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About Phidippus

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  • Location
    Granite City, Peoples' Republic of Taxachusetts

Previous Fields

  • Occupation
    Numismatist/graphics geek
  • About my avatar
    It's a coin of Abgar VIII of Osrhoene with a tiara showing a Greek cross of pellets, dating to AD 177-192.
  • Favorite movies
    Seven Samurai, Pathfinder (Gaup), Gone with the Wind.
  • Favorite music
    Al Stewart, Simon and Garfunkel, Kingston Trio, several wierd Scandinavian groups. Beethoven. Bach, played well.
  • Favorite creative writing
    C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams, Eusebius, Juvenal, ancient and medieval historians in general.
  • Favorite visual art
    Durer, Holbein (drawings), Rembrandt.
  1. What - no takers here? Surely somebody must know something about the subject!! I suppose I'll have to take the plunge. I have little familiarity with childrens' books in general, as I have no children. In any case, if the child in question is reasonably bright, I would suggest a good general history - one in two volumes comes to mind, by Muchael Aukland Smith (From Christ to Constantine, Church under Siege), which you may be able to get used for little money, since they are out of print. They may be a bit technical, so you may want to be available for discussions. This may not be the greatest possible work, but it's better than nothing. There is also the history by Chadwick, which I have heard good things about, but which I have not read. The second possibility is to get him to tackle some original sources such as Eusebius, once again with a lot of discussion sessions, since he isn't all that easy an author. I have found that it is often a good boost to someone's reading skills to give thm a book with is just a little bit too hard for them, so that they have to work a bit. Hope this helps.
  2. It's the impression I get when someone hangs an isolated date, tacks an era designator on the end, and provides an in-your-face explanation (in parentheses) which breaks the flow of the text, then drops the dates entirely untill injecting a 2000 without CE (or AD) several pages later. To quote from page 1: The next date in the text is on page 7, and is nearly 3000 years later. The author isn't trying to use the conventions of his audience; the explanation indicates quite the contrary. He isn't simply trying to teach; this usually involves something which isn't quite so "in-your-face", such as a footnote, which explains things a bit better. So unless the editor altered the text - which is of course always a possibility - it's difficult to come up with any better explanation than that this author is trying to look scholarly and "with it", whether or not it is a conscious decision. You may, of course, come up with something better; this is the impression which I get.
  3. It is difficult to be reasonable at 0230 - the perils of late-night home-office work - so I apologize in advance for anything unreasonable. Here goes: The last remark indicate that perhaps, on the contrary, the biases are sinking in - or that you have a case of "grad-student-itis". We aren't all uneducated end-times-obsessed hicks here; some of us have "been there, done that" in grad school ourselves. As far as world-view perils of using secularist tools goes, try a read of Os Guiness's Gravedigger File; he pts it a lot better than I do. Regarding commemoration, we all know that "happy holidays" is commemorative of Christmas in that those who use the phrase don't use it to refer to Labour Day or the Fourth of July, but they are hardly trying to express a belief in the Virgin Birth, either. A commemorative once removed tends to commemorate nothing of importance, or in other words, it's a dodge. I have known, and read, a fair number of astronomers doing historical astronomy; most of the ones I have read use AD/BC, including such authorities as the editorial board of Sky and Telescope. Historical astronomy involves doing calculations (usually calculating years BP) and converting results; which system is used means little as long as it is consistent, whether you are calculating comet orbits, eclipses, Sothic cycles, or anything else. As far as Year Zero goes, it's merely a source of confusion for everyone else; I have yet to encounter a historian, classicist, or anyone else who uses it. All I have dealt with use BC and BCE interchangably. Trying to add a Year Zero merely adds a conversion factor. As a bonus, AD before/BC after provides an error check; had the author of a certain reference book used AD/BC rather than CE/BCE he wouldn't have missed a dropped B throughout his manuscript, hence telling us that Herod died in 4 CE through two or three editions, and confusing all sorts of people. Maybe, but as I mentioned, it's a rather recent and (in many cases) deliberately secular, change, and in many disciplines it is "still to come". Read, for example, Peter Green's "Alexander to Actium", the best one-volume history of Hellenistic Greece available; dates are strictly BC, and he isn't exactly a Biblical literalist. There is, of course, a difference between accommodating preferences, pandering to one's opponents, and trying to look "with it", which latter is what the author of this paper is evidently trying to do. It helps to be aware of the differences. BTW, this author evidently knows nothing of late-antique or medieval material culture, as he is seemingly completely unaware of the flood of decorated objects, from coins, redware oil lamps, Coptic textiles, personal icons, Viking wood-carving, Dark Ages jewelery, inlay and enamel, all the way through the plethora of cheap, decorated goods (e. g. calculating counters) produced all over Europe in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. His definition of "Art" is what hangs in the Lovre, until he arrives at the present, when it suddenly includes just about everything.
  4. Given that this CE stuff got its start in circles actively opposed to Christianity - especially among Holy Land archaeologists of the Bible-debunking variety, as well as among militantly secular Jews, two categories which sometimes overlap - and after all it rather specifically denies the validity of the event which the era was intended to commemorate, I am a bit surprised that so many of us here are content to be so marginalized. This sort of thing serves to set up an intellectual climate in which Christianity - and Judaism, for that matter - are assumed to be bogus from the start, and that we are all automatically superstitious obscurantists unless we go along with the denials of the events which define our faith. The era is, after all, a commemoration of the Incarnation, despite the math error. I have worked with enough archaeological reports to observe the trend, and it isn't quite as intellectually rigourous as it pretends to be. A neutral term is BP, before present, much used among practicionrs of radiocarbon dating. To submit to being marginalized in enough of this sort of case is to risk being driven out of the public square entirely, as it's difficult to get our point across if, due to underlying assumptions, everyone automatically assumes that we're superstitious crackpots. As regards accommodating secularists, why should we? Scientific archaeology is a product of Western, Christian culture. Everywhere else it developed as mere antiquarianism. Why should we be ashamed of this simply to "be nice" to someone who has no intention of accommodating us? If they want to use it, it's their business, but we don't need to play along.
  5. Phidippus


