Monday, May 31, 2010

SAT Prep: c. 1650 BC

The BBC covers the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus.

Math makes the world go round. (If you can't keep track of money, you wont have it for long.)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Departmental meetings: 1350

...but Zhang Fei objected. "There's no such thing as a good banquet or a good conference," he asserted flatly.
--From the Romance of the Three Kingdoms--

All those bureaucrats together in one room, how can they help but conspire over something? At best they'll just waste of money.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Absession: 1350

Xuande himself realized that he had said more than he ought and rose to excuse himself. Doing so, he noticed the extra weight around his middle. Suddenly he found tears welling in his eyes. When Xuande resumed his place, Liu Biao asked what was distressing him. "I used to spend all my time in the saddle," Xuande replied with a deep sigh. "Now it has been so long since I have been riding that I am growing thick around the waist...."
--From the Romance of the Three Kingdoms--

So many things to worry about, and your health sometimes suffers. I only wish Xuande had a chance to see this video:

Friday, May 28, 2010


I was only trying to take a picture of a flower, and didn't even notice the spider until I was home, looking through my images. In being surprised I am like a butterfly; in surviving I am not.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Light reading: 1350

"In war," Guo Jia answered, "speed is precious. On a march of this length the supply train requires too much time. You'd be better off with a small force that can reach Wuhuan before they suspect anything."
--From the Romance of the Three Kingdoms--

It makes you wonder about a country when their popular literature is full of military strategy.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Binge drinking: 1728

I don't wonder why young people do so much binge drinking, but why it's only young people involved. Generally speaking, if historical people had a bunch of alcohol lying around, they'd take every opportunity they had to get drunk with it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Stop thief!: 1730

Nor is thy flaxen wig with safety worn;
High on the shoulder, in a basket born
Lurks the sly boy; whose hand to rapine bred,
Plucks off the curling honours of thy head.
Wig theft was a specialized form of robbery. But fear not, because the juvenile criminal justice system had ways of dealing with such crimes:
Breathless he stumbling falls: Ill-fated boy!
Why did not honest work thy youth employ?
Seiz'd by rough hands, he's dragg'd amid the rout,
And stretch'd beneath the pump's incessant spout:
Or plung'd in miry ponds, he gasping lies,
Mud chokes his mouth, and plasters o'er his eyes.
--From Trivia: or, The art of walking the streets of London--

Monday, May 24, 2010

Survival of the fittest: 1730

Oh happy unown'd youths, your limbs can bear
The scorching dog-star, and the winter's air,
While the rich infant, nurs'd with care and pain,
Thists with each heat, and coughs with ev'ry rain!
--From Trivia: or, The art of walking the streets of London--

I suppose if all the sick people in a population die off quickly, because no one can survive if the smallest things happens to them, a passerby might wonder at how healthy all the survivors seem. They might see the sickness-free society as "healthy", but in reality some sickness would be a sign of health.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Privacy: 1730

--From Trivia: or, The art of walking the streets of London--

Google blurs out faces and license plates in Street Views, but we never think of having it make names unsearchable, and it seems like it would be a lot easier.

(I wonder what that person's name was.)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Brokeback Mountain: 1919

My bed was a hammock in the loft of the keeper's house and it hung close to an open door. At night I woke often, and I would look out upon the lonely beach and sea. When the light flashed its long wheeling gleam out into the pale obscurity of the night it always showed C.'s dark figure on the lonely beach. I got into the habit of watching for him, and never, at any time I happened to awake, did I fail to see him out there. How strange he looms to me now! But I thought it was natural then. The loneliness of that coral reef haunted me. The sound of the sea, eternally slow and sad and moaning, haunted me like a passion. Men are the better for solitude....

...I cannot relate a single story about really catching a fish....

...My English comrade, C, sometimes went with me, and when he did go, the interest and kindly curiosity and pleasure upon his face were a constant source of delight to me. I knew that I was as new a species to him as the little fish were to me. But C. had become so nearly a perfectly educated man that nothing surprised him, nothing made him wonder. He sympathized, he understood, he could put himself in the place of another. What worried me, however, was the simple fact that he did not care to fish or shoot for the so-called sport of either. I think my education on a higher plane began at Alacranes, in the society of that lonely Englishman. Somehow I have gravitated toward the men who have been good for me.
--From Tales of Fishes--

I don't want to be accused of falsely reading homoeroticism into this book's stories, but I think I see why Granpappy may have donated it to the library.

