Brainstorming...

Sep. 22nd, 2017 08:11 pm
kengr: (Default)
[personal profile] kengr
Fay is over for TV night, and I'd quoted something from a story I was reading. It mentioned cheerleaders to which she responded with:

Fay: a goth cheerleader
me: a goth cheer squad
[various comments about school mascot possibilities]
fay: the Raccoon City Revenants
Me: Edgar Allan Poe HS Ravens

We also noted that Gothic Lolita fashions would actually work with cheer stuff because of the short skirts.


Hmmm... maybe twirling parasols instead of pompoms?

Diving Beetle

Sep. 22nd, 2017 11:01 pm
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Diving Beetle_2


It’s taken a lot of practice, but I’m finally getting decent photos of diving beetles mid-dive.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

The Ganaraajy Arjun (Task Force Singh

Sep. 22nd, 2017 02:50 pm
gridlore: Old manual typewriter with a blank sheet of paper inserted. (Writing)
[personal profile] gridlore
Beginning to gear up for the marathon slog that is NaNoWriMo. I'm doing a lot of background work, material that probably won't be in the book, but is essential for building a story in a setting that makes sense. To that end, I'm detailing the government and culture of the state that controls Task Force Singh. The main change is I'm getting away from Star Empires, because what a tired out trope that is!

The Beta Hydri system was settled roughly 300 years before the book's starting date, by way of a huge colonization effort headed by India. The effects of climate change and the ravages of the Warpox epidemic (a weaponized form of smallpox released in the 2060s by an unidentified group) was leading to mass famine. Volunteers from across southern Asia begged to be included in the mission. All told, over 5 million refugees were packed into colony ships and sent out.

The rigorous conditions on the poorly-maintained ships heading to their new home, named Arjuna after a mythical hero from Indian folklore, led to the creation of a strict hierarchy and a strong work ethic. Shelters needed to be dug and fitted out, vast hydroponic farms put into operation, and a million other details worked out. The colony thrived with an isolated oligarchy running things.

Power has concentrated in the hands of the Jagirdar; landed nobles who ruled through sheer economic power. The Jagirdar were the captains of industry and governors of the vast warrens of worker housing. A strong patron-client system grew as the Jagir houses provided for and protected the workers in their territories, while the lower class agreed to support their patrons nearly without question. As the colony grew to exploit both the resources of Beta Hydri and those of nearby stars, conflict among the Jagir houses grew to near warfare. Finally, the leading houses came to an agreement to form a new government based on wealth, a plutocracy with some nods to a representative government.

Today, the Ganaraajy Arjun (Republic of Arjun) controls sixteen star systems besides the home system of Beta Hydri. The government is headed by a Prime Minister. This official wields wide executive and judicial powers but holds his office at the pleasure of the Gomed Hol, the legislative body made up of Jagirdar representatives. Earning one of the 250 seats in the Onyx Hall is simple: you bid for it. Powerful families will place a dozen or more of their clients and relatives in Gomed Hol to further family interests. A seat is held until a challenge is made for it by an interested party.

The people are represented in the Samsad (Parliament), which is based on population. Currently, the Samsad seats 573 voting members and numerous non-voting observers from the colonies. The Samsad is where legislation is proposed and passed, although the Gomed Hol can veto any bill with a simple majority vote. This has led to legislative gridlock and blocked any attempt at reform.

Members of the Samsad are elected from regional councils, which are elected by the people. One of the greatest issues on Arjuna is the growing demand for direct representation and more regional power. The Samsad is considered too remote, with each member speaking for an average of 3 million citizens.
The Prime Minister is charged with appointing officers to the various ministerial posts and running the day to day operations of the state and government. Prime Ministers are usually chosen by the party with the majority in the Samsad, or by coalition vote. Prime Ministers remain in office at the pleasure of the Gomed Hol or until his party falls out of the majority and a new Prime Minister is called for.

There are several unofficial political parties in the Republic and many small factional groups. The major players are:

  • The Expansionists. They support a strong central government and expanding the Republic. Currently, they hold a slim majority in the Samsad with strong support in the Gomed Hol.

  • The Traditionalists. A conservative, religious party dedicated to returning to old Hindu ways and promoting religious unification under one faith. The more radical members want a return to the caste system. They are partners with the Expansionists in the current government.