    Normally I don't care about football, but as I have relatives in Austin - my uncle is a retired math prof. there - I had the game on. The Longhorns won by a narrow margin, getting a TD at the very end. It was the way such a game should be; the desired result, but a good, dramatic game.
  6. Phidippus

    What a Bargain

    Not to brag too much, but while I was studying in England I got a "reading copy" of Fellowship of the Ring, which happened to be a first printing (the one with the publication date on the recto of the title page, not just the printings list on the verso) for a fiver, which was worth about $5.50 at the time. Not too shabby, perhaps.
  7. I don't know about anyone else, but when a paper supposedly from a Christian perspective dates things in "BCE" rather than "BC", I tend to bail out immediately, as I did here. It's perhaps understandable if the author is Jewish, for example, but for a Christian to thereby suggest that the central event of human history - the Incarnation - really doesn't matter, hence that when our era is created around that event, we should just ignore it and give it some bogus name, is really lame.
  8. Phidippus

    Art Auctions

    Art auctions and sales turn up in odd places. In my first undergraduate year the college had someone come in and sell prints in the student center, and I shelled out the (to me) vast sum of $25. for a print which happened to be old; in this case it was by someone named Jode, who worked in Antwerp up to the 1580s. It is a print illustrating the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. It isn't the best example in the world, but it is a decent and old print. In a sale when I was at graduate school I paid arouind $10. for two (fake) Rembrandt landscapes; they are genuine Smiths of Chichester, circa 1770, imitating quite rare and expensive landscapes, and they are respectable prints in their own right. It's a question of looking around, and buying what you like.
  9. While I obviously can't say anything about your collection without seeing the listing, I would remind you that eBay is a curious auction venue in that in many cases - and stereoviews are particularly notable for this, a I have learned the hard way - most of the price appears within the last minute. I have had to learn to snipe in self-defense, and I know that the price can easily quadrupe in the last five seconds. eBay is useful largely for seeing what is out there, but the prices are often meaningless until the auction ends. Common material, or specialized material without a specialized buyer, tends to be cheap. Interesting material is not. Civil War views, very early (<1855) views, views of places like Thailand or Japan (if they are old enough), Old West views, views of famous events (e. g. the Transcontinental Railroad), or unusual formats (e. g. stereo-daguerrotypes or -ambrotypes), are examples. Of course, you can always produce your own, if you want to add to the colection cheaply. .
  10. Stereocards are one of my bad habits, and have been so for many years. In theory they are stock photos for graphic design, but of course that's really an excuse. I bought rather a lot of them in the UK while I was over there in grad school, and they were still cheap. I even have a sat-print of a church in Paris by Fox Talbot himself; evidently he made a foray into the business in te 1850s for a brief time. Colour stereos are mainly of two types: first, colour screen prints the so-called "Lithoprints", and second, hand-painted views. We do occasionally find Autochromes, but all old (before 1900) started life as monochrome. Some of the "lithoprints" are interesting, but I would rather study a good 1860-ish view of, say, Kyoto or Boston than its 1910 screen-printed equivalent.
  11. Not quite the earliest full-colour photographic process, BTW. The earliest one which worked was the Ives "Kromoskop" (or similar name) process, from the 1890s, which used beamsplitters to expose three separate negatives of a scene through red, green and blue filters. The resulting sets of three were viewed in a similar arrangement and the result was a full-colour image. I am somewhat familiar with the process as I have two stereo-sets of this process, which I bought in a street market in Paris. I still haven't figured out a way to copy and blend the images successfully. All these three-colour processes can reproduce very good colour, as the image shown indicates.
  12. Phidippus

    What computer games do you play?

    Civ is (was) fun, as long as you remember that Microprose games tend to improve AI at higher levels mainly through cheating (i. e., the AI players get more bang for the buck than you do). Ditto Master of Orion, 1 and 2; I have heard less than wonderful things about MoO 3. Warlords series, from the beginning; the original version, BTW, plays perfectly well on XP. Transport Tycoon Deluxe, when I don't feel like destroying anything. It's simple enough, but the new "open source" version is greatly improved over the original, and it, unlike the original, plays well in XP.
  13. Phidippus

    TV shows I could watch over and over

    Agreed. Then there's Sandbaggers, which is also on DVD, which ran to all of 20 episodes. It's a spy show in which the main character can be best described as the anti-James Bond.
  14. Perhaps you have corrupted driver files? You might want to try to uninstall/reinstall the scanner drivers; or, alternately, try running the scanner from within your photo processing program (e. g. in "Photoshop LE" use the File-Import-Twain 32 option). Scanners are dodgy beasts at best, but they can usually be partially tamed, although mine still on occasion refuses to work at all without rebooting the entire system.
  15. Phidippus

    Red Sox open their season tonight!

    Oh, well, there's always next year. Tonight they played like they wanted to lose; their skill at leaving the bases loaded is always a source of amazement. Loaded, with nobody out, and not a single run scores, with Johnny D. striking out on ball 4, when he knew it was a ball, and the tying run was all set to stroll home ... they deserved to be swept after playing like that! As long as the "Empire" goes down to defeat ...