27 July 2021

"Humped bull with gold horns"

Banded agate and gold
Harappan period, About 1800 BC
Pur village, Bhiwani Khera, Haryana, India
Haryana State Archaeology and Museums

Several Harappan sites have yielded gold jewellery that was often found in burial contexts. Much of this jewellery was made of expensive materials, which were imported from different parts of the world. The recent discovery of the tiny bull found in Haryana reveals gold horns, which were also common in West Asia. It is made of banded agate, which was quarried in distant places such as Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Imagine the work that went into carving this amulet out of agate, which is not an easy stone to work with.  Many other interesting artifacts at India and the World.

The most yellow icterus I have ever seen


The tongue of a 12-year-old boy with jaundice, courtesy of the New England Journal of Medicine.  Most icterus tends to be greenish, in part because the yellow overlays pinkish skin (the sclerae may be more strikingly yellow).   Perhaps in this case the boy's anemia (Hgb 6.1 as a result of hemolytic anemia, shown by the hemoglobinuria in the urine specimen at the right) allows the color to stand out more.

Drop crotch skinny jeans - updated


Available from Oak (marked down from $158 to $79).  They also have drop crotch sweat pants on sale for half-price at $64:


I can't advise you as to whether the heels are part of a coordinated look, but I do know that for drop crotch jodhpurs, you'll need to go to Comme des Garçons:


Also available for half price at $298.  It would make me wonder if the wearer had scrotal elephantiasis, but then I'm not up on fashion, so I'll leave the commenting to those of you with a more enlightened and contemporary viewpoint.

Via The Stir.

Reposted from 2012 because John Farrier posted at Neatorama these "double-waist jeans" -


- apparently by the same designer as these double (?triple-) waist jeans -


- which are not the same as these upside-down jeans -


- or as interesting as these double-back shorts -


- or as cool as these thong jeans:

Uppity employees demand a day off each week


As reported by the Washington Post:
Hundreds of Frito-Lay employees are returning to work in Kansas, ending a 19-day strike with the weekend ratification of a two-year contract that guarantees them at least one day off each week and raises wages...

Workers at the Topeka plant had called on the snack food giant to end forced overtime and 84-hour workweeks, saying they had been pushed to the brink as the factory revved up operations during the pandemic, according to the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 218...

Frito-Lay, the maker of Cheetos, Doritos, Ruffles and other packaged foods, is a unit of PepsiCo, the New York-based food and beverage giant. The snack business has seen strong sales throughout the pandemic as people spent more time at home and continues to gain market share. It brought in $4.5 billion in the second quarter, accounting for 23 percent of PepsiCo’s revenue.
I have had seven-days-a-week, 80+ hour jobs (I think my max was over 100 hours).  It's brutal.  Good for these guys.

Three and a half years old

Metal clamps in ancient megaliths

"The use of metal clamps in T-Grooves has been discovered in Tiahuanaco, Ollantaytambo, Koricancha, and the site of Yuroc Rumi, Vilcabamba. These clamps were also used on the Parthenon, on buildings in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Cambodia...
Unfortunately, very few of the clamps have survived. The Spanish removed many clamps, thinking they might be gold. Some may indeed have been decorated with silver and gold, because it’s well-documented that armies set about demolishing these structures, just for the clamps...

At first, archaeologists believed that clamps were brought to these grooves to be placed, but recent scans have revealed that metal was poured into these indentations, which means the builders had portable smelters...:
A comment at the via for the top embed suggests that the reason for the fire at the left of the illustration was to pre-heat the stone so that the poured molten metal wouldn't crack the stone.  Interesting.  Another noted that this technology would have allowed the builders to have pizza while working...

23 July 2021

Moths as food - and as navigators


From a report in Nature:
Ethnographic accounts from around the world have reported the widespread use of insects as food by people. In some cases, such as among the Shoshone and other Great Basin tribes of the U.S., swarms of grasshoppers and crickets were driven into pits and blankets, while among the Paiute the larvae of Pandora moths (Coloradia pandora lindseyi) were smoked out of trees to fall into prepared trenches, where they would be cooked. Across the world, insects could be mass-harvested, often seasonally, offering high nutritional value especially in fat, protein and vitamins...

In Australia, a wide range of insects is known to have been eaten by Aboriginal groups, in particular the larvae (‘witchetty grubs’) of cossid moths (especially Endoxyla leucomochla) in arid and semi-arid areas. Of particular interest to archaeologists and behavioural ecologists has been the seasonal consumption of Bogong moths by mass gatherings of Aboriginal groups in the southern portions of the Eastern Uplands...