By the way, the previous story in the book contains this passage:
He had a cheering figure, lithe and erect, with a springy stride, bespeaking the Montezuma blood said to flow in his Indian veins. Clad in a colored cotton shirt, blue jeans, and Spanish girdle, and treading the path with brown feet never deformed by shoes, he would have stopped an artist. Soon he bent his muscular shoulders to the oars, and the ripples circling from each stroke hardly disturbed the calm Panuco.
All the sexual feelings seem to have been sublimated into fishing, so I guess this book is porn.

They used to be into some weird stuff!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hidden treasure

Someone drew this in a book, which ended up being donated to a library and scanned by Google.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Falun Gong: 1350

..."Don't you really belong to the Yellow Scarves, Zhang Jue and his ilk?"...
..."The man is a sorcerer," Sun Ce replied. "He uses his arts to mislead the multitude and must be eliminated."...
--From the Romance of the Three Kingdoms--

The Yellow Scarves, like the Red Eyebrows, and the Boxers, were groups responsible for great upheaval and revolution in Chinese history, and they all had mystical ties. So it's no wonder the Chinese government moved to repress Falun Gong, a modern day society with mystical practices.

Compare China's reaction to America's, where groups like the Tea Party, modeled after a revolutionary group, go about their business with only rhetorical government interference.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Vacation day

I've never really gone on vacation before so I decided to take my Sunday and make it a vacation day. Lunch was packed along with some things some things, and I went out to see what I could find.

What I found was a field of butterflies just like this:

And some exotic blossoms growing in a thicket:

I even found a deserted beach:

I sat there, reading; sometimes laying back, closing my eyes, and listening to the waves.

But I came to find out that the beach wasn't deserted:

And there were things moving in the water:

Even a couple having sex!

But the view was nice:

And sometimes other people floated by, just as happy as me:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Thomas Paine: 1662

...They believed that since they held the power over benefit and harm, there was nothing wrong in taking for themselves all the benefits and imposing on others all the harm. They made it so no man dared to live for himself or look to his own interests...

...Thus he who does the greatest harm in the world is none other than the prince....

...Now men hate their prince, look on him as a "mortal foe," call him "just another guy."...
--From Waiting for the Dawn--

You can even have this problem in a Democracy, because "the people" are an abstract concept. Everyone can tell if a prince is being enriched, but who can say for sure if "the people" are benefiting from their governance?

I suppose in lieu of a prince we have to look at the representatives and beurocrats who run a country. Do they have a sense of entitlement and hubris or of humbleness and thrift? That I think, is a good way to judge any government's worth.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Don't lay all your love on him: 1887

She was singin' again :—
'Lay your love lichtly, lichtly, lichtly,
Lay your love lichtly on a young man,
An' if he deceive ye, it'll no grieve ye,—
Never lay all your love upon one!'
--From The life and recollections of Dr. Duguid--

The best love songs are about restraint, or about giving in; about everything being great, or everything being a disaster.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Take a chance on me: 1919

"But it's a hard, wild trip," I protested. "Why, that crew of barefooted, red-shirted Canary-Islanders have got me scared! Besides, you don't know me!"

"Well, you don't know me, either," he replied, with his winning smile.

Then I awoke to my own obtuseness and to the fact that here was a real man, in spite of the significance of a crest upon his linen.

"If you'll take a chance on me I'll certainly take one on you," I replied, and told him who I was, and that the Ward-line agent and American consul would vouch for me.

He offered his hand with the simple reply, "My name is C-----."

If before I had imagined he was somebody, I now knew it. And that was how I met the kindest man, the finest philosopher, the most unselfish comrade, the greatest example and influence that it has ever been my good fortune to know upon my trips by land or sea.

