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caesar novus

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Everything posted by caesar novus

  1. The Chronicle of Higher Education gave food for thought in an article "Does Engineering Education Breed Terrorists?" http://chronicle.com/article/Does-Engineering-Education/235800 along with historical perspective about earlier terror periods with different flavors (esp in comments section). I include a poll above to support or not some of their themes.
  2. The Economist has an obituary for the most famous test/evaluation pilot of WW2 and postwar at http://www.economist.com/news/obituary/21693807-mr-brown-regularly-defied-death-humour-and-smile-he-was-97-obituary-eric-winkle-brown . Eric Brown (sometimes you have to search for "Erik" on book web sites) test flew and evaluated almost 500 aircraft types, often ingenious captured German designs that were dangerous without a written manual. Article suggests he survived by being small and calm. I remember a training aircraft where my knees blocked much of the travel of the stick, and was jammed probably too tight to bail out. Also I have met 2 top aerobatic pilots and they seemed almost clinically dead when there was no scariness to stimulate them. I bought many of his books that cover these historic aircraft from the 40's and 50's. They help de-romanticise them, because almost all have exasperating user-unfriendly flaws that were avoidable if the development hadn't been so rushed in wartime. The article hints at clever tactics he worked out; I haven't seen this in his books, but maybe it's in some of them I had to avoid due to cost (his out-of-print tends to run above retail price). P.S. edited in: I now see there are more interesting obits for him appearing on the web, calling him the world's best test pilot etc. As usual some of the most interesting info on his life is on youtube, if you can understand the thick Scottish accent when he talks.
  3. July 2015 issue of Minerva Magazine had an article by David Sims about decorations in Roman armor and weapons. Especially looked into why nearly throw-away javelins, arrows, and plumbata (cool throwing darts) could have a twisted iron shaft... decoration or functional? Note the nearly 2 twists in the photo below: "A Twist in the Tale" article found they were cold-twisted, and thus increased the rigidity. The usual hot twisting for decoration reduces the rigidity, but up to 2 cold twists helps unless you go 4 more degrees and it will fracture. He determined this by experimentation with replicas. He went on to say that true decoration may or may not compromise functionality. For instance decorative helmets may be fragile, but were meant to intimidate the enemy with your confidence. Not a display of wealth or status among your own troops, because even the lowly paid sometimes got decorations of a cruder nature. He says so called "parade armor" was a myth; it was all for real use. They showed various photos of Roman armor held at the museum where I think the mag is based at. It made me think how even in recent centuries engraved guns have been popular, but not in an intimating way; rather more effeminate to my eye.
  4. caesar novus

    Democratizing Archaeological Discovery

    http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/winter-2015-2016/article/drones-for-research-use-of-the-uav-in-archaeology talks about once sat. photos or whatever identify looting areas, they can be monitored with drones. Not sure who can pay for this in general, but they describe monitoring a hot looting area in Jordan which became less active recently for reasons unknown. Maybe the drone pilot buzzed the bad guys up close.
  5. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/02/160216-ted-prize-sarah-parcak-satellite-archaeology/ describes a new system to allow crowdsourcing volunteers to identify looting of archeo sites thru sat. photos. Their warnings will be relayed to gov'ts, which if not corrupt will blah, blah, blah. This system doesn't entirely assume good intentions, because the looting locations are slightly veiled to even the volunteer spotters. Archeologists have to tweet or whatever their activities to avoid being tagged as looters. New sites may be discovered that have no human visits yet. Looks like potential for abuse, like looting the sites by night by clever robbers who can ID locations by detective work or connections, but hope springs eternal...
  6. caesar novus

