Open Thread: Maha Kumbh Mela



Once every hundred-forty-four years for the Grand (Maha) Kumbh Mela, and I almost missed it. From the LA Times:

ALLAHABAD, India — It’s dusk, and the sun’s rays succumb to the twinkle of amber streetlights at the sacred confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers. The day’s last bathers, intent on washing away sins and purifying their souls, take a dip in the cold, dirty water and then relax on blankets and launch boats covered in marigolds.

This is as close to peace and quiet as it gets at India’s Maha Kumbh Mela, a once-in-a-lifetime (well, this lifetime) Woodstock-gone-viral event billed as the world’s largest religious festival. How big? It’s expected to draw 100 million people over 55 days ending March 10….

Held in some form every three years, with the largest crowds at the 12- and 144-year marks, when it’s believed that good karma is strongest, the festival was first written about by a Chinese traveler in AD 634, although its roots are older. Mark Twain, among the first Americans to attend, described it in 1895 as a marvel to “our kind of people, the cold whites.”

Foreigners faced with the sea of pilgrims, pickpockets, beggars, yogis and self-declared god men of this year’s 144-year festival, can relate. “It’s a bit overwhelming,” said Andrea Kjirkby, a British tourist, comparing the carnival atmosphere to an English seaside resort. “But there’s also great generosity. India is extreme. You don’t get ordinary days.”…

If Wikipedia is to be trusted, this Sunday is the auspicious Mauni Amavasya Snan (Main Bathing Day)…

Auspiciously, here inland north of Boston we have power, heat, and essential supplies. While the snow drifts ranged from just-past-my-knees on the front steps to chest-high at the end of the front walk, so far it’s been light enough to shift without doing too much damage to my and the Spousal Unit’s aging, sedentary bodies. So I’m not sufficiently discouraged to want to get off the wheel of eternal rebirth just yet…

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114 replies
  1. 1
    cathyx says:

    You’ve got to have a strong faith in God to bathe in that river and wish to survive. Yuck.

  2. 2
    Ben Franklin says:

    So I’m not sufficiently discouraged to want to get off the wheel of eternal rebirth just yet

    It’s important to have an idea where the next stop might be. Death makes cowards of us all.

  3. 3
    Paddy says:

    Well, my conundrum has changed.

    First thanks Jamey from the “Oops, my bad” thread.

    Second, I need the great minds here to explain to me or point me in the right direction on something. I need a cell phone because for a while I’m going to have numerous dr’s appts. I wanted a pay as you go fon, and I mentioned this to my sis in a conversation. Afterwards she called back and my nephew is sending me his old Iphone. I believe it is a 3g (that would be 2 gens back, yes?). I don’t know how to check if it’s locked or unlocked, and unlocking is illegal now I heard. If it is unlocked, any suggestion on pay as you go voice, text and data plans?

    I haven’t had a cell fon in many years since I work at home, and I am completely clueless.

    Any help would be appreciated.

  4. 4
    lamh35 says:

    ugh. waiting on furniture delivery guy. the arrival time was 5-8. of course they called at 6:30 to say they’d be here shortly. sure due sure, the furniture warehouse is outside NOLA. so unless he was on da road they are still at least 30-45 min away. Ugh. if they had come earlier today, I’d be in NOLA right now enjoying the Endymion parade with the rest of my peeps in NOLA…damnit!

  5. 5
    schrodinger's cat says:

    In many Indian languages Kumbh Mela is a synonym for an extremely crowded event. My rule of thumb stay far far away from places lots of religious people congregate.

  6. 6
    cathyx says:

    @lamh35: You know they’re laughing at you, don’t you?

  7. 7

    Religion really does make people do strange things indeed. I am not quite sure I will ever understand it.

  8. 8
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    Watching the British Version of House of Cards, I like it. Also have the series Homeland on DVD, that is very intriguing.
    Hey I need to ask a question about Rugby, I am watching the Rugby Sevens on NBCSports, but I heard there are two types of Rugby, Rugby Union and Rugby League what is the difference?

  9. 9
    Baud says:

    I don’t like crowds.

  10. 10
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mr Stagger Lee: Short version: League has only 13 players and something equivalent to downs like in American football. Union has 15 players and if you get tackled you must release the ball. League is more working class and allowed professionalism years earlier.

