is older.

Agriculture, written language, the wheel, all are much much younger.

Music is an essential aspect of human life. It's a thing that humans fundamentally do.

I didn't know champagne had been invented back then.

Those flutes may have actually been reed instruments(the reed naturally not surviving). It makes it both easier to play and much, much louder. By easing or tightening the string holding the reed in place it can also be tuned.

you speak inside the restaurant and there are vermin in the parking lot waiting to kill you for speaking.

Maybe I'm confused.

I look at the picture here, and I note this comment from a spokesperson from the police department:

"As long as the weapon is not carried in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm, it is legal," Richard said.

Somebody has to explain to me what exactly the bar is for "calculated to alarm".

I hate bullies.

'Somebody has to explain to me what exactly the bar is for "calculated to alarm".'

In "The Andy Griffith Show" years ago, Gomer Pyle, serving an ill-advised stint as a deputy (Barney's doing) had to be admonished ("and Gome, take that gun outta your mouth") by Andy for absent-mindedly placing the end of a rifle that the bullets dribble out of into his mouth as he scrunched his face up and half-listened to some instructions on law enforcement.

So, that's one explanation, though I don't think too many of the carpet-munchers in the photo would find such behavior out of place.

Apparently, congregating in a restaurant parking lot with armaments pointed every which way while in a formation vaguely reminiscent of a Revolutionary or Civil War battlefield scene (couple of rows of standing riflemen with some kneeling sharpshooters in the front, and that one guy (?) bringing up the very rear who looks as though he's not quite sure of the whole scene and is maybe thinking some quick ducking might be in order in case the ladies emerging from the restaurant might have derringers holstered in their panty hose.

In an article accompanying that photo, I read that the restaurant manager didn't call the cops because he was afraid of causing a riot, so someone was intimidated.

Now, if those yahoos with the firepower had been black or vaguely immigrant-looking, or maybe were holding a placard claiming to be the Sons of The SDS, you can bet the police would be showing up like Buford T. Justice, tires a-squealin and police vehicles fish-tailin for blocks around.

If these hopeless romantics had instead stayed at home and had a few too many and then gone to bed, we wouldn't be talking about this, but on the other hand I expect the wife or girlfriend or a teenage child tippy-toeing in after curfew would be met a hail of gunfire from a bleary-eyed patriot, which seems to happen daily across the country.

But, heck, they were legally drunk so what's the problem?

Now, if I'd walked out of that restaurant to behold these winners, I would in fact walk right up to them and suggest in a manner not calculated to alarm, and as a display of First Amendment absolutism, that their toys might find their way up their assembled anal cavities unless they point those things toward the ground and step approximately 200 yards away from my car, because I wouldn't want my driving to be mistaken for a calculation to do harm.

Now, if I was armed myself, maybe I'm a jumpy type, maybe I've got reason to feel wary bout these here armed melissas. Maybe their calculations were miscalculated. Maybe I'm about to have a flashback to that firefight in Da Nang Province. Maybe I'm alarmed.

Maybe I'm going to behave just like an armed conservative hearing a noise outside in the shrubbery.

Maybe Jesus is on my side.

Maybe when everyone is armed to the teeth in public it's the split-second maybes in life that lead up to dead motherf*ckers in parking lots.

Sounds like the Texas cops in question would sort the mayhem out by finding my talking more threatening than 15 tough guys assembled for an armed conversation who have interrupted my digestion.

Maybe the Chief of Police, off-duty and with his family and Aunt Rose at a sit-down dinner at the local Chili's, toothpick sticking outta his surly mouth, wouldn't mind being greeted outside by a phalanx of jumpy armed liberals cracking wise about gun control.

I believe Texas should legalize public nudity, because I'd much rather have parking lots full of nude folks (we'll give a waiver to Bum Phillips and his kid so they can keep their pants on), plus it would go good with open carry of a carbine.

The bar, otherwise known as whatever anyone calculates makes a person a-sceared in the night:


But, 20 armed f*ckwads in a parking lot in Texas were apparently special Olympic high jumpers, according to police who refused to even take a report from the unarmed women in the restaurant, for whom the manager actually did end up calling police, despite another report that she had been afraid of causing a riot.

Now this:


Maybe I was gunned down for nothing!

It was the cameras that I calculated were alarming.

fair enough, the second picture, taken from the front, does not look like a particularly threatening crew.

they look like a high school target shooting club having their yearbook picture taken.

"Music is an essential aspect of human life. It's a thing that humans fundamentally do."

Thus why agriculture developed. To have enough barley for beer to go with the music.

Thus why agriculture developed. To have enough barley for beer to go with the music.

Darned agricultural surplus...agree with CWT.
Look what it got us...fun.

I think you're on to something there, charles.

More than 10,000 years ago, at the dawn of the Neolithic Period, the rise of agriculture changed the course of human history. There's evidence, however, that the first farmers' ancestors—members of the Natufian culture, which developed around 13,000 B.C. in the eastern Mediterranean region known as the Levant—sowed the seeds for the revolution by cultivating cereals on a modest scale. What made these hunter-gatherers start harvesting? They needed the extra grain to produce beer, according to a paper published last week in the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory.

Did Beer Spur the Rise of Agriculture and Politics?

We know an issue has gotten extremely serious when the Count (2:03 yesterday afternoon) is sounding rational rather than totally off the wall. Tat post sounds like something that any of the rest of us might have written on the issue.

Good to see that the he returns to form later. But kind of scary that something happened which was so insane as to force him to this.

Regarding my insinuation that 3-D atmospheric Republican hate (read John Birchers, read former Confederate Southern Democrats, read the right wing of the Republican that now pulls the strings in the Republican Party, read Ted Cruz and his father) was somehow solidified layer by layer into the bullets that shot Kennedy, there is this:


I could be wrong.

Maybe General Walker and company were merely enjoying an innocent photo-op at the time.

More on General Walker:


.... including his own alleged run-in with Lee Harvey Oswald.

As usual with an armed populace, all of the wrong people end up of getting shot, but somehow the aim of off when the deserved ones are in the sights.

The comments to this entry are closed.