Friday, January 30, 2015

[1407.2909] Linking shape dynamics and loop quantum gravity

[1407.2909] Linking shape dynamics and loop quantum gravity:



"Shape dynamics is a reformulation of general relativity, locally equivalent to Einstein's theory, in which the refoliation invariance of the older theory is traded for local scale invariance. Shape dynamics is here derived in a formulation related to the Ashtekar variables by beginning with a modification of the Plebanski action. The constraints of shape dynamics and their algebra are reproduced in terms of these new variables."



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Most Americans Support Government Action on Climate Change, Poll Finds - NYTimes.com

Most Americans Support Government Action on Climate Change, Poll Finds - NYTimes.com:



"WASHINGTON — An overwhelming majority of the American public, including nearly half of Republicans, support government action to curb global warming, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times, Stanford University and the nonpartisan environmental research group Resources for the Future."



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Europe’s Greek Test - NYTimes.com

Europe’s Greek Test - NYTimes.com:



"In the five years (!) that have passed since the euro crisis began, clear thinking has been in notably short supply. But that fuzziness must now end. Recent events in Greece pose a fundamental challenge for Europe: Can it get past the myths and the moralizing, and deal with reality in a way that respects the Continent’s core values? If not, the whole European project — the attempt to build peace and democracy through shared prosperity — will suffer a terrible, perhaps mortal blow."



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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Reies Tijerina, 88, Dies; Led Chicano Property Rights Movement

Photo
Reies Tijerina in 1972. Credit United Press International
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In the year of sixty-seven
June fifth was the day,
There was a revolution
Over there by Tierra Amarilla.
The “revolution” was a bungled plot, with Keystone Kops overtones, in which rebels seized an isolated courthouse in northern New Mexico on June 5, 1967, and it lasted only 90 minutes. But it would be immortalized in ballads (as in “El Corrido de Rio Arriba”), elevate a former itinerant evangelist into a quixotic national prophet and propel a radical Chicano property rights movement into America’s consciousness.
The onetime evangelist, Reies Tijerina, who died on Jan. 19 at 88, never had the tangible success of Cesar Chavez and his nonviolent campaign to improve the lot of migrant workers. He never achieved his goal of reclaiming — for Mexicans, Indians and descendants of the original Spanish settlers — the millions of acres that changed hands when northern Mexico became the American Southwest in the mid-19th century. And his legacy was later marred by apocalyptic and anti-Semitic undercurrents.
Nonetheless, in the view of Lorena Oropeza, a history professor at the University of California, Davis, and author of a coming book about Mr. Tijerina, “Probably no person did more to shift our understanding of the history of the American West from a celebratory tale of ‘manifest destiny’ to the now-prevailing notion of a ‘legacy of conquest’ than did Tijerina.”
“One way to think of Tijerina,” she added, “is that he led an anticolonial movement within the continental United States. With only a few years of elementary education, and then time spent in Bible college, he developed a devastating critique of the American empire at the height of the Cold War.
“To young people involved in the Chicano movement, moreover, he gave them not only a militant alternative to Cesar Chavez, but also an understanding of the long history of Spanish-speaking people in the American Southwest,” Professor Oropeza said.
Mr. Tijerina, who died in a hospital in El Paso, had diabetes and heart problems, said Estela Reyes-Lopez, a family spokeswoman, who confirmed the death.
Reies Lopez Tijerina (pronounced tee-heh-REE-na), the son of cotton-picking sharecroppers, was born on Sept. 21, 1926, in Fall City, Tex. After he served as a Pentecostal pastor, he and more than a dozen families who constituted his followers bought 160 acres in Arizona in 1956 and founded Valley of Peace, a utopian commune. Often skirmishing with neighbors, the group did not live up to its name.
Mr. Tijerina, inspired by what he said was a heavenly vision, later uprooted his followers and led them to New Mexico, where by the early 1960s they had formed the Alianza Federal de los Pueblos Libres, or alliance of free city-states. Members of what he called his republic staged symbolic land seizures and citizen’s arrests and held mock trials of forest rangers. (Much of the land they claimed was in national forests.) There were arrests, prosecutions and prison terms.
The raid on the Rio Arriba County Courthouse in Tierra Amarilla, the county seat, was their most dramatic action. Mr. Tijerina and about 20 armed followers sought to liberate 11 Alianza members who they believed were being held there. The 11 had been charged with threatening to seize the 600,000-acre Tierra Amarilla land grant and to make a citizens’ arrest of the district attorney. But neither the prisoners nor the prosecutors were at the courthouse.
In the raid, a state police officer and a jailer were wounded. (The jailer was later beaten to death just before he was to testify that he had been shot by Mr. Tijerina; that crime was never solved.)
Pursued by tanks and helicopters in a National Guard manhunt, the rebels fled for the hills with two hostages. The getaway car got stuck in the mud, and the kidnapped men were eventually recovered and most of the suspects captured.
Mr. Tijerina successfully defended himself at one trial but was tried a second time and convicted of charges stemming from the raid. He served six months in a state penitentiary. He also spent more than two years in federal prisons on charges arising from other protests. Nicknamed King Tiger, Mr. Tijerina was likened to other Chicano activists like Corky Gonzales of Colorado and José Angel Gutiérrez of Texas. But his views were more idiosyncratic.
He prophesied an apocalyptic future linked to American policy in the Middle East. He also “turned many previous supporters away as he moved toward a singularly novel, but unmistakable, anti-Semitism,” Rudy V. Busto, a professor of religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said in an interview. Mr. Tijerina argued that Spanish speakers in the United States were the rightful descendants of the House of Israel.
“When there is war we are all Americans,” Mr. Tijerina once said. “When it’s voting time, then we are Mexican-Americans. But when it comes to jobs and land,” he said, using an epithet for Hispanics, “we are nothing.”
By 2006, after returning from self-imposed exile in Mexico, he was living in a two-room cinder-block house in a run-down barrio in El Paso, seeking legal residency for his Mexican-born third wife, Esperanza, who survives him along with eight of his children.
“My philosophy is that of the cricket against the lion,” he often said. “The cricket is the king of the insects and the lion is the king of the beasts. The cricket had no chance against the lion, so he jumped into the lion’s ear and tickled him to death. That’s what we’re going to do to the United States — we’re going to tickle him to death.”

