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caesar novus

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Posts posted by caesar novus

  1. Oh, I thought Rome was famous for an actual sub Saharan emperor or two, who was technically of another race and wide culture gap. Maybe the case for some generals, but if we are talking only of Berber-ness for a couple of emperors I am less impressed with that as proof of Roman broad mindedness.

    Today (or for me, a few decades ago) if you travel deep south into Berber speaking areas it seems like you are getting more into a Euro comfort zone than the Arab coast. The Berbers are proud and distant, but are every visitor's favorite companions. Like guides who deign to lead you and feed you rather than engage in the banality of talk, but there is somehow an easy cultural compatibility.

    In contrast there is a jolting cultural transition for instance entering southern Egypt. Not a negative thing -  it is way more friendly and less hard sell to Euro visitors than the coastal north. But now and probably 2000 years ago the sub Sahara would seem a less likely cultural seedbed for a leader of Roman life.

    The draft of my previous post tried to include map of Berber settlement areas in northern Africa with no luck, maybe png not supported? Anyway I stripped that out, along with accompanying caveats... EDIT: now it works:


  2. Quote

    The portraits of Septimius Severus and his children (Caracalla and Geta) certainly reflect their Carthaginian (North African) origins:

    Portraits look Berber to me, with past experience of traveling north and south Algeria. But  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berbers#Antiquity sez:


    the interactions between Berbers and Phoenicians were often asymmetrical. The Phoenicians worked to keep their cultural cohesion and ethnic solidarity, and continuously refreshed their close connection with Tyre, the mother city.


    [Berbers] persisted largely unassimilated, as a separate, submerged entity, as a culture of mostly passive urban and rural poor within the civil structures created by Punic rule.


    emperor Septimius Severus, who was a North African of Roman/Punic ancestry (perhaps with some Berber blood)


    Smells like another case of trying to diversify historical figures to suite modern tastes, against (admittedly sparse) evidence, like Macedonian Cleopatra was a few years ago.

  3. And another direction to seek are hi-res videos of Roman museums. These typically are not so available or done very well, but are getting increasing acceptance from museum directors. Take for instance the National Museum of Rome, an oddly quiet, cool collection of ancient stuff handy to the central train station. I see a long video with Greek narration that pans too fast, and a too short video below by a travel book writer who misled me by saying Hadrian's Villa wasn't worth visiting. Here is a web site with more virtual tours - I think I will seek one of the Roman subsection of the Vatican museum: https://joyofmuseums.com/museums/europe/italy-museums/rome-museums/national-roman-museum/


  4. Wow, I tried routing prowalk and other videos to my 4k TV with youtube app and it is stunning. Didn't try this earlier because I thought I would have to leave my google password sitting in the TV, but they allow me as anonymous for free. For some reason I can run 4k at double speed that would cause jerkiness on my laptop, which helps for instance on a 6 hour video walk thru Jerusalem. Sitting really close gives great immediacy as if folks might bump into you, altho I have to reduce over vividness with TV settings.

    Some really good vids to look for are Hadrian's Villa and also the Appian Way. I didn't find great ones, but will post a teaser that lets you imagine how good an Appia Antica one could be if they would just walk or bike continuously without a lot of chit chat:


    • Like 1

  5. On 8/9/2020 at 5:51 PM, caesar novus said:

    some of the better sitcom reruns like The Office and 2.5 Men. Due to construction noise I have been displaying captions, and found stealth jokes there that I missed earlier. There is a new comedy called "Corporate" that tries to carry on office satire, but it  is very hit and miss.  I suppose humble pursuits like this could be my life story for a while.

     I think "Corporate" just had their season finale, but about half of their shows really hit the mark with rare insights of looney aspects of being a white collar drone, so seek reruns. This is on Comedy Central channel which just now did the most shameful censoring of their "The Office" reruns. They had been butchering it a bit to allow longer commercials, but now brought cancel culture to bear in bleeping out words like "gay". In the closed captions it shows up as asterisks half the time, along with some other mildly non PC words. I noticed the Paramount Network will resume putting out a couple "The Office" reruns out per week - I hope uncut.

