the National Council of the Resistance of Iran

I ran across this story about women seeming to be the dominant force at the 5,000 year old Burnt City site in Sistan-Baluchistan province in Iran on Stone Pages. Definitely interesting, but i didn’t know what to say about it. Now via the Agonist, there’s this story on the National Council of the Resistance of Iran, a female dominated group determined to topple Iran’s current government to install a secular, democratic government. Quite an odd time to read these two stories, practically back to back.

Achaemenian Engineers Knew Pi

So was Al Jahiz wrong? Probably. I was fascinated with his idea that Islam should face the West for inspiration, and not the East, because historical What If scenarios are fun. Anyway, so it seems the Achaemenians had figured out pi to several decimal places before 500 BC, as when Persepolis was built, the columns were constructed so precisely that it is obvious that they had knowledge of the concept. Checking out this timeline, that’s 250 years before Archimedes came up with 3.1418 in Syracuse, over in Sicily. The Egyptians were aware of pi as well, at least by 2000 BC, but there approximation of it was a little off, 3.16045.

The Iranian article says that the first person know to record pi was Ghiasuddin Mohammad Kashani, but i cannot find another mention of the man. Most likely, he was the first to turn it into a true decimal, as opposed to a fraction. Until someone examines those columns to figure out exactly how close the Achaemenian concept of pi was, and it bettered the Egyptians’ 3.16, i’m going to be a little hesitant to proclaim a new Best Earliest Approximation of Pi champ. It would be interesting to see Archimedes bested though.

Scowcroft is out

Brent Scowcroft, one of the few sensible people in the current Bush administration, chairman of the foreign intelligence advisory board, has been purged. He was one of the few people who warned of the dangers of an occupation of Iraq.

The Guardian article also has James Baker, the man who orchestrated the theft of Florida in 2000, very angry with Dubya. Bush did it without him 2004 though, without all of the mess.

Thomas Wright

One of the things i picked up from 21st Century Grail is that the man who designed the Shepherd’s Monument at Shugborough (They had the contest to break the code last autumn,) Thomas Wright, also proposed that the Milky Way galaxy is shaped like a disk in the book, An Original Theory or New Hypothesis of the Universe. Apparently the book (which he wrote when he was only 22) had some crazy theological stuff in it, but it still influenced Immanuel Kant and William Herschel.

Thomas Wright was influenced by Robert Fludd, Jacob Boehme, Quietism (which seems like Buddhism to me although i need to read more,) and others.

21st Century Grail

I’m a little hesitant to confess that i’m reading Andrew Collins when i ought to be reading other stuff right now. He’s a little too wacky for my tastes of the moment, but i’ve made it halfway through his book 21st Century Grail, and he has yet to get too flakey on me, no fallen angels, levitating multi-ton blocks of stone with trumpets, or viper-faced Aryan giants. There are some odd interludes in which he and his friends have these fantastically unbelievable cosmic dreams, but i can ignore those for the moment. He’s throwing out all kinds of names of people and groups that are useful, even if the connections between them are invented or irrelevant. I want to trust Collins more but his earlier books put him into the realm of frustratingly entertaining lunatics Zecharia Sitchin.

Adiabene and Plan B

This Metafilter post about the Kurds being the closest living relatives of the Jews is interesting, but it seems a little suspicious to me, as if they are cherrypicking which genetic markers are convenient to the argument. If one ran a Venn diagram of the similarities between various ethnic groups, would this argument stand up or come off as juggling some numbers?

The Jewish kingdom of Adiabene in what is historically Kurdish territory that the article refers in passing to became Jewish when the king Izates met with the Jewish tradesman Ananias, and decided to convert, in the first century AD. There’s another reference to Adiabene and its king Izates here. The original article doesn’t try to make much of that connection, as it doesn’t much support the genetic similarity argument.

In fact, the more that i read the article, the odder it becomes, as the ‘conclusions’ have very little to do with the evidence it cites. I don’t deny there are genetic similarities, but i have close genetic relatives that i don’t particularly care to communicate with. Studying genetics to understand human migration through time is fantastic, but building alliances off these tenuous links seems dodgy to me.

When i read these kind of arguments, it brings to mind that Seymour Hersh article from the New Yorker, in which Israeli intelligence is training Kurdish commandos to operate in Iraq, Iran, and Syria, an initiative to build an ally in the region, called Plan B.

The Life Aquatic

Lou & I went to see this before i went to work yesterday. I loved it, with no reservations, but am reading a lot of reviews now, unsurprised to see that a lot of them are mixed, giving Anderson credit for lowkey humor and obsessive detail, but saying that there is too much detached irony and an inability to grow as a filmmaker. Ehhh…. maybe. I don’t care about that stuff right now.

What surprises me was when i was telling my parents about the movie, they were scared to see it, as it was too, too much of a biography of Cousteau for them. In a short interview with National Geographic, Anderson denies too much knowledge of the real Cousteau, just a child’s infatuation to spark his later ideas. I don’t believe him.

My mother reminded me that His wife Simone really was supposed to be the true captain of the Calypso. Also, Cousteau had two sons, Jean-Michael, from whom he was famously estranged (for reasons that i’m not clear on yet. It seems to be about an eco-resort in Fiji that Jean-Michael wanted to use the Cousteau name for) and Phillipe, who died in plane crash. The Life Aquatic is not a fanciful reinvention of the Cousteau story as the reviews seem to be implying.

I need advice

I’ve been trying to donate money to the International Red Cross for two days now, but the redirect doesn’t work. I haven’t sent anyone a single cent yet. Who do i go to? The news stories i’m reading aren’t being very helpful. I’m not looking for rebuilding efforts now, but immediate humanitarian effort.

Maybe i ought to just send a check, but one of my friends has been trashing the Red Cross for how they mismanaged the 9/11 funds, but that was the American Red Cross…

Update: I went with Doctors Without Borders. Thanks.