Anti Mundane-SF

http://mundane-sf.blogspot.com/2007/09/take-third-star-on-left-and-on-til.html
All righty.
I’ve mentioned the Mundane-SF crowd before. The link above is a link to a text version of Geoff Ryman’s GOH speech to Boreal in Montreal last April.
I’m very glad that I did not attend that convention, or else I would ask for my money back.
I have responded to excerpts, although you should as always read the entire thing first.

Continue reading Anti Mundane-SF

Entertainment Weekly’s Top Ten STTNG Episodes

”Star Trek: The Next Generation”: The top 10 episodes | Star Trek: The Next Generation | 1 | Countdown | TV | Sci-Fi Central | Entertainment Weekly
EW is a cotton candy of a magazine, with a lot of superficial filler without much content. And their coverage of SF is often atrocious, highlighted, not mitigated, by their recent practice of reviewing SF novels now and again.
So when SF Signal linked to this list they complied of the best Star Trek The Next Generation episodes, I thought that the list was going to be a terrible one.
Go see the list for yourself, its a lot better selection of STTNG episodes than I would have expected.

The “Hobbit”‘s status may all come down to the wrist

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=14546763
Remember the “hobbit” found in Indonesia, the dwarf-sized hominid that some cheered as an example of a hominid that survived nearly into historical time, and some dismissed as merely an ordinary human with a genetic disease?
An expert on wrist bones (yes, there are experts on such small subjects) has taken a look at the wrist bones of the “hobbit” and has come to his own conclusions on the subject.

World languages dying off

Via the NY Times and NPR’s All things Considered.
Of the estimated 7,000 languages spoken in the world today, linguists
say, nearly half are in danger of extinction and are likely to
disappear in this century. In fact, they are now falling out of use at
a rate of about one every two weeks.
Some endangered languages vanish in an instant, at the death of the sole surviving speaker.
Others are lost gradually in bilingual cultures, as indigenous tongues
are overwhelmed by the dominant language at school, in the marketplace
and on television.
New research, reported today, has identified the five regions of the
world where languages are disappearing most rapidly. The “hot spots”
of imminent language extinctions are: Northern Australia, Central
South America, North America’s upper Pacific coastal zone, Eastern
Siberia and Oklahoma and Southwest United States. All of the areas are
occupied by aboriginal people speaking diverse languages, but in
decreasing numbers.
The study was based on field research and data analysis supported by
the National Geographic Society and the Living Tongues Institute for
Endangered Languages, an organization for the documentation,
revitalization and maintenance of languages at risk. The findings are
described in the October issue of National Geographic magazine and at
www.languagehotspots.org.

As for me, I am saddened at the death of languages. I am not a good or even an average linguist, sometimes much to my chagrin. I *wish* I had an ear and mind for languages, but mastery of languages eludes me. Maybe I need to learn in some other fashion.
Language is a tool for expressing ourselves, and truths about the world, and so when a language is lost, one of those methods of doing so is lost. Languages, and the control of language is a powerful thing. And so the loss of language is like a loss of biodiversity. It makes the social ecosystem of humanity just a little more diminished, to our loss and sorrow.
Jack Vance’s novel The Languages of Pao illustrates this perfectly.

Fantasy Football and real Football

The fantasy that’s ruining football – Los Angeles Times
Via the NPR Blog, a link to an column by David Zirin, who argues that the individualisitic orientation of Fantasy Football threatens to distort the game of football itself.
He has a point.
Consider if a QB for a team throws 3 TDs and no Ints in a losing effort. Fans of the team are going to be upset; however those who have the QB as a fantasy player are going to be pumping their fists.
Reading between the lines, its clear that Zirin is concerned that the fantasy fans are going to outnumber the real fans, or at the very least devalue the team spirit of football. While one player can and does make or break a game, really, football is a team effort, where 11 people have to execute on every play.
Just seeing if your Running back, on a team you don’t even follow, has 100 yards rushing is against the spirit of watching the game. In playing Front Office Football at home, I want my team to win, not just have pretty stats.
And so it is with my beloved Giants. Eli could have a 120 passer rating for all I care, but if the Giants can’t win, I am going to be unhappy.