Archive for the ‘Strange Facts’ Category

Hiding in plan sight

Monday, October 26th, 2009

Today I was reading about Imhotep.

I had things in particular that I was looking for. Things that I pretty much already knew were there. But if you want to stay in a state of knowing everything, you have to refresh your memory every once in a while.

By all accounts, Imhotep was a pretty extraordinary man. He made such an impression on the Egyptians that they deified him a couple thousand years after he died as the God of Healing. Some modern scholars still argue that he is the father of medicine as we know it today.

But that stuff does not interest me, as it is a little dubious. What does interest me is the full list of Imhotep’s titles….

Chancellor of the King of Egypt, Doctor, First in line after the King of Upper Egypt, Administrator of the Great Palace, Hereditary Nobleman, High Priest of Heliopolis, Builder, Chief Carpenter, Chief Sculptor and Maker of Vases in Chief.

Now if your knowledge of ancient Egypt is a little lacking, there are some things that might not jump out at you. For example, do you know what Heliopolis was? From Wikipedia……

As the capital of Egypt for a period of time, grain was stored in Heliopolis for the winter months, when many people would descend on the town to be fed, leading to it gaining the title place of bread.

Now Heliopolis is how you write out the name by today’s conventions. But in Biblical Hebrew, Heliopolis is called “On” (or at least that is how they transliterate it into English). If you don’t immediately recognize where “On” is mentioned in the Bible, think “Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On”.

Incidentally, in ancient Egypt Heliopolis was the center for the worship of Atum. Atum was at that time was seen as the creator God through whom all other things were created (Egyptians religious views fluctuated through time, but this seems to have been the prevailing understanding of Atum at the time of Imhotep).

And those are some random facts from a man who spends to much of his life reading (I blame my father).

The world is so small these days

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

One of the things that has surprised me the most about blogging is the disproportionate amount of my readership that comes from foreign countries. By my rough back of the hand calculations, about 50% of all the blogs that have linked to either this site or my essay site since they were started have been foreign based. Now admittedly, that is 50% of a small number. But that only makes the mystery all the greater.

Why would a blog put out by a knuckle dragging ignorant hillbilly who can barely speak English attract a disproportionate share of his visitors from foreign countries? Especially when I have always heard that Americans are over-represented on the internet?

Admittedly, most of the foreign based blogs that link to this particular site do so directly or indirectly as a result of Edward Hugh and Claus Vistesen’s activities. But even my essay site had a disproportionate share its traffic from outside the U.S. At least, it did back when my essay site was still a reasonably active site.

In one particularly memorable instance, I had a mini-storm of Spanish speaking traffic coming from all over Spain, Latin American, and parts of Europe to one particular essay on my essay site called “An Apology”. It was all coming from this one Spanish language blog that I could not read. As best as I could figure out, they either thought that the essay was funny or relevant to what they were talking about, or some combination of the two.

The latest round of incoming foreign traffic comes by way of a blog called A Fistful of Euros. It was started by a passing mention of my rant against the Economist in this piece here by Edward Hugh. But apparently my rant inspired another contributor to A Fistful of Euros by the name of Guy La Roche to write his own post on the subject called Vox populi versus “erudition.”

I am going to write a response to what Mr. La Roche has written later on. But I just wanted to take a moment to marvel at the fact that my blog is sparking thought in foreign climes. Who would have thought that would happen?

Sometimes the Internet almost manages to live up to its hype.

Hurricane threatens oil production in the Persian Gulf.

Monday, June 4th, 2007

Okay, so technically this is a typhoon not a hurricane. But I could not resist the irony.

People who watch the oil markets have been worrying because they say that one strong Hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico could send gas prices sky high in the US. Now there is a Category 5 typhoon heading towards the Persian Gulf. This is historically unheard off. As you can see from the image down below, it is unlikely to make it far into the gulf, but people are worried about the storm surge.