  11. 11
    JPL says:

    @Paddy: If you have an AT&T store near you, check with them. Verizon should also have plans where you can join without a monthly fee.

  12. 12
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    Considering the number of people who will bathe in a short time you’ll probably be able to walk across the Ganges by the time the festival ends.

  13. 13
    JPL says:

    @Mr Stagger Lee: I haven’t watched the British version of House of Cards but I binge watched the American version. Netflix does know their customers.

  14. 14
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Thanks!! Watching the sevens which is pretty fun to watch, I like NBCSports Network they had biathlon earlier.

  15. 15
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mr Stagger Lee: I never really liked playing sevens. Too much work.

    ETA: Any rugby you see in the US is going to be Union.

  16. 16
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:


    I’m watching the BBC and US versions in alternation. I enjoy both. I think that Netflix has thrown down the gauntlet with “House of Cards.” I’m not a critical viewer, but I think that the quality of the series is equal to most anything put out by the cable companies.

  17. 17
    dmsilev says:

    @Paddy: An iPhone 3G is 4 generations old, which is positively archaic by smartphone standards, but it will do just fine if you need to make calls and check email and the like.

    If it’s unlocked, you can look into pay-as-you-go plans from T-Mobile and AT&T; that phone has the wrong type of radio to work on Verizon or Sprint. I have a voice-only (no data) pay-go plan from T-Mobile for my dumbphone; it’s cheap (I think I put in $10/year in refills) and does what I need it to, but if you need data access that will be more expensive.

  18. 18

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Not exactly true, I saw it was on and turned on a game one day and it was league, I was looking at it and said to myself “why is that dude humping the ground?” I was very confused for a while there.

  19. 19
    lamh35 says:

    @cathyx: delivery guy did sound happy when he called. Probably at the damn parade with my furniture in the truck.

    Ugh. 7:15 & still no furniture. Guess I’ll just sit here on da floor and watch this Lifetime movie I’ve been waiting to see. Wanted to watch it sitting on my new damn sofa, but oh well

  20. 20
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: I meant being played live and in person. You can catch League on TV sometimes. I don’t know why, since it a bastardized version of the game (not that I am biased in any way).

  21. 21
    pat says:

    RE: cell phones. We use our cell phones very seldom, and we have Tracfone. The phones themselves cost $10 a few years ago, and you can buy time cards at any Shopco or other store. For a short time useage, it could be the cheapest way to go.

  22. 22

    PS) I have really got into “Ripper Street” on BBC America, (I watch it on demand on Saturday mornings). It is a very clever 1880s version of any of the NCIS, Criminal Minds type of shows. Also for anyone who is interested “Ramsey Behind Bars” is a fascinating look at Gordon Ramsey attempting to make prisoners in Brixton pay their own way and actually work for a living while they are behind bars. I would highly recommend both shows.

  23. 23
    BGinCHI says:

    I see London, I see France.

  24. 24
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I can see that with the diminished number of players, it is a younger man’s game no doubt.

  25. 25

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    You are right about it being a bastardized version of the game, when I first began watching I didn’t know what the hell I was looking at. I managed to follow on after a while but it is certainly no where near as exciting as Union. Good to see Wales trounced the French today.

  26. 26
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mr Stagger Lee: Hell, I didn’t like it when I was 19. I was a wing (a position with a reputation for being pretty-boy gloryhounds with good hair and a lack of willingness to work any harder than necessary).

  27. 27
    BGinCHI says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Cymry am byth!!

  28. 28
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: I love the British version and watched the first two eps of the US version a little skeptically. I suppose I should give it another chance. Kevin Spacey is no Ian Richardson. IMHO. YMMV.

  29. 29
    Raven says:

    Accused triple-murderer and fugitive Christopher Dorner, who has dominated news headlines in recent days as an intense search for him has spanned California and beyond, was featured in an Oklahoma newspaper in a much more positive light in 2002.

    A news story originally written in 2002 and re-published on Friday gives an account of the suspect and another man finding a bank bag containing nearly $8,000 and immediately turning it in to police.

  30. 30
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: @BGinCHI: I have a tendency to root for France.

  31. 31
    Raven says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: I didn’t care for the American version much.

  32. 32
    Raven says:

    I got a question. Viva Zapata is on and I’ve read that it’s considered a right-wing movie. Is that because of Kazan’s stance with HUAC? It doesn’t seem right-wing to me.

