The Occasional Joke

Nurse: Patient's name?

Centurion: Marcus Licinius Crassus

Nurse: And his date of birth?

Centurion: 115 BC.

Nurse: All right. And what is he here for?

Centurion: Cataphract surgery.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Forget Java; start coding in ...

Proto-Elamite. It's the oldest language we know about and can't yet read, but stand by, because a bright boy or group of same is closing in on it.

A while back, namely 3200-2900 BCE, some folks in what is now, God help it, Iran, used this text to record ... something. And if some high-powered computers have anything to say about it, we'll know soon. The sort-of-gushing BBC story is here, including a good picture of some of the proto-Elamite writing itself.

I called the scientist in question (Oh, yeah. Archaeologists are always happy to drop what they're doing and chat with unknown bloggers and cranks. They love it. Give it a try.) The text of the interview is reproduced here:

WCA: I'd like a pizza to go and no anchovies.

Dr. Jacob Dahl: You've got the wrong number. I spell my name, "Danger." (Hangs up)

WCA: Oh, man. Nobody will come up into the hills at all!

WCA: (calls back) Is this Dr. Dahl?

DJD: Are you the prat who just called me?

WCA: Yes. I mean no, no not at all. I'm someone quite else.

DJD: What do you want?

WCA: About this proto-Elamite stuff -- what do you think it'll say when you get it deciphered?

DJD: How the hell should I know? That's why we need to decipher it. Was there anything else?

WCA: Why does the porridge bird lay its egg in the air?

DJD: (Hangs up)

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