Sunday, July 20, 2008

G.M. & Gutenberg's Machine

"We're so used to living with printed matter every day of our lives, from the cereal package in the morning to the book at bedtime, that it might perhaps be rather hard to imagine what the world was like before printing, so we have to come somewhere like here, this monastery ... in a village just a few miles from Mainz where Gutenberg grew up, & this is where, not the printed word, but the written word, was king."

So says Stephen Fry, the narrator for all of the popular Harry Potter films, about 800 seconds into the new 59-minute movie, "The Machine That Made Us" (Wavelength Films Ltd.). You can download the entire 100-Megabyte movie that aired earlier this year on BBC Four television at's site (I'd recommend you begin downloading it now in another window to get a headstart on it; after the page loads, press the viewer's Pause button, & resume reading this blog while it continues to download). It's well worthwhile for anyone interested in the history of the Bible.

Gutenberg didn't really "invent" the press; his chief accomplishment was his streamlining of the entire book-manufacturing process, bringing together movable/recyclable type, paper (from recycled rags), ink, press, & binding. His goal wasn't simply to mass-produce books, so much as to mechanically replicate handmade books. For example, instead of making a single uppercase "G", & a single lowercase "g", he formed about half-a-dozen variants to create what could legitimately be named Artificial Writing, & contemporaries spoke of his trade as the "art of multiplying books".

I've studied Gutenberg a bit, & have seen 2 original Gutenberg Bibles (The Huntington Library's vellum copy, & the Library of Congress (LOC)'s paper copy), several individual leaves ... usually in exhibits behind security glass except one I was allowed the privilege of holding for a few seconds (by a dealer/acquaintance, Dr. Craig Lampe; currently offering 2 for $79k & $119k). I also own 19 facsimile leaves (worth a whopping $19(!); discussed in the book I began writing in the late 1990s prior to becoming involved in LMLK research). Nonetheless, I found this film informative &, to a certain degree, entertaining. I especially liked Fry's observation that Gutenberg's press probably resembled that of a winepress used for squeezing grapes to make wine (another LMLK tie-in).

It was brought to my attention by Kitty Maryatt, Director of the Scripps College Press, Assistant Professor of Art at Scripps, and proprietor of Two Hands Press in Playa Vista, CA. She's been involved in the book arts since 1971 as a calligrapher, book artist, letterpress printer, binder, & teacher. Students in her Scripps class, "Typography and the Book Arts", have developed, written, printed, & bound 42 different editions. As Two Hands Press, she produces work for clients and makes her own one-of-a-kind books. Her credentials & her eloquence are very impressive (pun intended)!

She gave an excellent 1-hour lecture this weekend at The International Printing Museum, located a mere 15-minute drive from where I live here in southern California. I've been a financial supporter of this tremendous institution for over a decade now, & if you're ever visiting the region, I'd highly recommend you center your agenda around it!

Mark Barbour, the Director & Curator, & his docents always make it an entertaining, hands-on learning experience covering the entire history of printing, from cuneiform clay tablets, to Chinese paper-making, to Gutenberg's press (one of the few places in the world where you can see a working replica of one), to the history of printing in America. In particular, with the help of one docent who dresses up as Benjamin Franklin when school children visit on field trips, they emphasize the Revolution era & the Constitutional Convention (the kids get to play politicians from the 12 colonies [noting Rhode Island's absence]).

You can even get an authentic line-of-type cast from molten metal with your name (or any respectable words):

So how do all these topics, a Gutenberg movie, the American Revolution, & a chunk of metal, relate?

Prof. Maryatt's lecture discussed a project she challenged her students with a couple of years ago. Each year they produce their own original book, & in her lecture, she described one involving the replication of an original Gutenberg leaf kept in the Special Collections department of the Scripps College libraries (which are adjacent to, but distinct from, the Claremont School of Theology where I did a significant chunk of my LMLK research).

Here's the ad & abstract for her lecture, "Emulating Gutenberg with B-42 Type":

"This lecture is sponsored by a generous grant for the Book Club of California. Founded in 1912, The Book Club is a non-profit organization of book lovers and collectors who have a special interest in Pacific Coast history, literature, and fine printing. Its chief aims are to further the interests of book collectors and scholars and to promote an understanding and appreciation of fine books.

