March 5th, 2009


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Discussion (15)¬

  1. Generalitary says:

    How does Shadowchild know about aged wine?

  2. KNO3 says:

    Ah, that. He ate a shadow of a sommelier, unfortunately it tasted like vinegar.

  3. Mani says:

    Also, considering some comments earlier about Librarian Vo’s interns translating the “Marsupial Manuscripts,” we can assume – when in doubt – that any anachronistic or implausible figures of speech are good-faith translations, not exact ones.

  4. Rista-liehna says:

    Ah, bless the literary agent hypothesis!

  5. TekServer says:

    “You never realize how exhausting being cold is until you aren’t any more.”



  6. helusanation says:

    I always thought the shadows were the best for eavesdropping

  7. Mark Antony says:

    Ha! Shadowchild, it seems, has stumbled onto the demon equivalent of an old, abandoned wine cellar. Most of the wines would be long past their prime, but some of the newer ones have just peaked.

  8. BunnyRock says:

    Given I am an archaeologist i feel obliged to post some clever comment on how long it takes for the dust to build up ect ect, but the truth is, it depends. On far, far, far, to many factors for the decay of organic material to be useful as a dating tool. The atomic decay of carbon 14 into carbon 12, of of potassium forty into argon in clays, now those are useful, but the reason we use them is if there were a smile or even a doable way of dating the decay of objects by biotic factors we wouldn’t need much else. too much stops or slows decay, especially absence of air or absence of water. I’m in wales. I can go to the seven estuary and see sticking out of the banks carved wood. Modern? Medieval? Roman? Bronze Age? Paleolithic, and what i thought were axe marks are beaver tooth marks? who knows, you’d have to C14 it or dendrochronology it. Fishing trawlers regularity pull up tree trunks and mammoth bones from the bottom of the Channel, from when it was the river basin of a super river where the Rhine and the Thames met when sea leaves were lower because the water was locked in ice. Its an archaeological paradox. Most of the time too little is preserved. Sometimes so much is you can’t come, your budget wont stretch to document it all, let alone preserve it all. and what preserves it is either hot and dry, cold and flooded, or cold, dry and lonely.

    Given the Monastery is at altitude textile decay as described could take five years after some nasty spring rains or if it’s dry… it could be hundreds, maybe thousands. Altitude with thin air and cold and dry conditions does weird things. Anyone wanting proof of how well that preserves cloth and organ tissues is more than welcome to scare themselves searching for images of Inca and other Andean civilizations mummy bundles. Remember, these are not like Egyptian or Scottish mummies, there has been no deliberate preservation rite. The bodes are not treated after death, just wrapped up in their finest cloth and left somewhere cold and dry and lonely. Some of them look more sleeping than dead.

    Cold. Dry. Lonely. The holy trinity of archaeological textile preservation.

  9. TekServer says:

    I’m no archaeologist either, but I suspect that “lonely” is a bigger factor than most people realize. After all, people touching stuff is just about as damaging (in the long term) as running water.

    (I’m in IT, and I can see evidence of this in the short term on old, well used keyboards … )


  10. Roscoe Del'Tane says:

    As someone who has lived in Alaska for their entire life (25 years so far), I can verify Diggers last sentence on this page. It is very accurate, especially if you are doing work as well; the cold just seeps into every exposed part of you and drains you energy out, like an evil little sloth-demon.

  11. jaynee says:

    BunnyRock, you have just *got* to be using voice input in these passages. Anyone as smart as you cannot be responsible for those speeling mistaks, particularly given that a more-or-less homonymic word is used instead (eg seven cf Severn).

    Considerably more importantly, many thanks for this and other archaelogical ramblings. Its always a good page if a BR ramble is posted : )

  12. JET73L says:

    Digger also didn’t say what types of cloth there were and what she meant by “rot into musty threads”, but there’s that, too. And of /course/ I thought of BunnyRock when she said “I’m not an archaeologist…”

    Well, that and the obligitary “darnit, Jim, I’m an excavator, not an archaeologist!” line.

    Jaynee, one need not be smart to avoid a lot of spelling errors, and one can make a lot of spelling errors despite being smart. All the latter takes is typing quickly and/or having a crummy text-input peripheral, and not having or giving the time or concentration to proofread thoroughly.

  13. BunnyRock says:

    No such luck Jaynee: just terminal dyslexia. I DO sometimes spot spelling errors, just only by cutting suspect words and pasting them into Google to see if they generate the hits I suspect they will if they are correct. however, this is somewhat time-consuming and so can’t be used for every word, so unless a word jumps out at me as I’m typing or spell-check yields no hits, I often miss them.


    I tried voice input, but whoever programmed it was clearly not expecting anything other than General American English, and even with my painfully neutral “BBC ascent” it was utterly thrown by several things, most annoyingly my inability to pronounce the R in some words (seriously, know most Americans are Rhotic speakers, but there are still non-Rhotic English speakers in New England ect, how do they cope with this sort of software?). It also hated my Inability pronounce “Plant” “Bath” ect. without elongating the “A”, which made it skip horribly, and it kept trying to render “marry” as either “Mary” or “merry” despite the fact that with my stupid surrey accent the three aren’t even close to homophones. Apparently my accent was too close to RP and made it sin out. A second piece of software I bought from a British company had the other problem: Rather than getting confused by my very nearly RP accent it decided my accent wasn’t posh enough and refused to work at all unless I articulated every word very slowly and carefully whilst impersonating Prince Harry, slowing my speed down from my forty words per minute typing to about twelve words per minute.

    So to sum up: the sooner they develop some sort of magic direct telepathic interfaces so I can just beam what I want to say from my mind to everyone else via the internet the better. Provided it has some filters: Rule thirty-four would really bite if that sort of thing became commonplace.

  14. Brave Horatio says:

    The trouble with dialogue systems is that they can either be accurate or versatile. I thought there was a move towards training speech-to-text programs to their individual users – plus some sort of learning mechanism – but apparently that’s not quite working yet. Frankly, I’m amazed that such things work for anyone, ever.

    Also, I never thought I’d hear the words rhotic and non-rhotic dialects in the comments for a webcomic about geology. Bravo to you, BunnyRock.

  15. Arrkhal says:

    Hm. Going back to the wine thing, I’d hazard a guess that Shadowchild learned about wine at the same time it learned how to talk! I don’t think that was ever explained, either.