  33. 33
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Raven: I’m glad to hear (see) someone else say so. We seem to be a minority of two, and I thought maybe I was being unfair.

  34. 34
    efgoldman says:


    Cymry am byth!!

    Can I buy a vowel?
    Not in Welsh you can’t, no.

  35. 35

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Well obviously the only time I would root for France is if they were playing the Italians and then it would be a toss up for rooting for injuries.

  36. 36
    Raven says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: I dunno, I didn’t like Spacey talking to the camera but I was informed that it’s all Shakespearean and shit so I knew I was in way over my head. I didn’t like that stupid fucking show with Ted Danson and Glen Close either and people here were all talking about “it’s a great drama”. spit

  37. 37
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    I’m enjoying both because the protagonists are such unrepentant mixers. As I mentioned, I’m not much of a TV critic so my opinions usually fall to “Like it,” or “Don’t like it.” I’m a Lit major and I concluded that I tend to over-analyze things and that tendency can prevent my just having a good time.

  38. 38
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Of course.

  39. 39
    cathyx says:

    @Raven: 2002 was pre Iraq war. He was over there since then.

  40. 40
    Raven says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: I’m a movie lover and I knows what I likes!

  41. 41
    efgoldman says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    I’m a Lit major and I concluded that I tend to over-analyze things and that tendency can prevent my just having a good time

    My freshman high school English teacher, aeons ago while we tried to work our way through the language and metaphor of Julius Caesar, said: “Look, sometimes a rock is just a rock.”
    Stuck with me all these 50+ years.

  42. 42
    Raven says:

    @cathyx: The old PTSD card huh?

  43. 43
    scav says:

    oh, it does look to be a happy birling day.

  44. 44

    OT but I thought I would mention it, I have had an outdoor cat for years, Cadbury is old and set in her ways and was quite happy to live her life sleeping on the patio furniture out front and eating at the front door for the past five years. About two or three months ago she moved back into the house. Yes I know it has been chilly but that has never bothered her before because I made sure she had a warm, enclosed bed at the front door. I am thinking that perhaps her old bones are getting to be more troublesome and she needs more warmth. Other than that I have no explanation for it.

  45. 45
    Raven says:

    @cathyx: And no he wasn’t :

    “Dorner was stationed at several locations throughout his service years, including San Diego, Bahrain, Nevada, and the mobile inshore undersea warfare unit.”

  46. 46
    Mnemosyne says:


    I’m guessing that there’s some scene or dialogue in the film that’s anti-communist, but I’ve never seen it, so I’m not sure. For some academic film critics, any film that’s anti-communist is automatically “right-wing” or “reactionary,” which is how you end up with people insisting that Sam Fuller was a “reactionary” director even though he was consistently anti-racist and anti-sexist throughout his entire career.

  47. 47
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: @Raven: Me too, I’m pretty undemanding with my video entertainment– I’m still watching The Office, fercrissake. I think Richardson did a great job playing the humor in the character, sucking the viewer in to his point of view before we realize how evil he is. Spacey didn’t hit that note for me

  48. 48
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:


    Here! Here! I even enjoy watching the old Charlie Chan movies with Sidney Toler as Chan.

  49. 49
    Raven says:

    @Mnemosyne: I actually hit the google and got this fairly decent explanation.

  50. 50
    cathyx says:

    @Raven: I read a couple of days ago that he was. I guess it was misinformation.

  51. 51
    g says:

    @pat: My daughter had a pay as you go tracphone for the last year & she was able to send text messages & make/get calls fine. We just (this week) went to a family plan with AT&T iphones purely as an indulgence. We’ll see how that goes. Some carriers also have pay as you go for iphones,I hear but if it’s not needed/wanted a plain old dumb phone on tracphone will do the job.

  52. 52
    gelfling545 says:

    @g: For reasons best known to the gods of html my user name only would print the first letter.

  53. 53
    Raven says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:
    “You are surprised I speak your ranguage,
    you see, I was educated in your country
    at UCRA”!

    Name that tune!

  54. 54
    Raven says:

    @cathyx: Yea, people jumped on that pretty quickly. The training he has is much more crucial to what’s happening. I just cringe a bit when this kind of thing gets mislabeled. Same thing for the bunker dude in Alabama. A big deal was made of him having a Vietnam Service Medal and the fact that he was an aircraft mechanic and never “in country” just passed by. Lowe hanging fruit.

