4.0958 Rs: Gender; Religious Studies; Unicode (3/106)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Wed, 30 Jan 91 09:48:47 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0958. Wednesday, 30 Jan 1991.

(1) Date: Mon, 28 Jan 1991 21:19 MST (42 lines)
From: Sigrid Peterson <SIGPETER@CC.UTAH.EDU>
Subject: Re: 4.0941 Computers and Gender

(2) Date: Wednesday, 30 January 1991 0012-EST (18 lines)
Subject: Directory of Religious Studies Programs

(3) Date: 29 Jan 91 17:40:52 EST (46 lines)
Subject: 4.0953 ...Unicode Greek

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Mon, 28 Jan 1991 21:19 MST
From: Sigrid Peterson <SIGPETER@CC.UTAH.EDU>
Subject: Re: 4.0941 Computers and Gender

It hardly seems unusual to me to use the computer, although using e-
mail and Usenet news readers is a fairly recent task at
skill-acquisition. I remember dinner table conversations about the
first computers, how they could be instructed in binary representation,
and how enormous they were. This was forty years ago. Thirty years ago
I attended Mount Holyoke College, but whether it was or is one of the
"hard-nosed" women's colleges, I could not say. I did not learn about
computers there; they did not have a computer center. Twenty years ago
I moved to Utah. Here, fifteen years ago, I taught myself how to run
primitive statistical programs, how to program in basic, and so forth.
At that time, the University of Utah did have a Computer Center. Ten
years ago I purchased a Radio Shack pocket computer that had as much
computing power as the original room-sized computers I had learned about
over dinner.

Computers, I found, do not know what users look like; they are not
sexist. At least not when doing statistics.

Like Judy Koren, I have written two-line batch programs so my daughter's
programs are immediately available when she powers up. I suppose, in my
self- taught manner, I am "hacking" my way through the capacities of the
VAX. The lack of documented features makes that a necessity. Oh, yes,
I've programmed in SAS on the mainframe, written a Pocket Computer
program for the handicapped, figured out when the State payroll program
ran, and how to hack into it--though I didn't, hidden a "Kilroy was
here," message on an agency's hard disk, and various other neat tricks.

I was told in my pre-teen years that women couldn't be astrophysicists
or chemists. No one told me women couldn't be hackers--until I joined
HUMANIST and learned I had to be in the computer center of a specific
kind of woman's college.:-> Incidentally, my daughter, now at Grinnell
College, constantly uses the computer in ways I haven't found out how to
do yet (they might be system specific). She does not think she is
unusual at all.

Sigrid Peterson
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------25----
Date: Wednesday, 30 January 1991 0012-EST
Subject: Directory of Religious Studies Programs

In response to Martin Homan's quest for a directory of Religious Studies
Programs, etc., the Council of Societies for the Study of Religion
(CSSR) publishes a Directory of Departments and Programs of Religious
Studies in North America (1990 edition runs to 474 pages) that includes
names and addresses of non-participating universities, colleges, and
theological schools (in the appendices) as well as descriptions of the
programs at participating schools. Order from CSSR, Mercer Univ., Macon
GA 31207 (912 752-2376).

CSSR also publishes a Directory of Faculty of Departments and Programs
of Religious Studies in North America, designed as a companion volume to
the aforementioned Directory.

Bob Kraft, UPenn
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------52----
Date: 29 Jan 91 17:40:52 EST
Subject: 4.0953 ...Unicode Greek

Elli Mylonas' summary of Unicode's handling of Greek is good and fair; I
should add a few words based on my lengthy e-correspondence with Unicode
in the last week. This clearly represents a revolution in computer use
that I have not seen written up elsewhere.

Unicode is meant to replace ASCII. (Sounds of cheering from all sides, I
assume.) It will consist of code offering distinct representations for
approximately 25,000 characters, including those of every writing system
I have ever heard of and several more besides: including Chinese and

It is only the code: not the display or the printing font. Thus what
Mylonas describes is accurate: it supplies code for acute accent and for
smooth breathing and for alpha. It is up to the software to teach the
hardware how to display those correctly on screen and on paper: but that
would be a case of software that knew that when attempting to display
smooth breathing and acute accent, both must be slightly off center and
perhaps slightly smaller than when either appears alone over a vowel.
That sort of thing.

But the use and importance of the code is *NOT* limited to Greek. We
will all be using it in a few years: the Unicode consortium includes and
is not limited to Apple, IBM, NeXT, Xerox, Sun, Microsoft, and the
Research Libraries Group. This is the future. I have found the Unicode
mavens most eager to discuss what they are doing and fascinating
besides. To express interest and get a copy of the proposal, address
MICROSOFT!ASMUSF@UUNET.UU.NET. The material you receive will say how to
communicate suggestions, etc. To Elli M. I will say that have been on
to them in detail about lunate sigma and digamma and told them they need
more brackets and metrical signs, but did not feel competent to give all
deatils and be sure I had covered the ground. If you get in touch with
the people listed on the stuff you must have been reading, you'll find
them very willing and eager to listen and discuss.

One question for the list: have the Text Encoding Initiative people been
in touch with Unicode? Unicode will render obsolete, for example, all
kludge codings for e-acute and the like. The greatest benefit of all
will be that it will be possible to transfer texts in a variety of gaudy
language systems from an IBM to an Apple to a NeXT, traveling over
various unfriendly mainframes in the process, with all the characters
coming through as accurately as low ASCII come through now. This will
make the world a better place.