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    Re: Bauer's book, was Re: Newton and Halley
    From: Robert Eno
    Date: 2007 Nov 23, 23:56 -0500

    Thank you Nicholas.  I may have been somewhat brusque myself but I tend to 
    get this way when defending friends. It was not meant as a personal attack 
    against you; only against what I believed to be unfair comments.
    We shall leave it at that with no hard feelings.
    I shall now respond to Wolfgang's comments.....
    ----- Original Message ----- 
    From: "Nicol�s de Hilster" 
    Sent: Friday, November 23, 2007 2:40 PM
    Subject: [NavList 4034] Re: Bauer's book, was Re: Newton and Halley
    Dear Robert,
    let me start with saying that I do regret it if I offended you (and
    others) with my previous post. I reread it and realize that my words
    sound quite harsh (is that the right word?). It was in no way meant to
    be that way, but being not native peaking English, my words sometimes
    come out a bit different than I want them to be.
    First of all Bauer has no way to defend himself on this matter and
    second I know how hard it is to write down a good story when it should
    be historically right. At this very moment I am busy with several
    articles, one of which is under review by an expert in the field to make
    sure I do not make big mistakes. But even so I risk making some cock-ups
    in it (sorry for my French). The only point I wanted to make that if
    Bauer had someone else check that part (or read a work like Water's) it
    would have been of much better quality and better fitting in the whole
    book. As I said, starting from the nocturnal one can see that he put a
    lot of effort to get it all right. I guess that the part I was writing
    about did not have his interest that much as the rest of the book
    (again: no offence meant).
    I am glad you took the courage to defend his work in his place.
    enoid@northwestel.net wrote:
    > Nicholas wrote (clipped)
    >> Today I read   book and took a copy of Chapter I (A Short
    >> History) with me. As most of you know by now I am specialised in the 
    >> early
    >> history of navigation (1590-1700), researching mainly the wooden
    >> instruments (the astrolabe is the exception on that rule) before
    >> the octant arrived.
    >> Bauer starts off with the Polynesian latitude hook, giving his
    >> chapter a promising start (although he might have mentioned the use of
    >> hand/fingers for altitude measurements). He then continues with
    >> the Kamal (skipping the earlier Chinese version of that instrument),
    >> before going over to the astrolabe. It is from that point on were he
    >> misses virtually every aspect of the instruments that follow up to the
    >> nocturnal. So his ideas of the astrolabe, the cross-staff and
    >> backstaff/davis quadrant do not reflect proper research, even when
    >> taking in account the year he published his book (figures 1.7 and
    >> 1.8 even show us a Davis Quadrant with the horizon vane assembled in
    >> the wrong way). I could try to sum up the errors/omissions in his
    >> text, but that might take more words than he spent on those instruments 
    >> in
    >> total......
    > Robert comments:
    > To start with, and at the risk of sounding like I am name-dropping (which 
    > is not my intention) Cmdr. Bauer was a close personal friend of mine. The 
    > list members should therefore not be be surprised that I take great 
    > exception and offence to some of the comments offered by Nicholas de 
    > Hilster about "historical errors/omissions...that might take more words 
    > than he [Bauer] spent on those instruments in total......"
    > Bauer was first and foremost, a professional and highly experienced 
    > mariner and navigator with many years of distinguished service as a 
    > Destroyer Captain in the US Navy. After he retired, he maintained his 
    > professional qualifications by commanding a research vessel off the coast 
    > of Florida. Bauer was also an avid sailor and a keen historian. I know for 
    > a fact that he was very well-versed in the history of navigation and in 
    > the development of the marine sextant as well as many other aspects of 
    > nautical and classical history.
    > Bauer's book was not intended to be an exhaustive treatise on the history 
    > of the development of the sextant. The chapter in question was intended to 
    > give the reader a brief historical and contextual overview which would 
    > lead into the meat of the book: which is sextant maintenance and repair. 
    > If you want a history book, consult the local university or write the damn 
    > thing yourself, otherwise don't expect to get this kind of exhaustive 
    > information from what was essentially meant to be a practical handbook for 
    > practical mariners.
    > I'll close by saying that I'm a getting a little fed up with some of the 
    > pedantic and petty nit-picking which frequently takes place on this list 
    > and most of which seems to originate with navigation scholars as opposed 
    > to actual sailors and practical navigators. By all means, we should 
    > question and challenge each other for one sword sharpens another, but 
    > there are more cicumspect ways of doing this. Slagging someone else's 
    > labour is not what I consider to be respectful discourse. Nicholas may not 
    > have intended to cause offence with his comments, however, in my opinion, 
    > they come off sounding like cheap shots against a man who has passed away 
    > and can therefore no longer defend himself. That leaves me to take up the 
    > cudgel on his behalf.
    > 'Nuff said.
    > Robert Eno
    > >
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