Tuesday, November 28, 2006

New Illustrated Bible

I heard a story yesterday morning on public radio (WETA) about an exhibit of a new illustrated Bible, some pages of which will soon be on display at the Library of Congress. This is a full hand drawn bible with the ornate calligraphy and the fantastical illustrations.

The chief calligrapher, Donald Jackson, was for many years the chief calligrapher for the Queen of England. He was amazingly passionate about the importance of writing out important documents. He said that all of us should write something, anything, with whatever medium is convenient. In our age of digital media, that is a startling message. It reminds me of an interview with Shelby Foote, who said that all his books were written longhand with a fountain pen.

The Bible is for Saint John's University in Minnesota. Much of the work will be done by monks in a monastery there. The image of monks in a scriptorium reminded me of books I have read that took place in an abbey.

In The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco the mystery takes place in the scriptorium. Books, philosophy, and the love of knowledge make up the central themes of the story.

In A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. the monastery in the desert of Utah stores the remains of human knowledge after the nuclear holocaust. Only the obstinacy of the monks saves human civilization from losing it all. I read this in high school and have reread it several times. It's one you don't forget.

I hope I get a chance some day to see this new illustrated Bible.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving Sheep? 2006

What if eastern Massachussetts had been overrun with sheep? Then we would probably have roast mutton instead of turkey on Thanksgiving. I went on a walk before our Thanksgiving feast and came across these sheep enjoying the day. What do they have to worry about?
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Friday, November 17, 2006

Bonobo pulls fire alarm

Can you blame Panbanisha, the ape in question, for doing anything she can to make her day interesting. It sounds just like a child: I want what I want, and I want it now! We really need to conserve the wild habitats of these creatures so they can survive and prosper, both for their sakes, and for what they teach us about ourselves.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Vietnam Diary

I just heard this story on NPR about the wartime diary found by an American soldier of a young Vietnamese doctor in the North Vietnamese. In a roundabout way, it took nearly forty years for the diary to be returned to her family. The soldier, Frederick Whitehurst, later became an FBI agent. All those years he felt the diary should be published and Dan Thuy Tram's family found.

This is another powerful example of the unknowns that are unleashed in every war. I like Whitehurt's comment at the end of the story: "I'm not a pacifist, I'm not at all," he says. "I come from a military family. I'm a company man. But I've always known since in Vietnam when I did it, when you put a bullet into a human being you cannot take back that thing called life. You cannot get it back, and Dang Thuy Tram describes so deeply what that thing is, that thing called life. And a bullet went right through her forehead and in that instant, she was gone. Can we think of another way to do this?"

Do national leaders every really know what they are getting into when they take their countries to war?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Pictures, With Map and Pushpin Included - New York Times

Pictures, With Map and Pushpin Included - New York Times

I think geotagging photos is the next big thing. I have used the Flickr geotagging with the Yahoo! maps for my pictures here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/p_linehan/map/

It works well. I particularly like seeing other pictures people have taken around my photos. I have also tried a tool to geotag pictures in Flickr to appear on Google maps. But I haven't used it much since the Yahoo maps connection became available. Maybe I should try it out more?

I do use Picasa2 to look at pictures on my local drive. Google has established an online catalog for it that also links to Google maps, I think. I can't try everything though.

I really would like to tag photos to Google Earth some time though. Now, that would be great.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


I just finished Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick. Here is a link to the book information. It is a retelling of the history of the settlement of Plymouth Plantation minus the hero worship that we all  learned in school. It makes the story even more amazing to see how easily the colony could have failed without the happy accident  of the Pilgrims meeting up with Chief Massasoit and his strategic decision to help the Pilgrims to provide himself with allies in his weakened state.

The story is a tragedy however, with the start of King Phillips' war 50 years later, when according to Philbrick, the descendants of the the first colonists and the Pequots forgot that they needed each other to prosper.

Alot of this material was also covered in less detail in 1491, by Charles C. Mann. These are both great books.