  55. 55
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    “First Yank into Tokyo” Another favorite bad movie. I just love the moment when the Japanese Colonel (I believe that he was actually a Chinese actor) speaks those lines.

  56. 56
    cathyx says:

    @Raven: I was actually correct on Dorner serving in the Iraq war.

    Dorner retired from the Navy on February 1 as a lieutenant. He has full military training. CNN reports that according to Pentagon records, he served with mobile inshore undersea warfare units and provided security on oil platforms in Iraq. He is rated as a rifle marksman and pistol expert, military records say.

    Read more:

  57. 57
    Raven says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: How bout Guadalcanal Diary where the japanese prisoner keeps saying something over and over. William Bendix says “We ain’t got no avocado’s”!

  58. 58
    Raven says:

    SAN DIEGO – The U.S. Navy released Christopher Dorner’s service record early Thursday afternoon to Team 10.

    IMAGES: Incidents linked to Christopher Dorner

    Dorner, a suspect wanted in connection to three slayings and several shootings, joined the service in 2002. His loss date was Feb. 1, 2013, just days before the shootings began.

    Dorner was stationed at several locations throughout his service years, including San Diego, Bahrain, Nevada, and the mobile inshore undersea warfare unit.

    He has several awards and decorations, including medals for National Defense Service, the Iraq Campaign , Sea Service Deployment, and pistol expertise. He also has honors for rifle marksmanship.

    Dorner’s full service record as provided by the Navy News Desk at the Pentagon is below:
    Name: Christopher Jordan Dorner

    Age: 33

    Home of Record: La Palma, CA

    Date Commissioned: 3 July 2002

    Loss Date: 1 Feb 2013

    Rank/Date of Rank: Lieutenant / 1 August 2006

    Service Dates/Assignments: Arrived Detached

    Various Reserve Units 1Dec2009 21Jan2010

    Navy Reserve NAS Fallon, NV 7Mar2009 30Nov2009

    Navy Mobilization Processing Site (NMPS)

    San Diego, CA 23Apr2007 29May2007

    Coastal Riverine Group Two Det Bahrain 3Nov2006 23Apr2007

    Coastal Riverine Group One, San Diego, CA 10Jul2006 31Oct2006

    NMPS San Diego, CA 6Jul2006 10Jul2006

    Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit 23Jun2004 28Feb2006

    Navy Personnel Command 16Jun2004 22Jun2004

    Various Aviation Training Units 4Jul2002 15Jun2004

    Awards and Decorations

    National Defense Service Medal

    Iraq Campaign Medal

    Global War on Terrorism Service Medal

    Sea Service Deployment Medal

    Navy Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon

    Armed Forces Reserve Medal w/ “M” Device

    I never said he wasn’t in the military. I said he wasn’t in Iraq, he was in Baharain. His decoration is a “theater” decoration.

  59. 59
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    William Bendix delivered some great lines. I still esteem him as an actor. I thought that his performance in “The Blue Dahlia” was top notch.

  60. 60
    Mnemosyne says:


    That’s what I was trying to say, but the author said it better than I did. :-)

    It’s so hard to “place” movies on today’s political spectrum, though. Walt Disney was a conservative all his life, but by today’s standards, Bambi is an expression of Islamofascist liberalism because the bad guys are the hunters who kill Bambi’s mom. It’s really bizarre.

    ETA: Plus Disney made movies about science, so clearly he was a liberal before his time. ;-)

  61. 61
    amk says:


    You’ve got to have a strong faith in God to bathe in that river and wish to survive. Yuck.

    Apparently, millions do survive. What is so “yucky” about it?

  62. 62
    gene108 says:


    You’ve got to have a strong faith in God to bathe in that river and wish to survive. Yuck.

    Took a dip in the Gangas back in the summer of 1996.

    It’s not that bad.

    Water’s very, very cold though, so you have to be willing to endure that.

    Of course you don’t take a long, luxurious bath in the Gangas. It’s more of a get in, get out sort of thing. Water’s very, very cold.

  63. 63
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:


    Apparently, millions do survive.

    The ones who don’t survive are presumed to be in a state of bliss as they float downriver.

