My dad’s new CD just came out and it is HOT! If you like Latin music, Click on the photograph, listen to the samples and buy some MP3′s in time for the summer!
My dad’s new CD just came out and it is HOT! If you like Latin music, Click on the photograph, listen to the samples and buy some MP3′s in time for the summer!
In the past year, a great deal of discussion has arisen concerning the subject of access to scientific articles based on research which was paid for by taxpayers. Quite a bit of this discussion can be found on the Doug’s Archaeology” blog.
Well, someone posted a petition to the White House “We the people” website, where the White House has committed to responding to questions/issues raised which receive a certain number of signatures. The petition in question was:
And it generated 65,704 electronic signatures.
Well, today, a response written by Dr. John Holdren of the Office of Science and Technology. (If you click on the link above you can read both the petition and the response). While it is a great start, I don’t think it goes far enough. The Office of Science and Technology issued a memorandum which states:
“The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) hereby directs each Federal agency with
over $100 million in annual conduct of research and development expenditures to develop a plan
to support increased public access to the results of research funded by the Federal Government.
This includes any results published in peer-reviewed scholarly publications that are based on
research that directly arises from Federal funds, as defined in relevant OMB circulars (e.g., A-21
and A-11). It is preferred that agencies work together, where appropriate, to develop these plans.”
Why set the bar so high? Why $100 million?
Anyway, a move in the right direction!
I live in what is supposed to be the greatest nation in the world. The biggest, best equipped military, incredible infrastructure and one of the oldest most advance Postal Services in the world.
Yet, I can not get my mail. Why? Good question. Last week I did not get my mail. When I called, I was eventually told on Monday that the “truck” had broken down and that for two days they had no way of delivering my mail to my Post Office (I have a P.O. Box).
The next day, I STILL was not getting all of my mail. I FINALLY reached Ms. Sweat and even her supervisor and was informed that they have cut staff and that the main Post Office for my area is running on a skeleton crew. Basically, I will get my mail when I get my mail.
Today, Ms. Sweat is off and her supervisor does not take my calls. Mail still has not arrived at my Post Office. I suspect that they have gone back to riding donkeys and their new excuse is that today it had colic.
For several years service at the USPS has gone from bad to worse. I have had major thefts in the mail, delays in receiving packages and mail and an overall attitude that no one cares. Even the District Office has a recording that they are busy, to call back tomorrow (Why don’t you call it and see if YOU can reach someone: 212-330-3667)
I don’t live in a tiny town in the middle of Anywhere USA. I live in New York City, Manhattan. The “capital of the world”.
Information on the campaign:
CoinProject.com is the first truly collaborative, non-commercial educational website that uses numismatics (study of coins) as an aid in the study of history and historic events spanning the period of time during which coinage has been produced (just under three thousand years). It encompasses thousands of issuing authorities, cultures, languages and civilizations starting in the seven century BC through modern times. CoinProject was formed and is managed by a team of just over 100 volunteers (and growing). We are looking to incorporate more content such as:
Biographical data for each region, city and issuing authority. (For examples see:http://coinproject.com/search_emperor.php?emp=Vespasian&city=&type=3 and http://coinproject.com/search_emperor.php?emp=Aelia-Flaccilla&city=&type=3) *NOTE: These two contain SOME sample data only.*
Period specific maps (For examples see: http://coinproject.com/search_city_result.php?city=Mallus®ion=CILICIA&type=1)
A bibliography sorted by region, city and issuing authority covering numismatic, historic and archaeological publications, papers and articles.
User contributed content (moderated)
Discussion forums tied to specific categories for scholarly discussion and debate
Contributors to this fund will be assisting us in upgrading our server, cover the programming expenses to develop new features and functionality and resolving bugs, pay for the first year of co-location services and register as a not-for-profit 501(c3) corporation.
We would like to raise $8,160 USD (or more) in funding to complete these tasks. Here’s where the money will be going:
If we fail to reach our overall goal then the amount of funds we receive will be used to fund items in the order listed above. If we exceed our goal, additional funds will go towards paying for more months of service and hiring the programmer. If we collect enough funds we will begin work on a much more ambitious project of creating a numismatic font of characters and symbols which is Unicode compliant. (We already have a number of fonts which we can use, but they require conversion so that they are unicode compliant)
As the first non-commercial collaborative and educational numismatic and quite possibly one of the first collaborative scholarly efforts we depend on voluntary contributions to exist.
