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Posts Tagged ‘calendars



More at Nihilistic Password Security Questions

* Professor Wagstaff (Groucho Marx), Horsefeathers

Baravelli [Chico]: …you can’t come in unless you give the password.
Professor Wagstaff: Well, what is the password?
Baravelli: Aw, no. You gotta tell me. Hey, I tell what I do. I give you three guesses. It’s the name of a fish.
Professor Wagstaff: Is it “Mary?”
Baravelli: [laughing] ‘At’s-a no fish!
Professor Wagstaff: She isn’t? Well, she drinks like one! …Let me see… Is it “Sturgeon”?
Baravelli: Aw, you-a craze. A “sturgeon”, he’s a doctor cuts you open when-a you sick. Now I give you one more chance.
Wagstaff: I got it! “Haddock”.
Baravelli: ‘At’s a-funny, I got a “haddock” too.
Wagstaff: What do you take for a “haddock”?
Baravelli: Sometimes I take an aspirin, sometimes I take a calomel.
Wagstaff: Y’know, I’d walk a mile for a calomel.
Baravelli: You mean chocolate calomel? I like-a that too, but you no guess it. [Slams door. Wagstaff knocks again. Baravelli opens peephole again.] Hey, what’s-a matter, you no understand English? You can’t come in here unless you say, “Swordfish.” Now I’ll give you one more guess.
Professor Wagstaff: …swordfish, swordfish… I think I got it. Is it “swordfish”?
Baravelli: Hah. That’s-a it. You guess it.
Professor Wagstaff: Pretty good, eh?

“Pinky” (Harpo, who, of course, operated only in pantomime), gets into the speakeasy by pulling a sword and a fish out of his trench coat and showing them to the doorman.


As we take security desperately seriously, we might recall that it was on this date in (what we now call) 46 BCE, that the final year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar, began.  The Romans had added a leap month every few years to keep their lunar calendar in sync with the solar year, but had missed a few with the chaos of the civil wars of the late Republic. Julius Caesar added two extra leap months to recalibrate the calendar in preparation for his calendar reform, which went into effect in (what we now now as) 45 BC.  The year, which had 445 days, was thus known as annus confusionis (“year of confusion”).

Fragmentary fresco of a pre-Julian Roman calendar



Written by LW

October 13, 2015 at 1:01 am

Making history…

The folks at The Citizen Science Alliance, a transatlantic collaboration of universities and museums, are dedicated to involving everyone in the process of science.  Readers may know their wildly successful Galaxy Zoo project, which lets volunteer astronomers crowd-source the classification of objects captured by the Hubble Space Telescope…

Now, in collaboration with Oxford University, CSA has launched Ancient Lives— which invites any and all to help transcribe papyri belong to the Egypt Exploration Society, the texts eventually to be published and numbered in the Society’s “Greco-Roman Memoirs” series in the volumes entitled The Oxyrhynchus Papyri.

Readers have but to click here, then (using the interface pictured above) begin re-writing history.


As we satisfy our Indiana jones, we might recall that this date in 31 AD was the first Easter– according to Dionysius Exiguus (Dennis the Small, Dennis the Little or Dennis the Short– any/all of which have traditionally been taken to mean Dennis the Humble).  Dionysius invented the Anno Domini (AD) era (used to number the years of both the Gregorian and the [Christianized] Julian calendars); and at the request of Pope John I, calculated the date of the first Easter and created a table showing all future Easter dates.

 D.E., the coiner of “AD” (source)

Written by LW

March 25, 2012 at 1:01 am

Reanimating International Relations…


From Foreign Policy, an article by Daniel Drezner (professor of international politics at Tufts University’s Fletcher School, contributing editor to Foreign Policy, and author of the forthcoming Theories of International Politics and Zombies):

Night of the Living Wonks

Toward an international relations theory of zombies

There are many sources of fear in world politics — terrorist attacks, natural disasters, climate change, financial panic, nuclear proliferation, ethnic conflict, and so forth. Surveying the cultural zeitgeist, however, it is striking how an unnatural problem has become one of the fastest-growing concerns in international relations. I speak, of course, of zombies.

For our purposes, a zombie is defined as a reanimated being occupying a human corpse, with a strong desire to eat human flesh — the kind of ghoul that first appeared in George Romero’s 1968 classic, Night of the Living Dead, and which has been rapidly proliferating in popular culture in recent years (far upstaging its more passive cousins, the reanimated corpses of traditional West African and Haitian voodoo rituals). Because they can spread across borders and threaten states and civilizations, these zombies should command the attention of scholars and policymakers.

Read the full article– and a marvelously metaphorical article it is– here.

As we reassure ourselves that we with no brains needn’t fear their being eaten, we might recall that it is with this date in 622 that the Islamic calendar begins. As Wikipedia explains:

In 638, Abu-Musa al-Asha’ari, one of the officials of the second Caliph Umar in Basrah, complained about the absence of any dating system in the correspondence he received from Umar, making it difficult for him to determine which instructions were most recent. This report convinced Umar of the need to introduce a calendar system for Muslims. After debating the issue with his Counsellors, he decided to start the calendar with the date of Muhammad’s arrival at Madina tun Nabi (known as Yathrib, before Muhammad’s arrival).

The Islamic calendar numbering of the years thus began with the month of Muharram in the year of Muhammad’s arrival at the city of Medina. According to calculations, the first day of the first year corresponded to Friday, July 16, 622 (even though the actual emigration took place in September).

Because of the Hijra event, the calendar was named the Hijra calendar, and it’s dates distinguished by the suffix “AH.”



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