Thursday, January 29, 2015

"Wait -- Batman Cured His Broken Back By Doing Push-Ups?"

No, Ragu, Batman isn't doing all those pushups to cure his broken back, he's just not letting a broken back get in the way of him doing his pushups. The way I don't let chronic tendonitis in my left elbow stop me from doing my pushups. The same way that... (Okay, start playing "Pomp & Circumstance" in the background, softly at first, and gradually crescendo until it's loud when I finish. Okay.) The same way that Kobe plays basketball on a broken foot and grimaces and complains, and the way Shaq would play basketball on a broken foot without grimacing or complaining, and the way that Barry Bonds...

Okay, h8ers, let's talk about Barry.

He may be a cheater and an asshole, but you know why he wore that armor on his right arm, you know why MLB let him keep wearing that armor? It's not because he and Bud Selig were pals. Selig never liked him any better than you do. It's not because Bonds paid somebody off. There was a perfectly legitimate reason why he was allowed to continue to wear those pads: it's because his arm was broken.

That's right, Amurrka: Barry hit his last 300 dingers on roids, but he hit his last 500 with a broken right arm. He broke it in the mid-90's, and 2 weeks later he was playing ball, and it never healed. MLB let him wear the armor because 1 fastball to his forearm would've shattered it into 100 pieces.

We do what we have to do. Because we're men. Even those of us who shave every day. And yr darn right I'm talking about shaving more than just my face! I'M A MAN!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Manilius, G P Goold, Rheinisches Museum, Perhaps More Life Left In Latin Than I'd Thought?

I had not been aware of Manilius and his work,

until, browsing in my favorite 2nd-hand bookstore, I came across the Loeb edition and translation by G P Goold. Glad I stumbled across this. I like Manilius. I was very surprised by the assertion on the Loeb dust jacket that Manilius' Astronomica is the oldest work on astrology which we possess, but the more I research that question, the more it appears to be true. Astrology goes back much further than Manilius, who wrote around the time of the change from BC to AD (and yet, astonishingly, makes no mention whatsoever of Jesus!), having been practiced in Mesopotamia long before there was a Rome, and astrology is mentioned in many works written long before Manilius, and also it appears that some entire works were devoted to it before him, but that this is the oldest volume whose text we now possess devoted entirely to astrology. (It also appears, unfortunately, that most of the Amazon reviews of Goold's edition/translation have been written, not by philologists, but by people who actually believe in, or even to practive, astrology, but whaddygonnado.)

Just in case there was any doubt whatsoever in anyone's mind: I do not believe in astrology. But that will stop me from enjoying a 2000-year-old author who did believe in it, fervently, even, as little as my not believing in the literal existence of Zeus will stop me from enjoying Homer.

Manilius' feud with Lucretius doesn't bother me either, even though I'd naturally almost always side with Lucretius. It doesn't bother me because Manilius can write.

And so can G P Goold, who edited and translated Manilius for the Loeb series. I like Goold just as I like Manilius, and just as I was surprised that I didn't know who Manilius was, so too I was surprised that I hadn't heard of Goold. Goold mentions that the latest English translation of Manilius before his (1977) appeared in the 17th century. Which explains to some extent why I hadn't heard of either of them.

So, this one little Loeb volume acquainted me with Manilius, and with Goold, and an article referred to on page cxx of Goold's introduction was doubly an eye-opener, because it appeared to have been published in 1956 in the Rheinischem Museum, and, possibly, in Latin. Its title is in Latin. As time goes on, annoyingly, articles which have Latin titles in academic journals seem more and more often to be written in vernaculars, why the misleading Latin titles, academics? does it make you feel smart? it doesn't make you look smart -- but in this case I was hopeful. (Goold actually IS smart.)

You see, I'd often heard of the Rheinischen Museum (it's a journal about ancient Greek and Latin), but it had always been in connection with the 19th century and guys like Boeckh and Ritschl (who were among its editors) and Nietzsche (who published a couple of pieces in it -- yes, in Latin -- when he was Ritschl's protogee at the University of Bonn, before he switched from philology to philosophy and poetry). (PS, 28. January 2015: CORRECTION: Some of Nietzsche's contributions to the Rheinischen Museum were in Latin and some were in German) I'd had no idea that it was still in operation as late as 1956. And naturally if Goold had published something in a philological journal in Latin as late as 1956 then he was my boy all the more so, because journal articles in Latin had by 1956 become just a wee bit exotic, and, as regular readers of The Wrong Monkey know, I am for the preservation of Latin as a living language. (No, it ain't quite dead yet, that's bullshit. It's been feeling poorly the past century or so, and as we speak it might be getting sicker rather than recuperating, but it ain't dead yet.)