So far CoinProject.com has been of value to authors of scholarly books and articles, at least one post doctorate student working on their thesis in Spain, dozens of students doing research and collectors and numismatists from literally hundreds of countries visit the site daily. Our potential is only limited by the resources we have available to properly develop the tools and website offered to the public.
Every dollar (or Euro) counts. As a volunteer effort, we appreciate whatever our users are willing to contribute.
CoinProject.com has reached a major milestone and has passed 50,000 approved records.
Over the past two months we have been working hard to add as many unique coin types which were missing from the database. As of this evening, our count is at 50,395 approved records.
I would like to share some of the statistics for a selection of Roman Imperial issuers:
|ISSUER||NO. OF COINS IN CP||UNIQUE RIC #’s||RIC #’s IN CP||% IN CP||VAR’s IN CP||RIC UNLISTED IN CP|
Please consider uploading any coins you have in your collection if you see that they are not represented on CoinProject.
We can also use volunteers to help us manually add records to the site, edit the entries and approve them. We have located hundreds of other examples which we are missing and could use as much help as possible. While we may have pretty much exhausted all publicly available sources for coin types of Crispus, our Domitian moderator has only just begun to add new records. As for Augustus, I have been adding new coins as time permits and hope to have another 50-100 added shortly.
A friend was trying to convince me that I really should have built CoinProject.com around Flickr. While I feel that Flickr is an excellent service for individuals and perhaps for small businesses, I have always had serious reservations about using it for larger projects. I also have some issues with using it for a non-commercial website.
Let me be clear that I am not criticizing others for using Flickr. For some that use Flickr it is ideal. It provides them with the tools to get a searchable website up and running with little investment. The following are my reasons for not going the route of using Flickr and I really welcome discussion on the subject because it seems that major new projects are going the route of using Flickr.
I have three main reasons why I did not go the Flickr route:
1. My biggest argument for not doing so has always been that in using someone else’s resources and/or service you lose control. I lose control over “our” data. If Flickr were to disappear a year from now, or made a major technical change, it would mean downtime and a big expense. With Yahoo (the owners of Flickr) facing financial “challenges”, there are no real guarantees that the service will be continued indefinitely or that it will continue to be free and/or low cost. Any plans that we set into motion must be long term, especially considering that every programming change made to CoinProject incurs a cost. It is impossible to predict where Flickr will be five or ten years from now. While we are at it, if Flickr were to disappear, there are no guarantees that much (or any) notice would be given. Vital services such as telephone services have been cut off overnight when companies have decided to “discontinue providing services” and telephone service providers are highly regulated!
2. We do not own the rights to the photographs we use on CoinProject.com. One of the rules for Flickr state: “Don’t upload anything that isn’t yours. This includes other people’s photos, video, and/or stuff you’ve copied or collected from around the Internet. Accounts that consist primarily of such collections may be deleted at any time.” We have permission to use the photos we have on CoinProject, but this permission has been generously granted to us for use on Coinproject, not on a commercial site (Flickr)
3. In Flickr’s Terms of Services it says that we would be granting them “worldwide, royalty-free and non-exclusive license(s), as applicable:… to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publicly perform and publicly display such Content on the Yahoo! Services solely for the purposes of providing and promoting the specific Yahoo! Group to which such Content was submitted or made available”. (Full text below) This is problematic in that I have no control over what changes Flickr plans to make in the future or how they will use “our” images to promote their services. They already incorporated Getty images into Flickr. Granted, Flickr’s terms are actually very “friendly”, but I still do not own the rights to these photographs and quite frankly, I am not a lawyer and could not guarantee that there were not some kind of “loop hole” granting a third party rights which I do not have authorization to extend.
Granted, other organizations have much deeper pockets and personnel that are dedicated to the maintenance and development of their websites. While I felt that Flickr was not an option for CoinProject, it may very well be an excellent solution for others. In fact, there are other sites that use Flickr and they have not had any problems (yet). Then you have individuals that own the rights to all of their images or the overall number of photographs is minimal.
