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What am I?


This is a Roman dodecahedron and nobody knows why.

Over a hundred of them have been found, sometimes with hoards of coins. So they had a value. They have been found across Europe and Britain, but not in Italy. They would have been pretty work-intensive to make.

They are hollow cast objects with twelve flat pentagonal faces. Each face is pierced with a hole. The holes vary in shape in pairs (the hole opposite is the same size). The corners have knobs braised on. They are made of an alloy. They range in size from one and a half to four and a half inches. Here are some images.

The best guess is candlestick holder, since two were found with wax inside. I’m inclined to this one, though I’d like to know whether they had teeny candles.

Other guesses are to measure the width of something or the size of things at a distance, though there’s an awful lot of variation for that.

Game pieces, but you couldn’t throw them like dice. The differently-sized holes would make them fall not-randomly.

Purely ornamental, like cane toppers. Seems unlikely to me, since they are so uniform in design and construction.

It’s been puzzling me all afternoon. It can go puzzle you for a while.

November 27, 2020 — 7:15 pm
Comments: 15

Have a krakentastic Thanksgiving, y’all

We enthusiastically observe Thanksgiving in this household, thank you very much, but it’s an evening meal for us. It’s only 6 in the evening here, so still prep time.

If you can’t tell, that’s me folding an obscene amount of butter into a sweet potato, before adding a disgraceful amount of brown sugar. In the Souf, where I am from, you’d top off the dish with marsh mallows before baking. I haven’t got any and don’t particularly care for them anyway, so you’re spared that outrage.

When I was a kid, we never could believe our luck that candied yams were considered a vegetable.

Eh. Food looks gross in black and white, don’t it? I hope you have had, are having or will have a splendid feast today and have much in your life to be thankful for!

November 26, 2020 — 5:51 pm
Comments: 13

Good for you, sir

I see you managed to gnaw through the straps and escape the Home.

Zo! I’ve been dipping in and out of the information stream (treat yourself to at least the beginning of the Pennsylvania hearings today).

One of the weirdest factoids is the rumor about Biden’s $200 tax on rifles. Digging around, it’s unclear who started it. It’s kind of on his website: he says he wants ‘assault rifles’ registered like machine guns are, and I guess the fee is $200 to register a machine gun.

But somebody put those ideas together and put them out there, like he was going to issue an immediate EO or something, and it wasn’t his campaign.

Somebody is trying to make gun people big mad, just when gun people are already huge mad. Hmm.

November 25, 2020 — 8:06 pm
Comments: 6

Pulling faces

Well, I see Anthony Hopkins is handling the lockdown well. The scarlet of his cheeks is really bringing out the blue of his eyes.

My dad did a lot of that toward the end of his life: gurning into his ipad. I’m not sure why. He couldn’t see himself, he was making faces at me. It’s like he was saying, “look, honey! I’m an old man! Amazing!”

It must be fun to be a famous villain. I’d have no end of game glaring at people. Margaret Hamilton, described as the nicest woman in Hollywood, said kids on the street would run away from her screaming. I wonder if she ever shouted after them, “and your little dog, too!”

Link goes to Twitter. I’ve decided my spleen can only take Twitter in five-minute chunklets. My desire to know what’s going on is perfectly balanced against the rage-making insanity that is social media.

November 24, 2020 — 9:23 pm
Comments: 5

We’re free! Kinda.

Gyms, shops and all hairdressers are set to reopen from December 3 and there’s even an early Christmas present for sport fans with crowds allowed back into stadiums from next week.

As expected, the new stricter tiered system will come into play from December 3 and will last until March next year. The Government’s ‘stay at home’ message will once again be dropped and collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume. Social gathering will once again have to abide by the rule of six.

This from the Telegraph’s WhatsApp group. Okay, writing that sentence gave me temporal whiplash.

I’m surprised, actually. I thought we were going to be on hard lockdown until the vaccine got wide distribution. I wonder if they got the sense they were losing people. Because they were.

Oh, yes. The screenshot is from the game I’m playing and they did their homework on this one. Yes, Victorian Britons loved the banjo. It was the first musical craze to hop the Atlantic and it stayed popular, in one form or another, until WWII.

It started with the minstrel shows but, Brits being Brits, that just wasn’t posh enough. So they invented a style called Classic Banjo (not classical, mind) which consisted of happy little tunes played sitting down and wearing a tux.

