Passing on an Ear-Worm

I have absolutely no idea why this decided to afflict me the other day, but here it is.

(Warning: If you think worship and church are absolutely serious and Not To Be Mocked, this is a dreadfully offensive song.)

I suspect there are very, very few bodies of believers that wouldn’t benefit from the occasional squirrel.


Culture and Stress

No, this is not a post about angst in academic places, or the latest museum display fight (I’m sure there is one going on, somewhere.) It is about how culture affects how people react to stresses. Sort of, since I’m not a psychiatrist, or psychologist, and I don’t play one on TV.

What brought this to mind was Peter Grant’s post about the upcoming Robin Hood movie.

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Explosive Cyclogenesis: Or Enough With “Bomb Storm” Already

Once again, the various national media outlets have taken a perfectly useful technical term and turned it into something a la “Sharknado.” Without the funny bits and parody material (OK, so I liked it when the shark ghost came out of the bucket of water at the charity car wash. I’m strange, yes.)

Bombogenesis was a technical term developed after 1945 to describe a rapidly strengthening low-pressure system. The technical term was explosive cyclogenesis. Low pressure systems in North America are all, technically, cyclones and demonstrate cyclonic rotation. Tornadoes are cyclones, but most cyclones are not tornadoes. Clear as mud? OK, moving on. Continue reading

What the Blogger is Reading: Jan ’18 Edition

Feng, Li. Early China: A Social and Cultural History This is a general overview drawing from Chinese and Western scholarship. It focuses on the Bronze Age cultures through the end of the Han (220 AD or so). It is filling in some gaps, and kicking off ideas I need to finish the Work In Progress.

Marx, Karl The Portable Karl Marx Because I need to review some of his ideas, but I am not in the mood (and don’t have the dedicated quiet time and space) to read through The German Ideology and Theses on Feuerbach and Kapital in German. Reading Marx reminds me 1) how much background in German philosophy you need to follow many of his ideas and 2) why he’s almost as impenetrable as Hegel. You’d think the writer of some of the worst books (in terms of effects on humanity) in recent history would have been a little clearer, but that’s a feature, not a bug, according to his later followers.

Shendge, Malati J. The Civilized Demons: The Harappans in the RigVeda The book is rather odd. The author considers the Rig Veda to be a mythologization of historical accounts of the invasion of the Indus watershed by the Indo-Aryans, and looks at how the archaeological and linguistic and textual evidence conflict and coincide. The book went very slowly at first, and you have to be either 1) really interested in the topic, or 2) really familiar with the material either archaeological or the Vedas, or 3) determined to plow through, because she knows her stuff and is not afraid to heap reference onto dig report onto quotation. I’m not entirely certain if I’m convinced, but she sparked a new fantasy novel, so I’m going to read through to the end.

Isaacson, Walter Leonardo Da Vinci. Great book! My parents gave me this for Christmas, and I’m slowly working my way through it, in part slowly to savor the writing and illustrations, in part slowly because it is a fat book and I can’t read it around Athena T. Cat once she claims my lap in the evenings. Highly, highly recommend for anyone interested in the artist, in his world, and in how his works are analyzed.

Dollinger, Philippe. Die Hanse This is an updated and lightly revised edition of the book about the Hanseatic League. It is in German, and I am reading it to refresh that part of my mind for the sequel to Of Merchant and Magic. I need to know more about the kontors and how they functioned, plus more economic hard data than my other references have.

Also in German I’m reading a guide to the medieval imperial cities of Eastern Germany (yes, the book is pre 1990) such as Goslar, Magdeburg, Quedlinburg, and others. And a tourist guide to Quedlinburg, in case the former Stazi* lady is still the guide in the church. No, I am not kidding. She was memorable in all the wrong ways, and DadRed kept trying to angle around to see if she had knife blades under the toes of her boots.**

For those keeping score, yes, I finally finished Peter Wilson’s Heart of Europe about the Holy Roman Empire. There is so much in that book to consider and chew on… It and Judson’s volume on the later Habsburg Empire, like Andrew Wheatcroft’s look at the Habsburg – Ottoman wars, have changed how I teach that area.

There are a few other things I’m nibbling on, but these are the main ones, plus some work-related reading. Over the Christmas Break I read both of Vox Day’s SJW books. I disagree with some of his ideas, but the first book in particular was useful to get the exact chronology of some of the recent cultural tempests hammered out (like GamerGate). The minutes of the Supreme Dark Lord’s meeting with his henchmen is hysterically funny, especially since I’ve met some of the individuals involved. (“John, I just want the revised manuscript.” “Oh, sorry, sir. Here it is.”)

*WordPress, Stazi is not a misspelling of SETI.

**Watch From Russia With Love. My hand to Bog, that was the tour guide’s twin sister.

The Cat Hills

If you drive to Albuquerque, or fly in and look from the airport to the west, you will see a trip of low lumps on the horizon, and more low lumps to the south and west. Compared to the enormous wall of Sandia Peak and the Manzano Mountains to the east, they are pretty blah, and your eye may well travel past them to the distant masses of Mt. Taylor farther west, or the Jemez Plateau/caldera to the north.

Even I can hike these mountains.

To me, the Albuquerque Volcanoes and Cat Hills to the south are some of my favorite fire mountains. They are the city’s “domestic” volcanoes, and you can climb one of the three, for certain “scramble over lump of rock at your own risk” values of climb. They certainly are not spectacular like Mt. Taylor, or Mt. Ranier, or the Jemez. You go into Valle Grande, the central caldera northwest of Santa Fe, look around, think about the hundreds of feet of welded tuff that you passed on the way in, and gulp in awe. Especially when you realize that it’s not exactly extinct. The Albuquerque Volcanoes are rather more extinct. They are “fun size,” so to speak. Continue reading