    Modestly keeping up with technology

    Let me review some of my timid steps of using new consumer technology... nothing electronic, but more on the humble side: With tired looking bath tile and kitchen counters, I avoided the expense and trouble of replacement with some of those special purpose epoxy paints. As I feared, the finished look was a little uneven due to non-ideal temperatures and applicator tools. But the coverage of any porous grout and a few tile cracks gave a great waterproof and uniform look. The only drawback was the tile paint didn't stand up to the rare abrasion very well, but little problem for me because I was that rare person who didn't take the opportunity to change the color. A scrape is invisible and typically still waterproof. Oddly the (non-matching) counter paint is bulletproof from abrasion, something I was concerned about even tho I never chop stuff directly on the counter. There is one quirk which I just now realized may be my fault. The counter stains from food! A dot of tomato sauce or orange juice will be instantly tattooed on the surface. Well, it is very faint, but will take about a month of regular cleanings before that shadow disappears. I guess it is my fault due to sanding the results to give a uniform somewhat rustic look from the patches that were more or less glossy. It must be porous, so I guess I should wax it or something. Next challenge was my car battery dying between starts. Over time the alternator gets weak and various gadgets stay annoyingly active when the car is off. I had one of those jump start batteries that had lost it's oomph, so tracked down the few replacements that weren't already sold out from a nation's harsh winter. First tried one, then two small lithium batteries that plugs in a cig lighter. They are actually feeble chargers that can rarely give enough help, but turned out useful for locking or unlocking a trunk which can only be done electrically. Then I got a medium lead-acid jump start battery which sometime would do the job after couple minutes, but finally I had to buy a cheapo full size extra car battery with jump start cables. I normally wheel all 4 of these on a handcart to start the car! But the best help was couple dollar battery cutoff switch. I had tried to install the wrong kind long ago, but this new one did the trick. It was preassembled all wrong, probably due to a return before I got it, but after correction it almost negates the need for jump starts and may someday prevent a theft. The last new item was one of those Turkish pistol replicas that they use to fire blanks in the air during celebrations. They seem legal in any state other than NY, and even in Canada if it has a flare attachment. It is so fascinating because mine is a near twin to a real Beretta semiauto model which is made in Turkey anyway. Apparently it is legal in (eastern?) Europe for firing nonlethal tear gas or in Russia for rubber bullets. Anyway in my area gun ownership is extremely rare and I can hardly remember my only pistol experience on an old model 1911 automatic. Now thru handling the action, I can evaluate crime events with the more modern pistols. Even today a gov't employee reportedly shot thru adjoining offices when cleaning his Glock. I had heard how super safe they were due to NO manual safety (but 4 automatic safeties?) but how does this apply when cleaning them? BTW, there was little danger of hitting anybody because gov't employees here are eternally absent or on junkets. Today's news covered how great it was only 31% prison guards called in sick during super bowl rather than the usual more than a third. And how it was unavoidable due to monopoly gov't union rules - outrageous. Another advantage besides understanding crime reports (robbers with jammed guns, etc) was hand strength and dexterity issues. I sometimes have to rig and unrig sailboats for hours at a time until my fingers cramp up into distorted positions. Handling this pistol with it's stiff Turkish springs lets me for example compare right and left hands in the decocking process or whatever. My left really needs more exercise, for which this strange toy is the perfect exercise machine. BTW, I didn't get the more risky model that fires blanks forward - oddly enough my elementary school had a special presentation on how dangerous those can be to any finger or skull in the way.
  7. caesar novus

    Roman Numerals: There's Hope Yet

    It isn't necessarily smarter to use roman numerals; it can be evasive. When a movie or TV episode shows MCMXLVIII as a copyright date or whatever, the object apparently is to obscure casual readers into not realizing exactly how dated it is. Especially when the date may only appear for a microsecond... I read them backwards from right to left because the front numbers are easier to guess if they vanish before I finish parsing. I remember almost falling off my chair when first seeing an episode date of only "MM" or "MMX". The simple round number depictions don't succeed in being as veiled or pompous or ceremonious as intended. What drives me nuts is doing mental arithmetic when folks say the such-and-such century. The 8th century is the, um, er, 700's for example. And you can't just think the "real numbers" date for a given century is 100 years earlier because it works backwards (later) for BC. But I guess that is a concession to peak Roman times which can be referred to as the first century BC and AD for which there is no direct way in english to refer to those years. Nought-hundreds CE/BCE perhaps?
  8. caesar novus

    "Is China the New Roman Empire?"

