Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Chinese/Italian Renaissance

Today, July 29, 2008

Train trestle over Sacramento river 7/29/08
The sky was gray with smoke again today. Down by the river it was 89°.

Checking out the blackberries 7/29/08
There was a nice breeze blowing by the river, and as I got close to the bank, I noticed that the blackberries were beginning to ripen.
A few people were out roller blading, bicycling, and strolling along the river trail. It was a quiet day at Caldwell park, probably because of the advisory about the air quality.
This is from the Redding Record Searchlight, newspaper;

On Monday, air quality was listed as good, but Brenda Belongie, a forecaster for the Redding Fire Weather Center, said smoke should roll in again on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, doctors advise those sensitive to bad air to follow what's become a mantra in the local press since the fires erupted:

Stay indoors and avoid strenuous activity.

I decided to go back home and check the news on the computer. There was an earthquake in SoCal, no big deal.

Earthquake today

Earthquake video

While I was reading the news from Reuters, there was a story about the W.T.O. talks falling apart. Included in the agreements that fell through was this about Ecuador;

GENEVA (Reuters) - A deal to settle a historic row over trade in bananas between Latin American exporters and the European Union is off after the failure of broader world trade talks on Tuesday, European trade officials said.

The world's top banana exporter, Ecuador, reacted angrily and demanded that the EU stick to the agreement to slash its import tariffs on bananas. Europe is Ecuador's biggest market for banana exports.

I wonder if this will affect the cost of bananas at the 99¢ store? At the moment I can buy a bunch of bananas for, (You guessed it!), 99¢.

I also found this next story while looking at news on the net. Just when you begin to think you know your history, you find that the renaissance was actually started by the Chinese!

Gavin Menzies sparked headlines across the globe in 2002 with the claim that Chinese sailors reached America 70 years before Christopher Columbus.

Now he says a Chinese fleet brought encyclopedias of technology undiscovered by the West to Italy in 1434, laying the foundation for the engineering marvels such as flying machines later drawn by Italian polymath Leonardo.

"Everything known to the Chinese by the year 1430 was brought to Venice," said Menzies, a retired Royal Navy submarine commander, in an interview at his north London home.

From Venice, a Chinese ambassador went to Florence and presented the material to Pope Eugenius IV, Menzies says.

"I argue in the book that this was the spark that really ignited the renaissance and that Leonardo and (Italian astronomer) Galileo built on what was brought to them by the Chinese.

"Leonardo basically redrew everything in three dimensions, which made a vast improvement."

If accepted, the claim would force an "agonizing reappraisal of the Eurocentric view of history", Menzies says in his book "1434: The Year A Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed To Italy and Ignited The Renaissance".

Whew, that calls for a moment to pause and reflect.

Sacramento river 7/29/08
Since I am indoors now, I can take a deep breath and move to a different story.
I like to read stuff like the following;
Published: July 29, 2008

It is well known that panes of stained glass in old European churches are thicker at the bottom because glass is a slow-moving liquid that flows downward over centuries.

Well known, but wrong. Medieval stained glass makers were simply unable to make perfectly flat panes, and the windows were just as unevenly thick when new.

The tale contains a grain of truth about glass resembling a liquid, however. The arrangement of atoms and molecules in glass is indistinguishable from that of a liquid. But how can a liquid be as strikingly hard as glass?

Glass, Up Close

Molecules, panes and a glob.
There was much more on the properties of glass and the variation of molecular structure in glass that is cooled down quickly vs. slowly, but you can read Kenneth Chang at your leisure in the New York Times.

I found the following good news while reading the technical sites;

The NFL and NBC are teaming up to stream 17 regular season games with additional content, and it won’t cost you a penny.

I like this because I don't use cable or satellite to get TV. I watch regular broadcast signals that I pick up with rabbit ears. I have to say that the new digital broadcasting is terrific. The picture is perfect and the sound is Dolby 5.1 digital sound. I use the coaxial output from the TV into my stereo and the sound is outstanding. (To my ear, the speakers on television sets are woefully limited.) But I stray from the topic of football.

I really enjoy watching NFL football, and if I can watch extra games on my computer, (With the sound going through the stereo.), this season should be a lot of fun.

Life is good here in Redding.

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