Thursday, May 21

The beauty of palm leaf manuscripts (3): storage and preservation

As I've mentioned to you earlier kids, we have three old old manuscripts. Not exactly a full library which will need retrieval eh?

But information retrieval is very important these days. If you do computer science, one of the first things they will teach you is to how to do information retrieval and searches. In a variety of areas, you need to know how to categorise information so that you can retrieve it easily. There's no point in having information and not being able to get to it.

Think about it. People Google for information but they have forgotten that Google also filters and arranges information. So for example if I'm looking for a film or museum opening hours, yes Google is fine. But if I'm looking for say information relating to film or collections, I'm not going to start there. That's where Google scholar comes in. Or science direct or other search engines where more detailed and particular information is served up to you.

SEO. search engine optimisation is an entirely newish field where your content is served up. More efficiently.

But here we hark back to an older age where we have Palm leaf manuscripts. How do you store them? One of my ladies, Hypathia, who I've spoken about before, worked in the library of Alexandria. Can you imagine trying to retrieve a scroll from those towering cupboards? Difficult eh?



The beauty of palm leaf manuscripts (3): storage and preservation - Asian and African studies blog
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In my two previous posts on this topic, I looked at palm leaf manuscripts from central Thailand and the northern Thai regions. In this final post on the beauty of palm leaf manuscripts in Tai manuscript cultures, I will take a closer look at traditional retrieval aids, and storage and preservation methods. Some temple libraries held large numbers of manuscripts which were stored in specially made furniture. Due to the fact that many manuscripts were wrapped in a piece of cloth, and the title or contents were rarely mentioned on the front leaf or front cover of a manuscript, quick retrieval of a particular manuscript was only possible if certain finding aids and methods were in place. For example, the manuscripts could be arranged in a systematic order within one cabinet, and several cabinets could be placed in a systematic order in the library building. One important finding aid was the title indicator. A title indicator, which could constitute a beautiful little work of art itself, was attached to a rope, and the rope was wound around the manuscript.    


Wooden title indicator covered with black lacquer, and text incised in Tham script on gold background. Lanna, 19th century. British Library, Or.16555. Acquired from Dr Henry Ginsburg’s bequest, in memory of Dr Henry Ginsburg.


Title indicators made from wood or bamboo were important means of identifying manuscripts when these were stored together in large numbers in wooden cabinets. The length of a title indicator could range from 100 to 400 mm. Bamboo and wooden indicators were often simple strips with the title and list of contents of the manuscript incised or written on, but sometimes wooden and ivory indicators could be carved with beautiful floral ornaments. Often they were lacquered red or black and decorated with gold leaf before the text was incised.    

Indicators Or14528-9

Two wooden title indicators covered with red lacquer, with text incised in Tham script on a gold background. Lanna, 19th century. British Library, Or.14528-9.

The Kim Kardashian Liberals


This is a classic column written by a friend of mine. It's a very simple elucidation of rights and liberalism.  I talked yesterday about how people got upset with me for saying rent control is stupid. It relates to natural rights.

This is why I hate religion. Because it doesn't respect natural rights. Frankly you cannot be religious and avoid being a hypocrite. And inconsistent. Idiocy. And more importantly they know it. Which is why, when pressed, they almost always descend into violence as if that's the final solution.

Classically liberalism means that you need to respect your own rights and others.

See the election cacophony at the moment. Everybody is out trampling my rights. Everybody. Without exception. That's what we have as leaders. In the land where liberalism was born. Along with France. And USA. Thomas Paine comes to mind.

Also read up the rule of but. It's a really great rule. In your debates and discussions with these idiots and hypocrites who use 'but' to qualify assertions, use this. It just makes them completely befuddled. Brilliant thing.

As for Kim kardashians butt, that's a work of art.

Look forward to speaking with you son. We are going to go to the garden centre today and are going to get some flowers and stuff. Do up the garden.



The Kim Kardashian Liberals - The India Uncut Blog - India Uncut
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This is the 13th installment of Lighthouse, my monthly column for BLink, a supplement of the Hindu Business Line.

You can hold a currency note up against the light, if you have been trained well, and detect whether it is real or fake. Is there a similar test that can help catch and expose a counterfeit liberal? Yes,  there is. It is the ‘but’ test. A counterfeit liberal is one who will espouse a liberal principle but then, immediately, before putting a full stop on the sentence, add the word ‘but’. And there’s always a universe after that ‘but’.