Projected path of the Storm

This may wind up being no big deal. But I am surprised that this is not being more widely reported. You can click here for a good collection of links and commentary on this storm from the Oil Drum. Be sure the check out the comments section.

But if you just want to look at pictures of the storm, look through this site.

It does not take long for cities to die…..

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

In the absences of human support, how long do you think it would take before an urban neighborhood to turn into wilderness rural again? I have always wondered about that question.

But apparently, I need not speculate too much. The process is actually happening in Detroit. This from Detroitblog…..

It’s always fun to go up north here in Michigan, to the country, where people are scattered and open land is plenty. You find little towns where small, old houses sit on grasslands or prairies, seen only by the few cars that drive through on old roads that go unnoticed by most people as they pass the area on the highway. Most homes up there, like this little house nestled in a wilderness of trees and underbrush, are the only houses nearby.

The only thing is, this house and the backwoods that contains it aren’t up north; they’re in the middle of the city of Detroit.

But that brief quote does not do justice to the post. You really need to go over to the Detroit Blog and read the post for yourself. More importantly, you need to see the pictures. (h/t The Grumpy Old Man).

Ever wonder how they make guns in Pakistan?

Saturday, April 21st, 2007

I found this very interesting video off of a link on the Survival Blog. The guy who made the video apparently managed to get into Pakistan’s tribal areas. It is titled The Gun Bazaar of Pakistan.

What seems to have impressed the narrator the most was the small machine shops that turned out homemade guns. He keeps describing these people as making guns with their bare hands. This annoys me to no end.

From what I can see, he is obviously visiting small scale machine shops. Yet our narrator seems to think that it is amazing that they can build guns there.

It is just not that hard to build guns.

My primary thought while I was watching this video is that rural American’s would be making guns the same way if the Federal government ever tried to restrict the supply of guns. I have a couple of neighbors who could do it, and there are millions of rural men through American who have the skills to build their own guns if they needed to.

One final gripe; the narrator implies that kids are building guns, but as best as I can tell, the kids in the video are loading ammunition. Something my neighbors do all the time.

Annoying narrator aside, the video is well worth watching. – The Gun Bazaar of Pakistan

A deterministic problem…

Sunday, January 21st, 2007

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article on how pure thought can change the physical structure of the brain. Apparently, just sitting around and thinking about things can change the shape of your brain. How cool is that?

In one sense this should be no surprise. We already know that doing things like learning how to juggle or play an instrument can change the structure of the brain. It is obviously the thought that is required to do those things that causes the change. So why shouldn’t pure thought change the brain as well?

Nonetheless, I still think that this raises some interesting philosophical issues from a deterministic perspective. I mean, the structure of your brain affects what you can think, right? The structure of their brain is the reason that people with autism have so much trouble, right? I have also been told that some people are better than others at math while others are better at verbal communication because of how their brain is structured.

So to what extent does the structure of brain dictate thought and to what extent does thought dictate the structure of the brain?

I wonder about this, because I daydream a lot. In fact, I am famous for being lost in space, as it were. Have I changed the structure of my brain with all my daydreaming, or did the structure of my brain dictate that I daydream a lot?

Strange Facts: Wild Parrots in Brooklyn

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

I went to New York City once and I have no need to go again. The only things there that I had any use for was the USS Intrepid carrier and riding on the ferry (I was young then, you see). I can’t remember a time in my life when being in even a small city did not make my skin crawl. I dread going to one and I am always happy to leave.

But if perchance life should force back to that horrible city I should hope that I would have a chance to see the parrots that fly free in Brooklyn.

I must confess that it was a shock to me to discover that such birds live wild in Brooklyn. If there were not so many pictures and testimonials all over the internet I would not have believed it no matter what people said.

But here is a Washington Post article on the birds…

And here is a web site devoted to the birds

And here are some pictures of a parrot fighting over pizza with a starling…..

And last, but not least, here is the post by Dymphna that first alerted me to this fascinating fact.