* Philosopher's Carnival #160
* A website on the ancient and medieval Hebrew manuscripts of Sirach.
* The bones attributed to Charlemagne are probably his.
* Paul Raymont collects links on Jane Austen as moral philosopher
* Will Duquette reviews Paul Glynn's A Song for Nagasaki
* Ice T records Dungeons & Dragons audio short story (considerable amount of language). He was just asked by his sponsor, Audible.com, to read a forty-page text; his manager didn't inform him beforehand what book he was recording, and apparently someone at the company has a bit of a sense of humor. Fortunately, he does, too, although he complains about having to pronounce unpronounceable names.
* The US's position on Reporters Without Borders's World Press Freedom Index has dropped considerably.
* There's recently been some discussion of camels and Genesis; as Jeremy Pierce notes, a certain amount of skepticism is required in considering the argument.
* The jötunvillur code of the Vikings has been deciphered -- or, rather, the underlying principle has been determined, since it's still difficult to decipher any particular message in it.
* A new mathematical study has concluded that there are 177,147 possible ways to tie a necktie-knot. The work is based on that of Thomas Fink, who had concluded that there were 85 ways to do it; Fink's work, however, had made assumptions that ruled out some necktie-knots that are actually used, most notably the backward-knot family.
The backward-knot family has had a resurgence due to the Matrix movies, as noted. However, contrary to the impression the article gives, these knots aren't all Matrix spin-offs. The Atlantic (which is a reversed form of the very popular Pratt/Shelby knot, my favorite tie knot) is a classic informal knot that has been around for at least three quarters of a century, and the Ediety, which is a doubled Atlantic and seems to have been the tie in the movie, is probably nearly as old. I had noted that Fink's list appeared to be missing this family of knots in April 2011. I suppose I should have followed up on that; although to do what Vejdemo-Johansson has done would doubtless have exceeded my mathematical abilities.
Most of Vejdemo-Johansson's ties, of course, would be incredibly exotic; and of the post-Matrix backward-knot ties, only the Eldredge seems likely to join the ranks of the Atlantic and the Ediety as a standard tie knot option. The major obstacles to popularity for a knot are complexity and suitability; most backward-knot instances, while striking, really need a very particular kind of tie. Complication doesn't of itself eliminate the possibility of popularity, but it increases the competition, as people will only keep memorizing and teaching a small number of such knots over long years. And people usually want knots that go with lots of different kinds of ties, but simple is what's always suitable. Striped ties usually require simple knots, and if the knot gets very complicated, it tends to be only suitable for solid colors. Backward knots, however, depend on the (usual) back of the knot looking interesting, so they will tend to be more complicated. The Atlantic is already somewhat tricky to tie, and the Ediety and the Eldredge are more complicated still. They only manage to be as broadly suitable as they are because they look simpler than they are.
* A little known fact: neckties are Croatian in origin. That's actually where the word 'cravat' comes from; it's a corruption of 'la Croate'. Modern schlipsen-style variants are from the early 1900s.
* I've sometimes wondered if Alain de Botton is going a little crazy, and this proves it.
* Douglas Duckworth discusses Gelukpa at the SEP. Gelukpa (also called the Yellow Hat school) is the dominant school of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy because it is the philosophical tradition of the Dalai Lamas, who began with Mongol help to influence significant numbers of monasteries in the sixteenth century. There are three other major schools, which are called Red Hat schools: Nyingma (the Ancient Translations school, and the oldest extant form, based on the earliest translated texts rather than, as with the others, on later translations), Kagyu (the Oral Lineage school), and Sakya (the Pale Earth school). While the schools do have doctrinal differences, the major differences tend to be in terms of how education occurs in each.
* Gelukpa, Kagyu, and Sakya all have a single head for the school. Contrary to common belief, the Gaden Tripa, an appointed position with seven-year terms, is head of Gelukpa, not the Dalai Lama; the Kagyu school, whose head, the Karmapa, has the oldest extant lineage in Tibetan Buddhism, is currently dealing with a schism, so there is uncertainty about which of the two claimants (1, 2) is the real Karmapa; and the Sakya Trizin heads the Sakya school. The Nyingma are a bit different; technically there is no traditional position, since decisions are made by group consultation among elders, but in order to deal with other schools and the Tibetan Government in Exile more effectively they choose a representative that counts as their head.
* This short video is very well done: