Friday, August 22, 2008

Birthday Treaty

You know, I could see Bush falling for something like this.

Obama's Veep?

Could it be Joe Biden or is Obama going to surprise us?

Kevin Smith Likes Watchmen

Kevin Smith has given the forthcoming Watchmen movie based on the graphic novel high praise. He said, in fact, that

It's fucking astounding.

This is good to hear, but I'm still skeptical, especially since Snyder is still working on cutting down the runtime to satisfy the studio. After seeing the trailer and reading this, I'm more optimistic than I used to be, but I'm still not holding my breath. The graphic novel is just too good and dense to be easily translated to the screen. We'll see, though.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Future of Books

The Electronic Frontier Foundation asks, What happens if the Kindle succeeds?"

Skeptics should remember that it wasn't long ago that many predicted that CDs would never replace vinyl, and later that MP3s would never replace CDs. You can still find great record stores that specialize in vinyl, but the trend towards digital music has been steady and unstoppable. And the music industry has paid a huge price for their failure to embrace the new technology. After first ignoring new technologies, they then proceeded to try to sue innovators, restrict users with DRM copy protection and then punish fans with indiscriminate lawsuits, none of which did a thing to stop online sharing of music. Sales are down, illegal filesharing is up, and no one has found a way to unite the industry around monetizing the sharing of digital music (though EFF has suggested a Better Way Forward).

Will the same thing happen to the publishing industry as books become digital? If the trend continues, with better devices promising longer battery life and better screen resolution, digital books will become a force to be reckoned with. Are we doomed to watch the publishing industry run through the same gamut of bad decisions that have plagued the recording industry for the last few years?

As much of a tech junkie as I am and as much reading as I do on my computer, I still prefer the feel of a book in my hands. Oh, to be sure, I have no problem reading on a computer screen and I would even think about getting an e-reader if I found one I liked (definitely not the Kindle in its current incarnation), but nothing beats the feel, the smell, the experience of leaning back in a comfortable chair with a good book in your hands and being transported away.

I own several hundred books and I intend to keep purchasing hard-copy books until the day I die. I may end up having digital copies of all of them, but they will never replace my dead tree copies.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Me No Spel Gud

The push to simplify our spelling seems to come up every few years and sure enough, it has reared its ugly head once more.

Most teachers expect to correct their students' spelling mistakes once in a while. But Ken Smith has had enough. The senior lecturer in criminology at Bucks New University in Buckinghamshire, England, sees so many misspellings in papers submitted by first-year students that he says we'd be better off letting the perpetrators off the hook and doing away with certain spelling rules altogether.

Good spellers, Smith says, should be able to go on writing as usual; those who find the current rules of English too hard to learn should have their spelling labeled variant, not wrong. Smith zeroes in on 10 candidates for variant spellings, culled from his students' most commonly misspelled (or mispelled, as Smith suggests) words. Among them are Febuary instead of February, twelth instead of twelfth and truely instead of truly — all words, he says, that involve confusion over silent letters. When students would ask why there's no e in truly, Smith didn't really have an answer. "I'd say, 'Well, I don't know. ... You've just got to drop it because people do,' " he says. Smith adds that when teachers correct spelling, they waste valuable time they could be spending on bigger ideas.

This notion always strikes me as ludicrous. Maybe it's because I'm an intellectual snob or maybe it's because I've never had trouble with spelling. Whatever it is, I can't see why we should reshape our language because some people have trouble spelling. What's next? Simplifying algebra because it has too many equations? Fewer countries on maps so there's not so many to learn?

If you are someone who has difficulty spelling, I'm sorry, but you should just have to deal with it. Get a dictionary. Practice. I'm sure you have talents that someone else who can spell really well does not. But the idea of changing large parts of our language for the people who struggle with it is ridiculous. Or just, plain dum.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Weekly Music Video

It can be hard to find actual videos of some European bands, so as with the video I posted awhile back of "Theater of Salvation" this is a video put together by a fan. The song is just accompanied by pictures of the band. Still, it's a great song by a great symphonic metal band.

Edenbridge - "Shine"

Weekly Secret


Define Insanity

A brilliant man in Denver tests Einstein's definition of insanity.

The Aspen Daily News reported a store clerk said he saw the man load a case of beer into his backpack and walk out of the store Wednesday night.

Police found a man matching the clerk's description at a nearby bus stop and found the backpack stuffed into a newspaper box.

The man was arrested for petty theft and released, police said.

The next night, a different 7-Eleven clerk called police reporting that a man had just walked out of the store with two 12-packs.

A Pitkin County sheriff's deputy found the same alleged beer thief waiting at a bus stop.

He arrested the man for theft, the newspaper reported, and released him again.

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein

Colleges and Political Correctness

A new study says that college faculty are more liberal than the public at large, but not as liberal as they used to be. They also claim that conservative professors do not face near as much bias as if often claimed and are typically quite successful.

But for those who say that these tenured radicals have all the power in academe, the study finds that politically correct professors’ views on the role of politics in hiring decisions aren’t very different from the views of other professors. Further, the study finds that a critical mass of politically incorrect professors is doing quite well in securing jobs at the most prestigious universities in the United States, despite claims that such scholars are an endangered species there.
After having shown that, while there are politically correct professors, there are many who are not, Simmons turns to data to examine what happens to those who are politically incorrect. Here he looks for “stars,” those who publish much more than others or who in other ways demonstrate levels of excellence beyond the norm. Here he finds considerable success by the politically incorrect. Of those at top 50 institutions, 73.3 percent are stars.

Of course, not everyone agrees with the authors of the study. In a big surprise, they are conservatives.

It seems that the people who raise a hue and cry over pressing issues like liberal bias in the media or on college campuses should spend more time doing something about it instead of complaining about it. Although, if it is not as big a problem as they make it out to be, well, then it's going to be a little harder to fix then, isn't it? Not to mention when they try, we end up with something like Liberty University and that's not going to solve any problems.