Continuing with the categorized catch-up entries...
What's it like to live in Nepal? Mahabir Pun, a Nepalese citizen and former University of Nebraska student, has set up a detailed virtual tour of Nepal. Well-illustrated, it covers a wide assortment of fact about Nepal, including its culture, its farming practices, environmental concerns, geography, religion, and more. The tour also focuses on the efforts of Pun's former high school in Nangi Village to bring development support to the nation. The website is also a welcome relief from the Flash-laden, graphics-intensive, over-designed sites we're accustomed to; the site's layout and presentation would not have been out of place in 1998.
Director Sam Raimi, probably best known for his now-in-release Spider-Man movies (and, for some of us, beloved for his Evil Dead 2), wants to build the "century cam:" static cameras set over major cities, capturing a single frame of film at noon each day. Over time, the film would come to show the evolution of the urban landscape. Since he imagines the cameras capturing the growth (and decline?) of the cities would do so for a thousand years, "millennium cam" is probably a better name. A year's worth of frames would amount to 15 seconds; a decade would be 2.5 minutes. The full thousand years would add up to a bit more than 4 hours. Technology Reviewnotes the impracticality of a film camera operating for a thousand years (although they may want to check with Long Now for some thoughts on building devices with very long lives), but suggests that decade cams -- showing the changes to open spaces and urban environments over a decade -- could be very powerful. Good idea.
Four Translations of the Quran is a fascinating exploration of the question of translation of culture. The Quran was written in Arabic, and some claim that only the Arabic version is the true Quran -- translations don't pick up on the subtlety of cultural meaning which would be apparent to a native reader. All four of the translations provided are well-regarded... and it's fascinating to see how often they diverge. For non-Arabic speakers, these points of divergence can be as meaningful as the text itself. As BruceS says, "there's a quality to a good translation that you just don't get in the original text."
In line with the century cam, have you heard of the Rephotographic Survey? In the late seventies, a group of photographers recreated some of the landscape photographs from the surveys of the American West a century before.
It revealed quite a lot, about changes in the land and culture, but also about the whole project of creating the original, iconic survey images...essentially, the whole endeavor of inventing the West.