Archive for October, 2007

Plustek Opticbook 3600 impresses

I’m becoming increasingly impressed by Plustek’s specialised book-scanner, the OpticBook 3600.  I bought one ages ago, and was unimpressed to discover that the built-in TWAIN driver only supported 300 dpi, since scanning and converting to text is best done at 400 dpi.  Later I found that, when using Abbyy Finereader 8 OCR software, the Abbyy driver did allow access to a 400 dpi mode, but by then I’d sort of lost interest.

However this weekend I got hold of vol. 1 of Graf’s Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Litteratur from the library.  Since you can’t buy this book, I thought that I would pull out the Opticbook.  It is amazingly fast — zoom! zoom!, in fact!  The scan goes up to the edge of the machine, meaning that you can hang the book over the edge rather than flatten the spine.  It takes barely longer to scan than to turn a page and reposition the book.  The quality is at least as good as my main scanner, which cost three times more.  (Trimming the images to a common size is handled excellently by Abbyy Finereader’s crop tool).

I also used it a while back on vol. 1 of Michael the Syrian, and indeed on a large 19th century edition of Eusebius’ Chronicle.  In each case it produced an excellent PDF, and the results OCR’d very well.

The price is very modest.  If you do any book scanning, consider it seriously.

Manuscript photographing and discoveries

These posts from CSNTM about a team photographing manuscripts at Patmos are models of how things should be done. Well done chaps!

http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2007/10/16/manuscript-discoveries-from-summer-2007-expeditions

http://www.csntm.org/Patmos2007.aspx

Public domain and lawyers

I came across this link accidentally:

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20071022-european-copyright-law-used-to-threaten-canadian-public-domain-site.html

Apparently a Canadian public domain site received threatening letters from an Austrian publisher in regard of some music scores which were out of copyright in Canada but in copyright in the EU. The web site owner, who was providing a public service, not selling anything, decided that they didn’t need the hassle and removed it.

This is another straw in the wind, I think.

Graf’s Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Litteratur — where to get it

Georg Graf, Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Litteratur is the main handbook of Arabic Christian literature.  Rather to my surprise I found it offered for sale by an Italian bookdealer, deastore.com.  The first volume, which deals with all the translations into Arabic, is only available on CDROM; the other four in book form at around 20 euros a shot.  I ordered all these; the CDROM proved unavailable, but the books arrived today.  Interestingly for a book published in the 50′s they were new (anastatic reprints, tho), unbound, with uncut pages.  They were despatched by Federal Express, so arrived very quickly indeed once the order was ready.  Recommended.

I did find reference online to a possible English translation of Graf, but the supposed publisher (now defunct) was prosecuted for fraud for taking money for non-existent books.  I think we can take it that none ever existed.  This is a pity, for what else is there in English?

Later: I have now skimmed through vol.2, covering writers to 1450 AD.  My German is nothing special, but it is remarkable how much information one can pick up even so.  The limited number of Maronite authors, the scope and kinds of works.  It is actually a useful exercise in self-education!

I hope to post online the table of contents of vol.2, perhaps with a note or two which at least should allow people to get some idea of who wrote when for whom on what.  Mind you, this leads to the question of what languages include horizontal lines above the vowels, opening and closing apostrophes, and the ‘s’ with a hat on it?  My OCR tends to strip these out!

Later still: the table of contents is here.

Chrysostom slapping the Jews

I realised today that I must be one of the most disadvantaged people on the internet, when it comes to John Chrysostom’s 8 sermons against the Jews. 

The politically correct or Jewish know that we must condemn these, since it Isn’t Allowed to say anything that looks anti-Jewish (although the PC seem to think that trying to destroy Israel is fine).  But I don’t suffer from the most minute particle of PC-ness, and I am not a Jew. 

The Eastern Orthodox know that we must endorse St. John, and if the Jews don’t like it that just shows that the saint was Right Again!  But I don’t feel any lure of Orthodoxy whatever.

The orthodox-haters (often PC) know that these sermons are clear proof that the orthodox need to pay compensation to the Jews.  But I don’t feel any urge to bash the Orthodox.

The anti-semitic know that this is just one more piece of evidence that the Jews plan to take over the world and silence any criticism.  But I don’t feel any urge to promote the new holocaust whatever (except when cornered over breakfast by Jewish nationalists), and I rather think that Israel is a good thing.

It would be easy to decide my attitude to these texts, if I held any of these views.  But I don’t.  Do I need to?  Do I need to sit in judgement over them?  If so, why?

C. Mervyn Maxwell, Chrysostom’s homilies against the Jews : an English translation, Thesis (Ph. D.)–University of Chicago, 1967, exists.  This predates PC, and so just has good old-fashioned revulsion of the holocaust in mind.  I’ve seen it and it’s pretty even-handed.  (I did approach the family about getting this online, but was met with a demand for dollars, sadly).

Online files of a translation also exist, of unknown origin and copyright status.  A volume in the Fathers of the Church series (1979) also exists.

But these translations are incomplete.  Sermon 2 is about a third of the length of the others in all the manuscripts.   Wendy Pradels discovered the lost portion in a previously unknown manuscript at Lesbos, and fortunately for us all described her discovery in accessible English.  A German text and translation exists.  So we need someone to translate the new portion into English, and make it freely available online.

Anyone fancy a go?



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