  64. 64
    Raven says:

    OK girls and boys, these old people got invited to birthday party for a 40 year old that is just starting. Outside around a fire! At least it’s 45 out.

  65. 65
    cathyx says:

    @amk: Maybe the tons of excrement that flows into it.

  66. 66
    Mnemosyne says:


    I don’t know if this is still the case, but untreated raw sewage was dumped into the Ganges for decades.

    There are also a few crocodile species that like to hang out there and will occasionally attack humans, though I’m guessing most of them will be scared away by the crowds.

  67. 67
    kindness says:

    speaking of wheels turning round I mowed my lawn for the first time this year today. Damn. Beginning of February is too early. Damn. While I was doing that I got videos from my sister about her dogs playing in the snow in NY. Damn.

  68. 68
    gene108 says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    The ones who don’t survive are presumed to be in a state of bliss as they float downriver.

    Oh Please, nobody dies from a dip in the Gangas.

    You don’t drink the water.

    You get-in as far as you can tolerate it, if you are feeling brave you hold your nose and dunk your head under the water for a few seconds.

    Is the river polluted? Yes.

    Will it kill you to “bathe” in it? No.

  69. 69
    Mike in NC says:

    Wife is going to India next month with her retired State Department cousin, to hang out with the ambassador for a couple of weeks. I had no interest in going as I’d spent a bit of time in the hellhole of Karachi, Pakistan on deployment in the mid 1980s. Different countries and a different time, but not so much, really.

  70. 70
    Suffern Ace says:

    @Mnemosyne: it is still very polluted and when I was last in India the papers were running a story about another report about its state and more recommendations. The reports come out every five or ten years and recommendations are made, some money is put forward to implement those recommendations, and then five years later, another report is issued with the same findings and perhaps updated recommendations and the cycle of regulation starts anew.

  71. 71
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:


    Lighten up, I was just kidding.

  72. 72
    Sylvainsylvain says:

    I’ve been using H2O Wireless since the summer; iPhone 3GS, $60/mth, unlimited txt/minutes. 2 gigs of data/mth. Uses the AT&T network. I’m satisfied- no contract, no unlocking (I don’t think), just use a diff. SIM card you get from them & install an app (did that ‘unlock’ it? I don’t really know…)

    SimpleMobile is cheaper & uses the AT&T network, but their coverage isn’t as good.

    Check them both out on line if the advice above doesn’t pan out. Wireless service can be weirder than it needs to be-the people working in the kiosks/stores rarely know wtf is going on, & that’s usually the most comfortable way to get info for people that don’t know which service to use.

  73. 73
    danielx says:

    Regarding Christopher Dorner…I’m really wondering why the cops out there need suppressed* automatic rifles to look for the guy, or indeed why the police need suppressed weapons at all. I want their weapons to be loud so I know to run the other way when I hear one go off.

    *See picture at the end of the linked article.

    “Suppressed” means equipped with a sound suppressor, incorrectly known as a “silencer”. Ain’t no such animal as a completely silent firearm.

  74. 74


    We have daffodils blooming already here. That’s just nuts.

  75. 75
    magurakurin says:


    Will it kill you to “bathe” in it? No.

    kill, maybe no, but opinions appear to vary.

    VARANASI: Medical professionals and environmentalists say the presence of fecal coliform bacteria in water is highly dangerous to human health. It means thousands of people bathing in the Ganga or drinking its water in Varanasi are at great risk because the river has thousands times more fecal coliform than the prescribed limit.

    Not planning a trip, but if I do, I think I’ll go with the recommendation Prof Gopal Nath of microbiology department, Institute of Medical Science, Banaras Hindu University instead of yours. Nothing personal.

  76. 76
    Schlemizel says:

    What is it about the number 12? Twelve is a magic number in many cultures, certainly in the Middle East, it is featured heavily in the old testament and into Europe and, as shown here in India. Why is 12 a magic number?

  77. 77
    wasabi gasp says:

    Occupy Allahabad. Cool balls.

  78. 78
    Suzanne says:

    @magurakurin: Concur. No shit bath for me, thanks. God can get pissed at me if he wants.

    Got a crappy haircut, got in a fight with my aunt, and couldn’t get a rented paint sprayer. FUCK. This day is in the shitter.