That Other September 11th; Those Other 3,000

That Other September 11th; Those Other 3,000:



"* [new]  Frank Teruggi 1950-1973 (2+ / 0-)
I didn't know anyone who died at the WTC, but I did know someone who died as a result of the Pinochet coup. He was the "other American,"  one who was also executed, like the more well known Charles Horman (the main subject of the film Missing). Teruggi was a student of mine at UCSB and I wrote a letter in support of his application to go to grad school at the University of Santiago. He apparently was involved with a few other Americans supporting the Allende regime. In his case it was
apparently as a translator.
When the coup took place he was arrested and shot multiple times in the soccer stadium that was used to hold prisoners.

In the film he is played as a sort of NY wiseguy, but Frank was actually a mild mannered nerdy guy from a suburb of Chicago: Des Plaines. His arrest was no accident, and he never would have been killed if the American government did not look the other way, or, worse.

I agree that it's easiest to mourn for someone you knew, but it's not a zero sum game."



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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

[1501.05308] Gamma-ray novae as probes of relativistic particle acceleration at non-relativistic shocks

[1501.05308] Gamma-ray novae as probes of relativistic particle acceleration at non-relativistic shocks:



"The Fermi LAT discovery that classical novae produce >100 MeV gamma-rays establishes that shocks and relativistic particle acceleration are key features of these events. These shocks are likely to be radiative due to the high densities of the nova ejecta at early times coincident with the gamma-ray emission. Thermal X-rays radiated behind the shock are absorbed by neutral gas and reprocessed into optical emission, similar to Type IIn (interacting) supernovae. The ratio of gamma-ray and optical luminosities, L_gam/L_opt, thus sets a lower limit on the fraction of the shock power used to accelerate relativistic particles, e_nth. The measured values of L_gam/L_opt for two classical novae, V1324 Sco and V339 Del, constrains e_nth > 1e-2 and > 1e-3, respectively. Inverse Compton models for the gamma-ray emission are disfavored given the low electron acceleration efficiency, e_nth ~ 1e-4-1e-3, inferred from observations of Galactic cosmic rays and particle-in-cell (PIC) numerical simulations. Recent hybrid PIC simulations show yet lower proton acceleration efficiencies (consistent with zero) for shocks propagating perpendicular to the upstream magnetic field, the geometry relevant if the magnetic field in the nova outflow is dominated by its azimuthal component. However, localized regions of parallel shocks, created either by global asymmetries or local inhomogeneities ("clumpiness") in the ejecta, may account for the requisite proton acceleration. A fraction > 100(0.01/e_nth) and > 10(0.01/e_nth) per cent of the optical luminosity is powered by shocks in V1324 Sco and V339 Del, respectively. Such high fractions challenge standard models that instead attribute all nova optical emission to the direct outwards transport of thermal energy released near the white dwarf surface."



