Random Talk Thread, Mk. III

Are you going to go back and tell him the rest of their titles?

Brothers in Arms
Original PC/Mac port of HALO:CE

Happy Festivus guys!!!

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Didn’t realize that was today, probably going to be some political articles about it funnily enough.

What on earth is a festivus?

Behold my child

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Oh my

Isn’t that what winter soltice is for?

Which makes it time for my annual rant : any ancient society worth their salt is going to mark the year through celestial events. Winter solstice is the most noteworthy (in northern latitudes) as it’s the shortest day of the year - and therefore marks the return of the sun.

So why do no modern cultures have this day as the beginning of the new year? Seems pretty logical, no?

Obviously Christmas on the 25th is a twisted and sordid tale, and I get that many cultures will mark the new year based on some defining event ; but surely someone marks the solstice?!

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Calendars are more political/situational than anything else. You’re ascribing logic to a process that was byzantine and rather distanced from such concerns in the first place.

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Damned politicians messing up the natural order even 2000 years ago. Ancient climate change deniers!

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If we’re complaining about this subject, I should note: Screw DST. It was a poor idea in the first place, but with inconsistent implementation figuring out the difference between timezones is a hassle.

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Check out this bit of silliness

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Well, apparently the 25th of December was the date of the winter solstice on the Roman Calendar, so that at least is a festival originally associated with it (the Christian takeup of it seems rather convoluted).

You want to get over to the British Isles for solstice things, it’s so littered with various passage tombs, stone circles and other Neolithic ■■■■ that lines up with the date and generally attracts some enthusiasm. You could head to Newgrange in Ireland for it but I don’t recommend it, so many people like to go there that you have to enter a lottery; if you’re lucky the sun shines directly at the back of the tomb / inner chamber at sunrise on the shortest day, but it’s often too cloudy to see it.

Every year my parents typically go to a party hosted by a friend to watch the solstice sundown at the Dorset Cursus (a particularly fine and extensive Neolithic - and partly even Mesolithic - earthwork). It has presumed ritual significance and does align perfectly with the midwinter sundown sight line. Our friend is an archaeologist but as with quite a few experts in ancient archaeology quite likes keeping in friendly touch with prehistoric traditions.

The Cursus is just a ditch and it is usually cold, plus aforementioned daylight issues, but the mulled wine afterwards is always nice, and this year there was actually a visible sunset!

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In some cases, quite literally!

Both much more recent and much further in the ancient past than that. Calendars are hard, especially since the earth doesn’t orbit the sun in an exact number of 24 hour periods. Stupid gravity - it’s off by just a hair, but now a year is no longer a multiple of 16 (or, for some ancient astronomers, 64).

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Checking Wikipedia to see which - if any - cultures celebrated winter solstice. Apparently it’s a festival in Theravada (Thai) Buddhism. Buddhists seem an abnormally superstitious lot.

However I had the incredible fortune to be in Dharamsala, India (where the Dalai Lama lives) for the solar eclipse in around 1995 or so. The Dalai Lama led the entire monastery in a multi-hour puja.

So picture : scores of Tibetan monks chanting nonstop in their reedy bass as the sunlight is slowly snuffed out. I think I left my body when that happened.

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is sat

KITTY! I missed you! How have you been?

I am legitimately surprised by how good Subnautica is. Went in not expecting much, but the game really coheres well. Bit of a traveling problem in mid/late game, but that’s about the worst of it. Still free from Epic for another few days, and I’d suggest grabbing it if you have even a little interest.

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How’s everyone doing on Christmas Eve Eve?

I just drew myself as a penguin because why not?

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Some points to consider -

christmas is and always was a pagan holiday, the midwinter, or yule.

Mithraism, a roman religion many centuries older than jesus, celebrated on 12/25, as Mithras’ birthday

Those monoments Hattie mentioned, at newgrange, are neolithic. About 10,000 years old

The first Christians were Jewish converts that didn’t celebrate birthdays because they considered it pagan.

The story of the 3 magi is Zoroastrian, right down to the specific gifts they brought.

Jesus the man may, in fact, have existed. There was a man named Yeshua, he did have disciples, and he was a sorcerer, performing miracles, healing the sick. But Luke’s account of his birth is almost certainly a retelling of the roman myth of Romulus and Remus.

I could go on.

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Neolithic monuments like Newgrange typically date from around 3000 BC. Newgrange itself is about 3200 BC. The people who built it (as I understand the thinking) were Late Neolithic farmers, with sophisticated understanding of seasons and time and its import to their business, which might explain the centrality of the sun and seasonal cycles to the monuments they made.

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I was wondering about that just yesterday - it’s also currently one of the deals on XBL and my daughter seemed interested. I’m also looking for something a little different to play. I might give that a shot.

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