So I looked around, and not only was the Rheinische Museum still being published in 1956, it's still being published now, thank you, God, and every single bit of every issue of it from 1827 until 3 years ago can be seen here, absolutely free. (They wait for 3 years before putting new issues online.)

And not only is Goold's article in the Rheinischen Museum in Latin, but I've also found articles in Latin published in the journal as recently as 1993. Most of the articles in the Museum by the 1950's were in vernaculars, German or English or Italian or French, but by the 1950's most of the (annual) issues still had at least 1 or 2 pieces in Latin. Not as many as in the 1820's admittedly, and by the 1990's Latin pieces had become rarer still than in the 1950's, but still.

And the question is not Why do they still write things in Latin now and then but Why don't they do it oftener. IT'S A JOURNAL ABOUT ANCIENT LATIN AND GREEK. How on Earth does it make more sense to assume that its readers are fluent in German, English, Italian and French, than to suggest that its authors write in Latin? Some -- no, many journals, and not just journals about ancient literature, but also journals about mathematics and biology and other subjects still, were by the late 19th century still written mostly or often entirely in Latin, and the question is not Gee, why, did they do that, it's so quaint, but Why did they stop doing that, it's so stupid. An international language not favoring any one contemporary nation, truly, impartially international, and people just decided to stop using it, why? Stupid.

Well, it's not quite dead yet. I haven't checked all of the issues of the Rheinischen Museum yet, it may be that articles in Latin continue to have an occasional home there. It may be that other journals of which I'm not aware still accept Latin. Thank Christ, Oxford and Teubner and other publishers still put out new volumes with prefaces in Latin, at least. It's not the same as volumes of new original writing entirely in Latin which as late as 1900 still weren't so unusual even if they had nothing to do with the Catholic Church, which of course still published boatloads of Latin right up until 1962 -- but it's something.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sweeping, Hurtful Generalizations About Emos

Emos, goths, pagans, wiccans, hipsters, etc, are silly, pretentious, overprivileged White Folks.

If I had said that Whenever I say that in the company of pagans, a pagan posts a photo of a black pagan surrounded by 400 white pagans and claims that paganism is very ethnically diverse, demonstrating my point. C&W bands are much more ethnically diverse than paganism, and C&W bands aren't very ethnically diverse at all.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Oldest Surviving Manuscripts Of Certain Classical Latin Authors

The other day I was chatting with a learned chap, but not a Classicist, who repeated several times, obviously rather astounded by the fact, that the earliest known manuscript of Tacitus is from the 9th century. I was somewhat surprised that he was surprised, but, I repeat, he's not a Classicist. And so I thought that a blog post about the oldest known manuscripts of some Classical Latin authors might interest some laypeople.

Most of the ancient Latin poets, novelists, historians, letter-writers and others who wrote before Christianity took over, whom we call the Classical Latin authors, are known to us from manuscripts copied out in the 9th century or later. The exceptions are, starting with the oldest manuscripts:

Vergil. The papyrus fragment CLA VI.833 is the oldest Classical Latin manuscript of which I know. In the mid-20th century Lowe dated it to the 4th century, but more recently Seider has revised that to an estimate of the 1st or 2nd century. (All the dates in this post are AD.)

There are 4th-century manuscripts of Livy (a papyrus), Gellius and Sallust (a papyrus).

The oldest manuscript of Lucan dates from the 4th or 5th century, as does the oldest of Terence.

The oldest manuscript of Plautus and of the Elder and the Younger Pliny all date from the 5th century.

Authors whose oldest known manuscripts were copied in the 9th century include Valerius Flaccus, Julius Casar, Quintilian, Tacitus, Macrobius, Ovid, Ausonius, Petronius, Horace, Suetonius, Lucretius, Frontinus, Martial and Juvenal. Don't thank me -- thank Charlemagne. He turned this whole bus around.

The oldest known manuscript of Ammianus was made in the 9th or 10th century. The oldest of Tibullus was made in the 10th century, of Propertius, in the 12th or 13th century, and of Catullus, in the 14th century.

In the case of every single one of those authors, more recent manuscripts play a very important role in establishing the text (that is -- in aiding scholars to make their best attempt to guess what the original author actually wrote).

All of the ancient papyri mentioned here have been discovered since the late 19th century. That 1st-or-2nd-century papyrus of Vergil is certainly sensational, but because it's a manuscript of Vergil, it's made less of a sensation among classical scholars than a manuscript of comparable age of, say, Catullus would. It's a little scrap of papyrus, and 7 manuscripts copied out before 500 contain most or all of Vergil's work, as does 1 more made before 600 and another made before 800. Likewise, there is quite a lot of the writing of Livy preserved on 5th century manuscripts, so the 4th century papyrus mentioned above, although quite a nice find, has not been earth-shattering to those studying Livy. On the other hand, 4 little scraps of papyrus containing writing by Sallust, copied before 500, have been found. AD 500, not such a dramatically early date for Vergil manuscripts, or even for Livy, a leading runner-up in the Abundance of Ancient Latin Manuscripts Sweepstakes, but all of the manuscripts of Sallust besides those 4 little papyri date from the 9th century and later, so those 4 little scraps of papyri are -- yeah, somewhat earth-shaking, if you're really into Sallust. (And you should be, he writes rings around everybody else I've mentioned except for Horace and Ovid.)

