From my diary

In to town, to hand back Vermaseren’s Mithras: the secret god.  No sign yet of two British Library loans of other Mithras books.  I was relieved to discover that the local library was open, as I had feared that it might not be — there is a public sector workers strike today.

I am still reading Grant’s book on Greek and Roman authors, one entry at a time.  I am learning things from it, that’s for sure.

Not everything in such books is sound.  In the entry for Athanasius, for instance, he refers to the existence of a possible autograph letter of Athanasius to the monk Paphnutius.  It seems that this was published in 1924 by H. I. Bell in Jews and Christians in Egypt, and bears the shelfmark Papyrus London 1929.  But a Google search revealed that Tim Barnes, for instance, in his Constantius and Athanasius, considered that there was no evidence that the “Athanasius” of this letter was the same as the famous archbishop.  The letter was found together with others which suggested that Paphnutius may have been a Meletian.  It is slightly frustrating that I was unable to locate Bell’s work online.

A chance visit to Wikipedia yesterday revealed another poor soul there being bullied and harassed there by a gang of other users, and being treated with little respect or mercy.  (I didn’t agree with his edits, but I could see what was being done to him).  The ploy seemed to be to bully him until he left, and then, if he returned under another name, block him for “sock puppeting”.  I suspect that bullying is endemic in Wikipedia, in truth, and that it is concealed merely because Google doesn’t make it easily possible to search the endless pages in which it is taking place.  It’s not a safe place to visit, and it needs to be placed under proper management, and scrutiny.

Meanwhile the task of OCR’ing Ibn Abi Usaibia grinds on.  I’ve now passed page 700; only another 250 pages to go!  The low light conditions at this time of year, and the short days, leave me feeling very sleepy much of the time, and it’s not that easy to gather the energy to buckle down and do things.

So … what shall I do this afternoon?


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