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Re: [mythsoc] On the trail of hobbits?

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  • David S. Bratman
    ... I recommend using Yahoo as the search engine of first resort. Its category lists have actually been compiled by people, and while those people are not
    Message 1 of 8 , Mar 4, 2000
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      On Sat, 4 Mar 2000 ERATRIANO@... wrote:

      > ggg. It's so hard to see expressions on this machine. Actually I get a lot
      > of false leads when doing web searches. Even using questions. And then the
      > search engine has the nerve to question my spelling.

      I recommend using Yahoo as the search engine of first resort. Its
      category lists have actually been compiled by people, and while those
      people are not very good librarians, they're still a lot better than no
      librarians at all.

      If your subject is a common one but which is likely to lack an official
      web site, and you don't know of a good gateway site, Google is a good
      search engine to use.

      Most other search engines will require you to sort through a lot of crap
      to find what you want. Of these, I've found HotBot is the best at
      turning up sites other engines don't list.

      You mention using questions. It sounds like you've been trying
      AskJeeves, which is hopeless, a laughing-stock of the web. As far as I
      know, all computer programs which ask the user to type in a question
      merely discard the question-words ("Where can I find information on ..."
      etc.) and search on the remaining key words. They only suggest you ask
      questions in a sad attempt to be user friendly, which is grossly misleading
      as they do not in fact have the slightest idea what you're saying;
      they're just going to perform a mindless search on key words, same as any
      other program.

      There's lots more to say about web searching for info (the top of which
      is don't trust anything most web sites tell you about library research
      subjects), but that's enough for here.

      David Bratman (Catalog Librarian, Stanford University Law School)
      - not responsible for the following advertisement -
    • WendellWag@aol.com
      In a message dated 3/4/00 8:48:10 AM Eastern Standard Time, ... laughing-stock ... AskJeeves is O.K. only if you re asking boring questions of the sort that
      Message 2 of 8 , Mar 4, 2000
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        In a message dated 3/4/00 8:48:10 AM Eastern Standard Time,
        dbratman@... writes:

        > It sounds like you've been trying AskJeeves, which is hopeless, a
        laughing-stock
        > of the web.

        AskJeeves is O.K. only if you're asking boring questions of the sort that
        hundreds of people have asked before you. Look at the list of "Most Recently
        Asked Questions" in the window in their search engine. They're about things
        like where to buy stuff online and how do you find information about your
        favorite (well-known) star. For more interesting questions though, they will
        frequently give you garbage.

        Wendell Wagner
      • Stolzi@aol.com
        In a message dated 3/4/00 4:05:57 AM Central Standard Time, ... I d count as life-size the ones whose heads most closely approximated modern day heads. Of
        Message 3 of 8 , Mar 4, 2000
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          In a message dated 3/4/00 4:05:57 AM Central Standard Time,
          jupalffy@... writes:

          > So I'm not sure statues are a good reference to judge the size of actual
          > people.

          I'd count as "life-size" the ones whose heads most closely approximated
          modern day heads. Of course we'd be stymied if they're =all= either small
          for economy, or large for impressiveness, as you describe... a mathematician
          could work out the real figures I suppose.

          Am going to put this question before my friend the classicist.


          Mary S
        • Stolzi@aol.com
          In a message dated 3/4/00 6:10:59 AM Central Standard Time, ERATRIANO@aol.com ... Hee hee, I remember going into the waiting room for foreign flights, at
          Message 4 of 8 , Mar 4, 2000
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            In a message dated 3/4/00 6:10:59 AM Central Standard Time, ERATRIANO@...
            writes:

            > my
            > friend and I noticed, crossing the borders coming up from France into
            > Germany, that everyone suddenly got a few inches taller on average.

            Hee hee, I remember going into the waiting room for foreign flights, at
            Tokyo's Haneda Airport, back in the early 70's, and suddenly feeling I was
            surrounded by giants (the hairy barbarians, that is) -- then I said to
            myself, "Hold on, YOU're a giant too, remember?"

            Ke-to, "hairy barbarian," was a charming term the Japanese used for
            Westerners when they first encountered them.

            Nowadays the Japanese have grown - eating more of our type of food. Son John
            was an exchange student in the 80's and said that the son of his host family
            was as tall as he is, and he's six foot and a bit.

            Back in the 70's I could seldom buy any clothes to fit, and never ever a pair
            of shoes. If I bought anything, it would be a pair of jazzy plastic
            flip-flops intended for men - Japanese men wore some styles in these which
            would appear overly feminine to Westerners.