  • The Unionists. Their main platform is full membership in the Republic and full citizenship for those living on those worlds designated as colonies and ruled by appointed governors.

  • The Democracy Now Party. They demand the dismantling of the current state and full suffrage and free elections under a new constitution. They hold a small number of seats, but are quite vocal and vote as a solid bloc. They tend to support the Unionists, but the latter seems to be embarrassed by the antics of Democracy Now supporters. This faction has been linked to terrorism in the past.

  • The Consolidationists. Bitter foes of the Expansionists, they advocate spending precious Rupees on building infrastructure and improvements in the territories already controlled by the state and improving the lot of the citizenry.

  • The Isolationists. They fight defense spending and expansion tooth and nail. Once the strongest voice in the Samsad, they've lost dozens of seats over the years and are now a distant third after the Expansionists and the Unionists with almost no support in the Onyx Hall. Natural allies of the Consolidation Party, they break on several issues, so a true union seems impossible.


As I said, almost none of this will show up directly in the book, but it will help me build characters and tensions inside the task force. And if I get to a second book, I can see it being a more political novel focusing on the aftermath of the war shaking out in the defeated Ganaraajy Arjun.

Dragonfly

Sep. 22nd, 2017 06:00 pm
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Dwarf Mongoose_8


It can be very hard to positively identify certain animals, particularly insects. For example, with dragonflies, you have to know the colour and patternings on their body, but you sometimes also have to know general size, where they’re located, and the time of the year you saw them.


Of course, it helps if they’re also not partially inside of a mongoose.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Andean Bear

Sep. 22nd, 2017 02:01 pm
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Andean Bear


Andean bear wondering if he can get away with selling “Asteroid and Meteor Insurance” and refusing to pay out for claims on the basis that those were all actually meteorites.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Salmon Crested Cockatoo

Sep. 21st, 2017 11:01 pm
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Salmon Crested Cockatoo_7


“They put high fructose corn syrup in everything these days!”




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Talapoin Monkey

Sep. 21st, 2017 06:00 pm
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Talapoin Monkey_1


The zoo called this a “talapoin”, but there are two species of talapoins, the Angolan and the Gabon. Not knowing what made them different, I went a-searchin and came across the following claim:


“Unlike the related Angolan talapoin, the Gabon talapoin has flesh-coloured (not blackish) ears and facial skin.” (from The Kingdon Guide to African Mammals, by way of Wikipedia)


Now maybe it’s just me, but it seems that the ears and facial skin or any monkey, whatever they look, would be flesh-coloured.


Crayola’s got a lot to answer for.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Sun Bear

Sep. 21st, 2017 02:01 pm
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Sun Bear_3


That feeling when you finally build up the energy to go climbing only to run out of tree.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
nunila: (Default)
[personal profile] nunila
We can tolerate everything except intolerance: The Paradox of Tolerance
What is the Paradox of Tolerance?
Guess what, Resistance: you don’t have to be tolerant of intolerance. Intolerance of intolerance has a proud history. The paradox of tolerance, first stated by Karl Popper in 1945,... https://www.amnottheonlyone.com/paradox-of-tolerance/

Stick Insect

Sep. 20th, 2017 11:01 pm
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Carol and Stick Insect_4


If you volunteer at the zoo (or get an internship), you might get to hold a bug* too.


* Technically, a stick insect is not a bug because it doesn’t suck. It chews instead.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

My brain has been interrogated.

Sep. 20th, 2017 11:48 am
gridlore: One of the "Madagascar" penguins with a checklist: [x] cute [x] cuddly [x] psychotic (Penguin - Checklist)
[personal profile] gridlore
It has been said that the unexamined life is not worth living. I mostly agree with that, it's another variant of "know yourself" and other such truisms making it clear that you need to be in touch with yourself before you can make it anywhere.

I would like to point out that I did pretty well as a blissfully ignorant soldier and truck driver, but that's beside the point I'm trying to make here. For the last few weeks, starting literally the day after we returned from Burning Man, I have been having my brain stretched by my neuropsychologist.