The fans of ancient Greek are having almost all of the fun with the papyri: millions, literally millions of papyrological documents have been unearthed since the late 19th century, and most of them are in Greek. I'm not sure whether the number of Latin and/or partly-Latin documents found among those millions has yet gone from the hundreds to to the thousands. So, good for the students of Greeks, and as for us fans of Latin: papyri continue to be found.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

1 Tin Of Old Fisherman Roasted Eel In Rice With Other Proteins And Veggies --

-- along with 1 cooked bratwurst, a tin of anchovies, broccoli, onion, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, cilantro, ginger, allspice, paprika, cumin, basil, hot sauce and tomatoes -- is good! The eel is not a pronounced flavor among all those other flavors jostling for position, but it definitely adds to the overall experience, in flavor and also in texture.

What I like to do is chop up an onion and some other vegetable or vegetables -- doesn't have to be broccoli -- very fine, chop up some protein -- doesn't have to be bratwurst, anchovies and eel, that's just what I happened to have on hand this time. Doesn't have to be salt, black pepper, garlic powder, cilantro, ginger, allspice, paprika, cumin and basil either, that just happens to be a combination I like for this recipe. This time I added hot sauce and 1 big chopped-up tomato after the cooking was done.

But before I start to prepare any of those ingredients I put a frying pan onto a low burner and let it warm up while I do the prep. What I like to do is to put all the veggies, protein and seasoning into one bowl so that I can add them all to the pan in one easy motion.

When I was using a smaller pan I found that 1 cup of long-grained rice and 1 1/2 cups of water yielded good al dente rice. Now I've got a much bigger pan, and I've found that I have to use less water or the rice comes out too limp and soggy, so now I use 1 1/4 cups rice and 1 1/4 cups water. Use the proteins, vegetables and seasonings you like, and adjust the ratio of rice to water until it comes out the way you want it.

When the pan has warmed up, melt some butter in it, then put the rice rice in the butter and stir it very vigorously until every grain has butter on it. This should take about 2 minutes. Then turn the heat up to high, then add the water, then add everything else except the hot sauce and tomato, then put a lid on the pan and bring it to a good rolling boil.

When I've done this I've always put glass lids on the pans so I can see when it boils. If you use a non-see-through pan -- I don't really know what to tell ya. About 5 minutes on my stove brings the mixture to a boil, but of course stoves vary greatly.

When it's at a good full boil, turn the heat back down to low and simmer for 15 or 20 minutes or so, until the rice has reached the texture you like. When it's what I call done, some of the grains of rice on the bottom are brown and crispy, which to me is good. To me that's not burnt, it's an added element of crispy texture. If that's burnt to you, then shorten the cooking time, or if shortening the cooking time leave the rice too soggy, start with less water.

And then stir it all up, and then stick a fork in yourself because you're done. Unless you want to add something more, like hot sauce, or cheese, or fresh tomato, or whatever. Serves 4 or so.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Old Fisherman Roasted Eel

So that's what eel tastes like. -- Actually, this small tin of roasted eel from Old Fisherman in Taiwan tasted mostly like the sauce it was drenched in: sugar, salt, soy sauce, capsicum and MSG, according to the ingredients list. Underneath the sauce was a hint of something a bit more firm than limp, very dry and in need of drenching in something, and very, very faintly fishy.

I still don't think I really know what eel tastes like.

But the sauce was okay and the overall effect was not bad.

I guess I was expecting a wow experience from the texture of the eel, and I didn't get it. (Did I have any reason to expect such a wow texture?)

But the sauce was okay and the overall experience was not bad. It was far from the worst $1.79 I ever spent on food. Andrew Zimmer says to always try strange food more than once. Well, he gets paid to say things like that, and fortunately, I don't have to try something a 2nd time if I don't want to. But I'll be trying these eels again to see if the experience grows on me.

