Neandertals probably favored feathers in ornamentation (well, maybe)

This paper is interesting, but with those new dates pushing back the Iberian Neandertals, makes me hesitate now, as a lot of this paper addresses avian bones from a Gibraltar site after 50k. That date was picked because:

“The prevailing paradigm among Palaeolithic archaeologists today is still one which regards flying birds to have been difficult prey to capture and beyond the capabilities of all hominins prior to 50 kya and non-modern hominins (including the Neanderthals) even after the 50 kya threshold. The corollary, which has been applied to the Neanderthals for the period after 50 kya, is that they only targeted birds once easier prey (presumed to be energetically less costly to obtain than birds) were exhausted.”

If all of the Neandertals were already dead though..

I skimmed the paper, missing any mention of carbon dating of the avian bones. The bones were associated with Neandertal sites. Maybe the whole paradigm about flying birds being difficult prey prior to 50k years ago is wrong? Or are these sites really associated with Neandertals?

Lars Iyer interviews

3:AM Magazine has posted an English translation of an interview of Lars Iyer by Antônio Xerxenesky from the IMS blog.

New Statesman has another interview with Iyer that manages to cover completely different material. Too many writers recycle the same stock answers even when presented with different questions. Iyer isn’t one of them.

I confess that I haven’t read any of Iyer’s books yet. His blog and now his Twitter account have been regular reading for years. Bill’s pushed his novels on me several times, but never followed through. It’s time to read them, as Iyer always inspires me to be a better reader.1

  1. I’ve been on a long jag of genre fiction and comic books, which is very fun, but these diversions are becoming the primary diet. []

new dating of Iberian Neandertals

Some articles reporting these new datings of Iberian Neandertals placing them 10,000 years earlier then they were previously are also insisting then there is no way modern humans interacted with Neandertals as modern humans were not in the same place at the same time. (That Nature article isn’t one of them, but this EurekAlert does.) That’s nice, but the genetics studies already show Neandertals and humans did interact, perhaps not in Iberia, but somewhere. I reckon that it’s just science journalists who haven’t accepted the genetics proofs are just ahead of the curve of the fossil evidence.

There’s another study arguing earlier dates for modern humans out of Africa than 60,000 years ago, in multiple dispersals.  (via Dienekes.) Even if Neandertals all went extinct earlier than thought, not just the ones in the Iberian peninsula, they still had the opportunity to interact with modern humans, as they were already in Europe.

most of the Timbuktu manuscripts have survived

It seems that the people of Timbuktu knew the score with the Islamist militants and pulled the old switcheroo on them, hiding most of the manuscripts (many of them gems of history of both Islam and Africa) before the town was taken. Only a few hundred, rather than all 300,000, were destroyed. They counted on the illiteracy of the rebels. The trick isn’t going to work twice unfortunately.

I don’t know what to think. I admire the idealism of the citizens of Timbuktu, as they have kept them preserved for all of these years and their resourcefulness has saved them yet again. they also have a noble ambition to keep the documents available to everyone. However, these documents are kept under less than ideal environmental conditions and there are too many hateful, ignorant people hellbent on destroying all art and knowledge in the vain attempt to placate their petty god.

12,000 year old site Hasankeyf threatened by planned Ilisu Dam by Turkey

Hasankeyf might be as important as Göbekli Tepe, except it might be older and has been continuously inhabited. Turkey apparently has been wanting to build a reservoir here for decades (with an Austrian company as the constructor) and seems finally to be moving ahead. It’s a Kurdish area and it’s Turkey, so there’s almost certainly an element of ethnic persecution in play here. It seems that there are now 3,000 people now at work prepping. Not all elements of the Turkish government are hellbent on this idiotic scheme, as according to this original news story (in Spanish,) “The Turkish State Council ordered the suspension of works at the request of the Bar Association and Engineers, since there was no environmental impact assessment.”

The construction of this damn seems as wantonly destructive and callous as the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas or the attempted destruction of the manuscripts of Timbuktu, except in this case, because someone is making a financial profit, it’s not being as universally reviled. This site was one of the most important points in the creation of Western Civilization. Yeah, let’s just flood it.

((There is an English subtitles switch on the YouTube toolbar.))

Stanislaw Lem’s Summa Techologiae

Orthofer over at the Literary Saloon points out that Stanislaw Lem’s Summa Techologiae is being published in English for the first time. Hell, yes. I probably was dimly been aware of this, but it’s hard to keep track of this stuff when one is an easily distracted flake. The new excitement overwhelms any memory of anticipation.

This winter I tried filling in a few more missing pieces of Lem’s work in my library. One of the books was A Stanislaw Lem Reader. (Thank you, Peter Swirski and Northwestern University Press.) It was amazing work, but as Orthofer points out, some of Lem’s ideas now come across as a bit dated. But also like him, I’m still in awe of Lem. That was one hell of a mind.

(Also, I’m embarrassed to admit that Philip K. Dick’s Exegenesis has been on my shelf for over a year, and I stalled out pretty early, despite some conscientious returns to pick through it. )

new David Shields book

Aw, I reckon that I’ll read David Shields’ new book How Literature Saved My Life. His Reality Hunger seemed fun at the time. Although I don’t recall what I came away with, it’ll be bound to be more fun than the mountain of erotica my damned company has decided to replace our normal New Arrivals feature with (and it’s always sorely lacking.) The bulk of my reading this past month is genre fiction with no pretense of it being anything else. Some naval gazing and literary anecdotes might be a good jolt out of rut, as I’ve resorted to giving another shot to Lev Grossman’s The Magician King, as I loathe his writing so much that it’s bound to provoke some kind of reaction.1

Here’s an excerpt from Shields’ new book.

  1. How does Grossman get away with this shit? Some superhero comics from Marvel and DC right now are better than this, and the man is regarded by some Americans as a serious writer who is saying something. Mediocrity! Sycophant! Bottom feeding scum… []

Armand Schaubroeck on vinyl!

Just noticed a gem of comment from an old post from the other day. Apparently one can now get Armand Schaubroeck on vinyl…. legitimately!

if anyone is interested in vinyl, you can purchase them through Armand’s record store, The House of Guitars. 5852664040 or email them at for up to date info, please visit

I’ll have to email to find out which albums are available and how much they are, but here’s a taste.