Monday, November 30, 2015
Sunday, November 29, 2015
-- Susan, every other Sunday
|Iga's mountains, as seen from the train.|
|A ninja train. (The other one is blue.)|
|A small selection of the shuriken on display at the Iga museum|
|Actual ninja firecrackers, made from bamboo and loaded with black powder.|
|Smoke bombs, wrapped in discarded paper. Recycling, ninja style.|
|All you need to walk on water. In theory, anyway....|
Many of the ninja's unusual tools don't make it into the movies, and thus escape the modern culture's notice--largely because the best devices didn't make for a flashy fight or an explosive getaway. The point wasn't just getting close enough to assassinate or spy on a high powered samurai target.
For ninjas...as for modern spies...the real trick was getting away alive, and preferably unnoticed.
And for that, they needed more than fancy throwing stars and pipe bombs. Fortunately, their arsenals included a wide variety of subtle weapons, too.
Saturday, November 28, 2015
The geopolitical situation in this part of the world is shifting fast and dramatically. We shouldn’t jump to conclusions; enough self-proclaimed analysts are doing that.
Friday, November 27, 2015
We are suffering from a thing called Black Friday over here. I do believe that this is the fault of Americans. Last year was the first time that anybody noticed Black Friday. This year many shops have publicly refused to participate and here in the West, we are having 'Spend Nothing Friday.'
“I was drunk.” – I don’t remember the last three days.
“He’s no the worst.” – The other guy was more drunk.
“We used to pal about.” – We used to get drunk together.
“He’s gone a wee bit Edinburgh.” – He’s convinced he’s the best thing since Jesus.
“I’ve basically quit the fags.” – I’m down to a pack a day.
“I have the odd one when I’m drinking.” I'm a forty a day man.
“I’ve got an empty, fancy coming over?” – The wife is going out and I have a bottle of Bells.
“She’s totally minted, no doubt about it.” – She shops in Waitrose.
“He’s a bit much.” – His voice goes through your head like a drill.
“It’s hard to say when it’s likely to finish up exactly.” I'll probably end up in casualty. ( ER)
“Yes dear, I’ve only had a couple of pints.” I’ve had eight pints, three shots, and two vodka Red Bulls.
“What school do you do to?” Are you a Catholic or a Protestant?
“Who do you really support?” Are you a Catholic or a Protestant?
“What’s your favourite colour?” Are you a Catholic or a Protestant?
"So, you see the game?” I nee to find out if you are a Catholic or a Protestant?
‘“I’ll come for one.” You still haven't told me if you are a Catholic or a Protestant?
“Fancy a couple after work?” – I’ll need to be dragged out the pub in ten hours.
‘It’s a bit wet out.” – Half of Glasgow is underwater.
“It’s Baltic out there.” – Sauchiehall Street looks like a deleted scene from Frozen. The pigeons have solidified.
“Old man pub.” – The clientele have one foot in the grave and smell like it, but it’s cheap.
“What’s this place worth?” – I’m from London.
“He’s a patter merchant.” – He talks an unbelievable amount of shite. Probably from Edinburgh
“He’s a bottle merchant.” – He’d run away from his own reflection.
“He’s a wind up merchant.” – He’s addicted to taking the piss.
“There was hunners of folk there. Hunners!” – There was twenty people there.
“You free for a quick swally?” – You’re my best friend and I urgently need to talk to you.
“Jog on pal.” – I’m thirty seconds away from battering you.
“He’s the numpties’ numpty.” – Even idiots think he’s an idiot.
“I got dingied but I’m no fussed.” – I was stood up by my date and I’m
“You’re the most beautiful lassie in this place.” – You’re the nearest
lassie in this place.
“Aye, I’m nae bad.” – I’ve just won the lottery.
“Aye, I’m nae bad.” – I’ve just been told I have a week to live.
“He’s doing my head in a bit.” – He is the most annoying arsehole in history.
“He couldnae batter a fish.” – He’s as weak as a kitten and as much use in a fight.
“I’m getting right into the healthy eating.” – Sometimes I don’t have an extra portion of chips.
“She thinks she’s all that.” – She cuts about like she’s a mixture of Beyoncé and Nicola Sturgeon.
Thursday, November 26, 2015
Michael - Thursday
Another revelation came to me. It's Thursday. The other Thursday. My Thursday. And I have absolutely no idea of what to write about and a packed day ahead.
|Homo naledi fossils displayed at the Cradle of Humankind|
I've been boring everyone with my enthusiasm for Catching Fire, a book by Professor Richard Wrangham. I've been thinking about it again recently because of one of the big mysteries around Homo naledi, the new hominid discovered near Johannesburg. The mystery is why did the paleoanthropologists find more than fifteen different skeletons in one cave? How did they come to be there? There are some obvious explanations all of which can be eliminated. They were the victims of a predator who lived down there. Well, not unless you believe in prehistoric trolls who ate nothing but these hominids and did so without cracking or gnawing the bones. They were washed there. No, that doesn't work; there is no geological evidence of water transport through the cave. What about a natural disaster? They were living down there and trapped? That doesn't seem right. The fossils are not all at the same depth in the clay, which would suggest a single event. So John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin Madison proposed that this was actually a burial chamber. This is fascinating because no other species except our own has a ritual associated with death in this sort of way.
However, there is a problem. This cave is not easy to get to - even for a small hominid such as naledi. It would require challenging climbing while carrying a corpse. And in the pitch dark. That seems very unlikely too. Two possibilities are suggested. The first - suggested by Richard Leakey - is that there was another - easier - entrance to the cave in those days. No one has discovered anything suggesting that to date. The second is that these hominids possessed fire. Then they would be able, at least in theory, to light their way into the chamber. The last would suggest that they are a relatively recent species - perhaps of the same age as early members of homo sapiens. Yet they seem to combine the features of Homo and Australopithecus in a very intriguing way. The other possibility is that the use of fire goes back much further than is usually accepted. That is the thesis of Catching Fire and it could also explain why naledi might have had the leisure to engage in something like formal disposal of their dead in the first place.
Below is the original blog about the book from about a year ago:
|Professor Wrangham and friends|
Compare the teeth!
|Skull of Homo Erectus|