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A quickie

Because it’s been entirely too cultured around here lately.

April 3, 2014 — 9:37 pm
Comments: 13

Wait, what?

If I may continue my theme for another day, have a gander at this thing. It’s called the Mold Gold Cape (it was found in a place called Mold in Wales in 1833).

It’s an extraordinary thing. It’s sort of a shoulder cape hammered from a single piece of gold (the raw gold must have been about the size of a ping pong ball), then decorated all over with repoussé. They reckon it’s nearly 4,000 years old.

Four thousand years. That is a stunning level of craftsmanship for the time. Moreover, though there was mining in the area, there were no big cities nearby, no great dynasties that they know. Just this amazing thing buried on a hill in the middle of sweet fuck all.

It was dug up with a skeleton by workmen. This being 1833, they divvied up the gold (the cape was already broken in bits by time and earth) and scattered anything else they found. Fortunately, the British Museum got wind of it through a local and managed to buy back most of the pieces right away, though there are still a few fragments missing, and almost none of the other grave good survived.

I learned about this from a popular BBC Radio Series called a History of the World in 100 objects. It’s one hundred fifteen-minute podcasts about interesting and important objects in the British Museum, arranged in chronological order, chosen and narrated by the chief curator. I’m pretty sure if you hit the link, you guys are allowed to download and listen to this one. Great history in handy bite-sized chunks (if a little lefty in parts). Mucho recommendo.

The Mold Gold Cape is episode 19, and here’s how it starts:

For the local workmen, it must have seemed as if the old Welsh legends were true. They’d been sent to quarry stone in a field known as Bryn-yr-Ellyllon, which translates as the Fairies’ or the Goblins’ Hill. Sightings of a ghostly boy, clad in gold, a glittering apparition in the moonlight, had been reported frequently enough for travellers to avoid the hill after dark. As the workmen dug into a large mound, they uncovered a stone-lined grave. In it were hundreds of amber beads, several bronze fragments, and the remains of a skeleton. And wrapped around the skeleton was a mysterious crushed object – a large and finely decorated broken sheet of pure gold.

The fuck, BBC? We’re just going to walk on by that, really? See, this is where Brits can be entirely too blasé.

Three possibilities. One – it isn’t true; there weren’t any such sightings (but it’s hard to get a more rigorous source than the British Effing Museum). Two – hells yes, a ghost haunted this treasure for forty centuries (I’m not of a mystical bent, but what the hell – humility is the essence of science). Three – distant memories of a grand and famous burial persisted in local legend for four thousand years.

Holy cats.

April 2, 2014 — 10:09 pm
Comments: 7

Anybody missing a cleaning lady?

As we discussed below, they are ALlllways digging up stuff here. Every time they enlarge a parking lot or put an extension on an elementary school, they find some lot of poor skeletons huddling underneath.

Know what happens to them? Unless there’s treasure buried with them, not much. They’re catalogued, packed away in boxes and stored by the county council, more or less unexamined. There’s all kinds of stuff they can learn from DNA analysis and tooth enamel these days, but that shit costs money. And, as I said, there are so many, many old bones lying around.

We watched a program recently that went back and looked at some pretty ordinary Stone Age bones stored away in a warehouse somewhere. They discovered little holes drilled in many of them, post mortem. From the position, they deduced the holes were used to articulate the skeletons. Thing is, they weren’t awfully fussy that the right man’s leg bone was connected to the right man’s hip bone.

So, think on that. They were — I guess — digging up the ancestors, stringing skeletons together from random bits and — I dunno — hanging them up at parties? Does that blow your mind? That blows my mind.

Every once in a while, a local council gets a lottery grant to do some actual archeology, which recently happened in Eastbourne. They had 300 skeletons kicking around in storage, from 1,500 to 4,000 years old and they got £72,000 to do some science on them.

They dated and sexed them all (my goodness, that doesn’t sound nice) and singled out 12 for particular analysis. That lady in the header was the real surprise. She lived her whole life in Sussex and was buried in Roman times, about 245 AD, but she’s from sub-Saharan Africa. The Roman empire didn’t extend that far. What’n the heck was she doing here?

She was healthy, lived to about 30 and grew up on a plentiful diet of fish and vegetables. Wife, mistress, slave. They have no idea.

I guess I just thought we knew a whole lot more about early Britain — or, at least, had done everything we could to find out. Turns out, not.

April 1, 2014 — 10:08 pm
Comments: 5

Look, the old tenants left some stuff behind

This place has had so many previous owners, and they left so much of their junk behind. Europe, I mean. It’s tough for an American to take.

F’rinstance. In 1962, five Viking ships were dug up in the Danish town of Skuldelev, so they built a museum to hold them in the nearby city of Roskilde. In 1997, they went to enlarge the museum and accidentally dug up nine more Viking ships in the parking lot.

I know, right?

Anyway, one of them was the longest Viking ship ever found. It’s about a hundred feet long, and there’s maybe twenty percent of it left. Curators boxed the thing in flat-packs, like Ikea furniture, and shipped the whole business over here for a big show about Vikings in the British Museum.

They put a £135M extension on the place to house this (and displays like it). We saw it on TV the other night; it’s way cool. The whole end of the building opens so they can drive big objects right in.

On display with the ship is the Vale of York hoard, a collection of Viking silver found by father and son metal detectorists in a field in Yorkshire in 2007.