These evaluations and tests run the board from the kind of surveys that ask you about your feelings to tests of my ability to retain information to my critical thinking abilities and perception. The results, just from where I'm sitting, have been interesting.

Also exhausting. I leave these sessions feeling wrung out. Some of these tests are extremely hard, forcing me to really push my brain to manage them. Thinking can be hard work, especially when you are forcing yourself into areas that don't work so well due to some traumatic incident. Like a stroke.

So what have I learned just from my observations? My ability to retain and recall information is crap. I forget things really fast or lose them entirely in moments. This is even more pronounced when it comes to numbers. I simply cannot hold numbers in my head. This helps me understand why I am so bad with handling money these days. I can't keep the idea that we only have X to spend when I'm looking at an item that costs Y. Trying to keep those two figures is too much for me, so all I see is Y, and forget that X even exists.

This is why I ask Kirsten for permission to spend any money that isn't cash-in-hand. Even a five-dollar download for Civilization VI has to be cleared through her. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, since I think it's good to have one person being the final word on a family's finances, but it can be annoying. I'm a 52-year-old guy who needs permission to buy a book. But we deal with it.

While my ability to retrieve information is shot, I am much more likely to recall information if I'm prompted. We've done several exercises where there were lists of words in pairs. Trying to just remember the words was almost impossible. But when prompted with the first word, I was usually able to give the correct response. Same goes for the long lists of single words. Trying to remember them was a wash, but when asked for them by a category, like "vehicles" or "furniture", I was suddenly able to remember far more of the words than when just asked for the list.

I've also done many tests designed to examine my reasoning. Mostly puzzles and following directions. I'm happy to say those features seem to be working well. But again, when numbers come in I start to flounder. I suspect that my life-long troubles with math have only been made worse by the stroke. Thank Halford for calculators.

Where does this leave me? I'm not sure. I'm waiting for Dr. Dahl to score my last few assessments to see if we need to do a few more to nail down my exact diagnosis or if we are ready to move ahead with a treatment plan for my depression and hair-trigger emotional swings. I'm good with either path. To me, the important thing is moving forward.

But oddly, the most telling thing about my psyche that I've learned about in these past weeks didn't come in a nice office, but at Burning Man. I've volunteered with the Porta Potty Project a few times. It's a team that does education about how to keep the 1,400 blue rooms on the Playa in good shape, goes around to make sure that each john has toilet paper, and locks off the ones that have been vandalized or, um, desecrated beyond usability. This year, I learned that we might become an official part of the team that runs Black Rock City, and I might be able to drive my truck as an official vehicle to do the necessary work at the banks that lie in the deep Playa.

The way the concept of being able to drive in an official capacity again hit me is hard to describe. I spent nearly twenty years in the transportation industry, most of that as a truck driver. Even if it is just driving a couple of guys and boxes of toilet paper around, it will mean being a driver again. It will mean being part of a team. It will mean I have that part of me back if only for one week a year.

Here's hoping it happens.
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Prairie Dog_10


I will discharge it in either your straw-colour

beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain

beard, or your French-crown-colour beard, your

perfect yellow.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Curate's Egg...

Sep. 20th, 2017 06:58 pm
hrrunka: A small radio transceiver (radio)
[personal profile] hrrunka
The radio club meeting on Monday evening was a busy informal fix-it evening. A number of strange bits of kit were being worked on. I just went for the chat, and was feeling tired enough that I didn't stay all that long.

On Tuesday the weather was slightly lees grey and damp. I finally got round to doing a bit of work in the garden. I gave about ten feet of hedge a bit of a trim, and that left the garden waste ben almost completely full. In the evening there was another radio club meeting, but this involved a couple of short talks. They seemed to generate a fair bit of interest. I got home a bit later than usual, and discovered that my home *DSL was not performing. A bit of research using the mobile's data eventually revealed a notice about "Planned Maintenance" affecting about 150 exchanges including the one I'm on. As the maintenance was scheduled to run from 10pm to 6am I decided I'd have an early night. I think the network actually came back sometime around 2am...

This morning I decided I needed to get out of the house, so I packed some radio and geocache kit into the car and headed off. First stop was a geocache I hid back in 2002 which was in need of a fresh logbook. I took the opportunity to clean it out a little, removing the rubbish and adding a few new swaps. The weather was a bit grey and the path a little muddy, but the walk wasn't a bad one.