For example, a faux-liberal will say, “I believe in free speech, but…” Or “I believe in free markets, but…” That ‘but’ invalidates all that comes before it. Anyone who says he believes in free speech “but…” is not a liberal but a hypocrite. (And he doesn’t believe in free speech, obviously.) I have a term for these kinds of people, who abound in the Indian intellectual space. I call them Kim Kardashian Liberals. Too much But.

Wednesday, May 20

The Gruesome and Excruciating Practice of Mummifying Your Own Body

This is an extraordinary practise. Forget the religious back-story behind this but what caught my attention son was the amazing dedication and perseverance these guys showed over years and years of diligent fasting and diet control. I find it so difficult to control my diet. Forget about mummification I just want to lose weight but it's difficult. And here people are dieting with an eye for immortality? Bloody hell.



The Gruesome and Excruciating Practice of Mummifying Your Own Body
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The Gruesome and Excruciating Practice of Mummifying Your Own Body

way to preserve a person’s remains, whether to be worshipped or because they’re planning on using that body at a later date. But some people have gone to incredible lengths to prepare their own bodies for mummification while they were still alive.

Top image: Daijuku Bosatsu Shinnyokai-Shonin.

Why have people practiced self-mummification?

National Adjunct Walkout Day: Should We Feel Sorry for Adjuncts?

Having had taught in several universities in several countries, son, this is indeed an issue. Most professors don't like to teach. They prefer to research. The boring job of teaching is frequently pushed on to adjunct professors or doctoral or postdoctoral students. You yourself have been undergoing this phenomena.

Personally speaking I think academic staff need to do all three activities ideally, research teaching and administration. But what happens if that as usual specialisation happens. Some people do more in one area. And as economics will predict, their earnings will differ.

And yes people pile into doing a PhD without thinking through the implications. If you do a PhD from a good school and in a good area then you're good. But think about it. I'm embarking on a history PhD. If I'm lucky I'll get a job as a school teacher. Forget teaching in a university. Even on an adjunct basis. How many students want to study history eh? So sadly, this area is suffering. Finance. Mathematics. Economics computer science all top of the heap.

Anyway. We are but the choices we make son.



National Adjunct Walkout Day: Should We Feel Sorry for Adjuncts?
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Thesis: Adjuncts are victims of their own bad choices.

Caveat: Universities are run badly. Brown was run like the Russian government, and Georgetown is run like the Catholic Church. Universities suffer from a wide range of public choice-type problems. I mean it. I’ve even given public lectures (e.g., at a SUNY school last month) elaborating on the what and why of their persistent wrongdoing and mismanagement. Everything below is written with that in mind.

Tuesday, May 19

20 Greatest Cricket Sledges of All Time


Did I mention how much I love and adore your quipping, joking, punning and funning ability. It's just brilliant. Keeps me chuckling for hours on end. Here are some more teases and gentle insults for you to read.

As you grow older and start talking and communicating and discussing and debating and getting people to listen to you, jokes are very important. They get the audience comfortable. And more predisposed to you and your argument. And most importantly they like you. Laughter is a great emotion. Too bad it's not pushed much.

Oh and another thing. Having a quip or gentle tease ready at all times helps people give you respect as well. They can never take you for granted. People don't know how to handle people who can make them laugh. Strange behavioural trait that I've found out.

Anyway have fun reading these legendary sledges in cricketing history.

May your days be full of chuckles and laughs.



20 Greatest Cricket Sledges of All Time: 20 Greatest Cricket Sledges
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It's been decided! After much research and drama, after a 2 week poll in which over 5000 cricket fans voted, we bring you the 20 GREATEST CRICKET SLEDGES OF ALL TIME!
Unsurprisingly there are alot of Australians in this list, and coincidentally Merv Hughes seems to keep popping up... Anyway, here are the 20 greatest cricket sledges of all time as decided by you:

20. Malcolm Marshall & David Boon.
Malcolm Marshall was bowling to David Boon, who was having a bit of trouble against the fast bowler and had played and missed a few times. Marshall : "Now David, are you going to get out or am I going to have to come round the wicket and kill you?".

19. Merv Hughes & Graham Gooch.
Merv Hughes was all over Gooch in one test and proceeded to say: "Would you like me to bowl a piano and see if you can play that".

