Sunday, August 18, 2013

Week in Links (The 'These Lingonberry-Flavored Meatballs are Not Halal' Edition)

It takes some serious balls, and not in a good way, for a graduate student to write a review like this. The author's response follows, and as an example of the author-response genre, which is usually never good even when the review is egregious, it's not half bad.

The Experience of Beauty in the Middle Ages

This is a really interesting look at some of the very the complex religious and linguistic issues that were raised when a judge in Tennessee forcibly changed a boy's name from Messiah to Martin, ruling that "“The word ‘Messiah’ is a title, and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ.” Of particular interest to me are the First Amendment questions and the use of Hebrew theophoric elements in Spanish names.

In God's Name

How cool that there's a Hebrew-language bilingual academy opening in Harlem! The article, though, made me a bit sad with its interview of a prospective parent who commented, oh-so-ahistorically that "African-Americans and Jews, it seems like a world apart, but we are pretty much the same." The affinity is well and good, but the neglect of the historic 20th-century relationship between many African-American and Jewish communities shows how quickly we all forget.

Hebrew — In Harlem It's Not Just for Jews Anymore

Sometimes Slate publishes really interesting material and sometimes they completely fall flat. This week they managed the latter. The headline of this map is actually as it appears below, and a series of caveats appears in response to the asterisk.  I looked at the map before I read the caveats and wondered why a whole bunch of Indian Ocean islands that are documented in Genizah and other medieval Arabic trade sources were listed as having been unknown to humans before the European Age of Exploration. And then I noticed that one of the footnotes excepted Arab seafaring merchants from the category of humans. The concept for the infographic was great and potentially really interesting but the execution pretty poor.

Actual European Discoveries: Land Unknown to Humans* Before the Age of Exploration.

And, because you always hear about interesting things while at parties with lots of overeducated nerds. It's not news this week except to me — just about twenty years old, in fact — but apparently there are some German historians who think that the seventh through tenth centuries never happened but rather were a vast conspiracy cooked up by the Catholic Church, and that we are actually now in the year 1716:

The Phantom Time Hypothesis

Also not news, but sent to me by a colleague when I mentioned that Nazis had blown up my books:

Books for Victory

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