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VMs: Re: [VMS] Goat vs. sheep, Sagittarius

  > [Pam:] I could be wrong, but does anyone deeply care what someone
  > who does not know the difference between a goat and a sheep thinks
  > of cosmology? Someone who ... is ignorant of the myth of the
  > centaur. ... is going to reveal some great secret of what value?
Well, I don't think that those who *do* know the myth of the centaur
are better qualified on that account, either. In fact, many
intellectual revolutions were started by people who, for being
"outsiders", had not been brainwashed with the "established truth"
and thus approached an old problem from a completely new angle.

Anyway, I do not have great expectations about the contents of the
VMS. At best, it will contain the same mix of obsolete and useless
knowledge, misinformation, superstition, silly speculation, and
charlatanery that one finds in most other similar books of the period.
The chances that it says anything that is both valid and original are
zilch squared, IMHO.

However, the contents may have *historical* value, depending on who
wrote it and where. Also, if the plaintext turns out to be a phonetic
record of some extinct or exotic language, it may be of great value to
linguists. (AFAIK, for most East Asian languages, there are very few
clues about how they sounded 500 years ago.)

  > [or] can't count the number of legs on a scorpion
  > And this person is so adept at codes that even computers can't
  > crack his codes? It seems unlikely. But perhaps I have put
  > cryptologists on too high a pedestal. Grin.

Well, I believe that the VMS is not encrypted at all. Or, rather,
that is it encrypted with a diabolically complicated type of code,
which makes all military ciphers seem like kindergarten riddles, and
which neither computers nor cryptographers will ever be able to
crack -- the type known as "natural language". 

Now the funny thing about that kind of code is that some people
can run the encoding algorithm on their heads, as fast as they
can write.  Even some children who have never seen a scorpion..

  > And it seems to me the more "poor" and "backward" this person is,
  > the more likely he is to have come into contact with sheep and
  > goats, and to be able to distinguish them from one another.
Would he really? Goats are hardy and thrive on scraps, thus found
everywhere, but is that true of sheep? Could sheep be absent from,
say, an entire province?

By the way, I once wondered whether the VMS sheep/goats had
anatomically correct legs --- but I could not find any picture that
would answer the question. Would someone...?

  > Can we put our heads together and postulate a culture
  > where they never see scorpions (that's North), do know
  > what lions look like (that's South), and can't tell
  > the difference between goats and sheep (that's New
  > York City!)?
The Lion doesn't count -- there were none in Europe, yet every
European child would know what they looked like. Besides, the VMS
picture is not a very convincing /Felix leo/, is it? So if it counts,
it is the othe way.

The VMS scorpion is really amazing; it would seem that all the artist
knew was that is was a scary animal with a long tail. Perhaps he
confused it with a chamaleon or an iguana? It could be another
constellation altogether, which, by luck, was an animal, too --- but
which one?

  > Oh, and also their technology does not include scales with level
  > plates; the trays on the scales need to resemble ladles.
Yet the beam is drawn with uncommon detail -- so it seems that the
author was quite familiar with the object.  

The format of the "plates" may be unusual, but they may be appropriate
for weighting things like flour, ores, gold, etc.
  > If the duplication of "zodiac" figures means nothing, why do we
  > only find one lion, one hunter, and one maiden? Why not two of
  > each? Really, it's easier to just get by with one, particularly
  > when drawing a lobster. Give it a try; go on! Grin.
I *did* try something of the sort:
And you know what? It was fun, I would have drawn even more nymphs 
if I had the space... Grin too.

As for why Cancer and Pisces but not Leo -- well, if those are crayFISH,
there would be some logic to it, wouldn it? Grin again...

  > [Jacques Guy:] Just to be my usual pest, Jorge, allow me to point
  > out that, in Mandarin, "goat" is shan1yang2, literally: "mountain
  > sheep".

Well, you said that, not me... ;-)

All the best,

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