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Monday, January 26, 2015

Bishop Roy Anderson Holmes

Ending Greece’s Nightmare



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Alexis Tsipras, leader of the left-wing Syriza coalition, is about to become prime minister of Greece. He will be the first European leader elected on an explicit promise to challenge the austerity policies that have prevailed since 2010. And there will, of course, be many people warning him to abandon that promise, to behave “responsibly.”
So how has that responsibility thing worked out so far?
To understand the political earthquake in Greece, it helps to look at Greece’s May 2010 “standby arrangement” with the International Monetary Fund, under which the so-called troika — the I.M.F., the European Central Bank and the European Commission — extended loans to the country in return for a combination of austerity and reform. It’s a remarkable document, in the worst way. The troika, while pretending to be hardheaded and realistic, was peddling an economic fantasy. And the Greek people have been paying the price for those elite delusions.


You see, the economic projections that accompanied the standby arrangement assumed that Greece could impose harsh austerity with little effect on growth and employment. Greece was already in recession when the deal was reached, but the projections assumed that this downturn would end soon — that there would be only a small contraction in 2011, and that by 2012 Greece would be recovering. Unemployment, the projections conceded, would rise substantially, from 9.4 percent in 2009 to almost 15 percent in 2012, but would then begin coming down fairly quickly.
What actually transpired was an economic and human nightmare. Far from ending in 2011, the Greek recession gathered momentum. Greece didn’t hit the bottom until 2014, and by that point it had experienced a full-fledged depression, with overall unemployment rising to 28 percent and youth unemployment rising to almost 60 percent. And the recovery now underway, such as it is, is barely visible, offering no prospect of returning to precrisis living standards for the foreseeable future.
What went wrong? I fairly often encounter assertions to the effect that Greece didn’t carry through on its promises, that it failed to deliver the promised spending cuts. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, Greece imposed savage cuts in public services, wages of government workers and social benefits. Thanks to repeated further waves of austerity, public spending was cut much more than the original program envisaged, and it’s currently about 20 percent lower than it was in 2010.
Yet Greek debt troubles are if anything worse than before the program started. One reason is that the economic plunge has reduced revenues: The Greek government is collecting a substantially higher share of G.D.P. in taxes than it used to, but G.D.P. has fallen so quickly that the overall tax take is down. Furthermore, the plunge in G.D.P. has caused a key fiscal indicator, the ratio of debt to G.D.P., to keep rising even though debt growth has slowed and Greece received some modest debt relief in 2012.
Why were the original projections so wildly overoptimistic? As I said, because supposedly hardheaded officials were in reality engaged in fantasy economics. Both the European Commission and the European Central Bank decided to believe in the confidence fairy — that is, to claim that the direct job-destroying effects of spending cuts would be more than made up for by a surge in private-sector optimism. The I.M.F. was more cautious, but it nonetheless grossly underestimated the damage austerity would do.


And here’s the thing: If the troika had been truly realistic, it would have acknowledged that it was demanding the impossible. Two years after the Greek program began, the I.M.F. looked for historical examples where Greek-type programs, attempts to pay down debt through austerity without major debt relief or inflation, had been successful. It didn’t find any.

So now that Mr. Tsipras has won, and won big, European officials would be well advised to skip the lectures calling on him to act responsibly and to go along with their program. The fact is they have no credibility; the program they imposed on Greece never made sense. It had no chance of working.
If anything, the problem with Syriza’s plans may be that they’re not radical enough. Debt relief and an easing of austerity would reduce the economic pain, but it’s doubtful whether they are sufficient to produce a strong recovery. On the other hand, it’s not clear what more any Greek government can do unless it’s prepared to abandon the euro, and the Greek public isn’t ready for that.
Still, in calling for a major change, Mr. Tsipras is being far more realistic than officials who want the beatings to continue until morale improves. The rest of Europe should give him a chance to end his country’s nightmare.