    In 15 years, China is projected to have the most practicing Christians of any country. Much of the world growth is Protestant, and I think has an economic component. Besides core religious issues like the meaning of suffering, death, etc... I think Catholicism is seen in 3rd (and 2nd?) world countries as economically non-striving, mildly socialist, safety net kind of stoicism. Protestantism is more associated with economic self betterment thru entrepreneurial risk taking and networking. They see the developed countries as having achieved success thru the latter, although ending in secularism. Actually there were intermediate stages with secular betterment clubs like freemasons, rotarians, etc. So maybe the Protestant surge is a stage toward secularization!
  9. I attended a surprising lecture by zooarcheologist Michael MacKinnon on Roman games that I thought should be noted somewhere. He seems to be a lecturer for hire https://www.archaeological.org/lecturer/michaelmackinnon with immense experience digging all round the Mediterranean for animal bones from the Roman era. He finds tons of bones, but almost none of exotic animals! He shoots down most finds by other diggers (the giraffe bone in Pompei dates to recent, the bear and lion paw and tooth in north Africa was likely a skin/trophy). A few ostrich and other bones found in Italy, but not in numbers that begin to support the Roman pictures and descriptions... maybe much exaggerated! He has searched in vain for Hannibal's elephant bones... what Roman would go to the effort to relocate or burn or grind to dust bones of very large animals, especially since they don't do it for domestic animals? He has combed almost undisturbed African amphitheater sites for exotics in vain. His debunking seems all the more believable since he seems eager to prove Romans were cruel to animals. He uses circular logic in saying the Romans probably let many exotic animals die in transit "because the remainder brought a high price anyway". This seems silly to me that they wouldn't value the opportunity of making even more money by reasonable treatment. He calls the Roman trappers more cowardly than depicted in the mosaics because the mosaics show them using animal babies as bait... but that is full disclosure! He speculates the dangerous stuff was done by local Africans, but I think it was plenty dangerous for all. Read the free Amazon kindle book memoirs of someone building the Mombassa railway in 1800's who lost a worker to lions every few days. Even the overseers with (not always reliable) rifles were in terrific danger, especially because they had no reasonable spotlighting technology at night. So he appears to be saying Romans weren't often as cruel or macho as they pretend to be, at least with respect to exotic animals in games. Gladiators never fought animals, but 2 other kinds of specialists sometimes did (including doomed criminals). The lecturer seemed more believable due to his bias against animal cruelty... I am a vegetarian, but found him almost at the witch-hunter extreme. P.S. on the way to this lecture I listened to another debunking lecture recording about holy land archeology. A women with some of the most experience digging or writing up digs in Masada claims Josephus accounts were likely fictionalized. In a 36 lecture series, she says several of the mass suicide accounts of Josephus have no archeo basis,,, that is, the well known evidence is otherwise explainable. Furthermore Josephus had several motivations to depict dramatic suicides, and his readers expected him to selectively fictionalize for dramatic effect. I forget the lecturer's name, but possibly more evidence for my withful thinking that the Romans were nicer folks than commonly depicted! P.P.S this site won't let you log on if you override the 2 tick box defaults.
  10. Am I the only one hearing a still growing retrospective about David Bowie r.i.p.? Older folks say he gave them permission to cultivate their "weird" side, which may not have been the best thing in some cases I know. Young ones, like college radio DJ's here are having an orgy of discovery of his least listenable tracks from the 70's. In my case I am comparing live youtube clips of my favorite song of his. First I must pass along a funny but grouchy critique of the press coverage of his passing from http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/01/david-bowie-once-praised-hitler-but-he-was-always-changing-his-tune/ His only song that really grabs me started as a hit in Italy, but sort of flopped in US and UK. Now "Heros" seems to be the most downloaded song, I think due to Brian Eno writing in synthesizer and feedback drone parts that are just delicious. It just aches for a really long version, but his live performances tend to be sloppy and not have the best keyboardist. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%22Heroes%22_%28David_Bowie_song%29#Inspiration_and_recording sez "Heros": "has been likened to a Wall of Sound production, an undulating juggernaut of guitars, percussion and synthesizers." Anyway here are my contenders for best live performance of "Heros": 1) Berlin Sept 2002 a couple years before various heart attacks, he gave a really tight musical performance, maybe because the song was inspired by Berlin and one performance was even attributed by German gov't for helping bring down the wall. Unfortunately the best quality youtube clip starts with 1:40 silly talk you will want to skip, and maybe even more before he cranks up the tempo. Then his voice sounds kind of barking, but it is effective. Unfortunately the droney synth feedback stuff is just enough and not highlighted as I would like: 2) Paris 2002 must have been months earlier because he looks way younger. Same musicians, but sloppy and show-offy to some degree. Vocals and gestures not in the groove yet: 3) UK? Oct 1977 Top Of The Pops showed (in the middle third) that David can sing, with conventional professional techniques that he supposedly lacks! Otherwise a lackluster performance like one I saw in person a little later:
  11. caesar novus