Here we report on microscopic remains of ground and cooked Bogong moths on a recently excavated grindstone from Cloggs Cave, in the southern foothills of the Australian Alps. These findings represent the first conclusive archaeological evidence of insect foods in Australia, and, as far as we know, of their remains on stone artefacts in the world. They provide insights into the antiquity of important Aboriginal dietary practices that have until now remained archaeologically invisible.
Details re the process at the link.  I'm not surprised that fat little moths can provide good nutritional value; what to me is more interesting is this part of the report: 
Each spring (September), Bogong moths migrate south over 1000 km from warmer climes. Travelling at night, the moths’ journeys last many days, arriving in the Australian Alps where, over the summer months (late September–March), they lie dormant (aestivate) in the hundreds of thousands among the protected rocky outcrops...
Basically the antipodal counterpart of the migration of Monarchs in the northern hemisphere.  I found more information about that at the Australian Academy of Science:
"In spring, the moths travel from various parts of eastern Australia to the Australian alps, where they inhabit caves. Over the summer they go into a kind of dormancy known as aestivation. This is much like hibernation, however it occurs in some animals over hot and dry periods rather than cold. At the end of the summer, bogong moths take a second long journey and head back home. They then breed and die soon after that. It’s a short but arduous life. The following year’s big migration is taken by the next generation of bogong moths...
The big question is: how do they know where the mountain caves are and how to get there when they have never been there before? Do they somehow inherit the information from their parents?

Professor Eric Warrant and his team have found that the secret to the moth’s navigational skills is an ‘internal compass’ which they use to navigate the Earth’s magnetic field... As bogong moths are night-time travellers, the Moon or the Milky Way are useful points of direction, along with features of the landscape. "
Addendum:  ""I've had them before, they're a bit nutty in flavour or a bit like charred pork fat. It's really high in fat and protein, so it's really quite a superfood... Problems with larvae absorbing arsenic in the soil also meant humans now only eat the moth "opportunistically", Mr Taylor-Grant said."

Woman fails to prove the vaccine made her magnetic

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A woman who identified herself as a nurse practitioner student tried to defend an Ohio doctor’s unproven claim by proving she actually is magnetic after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine... Overholt used her time at the podium to try to defend a myth shared by Cleveland-area physician Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, who claimed that the COVID-19 vaccine leads to magnetism and causes metal objects to stick to the shot recipient’s body...

During the demonstration, Overholt tried to prove Dr. Tenpenny’s point to be true by sticking a key and bobby pin to her skin at the hearing for the “Enact Vaccine Choice and Anti-Discrimination Act.”

“Explain to me why the key sticks to me. It sticks to my neck, too,” Overholt said. “If somebody could explain this, that would be great.”

Both objects fell off Overholt’s skin.

The geology of Mars


Excerpts from an interesting article at Wired:
Why, for instance, does Earth have a magnetic field, but Mars’ seems to have disappeared? Why are so many volcanoes spread all over Earth, while volcanoes are more localized—and bigger—on Mars? (At 374 miles in diameter and 16 miles high, Olympus Mons is the biggest known volcano in the solar system.)..

The researchers found the core density to be surprisingly low, at only about 6 grams per cubic centimeter, which is much lower than what they’d expected of an iron-rich center... In Stähler’s team’s paper, they report a core radius of 1,830 kilometers. Another team, led by ETH Zürich geophysicist Amir Khan, found that this size is so large it leaves little room for an Earth-like lower mantle, a layer that acts as a heat-trapping blanket around the core... Without this layer, the Martian core likely cooled much more readily than Earth’s. This is key to understanding the evolution of the Red Planet, and in particular why it lost its magnetic field, a barrier that would have protected the atmosphere—and potential life—from harsh solar winds. Creating a magnetic field requires a temperature gradient between the outer and inner core, high enough to create circulating currents that churn the core’s liquid and give rise to a magnetic field. But the core cooled so fast that these convection currents died out...

Khan’s analysis also shows that Mars has a thick lithosphere, the rigid and cold part of the mantle. This might be a clue as to why the Red Planet doesn’t have the plate tectonics that drive the frenzy of volcanism on Earth. “If you have a very thick lithosphere, it's going to be very difficult to break this thing up and create the exact equivalent of plate tectonics on Earth,” says Khan. “Maybe Mars had it very early on, but it's certainly shut down now.”