Ms. Maryatt will discuss her fascinating experiences hand setting a facsimile page of the Gutenberg Bible using Dale Guild Type Foundry’s B-42 type, a faithful re-cutting of the types of Johann Gutenberg, as seen in his monumental 42-line Bibla Sacra, ca. 1455. Production of this font required that 245 characters were drawn, cut and cast.

The Scripps College Press developed an artists' book version of a leaf book. The resulting letterpress edition was called Beorum II, an investigation of risk.

In her lecture, Ms. Maryatt provides an explanation of scribal practices used in medieval books to enhance an understanding of the abbreviations and ligatures in the font. She will also provide information and elaboration related to the printing press, the handmade paper and vellum used for the edition, the decoration and aspects of medieval bookbinding practices and bookselling.

In addition to the lecture and PowerPoint presentation, attendees will have opportunities to see one of the printed pages and see some pieces of the Gutenberg type.

By the way, to inspire comments for this blog, I'd like to encourage my readers to guess why her students titled their book, "Beorum II"!

So while she & her students were busy producing their book in California, Stephen Fry was busy making his film in Europe. About 800 seconds into the film, I noticed a red flag in his research while he was in the basement of The British Library & stated, "They hold a copy of every book published in English!"

That may just be a little of his British pride peeping through his script, because all librarians know that our beloved LOC (founded on the great Thomas Jefferson's collection) has more books (20 to 30 million) than any other library in the history of the world has ever had, including a copy of my LMLK vol. 1, which is also in Harvard University's research library, but not in the British Library (which only has a paltry 13 million ... about half of LOC's)!

(Note to any librarian of the British Library reading my blog ... publicly admit that the LOC's books outnumber your own, & I'll send you a free copy of Lv1 to help your institution's card catalog evolve!)

During her lecture, Prof. Maryatt mentioned the movie was a documentary in which they were attempting to teach Gutenberg's achievement by building their own version of his press in order to reprint a page of his Latin Bible. They successfully built the press & made some rag-paper, but they lacked the letter-type that Scripps College had invested in (I think she said it cost in excess of $5,000).

I did not bring my high-quality camera along with me, but when I saw the actual type after her lecture, I found it so mesmerizing that I had to go out to my car & retrieve my cellphone, & use its built-in low-quality camera to take a picture of it. Even though the photo turned out fuzzy, I thought it would be nice to include it here since I don't usually include photos in most of my blogs:

I suppose that what fascinated me the most was imagining what it would've been like to see the original type some 550 years ago, the first time it had been arranged in the case like this, awaiting to print the first page of a Holy Bible!

When she showed one of the pages printed & hand-illuminated by her students side-by-side with a Xerox-copy of the original leaf, it was truly amazing! Gutenberg had printed his on slightly moist paper, or in a very humid environment, because the pressing operation caused some of the letters to bleed ink, resulting in a slightly smudgy appearance under high magnification. In fact, in one letter she zoomed in on during her slideshow, you could clearly see the outline of the original type within the puddle of ink since it was a shallower puddle of ink than the adjacent area it bled into. So side-by-side, the letters printed by her students were crystal clear:

It was a remarkable achievement, because not only did they have to identify the numerous versions of letters that Gutenberg originally cast (at least 270 variants identified by one researcher), but they also had to justify the columns & add filler material between the letters to maintain the same spacing!

46 minutes into the film, after outlining Gutenberg's history, his culture, & replicating a wooden press, & manufacturing a piece of paper & a single piece of type (a lowercase "e"), Stephen Fry brings us to the film's climax:

"The great day's arrived! It's been 5 months since Alan [May] first got together his plans & designed his printing press. It's now built, type has been made in Basel, I've cast the type personally, nothing can stop us from printing a page of Gutenberg text! This must be how the great man felt, himself! [begin voice-over] Before we start printing, I have a little confession to make: It took Stan [Nelson] & me the best part of a day to make just one individual letter, 'e'. To produce all the type needed to print a full Bible, probably took Gutenberg's team around a year, & frankly I don't have his time or his patience, so I cheated. This package has come from the States. It's a replica page of type set to the exact measurements of a Gutenberg original, & thankfully, nothing's been damaged in transit. [end voice-over] So this is ... [shakes his head in awestruck disbelief after opening the package sent by Prof. Maryatt of Scripps College] ... so this is perfect, isn't it?! We can print from these?!"

