November 05, 2004
This archaeology article in the Economist was interesting.
Few tombs would be juicier than that of Lars Porsena, an Etruscan king who ruled in central Italy around 500BC. Porsena's tomb has been sought for centuries in the rubble under the Tuscan city of Chiusi, which is believed by most authorities to stand on the site of Porsena's capital, Clusium. No sign of it, however, has ever been found. And that, according to Giuseppe Centauro, of the University of Florence, is because everybody is looking in the wrong place.
It gets even better.
Chiusi was clearly once an Etruscan city, but the evidence that it was actually Clusium boils down to the fact that the two names mean the same thing (“closed”). Such nominative determinism is hardly conclusive. Dr Centauro prefers his evidence to be wrought in stone, and he thinks the most persuasive pile of masonry around is actually on a mountainside near Florence.
At the moment, he is awaiting permission from the authorities to start digging there. But the above-ground remains convince him that he has found the real site of Clusium. He believes he has identified two concentric walls 17km (about ten miles) in circumference—certainly big enough to qualify as the biggest city in Italy before the rise of Rome, which is the reputation that Clusium had.
Discovery.com has a bit more. Makes me want to grab a trowel. If it pans out, and luck is with them, then maybe they'll even find something that will shed some more light on the Etruscan language, which remains a mystery.
September 10, 2004
The British Library is putting online 93 high-resolution digitised copies of 21 of Shakespeare's plays.
The texts date from Shakespeare's lifetime and are pamphlet editions of plays prepared to be sold after performances had finished.
The printed works show how the text evolved and cast doubt on the idea of definitive versions of his plays.
The texts are here.
I'll try to get back to posting as soon as I can.
August 29, 2004
Well, I've been extremely busy lately with work, and it's not going to let up anytime soon. I'll try to post when I can, but I'll be out of town quite a bit in the coming weeks and I'm not sure how easy access will be.
August 25, 2004
I've been curious about the width of the water where the Rassmann incident happened, so I searched the web for the Song Bai Hap river, and Dong Cung canal, which winds its way north from that.
From looking at this map, slide down the west coast till you come to the first big bay, "Cua Song Bai Hap". The Song Bai Hap river flows into the north-east corner of the bay, heading ENE. Heading of the to the north where the river thins is the Rach Dong Cung. Based on the names in the reports and the Washington Post's illustration of the battle area, that should be the correct place.
Printing out that map and doing the ddd.mm.ss to d.dddd conversions (degrees minutes seconds to decimal degrees) tells me that this satellite picture contains the location of the attack. You can click on it to zoom in. The canal branches from the river right where the most north-eastern cloud is in the photo.
Given the equatorial radius of the earth, 6378.5 km, the scale on the map should be about 110.95 km/degree. The latitude at the top middle of the map should be 8.879 degrees, the bottom middle is 8.78955 degrees, a difference of 0.08945 degrees, or hopefully 9.924 km. The close up satellite image is 758 pixels high, so the photo should be 13.09 meters per pixel, and the river looks roughly 5 to 6 pixels wide (in Paint). That would be 65 to 78 meters wide.
I hope I've got the right place, but here's the advanced image search page. Based on the map the canal should intersect the river at about 8.85 lat, 105.015 longitude. It looks right, the numbers look right, but I'm not going to swear by it.
July 28, 2004
Australia's Strange Criminals
What is it with Australian criminals? Today the Sydney Morning Herald had this one
Five men who allegedly forced a Sydney accountant to swallow acid at gunpoint have been charged with his murder.
Accountant Dominic Li, 45, died on January 2 last year after he was allegedly forced to swallow acid at gunpoint in front of his wife and 14-year-old son on December 13, 2002 at their Concord home.
Five men aged 24-39 were all charged with murder and conspiring to inflict grievous bodily harm. Two were also charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm while the other three also face charges of being an accessory.
What's up with that? I guess they could've strapped him down above a shark infested tank, with a swinging pendulum that would slowly cut the rope holding him up, or they could've stuck him in a giant hourglass, but drinking acid?
Just a few days ago in The Age just ran an update on this strange story about an Australian mother of three who was chased around her SUV and murdered in a gangland hit, which they now think was a case of mistaken identity.
Mrs Thurgood-Dove was chased around her four-wheel-drive and shot in front of her children on November 6, 1997.