I haven't tried to Old Fisherman eels with fermented black bean sauce yet:

If anyone reading this is an eel connoisseur I'd be very grateful for any tips on where to get the good stuff, preparation (Should I have put those eels with that sauce on rice instead of just scarfing the contents of the tin?), or anything else you might like to share. Hòu huì yǒu qī. (I realize that eels are a highly-regarded cuisine in many other parts of the world besides China -- London, for example -- but I said hòu huì yǒu qī because the food reviewed in this post came from Taiwan.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

How I Came Up With "Jesus Charlie"

I wonder how many of you kids are old enough to remember the AIDS ribbon. It seems to have slipped away into history at some point, but in the early 90's, people started wearing red ribbons as a symbol of solidarity with victims of HIV/AIDS. I happened to know a guy at the time who was very active in HIV/AIDS activism, who for a period of time was somewhat notable for being one of the few people is his milieu who didn't wear a red ribbon on his lapel. (Actually, the ribbons were often pins in the form of red ribbons, like the pins in the form of the US flag.)

He said to me something like the following:

"I don't mind you wearing the ribbon. I don't mind these people wearing it --" We were in an office of an AIDS service organization at the time, and he waved his hand to indicate "these people," the others in the office -- "but, right or wrong, when I see the ribbon, all I can think about are the goddam hypocrites who wear it. Politicians who wear the ribbon to get the gay vote, and then do nothing in office to help us, or actually block funding for research. And those asshole rock stars -- I won't name names, but I've heard some stories that I think are true, about some millionaire celebrities who wear an AIDS ribbon and then don't give one cent to AIDS research or emergency support, or give less than they spend on wax for their fucking Lamborghinis. Those fucking parasites, making careers off of people suffering and dying.

"Maybe I'm completely wrong about this. Maybe a celebrity wearing a ribbon, even if that's the only thing they do, maybe they still help us a lot. Maybe a politician wearing the ribbon actually does us more good than he's able to personally undo. And for all I know there are 1000 people wearing the ribbon who really help in meaningful ways for every one of those assholes who wear it to get over or to make themselves feel like good people. Making I'm just inventing a problem that isn't really there, but I'm not going to wear the fucking ribbon."

He was a very charismatic and persuasive guy, and I suppose I had a case of hero-worship going on with him. Not long after that conversation, I stopped wearing the ribbon too. Right or wrong, I stopped. Some people asked me why I stopped, and I told them, and some said Okay, and some said Oh that asshole (the guy who got me to stop wearing the ribbon), that egotistical asshole, he's accusing OTHER people of using AIDS for their own good? He could give LESSONS on making a career out of other people's suffering, etc, etc. A lot of people love this guy, and a lot of people absolutely hate his guts, and say that he charms people in order to subjugate and use them. I love him. Maybe the h8ers are right, and he's got me bamboozled. I think they're wrong, but I'm not absolutely sure about anything. My views on life in general and what it all means are often very murky. All the more so when it comes to people's motives and the way they interact.

Fast-forward 23 years or so, to yesterday. I ran into somebody on Facebook who struck me as a bit pompous and self-righteous. (He's an atheist, naturally.) Rightly or wrongly, I was annoyed by him and felt little admiration for his style. I clicked onto his page, considering whether I ought to just block him and save myself the aggravation which might come from attempting to communicate with him -- and on his page I saw a picture of someone holding up a "JE SUIS CHARLIE" sign. But the picture was shot from such an angle that the "E" in "JE" was very close to the "S" in "SUIS," and the person holding the sign was covering up the "I" in "SUIS" with his or her finger, so at first glance it actually looked very much as if the sign read "JESUS CHARLIE." It probably helped that I was thinking that the self-righteous Facebook user might want to "come down off of his Cross," so to speak.

In addition to that, ever since I'd first started seeing the "JE SUIS CHARLIE" signs last week, I'd been thinking about the AIDS ribbon, and my charismatic controversial friend who never wore it. And I wondered how many of the people holding the signs had never heard of Charlie Hebdo before the shooting, and/or couldn't read a word of French, and/or had no idea what the magazine they were claiming to be was like or what it stood for. And I'd been thinking about the survivors at Charlie Hebdo, looking at all the "JE SUIS CHARLIE" signs, and I wondered whether they spotted anybody who they knew damn well didn't support them, and thought to themselves, Look at that asshole exploiting our misery...

And that's how I came up with "Who is this Jesus Charlie guy?" That, and also, I can read French, and I had read some pieces in Charlie Hebdo before the shooting, and I figured, if anybody could appreciate an edgy mockery of the "JE SUIS CHARLIE" signs, it just might be the survivors at the magazine, because they're all about humor that makes you wince and exclaim, "Oh no, that's wrong!" at the same time that you laugh so hard that it physically hurts. Not entirely unlike Seth MacFarlane's work. If any of the survivors ever happen to hear about my little joke, and it offends or hurts them, then I sincerely apologize. I meant the joke as a tribute to them and their fallen co-workers, from one brazen loudmouth to some others. I don't feel the need to apologize to anybody else about it.