    We are back in hardcore shutdown with outrageous crimes in my neighborhood due to released prisoners, and mismanaged situations and catch 22s everywhere you look for law abiders, but it is just too tedious to recount. Been watching some Mary Beard about Romans on Youtube. She can be a loose cannon, so best to look for the more focused BBC produced ones.

  6. We are reverting back to lockdown with dire penalties for not wearing masks. I made a rare stroll outside for a swim and increasingly gasped for air in the overheated effort. At the shore there were 3 police overlooking pretty much only me and I nearly fell down and passed out before daring to unmask. Same routine on return.

    Reminds me of another case of gov't zeal for safety. Large parts of the Fukushima mandatory evacuation was not justifiable based on radiation science, and some large number of elderly died from the disruption. Wiki: "Many deaths are attributed to the evacuation and subsequent long-term displacement caused by mass evacuation that was not neccesary for the most part", "The victims include hospital inpatients and elderly people at nursing facilities who died from causes such as hypothermia, deterioration of underlying medical problems, and dehydration.".

    Back to a closer example was yesterday's Autopsy tv show with a cautionary tale of Marlon Brando dying from self sequestering himself in a house with hidden black mold. LA media watched outside that same house where his son had killed his daughter's boyfriend. That daughter later killed herself in Tahiti, where the police wanted to grill Marlon if he ever returned to his getaway house (island) there. So superstar Marlon died in agony from a known lung-attacking mold condition at home, maybe due to not getting out for enough swims?

  7. By now, you may have seen announcement of another Istanbul museum converting to a mosque. Another populist/nationalist blow to globalism and Unesco. Instead of posting links to the news stories which have a bunch of intrusive video ads, I will post one of the most interesting youtube video I have seen about the "why" of nationalism. Nationalism brings some crude accountability that may be missing not only in today's globalism but for those from the past who served distant empires.

    The lack of any nationalist connection at all can not only make war sacrifices seem pointless but promote worse behavior. Atkinson's "The Day of Battle" details WW2 atrocities against Italian women and children by troops from one corner of of the French empire, and other sources claim this continued into Germany. They had no altruistic stake in the war and expected plunder in exchange for their risks.

    Anyway, a bunch of documents from attics in the US fell into the hands of professor Weber that illuminated early mental development of Hitler. He thought OH NO, I don't want to be known as a Hitler historian, but the documents from Jews who were very early acquaintances of Adolph (then fled to the US) were just too important and newly explanatory of ultra nationalist impulses. I may be misremembering a few things since I first encountered this material, but: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmDK2VC53XY


  8. I never found hot, crowded Rome enjoyable until I focused on the outskirts. Besides Ostia Antica which is more shady and less crowded than Pompeii, I adore taking a long Sunday morning walk on the Appian way when vehicles aren't allowed. It has major uncrowded archeo sites (in good shape) on the end closer to Rome. The outer part has tons of humble monuments with the sober lifelike sculptures that I love, apparently tombs of freed slaves showing how they made good.

    Near dawn there are no tourists - I alone got off the train miles outside of Rome at a military base near the way. No danger of getting lost because the one path out is lined with graphic pictures of a sentry about to shoot anyone straying out of bounds. The actual Roman road is lined with umbrella pines and you mainly encounter dog walkers from the discrete set back mansions. The temperature is dewy sweet, but the paving stones are chariot-pounding rough on poor footwear.

    I encounter typical Italian eccentricities, like they fail to unlock the on-way entrance to a major site so I have to bushwack an endless trail to the back entrance. I try the closest deli to the way, which you would expect to be a tourist trap but makes a sublime sandwich to my specifications that I can still taste in my mind. I continue the walk into southern Rome which is pedestrian unfriendly, but has for instance lesser known unpatronized museums like a power station newly converted to ancient Roman displays.