And the banjos! They had dozens of home workshops turning out weird and wacky ‘jos . I own a few (they don’t age well and generally aren’t very expensive). I started to write a book about it once, then realized — oh, yeah. I’m lazy!

The men in the picture are glowing white because apparently I’m intimidating Mr Banjo by standing this close. I had to, to hear the tune. Didn’t recognize it, but it was generally in keeping with Classic Banjo. As is the banjo itself, if a little boring.

November 23, 2020 — 6:54 pm
Comments: 12

How to make orange man orange


For this next demonstration, I will need the use of color.

A couple of years ago, I read someone say they’d met Donald Trump and they were surprised to find he wasn’t orange at all. He was ordinary skin color. That made me go ‘hmmm’ with my Photoshop costume on.

Usually, credibly editing a portion of an image is a tedious slog, with lots of outlines and masks and feathering. But turns out making the orange man orange isn’t hard at all. Behold!

Open image. Call up the ‘hue – saturation’ slider. Choose the red channel. Slide it halfway to the right. Save. Done. Like, ten seconds.

See my sample here. I used Gimp this time because I was too lazy to fire up Photoshop, but they work the same.

A handy way to see if this has been done is to look at his tie and see if it’s super-saturated red. In my short hunt for a suitable photo, I noticed he tends to favor red ties with a slight magenta cast. You’ll see that in my sample image – the left one is slightly pinky, the altered one is red, red, red.

There’ve been some screaming pumpkin-orange Trumps on the news lately. I’d tell you I’m surprised at the media pissing away yet more credibility like this, but nah.

Have a good weekend, y’all! Go out and get some sun on your beaks, if you have any sun.

November 20, 2020 — 9:24 pm
Comments: 6

That’s some spicy kraken…

I don’t usually watch live political events. I usually find them cringe-worthy. I made an exception for the Trump legal team’s press conference. Watch it. WATCH IT.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m calling that news conference a watershed moment in American politics.

The link goes to C-SPAN. They won’t get to C-SPAN, will they?

November 19, 2020 — 8:44 pm
Comments: 14

Weeee!

I’ve had a fetish for the rooftops of London since I made my poor mother take me to Mary Poppins, like, five freaking times. So I’m having great fun free-running the rooftops in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Victorian London. Nice.

The game is five years old now (I’m that cheap, yes), so the facial animations aren’t up to the current standard. But the sets – they have that nailed. Go on – click for the big color version. It’s purty.

I don’t usually play the female character, when there’s an option. The computer game fiction that a five-foot-nothin’ girly-girl can coldcock a giant hairy thug just using her adorable little fists…I mean, c’mon. Flying monsters? No problem. Magic spells? Fine. But enough is too much.

But Evie has a pointy stick. And a bitching wardrobe.

Only, it creeps me out how much she looks and sounds like someone I know.

Not talking about Twitter. That place is weird.

November 18, 2020 — 9:08 pm
Comments: 4

Then there’s this one

Dan Bongino has been around conservative media for a while, but I can’t say as I much paid attention. He’s a former NYC cop and Secret Service agent. He was in the personal security details of both Dubya and Obama.

Wikipedia tells me he had a cancerous tumor removed from his throat a couple of months ago. Ow.

Anyway, his Bongino Report is a good news aggregator I’ve used lately.

Only today, I’m kind of tapped out. Playing vidya games. Unusually for me, with a controller rather than keyboard and mouse. Just to shake things up. This involves a lot of me running Jacob Frye headlong into a brick wall, over and over.

If any of you guys see a kraken wandering around looking lost, point the poor wee beastie to Twitter, would you? They’re going nuts over there.

November 17, 2020 — 8:56 pm
Comments: 9

Hmm…

The above is a site billing itself as the new alternative to Drudgereport: populist.press. At least, it bills itself that way if you don’t have popups blocked.

They’ve certainly mimicked the look and feel of Drudge. I found when I clicked links, though, it took me to a synopsis of the story hosted on populist.press itself. Then within that item you could click to read it on its original platform. I’m not sure why they’d do it that way – it’s more work for them, if nothing else – and it means you can’t just hover over the link to see if the article is from a source you trust.

Eh. Give it a try. I have a feeling lots of news sources will be shutting down in the days ahead.

November 16, 2020 — 8:23 pm
Comments: 7