  79. 79
    magurakurin says:


    Here is someone who suggests that it is because 12 is a useful number mathematically in that it has many factors.

    The number 12 is a highly respected and practical number. It has many factors for such a low number, so it is one of the lowest easily-divisible numbers. Number 11 is not divisible, number 10 only has two factors (2 and 5) meaning that if you measure anything in tens, you can only divide it into either halves or pairs. Number 9 only divides into 3, number 8 only into 2 and 4, number 7 is a prime number with no factors, number 6 only breaks down into half or thirds, number 5 is a prime, you can only halve number 4 or 2, and 3 and 1 don’t divide and are so small you wouldn’t want to measure things in them, anyway. Number 12, however, divides into 6, 4, 3 and 2, giving it a large number of practical uses where things have to be divided up into whole numbers, from calendars to clocks. As a result of all these factors, mathematicians get excited about the number 12 and apparently, they always have done! For example, Pythagoras, the classical mathematics genius, teacher, and leader of a pagan religious movement, taught that the number 12 had divine, profound mystical meaning.
    We will see from this usefulness and roundness has arisen first respect, then awe, and finally superstitions based on the number 12. It all starts with telling the time and star-gazing.

  80. 80
    magurakurin says:

    @Suzanne: ah well, hair grows back. Your aunt will get over it. And you can always paint tomorrow. At least you got to read about poo filled rivers. So you have that.

  81. 81
    Suffern Ace says:

    @Schlemizel: semi lunar, plus we may not have actually counted on our fingers and toes, but on our fingers and feet. 12 would then be a perfect whole of whatever one was counting.

    That’s my myth making and I’m sticking to it.

  82. 82
    scav says:

    I would suggest that the “calculation of acceptable risk” is probably different between people who find great spiritual meaning in the event and those that find it an oddly shaped swimming pool with an E-ticket line.

  83. 83
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:


    here in the US, the Dozenal Society of America extols the virtue of the base-12 number system.

  84. 84
  85. 85
    HinTN says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Isis is 16 now. She has always been indoor/outdoor. Last summer she lived outdoors and came in only to eat. Now she will not go out; she takes care of business in the tub; acts silly if we accidentally catch her at it; and we move right on with life. She’s right here purring right now.

  86. 86
    Suffern Ace says:

    @Southern Beale: I’m not surprised that the ancients figured that one sublime number was enough. The 2nd one is a doozy to remember, and jury duty would have been a big pain in the ass.

  87. 87
    Suzanne says:

    @magurakurin: Reading about poo-filled rivers was about the best part of the day, truthfully. Oi.

    Hair DOES grow back, my aunt hung up on me so I didn’t,t have to talk to her very long, and maybe I can borrow a sprayer.

  88. 88
    Obliterati says:


    Suppressed weapons are common among SWAT units. It’s not for cloak and dagger stuff, it’s to prevent the user or his teammates from being deafened by their own guns.

    Assault rifles are really really loud, especially indoors. I’m sure the cops think the intimidation effect is a useful feature, but that’s not the intended purpose of a suppressor.

  89. 89
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Suffern Ace:
    Ditto! I can do 12.

  90. 90
    HinTN says:

    @Schlemizel: How can you not love the word “dodecahedron”?

  91. 91
    Kilen says:


    Would you mind putting the naked people, and thus the NSFW portion under the fold? Else I’m going to have to avoid this blog while at work.

  92. 92
    Mike E says:

    Dang it! This site is reaming me with a Bork gavel…I better go hit the hay. Night!

  93. 93
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Mike E:
    “reaming me with a Bork gavel”

    I am so stealing that.

  94. 94
    max says:

    @danielx: Regarding Christopher Dorner…I’m really wondering why the cops out there need suppressed* automatic rifles to look for the guy, or indeed why the police need suppressed weapons at all. I want their weapons to be loud so I know to run the other way when I hear one go off.

    Because this dude is like totally hardcore, man, and LAPD’s going to show this bastard that they can kill more random people than he can!

    [‘Offspring – Ignition (1992) – L.A.P.D.‘]

  95. 95
    efgoldman says:

    @Southern Beale:

    We have daffodils blooming already here.

    They won’t bloom in our yard for a while. Not through two feet of new snow.

  96. 96
    efgoldman says:


    Why is 12 a magic number?