    The ProWalk guy is fairly knowledgeable, but misses some of the less crowded and serendipitous routes which I sometimes post in his comments. In some cases I can see places and visitors are gentrifying into a wealthier, more crowded, and less interesting mode since I visited. There are quieter periods than shown, like the long end of day when Pompeii stays open quite late.

    ProWalk has recent competition with just unbelievable technical qualities like 4k and better resolution. It pays to go into youtube settings to ensure it is giving you the max res of your device, and maybe bump up the speed to 1.5x or whatever is the most your modem can handle. I don't have a Roman themed one handy, but check out this unbelievable one on Norway Fjords https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhVOvt2teCs


  9. A local museum used to have a few shelves of Roman glass, often a bit wonky and asymmetrical. Later I chatted with the top glass expert at Corning Museum of Glass about whether that glass may have looked less amateurish when made, and pointed out claims how glass may flow in extremely slow motion over centuries. He said glass doesn't change shape at all, and the wavy pioneer windowpanes you see thicker at the bottom were oriented that way to be more stable. I talked about the weird iridescent amber look of our pieces, yet draw a blank whether he said that stays stable thru time too.

  10. Gosh, I see how that Pompeii series goes on at least to part 6, then there are ones on the Roman forum, Capua amphitheater, etc. If you want a change of pace to something both Roman and super scenic, try his new drone channel with:



    and then follow up with his highly worthwhile walking version of Capri's notorious Tiberian palace. I have youtube run these a bit fast, but stay ready to pause at the best bits. Again, this seems almost better than real visits where you arrive quite winded from the climb (documented on his other videos):


  11. Ideas for activities:

    1) Get some teflon for your resp. system in the form of pneumococcal shots. Covid supposedly kills mainly thru pneumonia as does a lot of other conditions, so it is my uninformed reasoning to splurge on the very expensive pair of shots prevnar13 and ppsv23. Insurance only covers it once for oldsters. I got the first which targets the 13 most common pneus, and it seemed to transform my resp system from frail to semi bullet proof. I am too familiar with pneu choking breathing capacity to thimble size, but cannot find anyone willing to poke me with the 23 followup.

    2) Local library expanded digital offerings. They hate physical books, and won't even check mine back in until after 2 week sitting in a return bin. But newly offer for instance Kanopy streaming videos which offer Great Courses in rotation. I want to see their lecture series of life of the Roman commoners, if it isn't too much of a Marxist victimology fest. Also they offer ancestory.com for a while. I had 650 years of family tree done by a relative, and am plowing thru a digital confirmation effort. More than just a chain of parentage, you can view various records with revealing sidelights.

    3) Try to not let a day go by without knocking out some unpleasant chore normally put off.

  12. We are back under lockdown, mainly due to one obscure tiny subculture here that doesn't follow precautions and creates almost 40% of new cases. When they were cited for violations, the ACLU sued for disproportionate enforcement. Not needed, because the citations absurdly allow a jury trial, so will be dropped as a practical matter. When state health dept tries to give pre-emptive assistance, the too comfortable bureaucracy can only organize 5 ready contact tracers for the whole state.

    Anyway, what about hunting and gathering under this regime? I just tried one grocery run after senior hours, and it was still a zoo with emptying shelves. I think seniors here are not online or aware of the very civilized senior hour experience with no crowds and mostly full shelves. The non-Costco warehouse club I use would probably discontinue it, but once an entitlement is granted it becomes awkward to withdraw. BTW their premier membership has been a godsend, with free air shipping of everything from heavy home gyms to crates of industrial toilet paper. Industrial TP has almost always been in stock, since few office workers to use it.

    What I want to stockpile for every main meal of the day is my invention of pesto jalapeno toasted sandwich made with naan bread. It is so decadently satisfying with the fiery peppers modulated by a coating of luxurious pesto, wrapped in crispy thick naan. You need a long slot toaster for the naan, such as from Amazon; at dark setting it will puff up even frozen naan. My warehouse store sells jumbo packs of these, affordable pesto, and sliced pickled jalapeno. If you make your own pesto, substitute another nut for the ridiculously pricey pine nuts. Coat one side of toasted naan thinly with pesto, carpet one half with jalapeno, and fold over. You can support the whole thing with a fork thru the rounded ends at an angle which pins it together and supports it horizontally, like a pizza slice on a stick.