Old Cairo: the Capital of Faith

I think I've mentioned this. From couple of years back, there are more people living in urban areas than in rural areas. So it's going to be interesting to see how they grow and develop. Middle Eastern cities have such a long history. Damascus is considered to be the oldest city going back 7k years. Read the book on Jerusalem by montefiori. Fascinating layers of history. Same with Cairo. It's a fairly young city comparatively. But it has several layers to it. It has the ancient Egyptian one. It has the Greco Roman layer. It has the fatimid Shia layer. It has the Sunni layer. It has the Jewish layer now sadly almost totally vanished. And then the Christian layer. Christianity spread out from Israel and took deep roots in Ethiopia and Egypt. They are some of the oldest churches in the world. And one that I haven't seen to my regret. But then again there's so much to see there. It's on my bucket list :)



Old Cairo: the Capital of Faith
(via Instapaper )

The genesis of Coptic Cairo is a story of life and light. The stars of the story appear in the Bible and in the Quran. Thanks to its exceptional location, you may explore the sophistication of every treasure at your leisure with pleasure beyond measure. There is an exuberant mix of mystic and domestic architecture in a hearty harmless harmonious fashion.

Once upon a tower, around the seat of power, in the fortress of Babylon, the Babylon of Egypt, a house worthy of worship was founded in the name of Virgin Mary. The Hanging Church of Virgin Mary, the most beautiful in Egypt, is still suspended in time and space on the remains of the southern gate of the Roman fortress. As people congregate at the gate that is ornate to promulgate the message, they read above the entrance: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you. We ascend to the church through a flight of steps that led western pilgrims to call it the Church of the Steps. Before we climb, to the left we see a modern mesmerising mosaic relating the old story of the miracle of moving the Muqattam mountain.

Friday, May 15

Book Review: Into the unknown – The Logistics preparation of the Lewis and Clark Expedition

I'm interested in logistics. Very very important part of work and personal life. And this was sparked by a lifelong interest in military history where every good general has always talked about logistics and quartermasters as the key element of success. Here are some great quotes for you to ruminate over.

"Gentlemen, the officer who doesn't know his communications and supply as well as his tactics is totally useless."
- Gen. George S. Patton, USA
"Bitter experience in war has taught the maxim that the art of war is the art of the logistically feasible."
- ADM Hyman Rickover, USN
"Forget logistics, you lose."
- Lt. Gen. Fredrick Franks, USA, 7th Corps Commander, Desert Storm
"Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics."
- Gen. Robert H. Barrow, USMC (Commandant of the Marine Corps) noted in 1980
"I am tempted to make a slightly exaggerated statement: that logistics is all of war-making, except shooting the guns, releasing the bombs, and firing the torpedoes."
- ADM Lynde D. McCormick, USN
"Because of my wartime experience, I am insistent on the point that logistics know-how must be maintained, that logistic is second to nothing in importance in warfare, that logistic training must be widespread and thorough..."
- VADM Robert B. Carney, USN
"Logistic considerations belong not only in the highest echelons of military planning during the process of preparation for war and for specific wartime operations, but may well become the controlling element with relation to timing and successful operation."
- VADM Oscar C. Badger, USN
"… in its relationship to strategy, logistics assumes the character of a dynamic force, without which the strategic conception is simply a paper plan."
- CDR C. Theo Vogelsang, USN
"Logistics is the stuff that if you don't have enough of, the war will not be won as soon as."
- General Nathaniel Green, Quartermaster, American Revolutionary Army
"Strategy and tactics provide the scheme for the conduct of military operations, logistics the means therefore."
- Lt. Col. George C. Thorpe, USMC
"Only a commander who understand logistics can push the military machine to the limits without risking total breakdown."
- Maj.Gen. Julian Thompson, Royal Marines
"There is nothing more common than to find considerations of supply affecting the strategic lines of a campaign and a war."
- Carl von Clausevitz
"In modern time it is a poorly qualified strategist or naval commander who is not equipped by training and experience to evaluate logistic factors or to superintend logistic operations."
- Duncan S. Ballantine, 1947
"The war has been variously termed a war of production and a war of machines. Whatever else it is, so far as the United States is concerned, it is a war of logistics."
- Fleet ADM Ernest J. King, in a 1946 report to the Secretary of the Navy
"A sound logistics plan is the foundation upon which a war operation should be based. If the necessary minimum of logistics support cannot be given to the combatant forces involved, the operation may fail, or at best be only partially successful."
- ADM Raymond A. Spruance
"The line between disorder and order lies in logistics…"
- Sun Tzu
"Leaders win through logistics. Vision, sure. Strategy, yes. But when you go to war, you need to have both toilet paper and bullets at the right place at the right time. In other words, you must win through superior logistics."
- Tom Peters - Rule #3: Leadership Is Confusing As Hell, Fast Company, March 2001
"Logistics sets the campaign's operational limits."
- Joint Pub 1: Joint Warfare of the Armed Forces of the United States
"Logistics comprises the means and arrangements which work out the plans of strategy and tactics. Strategy decides where to act; logistics brings the troops to this point."
- Jomini: Precis de l' Art de la Guerre. (1838)
"Behind every great leader there was an even greater logistician."
- M. Cox
"Logistics ... as vital to military success as daily food is to daily work."
- Capt. Alfred Thayer Mahan, Armaments and Arbitration, 1912
"The essence of flexibility is in the mind of the commander; the substance of flexibility is in logistics."
- RADM Henry Eccles, U.S. Navy
"My logisticians are a humorless lot ... they know if my campaign fails, they are the first ones I will slay."
- Alexander

