Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Lishi Website

Completely forgotten that I used to work on this (here my polyptique interests took their departure).
Probably would need to request a password again at this point in time.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

IDP Reasoning System

IDP is a reasoning system of the DTAI at the University of Leuven. There is a web-interface that can be used for experimentation. The system differs from the ASP format in specific ways, though it competes in the tri-annual ASP competitions (for a download of problems see here) It supports representations such as Abstract Dialectical Frameworks.

Some Mamluk Details and Natural History Details

Been researching history of the Mamluks for a collaboration with some people in the Digital Humanities at the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

Found some cool resources on the web:

In communicating with my collaborators, I revisited the Timbersnake argument from my dissertation, and found some additional resources for that, including

  • Mark Catesby's Natural History of  the Carolinas,Florida, the Bahamas etc etc with a cool depiction of a rattlesnake from volume 2, published in London in 1756.
  • The travels of Linneus student Peter or Pehr Kalm of Sweden, who helped classify rattlesnakes for Linneus (as did Catesby's drawings)
    • An analysis of his journal (including on rattlesnakes)
    • His three volume travel journal is available here in German for the First Part. Indubitably other parts are on Archive.org as well. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

James Fenimore Cooper on Steamboats colliding with Folklore

This would have made a nice footnote in the book, though of course it is a narrative one and not a historical source in the strict sense of the word.

Hugh C. MacDougall, who edited the Gutenberg copy of The Lake Gun,  the short story where the following paragraph appears in, dates the story to 1850, gives it a decidedly political context, and points to a visit of Cooper in Geneva College (now Hobart College) on Lake Seneca sometime between 1840-1844, when Cooper's son Paul was studying there, as the origin of the "local knowledge" such as it is.
"I haven't seen that ere crittur now"—Peter always spoke of the tree as if it had animal life—"these three years. We think he doesn't like the steamboats. The very last time I seed the old chap he was a-goin' up afore a smart norwester, and we was a-comin' down with the wind in our teeth, when I made out the 'Jew,' about a mile, or, at most, a mile and a half ahead of us, and right in our track. I remember that I said to myself, says I, 'Old fellow, we'll get a sight of your countenance this time.' I suppose you know, sir, that the 'Jew' has a face just like a human?"
"I did not know that; but what became of the tree?"
"Tree," answered Peter, shaking his head, "why, can't we cut a tree down in the woods, saw it and carve it as we will, and make it last a hundred years? What become of the tree, sir;—why, as soon as the 'Jew' saw we was a-comin' so straight upon him, what does the old chap do but shift his helm, and make for the west shore. You never seed a steamer leave sich a wake, or make sich time. If he went half a knot, he went twenty!"
Two ideas that I find curious here are that the novelty of the steamboats, which rubs oddly with this American form of the legend of the "Wandering Jew", is expressed narratively as a form of resistance to be encountered. Nevertheless, when encountered, the supernatural remains superior, going faster than the engine-powered boat.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Objective as time-independent

In her article on the then-latest breast cancer screening research, 538-science writer Christie Aschwanden noted
Welch’s group has published other studies with similar results. One of those categorized cancers according to stage, rather than size, however, and some critics countered that the way that cancers are categorized has evolved, which could make comparisons difficult. So in this latest study, the researchers looked at size — a measure that is objective and hasn’t changed over time — and came to the same conclusion: Mammography produces an increase in the number of women diagnosed and treated for breast cancer and a non-invasive cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), but it doesn’t do much to prevent the deadliest cases.
The main point I wish to draw attention to is the distinction between evolving categories, such as cancer stages, and the measurement of size. Though her precise wording, namely that size is an objective measure, is contestable, Aschwanden's phrasing suggests that the crucial difference is the one between evolving and categories that remain constant for a duration of research.

Now granted, this is not what people mean when they use the word "objective", but perhaps it is a better meaning for the word than the current one, which seems to imply some socially indisputable common ground.