--From Tales of Fishes--

Oh, the smell of bromance is in the air!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

One year ago: 1860

Where is the face we loved to greet,
The form that graced the fireside seat,
The gentle smile, the winning way,
That bless'd our life-path day by day?
Where fled those accents, soft and low,
That thrilled our hearts "one year ago?"
--From Harper's New Monthly Magazine--

I've spent a year blogging, today. Along the way, I've skimmed a lot of magazines and read a lot of books partway through. Some things I put a great deal of thought into, and other things were happy accidents.

Looking at history is looking at other people's memories. Looking at nature is looking at the world around us. The sophist wonders: '...if anyone really "learns lessons" from history, or if we just interpret everything to fit our preconception of the world.' To that I say: if we are controlled by our preconceptions and our preconceptions are false, then let's flood ourselves with facts; nothing weakens a lie like lots of facts, and weakening a lie is the first step to dispelling it.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hiding in plain sight

Pretty much everything does, because most people/things just aren't that observant.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Snarkiness: 750

We have everything good government could possibly want now but good government.

--From The Selected Poems of Tu Fu--

It's not the comment sections of blogs that brings it about, but government.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Useless: 1761

Q. What is electricity?

A. It is that property certain bodies, heated by friction, have of attracting and repelling, alternatively, other thin and light bodies, such as straw, bits of paper, gold-leaf, etc.
--From The Universal Magazine--

Can you believe people spent time and money researching this? On "electricity", what a waste!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Baby Geniuses: 1761

If they painted something like this today, they'd have the babies swearing and trying to get laid.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Human nature: 1761

As to Government in general, it is no wonder, that it is so productive of evil, since its very nature consists of power trusted in the hands of such imperfect and vicious creatures as men, and exercised over others as imperfect and vicious as themselves; in which there must be pride, avarice, and cruelty on one side; envy ignorance, and obstinancy on the other; and injustice and self-interest on both. Its origin also arises from the same impure source of human imperfection; that is, men, being neither wise nor honest enough to pursue their common or mutual interests without compulsion, are obliged to submit to some, in order to secure their lives and properties from the depredations of all...
--From The Universal Magazine--

The only reason politicians talk about how "good" they think people are, or worry aloud about the "tone" of society, is because they want us to forget that they, like us, are jerks and shouldn't be trusted with any power whatsoever, let alone be trusted to solve problems.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Let's contact species which have spread all over the universe, because species which spread really quickly are great to have around.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Aliens: 1761

Two Frenchmen and four negroes having set out in a canoe towards the coast of a little dessert isle situated south of Martinico, and separated from the island by a strait of about a league in breadth, they stopped at an advanced point of ten or twelve paces into the sea, and eight or ten feet high above the water. There, within eight paces of them, they saw a Triton, or sea-man, the half of whose body appeared above water.
--From The Universal Magazine--

Well, a bunch of people saw it, so it must be real (they got a picture and everything!).

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Torture porn: 1350

Cao ordered him beaten, but his body had no skin left to flay....

...Cao called for a knife and cut off the other nine [fingers]....

...Ji Ping dashed his [own] head against the stair and died.
--From the Romance of the Three Kingdoms--

Inventing stories about people being tortured shows an advancement of culture, because in the past when people wrote about horrific torture it was taken from the historical record, and was an account of events which had actually happened.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cold War: circa 400 BC

If you were really able to establish a reputation for righteousness in the world and attract the other rulers by your virtue, then it would be no time before the whole world had submitted to you...

...If one is merciful and generous, substituting affluence for want, then the people will surely be won over. If one substitutes good government in one's state for offensive warfare, then one will achieve manifold success.
--From The Mozi--

Winning a war by focusing on improving your citizen's standard of living and eschewing offensive warfare, when has that worked?

Monday, May 3, 2010

A meal in pictures

INGREDIENTS: lentils, onions, ginger, garlic, cardamom, cinnamon, white sugar, fenugreek, cumin, salt, turmeric, cayenne pepper, butter, asafoetida powder, cabbage, green chiles, mustard seeds, brown sugar, tamarind extract, water, tomatoes, fennel seeds, okra, mango powder, rice, yogurt, cilantro.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Genocide: 1350

"...If there is any way I can help, even if it means clan-wide extermination, I shall do it without regret."
--From the Romance of the Three Kingdoms--

This line is spoken by a "good person". Grateful poems are written about him when he dies!