Ending Greece’s Nightmare - NYTimes.com

Ending Greece’s Nightmare - NYTimes.com:



 "Alexis Tsipras, leader of the left-wing Syriza coalition, is about to become prime minister of Greece. He will be the first European leader elected on an explicit promise to challenge the austerity policies that have prevailed since 2010. And there will, of course, be many people warning him to abandon that promise, to behave “responsibly.”"



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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Anti-Austerity Party Wins Decisive Victory in Greece - NYTimes.com

Anti-Austerity Party Wins Decisive Victory in Greece - NYTimes.com:



"ATHENS — Greece rejected the punishing economics of austerity on Sunday and sent a warning signal to the rest of Europe as the left-wing Syriza party won a decisive victory in national elections, positioning its tough-talking leader, Alexis Tsipras, to become the next prime minister."



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Saturday, January 24, 2015

[1305.5670] What is Visualization Really for?

[1305.5670] What is Visualization Really for?:



"Whenever a visualization researcher is asked about the purpose of visualization, the phrase "gaining insight" by and large pops out instinctively. However, it is not absolutely factual that all uses of visualization are for gaining a deep understanding, unless the term insight is broadened to encompass all types of thought. Even when insight is the focus of a visualization task, it is rather difficult to know what insight is gained, how much, or how accurate. In this paper, we propose that "saving time" in accomplishing a user's task is the most fundamental objective. By giving emphasis to saving time, we can establish a concrete metric, alleviate unnecessary contention caused by different interpretations of insight, and stimulate new research efforts in some aspects of visualization, such as empirical studies, design optimisation and theories of visualization."



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Thursday, January 22, 2015

For the Love of Capital Income by Paul Krugman

Shorter Glenn Hubbard: Means-tested programs and tax credits are a terrible thing, because benefits that fall when your income rises discourage work. Also, we must save money by means-testing Social Security and Medicare.
The real point, of course, is that Hubbard is defending his pride and joy, the 2003 cuts in tax rates on dividends and long-term capital gains, which were supposedly designed to spur business investment. They didn’t — we have what amounts to a controlled experiment, because the dividend tax cut had no effect on closely held corporations, which can therefore be used as a control group. And what the comparison shows is that the tax cut didn’t boost investment or employment at all — all it did was boost payouts to shareholders.
And who were those shareholders? Glad you asked. According to the Tax Policy Center, two-thirds of the benefits from the dividend tax cut went to the top 1 percent; more than half went to individuals with incomes of more than a million dollars a year.
So who, exactly, has been waging class warfare?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

In State of the Union Speech, Obama Is to Urge Congress to Address Income Inequality - NYTimes.com

In State of the Union Speech, Obama Is to Urge Congress to Address Income Inequality - NYTimes.com:



 "WASHINGTON — President Obama plans to use Tuesday night’s State of the Union address to call on Congress to pivot from an era of terror, war and recession to one of expanding economic opportunity, outlining a wide-ranging agenda intended to address income inequality and help working Americans."



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Inequality

Today President Obama, will address Inequality, in my view the number one problem, facing humanity in the beginning of the Twentieth First Century. Before he starts, I want to explain why.

The Tea Party has different opinions.

It is an issue of human nature, if people are selfish, there is no way out of the current crisis, if we are more socially inclined, there may be a chance of going forward. 

Humans have been throwing carbon up, for at least ten thousand years, this has to stop. The Tea Party members do not understand what I mean by that, Physics Laws are not their forte. This overheated biosphere, has produced nine billion human beings, ready to reproduce, and reach higher numbers. I do not know if that is possible, but I see that, that is what most people, on Earth, are doing, having as many children as they can feed, at the expense of other forms of life.

The economic foundation of this effort, is capitalism, which works almost autonomously, like an economic engine. People with more money, get more, and take over more real state on the surface of the Earth. To me, the Earth looks more like an anthill, than like a City on a Hill, or other religious visions, the human race has created, for at least one hundred thousand years.

