Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bad Astronomy

Phil Plait's "Bad Astronomy" Page is dedicated to pointing out popular misconceptions about our night sky why satisfying the common man's curiosity in the general workings of our universe. Check out the blog (hosted by Discover magazine) for current events gems, visit the "Misconceptions" page (bad idioms!) for nitpickin' goodness or hang out in the "Movies" section (um, try not to focus on the science in the new Star Trek movie) for hours of reading fun.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

... leaves its impress upon the soul of man

Herbert Glacier

I've spent the last week in Juneau, Alaska, and it is an immensely beautiful place. According to this recent New York Times article, global warming is affecting the area in an unusual way.

Relieved of billions of tons of glacial weight, the land has risen much as a cushion regains its shape after someone gets up from a couch. The land is ascending so fast that the rising seas — a ubiquitous byproduct of global warming — cannot keep pace. As a result, the relative sea level is falling, at a rate “among the highest ever recorded,” according to a 2007 report by a panel of experts convened by Mayor Bruce Botelho of Juneau.

Kristin White, a 28-year-old schoolteacher who grew up in Haines, a town north of here, is from another family in the area whose real estate grew as land rose. But for Ms. White, who has vivid memories of visiting the Mendenhall glacier as a child, the gain in acreage has been bittersweet. Seeing the glacier retreat, she said, is “as if you lived in the Smoky Mountains and you were used to seeing certain peaks — and they disappeared. It’s just totally, totally sad.”

Monday, May 25, 2009

Andy's Poem Planet

Ha! You thought I only put my own sundry poems up here. Well, Andy's Poem Planet is a friend of mine and its a little bit Dr. Suess, a little bit Mother Goose, and a little bit screw loose. Enjoy!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hulu Set for September UK Launch

It's a little late since I purchased the last two episodes of the "Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles" from itunes, but better late than never. Hulu is flinging the barn doors open and giving international access in September 2009, according to the Telegraph's, "Hulu set for September UK launch".

Are you listening, music companies? I've always had the impression that not hooking international audiences on your shows to guarantee DVD sales was a huge miss for the networks, and I hope this means that they agree with me. Divided for just three weeks from my television, I was beginning to forget why I needed one in the first place. Oh well, back to the glass teat.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Why Anthony Hopkins May Be Playing Charles Nesson in Ten Years

Doesn't he just look like like your cute, crocthety granpa? Harvard Law Professor Charles Nesson is set to argue on behalf of grad student and alleged file-sharing user Joel Tenenbaum. His defense alleges that file-sharing is within the bounds of fair use and that even when a file-sharer is convicted, statutory damages should be equivalent to actual damages and the statutory damages in such cases amount to zero because there is no provable harm caused by non-commercial file-sharing.

Even more worrying for record labels, Nesson plans to argue that non-commercial file-sharing satisfies the “four factors test” of fair use legislation on intellectual copyright. And, as zmogo reports in the article, "To the Rescue of File-Sharing Tenenbaum", the band and music innovators, Radiohead, are preparing to speak on Tenenbaum's behalf that file-sharing can be an asset to members of the music industry. has the in-depth story, "Harvard professor to testify P2P file sharing is legal under “Fair Use”" including Rick Hodgin's scintillating opinion. But as far as I'm concerned, its a thrilling David and Goliath story. Go, David, Go!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Late Afternoon, Alone in Harrods


Materialism's temple is broad,
And colors every gallery bold,
Here, I pay for friends dear,
With the price of over-valued beer,
And as I wander on alone,
The galleries become mere tombs of stone,
Each tile beflecks a mausuleam,
Each face an hour away from freedom,
And I remain their foreign clown,
A beggin' friendship with money down.

Late Afternoon, Alone in Harrods -- Anika Ismel, 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

Literal Videos

It's a laugh. Its nostalgic. It's literal re-makes of popular eighties videos from I particularly enjoyed the re-make of A-ha's "Take on Me."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

There's Klingons on the starboard bow

Trekkies and Wordies both will enjoy Akira Okrent's Salon article about the development of the Klingon language.  Okrent is a linguist who began as an impartial observer, and ended up passing the first level certification exam.  Who knew there even was an exam.  With her academic background, she provides interesting insight into the complexities of this made up language. 

Knowing that fans would be watching closely, Okrand worked out a full grammar. He cribbed from natural languages, borrowing sounds and sentence-building rules, switching sources whenever Klingon started operating too much like any one language in particular. He ended up with something that sounds like an ungodly combination of Hindi, Arabic, Tlingit, and Yiddish and works like a mix of Japanese, Turkish, and Mohawk. The linguistic features of Klingon are not especially unusual (at least to a linguist) when considered independently, but put together, they make for one hell of an alien language.

But Klingon isn't about practicality, or status, or even about love for the original Star Trek series. It's about language for language's sake, and the joy of doing something that's not easy, without regard for worldly recognition. Hence the Klingon Hamlet, which took years to compose and which maybe 100 people can appreciate. What a piece of work is man indeed. Or as Wil'yam Shex'pir would put it, toH, chovnatlh Doj ghaH tlhIngan'e'—"A Klingon is an impressive specimen."


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Good day to you sir. I said good day!

One of my favorite t-shirt purveyors is back in the game after a brief hiatus.  Glarkware designs are smart and snarky and let people know you take your pop culture seriously.  

If you're planning a trip to the cinema (I understand there's a new Star Trek movie out), may I suggest Expendable or KHAAAAAAAN!

New and classic designs will be added in the next few weeks, and keep an eye out for now or never specials.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Trekkies Bash New Star Trek Film

If I start talking about it, I'll only spoil the hells out of all of you, so I'll let the reviews speak for me.

New York Magazine (Spoilers!)
Boston Globe with video (Spoilers!)
JoBlo. (Minor Spoilers)

The interviews speak for themselves.

Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci
Leonard Nimoy
Zachary Quinto
Zoe Saldana
John Cho
Karl Urban
Bruce Greenwood
JJ Abrams
Anton Yelchin
Eric Bana and Clifton Collins Jr.

And finally, the video news report, "Trekkies Bash New Star Trek Film," from the Onion really says it all. It contains no spoilers, whatsoever. Also, I laughed so hard I spit up. Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Staying In Touch Internationally on The Cheap

Read the Frugal Traveler's article, "Staying in Touch Internationally on the Cheap," from the New York Times. The article expounds on the virtues of Skype internet calls and the magic of call forwarding for free "air" time. Now there is no need to worry about keeping in touch with friends and family in London, Berlin and anywhere in the world.

You know who you are.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Robert Heinlein's Bizarre Fan Mail Response Letter

While the need for such inventions has been superseded with electronic tools like e-mail and "mail merge", it doesn't stop Robert Heinlein and his wife from being the crazy geniuses they were. Check out, "Robert Heinlein's Bizarre Fan Mail Response Letter," from Conceptual Trends and Current Topics (five from the bottom speaks volumes about writing to your own favorite authors) and just imagine what similar forms and choices could do if introduced to your office, your children, and even your voice mail boxes.