I was reminded of this recently when I saw this youtube video.

the US Air Force is moving 9,000 gallons of Jet Fuel into a forward operating base. By the time one gallon has reached the ground in the forward operating base, each gallon is costing $25-35. Figures from here. Did you know, USA was paying Halliburton $45 for each six pack of coke made locally in the Middle East? And a quote: Moral of the story: war is very expensive, especially if you fight one foolishly without clear goals, overwhelming force, measurable results and an exit strategy.

But this book by Donald L Carr on how Lewis and Clark outfitted the expedition is fascinating from the perspective of people who want to win. Expeditions just like businesses depend upon getting the toilet paper and money and men into the right place at the right time in the right quantity. So it was fascinating to see how Jefferson, a hero of mine, drove and drove and drove this expedition to happen. How he managed to act like a sponsor and get the money (he lied through his teeth) and planned and planned and planned. Then the detailed logistics and further planning of it, the innovation, the use of local resources, the quick movements and adjustments. Brilliant idea, anybody who wants to be a good manager, a good change manager, they should read about logistics. Very important. Comes highly recommended. And best of all, this is a free book, you can download it here.

Mystery Over 15th-Century Drilled Skull Solved

People do strange things for faith kids. The power of belief is a very powerful and strange force in the world. I told you how I was near death and then didu went to pray at Ajmer chisti. A Sufi saint tomb and well I got better. I cannot pass a temple or a place where I meet God without asking God to protect you two. Mum prays for both of you daily. Now from a scientific perspective it's bunkum. How can we draw a causality line between that faith and our health? We cannot. Obviously not. But I still do it.

Don't get me wrong. That's got nothing to do with religion which is a way of controlling people. That I hate. Faith in God is different. Each of us comes up with their own relationship with God. As they say, it's complicated. You will have a relationship with him as well. You may be an atheist or agnostic or a fundamentalist or casual or indifferent. You may flip between these modes. No problems. No issues. And to be expected.

I was discussing with a friend whose son is also passing through a crisis of faith. He was challenging the presence of God. Does he exist. Does prayer help? All good questions. And I think everybody goes through these existential debates. More I read the more confused I become. It's strange. And I can see the attraction of meditation and prayers. Not the bloody crowded caterwauling with clapping or singing or poking your head in strange directions.

The mind is the ultimate place to find God. Maybe that's where the attraction of mountains comes from. Maybe I'll head off there and potter around having conversations with God. Anyway. I'm rambling.

Here's a fascinating historical story about how people relied on bone dust as an article of faith. Don't laugh at it. We all express our faith in different ways kids.



Mystery Over 15th-Century Drilled Skull Solved
(via Instapaper)



Skull with drilled holes

image The skull showing multiple drill markings.
Credit: Gino Fornaciari/University of Pisa

Researchers at the University of Pisa, Italy, have solved the mystery over the honeycombed skull of one of the Italian martyrs beheaded by 15th century Ottoman Turk invaders when they refused to give up their Christian faith.

Featuring 16 perfectly round holes of various sizes and depth, the skull belonged to an individual who was executed on a hill outside the town of Otranto in Apulia along with more than 800 other men.

The skull was later drilled, most likely to obtain bone powder to treat diseases such as paralysis, stroke, and epilepsy, which were believed to arise from magical or demonic influences.

Photos: Drilled Skull Mystery Solved

Beatified in 1771 and canonized by Pope Francis on May 12, 2013 the so-called “martyrs of Otranto,” whose identities are largely unknown, are now the patron saints of the city of Otranto.