Obama only has two years to move his agenda, I expect the next president to be a Republican, with an important control of the Supreme Court, the Lower, and the Upper houses of Congress.

Humanity has been in difficult situations in the past, and our present existence as a civilized species, gives me hope, that we can find a way out, by helping our brothers, and sisters in need.


In State of the Union Speech, Obama Is to Urge a Skeptical Congress to Back Initiatives - NYTimes.com

In State of the Union Speech, Obama Is to Urge a Skeptical Congress to Back Initiatives - NYTimes.com:



"WASHINGTON — President Obama plans to use Tuesday night’s State of the Union address to outline a wide-ranging agenda intended to address income inequality and help Americans afford things like education and child care."



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Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Moral Life of Babies - NYTimes.com

The Moral Life of Babies - NYTimes.com:



"Not long ago, a team of researchers watched a 1-year-old boy take justice into his own hands. The boy had just seen a puppet show in which one puppet played with a ball while interacting with two other puppets. The center puppet would slide the ball to the puppet on the right, who would pass it back. And the center puppet would slide the ball to the puppet on the left . . . who would run away with it. Then the two puppets on the ends were brought down from the stage and set before the toddler. Each was placed next to a pile of treats. At this point, the toddler was asked to take a treat away from one puppet. Like most children in this situation, the boy took it from the pile of the “naughty” one. But this punishment wasn’t enough — he then leaned over and smacked the puppet in the head."



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Friday, January 16, 2015

Currency

Recently Switzerland bankers, decided to stop supporting the Franc against the Euro. Money managers, and speculators did not expect the move. I posted Nobel prize winner Paul Krugman's take on that move. I'm a theoretical physicist, not an economist, but here are my views.

Money is a symbol for economic activity. Gold, is not materially that different from a bank note, or a charge in a circuit kept in a bank. All these different states of objects, are not that much different from the ancestral pile of stones to count sheep. 

The sheep are important, not the stones. 

Thomas Piketty has shown, how some of us have a tendency to accumulate an inordinate amount of stones, thus risking the whole economic game. When I need stones to develop my business, and I cannot get them, my business stalls. I used to think that the whole game was rational, but recent environmental events, and currency crashes, lead me to rethink.

Many money speculators, like Soros, have a theory of mind. They understand how others think, and get handsomely compensated, but what I want to address here is a more serious issue. 

Professor Krugman has been pointing out for some years now, that we are entering a global deflation. Japan was act one. A highly monopolistic society lost its agility. Less money circulating, less demand, and less money circulating. Abenomics is addressing the problem. Fortunately Shinzō Abe was reelected, and there is a chance of seeing his policies working. Nevertheless Krugman warns us about important men who want austerity, austeritarians he calls them. As far as I have understood his argument, they are the ones holding the stones, and do not want to give them back.

In this simplistic view, the solution to the problem which appeared this week, is to give the stones to the rest of us.

Austeritarians be damned. 