    That dish is easily eaten in front of a TV, as long as excess oily pesto isn't squeezing out. Nice to accompany it with some of the better sitcom reruns like The Office and 2.5 Men. Due to construction noise I have been displaying captions, and found stealth jokes there that I missed earlier. There is a new comedy called "Corporate" that tries to carry on office satire, but it  is very hit and miss.  I suppose humble pursuits like this could be my life story for a while.


  13. Gopro vlogging on youtube now extends to walkabouts of Roman sites in amazing detail with even surround sound, such as the Prowalk Tours series. I find these play best at youtube's 1440p setting on any laptop. If it has poor speakers then some stereo headphones will pay off, and of course hit the youtube button to expand into fullscreen: 



    I haven't fully watched these 2 but usually they are even better than being there live in some ways, with drone segments and good weather, etc. He has several versons of each of these, depending on your preferences, and there are similar series by others. https://www.youtube.com/c/ProWalks/videos

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  14. I am puzzled by the tornado of profile photo updates comprising the majority of the "all activity" page https://www.unrv.com/forum/discover/  . That is the logical page to seek new posts on this forum, yet is clogged by possibly phantom actions in zombie accounts that have no posts and no real activity except perhaps their first day 5 years ago. Is there some software glitch mistakenly tickling these photos, or is there some scheme that benefits from having stored photos ever changing?

  15. I've been surprised to see first the survival of Roman based measurements in the modern world, and more recently a driving out of metrics in favor of feet. This in the world of tech and for utilitarian, not ideological reasons. First a reminder of a Roman foot being 12 thumbs or 16 fingers wide, and a tad smaller than modern feet https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Roman_units_of_measurement#Length

    A big move back to feet came to my attention from an airline pilot who said the metric system for flight level assignments is vanishing, now limited to North Korea and some backwaters of China. Surely this must be due to the elegant way you can allocate altitudes based on odd or even thousands of feet for going east vs west without interference. It turns out a perfect round numbered separation distance, which turns out very messy in meters https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_level#Semicircular/hemispheric_rule

    The above reference shows umpteen exceptions, but in the pilots global experience the foot is back in charge. I suppose the exception for Italy and New Zealand may persist, which still uses thousands of feet, but applies even and odd for north vs south flights due to the elongation of those countries. The UK had a fancy 4 direction rule, but standardized to the norm 5 years ago.

    Another area of feet is catamaran length. France dominates the world large catamaran yacht market due to a drastic tax favoratism/shelter scheme. But using round meters on these represents a colossal jump in size, due to the way width and capacity scales. So they use more granular feet, like a Lagoon 42 vs a Lagoon 45. Other yachts often seem to be labeled in decimeters, but that seems too fussy to remember distinctions of every 4 inches.

    I first noticed this oddity when I used to buy French tablets. Inches persist as a diagonal screen measure, I guess for TV's as well. Rome had very useful divisions of measure based on a scale humans could relate to. Having things divisible by ten is good, but the metric units can seem odd. Who thought of a tiny gram as standard, so that any useful amount of things have to start with kilograms. Let's remake metrics with Roman units, like kilofeet or centifeet?

  16. On protesting the announced conversion of the Byzantine church, then mosque, then museum back to a mosque with potential modifications and limited access:

    “Hagia Sophia is an architectural masterpiece and a unique testimony to interactions between Europe and Asia over the centuries. Its status as a museum reflects the universal nature of its heritage, and makes it a powerful symbol for dialogue,” said Director-General Audrey Azoulay.


  17. One of the most eye opening nerdy tech channels for me is https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCynGrIaI5vsJQgHJAIp9oSg/videos and especially his deep comparisons of ww2 fighter plane tech. They have a dry feel since he assembles them while holed up in far flung hotels as a resting airline pilot. But his well documented findings can be amazing. Allow me to exaggerate his issues a bit without his lengthy nuances, so as to show how important the themes may be.