The bottom line for me is, if at all possible, I prefer not to depend on third party services or resources which I have no control over. Our volunteers have put in thousands of hours into CoinProject and I feel a responsibility to them.
The Flickr terms of service which I discuss above:
“CONTENT SUBMITTED OR MADE AVAILABLE FOR INCLUSION ON THE YAHOO! SERVICES
Yahoo! does not claim ownership of Content you submit or make available for inclusion on the Yahoo! Services. However, with respect to Content you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Yahoo! Services, you grant Yahoo! the following worldwide, royalty-free and non-exclusive license(s), as applicable:
“Publicly accessible” areas of the Yahoo! Services are those areas of the Yahoo! network of properties that are intended by Yahoo! to be available to the general public. By way of example, publicly accessible areas of the Yahoo! Services would include Yahoo! Message Boards and portions of Yahoo! Groups and Flickr that are open to both members and visitors. However, publicly accessible areas of the Yahoo! Services would not include portions of Yahoo! Groups that are limited to members, Yahoo! services intended for private communication such as Yahoo! Mail or Yahoo! Messenger, or areas off of the Yahoo! network of properties such as portions of World Wide Web sites that are accessible via hypertext or other links but are not hosted or served by Yahoo!.”
With the global financial crisis affecting the European Union particularly hard, there has been a great deal of talk of how archaeological and historic sites and structures have suffered due to major budget cuts. An article in The Star, Europe for sale: A controversial bailout for European treasures it comments:
“Two years into Europe’s financial crisis, which has governments slashing spending in a bid to tame runaway debts, the region is facing a cultural calamity for which there is no emergency bailout fund. Historical buildings, churches, monuments, bridges, barracks, archeological ruins and other sites are disintegrating from neglect.
Local governments, desperate to find a way to preserve these sites before it is too late, are making up for budget shortfalls by hanging ads, selling off usage rights and, in some cases, putting the structures themselves on the market.”
This begs the question- Why?
With hundreds of millions of Euros worth of coins and minor antiquities which will never see the light of day, why are they not considering selling off holdings which are of little importance? This will serve four purposes:
1. Raise much needed funds to preserve structures, items and museums.
2. Raise much needed funds to fund archaeological and historical projects and programs.
3. Reduce the overall cost of storing, maintaining and otherwise caring for millions of items.
4. Make the public aware of the problems, giving them an opportunity to have a stake in the health of their local archaeological and historic programs. Something of little importance to a museum or archaeologists is a treasure to a collector. Having it come with the much discussed “provenance” stating which dig/museum/institution it came from and what it’s purchase helped fund is an excellent way to ensure that future generations have an interest in preserving the past.
When I was a child and I entered the museum gift shop, the first thing that drew my attention were the fossilized shark teeth, semi-precious minerals and other “real” items for sale. I strongly believe that being able to hold these items in my hands for hours and using my imagination, sparked a love for history and science.
On a recent visit to the American Museum of Natural History, I was glad to see that they still had these items for sale. My oldest daughter was a part of an excellent museum program – the Young Explorers, via her pre-Kindergarten school where they would explore the museum exhibits and afterwards they were able to handle some of the things they saw. On my Facebook page there are photos of my (braver) daughter holding cave cockroaches and snakes. I look forward to cultivating my daughters interests. This is how people learn – humans are very tactile. I can only imagine a young boy or girl in Italy or Greece with his or her parents walking through the museum gift shop, being gifted a common ancient coin of Constantine I and the hours of day dreaming that it may spark.
By writing this blog post I am breaking a promise I made to myself… I had told myself that I was going to avoid controversy and that I was going to ignore the Barford’s of the world. Especially after having met some real archaeologists online that were, well, real. Very nice people that were reasonable and well grounded. They were curious to hear my position on the antiquities trade and were open to constructive dialogue.
Anyway, what prompted me to write today was a surreal exchange I had with Barford on his blog. Once again, he decided to mention me by name on his blog and the New Yorker in me would not leave it alone…
Anyway, it is a real eye opener. It makes it very clear how archaeo-extremists think, a proverbial look “under the hood” at how their minds work.
