Cooking time

Remind me not to ever try to make tamales the Alton Brown way. I think the total prep/cooking time must be 6 hours. Every time you turn around there’s another “simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours….”

How had I missed this blog?

The Digitised Manuscripts Blog – the digitalization project of the British Library. Here’s the “about” statement:

The Digitised Manuscripts Blog covers not only the progress of current digitisation projects at the British Library, such as the Greek Manuscripts Digitisation Project, but also more generally all topics associated with generating digital images of manuscripts, making them available to researchers, and pursuing old and new ways of researching digital surrogates of ancient manuscripts.

Their initial project is 250 Greek manuscripts, but there is some interesting discussion in the comments about what manuscripts people would like to see scannedl
A colleague sent me a link to a current entry on the Vatican’s decision to go ahead with digitalizing 80,000 manuscripts (40,000,000 manuscript pages, on estimate). Neat blog!

Useful reminder

Air-travel restrictions might not help. People have been catching diseases for a LONG time.

The 1889 Russian flu pandemic circled the globe in just four months, captivating the world, despite the lack of airplanes or hyperventilating cable news stations.
If that was possible, closing down air traffic in the event of a new pandemic might not do much, argue the authors led by Alain-Jacques Valleron, an epidemiologist at the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale in Paris.
“The rapid progression of the 1889 pandemic demonstrates that slower surface travel, even with much smaller traveler flows, sufficed to spread the pandemic across all of Europe and the United States in ~4 months,” the researchers wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on April 26. “This observation supports mathematical model results, which anticipated that restricting air transportation would have little, if any, effect. One possible hypothesis is that the important predictor of the speed of the pandemic is not the absolute numbers of passengers traveling between cities but the connectedness of the network of cities.”
The data on the disease were assembled for the first time from local records in 172 European and American cities. The Russian flu is particularly interesting because it was the first major epidemic to strike Europe after the laying down of dense railroad connections. In 1889, there were already more than 125,000 miles of rail lines connecting European cities. (That’s more mileage than exists today, the authors note).

Coolness! Insert Tab A into Slot B, but in Ancient Greek!

This is a neat archaeological find!

Massimo Osanna, head of archaeology at Basilica University, said that the team working at Torre Satriano near Potenza in what was once Magna Graecia had unearthed a sloping roof with red and black decorations, with “masculine” and “feminine” components inscribed with detailed directions on how they slotted together.
Professor Christopher Smith, director of the British School at Rome, said that the discovery was “the clearest example yet found of mason’s marks of the time. It looks as if someone was instructing others how to mass-produce components and put them together in this way”” he told The Times.
Professor Osanna suggested that a “fashion for all things Greek” among the indigenous population had led an enterprising builder to produce “affordable DIY structures” modelled on classical Greek buildings. The terracotta roof filtered rainwater down the decorative panels, known as cymatiums, with projections to protect the wall below.
“All the cymatiums and several sections of frieze also have inscriptions relating to the roof assembly system,” Professor Osanna told Storica, the Italian magazine of the National Geographic Society.
He added: “So far around a hundred inscribed fragments have been recovered, with masculine ordinal numbers on the cymatiums and feminine ones on the friezes”. He said the result was “a kind of instruction booklet”.

Scholarship meets life

Can you say ‘Borked.’

Recognizing the chasm between his writings and the testimony needed to secure confirmation, Liu told the Senators that “whatever I may have written in the books and in the articles would have no bearing on my role as a judge.” But Liu’s books and articles aren’t about the Albegensian Heresy or the pre-Raphaelites. They are about how the Constitution should be interpreted. Indeed, as Whelan reminds us, Liu’s one book, Keeping Faith with the Constitution, lays down the principles that Liu thinks judges must apply if they are to be faithful to that document.
Interpreting the Constitution is, of course, one of the most important things judges do. Thus, the notion that Liu’s writings about how the Constitution should be interpreted have “no bearing on [his] role as a judge” insults the intelligence of the Senators on the Judiciary Committee.

There’s a reason they’re called boards of TRUSTees

And these people were not to be trusted.

The California Attorney General’s office ordered the board members of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, which came close to a financial collapse in 2008, to undergo special fiduciary training last year after determining that the museum flouted state law in the way it managed its budget, The Los Angeles Times reported. The museum lost more than $30 million from its investment portfolio over several years, ending up with only $5 million on hand in 2008; it also broke state law when it paid general expenses from restricted endowment funds, according to the newspaper, which obtained a two-page letter sent to the museum by the attorney general’s office in November.

National Geographic and Metal Detectors

My parents told me that the National Geographic Channel was premiering a show about the Staffordshire Hoard last night, so I tuned in. It was pretty good, despite the title: Lost Gold of the Dark Ages. BIG SIGH. But other than some pretty badly fitting helmets on the re-enactors, I didn’t mind it much. Lots of good interviews. Right in the middle was an advertisement from the manufacturer of the very metal detector used to find the hoard – you too can pull riches from the earth!

One of the causes of our creep towards dynastic politics might be a press that cares about the offspring of politicians. Had you heard of Luci Baines Johnson? Goodness knows I hadn’t, until CNN informed me that she’s been hospitalized. Though I am briefly sorry for her and her family, I wonder why we need to expend pixels (not ink and paper, at least), on the younger daughter of a man who became president by accident about the time I was born and decided not to run for a second term more than 40 years ago.
I mean, her illness hadn’t even made it to her wikipedia entry, where I found out that she and her sister were both given names so they had the same initials as their father. How – um – Texas, and not in one of the charming ways.