    Because Jesus had 12 fingers? Inquiring minds want to know.

  97. 97
    Mnemosyne says:


    From what I’ve read, the only thing a suppressor does is make it more difficult to determine what direction the shots are coming from and doesn’t do anything to make the shot quieter.

    “Flat on the ground” is almost always the best first reaction, from what I’ve heard.

  98. 98
    Redshirt says:

    @HinTN: How about a rhombicosidodecahedron?

  99. 99
    Paddy says:

    Why has WP forgotten all my reply info? I used to get here and it was all remembered and pre-filled.

  100. 100
    efgoldman says:


    Why has WP forgotten all my reply info? I used to get here and it was all remembered and pre-filled.

    Its part of the site-borking that has been going on for days, and always seems to come after Cole announces a rebuild but before the work starts. Its happened to me and several others, too.

  101. 101
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Paddy: The blog has become sentient and decided it no longer wants us around. Can you really blame it?

  102. 102
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    30 million people at the Kumbh Mela today. The mind boggles. The only comparable thing is the Hajj, and that’s a tenth of the size (and even at 3 million, is too many for Mecca to handle well).

    Sevens is rugby union for people who want to play union but don’t like scrums. And who could blame them? I have to admit that I’m nostalgic for the days when union players weren’t all built like number 7s (i.e. big and broad) and when league wasn’t quite as much like the NFL as it’s become.

  103. 103
    joel hanes says:


    The ancient geometers knew how to :

    Divide a circle into six pie slices, using a compass to step off 1-radius chords along the circumference.

    Divide a line segment into two equal halves, using only a compass and straightedge.

    So it was (and is) easy, using only a compass, to divide a circle (for example, the circle of the heavens) into twelve equal divisions – divide into sixths, and then divide those in half.

    Twelve months, twelve hours of daylight at equinox, twelve constellations of the zodiac, the 360 degress of a circle, all derived from this bit of geometric technique.

  104. 104
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @pseudonymous in nc: No one really likes scrums except for cauliflower-eared props. When I played, I was primarily a wing but I did a bit of B-side flanker. I can tell you that I broke away from the scrum as soon as I could decently do so.

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  106. 106
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Yutsano: Did they have twitter? And their pr0n was on jars.

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    Xenos says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: When I was 19 I played a few sevens matches as a prop. I was in good cardiovascular shape back then, but it was impossible to breath enough to keep up. It was being forced to sprint all of a 10k race.

  108. 108
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Xenos: When I played sevens, they made me hook. It definitely affected my opinion of the seven on seven game. They made me jog a lot, people kicked me in the shin, the pack, well, smells a bit, and I had no real chance to do anything noticeable for the eight spectators at the game. It was horrible.

  109. 109
    Xenos says:

    The antikythera device did not really calculate anything – it was a complex, gear-based calender that would predict astronomical events well into the future. A book of tables could tell you the same information. Maybe it qualifies as an analogue computer, but compared to digital computers it is more of a mechanism for storing information.

    What is impressive about it is the expertise that went into creating it. There must have been a whole industry oriented around specialized and sophisticated measurement tools, as maritime commerce was critical to the economy. A whole world of technical achievement we just know so little about.

  110. 110
    Xenos says:

    @Kilen: Naked human bodies in a non-sexual context are NSFW? Where do you work, a fundamentalist kindergarten?

  111. 111
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Xenos: Prop? Were you large and drunk/hungover?

  112. 112
    Bart says:

    Who are the idiots who vote for craptastic politicians like this guy: ?

  113. 113
    Xenos says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Yes. I was an American kid living in the UK for a year, and that is where they told me to play. Had fun with it for a few years until I went up against this Samoan guy playing prop on the Dartmouth B-side. Left shoulder never quite fit together properly after that!

    Rugby was a bit counter-culural back in the 80s, and you did not have to be huge to play. My son wants to play, but at 13 he is, I fear, already a bit old to take it up. The under-15s on the German sides are pretty damn big.

  114. 114
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Xenos: I started playing in college. I came from a running background so I was taught to rugby tackle properly. It was actually easier for me than it was for those who had to unlearn American football techniques. I started playing in ’82, so I know that size was different back then. I have a program from the England vs. President’s XV from 1984 and, damned, if I wasn’t in the same size range as most of the backfield back then. Today, no chance.

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