    For instance the usual narrative is backwards, where the Brits gifted Merlin engine technology to make the US P51 a war winner. Actually the Merlin design incorporated US style enhancements all jammed oddly to squish into the Spitfires narrow cowl, for instance with both superchargers sharing a shaft and not a proper intercooler between the stages. It was complex and the US ripped them out of P40s in favor of boring Allisons. The Me109 had similar space problems where they couldn't fit a second stage supercharger in the cowl, but at least made the first stage uniquely variable speed.

    Anyway back to the P51, which maybe shouldn't have been developed anyway. The earlier available P47 was capable of escorting bombers anywhere with multiple use of British paper mache drop tanks. A well documented conspiracy prevented use of more than occasional drop tanks because the B17 was supposed to defend itself. The P47s weren't used when bombers had such high death rates that they were grounded for long while. Later Greg shows the coverup in denigrating p47 ability and pretending waiting for unique P51s was needed.

    Well, I am explaining this poorly, so will try a diagram showing why US fighters other than p51 and Corsair tended to be chubby. Effective multistage super and turbochargers take a lot of space for ductwork and intercoolers. Here is a p47 view which doesn't do justice for it's sleeker head-on profile:


  18. The grizzled godfather of that Top Gear TV car series gave top marks to this car technology channel I subscribe to https://www.youtube.com/user/EngineeringExplained/videos. It is so clever in explaining pros and cons of car tech that I almost forget that cars bore me (aside from my crush on econo supercar Alfa Romeo 4C shown below). I like the way he lays out issues by diagramming on a whiteboard, for instance why an electric car is efficient but electric trucks tend to be a disaster. Can't really dispute his physics and math.

    I like the way he explains for example how dumb the typical approach of adding a turbo to a small engine is - to avoid damaging knocks they have to dump in extra fuel simply to cool the cylinders, not even to burn and extract energy! Then he explains innovative combustion approaches that keep rolling out to challenge his Tesla.


  19. During lockdown or whatever, have you found some youtube/vimeo/whatever channels that are both educational and fun? In the ancient Rome realm, I have been subscribed to well known popularizing scholars Darius Arya and Mary Beard, but would welcome other suggestions. Darius has a channel with odds and ends at https://www.youtube.com/c/RomancultureOrgWeDigRome/videos and "Dame" Mary has various colorful documentaries found at https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=mary+beard

  20. The new yorker magazine (and the new york book review, both of which I have subscribed to) is prone to endless navel gazing as intellectual exercise rather than seeking truth. I see it more as as elites of both EU and US going out of control for a decade while the gentlemanly opposition couldn't get their case made thru the elitist accusatory press and new age tunnel vision social media. It took time for dumb elitist policies to inflict real pain to everyday people (like ex Obama voters, who essentially turned the tide themselves!) and turn to frothy populists who oversimplify to make a point. It's much like the stockmarket... things overcorrect, then swing back.


    Obamacare was actually so seethingly destructive and unfair, to me the country is irreversibly finished... gov't is just a racketeering arrangement that I would rather be overseen by an unpretending scoundrel like Putin or Castro. This year another 50% mandatory increase even when I essentially zero out any practical health coverage - only stupid things like massage therapy for vagrants are covered and shooting the price up. It implodes my frugal life savings and the benefits only go to those who spent-down wining, womenizing, and singing those years I saved.


    The press seems wrong about recent populists; all they do is project false evil motivations. AP news, Reuters, Google, and Yahoo all were exasperatingly hateful and delusional, so you had to keep tabs on drudge.com which besides some froth of it's own showed why Trump would win months ago based on a professors simple questionaire which has been accurate for 30 years. BTW he now says Trump will self destruct in favor of his very respected VP... the elitist opposition VP actually had violent Marxist  associations.


