Thursday, March 20

This Is Danny Pearl's Final Story

Read and weep son. At how people can kill in the name of religion. And be proud of it. As if God, the merciful and compassionate, Allah u Akbar will celebrate and congratulate people who saw off people's heads. But down history, more people have been killed in the name of God than anything else. Think about Aurangzeb. We saw his pearl mosque yesterday at the red fort. A man who was so religious that he killed hundreds of thousands of people. Welcome to these religious bastards lives. And the only way to resolve this son is to keep educating them. The women. Get them into the economy. You cannot fight religious fundamentalism by war and guns only. You need to educate them. You need to laugh at their stupidity. 



This Is Danny Pearl's Final Story

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is walking toward me in a black prayer cap, a cream-colored tunic, and matching shalwar, or baggy pants. He’s hunched over, his beard dyed red, a symbol of piety to conservative Muslims, and I can’t take my eyes off him.

It’s May 5, 2012, the first time in three and a half years that KSM—as he’s known to American officials—has appeared in court, outside his prison cell. We are at Guantánamo, where a US military commission is about to arraign him and four other men for the September 11 attacks, in a courtroom that feels like a movie set. Erected atop an abandoned airfield on the base, it’s as big as a warehouse and has small trailers outside set up as holding areas, one for each defendant. When the courtroom door opened for the men, the Caribbean sun pushed its way into the room first.

I’m in seat number two in the first row of journalists and spectators, separated from the defendants by a wall outfitted with soundproof glass. A video system feeds sound and pictures to screens above us. I’m about 30 feet behind KSM, and there are 40 of us in the gallery. Yet as KSM takes his seat, it feels for a moment as if we’re the only two people in the room.

“Allahu, Allahu, Allahu,” I whisper.

For the families of those who died on 9/11, the day marks the start of what’s likely to be a years-long trial for justice against KSM, the self-described architect of the World Trade Center attacks. For me, it’s something else. KSM is the man who bragged about taking a knife to the throat of my Wall Street Journal colleague and close friend Daniel Pearl.

Wednesday, March 19

What Have the Romans Ever Done For Us?


One of the strange things about religions is how territorial they are. Pretty much every religion has borrowed from some other religion or customs. Which is perfectly fine but then that invites charges of hypocrisy when they turn around and say it's the literal words of god. Well, god seems to have this habit of changing his mind eh? 

Personally speaking I like Gods who change their minds. It's more fun. Can you imagine having a God whose mind doesn't change? How boring. You might as well as forget the laws of physics anyway. Even gods are subject to laws of physics, thermodynamics and entropy eh? 

Anyway a nice little history lesson here. As you know kannu we took you to Rome when you were 3. Far too young to appreciate the wonders of Rome. And now that I'm studying Roman architecture I'm minded to take you two to Rome and Florence and Venice and and and again. Shall we? Couple of weeks? Of sun, sea, sand, lovely food, mouldy buildings and get you kids a bit of a refresher course in the horrible history of Italy? :) 



What Have the Romans Ever Done For Us? Christmas Edition

Nice little feature on Classical elements in Christmas … according to Matthew Nicholls at Reading (so it’s got a scholar behind it!) … via the University of Reading:

When opening your presents or enjoying a night out this Christmas spare a quick thought for the Romans. We owe much of our festive fun to them.The Romans celebrated the winter festival of Sigillaria on 23rd of December, part of their Saturnalia¹ festivities. Just like on Christmas Day, Sigillaria saw presents exchanged. So how does Sigillaria compare to a modern day Christmas? And can we say that the Roman’s invented Christmas?Dr Matthew Nicholls, a senior lecturer of classics at the University of Reading, has explored the work of Martial² and Seneca, writers of the time, and found striking similarities including gifts of ugly but warm ‘jumpers’, ‘Kindlesque’ portable storage for books and even a Roman bah-humbug!Dr Nicholls is the creator of Virtual Rome, an ambitious digital model of the entire ancient city of Rome.
GiftsThat’s just what I always wanted“The poet Martial’s work indicates that gift recipients would have faced similar ‘reaction’ issues to our own. Quality of presents varied enormously. The traditional present for the Saturnalia was some nuts – not unlike old fashioned handful of walnuts in a Christmas stocking. Martial mentions ‘gifts given and received’ some of which sound rather familiar.“Fish-sauce, jars of honey, bottles of wine, toothpicks, a pencil case, perfume, a flask encased in wicker-work and clothing – even an item that sounds like an ugly but warm Christmas sweater…a ‘shaggy nursling of a weaver on the Seine, a barbarian garment … a thing uncouth but not to be despised in cold December … that searching cold may not pass into your limbs … you will laugh at rain and winds, clothed in this gift’. (Ep. 4.19)The Roman Kindle that could store the entire