After that I headed back to a view point car park which is a good starting point for the nearby SOTA summit. I'd taken a packed lunch, so I ate that while looking at the (rather grey) view, then grabbed my radio kit and walked to the summit. Now, this particular summit is one I'd normally not have considered bothering to re-visit, but it is the one nearest my home. There's a large water tank and a couple of communication towers at the summit. Today there were four work vans at the summit, and work going on. If I'd taken a hand-held and a suitable antenna I could have considered activating the summit on VHF or UHF, but there was nowhere accessible I could set up my HF antenna sensibly, so I decided to abandon the SOTA idea and come home. Frustrating...

Grackle

Sep. 20th, 2017 02:00 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat

Grackle_2


Grackle starting to think this isn’t St. Louis after all.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Dream journal

Sep. 20th, 2017 06:49 am
hudebnik: (Default)
[personal profile] hudebnik
It was Thursday of a week-long music workshop, and I'd just taken a long, fairly difficult exam. I stepped out of the second-floor exam room onto the outdoor staircase down to the ground, and immediately stepped in an inch of water. In fact, the entire staircase below was under water. I looked up and realized that the flood waters -- fortunately fairly calm, with no visible current -- stretched to the horizon. But I needed to get to my dorm room, on the second floor of a different building, so I started swimming.

How *not* to design things...

Sep. 19th, 2017 11:02 pm
kengr: (Default)
[personal profile] kengr
The "pup" in the comics below is Florence a Bowman's Wolf (uplifted wolf species). She's as intelligent as a human.

http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff3100/fc03018.htm
http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff3100/fc03019.htm
http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff3100/fc03020.htm
http://freefall.purrsia.com/default.htm
(after thursday the above will get the wrong strip, try http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff3100/fc03021.htm)

I agree with Chris's dad. Especially given that it's a mobility device *with communications*. Killing the comms when there's a fault in the drive system is an *insanely* stupid decision.

What stupid design decisions have *you* had to deal with?

d*mmit, i'm a responsible adult!

Sep. 19th, 2017 06:41 pm
boogieshoes: (Default)
[personal profile] boogieshoes
today, i *finally* managed to finish mowing the far back yard.  for the *second* time this summer.  the problem has been a combination of the weather and the fact that the entire neighborhood drains through my yard.  if it's a dry year, like last year - no problem.  if the weather pattern is 'rain hard enough to produce standing water in the low places of the neighborhood, dry out just enough to tease you about it, rain to produce standing water *again*, lather-rinse-repeat', you get the situation i had this summer - i could barely mow the front yard 3-4 times since june, and haven't been able to *get* to the backyard to mow it at *all* since june.  and the grass here grows like bamboo in the summer rainy season.  as a result, i have enough grass hay to see if i can burn a tree with it (one on the interior of the yard, not the back fence!).  i'm seriously considering doing this as an experiment....

-boogieshoes, kinda lawn-mower stinky right now....

Russian Squirrel

Sep. 19th, 2017 11:01 pm
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Russian Squirrel


Squirrel pondering his investment options.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Prairie Dog_8


I do digest the poison of thy flesh,

Being strumpeted by thy contagion.

Keep then far league and truce with thy true bed;

I live unstain’d, thou undishonoured.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Cow

Sep. 19th, 2017 02:01 pm
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Cow


Some cows aren’t tall enough to lick the food out of people’s hands.


Some cows have developed workarounds.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Pallas Cat

Sep. 18th, 2017 11:00 pm
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Pallas Cat_7


One of these guard cats only tells lies. The other only tells lies as well.


Basically, cats don’t care about your petty human concept of “truth”.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Prairie Dog_5


“Thou wilt be throng’d to shortly.”




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
nunila: (Default)
[personal profile] nunila
Kiteo, His Eyes Closed* (refusal to understand)
Democrats have long used the “Big Tent” metaphor for the varied sometimes shaky coalitions that make up the party. In the past, Big Tent has not always meant “take the needs of marginalized people seriously”, in part... https://www.amnottheonlyone.com/big-tent-social-justice-builds-better__trashed/

Porcupine

Sep. 18th, 2017 02:01 pm
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Porcupine_1


Porcupine that just downloaded the Shazam app and is realizing that it is of no use whatsoever in identifying the plaintful music that he hears in his dreams, echoing strains of melody like tendrils holding his mind hostage until the wee hours of the morning yawn and spread wide to welcome the day.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Muddling...

