East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Mummies, asteroids and fatigue

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Having set straight (hopefully) the first 150 pages of the second draft of my Ghostwriting Job from Hell in two days, I have spent yesterday afternoon and this morning writing a learned article about the Tomb of Nefertari, the beautiful (and resourceful) wife of King Ramses II. One of the perks of working as a freelance is the fact that often variety allows us to forget about the chores and enjoy the truly entertaining.
That’s the nice part – doing something interesting and fun, and get paid for it.

The Nefertari piece is one of three that I pitched to an Italian magazine – the first (already written and accepted) was about the canals of Mars, and the next one will be about surrealist fashion in the ’30s and movie costumes.
Spot the common thread connecting the three pieces, and you’ll get a prize.
No, not really.
But anyway… if you’ve got an idea, just write it in the comments.

Curiously enough, turns out only the legs of the ancient queen were found by the archaeologists when they entered her tomb – “Nefertari’s Knees”, as they were called, were preserved in the Egyptian Museum, in Turin, for over a century before they were identified as being, truly, really Nefertari’s.

After mailing the article, I spent part of the afternoon reading an interesting work about Bayesian statistics.
In my previous life I was an environmental data analysis guru of sorts, and Bayesian statistics has always been my pet subject – one I was never able to fully incorporate in my courses.
An esoteric form of statistics developed by an Anglican priest, reverend Bayes, as he was trying to determine the Lord’s relationship with odds and chance, Bayesian statistics is very important for a lot of fields – including the development of artificial intelligence, medical tests, and the analysis of environmental, ecological and biological data.

The booklet I read – and that you can get for free through Amazon – demonstrates the basics of Bayesian theory using as an example a battered spaceship, a cargo trying to cross an asteroid field, with Imperial forces hot in pursuit. As it happens.

Giving its somewhat piratical approach to statistics, it is fitting, I believe, that the booklet describes itself as “a 15 pages introduction to Bayes theorem” but it is, in fact, 30 pages long.

Which is all good and nice – and a welcome relief. I am starting again to feel the fatigue, and if the Ghostwriting Job from Hell weighs like an anchor on my chest, the heat and humidity of the Astigianistan summer do not help.

I need to settle down for a few days with ample supplies of ice cream, fine books and a few movies.
I need to go back to writing my own stuff.
I need to nail shut the coffin of the GJfH and get rid of it.
And I will do it all, in due time.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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