            A treasured memory though totally unMythic (talk about topic drift...) is one
            of the few times I saw a really busty Japanese girl. Young people loved
            T-shirts with English inscriptions and the English could be really oddly
            chosen words. Hers, in this case, read right across the chest "MOUNTAIN."

            By the way, Byron was 5 foot eight, but my EB sayeth naught as to Julius
            Caesar.

            For years and years if not centuries, the height of Jesus Christ was thought
            to be a "perfect" six feet. Which would indicate "normal" heights much like
            ours stretching back.. oh at least as far as that legend indicates. I wish I
            knew its date. For while He might be thought to have been a commanding
            figure, He certainly would not be pictured as a freak.

            Julia wrote of the Romans at Pompeii being "somewhat shriveled" by the fire.
            Julia, I'd hate to tell you what's happened to some roasts I've cooked which
            looked quite adequate in size before I put them in the oven...

            Mary S
          • Julia Palffy
            That the Romans were relatively small, at least compared with the Gauls, is reported in Livy s Roman History, as well as indicated by archaeological finds. It
            Message 5 of 8 , Mar 4, 2000
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              That the Romans were relatively small, at least compared with the Gauls, is
              reported in Livy's Roman History, as well as indicated by archaeological
              finds. It doesn't ensue that they were all as small as those people in
              Pompeii (Mary, how much percent of its original size did your overcooked
              roast lose? It might give us an idea...) nor does it mean that a Jew (Jesus)
              might not have been six feet tall..
              BTW, that size attributed to Jesus is based on the Shroud of Turin - there
              is no physical description of Him by his contemporaries, either in the
              Gospels or in Flavius Josephus, and the first representations of Him as we
              are accustomed to see them only appear after the 4th or 5th century CE. In
              terms of historical criteria, these are pretty uncertain references.
              Personally, I do believe the Shroud represents Jesus, but it's a matter of
              personal conviction rather than a scientific conclusion.
              For my part, I consider myself a middle height ( 1,68 m.), but when I stayed
              in Japan ten years ago, Japanese girls considered me enviably tall; on the
              other hand,
              the American tourists I sometimes see in Zurich do strike me as particularly
              big, bigger than the Swiss average. This does not mean that I exclude the
              possibility of big Japanese or small Americans... :-) Il faut de tout pour
              faire un monde!

              All the best,

              Julia Palffy
              Zug, Switzerland
              jupalffy@...
            • Stolzi@aol.com
              In a message dated 3/4/00 3:29:59 PM Central Standard Time, ... Maybe, but I thought it was also found in legend or folklore. True about the Romans vis-a-vis
              Message 6 of 8 , Mar 4, 2000
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                In a message dated 3/4/00 3:29:59 PM Central Standard Time,
                jupalffy@... writes:

                > BTW, that size attributed to Jesus is based on the Shroud of Turin

                Maybe, but I thought it was also found in legend or folklore.

                True about the Romans vis-a-vis the Gauls or the Germans.

                Here's what my Classics prof friend says:

                <<Augustus wore elevator shoes (Suetonius) because he was so sensitive to
                height, he knew he looked handsome and imperial but too short for the role.
                Ancient people in general were an average of six inches to nine at least,
                figures remembered but in ballpark, shorter than we are (for that matter,
                look at most modern Greeks and Italians, specially the women--and they eat
                better) (medieval suits of armor bear this out well too) because of the
                less protein in their childhood and adult diet, even the upper classes.
                So that variation is fairly well known.>>

                >Il faut de tout pour faire un monde!

                I like even better the Spanish way of putting it:

                "Hay de todo en la vina de Dios." (That's n with a squiggle of course)

                If I were to English this, I'd probably say: "All kinds'a plants in the
                garden of God."

                Mary S
              • Julia Palffy
                Stolzi@aol.com wrote: BTW, that size attributed to Jesus is based on the Shroud of Turin Maybe, but I thought it was also found in legend or folklore. Not
                Message 7 of 8 , Mar 5, 2000
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                  Stolzi@... wrote:

                  "> BTW, that size attributed to Jesus is based on the Shroud of Turin

                  Maybe, but I thought it was also found in legend or folklore."

