Friday, March 22, 2019


Interesting story on the history blog regarding Herodotus, who some called the world's first historian.  Others apparently called him a fabricator.  And I have to admit that when I first read the story of 'gold-mining-ants' in his Histories I suspected he may have had one too many cups of grape.

And his description of  Egyptian 'baris' boats on the Nile that had no ribs, and dragged a two-talent (~52 kilograms) stone behind them on the river bottom, and were made of thorn trees took a lot of ribbing by those doubters who didn't believe such a craft ever existed.  But he has at last been exonerated by archeologists.  They excavated such a craft in the Nile Delta at Thonis-Heraclion.

Troop carriers perhaps?  Maybe not as they would have had to be towed upriver.  But going downriver that stone drogue being dragged behind would have made it a stable platform, slowed it down, and kept it in the main channel.  I've seen drift boats on the Wynoochee and Cowlitz rivers do something similar dragging a heavy chain on the bottom when fishing for salmon or steelhead.  Illegal as hell, and subject to heavy fine, but it's done anyway.

And the 'gold-mining-ants'  turned out to be somewhat true also - just a bad translation of the old Persian word for "marmot" with that for "mountain ant".  According to French ethnologist Michel Peissel anyway.  He says that local people in northern Pakistan have collected gold dust for many generations that had been inadvertently brought to the surface by marmots when digging their burrows.  

So I am confident that in the future there will be verification of some of Herodotus' other not-so-tall tales.  Maybe some budding archeologists can find traces of Phoenician sailors circumnavigating Africa two millennia prior to the Portuguese?

Or of Massegetae Queen Tomyris beheading Cyrus the the Great of Persia?   That may be a tough one as Cyrus' tomb was raided for grave goods and has lain empty of his bones for probably hundreds of years.   Plus Iran's Supreme Leader and his ayatollahs certainly won't allow any historical investigations about some female warrior besting  the man who has played such " a crucial role in defining the national identity of modern Iran."   Regardless, I'm waiting for the movie about Tomyris, starring the lovely and exotic Kazakhstanka Almira Tursyn.  To be released soon by KazakhFilm.

Update:   Xenophon claims Cyrus died peacefully in his sleep.   But he had no first hand knowledge, only what Cyrus the Younger told him.  But Cyrus the Younger was five or six generations removed and had an interest in vindicating the family name.  Sounds like a biased source to me.   I'll stick with Herodotus and the Kazakhs.

Monday, March 11, 2019


I honestly don't know what to say.
"Under White House direction, the administration is drawing up demands that Germany, Japan and eventually any other country hosting U.S. troops pay the full price of American soldiers deployed on their soil -- plus 50 percent or more for the privilege of hosting them, according to a dozen administration officials and people briefed on the matter."
Every time I think "Jesus, this HAS to be the stupidest thing this idiot can do." it's like he rubs his tiny hands and burbles "Here, hold my bucket of KFC!".
WTF? Seriously? If I was the chancellor of Germany or the Prime Minister of Japan, I'd be drafting a memo that translated "Well, don't let the door hit you in the ass" into nice diplomatese. If this fucking idiot intended to stop farkling about the globe killing people and breaking things? Fine. Let's shut up shop and go home. But he hasn't, and he won't. Christ, he couldn't get a couple of thousand jamokes out of Syria. How the hell is AFRICOM going to manage without Ramstein, or Landstuhl? How do medivac flights manage to go direct from Baghram to Dover AFB? How the fuck does Seventh Fleet manage without Sasebo?

Jesus wept, this guy.

Oh, but Hilary was going to start WW3.

Sorry, I forgot.

Update 3/12: Fred Kaplan has a worthwhile dissection of the latest piece of stable genius to come out of Trumpworld; the new defense budget. Packed in with all the other pork is this bit of special brilliance:
"For much of this century, ever since the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, presentations of the defense budget have been divided into “Base” (the routine requests for weapons, research and development, personnel, etc.) and “Overseas Contingency Operations,” also known as OCO (the costs of fighting wars). The Budget Control Act, passed by Congress in 2011, set a cap on the Base but, for obvious reasons, gave the Pentagon flexibility in managing OCO.

However, in this year’s budget, the Pentagon has come up with a third category: “OCO for Base,” which the comptroller’s report defines as supplies, equipment, and other defense items that it’s including in the OCO budget “in order to comply with the Base defense caps in current law.”

In other words, the Pentagon’s senior budget official is admitting that he’s cheating. It is as if a dietician set a cap on how many calories a patient can consume—only to hear the patient say that he ate an extra tub of ice cream after dinner, but that’s all right because he’s not counting it as “calories.”

The scale of cheating is pretty extravagant. The budget’s request for Overseas Contingency Operations—the legitimate expenses of fighting in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere—is $66.7 billion, a slight reduction from last year’s $68.8 billion. But the “OCO for Base” request is $97.9 billion.

The Pentagon’s senior budget official is admitting that he’s cheating." (italics mine)
Cheating by having the balls to tell the people - the taxpayers - to their faces what you're cheating them out of?

If that's not pure Trumpian ballsiness I don't know what is.


These idiots DON'T know how to play this game.

Thursday, March 7, 2019


Tens of thousands of Daeshi brides and children have streamed out of the last caliphate stronghold in Baghouz.  And also hundreds of surrendering Daeshi fighters.  Many appear to be unapologetic, unashamed of their allegience, and still radicalized.  Some of the brides in refugee camps are chanting "<i>Islamic State is great, Islamic State will stay."</i>  Some of the surrendered ethnic Turkmen Daeshi fighters are asking for asylum in Turkey with <i>"brother Erdogan"</i>.

Per CINCCENT General Votel:   <i>“Observations by our men & women on the ground highlight that the ISIS population being evacuated from the remaining vestiges of the caliphate largely remain unrepentant, unbroken & radicalized”</i>... <i>“what we are seeing now is not the surrender of ISIS as an organization but a calculated decision to preserve the safety of their families & preservation of their capabilities”</i>