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

Hi, Jorge

Apologies to Elmar; my computer has arbitrarily
decided today that cut and paste is a feature which
does not apply to emails. 

They didn't have sheep or goats in Paupau, New Guinea.
 My uncle went there as an advisor to help them
translate the Bible into their language and would tell
us stories about it.  When the text said, "sheep",
they had to call them "pig dogs", or something like
that.  Perhaps when they reached the critical
separation of the sheep from the goats on Judgement
day, they had "good pig dogs" and "bad pig dogs"; I
don't know. 

As I recall, it was a rather unusual problem in
translation.  Sheep and goats are both quite commonly
distributed, as a general rule.

I think they have sheep and goats on Paupau now.

So you don't think those illustrations of Renaissance
ladies with their Renaissance hairstles locate the
artist/author of the document in Europe?

Ah, now drawing naked ladies and drawing lobsters. . .
two different things entirely!  Smile.
let's not go into the predilections: genetic, hormnal,
and otherwise, that make so many of us prefer one over
the other.  It would be stating the obvious.

I have a photograph of a goat that shows very clearly
the "dew claws"; it is difficult to come up with one
of a sheep which shows clearly their absence, since
they are by definition, absent on a sheep, and a
photograph is two-dimensional.  You say to yourself,
"I can't see anything. . . is it on the other side?" 
Check with a veterinarian if you are not familiar with
the distinction.  Care of those "dew claws" is one of
the duties of goat maintenance.  Sheep have none.  I
can send the "goat" image when I get to the library.

If someone showed me the VMs lion and the VMs
scorpion, without telling me what they were, I could
guess the lion no problem.  But the "scorpion"?  I
could guess all day, and never in my wildest guess
would I mistake that image for an arachnid.  Scorpions
don't have differentiated heads, let alone necks.  And
that leaves out the question of the length and number
of legs altogether.  Perhaps you could try showing it
to a biologist and see what animal he identifies.

Okay, Jorge, I grant your hypothesis if that is what
you believe, but I feel it limits your provenance to a
crippling degree.  A picture is worth a thousand
words.  If this is the best the VMs author can do with
these illustrations, it seems to put the potential
"sense" value of the text one or two notches up from
glossalia.  Once you determine the language, good luck
translating it!  A nonsense source text is notoriusly
difficult to translate into a target language.  

I don't subscribe to your hypothesis, myself.  But at
least I know where you are coming from. 



--- Jorge Stolfi <stolfi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

>   > [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,
> --stolfi
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"I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing, than to teach ten thousand stars how not to dance."

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