For more than two years police have been working on the theory that another woman who lived in Muriel Street was the intended target of the hit.
They believe that Carmel Kypri, the wife of criminal figure Peter Kypri, was the woman who was to be murdered. They are now convinced the killer identified the wrong house and shot the wrong woman.
The Thurgood-Doves lived three houses away from a corner in Muriel Street; the Kypris lived in the same street, also three houses away from a corner and on the same side of the road.
She was very pretty, too, and no doubt quite a wonderful mom.
It's a quite interesting crime story, and if you Google up "Thurgood-Dove" you'll find all sorts of details about it, such as the police spending years thinking an obsessed policeman was behind it. Australia definitely has a crime problem, despite the gun bans, sword bans, and knife bans. It stands as proof that scum sucking vermin have never found that killing unarmed and unwary people presented much of a technical obstacle.
July 24, 2004
Off for the Weekend
Sorry all, but I've got to take off for the weekend, now that it's half over... I have however been posting a few stories over at The Rott, if you want to skip on over and check them out.
July 11, 2004
Sorry for not posting Saturday. I went down to the 2004 ABANA (Artist Blacksmith Association of North America) Conference. I missed 99% of the conference since most of it was held during the week, during working hours, but I still had time to buy just a few little tools while I was there, but happily I didn't try to lug a power hammer home.
I added one more German Peddinghaus hammer to my collection, which is never quite large enough.
I guess I should make something interesting now.
July 04, 2004
The UK Telegraph is full of all sorts of bizarre stories today.
Girls as young as 14 are demanding IVF (fertilization) treatment at NHS clinics. It seems they're having trouble getting pregnant, having just gained that ability. Zowie.
Iraq is about to publish evidence that Iran and Syria are behind much of the unrest.
Then this one, relating that the whole time the French were bitching about British beef their own herds were eaten up with mad cow and nobody did anything about it.
A mad cow disease epidemic in France went completely undetected and led to almost 50,000 severely infected animals entering the food chain, according to a shocking report by French government researchers.
More than 300,000 cows contracted BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in the past 13 years, 300 times more than the number of officially recorded cases, say researchers at France's official Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm).
Their report reveals that while blustering French politicians blamed Britain for the emergence of the disease - and attempted to create a cordon sanitaire by banning imports of British beef - they failed to adopt measures to prevent a hidden epidemic at home.
July 01, 2004
Secret Indian Valley
Now this (also here) is interesting. A Utah farmer spent 50 years keeping one of the most amazing archeological sites in the country a secret. A valley filled with ancient Indian settlements going back for four thousand years, just 130 miles from Salt Lake City.
What sets this ancient site apart from other, better-known ones in Utah, Arizona or Colorado is that it's been left virtually untouched, with arrowheads and pottery shards still covering the ground in places.
"I didn't let people go in there to destroy it," said Wilcox, 74, whose parents bought the ranch in 1951 and threw up a gate to the rugged canyon. "The less people know about this, the better."
But the secret is out after federal and state governments paid Wilcox $2.5 million for the 4,200-acre ranch, which is surrounded by wilderness study lands. The state took ownership earlier this year but hasn't decided yet how to control public access, said Kevin Conway, director of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
State archaeologist Kevin Jones said the site escaped looters to showcase a glimpse of ancient life only now being catalogued by the Utah Museum of Natural History.
"It's a national treasure. There may not be another place like it in the continental 48 states," Museum curator Duncan Metcalfe said Thursday by satellite phone from the site.
Metcalfe said a team of researchers has documented about 200 pristine sites occupied as many as 4,500 years ago, "and we've only looked in a few places." In places the ground is littered with arrowheads, arrow shafts, beads and pottery.
"It's a legacy that dropped in our laps," said Jones, who was overcome on his first visit in July 2002. "It was just like walking into a different world."
Wilcox said, "It's like being the first white man in there, the way I kept it. There's no place like it left." He said some skeletons have been exposed by shifting winds under dry ledges.
Wow. That's not something you find out about every day. I look forward to seeing much more on this, and I'm sure data will be flowing out for years to come.
June 30, 2004
Well, yet another Microsoft security flaw has been uncovered, leaving Internet Explorer vulnerable to some spyware written by Russian crime lords, or some such group. Sometimes I think Microsoft hammered out a giant security hole and then glommed on some browser functions, so I think I'll try Mozilla's Firefox.