There’s a lot of that going on these days, too. Amateur metal detectoring leading to big finds, I mean. And for once, the government got wise and works with detectorists through the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Most detectorists know to stop everything when they make a good find and call in the experts.

By law, individuals have to report precious metal finds to a government officer. But here’s the smart part: if any museums want the artifacts, they have to offer the finder a fair market value. So looting is, like, nonexistent. It’s like having a giant voluntary army of archeologists combing the countryside.

If you’re at all interested in this stuff (and you probably wouldn’t be here if you weren’t), any of the links above will take you to hours of thrilling geekery.

March 31, 2014 — 9:15 pm
Comments: 16

I’m sure it’ll all work out…

My mother always warned me not to order anybody around unless I had an answer to the question, “or what?”

Oh, well. I worry about this whole Russia thing, then I remember Dear Leader is a master of four-dimensional chess and I chillax.

Good weekend, y’all!

March 28, 2014 — 10:55 pm
Comments: 20

The hero Gotham needs…?

Look, I can explain. I saw this picture of a guy in a fur collar, and I thought it totally…nah. You know what, I can’t explain. It’s a superhero. You don’t want to know his superpower. But bear in mind, I’m ending all arguments from here on with POW! Mangina!

Have you ever thought how incredibly American the superhero is? Oh, the idea of a morally upright man with supernatural powers who solves problems extra-judicially — that one’s pretty much universal.

But only in America could we come up with a way to enjoy nudity without all those icky, unAmerican genitals and nipples and pubes and such.

Well, except this guy. Obviously.

March 27, 2014 — 11:39 pm
Comments: 22

I heart Michael Ramirez *so hard*

That’s today’s Ramirez cartoon and I just want to take a minute to say how much I admire this guy.

His picture ideas are consistently so awesome. Not just ideologically strong, but visually striking. And he pulls them out of thin air, time after time after time. Hoo boy, I have to tell you, the good strong visual ideas are the hard part.

Most of his cartoons are simple, but he can draw like a dream when he wants to. His likenesses are great and his caricatures are cruel. Despite being a staunch righty, he’s won a ton of journalism awards, including two Pulitzers. I’d say Ramirez is who I want to be when I grow up if he weren’t a year younger than me.

His father is a first generation Mexican-American and his mother is Japanese. He was born in Tokyo (maybe that’s why he didn’t get caught up in the Identity Politics Shuffle — he couldn’t decide which box to tick). I don’t know how old he was when they all moved to the States, but he went to college in California. His brothers and sisters are doctors, and he was headed that way himself before he published a political cartoon in the school newspaper that changed his mind (I don’t know what it was, but everybody demanded he apologize and he thought that was pretty sweet).

No link; I don’t remember where I read all that. I won’t pick any favorites, just do please sample this Google Images search of Ramirez cartoons. Savor. Enjoy.

The thing I love most about Ramirez? That cartoon up there. He said to himself, “black background, a few white circles, blur them a little, it’ll totally look like a circus ring.” And it totally does. Geeenius.

March 26, 2014 — 11:09 pm
Comments: 12

Participation trophy

That was one commenter’s reaction to some particularly lame post I read today. You tried. I dunno, maybe you had to be there — I thought third-degree burrrrn at the time.

Anyhoo, I made this.

My ambition is to make memes that go viral. And then I remember, nobody gets paid for that shit.

March 25, 2014 — 11:18 pm
Comments: 13

Angry ape face

No, no…it’s not Hillary again. Just working on my portfolio today.

This is my glamor shot.

March 24, 2014 — 11:52 pm
Comments: 17

Round 61: Equinox edition

Carl wins his third dick with Tony Benn, British politician. Here’s all you need to know about Tony Benn: 1) he was an egregious lefty twat-waffle and 2) his great uncle was murdered with a chamberpot by his own son, who later got out of the loony bin and fathered Margaret Rutherford.

End of.

Okay, here we go. Pity Fred Phelps couldn’t join us:

0. Rule Zero (AKA Steve’s Rule): your pick has to be living when picked. Also, nobody whose execution date is circled on the calendar. Also, please don’t kill anybody.

1. Pick a celebrity. Any celebrity — though I reserve the right to nix picks I never heard of (I don’t generally follow the Dead Pool threads carefully, so if you’re unsure of your pick, call it to my attention).

2. We start from scratch every time. No matter who you had last time, or who you may have called between rounds, you have to turn up on this very thread and stake your claim.

3. Poaching and other dirty tricks positively encouraged.

4. Your first choice sticks. Don’t just blurt something out, m’kay? Also, make sure you have a correct spelling of your choice somewhere in your comment. These threads get longish and I use search to figure out if we have a winner.

5. It’s up to you to search the thread and make sure your choice is unique. I’m waayyyy too lazy to catch the dupes. Popular picks go fast.

6. The pool stays open until somebody on the list dies. Feel free to jump in any time. Noobs, strangers, drive-bys and one-comment-wonders — all are welcome.

7. If you want your fabulous prize, you have to entrust me with a mailing address. If you’ve won before, send me your address again. I don’t keep good records.

8. The new DeadPool will begin 6pm WBT (Weasel’s Blog Time) the Friday after the last round is concluded.

The winner, if the winner chooses to entrust me with a mailing address, will receive an Official Certificate of Dick Winning and a small original drawing on paper suffused with elephant shit particles. Because I didn’t have any dinosaur shit particles.

March 21, 2014 — 6:00 pm
Comments: 95