Sep. 18th, 2017 02:34 pm
hrrunka: Frowning face from a character sheet by Keihound (kei frown)
[personal profile] hrrunka
I did, eventually, sweep up the conkers late on Wednesday afternoon, and went to a radio club committee meeting in the evening.

Thursday morning's Morse practice was a bit more of a struggle than usual, partly because I wasn't particularly awake, and partly because of the odd HF propagation. The rest of the day mostly followed a similar pattern. I managed to get a little preparation done, but not much else.

Friday followed the same sort of muddled path, mostly, and I got less done than I'd have liked. On Friday evening I went over to Gravesend for gaming, and we spent the evening chatting.

There was the first day of a Foundation radio licence course on Sunday, so I had some preparation to do on Saturday. I managed to get it done, well enough, but other things I might have done fell by the wayside.

The course day on Sunday seemed to go well enough. The clubhouse we use is no longer being used by a pre-school, which meant we didn't have to work around piles of stuff. Just as well, as the course was full. Also just as well we didn't need my laptop, as I managed to take it but leave its mains adapter behind, so it would only have run for about half the day. I was thoroughly exhausted by the end of the day.

This morning's been another slow one. I've spent some of it trying to get FC preparation done. It's yet another day of sunshine and random heavy showers.

I still havn't managed to get out to that geocache or the nearby SOTA summit. I have, somehow, managed to keep Duolingo and Ingress streaks alive, but yesterday was a close call...

Pallas Cat

Sep. 17th, 2017 11:00 pm
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Pallas Cat_6


Pallas cat kittens are not all equally brave.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Meerkat performing Hero and Leander

Sep. 17th, 2017 06:00 pm
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Meerkat_6


And then he got him to a rock aloft,

Where having spied her tower, long stared he on’t,

And prayed the narrow toiling Hellespont

To part in twain, that he might come and go;

But still the rising billows answered, “No.”




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Giant River Otter

Sep. 17th, 2017 02:00 pm
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Giant River Otter_56


Giant river otters play in the water just like small ones.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Weird supervillians

Sep. 16th, 2017 09:44 pm
kengr: (Default)
[personal profile] kengr
I got this one of the Traveller RPG Mailing List.

A long time ago one of the odder (but fun) members designed the PMPP (Pelvic Mounted Plasma Projector). Which this villian's weapon resembles *way* too much.

http://www.looper.com/21434/old-terrible-comic-characters-dc-wont-reboot/s/codpiece/

I don't want to think about recoil effects...

Wombat

Sep. 16th, 2017 11:01 pm
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Wombat


The wombat enclosure at the LA Zoo is kept so dark that it is almost impossible to see anything. For those who follow such things, this show was a 1/6 of a second exposure at f/3.3 and ISO 12,800. I am optimistic that my newer experiments with low light photography will allow me to do better the next time I visit.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Dead Tree

Sep. 16th, 2017 08:34 pm
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Dead Tree_1


Some people are taking civil war erasure a bit too far.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Short Nosed Echidna

Sep. 16th, 2017 06:01 pm
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Short Nosed Echidna_20


The echidna is a monotreme like the platypus. They can be found in some zoos but, with them being very nocturnal, it can be very hard to get good photos of them. I lucked out that on this one day, there were two of them just wandering around as if they didn’t know it was daytime.


Now I just need to photograph three more species of echidna and a platypus and I’ll have collected the whole set.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Yay! It's spreading!

Sep. 16th, 2017 07:49 am
kengr: (Default)
[personal profile] kengr
Got my flu shot the other day while I was at the pharmacy for something else.

You have to fill out a form with a bunch medical info and some personal.

I noticed one change from last year's form.

For Sex, it now had Male Female and Other.

Yay.

Tasmanian Devil

Sep. 16th, 2017 02:00 pm
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Tasmanian Devil_17


Tasmanian devils are unpopular at parties – they always hold onto the joint.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Cinereous Vulture

Sep. 16th, 2017 02:07 am
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Cinereous Vulture


“Cinereous” means “color of ash” because “grey vulture” sounds stupid.