Well, you can watch the film to see for yourself if Fry & his team were successful in printing a Gutenberg leaf the old-fashioned way (not the way my 19 facsimiles were printed using photolithography); however, one thing you won't learn from the film, even from the credits that run during the final minute, is who made the type & loaned it to them! Those words crediting those persons are completely missing! I WAS SHOCKED! Those ungrateful British rats!!! They didn't mention Scripps College, Kitty Maryatt, or her students ... they didn't even mention California!

It's as if, "We were up against a dead end, & all we could print was one stupid letter made in Europe, then lo & behold, out of nowhere, a miracle happened, & this humble package came knocking on our door at just the right time, with all the letters from an original leaf of the Gutenberg Bible meticulously manufactured & arranged like they were 550 years ago ... wow, aren't we a lucky bunch of chaps, yes we are indeed..."

Shame on you Stephen Fry!

Shame on you Wavelength Films Ltd.!

So I'm deliberately going to go through great lengths to give Prof. Maryatt & her students some well-deserved attention & credit where it's due. Using Google, I found hundreds of sites discussing this film, but only a single page mentioning their contribution (the Chesapeake Chapter of The American Printing History Association's December 2007 Member News entry by Stan Nelson, who appeared in the film, credited as a "printing historian (type maker)").

So here's a screen-shot of Fry & 2 others on his team opening the package sent by Kitty Maryatt on behalf of Scripps College in California:

Here's the typecast-page as they remove it from the package sent by Kitty Maryatt on behalf of Scripps College in California:

Here's a close-up of the typecast-page made in America by Kitty Maryatt & her students at Scripps College (a much better quality photo of it than I was able to take at the museum):

Here's Stephen Fry's guilty British fingers holding up the single version of a single European letter that he made:

Here's Stan Nelson's innocent fingers inserting the single version of a single letter that Stephen Fry made into the middle of the entire typecast-page made in God bless America by Kitty Maryatt & her students at Scripps College:

By the way, thanks to BBC Four (notice their watermark near the top-left corner of each of these lo-res screen-shots) for originally airing this film on April 14th, & for allowing me to use these screen-shots (whether they want me to or not) to give credit where credit is due.

For additional unbiased info, please refer to the film's entry in the Internet Movie DataBase.

Song of the week: "Words" by Missing Persons (click the song title to visit Amazon; click here for a 30-second sample; 394kb).
G.M. Grena

Chephirah–The Biblical Village Roars Again, 176 views
Royal Banquine, 79 views
Checkmate, 36 views

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bugged by a Savage

Over the past couple of years that I've been studying the Evolution/Creation debate, I've seen interesting articles in Photonics Spectra (PS) magazine. I cited one here on my blog back in May, & also in my 2007 book (p. 76). On several occasions, I've torn pages out, & forwarded them to friends including CMI for consideration if/when they develop new Moments. I've been a PS subscriber since I first worked on lasers in 2003. It's a great resource, & anyone interested in the field of optics would do well to subscribe.

The July 2008 issue contains another candidate I'll be sending to CMI. It's on p. 124 in the Peregrinations section by Lynn M. Savage titled "Supercomputing May Require Bugs". Aside from the clever/catchy title, what got my attention & what justifies its mention here in my royal blog is that the "bug" in question is a special little beetle/scarab. Here's the tease:

"The ultimate photonic crystal would manipulate light so efficiently that high-speed computers operating purely on photons could become reality. The perfect photonic crystal should have the same overall structure as that formed by carbon atoms in a diamond, just not as tightly packed together. No such man-made crystal operating at visible wavelengths exists yet... Nature, however, ... has made many structures unmatched by human engineers, & so it has apparently devised a photonic crystal in the form of the scales of th[is] beetle."

The species in question is Lamprocyphus augustus. You can see an excellent photo of one captured by the beautiful Barbara Strnadova at God of Insects (a company that specializes in arthropods; not an actual deity; their Museum is a terrific online resource for Scarabaeoidea-stuff). The article by Savage is just an attention-getter for the real scientific article published back in May, "Discovery of a Diamond-based Photonic Crystal Structure in Beetle Scales" by Jeremy W. Galusha, Lauren R. Richey, John S. Gardner, Jennifer N. Cha, & Michael H. Bartl (Physical Review E 77, 050904 [2008]). Here's its abstract:

"We investigated the photonic crystal structure inside iridescent scales of the weevil Lamprocyphus augustus. By combining a high-resolution structure analysis technique based on sequential focused ion beam milling and scanning electron microscopy imaging with theoretical modeling and photonic band-structure calculations, we discovered a natural three-dimensional photonic structure with a diamond-based crystal lattice operating at visible wavelengths. Moreover, we found that within individual scales, the diamond-based structure is assembled in the form of differently oriented single-crystalline micrometer-sized pixels with only selected lattice planes facing the scales’ top surface. A comparison of results obtained from optical microreflectance measurements with photonic band-structure calculations reveals that it is this sophisticated microassembly of the diamond-based crystal lattice that lends Lamprocyphus augustus its macroscopically near angle-independent green coloration."