Bankers' Bonuses, Roman Style

Now this may sound very repetitive but  I'm always puzzled by how people forget history and start running around like headless chickens as soon as a recession happens. I've lived through three now, the Russian and Asian crisis of the 90's. Then the tech crash of the early 2000's and now this current credit crash. And people keep on banging on and on about it. Scratch around for obvious villains and throw rotten vegetables at them. Even Jesus got upset with bankers and guess what? They still exist.

I hope you've read the extraordinary popular delusions book son. Required reading. And oh yes. Do keep an eye out on Cicero and Cato the elder's work. Very interesting. Both of them were brilliant writers on history, economics and how people operate. I'm sure you'll come across them in your studies.

Anyway, here's a professor from your university talking about how Sulla managed to bugger up the Roman Empire when he didn't support the financial system.



Bankers' Bonuses, Roman Style | History Today
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Posted 12th January 2015, 9:15

Since antiquity, moneymen have been the target of vitriol.

Quintus Antonius Balbus (c. 82-83 BC)

Quintus Antonius Balbus (c. 82-83 BC)Today’s bankers are widely reviled. Bonus season – usually in February – gives rise to headlines such as: Fat cats getting fatter? Bankers’ bonus culture lives on as millionaires’ club tops 2,700 and It’s a very Happy New year for Goldman fat cats! The financial crisis has only increased the opprobrium.

It was ever thus: since antiquity moneymen have been the target of vitriol. Cato the Elder, writing in the second century BC, likened the act of lending money to that of murder and many literary works of the period portrayed the argentarii (bankers) as immoral.

Yet the argentarii were a vital part of the Roman economy – just as they are today. Recent research reveals that the failure of Rome’s leaders to support the bankers had a devastating effect upon the economy just as it was experiencing a period of unprecedented growth.

Dr Philip Kay of Wolfson College Oxford has produced the most detailed analysis of Rome’s economic development in the late Republic period and this week speaks at the Legatum Institute about his work. Following the Second Punic War (218 – 201 BC) Rome experienced a period of exceptional economic growth. Military success saw the Romans collect indemnities from the Syrians, Macedonians, Carthaginians and Seleucids amongst others. In the 50 years after the war 1,050 tonnes of silver arrived in the city. The result was an expansion of the money supply; partly in the form of an increase of Denarii in circulation, from 68 million in 150 BC to 240 million in 50 BC, but also in the form of bank deposits, as banks and wealthy individuals extended credit to those who wanted it. This fuelled investment in urban infrastructure and agriculture, increasing demand and stimulating Mediterranean trade, which is estimated to have increased by over 500% between 249 and 50 BC.

Thursday, May 14

I earn £55k a year. Can I afford private school for my son?


Bit early for you to think about this level of details but my attention was caught by the fact that this fellow studied in oxford and has a similar background to you. He's 27 and has done fairly good financial planning but needs more advice. I can well see you facing similar situations in just 7-8 years with being married and possibly a child.

So I began thinking, if I had to advice you on how not to get into this situation or improve it, what can you do? Few things sprang to mind.

Think about getting married. And also see if your wife has the ability to earn some money part time. Whilst I'm fully for the mothers to look after the children full time, having two incomes really really helps. In this particular case, his problem would have been solved by having his wife work.

Second is to think whether you do need private schooling for your children. You two didn't need it but that means you need to stay in a location where there are good schools (comprehensive and grammar) which are free.

Which also means that you need to think about your mortgage. We will, of course, help you with your house or flat but we need to think about it. Earlier the better. I think you need to have a word with Mamma when you're down here so that we can work on your flat/house and location. Let's start looking.

You also need to max out your pension as much as you can buy we also need to think about paying off your uni debt as soon as possible.

And you know what impressed me reading about this chap? He is saving a seriously large amount of his earnings. That's very good. By my accounts he's saving almost 25-30% of his earnings which is most excellent. In the form of pensions and isa's. I learnt to do that well into my 30's but he's doing it since he's 25! You can start doing this even earlier if you can.

Lessons learnt son. Lessons learnt.



I earn £55k a year. Can I afford private school for my son? - Telegraph
(via Instapaper)

Money Makeover: Rik Thomas earns £55,000 and wants his young son to go to private school. Is it feasible? Katie Morley offers expert advice

At 16 months old, Rowan Thomas is only just starting to utter his first words.

But already his parents are thinking about how they are going to pay his private school fees.

His father, Rik Thomas, 27, says giving his son the best education possible is top priority – particularly for primary school – where he believes good teaching makes the biggest difference.