As I was reading about grey, I stumbled upon the claim that you can define grey as all solutions of the inequality: 0 ≤ (R = G = B) ≤ 255


There are rather more than 50 options.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Tapir

Sep. 15th, 2017 11:01 pm
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Tapir_7


The tree is starting to worry that the dwarven armorer she met in the previous village might not have been entirely truthful about the magical properties of the chain mail he had sold her.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Perente

Sep. 15th, 2017 06:01 pm
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Perente_1


This lizard doesn’t think it’s right that Minnesota’s abbreviation “MN” looks more mountainy than all the other states and thinks it should swap names with Colorado.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Peninsular Pronghorn

Sep. 15th, 2017 02:01 pm
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Peninsular Pronghorn_12


The pronghorn is doing fine. This is, however, a sub-species of pronghorn that lives on the Baja California peninsula in Mexico.


It looks almost entirely like the regular pronghorn, from which it has been isolated long enough to start to form its own species. However, this particular breed of pronghorn is down to 150 individuals in the wild. Several zoos are working to species.


But what happens if they fail? If we lose this species, and the Baja area no longer has these “ghosts of the desert”? Will we let them fade into myth, a fading memory that only pops up here and then when someone gets a glimpse of white and tan in the far distance? Will this become their Loch Ness monster, their Bigfoot?


Or will we take some of our existing pronghorn from elsewhere in North America and just plop a herd back in that area? If we did that, would it be the same? For many, yes. Could the transplanted animals thrive? Quite possibly. Would there be any practical difference between letting the current pronghorns die out and just replace them once the land has been repaired? Most would say no.


150 would say yes.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Linux help

Sep. 15th, 2017 05:10 am
kengr: (Brain)
[personal profile] kengr
I'm most familiar with Kubuntu, but I want to install Linux on a couple of older boxes that max out at 2 gig of RAM.

Any suggestions on what I should use?

Bongo

Sep. 14th, 2017 11:01 pm
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Bongo_12


Bongos prefer the caramel bits.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Harpy Eagle

Sep. 14th, 2017 06:01 pm
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Harpy Eagle_4


According to a recent study by Aguiar-Silva, the type of prey most preferred by this fast-flying predator with razor-sharp beak and talons is … the sloth.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Giant River Otter

Sep. 14th, 2017 02:01 pm
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Giant River Otter_11


The giant river otter is difficult to find in zoos and in the wild. They are about twice the size of the North American river otter. Previously, I had only seen these otters at the Birmingham zoo, where the exhibit was indoors and the light made photography difficult. At the LA zoo, they have truly impressive amount of outdoor space … even more impressive given the value of land in the area. I suspect these otters work consulting jobs when the zoo closes to be able to afford it.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
nunila: (Default)
[personal profile] nunila
Many faces under the Democrat’s Big Tent
Kiteo, His Eyes Closed* (refusal to understand)
Democrats have long used the “Big Tent” metaphor for the varied sometimes shaky coalitions that make up the party. In the past, Big Tent has not always meant “take the needs of... https://www.amnottheonlyone.com/threading-the-social-justice-needle-to-sew-a-big-tent-democratic-party/

Carmine Bee Eater

Sep. 14th, 2017 02:07 am
guppiecat: (Default)
[personal profile] guppiecat

Carmine Bee Eater


Sometimes you read a name and go “hmm”. This often leads to wikitrails.


In this case, the word carmine is a word for deep red. It is linked to cochineal, which is a sort of insect from which red dyes have traditionally been made.


From wikipedia, the etymology goes: carmine <- carmin (12 century French) <- carminium (medieval latin) <- qirmiz (Arabic) <- carmir (Middle Persian). The word "carmir" means, as one might expect, "red". So far, so good, but here it gets interesting ...

"carmir" is believed to come from "kṛmi-jā", the Sanskrit word for "insect-produced", as "krmi" means "worm" or "insect". But that's okay, right, because the cochineal makes the carminic acid from which the dye is made. However, while today they are rather wide-spread, back in the days that Sanskrit was commonly spoken, the cochineals were only found in central and south America. Barring some of the rather interesting and, shall we say, wildly hypothetical, websites out there, between 2000 and 600 BCE there was very little knowledge in India about how the Olmecs were making cloth in what we now call Mexico.

