Cuttlefish Shakespeare Fanboi Squee!!!!

So today is, as far as you know, William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday (no one knows for sure, but it’s as good a day as any, and better than most, to pretend that it is). Which is cool. The odds are very much against anyone knowing I ever existed nearly 4 centuries from now (and if you exclude whatever future version of ancestry.com is in use then, the odds are even lower), but Shakespeare will be known for pretty much as long as people are known. If the last copy of any human book that ever exists is a version of one of Shakespeare’s plays, it would not surprise me (yes, assuming that I still exist to be surprised by the heat death of the universe), and if it is something else instead, more’s the pity. [Read more...]

There Will Be Light

One of the great things about today’s technological infrastructure (well, until the whole thing collapses and we revert to banging rocks together) is that you can have your favorite local radio station somewhere on the opposite side of the planet. Which is the case for me. Which means I get to hear stuff that will likely never make it to American radio (which still exists) or my students’ mp3 players or phones (my other source of new music recommendations).

I liked this one enough to buy it, to support the band. I recommend listening late at night, in some deserted parking lot or seldom-travelled back road. Extra points if you have someone there to dance with.

“The Squid’s Embrace…”

Down in the depths
Of the salty Atlantic
A seaglider measured the signs of the sea–
Monotonous work,
And it isn’t romantic,
At least, I’d be bored if the glider were me

Up to the surface
And down to the bottom
Again and again, that was all that it did
No chance for a hickey,
Yet, somehow, it’s got ‘em!
A gift from the hug of an amorous squid

Of all of the stories
That science discovers
The saddest of tales that I’ve ever heard (yet!)
Is the tragic ordeal
Of the two star-crossed lovers
The Romeo Squid and his fair Juliet.

Over at Deep Sea News, evidence of the tragic end to a classic Romeo & Juliet story (with very very cool pics!). They came from different backgrounds: she was a scientific instrument measuring the temperature and salinity of the ocean depths, and he was a squid. But their love was as true as it was brief–they shared an embrace, he shed tears (which she collected and measured), and they parted forever. Still more moving than that silly scene in Titanic.

How do I know it was love, rather than a battle (as DSN suggest is a possibility) or ecoterrorism (as PZ’s post might suggest to a conspiracy theorist)? Simple–how else would you explain this? (that link is “The Anachronism”, a beautiful short film that is well worth your watching, but you should know it is 15 minutes long. When you have that amount of time available, watch–you will be very glad you did!)

Extra points for anyone who knows the context of the title without looking it up!

Don’t Panic!

… but it has been thirty years since the original Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy game was released. I remember playing it.

A 30th anniversary online version of the game is now available over at the BBC:

A word of warning

This game will kill you frequently. It’s a bit mean like that.

But don’t panic; you can “save” before trying something that ends up killing you.

Thirty years! I swear it was sometime last week… Oh, well–time is an illusion. Lunchtime, doubly so.

Godless Gold Is Worth More, Apparently

A couple found a stash of coins
In cans half lost to rust
Gold coins, so old some even lack
The phrase “In God We Trust”

There’s one coin, termed “miraculous”,
Uncirculated, gold
That doesn’t say “In God We Trust”
Like others just as old

That year the motto first appeared—
This coin slipped in before;
Because this coin is godless, it
Is worth a great deal more!

The godless may be rarer
(By a lot, we’re often told)
But we, without “In God We Trust”
Are truly good as gold.

That cache of gold found by a couple walking their dog in the San Francisco area contains a “miraculous” coin.

An 1866 $20 coin printed without the “In God We Trust” motto — the 1866-S No Motto Double Eagle — is the highest quality of its kind, said David Hall, cofounder of Professional Coin Grading Services in Irvine, who recently authenticated the coins.
When the motto was added to the coin in 1866, some coins were still minted in San Francisco without the phrase, he said.

The lack of that motto, and the fact that the finders did not try to clean the coin, mean that this uncirculated bit of metal will likely go for a million dollars at auction. Trying to clean it would have ruined it, and the missing motto means it is quite a bit rarer than other 1866 $20 gold coins.

I’d belabor the obvious and say “there’s a metaphor here”, but Robert Burns already did. In this case, it’s not trust in a god that imbues worth; worth can be found in the godly and ungodly alike, as can lack of worth. Or as Burns put it, “the rank is but the guinea’s stamp–the man’s the gold, for a’ that.”