Here are 2 other links for further reading (the one by PS is not online yet):

I appreciate the objectivity in the abstract. Compare "lattice operating", "structure is assembled", & "this sophisticated microassembly" to "Nature ... has made" & "[Nature...] has apparently devised". I haven't purchased the original article, but I hope Galusha et al. maintained their objectivity such that the credit for this animal's origin can be attributed to the Biblical God or Nature or any deity of your choice.

This deification/anthropomorphizing of Nature ... this deliberate assigning of deliberate skills to an unintelligent, abstract entity is typical of people who don't understand the Evolution/Creation debate. Take, for example, the Chairman/CEO of PS's publisher (Laurin Publishing), Teddi C. Laurin.

She kicks off this same July 2008 issue with an editorial entitled "The Science of Scheming" (p. 10; note to the editor: you forgot a period at the end of the 1st paragraph). She notes the upcoming anniversary of Darwin's 200th birthday next February, & says, "[I]n what is best described as a masterful public relations campaign, creationists & intelligent design proponents in this country have modified their fight with language designed to bypass court rulings that heretofore have prohibited the teaching of creationism in public schools."

Boy, there's irony for ya. Here's a woman who chairs a major scientific publication using language designed to bypass the scientific method, pointing an editorial finger at people like me (i.e., scientists) who dare to ask for proof of how "Nature ... has made", & question whether "[Nature...] has apparently devised".

Who is Teddi C. Laurin to tell us that an inanimate entity has made or devised anything? Where's the scientific proof of that statement? Where are the documented laboratory experiments that show random pieces of chitin becoming assembled & oriented in a way that's yet-to-be-matched by intelligent humans with access to billions of dollars' worth of opto/electro-mechanical equipment?

She goes on to guess at the "strategy" employed by creationists: "Including the 'strengths & weaknesses' of science in the classroom as a means of undermining the teaching of evolution."

It's amazing how similar this situation is to 14th/15th/16th-century Catholics in fear of Protestants learning how to read the Bible in their own languages & think for themselves. Don't they know God doesn't want any worshippers who don't speak Latin & don't believe in Transubstantiation?!?! Don't Americans know that you can't learn Science if you don't anthropomorphize Nature & believe in Evolution?!?!

Laurin laments that "in Florida classrooms, evolution is being described as a scientific theory at a time when evolution has progressed well beyond theory." According to the scientific method, after Idea comes Hypothesis, then Theory, then Law. There are no in-betweens, so Laurin is essentially touting Evolution as a Law on equal standing with Gravity & Biogenesis (which contradicts the foundation of Evolution by the way ... but I doubt Laurin has ever stopped to ponder this possibility).

Is there any other scientific idea touted as a legitimate theory like Evolution, that is not allowed to have its weaknesses presented alongside its strengths? Ain't objective scientists supposed to be busy falsifying (i.e., trying to disprove) theories, rather than GUARDING them like as if they're a precious little orphan found floating in an ark of bulrushes?

The obvious reason evolutionists don't want their weaknesses mentioned (let alone taught formally in a classroom) is that it's a faith-based religion (Evolutionism or Darwinism; take your pick), & its adherents subconsciously lack confidence in it. At least that's my explanation of this phenomenon so vividly demonstrated by Laurin.

She shows a fundamental misunderstanding of this word, "religion", by asserting, "By including these words of skepticism, education boards could be encouraged to allow discourse on religious objections in the teaching of evolution."

Dear Ms. Laurin, if your beloved Evolution could be proved or demonstrated in a classroom, why would anyone object to it?

In other words, what she's suggesting is that it's better to force-feed students an all-encompassing, all-positive, godless explanation of nature (in this country founded on a firm belief in nature's God, as articulated back in July of 1776), than to allow them to hear about the fact that there is no scientific proof of Macro-evolution (the real issue, since no creationist disputes Micro-evolution, which is simply environmental adaptation via genetic diversity).

