Τρίτη, Αυγούστου 29

Egyptian inscriptions saved by a mouse

Egyptologists are being urged to dump their pens and paper and go digital.

The hieroglyphics that cover the columns and walls of Egyptian temples are in danger of washing away. Groundwater constantly seeps into the stone on which they are engraved, depositing a corrosive layer of salt on the surface as it evaporates. Yet despite the danger that the precious inscriptions could soon be lost, Egyptologists still trace them by hand – a laborious and time consuming process. “It can take years to produce a final drawing,” says Peter Brand of the University of Memphis in Tennessee, who directs the Hypostyle Hall project at the temple of Amun-Re at Karnak, near Luxor.

Now researchers working at Amun-Re are hoping a simple software tool developed by a team led by Élise Meyer of the National Institute of Applied Sciences of Strasbourg, France, will speed up the process. “The history of the Egyptian people is engraved on these walls and columns,” says Meyer. “If these inscriptions disappear, that history is lost.”

To transcribe the engravings, the system first transforms photographs of the object taken from different angles into a flattened, head-on image of its surface, using a technique commonly used to turn aerial images into maps. The Egyptologist then uses an adapted version of the AutoCAD 3D drawing program to record the hieroglyphic.

When the researcher clicks on two points on opposite sides of the hieroglyphic, a line is brought up on the screen. This line can then be reshaped to fit snugly round the hieroglyphic by grabbing points along it with a mouse and dragging them into place. This is faster and more precise than tracing the whole object.

The result can then be stored on a searchable database to be recalled and, if necessary, modified the next time a similar hieroglyphic appears. This will allow researchers to investigate whether a different font or style used to draw a bird, say, was used for expressive purposes or merely dates the writing to a particular era during the temple’s 2000 years of use.


Definitely qool!

Quibble: it's 'hieroglyph', not 'hieroglyphic'. 'Hieroglyph' is the noun, while 'hieroglyphic' is the adjective. Trust scientists to muddle a simple thing like this. Then again, they're Americans =p

Rabbit!

Rabbit for dinner!

Welsh Rabbit, that is =)

Ach. Simple food can be such a joy.

Your Extroversion Profile:
Assertiveness: Very High
Friendliness: Very High
Activity Level: High
Sociability: High
Cheerfulness: Low
Excitement Seeking: Low

Δευτέρα, Αυγούστου 28

Does It Really Matter?

So there I am, merrily imbibing post-cænal drinks, when I realise 'oh, it's time for my evening medication'. I then say 'excuse me a second' and take the pills. Friend then looks oddly at me.

Friend: 'Errrm... it's not good to mix medication with alcohol... if you want, I'll get you some water for that...'
Me: 'Sweetie darling, I've been merrily drinking away all evening and will be continuing again after this dose. With all that alcohol in my system, I don't think it's going to make any diifference whether I swallow these pills with water or vodka.'
Friend: 'Uh. Good Point'

And we merrily resume retoxing for the evening.

Ach, the joys of technology. Now we can find the good old missals, greek and latin grammars, academic works, lexica and suchlike as public domain scanned pdfs on the internet and can have them printed cheaply and easily, aiding the dissemination of knowledge. O, o, totus floreo!

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This post was made with a trial version of BlogPlanet, a photo blog client for mobile phones. For more information visit www.blogplanet.net
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Σάββατο, Αυγούστου 26

Readers will not be surprised to hear that computer gaming is not something I do. Warcraft, DOTA and suchlike, are unknown to me. XBoxes, Playstations... Don't register on my radar at all. Even the Nintendo craze of the 90s completely passed me by.

Sure, I still play Weiqi/Go, Chess, and Latrunculi on my little Powerbook, but the last game with any degree of complexity i played on a computer was... Hmm... The Discworld game... and a Star Trek TNG game (can't remember the name) back in 96 or so. Not much of an impression, to be honest. This was about the time I started delving deeply into the Classics, which may explain all that.

The last electronic gaming system I think of with a smile is my old Atari, which brought much joy to my early childhood.

It was with huge delight then, that I found Atari emulators for Mac OS X and the original roms for several games i used to play. Dig Dug, Q-bert, Galaga, Frogger and Space Invaders! Whee!

I haven't heard Dig Dug's theme in nearly 20years! Retro-gaming's silly but great fun.

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This post was made with a trial version of BlogPlanet, a photo blog client for mobile phones. For more information visit www.blogplanet.net
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Παρασκευή, Αυγούστου 25

Linguistics thought (I'm very random like that): The number of Sanskrit & Indo-European words & cognates in Malay (basically a Polynesian language, iirc) never ceases to amaze me.

Malay for almond is badam, which is pure Sanskrit.

Malay for hour is jam (soft j as in 'jelly', long a as in 'father'). Can't remember what IE or Sanskrit for hour is, but Persian & Armenian both have zham (surprisingly close to the Malay). Makes one wonder if the concept of division of time into exact units arrived in the Malay Archipelago only with the spread and rise of Indian culture in the region. After all, if the concept of an hour weren't new, there'd be a native pre-existing word for it.

On the other hand, some languages have adopted foreign words for basic concepts, eschewing the old words. Modern Greek has spiti for house, derived from Latin hospitium, instead of the ancient oikos (whence we get 'oeconomy' and cognates). They've also dumped thira for door, adopting Latin porta.