    Amphitheater games maybe not so cruel to animals

    He found plenty of evidence that common animals were killed in games, and only said that the amount of exotic animals seemed to be wildly exaggerated. By "exotic" I took him to mean in the sense of not only foreign origin but strikingly unusual to Europeans. He did not doubt foreign animals were shipped in, just not that rare species were practically wiped out as has been claimed. If so, this could be commonly deemed as less cruel on a basis I don't agree with. Some animals are thought to be meant for killing vs. others which are too cuddly or noble or whatever. There is a TV series following game wardens where I grew up, and I hate their hypocrisy about "harvesting" animals being noble ways of "feeding the family". It used to be a poor area, but now overfed fat hunters with thousand$ worth of equipment go about needlessly maiming and killing. So I as a vegetarian don't absolve the Romans of animal cruelty, but can consider absolving them of mass-exotic-animal cruelty. He eliminated several other explanations for the utter lack of exotic bones yet abundance of non-exotic ones. I would lean toward an explanation that exotic bones might have been specially processed and removed or ground up for their supposed powers. I don't recall if he adequately disproved this other than to say the elephant ones would be unmanageable. Of course he can't really prove such things, but had a lot of experience of the sloppy way Romans disposed of other bones. I may not have followed his arguments that carefully because I don't like the modern fascination with violent Roman games. It seems to me that horse racing was their bigger passion vs. games which were not held for decades at a time.
  12. caesar novus

    Who gets credit for monuments?

    Forum of Nerva. According to https://www.instagram.com/p/BBF2PwWxQ6H/ : After assassination, Domitian was erased into oblivion by the Senate with a "damnatio memoriae".
  13. caesar novus

    Who gets credit for monuments?

    I hope everyone is following this "saverome" instagram account with almost daily coverage of Roman monuments: https://www.instagram.com/p/BAFeYrRxQ8H/ This one points out that Trajan just put up a bare pole for his famous column! It's famous carving of Dacian conquest or whatever may have been designed at the time, but was actually implemented or paid for or at least installed later, such as by Hadrian. So it's not an expression of one leaders ego, but maybe more of Rome itself. Was Hadrian unusually humble... remember he left a predecessor's name on his pantheon? Or maybe that had a slightly different story which I think was also covered in instagram. Anyway the facade of architecture may have a different author than the person famed for the initial build. I recall many renaissance buildings in Florence started without a facade, then it was added (or not) much later possibly in different tastes. I think British tourists actually funded the facade of the famous cathedral there for example,
  14. caesar novus

    Who gets credit for monuments?