                  Not likely - there are a lot of folk tales in different European countries
                  about when Jesus walked on Earth (some of them christianised versions of
                  Ovid's Philemon and Baucis or other tales that were already known in
                  Antiquity, with Jesus and St. Peter instead of Jupiter and Mercury), but
                  detailed characterisation is not an usual feature of true folk tales, the
                  characters of folk tales are usually "types".
                  One of the arguments in the Shroud of Turin story was that there is, from
                  the 4th century onward, a legend about a true portrait "not made by human
                  hands" of Jesus, and curiously enough, that is when the artistic
                  representations of His face all begin to have more or less the same
                  proportions and features, regardless of different styles and cultures, so it
                  is supposed there must have been some authoritative "original", which was
                  most probably the Shroud of Turin. For more information about this, try Ian
                  Wilson's books about the Shroud of Turin, the latest being "The Blood and
                  the Shroud".

                  Concerning Julius Caesar, I looked up my Suetonius last night too - but he
                  only says that Caesar was said to be "tall, of a light complexion, well-made
                  limbs, the face somewhat full, eyes black and bright..." (Suetonius, Lives
                  of the 12 Caesars, book 1, chapter 45, translation mine (from the French)).

                  I liked that Spanish quote - nuch more poetical than the French! :-)

                  Best wishes,

                  Julia Palffy
                  Zug, Switzerland
                  jupalffy@...
                • WendellWag@aol.com
                  I apologize to people for getting us started on this sidetrack about heights. Let this be my last post on the subject. There do seem to be many reputable
                  Message 8 of 8 , Mar 5, 2000
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                    I apologize to people for getting us started on this sidetrack about heights.
                    Let this be my last post on the subject.

                    There do seem to be many reputable sources that give large height differences
                    between certain ancient and medieval peoples and certain modern peoples,
                    often in the range of six to eight inches. One that I found was as much as
                    ten inches. I suspect that what that quote of "a full meter difference in
                    height" was about was that someone read that the difference was ten inches,
                    so they decided to report that in their article as "almost a foot". They
                    then decided to make that sound more dramatic, so they changed the wording to
                    the clearly inaccurate "a full foot". Apparently they were distracted while
                    typing this and by mistake they put down "a full meter".

                    The problem with the differences given above though is two things. One is
                    that sometimes they seem to be comparing different genetic groups, so the
                    differences aren't quite just due to the times. The other is that there
                    seems to be variations in the past about the amount of malnutrition and
                    disease, and this isn't just a continuous decrease. There were times and
                    societies in the past with relatively small amounts of malnutrition and
                    disease.

                    As to the average height of contemporary Americans, I've found reputable
                    sources that give the average height of adult American men as being either 5'
                    9" or 5' 10" (and that difference is not due to those sources rounding the
                    actual figures). It seems strange that they can't get their answers closer
                    than an inch, but this may be just the problems in doing a good survey.
                    After all, in the last American census 10 years ago, we couldn't even count
                    the number of people accurately. We missed 1.6%, and we may miss that many
                    in the census this year.

                    The tallest people in the world at the moment, according to one source, are
                    the Dutch, with the Scandanavians a close second. They're a little under 5'
                    11". There seems to be two reasons why they are taller. One is that there
                    probably are some genetic tendencies for Nordic peoples to be taller than,
                    say, Mediterrean peoples, and the U.S. has a mixture of genetic types. The
                    other is that the Northern Europeans, while their average standard of living
                    is about the same as in the U.S., has a significantly flatter economic
                    system. The U.S. has a higher proportion of people living in poverty and
                    hence has more people who are malnurished during their growing years.

                    Some sources are willing to go out on a limb and say that it appears that 5'
                    11" is the top of the genetic potential for men (and 5' 5.5" is for women),
                    so there isn't going to be any further growth in the average height beyond
                    what's observable in Northern Europe at the moment.

                    As to why many people in the U.S. give offhand estimates for average heights
                    in the U.S. that are off by two or three inches (so that people will sometime
                    claim that the average height in the U.S. for men is 6'), well, I'm going to
                    have to get political here. For those of you who have never met me, I'm a
                    touch under 4'11" (and purely for genetic reasons), and I can get political
                    about this really easily. There's lots of evidence of discrimination in
                    hiring, promotion, etc. by height. More to the point, short people tend to
                    be invisible. In the jobs in which people appear in the public most
                    (entertainment, politics, etc.), the people in those jobs are several inches
                    taller on average, and this affects people's estimates of average height.
                    Even just in everyday life, people tend to remember the tall people and
                    forget the short people they know when making estimates.

                    Can we get back to fantasy now?
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