22 July 2021

A very unusual Siberian cenotaph


That "death mask" is a clay head with skull bones embedded inside.  But the bones turned out not to be human.
The story of this remarkable finding began in 1968. A man’s sculptured head was discovered at the Shestakov burial ground located on the right bank of the River Kiya, not far from the village of Shestakovo, Kemerovo Oblast... In the kurgan where the head was found, inside the burial pit, there was a four-set timber blocking. On its bottom were small pieces of charred bones arranged in large assemblages. Supposedly, from 13 to 15 people were buried there. Next to the timber blocking wall, buried in a layer of red dead-burned clay, was the head, which must have been part of a burial doll of which nothing was left when the tomb was burnt (Martynov, 1974).

The very first publications dedicated to this finding noted that “inside the head, as the X-ray photograph shows, there are skull bones and a small hollow space, which, however, does not correspond to the inner size of the human skull but is much smaller”...

What does the sheep’s skull hidden under the clay covers depicting a man’s face tell us? What is it, an accident? Or was the animal the main hero of ancient history?

The latter hypothesis seems justified. A ram (sheep) is among the most worshipped animals of old times. Initially, the Egyptian god Khnum was depicted as a ram (later, as a man with the head of a ram)... Later, Amun – the sun god, whose sacred animal was a ram – was identified with Khnum. Amun himself was often depicted as a ram or with the head of a ram. Deification of the pharaoh, worshipped as god’s son in flesh, was also connected with Amun...  the Iranian-speaking Scythian-Sarmat communities had the cult of hvarnah, a special deity incarnating glory, grandeur, might, happy destiny, luck, richness, and power. Its zoomorphic image and symbol is a big and strong ram.
Now let us go back to our find. So in a burial crypt of Tagarsk culture, together with people, a sheep in human disguise was buried... The Tesinsk people may have buried in this extraordinary manner a man whose body had not been found (the man could have got lost in the taiga, drowned, or disappeared in alien lands). The man was thus replaced with his double – the animal in which his soul was embodied...

Archaeologists know a number of such burials, referred to as cenotaphs, which have no human remains but may contain a symbolic replacement.

Housing density. And "living apart together"


Sun City, Arizona.  I presume most of those dwellings are single-family (or single person) homes.  The top comment at the via is about the nightmare of delivering pizzas.

A relevant article at The New York Times discusses "living apart together (LAT)," whereby senior citizens "partner up" without living together.
Cohabitation, for example, is more often replacing remarriage following divorce or widowhood, said Susan L. Brown, a sociologist at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

These older adults are seeking (and finding) love, emotional support and an antidote to loneliness. But many older women, in particular, fear that a romantic attachment in later life will shortly lead to full-time caregiving...

“A big attraction of LAT is to avoid the potential responsibility of being a full-time caregiver,” said Ingrid Arnet Connidis, an emerita sociology professor at Western University in London, Ontario. “Women cared for their children, parents and spouse, and want to avoid getting into these traditional gender roles.”

Citizens protest about water scarcity in Delhi


Police use water cannons to disperse the protestors...

19 July 2021

Ocean jasper

Ocean Jasper is a trademarked name for a multicolored stone from Madagascar, typically with spherical patterning. Although commonly described as an orbicular jasper, the most recent research suggests it is the mineral chalcedony...
Photo via.

Wine storage room in California

(click photo to supersize) 
Last September, a wildfire tore through one of Dario Sattui’s Napa Valley wineries, destroying millions of dollars in property and equipment, along with 9,000 cases of wine.

November brought a second disaster: Mr. Sattui realized the precious crop of cabernet grapes that survived the fire had been ruined by the smoke. There would be no 2020 vintage.

A freakishly dry winter led to a third calamity: By spring, the reservoir at another of Mr. Sattui’s vineyards was all but empty, meaning little water to irrigate the new crop.

Finally, in March, came a fourth blow: Mr. Sattui’s insurers said they would no longer cover the winery that had burned down. Neither would any other company...

... in 2008, smoke from nearby fires reached his grapes for the first time. The harvest went on as usual. Months later, after the wine had aged but before it was bottled, Mr. Smith’s brother, Charlie, noticed something was wrong. “He said, ‘I just don’t like the way the reds are tasting,’” Stu Smith said.

At first, Mr. Smith resisted the idea anything was amiss, but eventually brought the wine to a laboratory in Sonoma County, which determined that smoke had penetrated the skin of the grapes to affect the taste.

What winemakers came to call “smoke taint” now menaces Napa’s wine industry.

“The problem with the fires is that it doesn’t have be anywhere near us,” Mr. Smith said. Smoke from distant fires can waft long distances, and there is no way a grower can prevent it.

Smoke is a threat primarily to reds, whose skins provide the wine’s color. (The skins of white grapes, by contrast, are discarded, and with them the smoke residue.)
From a New York Times article about the fires in the Napa Valley. 

A man changes clothes while inside a box...

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