    Trump's position against trade will have to be moderated or he will lose the Senate / House in a couple years like Obama did. He better not rule in dictator-mode like Obama who made umpteen extremist executive orders rather than negotiating laws thru legislatures like Bill Clinton did. Clinton's laws stood while Obama's will be zeroed out with a counterorder days after leaving office. Trump's actual pronouncements about implementation since election have actually sounded moderate and mostly wise, as acknowledged by the previously horrified French ambassador turning around on twitter.


    Well, time will tell if it balances or tips. But I have seen nothing like the  elitist reality distortion media machine that grew up attacking Bush then enshrining Hillary over populist Bernie (who was once my nut-case mayor). A whole generation has no concept of respecting non-party-line opinions or speech, even on campuses. Obama was actually brought in in a populist fashion, altho he was actually a cold elitist with the measurably most extreme record of white-looney-left voting.


    I have restrained myself from using a Russell Kirk quote as my regular signature: "Liberalism, once professing to advocate liberty, now is a movement for control over property, trade, work, amusements, education, and religion"

  21. Drone views above Italy are all over youtube, and many are amazing. Not yet doing the best job of Roman ruins, and they appear to be skirting the law (one lands just as the operator is arrested). Search within Youtube for "drone rome" or "drone rome wall" for instance. Also Roman monuments outside of Rome, but avoid keyword of "roman" or it floods you with people of that name.


    P.S. you can also use this to view earthquake damage, which was what started me on this search.

  22. This article about Italian mafia supporting the looting of Roman artifacts and arms trade in N. Africa https://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com/2016/10/mafia-offers-rifles-to-jihadists-for.html#Xy2K1SjDEMxwGdi0.97 reminded me of the classic Atlantic slave trade triangle:




    In the picture above (have to be logged in to see, I believe) the Europe node is interchangeable with US New England in taking agricultural products to convert to rum, textiles, etc which Africans want in order to export their slaves. Anyway, I think I see a similar trade triangle for Roman artifacts for Kalashnikov types of thing, assuming you consider Italy and the mafia as only catalysts and not a destination.


    How about one node is Libya jihadists or the whole crescent of Isis destabilization. They allegedly dug up more artifacts in 5 years than predecessors have for centuries, and trade them for weaponry. The source of weaponry is a lawless fringe of eastern Europe like Ukraine and Moldova. They accept money that ultimately comes from the wealthy fringe of Asia (China, Japan, Russia, gulf oil states) for artifact loot.


    So aside from the mafia lubrication (any drug involvement?}, the arrow for Roman artifacts goes from Arabic shores of Mediterranean to distant fringes of Asia. An arrow for money goes from Asia to extreme eastern Europe. An arrow for weaponry completes the triangle from e. Europe to Arabic unstable shores.


    How to cure? Triangle trade should be fragile because it is limited by the weakest link. I think Japan could slow down import of artifacts, but not the other places. A timid peace-monger approach has not slowed down the looting. East Europe seems unready to stabilize with the Putin vs EU show. Maybe the mafias are weak links, but Italy only occasionally seems to take strong measures. Mussolini crushed the mafia(s) thru not just strong arm tactics, but things like elaborately protecting witness safety so they would testify. This has been revived at times, but not enough; s. Italy needs attention.

    • Like 1

  23. Hmm, I think my above post was a difficult sell, so I will try other suggestions. I am streaming a paid series called "Understanding Greek and Roman Technology: From Catapult to the Pantheon" which can be quite expensive even with sale promotions, but I just noticed there are several free samples on youtube https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=understanding+greek+and+roman+technology


    Another short youtube series I am streaming is "Mel Brooks, The Producers, making of 1of 7"... about a classic black comedy about financial fraud. For once something other than a ponzi scheme, but where you profit more when a project flops rather than succeeds because you oversubscribed with investors that then are zeroed out. I think not limited to the showbiz industry but behind certain regional solar power and internet broadband bankruptcies:


    Here is a snippet from the movie which unfortunately ends just before the one member of audience that claps gets beat up (caution, edgy or bad taste):