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February 13, 2020

Listen to the oldest song in the world, written 3,400 years ago

From Far Out Magazine:

Professor Anne Draffkorn Kilmer, curator at the Lowie Museum of Anthropology at Berkeley, spent fifteen years deciphering the clay tablets, which were uncovered and excavated in Syria by French archaeologists in the early 1950s.

The tablets, it has been confirmed, form "a complete cult hymn, the oldest preserved song with notation in the world."

Kilmer, who is also emeritus professor of Assyriology at the University of California, worked alongside her colleagues Richard L. Crocker and Robert R. Brown to create a definitive record and booklet about the song, which has been called the "Sounds From Silence."

"We are able to match the number of syllables in the text of the song with the number of notes indicated by the musical notations," Kilmer pointed out. "This approach produces harmonies rather than a melody of single notes. The chance the number of syllables would match the notation numbers without intention is astronomically small."

Richard Crocker, Kilmer's colleague, added: "This has revolutionized the whole concept of the origin of western music."

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[via Crack San Francisco Correspondent©® Richard Kashdan]

February 13, 2020 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

7 Girl Scout cookies you thought you were getting but aren't


From the Los Angeles Times:

When you bite into a Thin Mint, you probably aren't wondering where it comes from. (The Girl Scouts, of course.)

But wait — there are two bakers.

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And they make two very different Thin Mints: One is crunchier, more minty, while the other is richer with a smooth chocolate coating.

Where you buy determines which ones you get.


Orange County gets the crunchier Thin Mints, while Los Angeles gets the smoother ones.

Dallas gets Samoas, but Fort Worth gets Caramel deLites.

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Most of Florida eats Tagalongs, but Orlando gets Peanut Butter Patties.

The new S'mores cookies are also different between bakers.

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Which cookies are you eating?

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Your local Girl Scouts decide.


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The Girl Scouts this year are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first known sale of Girl Scout cookies, which are sold to help girls learn people skills and how to manage money, as well as to help fund philanthropic causes and goals such as field trips and camp visits.

Initially, the cookies sold were homemade, but the Girl Scouts turned to commercial bakers by the 1930s.

The Girl Scout council for each ZIP Code is based on the council finder search tool on www.girlscouts.org. Bakers for each local council were determined by what was listed on each council's website.

[via Crack San Francisco Correspondent©® Richard Kashdan, whose extraordinary production this past month merits a raise. Done. I'm doubling his salary starting today. boj is nothing if not a meritocracy.]

February 13, 2020 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Take a deep breath

It took me four days and many failed attempts and dead ends, but I am pleased to report that I can now shoot a one-minute video using my iPhone and upload it to YouTube without any problems in about five minutes.

Here are the steps in my TechnoDolt©® approved approach:

1. Using the iPhone's home screen after finishing shooting, press the square button with the arrow pointing upward — it's in the lower left corner.

2. A new screen appears with a zillion options on it — ignore them all and scroll all the way down to the bottom, where you'll find "Save to Files".

3. Press "Save to Files" and another screen will open up: at the top it will say "iCloud Drive".

4. Below "iCloud Drive" will be "Desktop", and below that a list of all the stuff on your computer's desktop.

5. I created a file on my computer desktop labeled "Video of the Day", which is empty — I press that on my phone and Bob's your uncle: in a couple minutes (if your video is about a minute long like mine are) "No items" changes to "1 item" — there's your downloaded movie, ready to upload to YouTube or wherever or send or text to your homies.

If I can do it, anyone can do it.


February 13, 2020 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Unseen Worlds of Star Wars


From PhysOrg:

Using a new computer program, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) researchers offer unusual insight into the universe of Star Wars, which includes more than 20,000 characters spread among 640 communities over a period of 36,000 years.

Do you think you know all there is to know about Star Wars?

You may change your mind after reading this article.

Using a new computer program, EPFL researchers revealed some interesting statistics on the famous saga.

Drawing on the principles of graph theory, which harnesses computing power and mathematical calculations, they analyzed hundreds of web pages devoted to the legendary film series created in the 1970s by producer George Lucas.

Apart from highlighting Star Wars geeks' prodigious output, their study could prove interesting for a large number of scientific fields when it comes to extracting and analyzing data.

The Star Wars universe is huge.

In addition to seven full-length films, the story is further developed in ways the general public may not follow, such as books and video games, which have gradually added episodes and expanded the saga.

The EPFL study, which was conducted at the Signal Processing Laboratory 2 (LTS2) under the direction of Professor Vandergheynst, gives some idea of the scope of the saga.


80% human beings

"Fans will be surprised to learn, for example, that we came up with over 20,000 characters," said Kirell Benzi, a PhD student and the project lead.

Among them, 7,500 play an important role.

There are also 1,367 Jedi and 724 Sith.

All the characters are spread among 640 different communities on 294 planets.

And an analysis of the 10 largest communities reveals a surprise: nearly 80% of the galaxy's population is human.

In addition to counting the number of characters and identifying their tribe of origin, the program also situates them in the timeline of the story.

A very long timeline, since the saga covers 36,000 years, broken down into six main periods: before the Republic, the Old Republic, the Empire, the Rebellion, the New Republic, and the Jedi Order.

"To put some order into this massive forest of data, we based our approach on network analysis. In other words, all the connections that one character has with all the others," said Xavier Bresson, an LTS2 researcher. "Using these cross-references, we are able to accurately determine the time period of the character almost without fail, when this information is not directly provided in the books or movies."


[Legend for figure above: Part of the Star Wars character graph colored by era. Black nodes represent missing values. Red nodes: the Rise of the Empire Era (episodes 1,2,3). Blue nodes: the Rebellion era (episodes 4,5,6). Green ones: both eras.]

Mapping out connections

The researchers want to use this study to demonstrate the program's ability to extract and analyze digital data.

"The program maps out connections in the mass of unorganized data available on the net," said Benzi.

Given a huge amount of information, the algorithms developed by the LTS2 researchers offer results that cannot be matched by humans.

In addition to extracting data according to extremely precise criteria, the algorithms can also create links among data points, sort them, quantify them, interpret them, and find missing information, all this in very little time.


[Legend for figure above: Result of the label propagation algorithm. Black nodes have been replaced by the best compromise using their neighbors.]

The results are then presented in the form of interactive charts that are easy to read and understand.

In the long run, this tool could find applications in many fields.

"Once enough documents and archives have been digitized," said Bresson, "this method could be useful in filling knowledge gaps that remain in historical and sociological research and in numerous scientific fields as well."

February 13, 2020 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Magnetic Ruler

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From the website:

Measures quickly and accurately.

This vinyl magnetic measuring tape provides a convenient solution for determining lengths hands-free.

Magnetic back extends over the full length and width of the ruler.

Lays flat on any magnetic surface and features both inch and metric scales.


February 13, 2020 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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