Daily Archives: April 20, 2008

The palace of the lotuses is fit for a queen

THE PIC OF TODAY (above) is a detail of the palace of the lotuses in the ancient kingdom of Vijayanagar at Hampi, built by a king for his queen.  Wordpress’ flexibility in changing the “custom header” at the top is not great yet, unless you are a CSSer, but there’s an answer, although obviously it necessitates this separate bog entry.

Here’s the picture of the palace of the lotuses, built in such a way that the breezes keep the queen cool while no doubt the sound of the birds make the bower even more pleasant. Goodness knows what the workers had to do to build such an edifice.
The palace of the lotuses

The king must have been quite rich, and indeed it is said that Vijayanagar in the 15th century was bigger than Rome. So we guess that’s why he also had this stable of his elephants close to one or other of the palaces and 3,500 temples in a 64 acre space. How many priests and artisans must have been employed? Also, was the Shaivite Virupaksha temple left to stand to keep the locals, if not happy, at least with some religious place they could go to? Alas, like every empire, Vijayanagar is a goner.

The King\'s Elephant Stable 

Buenos Aires gets smoked out

THERE’S A LOT about smoke on the Interweb this weekend. For example, according to Reuters, Buenos Aires, which must mean something like good air, is suffering its fifth day of being engulfed by fumes.

Columnist India Knight, over at the Sunday Times, here, opines that the English smoking ban is wiping out the art of conversation, closing hostelries,  and forcing everyone back into their homes, which have become fugged up places. Ms Knight reckons that putative London mayor Boris Johnson will hold a referendum on smoking in the capital, if he wins on the 1st of May next. Johnson apparently got some dosh for speaking to something called the “Tobacco Association” last year. Nothing to do with the sweet smelling plants, presumably. Of which, more, later.

Meanwhile, it seems that the authorities in Beijing, home to the Olympics, have backed down from banning smoking in the capital – one of the most polluted in the world – because the citizens just won’t have it. And China isn’t even a Western style democracy.

In other emission related news, the UK Independent on Sunday is attempting to explain why flowers have lost their scent, here.  It’s nothing to do with ciggies, apparently, and everything to do with motor cars. Actually, bees used to like tobacco plants, but that’s before the type that delivered lovely scents have been  displaced by varieties that don’t give off scent at all. Weird.

Bee-keepers, like honey bees, apparently a dying breed like tobacco smokers plants,  used to use smoke so they could get honey out of the hives. Because bees originally nested in trees, the smell of smoke used to make the bees gorge on honey, which quietened them down a lot so they wouldn’t sting (much), while the bee-keepers took advantage of the honey induced torpor to raid the hives and plunder the honey.

BOGGARDS Rhododendron honey is poisonous. Wasps are not evil. They don’t get nasty until their hives start to break down, and the grubs refuse to feed them sweet secretions in return for the fresh meat the workers have delivered. That’s because the Queen has stopped producing grubs, and there are no grubs to feed the workers. Nature isn’t half red in tooth and claw. ♦

Graphics firms prepare for Intel inferno

CPU Magazine. Buy it.

Microsoft sued over “innovation transfer”

THE VOLE AND THE GANNETT along with the Monster are being sued by Pitchware in a California district court.

Pitchware said in its “e-filing” on the 7th of April that Monster Worldwide, Career Builder, Gannett, the McClatchy Company, Microsoft and Career Marketplace have used its patent in their products.

The patent number 7,043,454 is interestingly entitled “method and apparatus for a cryptographically assisted commercial network system designed to facilitate idea submission, purchase and licensing and innovation transfer.”

Have a dekko at the patent. It is apparently a “method and apparatus for effectuating bilateral commerce in ideas”.

What the heck can this mean?

Scottish pipers told to stop their awfae din

CRIVENS AND HELP MA BOAB! According to the Sunday Times, the Eurocrats have told Scottish pipers they must restrict the sound of the bagpipes to 85 decibels or wear earplugs so they dinnae damage their health.

As Rupert pointed out in a comment yesterday, there is a whole lot of rubbish talked about the kilts, the clans, the sporrans and the dirks, but the boffins in the article he pointed to did say that piping was extremely popular until after Culloden and the defeat of the so-called “Bonnie” Prince Charlie.

Have a dekko, here at the Omniglot web site, at its page on Scottish Gaelic. My daddy was stationed on the Isle of Skye during the Second World War, working on radar. He reported to me when I was just a bairn that on the island very few folk indeed spoke English. Instead, they spoke the Gaelic tongue.

Which poses another mystery – the place of religion in this strange mix. This page talks of the Wee Frees, and how they helped to preserve Scottish Gaelic. Gaelic, of course, came from Ireland.  There’s some stuff about the Picts, here and here.  Some nice illustrations from Pictish symbol stones, here. Here’s a map of stone circles and symbol stones near my home town, Aberdeen. §