    "Villa Poppaea" is a sidetrip free with your Pompeii entrance ticket... a restful change of pace from the crowds. However a book by an Italian archeo expert said the Poppaea connection is virtually nil, stemming from a distant vase fragment and the lack of any other evidence IIRC. Archeos call it villa A or Oplontis villa.
  15. caesar novus

    Who gets credit for monuments?

    "Baths of Caracalla"... waitaminute, how can such a warped emperor create something of refinement? Ahh, apparently he got credit for finishing touches of "Baths of Septimius Severus" according to a lecture I heard and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baths_of_Caracalla
  16. caesar novus

    Upcoming archeological tour . . .

    She also said that there were very few innocents to kill, but I guess is with the majority of recent Herod biographers who have doubts. When they work thru references to eclipses etc that were observed at the time, Herod appears to die early in 4bc and was sick leading up to that, so maybe out of the picture before any slaughter would be called for. I guess I have a personal bias for creators of magnificent architecture being not all bad. In the 20th century the dictators created hideous architecture. When you look at fort Herodium in 3d, not only were the exposed levels amazing, but the underground cisterns dwarf the entire hill. One is open for visit, but I believe there were about six in pie-slice fashion and took umpteen years to fill in that desert. That archeologist was very involved in Masada digs, and said she was the only one allowed to dig Roman camps there. She is among those archeos who think the evidence supposedly for suicide there have other strong explanations. Anyway she has endless discussions of what may have been where in Jerusalem 2000 years ago that may interest some.
  17. caesar novus

    What problem am I forgetting?

    The last few weeks have had so many urgent problems for me that I didn't add them to any to-do list; I figured they burned in my mind well enough. But now after swatting down several of them, some kind of cathartic release has left my mind a blank and probably forgetting some remaining urgency. Maybe I will remember by reviewing events, or else just get mad at the needlessness of it all. Starts with my car which eternally drains battery flat. A full day at a high rep dealer only provided a list of red-flagged and yellow-flagged nonelectrical problems they had no time to fix. No improvement with battery, so I added to my collection of cordless and corded emergency chargers. These conveniently connect thru cig lighter, but thus are so low power to be almost worthless. Caveat with these newer digitized models is they won't work if you fall to half charge. They decide you have an obsolete 6 volt battery if your 12V one falls below half. Anyway, it was while waiting for a battery booster to be dropped off to me, I noticed an email claiming package delivery just failed because no answer at door. Wha? I ran madly around the neighborhood and found the truck and got it. I diagnosed that the sort of doorbell system to our building utilized a land line that had gone out. Actually that is my telephone and dsl line too, and for 10 days up to xmas I couldn't receive packages or even send them due to waiting let in the repair man. The day after xmas I mailed packages by a special "media" rate... with tracking numbers I can see them still sitting within walking distance and estimated to take 3 weeks. The phone was fixed when I came back, but then went down again. How was I supposed to let in the repairman when I was so cut off? With the usual more-than-a-week response time I got another fix. They had disconnected me instead of another intended person. This happens all the time for me with cable TV but the weird thing is they need to send someone out to fiddle with actual copper... the last one talked about removing corrosion as well! Oh, and the main threat to having no phone or virtual doorbell is that I am overdue for a mandatory plumbing upgrade. I don't have any carrier plan for a cell phone by the way, just 911 capability. Now is about the deadline when a letter threatened to break down the door of anyone in the building who hadn't shown proof of upgrade. Unresolved, overdue, but not forgotten. There was also the usual crises of getting estimated taxes prepaid when I don't have enough info on what the amount should be. And the infinite pain of getting signed for mandatory medical coverage with it's usual 50% yearly price rise for 50% less coverage. It pays for almost no genuine need, just ensures that wildly irresponsible self inflicted politically correct problems are coddled with years of acupuncture, med maryjane or whatever. Unbelievable hostile human factors where the fed system thought I was a different person than the state system, where one had mandatorily added middle initial. I signed up at the start of window only to be bombarded by daily shrill messages that warned my signup was incomplete. A web page and the most incompetent, rude, complacent-on-his bloated-fed-benefits helpline monkey suggested my signup had worked. No confirmation is given before the window is closed and you are cut off and subject to penalty. You have to pay by year end, but may not see a bill until days before that, if ever. Well it goes on and on. I remember a time when I could leave the house for travel time, but now am a full time idiot-manager. I don't recall some other deadline that I think was looming, so maybe I will be the idiot for not putting it on a to do list.
  18. caesar novus

    Upcoming archeological tour . . .

