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May 13, 2020


where's Ugh been?

In the ever-changing human DNA scape, I went from having more neanderthal variants than 94% of the other people with 23andMe accounts to having only more than 34%. But some of my cousins have maintained their previous high standing.

Even people who don't believe in ghosts (I am one) may find this article about the various hauntings at the British Museum interesting.


My recent despairing comparison of American civilisation's descent under Trump to Ozymandias found a strange echo in this extract, about one of my favourite things in the BM, the astounding Assyrian reliefs:

In the Assyrian gallery, I marvelled at the stone reliefs of Ashurnasirpal II, king of Assyria from 883BC to 859BC. His “standard inscription”, which he had carved across each wall panel in his palace, makes Shelley’s Ozymandias seem self-effacing. He refers to himself as “the king who acts with the support of the great gods, and whose hand has conquered all lands, who has subjugated all the mountains and received their tribute, taking hostages and establishing his power over all countries.” Today, his inscription hangs in a poky room more than 2,300 miles away from where it was carved in stone

Did Ashurnasirpal II allow mail-in voting?

So, we have 3000 years roughly until Trump declines into obscurity?

I'm sure the Martynasirpals of the good king's epoch reminded everyone from time to time that all of the king's opponents may not have been as hard to take as the king, but the alleged skeletons in THEIR closets just would not allow tender consciences to do what needed to be done.

Also recall that Ashurnasirpal II REDUCED tributes from the levels Ashurnasirpal I had maintained.

The bars stayed open when the plagues descended.

Locusts, schmocusts!

Besides, have you seen Genghis Khan' numbers? I mean, c'mon, Ashurnasirpal II is child's play.

Both sides, people, BOTH SIDES!*

I need to do more push-ups and cut out the day drinking if I'm to live to see the day.

*If you do that line with Jerry Seinfeld's beseeching delivery where his voice rises two registers at the end, it's better.


Maybe the human race, following Trump's and Musk's all-American lead, have collectively decided that bullshit is just more entertaining and interesting than the day-in day-out plain old boring minding-one's-own business truth.

The man-child that I am, this is what "Ozymandias" means to me (from Wikipedia):

Ozymandias made his first live-action appearance in the 2009 film Watchmen played by Matthew Goode. An older Adrian Veidt in the television series Watchmen on HBO, is played by Jeremy Irons.

Jeremy Irons is beyond fantastic in the role, btw.

hsh -- LOL.

When my kids were little, it was fun to see how many obscure historical and mythological references writers threw into books for even very small children -- references the kids would absolutely miss, and many adults as well. Including me -- I'm sure there was stuff I didn't pick up on, but of course I didn't pick up on it, so I don't know what it was. But having taken the educational path I did, and done a lot of reading about mythology for a while, I did pick up on some of the stuff. The fun thing was, since the readers weren't going to get it, the writers were obviously doing it for their own entertainment.

for me, Carmen is the music behind the musical version of Hamlet the Gilligan's Island crew did to impress the stranded movie producer, Harold Hecubah.

and of course, Kill Da Wabbit.

(and i still know all the words to that Hamlet musical)

Bed, Bath, and Beyond is merging with Beyond Meat.

There are synergies.

Virgin Galactic is merging with Impossible Foods.

Virgin Impossible.

Tesla is merging with Chanel to form the Musk Family of Companies.

Walt Disney is buying Rollins Corporation, the pest control company, to get ready for downsizing.


Over to you.

Poor Ginger, being ridiculed by Hecubah for her over-acting while trying to portray an Italian woman serving dinner. And Gilligan for having his "Hamlet - A Go-Go" suggestion shot down dismissively.

Virgin Impossible.

I'm just as amused by Galactic Foods. I don't even really know why, which makes it that much better.

Well, Galactic Foods exists


I also think it was the Jetsons groceries, but I could be wrong

The fun thing was, since the readers weren't going to get it, the writers were obviously doing it for their own entertainment.

Thanks to Looney Tunes, my friends and I would shout "Robespierre!!!" with no clue that the name had any historical significance whatsoever. It just sounded funny.

Impossible Virgins, maybe. Improbable, more likely.

Daffy Duck as the Scarlet Pumpernickel always got me, especially when he would run off into the far distance hooting hysterically and then return faster than fast downstage.

When I was a kid, when my mother would ask "Who do you think you are?", as if she didn't know, I would raise one declaiming finger and declare "Madame, I ... am the Scarlet Pumpernickel!" with plenty of blubbery spittle for emphasis on the name ...

.... and then harrumphingly adjust my tunic and exit stage left like Yogi the Bear, pausing for effect with the front foot cocked back in readiness for departure.

And then walk into a closet and make a racket of falling brooms and cleaning products.