Tuesday, March 18

The lost pages of ‘Longitude’

We have the book. And we went to see the clocks as well at the Greenwich museum. Harrison was a brilliant man son.  We also have the clockmakers museum in the guildhall in london. Small museum. Just about 2 rooms. But then you don't need that many rooms to show tiny watches and clocks. We also saw a large clock in the Salisbury cathedral if you remember? I've also seen large sun dials son, in India and elsewhere.
Time is a funny old thing. Did you know Indian mythology has the longest unit of time? Called as Kalpa? 4.3 billion years. It's mentioned in the Mahabharata and the Vishnu Purana. Both books are at home but perhaps you don't want to read the Bhagwat Purana at the moment. It's more than 1000 pagers. Fascinating book. Can you imagine the imagination of the old chaps who could imagine the concept of such a long period of time? Reach deep into the concept of time and it becomes indistinguishable with questions of space and humanity.
From a mathematical and physics perspective son, time is very difficult to describe. Very complex. If you have read the work done by various geographers and mathematicians including say somebody like Isaac newton in his principia mathematica, you'll see how they have represented time.
So representing time in a clock itself is very complex. And then it comes to longitude. This link takes you to a chapter which wasn't in the book. And talks about the tragedy of la salle. The man who founded Louisiana and came down the Mississippi and and and. Fascinating.

I saw this article when using the Financial Times app and thought you might be interested:
Financial Times,
The lost pages of ‘Longitude’ by Dava Sobel
By Dava Sobel
Dava Sobel’s account of the struggle to accurately measure longitude was a global bestseller. But one short chapter from her original manuscript was never published. Here, introducing that missing fragment, she remembers her own dramas at sea and marks the 300th anniversary of the act that helped the world find its way
Read the full article at:

Monday, March 17

She cares not a turd':

Generally I absolutely hate people scribbling on books. They need to be pristine kids. The very idea of writing all over it is a bit foreign to me. It's like defacing them. 

But then defacement for somebody may be fascinating for somebody else. Here's a nice little investigative article on some scribbles on an old old book. 

And yes I do give a turd if you deface our books! 



'She cares not a turd': Notes on a 16th century Squabble - Medieval manuscripts blog

While we were preparing the catalogue entry for Harley MS 7334, one of our most recent uploads to Digitised Manuscripts, we came across a very curious marginal note, and would like to solicit your ideas about it.


Decorated initial ‘W’(han) at the beginning of the Canterbury Tales, England (London or East Anglia, c. 1410), Harley MS 7734, f. 1r

But first a bit of background.  This manuscript is a relatively early copy of Chaucer’s famous Canterbury Tales, and was created c. 1410 in England, probably in East Anglia.  The scribe who penned it was responsible for other manuscripts containing the Canterbury Tales (such as Corpus Christi College, Oxford, MS 198, for example), leading some scholars to propose that it was a production of a commercial scriptorium specialising in such texts.  Harley MS 7334 has a rather complicated ownership history, and passed through a number of different hands during the tumultuous 15th and 16th centuries.  The task of untangling its provenance is both aided - and complicated - by the profusion of notes, signatures, and inscriptions that can be found throughout the manuscript, many of which were added by later hands.