    I am so jealous, but at least got to see a PBS "Timescanners: Jerusalem" documentary of King Herod's architecture 3D laser scanned. And listened to a 36 lecture course called "Holy Land Revealed" http://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/holy-land-revealed.html that I wish you could listen to and comment on. It looks crazy expensive, but there are 70 to 85% discounts if you push the right buttons, and would make great listening on the plane with noise cancel headphones. Sometimes found at libraries in CD or DVD form. With a heavy archo background she puts a different spin on the history, like the massacre of innocents could only have happened outside the timeframe of Herod's life for some logical reasoning I forget. Explained the problem of temple moneychangers as needed because most coinage was watered down metal and temple wanted pure ones. Other issue was the temple tax had been turned from once in a lifetime to yearly. Not an issue of money or handlers being so bad. I wonder how accepted her many corrections to history are... I think it was done from a secular jewish framework a number of years ago.
  19. caesar novus

    Earthquake in L'Aquila, NE of Rome

    I had thought this imprisonment for faulty earthquake prediction might be an exception. Now I just saw the Italian legal system condemned by aviation experts as the worst in the entire world for assigning proper blame for airplane accidents https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerolinee_Itavia_Flight_870#Dramatization . What happened to the legacy of Roman law? National Geographic covered a 1980 Italian airline crash with rumors of a missile strike based on faulty reconstruction of the airplane and misreading the radar history. By 1994 it had been been clearly and officially proven as a bomb in the bathroom... another bomb blew up a rail station at the same Bologna point of departure shortly afterwards. But Italian supreme court in 2013 buried the bomb report and awarded a hundred million euros based on the missile conspiracy theory. I believe that national geographic investigative series also disputed Italian findings of their worst airline disaster in Milan https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linate_Airport_disaster where many prison sentences were given out. Not mentioned in this article is the way passengers maybe needlessly died because nobody noticed their burning wreck at the end of the runway... I may misremember tho. Maybe I shouldn't complain. I took only one domestic airline flight in Italy. I asked a travel agent how much from Rome to Venice and he typed, paused, checked again, and said Alitalia flight is free! And it was. The ups and down of serendipity Italian style.
  20. caesar novus

    news by twitter

    I had to edit this in after later fact checking: She has only been an assemblywomen representing part or all of Las Vegas to Nevada. She tried to run for US congress, but was voted out early within the repub. primary. A New York City transplant, her goal according to wiki is to arm female students against male predators. Us guys? I have never noticed any non-cop carrying a gun, except a hunter wearing fluorescent orange (usually looking harmlessly half asleep and just getting away from the spouse). I think what you see is a theatrical statement to protest local courts letting killers out to kill again and again... sort of proclaiming if they can't protect us we have to do it ourselves. Granted, the news does claim skyrocketing gun sales, but: In my state there is near zero (legal) gun ownership and gun murders. Wiki sez we have only 183 handgun carry licenses out for well over a million residents - basically just ex cops who fear revenge from their perps getting out of jail. Otherwise it is near impossible to transport even an unloaded permitted gun, and you need psych and med tests as well as a gun course for permit. Well, now we have a ton of white collar enforcement bureaucrats who can carry service pistols and have shot people when drunk. There must have been several in the 9/11 airliners who didn't act because they expected a landing somewhere. It's very interesting to see a Wiki table of gun ownership and crime by state; you can click the columns to sort the drastic differences for year 2010: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States_by_state . Urban Washington DC is quite an outlier with virtually no (legal) guns and a war-zone gun death rate. I grew up in the cluster of rural states with gun ownership exceeding 40% and negligible gun murders (like 2 for the state, or less than 1 per 100k pop per year). Typically these are unused hunting guns inherited from old timers. I briefly lived in Texas which seems to be statistically in the middle. Lower gun ownership unless you add the illegal ones. Probably intended against people more than animals... the higher crime rate in that big state leads to a lot of scary crime stories in the news. They started issuing concealed gun permits when I was there with almost nobody turned down - a farce. California has strict gun laws and less ownership but worse gun crime. The worst gun crime is in sort of poor and poorly managed S.E. states.
  21. caesar novus