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This post was made with a trial version of BlogPlanet, a photo blog client for mobile phones. For more information visit www.blogplanet.net
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In case anyone's wondering, I've just managed to get this confounded mobile phone blogging program working again- It's been on the blink since last march. Hurrah- I'll be a little more regular with blogging now that it's really convenient to use this program.

It's called blogplanet, if anyone is interested, and works on most colour-screen mobile phones that have a gprs connection. Great fun.

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This post was made with a trial version of BlogPlanet, a photo blog client for mobile phones. For more information visit www.blogplanet.net
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Have been into Youtube and Google Video for a few weeks now, and discovered an easy way to convert those silly .flv files into a more easily-viewed format.

Mind-boggling really, the range of stuff available. From Ethiopian Orthodox services, to drunk college students doing silly things (embarrassing and aplenty), to entire lectures on various topics.

What really got me going were clips from the film Farinelli il Castrato. The playing is first-class, the singing to die for. Made me shed a wee tear for the loss of my treble voice. I used to be able to sing the Queen of the Night's aria (with the fearsome high Fs) with no problem. Even at 18, my falsetto was a soprano, capable of handling Haendel's music... Now it's a low alto, pfftt.

Now i have a dark cavernous Basso Profondo- even rarer, and far more useful for Russian & Slavic choral stuff, as well as the Gregorian and Byzantine Chant repertoire which i love and sing in large amounts.

Still, i miss my treble voice. I think i'd have made a pretty fine soprano castrato!

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This post was made with a trial version of BlogPlanet, a photo blog client for mobile phones. For more information visit www.blogplanet.net
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This is from April last year...

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On nightbus home, after Passover dinner at Daniel Hadas' place. Now i know the 'real' Jewish Passover isn't till late April, but his family are Roman Catholics of Jewish heritage, and as Easter is the Christian Passover, they're celebrating it on this day.

Was stuffed beyond bursting, and the 4 cups of wine certainly had their effect!

This is the second time I've been their guest for Passover- the first time was two years ago.

It's really quite fascinating observing the Jewish Passover customs, having both the Roman and Byzantine Christian traditions tucked firmly into my thought patterns. I was asked to read the psalm 'When Israel left Egypt', so i sang it to the Tonus Peregrinus used for that psalm (in exitu Israel de Aegypto) in the Roman use, supposedly derived from a synagogue melody, so it's still kosher in a roundabout way.

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This post was made with a trial version of BlogPlanet, a photo blog client for mobile phones. For more information visit www.blogplanet.net
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This is from March last year...
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In cab on way home from heathrow now. Other people get some stunning babe or a gorgeous hunk next to them in the plane, or even an interesting person. I have to get a huge bearded smelly biker for 14 hours from bangkok to london. Hah. More later when i get home- this is just the first mobile phone blog entry in britain...

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This post was made with a trial version of BlogPlanet, a photo blog client for mobile phones. For more information visit www.blogplanet.net
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Have just had lunch with my parents at Kampong Glam, the oldest malay-arab enclave in Singapore. The street names are distinctly Middle Eastern- Kandahar St, Baghdad St and Arab St are some examples. The arab community in Singapore hails mostly from Hadhramaut in what is now Yemen, and they've been here since the founding of Singapore in 1819, and although their arab identity and use of arabic have both been dying out since the 60s, there is currently a revival of the two going on.

This sleepy bit of downtown Singapore is now full of Arab-style cafes, complete with mint tea, mutton dishes and water-pipes (nargileh, shishah). Rather like Edgeware Road in London. These tend to be authentically decorated, with raised carpeted platforms covered in cushions and low tables. Bearing in mind how arabs tend to party and chat late into the night, one cafe is even open round the clock.

As we ate, the sound of the Muzzein making the Call to Prayer was heard. We responded with 'Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto...' in arabic.

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This post was made with a trial version of BlogPlanet, a photo blog client for mobile phones. For more information visit www.blogplanet.net
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Κυριακή, Αυγούστου 13

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Δευτέρα, Αυγούστου 7

Strange but true ...

1. When prime minister Tony Blair was received at the Vatican in June, his gift to Pope Benedict XVI was a boxed set of the Mozart Piano Concertos played by Daniel Barenboim who also directs the Berlin Philharmonic from the keyboard - I'm trying to think of the significance of this.

2. Rock star, and environmental guru to the rich and famous, Sting has recorded a CD of Downland lute songs, which will be released in October by Deutsche Grammophon, purveyor of classical music to the rich and famous - I'm trying not to think of the significance of this.


- taken entirely from On An Overgrown Path

Well, a gift in good taste...

In the comments, we find:

Pliable said...

In today's Guardian Charlotte Higgins offers an interesting explanation as to the significance of the Mozart Concertos - they are extremely cheap, £25 ($45US) for nine CDs plus a bonus DVD to be precise.

Good to see the UK Treasury watching the prime ministerial hospitality budget.

And a piece of music related trivia; the elder brother of Pope Benedict XVI was chorus master of the famous Regensburger Domspatzen Cathedral Choir in Germany between 1964 and 1994.

Τετάρτη, Αυγούστου 2

Had enough?

Ole Dubya lies over the radio,
Ole Dubya lies over TV,
Ole Dubya lies over and over,
Oh, kick Dubya out of DC!