On Labels

An ME 109 G-10 you say? What’s 6×9? Yeah, not so smart now are you? (photo from Flickr)

A recent entry on a blog I follow has driven me to overcome my natural reluctance to overtly discuss the covert sub-text in some of my entries… the learning disorder (emphasis is added to help readers adopt the suitable narrative voice of a 1950s era monster movie, possibly featuring rampaging radioactive ants or Communists).

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On Violence

Graffito from Pompei, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Image is public domain.

I try to avoid comment on current events at PBS because it’s outside the blog’s mandate and the kind of opinion is the uninformed opinion. Honestly, the internet is dangerously overpopulated with uninformed opinion as it is. That is not to say that I don’t hold opinions, only that I think there is little value in airing them online unless I am prepared to spend the time and effort to provide an informed one. For the sake of personal development, and out if a vague feeling of obligation to the mysterious readers of this blog, I have made that effort in a rare break from the usual fare at PBS. What follows are some thoughts on the recent events in the US, and its relevance to my area of growing expertise, the history of violence.

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Writing out of context

Years ago, someone on CBC radio mentioned an obscure literary contest, which I have never managed to identify, that awarded prizes for the most poetic and aesthetically pleasing non-fiction prose. What made this contest special was that the contestants were entirely unaware of the competition and their non-fiction work was usually the sort of grey literature of departmental reports or technical writing that no-one expects to be poetic, or even readable.

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Adventures in Forensic Bibliography #4: From the Cold Case File

The Case of the Silent Source, or, Dudley’s Dead End.

There are few irritations for the researcher as great as the statement made with  certainty regarding a  topic that is devoid of certainty, and without the common courtesy of citing a source. I ran into one of these little conundrums in Chris Skidmore’s Death and the Virgin Queen: Elizabeth I and the Dark Scandal That Rocked the Throne (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2010).1 The breathless, tabloid style title should have warned me there was trouble, but alas the call of the bargain-book siren is hard to ignore.

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In reference to a not very recent discussion on Academia.edu…

Academia.edu is a sort of facebook-for-scholars, but without the game invitations and image macros. The site allows academics to post their credentials, articles, research interests, CVs, and other details in a forum that is far more accessible and amenable to social networking than the institutional pages that some academics get. Most graduate students and independent researchers have no other way of making their presence known on-line outside of these sorts of forums. Some people on the site post questions to the general readership and one of these got me to thinking. That was a while ago, and this entry took rather longer than planned. This is aesthetically appropriate considering the nature of the original question.

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My eyes are trying to kill me…

There is really only one method behind paleographical study. If you want to read a medieval text you stare at each little scribble, or graph as the scholars like to call them, and you try and figure out what letter it refers to. Once you think you have it figured you move to the next scribble. When you hit a gap in the text, and you think it’s probably a word division, you look at the list of letters you wrote down and see if it makes a word. That really is all there is to it, at least from the perspective of the transcriber.

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Adventures in Forensic Bibliography #3

The Case of the Cotton Collection Confusion, or, How Many Ways Can You Possibly Reference the Same Manuscript Incorrectly?

This case-study of bibliographic mystery is a companion piece to the first Adventure; it’s a variation on a citation error with the same manuscript.

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