    news by twitter

    I followed a couple of TV networks during today's San Bernadino mass killings in California, and what a waste of time compared to what I then found on twitter. The media and police spokes(wo)man just self censored for hour after hour. They were also very incompetant by misreading what was happening onscreen... I could hardly stand it. On twitter - once you found the best search terms, which is hard - it all was too clear. You could find transcripts of police radios with clear early grasp of the situation, which TV bozos probably knew based on their failed fishing attempts to get a live cop to say it instead. You could see helicopter photos showing all... now you realize the TV version was selectively smudged out (they admitted it was on delay for censoring purposes). Twitter pointed you to various amateur videos, including right next to the final shootout with bangs and all (why don't folks turn their phone horizontal for landscape recording?). They had tweets by coworkers of the suspects, who dumped (confidential?) parts of their job record and infractions and recent travel history. Sure there was some mixed up info by ideologues, but about the only professional news web page that comparably broke realtime facts was "Times of India". I'm really disappointed by the major media, from TV networks to the Bing or Google news sites... maybe they are afraid of lawsuits. Have to sometimes get your hands dirty with raw twitter for breaking news (even has good ancient Rome tweets as well).
  22. caesar novus

    news by twitter

    I can understand that major media has to confirm sources and beware of slander, but it must also be timid due to that diminished role. Even the slightly right-biased network waited a day to make this more than a (half valid?!) workplace grievance type of thing, in spite of early evidence of jihadist statements, and neighbors admitting fear of reporting apparent all hours suburban bomb factory due to appearing racist. After several incompetent acts by media folks, next time I will publicly tweet them realtime about it... I forgot their names this time around. Twitter, once you bump it out of top story or whatever to the live mode, had surprisingly few bad leads. When a false name was widely tweeted for the female shooter, there were a lot of jeering tweets from the mideast that it was an impossible or joke name. There were various probable invasions of privacy of the shooters that sounded like state administration folks were dumping secret data, and I liked that even though they could have done it for an innocent person like me. The police radio transcripts were great, but I think info could have led to them being shot if the shooters had access to them... also can hinder prosecution for reasons too complex to spit out there. The URGE may be understandable and psychologically healthy. The US, more than Europe or other anglo countries, has a noticeable subset that is so flamboyantly mischievous that any sane person might feel urges. Although mass public killings are up maybe due to publicity and copycat, average gun violence is way DOWN the last 20 years... as is all violent crime. According to The Washington Post, gun killings are down by half and gun woundings are down more by 3/4: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/12/03/weve-had-a-massive-decline-in-gun-violence-in-the-united-states-heres-why/ Assault weapon sales in California are banned, and the guns in recent event were legal non-assault. Assault is a misused term, often applied for sinister appearance rather than functionality. I guess the large reloadable clips are worst thing... certainly it is rare to hear of automatic (as opposed to semi-auto) capability. Semi auto by itself is not the sinister thing often bandied about by the press; many criminals would have fared better using old fashioned revolvers. Assault rifles use downsized cartridges vs. regular rifles which is the opposite of sinister. I can't comprehend the apparent swing of hunters to using semi auto AR-15 rifles. Their cartridge is wimpy enough to be banned in several states for deer hunting as a wounder rather than killer. I guess these guys are role-playing or used to their service weapon, but it's an old fashion design anyway - I would much prefer the short, efficient bullpup assault designs that followed on from europe.
  23. caesar novus