She would ignore me and sneak out of the room.

Not much has changed.

Except that now I do these things alone with no audience.

It just sounded funny.

Bring me my Hasenpfeffer!

On Ozymandias, I may have assumed too much. The poem is a guaranteed inclusion on all school anthologies in the UK, along with Kubla Khan, partly no doubt because of its length. It's a useful metaphor for the inevitable comeuppance of all wannabe dictators; commentators made much of it for example when Saddam Hussein's statue was pulled down.

By the way, if anyone thinks my tendency to catastrophise got out of hand when I invoked the Ozymandias comparison, I plead guilty. As I said elsewhere, these are hard times.

The fun thing was, since the readers weren't going to get it, the writers were obviously doing it for their own entertainment.

I would be derelict in my duty to ObWi, if I didn't mention to anybody here who would be interested, and who doesn't already know it, the wonderful English history book 1066 And All That, which is subtitled A Memorable History of England, comprising all the parts you can remember, including 103 Good Things, 5 Bad Kings and 2 Genuine Dates. First published in Punch magazine, and then as a book in 1930, it is beloved by generations of students and teachers. The two genuine dates bit refers to the fact that the authors say it had to be a memorable history, and that although they originally included four dates they discovered that only two of them were actually memorable, the eponymous 1066 (Norman Conquest) and 55 BC (Julius Caesar invades Britain and demoralises the population by saying Veni, Vidi, Vici, which they hear as Weeny, weedy and weaky which accords with how Latin was pronounced in many 20th century schools). But the point about the brilliant 1066 is that although it is hysterical when you read it as a schoolkid, and know almost nothing, it gets funnier the more you know about English history, and the authors obviously had an absolute blast doing it. So it fits Janie's description perfectly.

When I was a lad in Iowa many years ago, my parents had a big book of Punch cartoons. The only one I remember now was a counter in the department store, a wall sign behind it reading "For the Man Who Has Everthing", a huge shapeless mass on the counter, and a woman looking doubtfully at the enthusiastic clerk who was telling her, "It's a bloody great bag to put it all in!"

I was reminded of that cartoon again the other day when I got an ad for a 16 TB hard disk drive.

Oh, thanks for the reminder about 1066 and All That. A friend gave it to me in college and I loved it, then lost track of it until I bought it as a gift for my son a few years ago. At that time I read the first few pages again and was rolling on the floor laughing. I'll have to borrow it back from him for a proper re-read in these dark times.

And if ever there was a better example of a very peculiarly British style of humor, I haven't run across it.

Yes, Punch cartoons of a certain vintage were famous. And, FWIW, I'd be amazed if 1066 And All That was not in a direct line of influence, including the Goons etc, to Monty Python. They must have all read it, all clever kids (and adults) did, and MP and the Holy Grail definitely shows its footprints.

Janie, I'm so glad!

We had a book that was a Punch annual calendar, maybe 1966 or thereabouts. So spaces for each day to, in theory, write down events for planning, with Punch cartoons interspersed. "You are Tommy Toothdecay, and I claim the Dentago £5 prize!"

Meanwhile, because I heard a snippet of the tune repurposed into a jazz song on the radio, I have the Skipper's Polonius words about staying out of debt stuck in my head.

Didn't know where else to put this fascinating New Yorker piece about an extraordinary deep-sea exploration:


I guess this is the right thread in which to put this long but very fascinating New Yorker piece about an amazing deep-sea exploration:


I was really taken by this paragraph in the New Yorker article:

“I don’t want to be a Bond villain,” Vescovo told me. But he noted how easy it would be. “You could go around the world with this sub, and put devices on the bottom that are acoustically triggered to cut cables,” he said. “And you short all the stock markets and buy gold, all at the same time. Theoretically, that is possible. Theoretically.”
We sometimes forget just how fragile is the infrastructure that our world depends on. Even something like covid-19 doesn't really highlight the risks we unthinkingly take all the time.

I guess this is the right thread in which to put...

Was This Hit Power Ballad Written by the CIA?
...Luckily, the story surrounding “Wind of Change” is interesting enough even without the spycraft, and the podcast format allows Keefe to follow the kind of amusing rabbit holes and subplots that would have been cut from a magazine piece.
The show is at its strongest in the episodes recounting the story of the 1989 Moscow Music Peace Festival, an unprecedented event at which bands including Scorpions, Ozzy Osbourne, Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe, and Skid Row played to euphoric crowds at Lenin Stadium while engaging in a bender of historic proportions backstage. It was at this event that Scorpions frontman Klaus Meine was inspired to write “Wind of Change”—at least, according to the official story. The festival was ostensibly, and hilariously, given the acts involved, billed as an anti-drug benefit....

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