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I’m back. I think.

In case you missed it, yesterday’s routine Windows update totally boogered my computer. It booted, looked normal, but none of the icons worked. Eventually, it would throw up a series of error messages and fall right over.

“No problem,” thinks the intrepid weasel, “I’ll just do a system restore.” There were no previous states to restore to.

See, it’s supposed to do a little backup file before it installs updates, so you can step back if there’s a problem. I worked out later why it hasn’t been (all these years, apparently): backups were somehow allocated 0% disk space. Thanks for the error message, Bill.

So I had to sort it the old fashioned way, with a hammer and brute ignorance. I’m not absolutely convinced everything is totally back to normal, but I can run Photoshop and a video game at the same time, so it’s got to be good enough.

Meanwhile, tomorrow’s Dead Pool was never in any doubt. I got internets in all kinds of places these days. See y’all back here tomorrow, 6WBT.

April 10, 2014 — 8:44 pm
Comments: 15

A pun: I made you one

Though, honestly, if the Reverend Al really was ratting out mobsters in the Eighties, that’s the most praiseworthy thing on his resume. Why are we mad at him?

April 8, 2014 — 9:34 pm
Comments: 32

Weasel…my balls…where are they, Weasel?

We’ve had hectic day today; Mad Jack went in for the snip-snip this morning. He’s come back to us…a little loopy. Unsteady, pupils the size of saucers. He’s obsessed with getting out, going from door to window to back door and scratching at the woodwork and meeping. They told us to keep him in for 24 hours, so he’s out of luck, but it’s a trial.

Have you ever had an animal come back from general anesthesia a little wrong in the head? I sure hope he’s back to himself tomorrow.

Right! LesterIII takes the dick with Mickey Rooney! After all that drama, and all the times he was picked, the old coot was only 93? I expected a more impressive number.

That means Dead Pool Round 62 queues up on Friday. If anyone was thinking of picking Peaches Geldof, I’ve got some bad news for you.

I leave you with this moving tribute I made for Damien, my last kitty to have a snip ‘n’ chip back in 2006. Damian vanished two years later, probably looking for something he was missing.

April 7, 2014 — 8:15 pm
Comments: 29

The view out my kitchen window

Lambs 2014, here at last. We’ve seen them in other parts of the county, but these are the first in our village.

This field — the one visible from my kitchen window — always has rams in it, so it’s a treat to have ewes and lambs to look at.

Not so cool to have ewes and lambs to listen to. They mehhhh at each other all night long.

Good weekend and happy lambing, all!

April 4, 2014 — 10:55 pm
Comments: 19

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