    Capua, Herculaneum, Pompeii, Stabiae and Oplontis

    Thanks, I thought I would compare a few experiences in dealing with the logistics. My last Pompeii visit was on maybe the most crowded day of the year... a Sunday during culture week when all state museums were free and full of Naples folks out for a picnic and socializing. I got in at opening time and used a successful theme park strategy of racing to the opposite side away from the main entrance and working my way back towards the mob (which tend to dally by the first things they encounter). I started with a very newly opened little villa with widely publicized frescos, and it was surreal to have it all to myself for 20 minutes. As the crowds filtered nearby, I mopped up the back areas. By the time I hit central areas, I could see I made a mistake by not making reservations for some closed off villas. I had seen in forums how even Italian speakers had trouble using the quirky reservation web site, but I hadn't known so darn many of the villas are now by reservation only. It soon became difficult to even walk thru the crowds, so I hopped a few train stations to peaceful Poppea. All my earlier visits (spring or fall) had little problems with crowds. On a week stay in Capri I took advantage of the extreme late hours Pompeii was open (9pm? still sunlit!). Any time my daily outings such as hiking the Amalfi coast ended a bit earlier than expected, I would hit Pompeii before grabbing a ferry to Capri. It was nearly deserted and in cooldown mode, although the ground radiated the remains of inhuman heat... nice. Years earlier, there just didn't seem to be that many tourists. I remember cursing my luck at one of the the most famous villas because there was one tour group inside, blocking my view. I should have followed them at a distance because they next headed toward a dazzling villa that is now closed indefinitely. I hate those freeloaders that hook up and crowd out tours, but at a distance I could have made up for the fact the site was out of guide maps that day. At Herculeum, I have always had trouble seeing what the fuss is about. Maybe because I never had a guided tour (my first Pompeii visit was with a charming but not very educational guide). Herculeum seems to have closed their cafe (unlike Pompeii which put one in a WW2 bomb crater), but I did find a vending machine in a little building with bathrooms (possibly for staff?). I leave Herc for last during days when I may have been too busy for lunch and am getting crazed for electrolytes or whatever.
  24. caesar novus

    Dating the Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum

    . First you need to examine the context of the coin, if possible... is it integrated among the old stratigraphy, or could it have been dropped in later. If the former, then you say the stuff among the coin dates from no earlier than the minting date (not equal to it). People sometimes talk in a shorthand, but I think they are assuming and in agreement with above. However in real life there can be uncertainties about the context, etc and you have to weigh in other evidence. And if you found many coins together in a wide range of minting dates... you might treat the youngest coin as closer to the deposit time than from a single found coin (which would be more like the average mint date in hoard).
  25. caesar novus

    Dating the Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum

    It's not really news or an isolated case... reading Mary Beard's not very recent book "The Fires of Vesuvius" covers the long known later eruption date evidence, and questions a bunch of other popular and scholarly assumptions. Pompeii has coins, skeletons, and graffiti from decades after the eruption as well, as people tunneled to retrieve/loot stuff before the site was forgotten. But there is a suspicious paucity of furnishings and skeletons, suggesting the city was mostly deserted not just days before the peak eruption, but long before. Some of the infrastructure like for water wasn't yet repaired from the years-previous earthquake. I didn't finish the book, but it seems you can go to almost any current explanation and find it based partly on air (and the human need for certainty). For instance, what was this building for and who owned it... is currently treated as 80% likely A, 10% likely B, and 10% chance something unknown. But examine the evidence for even apparently obvious cases (like a supposed brothel) and you must accept it is 80% unknown, 15% B, and 5% likely A. Well, maybe that is just Mary saying that, but she claims much of what we see now is restoration based on imagination rather than a time capsule. I used to hate the way folks on travel forums would gush over hiring private Pompeii guides who were more style than substance. But now I think that the agnostic truth is too hard to bear, and that romantic imaginings are a reasonable attitude to have while appreciating the site.
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