In Memoriam

March 20, 2008 at 1:59 pm (Books, Comics, History, Horror, Languages, Movies, Travel)

It saddens me greatly to think that we have lost two of the greatest minds in the history of science fiction and fantasy in the last two weeks. On March 4, Gary Gygax passed away, and then, just two days ago, Arthur C. Clarke died in Sri Lanka. Arthur C. Clarke, I must confess, never made that significant of an impact on me, although I recognize his influence on the field of science fiction and, frankly, science. I’ve only actually read one of his books, Rama Revealed (which was an excellent novel, although it will also make you loathe the base nature of the human race), and I’ve only seen 2001: A Space Odyssey once. However, he fell into the brilliant class of authors who wrote what is called “hard science fiction,” that is, sci-fi that is firmly tied into what we know/believe to be possible, and was quite a visionary: For example, he was the first person to suggest the system of communication satellites which currently orbit the Earth. Read the rest of this entry »

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Comics Comics Comics

February 27, 2008 at 11:15 pm (Books, Comics, Family, Horror, Humor)

About a year ago, I went cold turkey and cut down the number of webcomics I was reading by about 80%. I was reading 20 or 30 a week, and could easily drop 45 minutes a night keeping up on all of them. And, frankly, if I’m going to blow 45 minutes a day, every day, I’d really rather I have something to show for it, like maybe MY DISSERTATION. It’s the regular updates that kill you, because you get sucked into the story, and then you have to go back every couple of days to see what else is new! So, I’ve worked really hard to keep my reading list lean, with only the choicest gems of comedy and adventure at my fingertips. Read the rest of this entry »

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Valentine’s Day, Old-School…

February 14, 2008 at 6:14 pm (Books, Humor, Languages, Music)

Well, the wackos at America’s most dearly beloved publisher of academic material about the Ancient Near East decided this year to create a Valentine’s Day contest.  The rules were, you had to submit a Valentine’s Day message in one or more Ancient Near Eastern languages (including Greek), and they would judge them and award prizes to the best.  Well, you can see the results here, and it’s funny enough that pretty much any nerd will appreciate the results, and the commentary!

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Creepy birds are appropriate for “Valentine’s Day,” right? Right?

February 14, 2008 at 11:21 am (Arts, Books, Horror, Humor, Movies)

Bryan over at Infocult clued me in to this particular gem:
Nothing says undying love to me like, well, undying love. Actually, now that I think about it, that undying love thing is a little creepy…

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Digital Locative Storytelling

October 24, 2007 at 2:45 pm (Arts, Books, Comics, Computers, Movies, Travel, Writing)

I’ve been thinking rather a lot about geotagging lately, not only because my new job is with a project to map cultural heritage data, such as archaeological sites and antiquities collections, onto Google Earth. In fact, it really starts with my recent trip to Spain (which maybe I’ll blog about one of these days, if I can ever get over my perfectionist streak), namely, the possibility of geotagging my photos to construct a locative narrative. For those of you who don’t know, “geotagging” is the act of adding longitude and latitude data to a photograph (or any digital object, really), which enables it to then be plotted on a map. And “locative” is a great linguistic term referring to units which mark a noun as a place at which something happens, and which I’ve borrowed to also describe any narrative in which geographic location is an important component (not just that the actors in the narrative travel, but that the viewer of the narrative travels, as well). I have two main questions. The first is, “Why?” and the second is “How?” Read the rest of this entry »

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Religion, Science and the Development of Society

March 10, 2007 at 3:23 pm (Books, Dissertation, Economics, Education, History, Languages)

I’m finding Goody’s book exciting not just for the ideas contained within, but also because he is giving me a whole new vocabulary with which it explore ideas of my own, ideas that I’ve been playing with in my head for months and years but have never had the words to properly express before now. For example, as part of my research over the last few weeks, I’ve been repeatedly encountering the question of the distinction (if any) between the magic, religion and science in human societies. It is clear to any observer that there are dramatic differences in this aspect (as in others) between different societies, both contemporaneous and not (e.g., the difference between religion and technology in Sumerian Mesopotamia in 2500 BC and American Los Angeles in AD 2007). The real questions are, how do we describe those differences, and why do they exist? Read the rest of this entry »

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An Amazing Book

March 10, 2007 at 3:21 pm (Books, Dissertation, Education, History, Languages, Writing)

I’m reading a new book. And it’s blowing my mind. In a good way.

No, honey, it’s not a comic book. And it doesn’t have any zombies in it (at least, not yet). In fact, it is an academic book that I’m reading as part of researching my dissertation proposal. Despite all of those shortcomings, however, the ideas that it presents, and the arguments that it uses to defend them, are echoing around in my skull like atomic poolballs. I’m only two chapters into it, and its already changed the way that I look at world history and human behavior dramatically. Not bad for 35 pages, huh? Read the rest of this entry »

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