Instead of limiting Biology classes to the teaching of things we know & can demonstrate via scientific observation, it's better (per Laurin) to brainchain them into thinking that random activity has produced complex structures like the chitin-based scales on Lamprocyphus augustus (not to mention the full bug itself).

Well, Laurin's opinion is nonsensical, & further damages impressionable young minds that peruse the pages of PS. But for those who think I'm being harsh in accusing her of causing damage & being negligent with regard to the information presented in her publication, don't worry, because she & her organization couldn't care less!

Laurin Publishing, which also includes Francis T. Laurin as President, Thomas F. Laurin as Executive Vice President, & Wendy A. Laurin as Vice President/Group Publisher, includes an interesting disclaimer on their credit-page:

"Laurin Publishing does not assume & hereby disclaims any liability to any person for any loss or damage caused by errors or omissions in the material contained herein, regardless of whether such errors result from negligence, accident or any other cause whatsoever."

Any other cause? Such as deliberate action? Like telling readers an inanimate entity has made/devised something intricate & complex? Boy, there's a responsible scientific organization for ya. I guess that in other words, since everything evolved randomly, & we're part of everything, then nothing really matters if Laurin's information causes any loss or damage to anyone or anything thank you have a nice day.

Yes, let's keep Religion away from Science, what with all its inconvenient ethics, responsibility, moral conscience, & such. According to Laurin Publishing, the supreme law is Evolution.

Evolutionists, particularly atheists, frequently deny engaging in religious/worship activity/rituals. Laurin concludes her editorial by encouraging scientists with this innocent plea, "It behooves us as an international scientific community to maintain the purity of science in the classroom by acknowledging & supporting the pending Darwin anniversaries & events."

Wasn't a certain type of scientific "purity" a formal policy in Nazi Germany?

"The Science of Scheming" indeed.

Song of the week: "I'm Beginning To See The Light" by Bert Kaempfert (CD not available on Amazon; click here for a 25-second sample; 328kb; I would upload the entire song but I, a scientist & publisher, actually feel a sense of responsibility for my actions, unlike some science-publishers I know).
G.M. Grena

Chephirah–The Biblical Village Roars Again, 176 views
Royal Banquine, 79 views
Checkmate, 36 views

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Double Portion (p. 1)

God is still out there, & so are LMLK handles.

In May, the division of the company I had been working at was purchased by their Canadian competitor. The new American place is named CDU. On Tuesday I had to miss a little work to take my car in for major service due to a mysterious loss of coolant; instead of a puddle in my parking space, my engine emitted a burnt-fluid smell. It turns out that both of my head gaskets were blown (I didn't even know my engine had more than 1 head gasket), & I had to get a rental car for a couple of days.

Regular California license plates for cars contain a number, 3 letters, & 3 numbers. There are probably a dozen or so 3-letter combinations that have easily recognizable meaning for me. Ditto for 3-digit numbers. The only car available on this occasion at the agency next to the car dealership, spelled the 3-letter acronym for the company I'm working at, & the 3-digit number was "483" (the somewhat-official classification number assigned to Rosette seals by Olga Tufnell):

The odds of the letters & numbers randomly combining to form something doubly meaningful to me are rather staggering. I didn't major in math, but I'm guessing the odds are in the neighborhood of a million-to-one. Atheistic evolutionists look at what-they-believe-to-be early forms of life & say, "It just happened." I look at the combination of symbols on this license plate & say, "It's just God!"

Until moving to this new company recently, I haven't had the ability to check my personal E-mail during the day, but today I arrived a little bit late after returning the rental car, & checked my mail since I suspected I'd be in a lab most of the morning.

5 minutes earlier, I had received the following message, which I'll keep anonymous with clues censored for reasons that will be plain (my censorings are in brackets; the ellipses were in the original message):

At the request of the excavation director, I have deleted the 2nd half of this message less than one day after posting it.

So now we wait...

"I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me."--2Kings 2:9 (2+9=11)

Song of the week: "Giza" by HSAS (click the song title to visit Amazon; click here for a 25-second sample; 328kb).
G.M. Grena

Chephirah–The Biblical Village Roars Again, 176 views
Royal Banquine, 79 views
Checkmate, 35 views