Archive for March, 2017

Winner: Droppin’, followed by Big John, the Driver, and Eric.

Lots of players tonight, but Doppin’ was able to stay ahead of the pack, probably because he was the only one to know that the ancient Egyptians used stones as pillows and that only 22% of the river Nile is located in Egypt.

Good question!: Which of the following empires had no written language?

Choices: a. Inca   b. Aztec   c. Mayan  d. Olmecs

Atahualpa, last of the great Inca emperors, murdered by that dirtbag soldier of fortune, Francisco Pizzaro.

Answer: Inca

How could the highly developed Inca civilization, the largest empire in the western hemisphere, have no written language? If you have ever been to the magnificent ruins at Machu Picchu, the question becomes even more baffling.

BTW, the Incas did have a spoken language, Quechua, which Rosebud is somewhat proficient in, having learned it from a native taxi driver in Cusco, Peru.

Questioning the Inca Paradox

Did the civilization behind Machu Picchu really fail to develop a written language?
By Mark Adams (slate.com)


 Historic Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, Peru

“When the Yale University history lecturer Hiram Bingham III encountered the ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru 100 years ago, on July 24, 1911, archaeologists and explorers around the world (including Bingham himself) were stunned, having never come across a written reference to the imperial stone city. Of course, the absence of such historical records was in itself no great surprise. The Inca, a technologically sophisticated culture that assembled the largest empire in the Western Hemisphere, have long been considered the only major Bronze Age civilization that failed to develop a system of writing—a puzzling shortcoming that nowadays is called the “Inca Paradox.”

The Incas never developed the arch, either—another common hallmark of civilization—yet the temples of Machu Picchu, built on a rainy mountain ridge atop two fault lines, still stand after more than 500 years while the nearby city of Cusco has been leveled twice by earthquakes. The Inca equivalent of the arch was a trapezoidal shape tailored to meet the engineering needs of their seismically unstable homeland. Likewise, the Incas developed a unique way to record information, a system of knotted cords called khipus (sometimes spelled quipus). In recent years, the question of whether these khipus were actually a method of three-dimensional writing that met the Incas’ specific needs has become one of the great unsolved mysteries of the Andes.”

Werner Herzog’s great film “Aguirre, the Wrath of God,” about a ruthless Spanish conquistador, takes place a few decades after the destruction of the Inca empire.



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Winner: Droppin’, Maureen (2nd), Carol St. Martin (3rd)

Tonight we learned some interesting information about the Old West. In poker, pairs of black aces and eights are known as the “Dead Man’s Hand,” because that’s what Wild Bill Hickok was holding when he was shot dead in Deadwood, Dakota Territory in 1876. Seems that card playing was not the only recreational activity in Deadwood. We also learned that it’s estimated that 90% of the women living in Deadwood at that time were prostitutes.

Good Question!: Which of the following measures the amount of damage done by an earthquake?

Choices: a. Selvaggi scale  b. Richter scale  c. Mercalli scale        d. Kanamori scale

Answer: Mercalli scale

Most of us thought it was the Richter scale. Who ever heard of this guy Mercalli?

Giuseppe Mercalli (1850-1914) was an Italian seismologist, vulcanologist, and Roman Catholic priest best known for developing an earthquake intensity scale.

Mercalli’s most famous contribution to earth science is his work on the earthquake intensity scale.  While studying seismic activity in Italy in the late 19th century, his access to seismic instrumentation was limited.  Some seismographs and seismoscopes (devices that signal that an earthquake has occurred, and sometimes also indicate direction) were available, but most of Mercalli’s information came from personal accounts and observations of damage. To provide some consistency to his earthquake analyses, he decided he needed some method to rate the relative effects of each event.  Mercalli developed a scale with ten degrees, meaning the most disastrous earthquakes would have had an intensity of 10. The scale looked like this:


Enough of this dry stuff. Let’s get to Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move.”

One of the highlights of Broadway’s “Beautiful, ” which a bus load of theater goers from Main Street Cafe were privileged to see in previews, due to the good taste and perspicacity of our fearless leader, Darin.


For you earthquake geeks wondering about the difference between Mercalli and Richter:

The strength of an earthquake is usually measured on one of two scales, the Modified Mercalli Scale and the Richter Scale. The Mercalli Scale is a rather arbitrary set of definitions based upon what people in the area feel, and their observations of damage to buildings around them.

Whilst this scale is fine if you happen to experience an earthquake in an inhabited area of a developed country, it is of no use whatsoever in the middle of a desert or in any other place without trees, houses and railways!

Clearly this scale has advantages, but something else is required if we are to be able to compare the magnitude of earthquakes wherever they occur. The Intensity Scale differs from the Richter Magnitude Scale in that the effects of any one earthquake vary greatly from place to place, so there may be many Intensity values (e.g.: IV, VII) measured for the same earthquake. Each earthquake, on the other hand, should have only one Magnitude, although the various methods of calculating it may give slightly different values (e.g.: 4.5, 4.6).

The Richter Scale is designed to allow easier comparison of earthquake magnitudes, regardless of the location. The Richter scale for earthquake measurements is logarithmic. This means that each whole number step represents a ten-fold increase in measured amplitude. Thus, a magnitude 7 earthquake is 10 times larger than a 6, 100 times larger than a magnitude 5 and 1000 times as large as a 4 magnitude.

This is an open ended scale since it is based on measurements not descriptions. An earthquake detected only by very sensitive people registers as 3.5 on his scale, whilst the worst earthquake ever recorded reached 8.9 on the ‘Richter Scale’.


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