So how did this happen?

The answer is that, in the Mediterranean area, a scale insect called "kermes" also produced a red dye, from which we get the word "crimson": crimson <- carmesinus (Latin) <- qermez (Arabic) <- kṛmi-jā (Sanskrit, again). Carmesinus, of course, is where we got the word "carminc" for the acid.

But wait! Did India trade with the Mediterranean world when Sanskrit was being spoken? After all, if the kermes only lived in the Mediterranean world, how did kṛmi-jā come to be borrowed in the first place?

We know that Scylax, a Greek explorer, was sent to explore the Indus river in 515 BCE. Is it possible that he traveled so far, he fell through a time portal and went back at least another century to land in India where people could marvel over his red clothes and, as he explained how they were made, they came up with "kṛmi-jā", so we could eventually get the words "carmine" and "crimson"?

I'm sure there is a website out there somewhere that offers this as proof, but this explanation seems somewhat far fetched to me.

However, according to Mira Roy who studied the red dyes of pre-colonial India in 1977 (aren't you glad someone did?), the word krmi/kermes does appear to enter the language in the post-Vedic period (500 BCE to 300 AD). More interestingly, she points out that there were three insects from which red dye was produced:

- The lac* <- lak (Persian) and lakh (Hindu), whose name comes from "hundred thousand", referring to the number of eggs it took to make the dye (though I doubt they actually counted them to that level).

- The indragopa which is mis-translated by Mira Roy (and many Indian dictionaries) as the cochineal. As noted previously, this can't be right, because the cochineal is South American and didn't reach India until well after the name kṛmi-jā was applied to mean red. This is covered in decent detail by Siegfried Lienhard who concludes it's actually a red velvet mite, which is bright red, but not useful for creating dyes.

- And finally, our old friend, the kermes or krmi, which was very popular in Europe for dyeing***, but that as Mira Roy notes, was only discovered to have the dye-producing properties in the POST-Vedic period.

So what do we have going on here?

1) We have a word that is believed to originate from a Sanskrit word
2) An insect that was known to make that red dye in Greece, but before the Greeks encountered the Indians speaking Sanskrit
3) An insect that was known to make that red dye by the Olmecs, who (we sure hope) never encountered the Indians at all
4) An insect** that is bright red, was known to the Indians speaking Sanskrit, but that cannot be turned into dye

All of this probably means that the word "kṛmi-jā" is a false etymology. It is more likely that the root of both "carmine" and "crimson" has nothing to do with mites or scale insects at all, which makes sense because neither does this bird. It eats bees.

----------------------------------------

* Amusingly, these insects are referred to as subsisting on trees that produced "electrum", which meant both an alloy of gold and silver and what we now call amber. It likely meant the latter first and was later applied to the alloy because of the yellowish colour of the alloy, even though we now know amber exists in many colours, only one of which is called "amber".

** Technically not an insect

*** This is where "in the grain" comes from, as the kermes eggs were so fine they were referred to as "grains", but that have nothing at all to do with actual grain.


More information:
- Siegfried Lienhard on "indragopa": http://www.indologica.com/volumes/vol06/vol06_art14_Lienhard.pdf
- Philip Smith on amber: http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/secondary/SMIGRA*/Electrum.html
- Mira Roy on Indian dyes: http://insa.nic.in/writereaddata/UpLoadedFiles/IJHS/Vol13_2_2_MRoy.pdf
- Sanskrit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanskrit
- Crimson etymology: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimson#Etymology
- Carmine etymology: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmine#Etymology
- Kermes: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kermes_(dye)
- Cochineal: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochineal




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Meerkat performing Hero and Leander

Sep. 13th, 2017 11:01 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat

Meerkat_3


“Wide open stood the door, he need not climb,

And she herself before the pointed time

Had spread the board, with roses strowed the room,

And oft looked out, and mused he did not come.”




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Hippo

Sep. 13th, 2017 06:01 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat

Hippo_8


Well, they can’t be hungry all the time.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

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