Thursday, September 27, 2007


Great Article from Wikipedia on Out Of Place Artifacts, including:The Saqqara Bird, the Baghdad Batteries,the Baigong Pipes, the Coso artifact, a geode which contains a spark plug from the 1920s, the Dendera Lamps and several artifacts that are supposed to predate humanity.


Fernworks makes great resin paintings of birds and skies and barbed wire, and great little "temples" of wood and translucent materials.

Quiet poetry for your house.

Decisions, decisions

Text and video from a masterclass by Daniel Kahneman, co-founder of behavioral economics. Even at the University of Chicago, where the economic actors are often assumed to be perfectly "rational", his research has made a big impact...yet for whatever reason, behavioral economics are not integrated into the curriculum from the start. Everyone still learns the neoclassical models, which have the great advantage of being straightforward, mathematically tractable, and very flexible, but which have the disadvantage of being wrong.

And by wrong I mean "out of line with the way human beings actually operate", which means in turn that they're going to give you incorrect predictions in a lot of cases. We knew this when we learned the models, but everyone "forgets" this fact in the effort to pass the classes. Since economic models correctly lead one to some fairly counterintuitive results, it's easy to think that all counterintuitive results are therefore correct, instead of thinking about the motivations underlying the decision.

Decisions, decisions

Text and video from a masterclass by Daniel Kahneman, co-founder of behavioral economics.

Decisions, decisions

Text and video from a masterclass by Daniel Kahneman, co-founder of behavioral economics.

Friday, September 21, 2007

What if the Middle Ages Never Existed?

Fomenko's New Chronology. Amazing what you can find rooting around in Wikipedia's attics:

The "New Chronology" is radically shorter than the conventional chronology, because all of ancient Greek/Roman/Egyptian history is "folded" onto the Middle Ages and Antiquity, and the Early Middle Ages are eliminated. According to Fomenko, the history of humankind goes only as far back as AD 800, we have almost no information about events between AD 800-1000, and most historical events we know took place in AD 1000-1500.

These views are entirely rejected by mainstream scholarship.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths...

I would spread the cloths beneath your feet.

Manhole at Hill & Wells just north of Walter Payton College Prep. I walk over this on my way to work but never noticed it before. The image is only really visible if you look at it directly--it shows up better in photos than to the naked eye.

Mystery Meteorite Illness

I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. Lovecraft:

Around midday Saturday, villagers were startled by an explosion and a
fireball that many were convinced was an airplane crashing near their remote
village, located in the high Andes department of Puno in the Desaguadero region,
near the border with Bolivia.

Residents complained of headaches and
vomiting brought on by a "strange odor," local health department official Jorge
Lopez told Peruvian radio RPP...

"Boiling water started coming out of the crater and particles of rock and
cinders were found nearby. Residents are very concerned," he said.

-AFP, via Yahoo!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Magnetic Fields at Carnegie Hall

Great concert by the Magnetic Fields from NPR. They should put this out as an album.

Meditations on Time

In a recent interview with Mary Beard at BLDG BLOG, a book about Pompeii is mentioned:

it’s easier to spot political motives a generation or two after the

Another thing: one of the most famous excavations in Pompeii was the
excavation of the Villa of the Mysteries and its frieze, first published in the
1930s. These were fantastically lavish volumes – you know, more expensive that
you would ever imagine, in a fantastic vellum binding – which my library in
Cambridge managed to get a copy of. The book's got Mussolini's fasces on the
back cover, in gold emboss, and, instead of being dated 1938, it's dated Era
Fascista VII or something.

So we got a group of students together and we passed the book round, and we
said, "Do you notice anything about this book? Now, don’t think of the pictures
– look at it as a book. Do you notice anything about it?" And most of the
students said, "Well it’s lovely. It's really expensive, isn't it?" It took them
about a quarter of an hour before a single one of them said, "Oh, what’s this
here?" pointing to the fasces and the dating by Era Fascista.

And, had all gone according to plan, the world would have ended up in Era Fastista M, sometime around 2931 AD, and we would now be in EF LXXVIII. Happily, we never got much past EF XI, but I hear the book is very well produced.


In Ethiopia, they've just passed the year 2000 since they live according to the Julian calendar, as well as the Gregorian, in part depending on what language you're speaking. Addtionally, as one man in this story from NPR puts it, we have just finished the second day since the birth of Christ, since every day is a thousand years to God. 6AM is midnight, the start of the twelve daylight hours, and midnight is 6PM, halfway through the nighttime hours.

The story also features Muligieta, the most beautiful girl in Ethiopia and the Black Eyed Peas.