Thursday, January 15, 2015

Francs, Fear and Folly

Ah, Switzerland, famed for cuckoo clocks and sound money. Other nations may experiment with radical economic policies, but with the Swiss you don’t get surprises.
Until you do. On Thursday the Swiss National Bank, the equivalent of the Federal Reserve, shocked the financial world with a double whammy, simultaneously abandoning its policy of pegging the Swiss franc to the euro and cutting the interest rate it pays on bank reserves to minus, that’s right, minus 0.75 percent. Market turmoil ensued.
And you should feel a shiver of fear, even if you don’t have any direct financial stake in the value of the franc. For Switzerland’s monetary travails illustrate in miniature just how hard it is to fight the deflationary vortex now dragging down much of the world economy.
What you need to understand is that all the usual rules of economic policy changed when financial crisis struck in 2008; we entered a looking-glass world, and we still haven’t emerged. In many cases, economic virtues became vices: Willingness to save became a drag on investment, fiscal probity a route to stagnation. And in the case of the Swiss, having a reputation for safe banks and sound money became a major liability.
Here’s how it worked: When Greece entered its debt crisis at the end of 2009, and other European nations found themselves under severe stress, money seeking a safe haven began pouring into Switzerland. This in turn sent the Swiss franc soaring, with devastating effects on the competitiveness of Swiss manufacturing, and threatened to push Switzerland — which already had very low inflation and very low interest rates — into Japanese-style deflation.
So Swiss monetary officials went all out in an effort to weaken their currency. You might think that making your currency worth less is easy — can’t you just print more bills? — but in the post-crisis world it’s not easy at all. Just printing money and stuffing it into the banks does nothing; it just sits there. The Swiss tried a more direct approach, selling francs and buying euros on the foreign exchange market, in the process acquiring a huge hoard of euros. But even that wasn’t doing the trick.
Then, in 2011, the Swiss National Bank tried a psychological tactic. “The current massive overvaluation of the Swiss franc,” it declared, “poses an acute threat to the Swiss economy and carries the risk of a deflationary development.” And it therefore announced that it would set a minimum value for the euro — 1.2 Swiss francs — and that to enforce this minimum it was “prepared to buy foreign currency in unlimited quantities.” What the bank clearly hoped was that by drawing this line in the sand it would limit the number of euros it actually had to buy.
And for three years it worked. But on Thursday the Swiss suddenly gave up. We don’t know exactly why; nobody I know believes the official explanation, that it’s a response to a weakening euro. But it seems likely that a fresh wave of safe-haven money was making the effort to keep the franc down too expensive.
If you ask me, the Swiss just made a big mistake. But frankly — francly? — the fate of Switzerland isn’t the important issue. What’s important, instead, is the demonstration of just how hard it is to fight the deflationary forces that are now afflicting much of the world — not just Europe and Japan, butquite possibly China too. And while America has had a pretty good run the past few quarters, it would be foolish to assume that we’re immune.
What this says is that you really, really shouldn’t let yourself get too close to deflation — you might fall in, and then it’s extremely hard to get out. This is one reason that slashing government spending in a depressed economy is such a bad idea: It’s not just the immediate cost in lost jobs, but the increased risk of getting caught in a deflationary trap.
It’s also a reason to be very cautious about raising interest rates when you have low inflation, even if you don’t think deflation is imminent. Right now serious people — the same serious people who decided, wrongly, that 2010 was the year we should pivot from jobs to deficits — seem to be arriving at a consensus that the Fed should start hiking very soon. But why? There’s no sign of accelerating inflation in the actual data, and market indicators of expected inflation are plunging, suggesting that investors see deflationary risk even if the Fed doesn’t.
And I share that market concern. If the U.S. recovery weakens, either through contagion from troubles abroad or because our own fundamentals aren’t as strong as we think, tightening monetary policy could all too easily prove to be an act of utter folly.
So let’s learn from the Swiss. They’ve been careful; they’ve maintained sound money for generations. And now they’re paying the price.

Unprecedented Level of Human Harm to Sea Life Is Forecast - NYTimes.com

Unprecedented Level of Human Harm to Sea Life Is Forecast - NYTimes.com:



 "A team of scientists, in a groundbreaking analysis of data from hundreds of sources, has concluded that humans are on the verge of committing unprecedented damage to the oceans and the animals living in them."



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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

[1501.01866] The Hebrew Bible as Data: Laboratory - Sharing - Experiences

[1501.01866] The Hebrew Bible as Data: Laboratory - Sharing - Experiences:



"The systematic study of ancient texts including their production, transmission and interpretation is greatly aided by the digital methods that started taking off in the 1970s. But how is that research in turn transmitted to new generations of researchers? We tell a story of Bible and computer across the decades and then point out the current challenges: (1) finding a stable data representation for changing methods of computation; (2) sharing results in inter- and intra-disciplinary ways, for reproducibility and cross-fertilization. We report recent developments in meeting these challenges. The scene is the text database of the Hebrew Bible, constructed by the Eep Talstra Centre for Bible and Computer (ETCBC), which is still growing in detail and sophistication. We show how a subtle mix of computational ingredients enable scholars to research the transmission and interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in new ways: (1) a standard data format, Linguistic Annotation Framework (LAF); (2) the methods of scientific computing, made accessible by (interactive) Python and its associated ecosystem. Additionally, we show how these efforts have culminated in the construction of a new, publicly accessible search engine SHEBANQ, where the text of the Hebrew Bible and its underlying data can be queried in a simple, yet powerful query language MQL, and where those queries can be saved and shared."



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