Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday Tourist

Contemplating what's around the corner, with a handful of stories drifting on the margins of a cloudy Thursday morning.

Renewal: A tantalizing article in the Wall Street Journal on a potential Second Renaissance, courtesy of advances in digital scanning technology. Tens upon tens of thousands of ancient documents are being digitized, and not just from the bulging collections of Western libraries and museums, but also from monasteries and private sources from around the world: "Recently, multispectral imaging has gotten much less expensive, allowing researchers to take their equipment into the field. The next frontier, researchers say, is using CAT scan and X-ray technology to read brittle scrolls without even unrolling them."

"This could be our only chance," says Daniel Wallace, executive director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, the Texas-based center that is attempting to digitally photograph 2.6 million pages of Greek New Testament manuscripts scattered in monasteries and libraries around the world. The group has discovered 75 New Testament manuscripts, many with unique commentaries, that were unknown to scholars. Mr. Wallace says one of the rare, 10th century manuscripts they photographed was in a private collection and was later sold, page by page, for $1,000 a piece. Others are simply disintegrating, eaten away by rats and worms, or rotting.
A cascade of groundbreaking discoveries in the past decade, unleashed by new technology, has stoked the sense of urgency. Multispectral imaging -- originally developed by NASA to capture satellite images through clouds -- has proved remarkably effective on everything from ancient papyrus scrolls to medieval manuscripts that were scraped off and written over when scribes recycled parchment pages. Using the technique, which captures high-resolution images in different light wavelengths, scholars can see details invisible to the naked eye: For example, infrared light highlights ink containing carbon from crushed charcoal, while ultraviolet light picks up ink containing iron.
Researchers in Baltimore discovered a veritable library of ancient texts hidden in the pages of a single 13th-century Greek prayer book, including an unknown commentary on Aristotle and two missing treatises by the Greek mathematician Archimedes.
Decay: Maybe they have a different definition of "human rights" these days at the United Nations than I do...: [Hat Tip: Eye On The UN]
The United Nations General Assembly elected the members of its lead human rights body, the Human Rights Council, Tuesday in New York and among them are some of the world's worst human rights abusers.
Now in a position to give the rest of us advice on protecting human rights are Saudi Arabia, China, Cuba and Russia. In a slap in the face to President Obama, the United States was elected with fewer votes than either Belgium or Norway, the only two other states running for the three Western slots. Even a country like Kyrgyzstan received more votes than the United States.

Dirty: Another kind of stench in a small Indian village, where a man hasn't taken a bath in 36 years, following advice that he believes will allow his wife to give birth to a son. Pity his wife, and mother to their 7 daughters, when she says:
"I am his wife so I have to live with him but most of the villagers have stopped coming to our house..."
Pure: Jonah Goldberg on the sincerity of a dog's love for its owner:

Dogs don't pose in front of the mirror practicing their tail-wags like lines from a script so they can make it convincing. If it is true of any living thing, it is true of dogs: They are what they are. A happy dog can no more be faking his joy than a hungry lion could be faking his appetite.
Do we really want to live in a society in which love is a genetically mandated confidence game? Where will that argument take us?


Dag said...

This idea that dogs are reducable to evolutionary biologist theory is one more example of the pseudo-thinking of our intelligentsia who consistently confuse the genuine for the false: in this case scientism passes for science as usually sentimentality passes for sentiment, legalism for law, humanitarianism for humaneness, and so on.

Descarte should have earned a swift kick in the ribs for kicking a dog, but his fellows merely looked on him in horror when he kicked a dog and tried to explain to Medieval men in his company that dogs are machines. In an age of bear-baiting and casual cruelties against man, even then people knew the difference that Descartes talked himself out of: that wrong is wrong. cruelty in its place was acceptable, but not mere philistine torture for the sake of making an intellectual point. We seem to be losing that large gain in our world. But what can we expect from a corrupted lot who think sexuality is conditioned by Captialism? It sounds clever to some; but it's not intelligent. Thus we end up with moralistic people and find a dearth of the moral.

If I want to know about someone, I see how their dog is. A happy dog is a sign of a happy man.

Dag said...

Yes, I'll 'fess up that I am near Heaven when I read about the gains in restoring our latent literary heritage. I'm wrecklessly stupid when it comes to charging into danger sometimes, but if I could I would live for a thousand years just to be able to read the treasures of Alexandria unearthed in the past decade and coming to the world again for the first time in close to 2,000 years and sometimes longer ago. That's the beauty of Modernity. If it's all recorded for us on plastic, then Heaven is certain.