In “discussing” the issue of laws meant to “stop” looting, he used the analogy of adultery. Rather than inject my own colorful interpretations, I will do a copy and paste of the exchange (to see it all, go to the link above):
ME: “My views tend to run on the conservative side. But I also feel that certain personal rights trump the wants of the state. I also believe that the view you try to force feed people in Glennbeckian fashion of a black and white view that anything old in the ground belongs to the state, property owner or finder be damned, is one which has ZERO hope of success. Let’s look at the most extreme scenario- if EVERY nation decided to enact a death penalty for not turning in finds people would still be out looking and land owners that found stuff on their land would just bury it again until they found a way to get something for it. It is human nature and has been since the first man found a bee hive and wanted to get at the bees honey… The ancient Egyptians had pretty horrible penalties for ACTUAL looting, yet people still looted. Now look at it from a modern perspective- most rational people do not view a chance find or finding something that does not have a living owner or that is even known to exist as looting.”
BARFORD: “As for penalties not working…. Seducing other people’s spouses has been around for a long time too, but you find adultery a lot less frequent than in America in countries which have harsh penalties for it. Probably that works too for stealing cars, drug smuggling and a whole lot of other things, why not looting archaeological sites?”
ME: “Are you seriously using adultury as an example to make your argument? It actually is a PERFECT example- In Islamic countries that interpret Sharia in a very extreme way, the penalty for adultry is extremely harsh. But they also go to great extremes to limit the rights of WOMAN so that they do not have an opportunity to commit adultry AND woman are regularly (falsely) accused of adultry and men are rarely prosecuted unless they manage to get at another man’s wife and he actually cares enough to do more than just have her stoned to death. So, you would have the rights of land owners, finders, collectors and dealers completely stripped away and give the authority to those you deem fit?”
(By the way, the “Glennbeckian” jab was in response to a comment he made where he used the “term”, I used it to imply extremism, because Beck is nothing if he is not extreme. On the “Extremists, Kooks and Trolls” scale, he is right below Barford.)
The big news this past week in ancient numismatic circles is that Arnold Weiss, a prominent Orthopedic professor and surgeon plead guilty and was convicted of three misdemeanor charges.
It turns out that the coins seized turned out to be “fake”. While there had been some talk in the numismatic community concerning the authenticity of the coins before the auction, the test used to “finally” condemn the coins to the satisfaction of the District Attorney of New York really raises more questions than provide answers.
Back in the late 80′s/early 90′s there was a pretty big controversy concerning a large “hoard” of silver diobols from Apollonia Pontika and Mesembria, known as the “Black Sea Hoard”. These coins were condemned as fake at one point only to be declared authentic after a similar examination as the coins in this case. To quote:
“The scientific defender of authenticity, Dr. Stanley Flegler of Michigan State University, has conducted a series of tests using the
Scanning Electron Microscope [SEM] as well as other techniques of evaluation. Flegler claims that the results of his tests conclusively prove that the hoard coins are not modern counterfeits. This conclusion is based on several points which include corrosion analysis and radiation analysis of trace elements.” (For a complete discussion of the Black Sea Hoard you can go here and here.)
Long story short, the Black Sea Hoard coins were ultimately proven to be fake when they were found being sold in large groups in a museum in Bulgaria as modern reproductions. So, SEM is not infallible and I would be very interested to see the report of the analysis of the coins in the Weiss case. Who did the test? On what basis were they condemned?
We completed a major task over at Coinproject today; all the German States issuers (at least all of them that we can find so far) from the 10th-19th centuries are available to submit coins to. Due to the large number of issuing authorities and the rarity of reference works for German Medieval numismatics (actually, this would apply to most Medieval numismatics), the list of German issuing authorities is probably 90% complete. If you are aware of something totally absent please let us know. We’d love to get the section going and make it a really helpful tool for collectors and researchers since there is no one-stop online or offline catalog for a lot of this potential content, especially the unusual and uncommon pieces.
Sean Breazeal is going to be making some maps and genealogical diagrams when he is able for the more tangled areas, and we have permission from several dealers to use their coin listings for Coinproject. A few volunteers to help edit coin records would be helpful.
We would also love to start adding the bibliographic summaries for each of the issuing authorities listed. If you have some of this data available and wish to help write these summaries please shoot us an email (or leave a comment here).