Links for 2009-11-06

  • "Why it's daunting: Science fiction and fantasy get a lot of mileage out of taking their readers to new worlds, but most classic genre fiction is really about making new worlds seem like home. The Lord Of The Rings would lose a lot of its appeal if the hobbits had no Shire to return to, and Isaac Asimov's Foundation series wouldn't be nearly as effective if the heroes weren't bent on protecting a sane, prosperous status quo. Philip K. Dick doesn't play by the same rules. While his work has clear genre roots, using such familiar tropes as androids, time travel, precognition, and space travel, he operates by a surreal common sense that's simultaneously lucid and fever-dream absurd. In 36 novels and more than 120 stories, he used fiction to work out his own particular philosophy, and the results aren't always immediately accessible."
  • "College basketball is about college, and it's about basketball. Our Game belongs to those who are still young enough to play it.

    College basketball is an experience that's only fully understood by actual students. There's a special bond between a student section and players (especially walk-ons) that's hardly ever captured in published words, much less "Coke Madness." As you watch from the bleachers, you know those players made the same choice as you did. You might not have been actively recruited like they were. But those are your friends and representatives, working on your behalf to validate a shared, life-altering decision about where to get educated. "

  • "Inside his lighted, glassed-in command post, the captain of the East German border guard, a beefy guy with a square jaw and the dark bristly air of a Doberman, stood dialing and redialing his telephone. For hours he vainly sought instructions. Certainly he was confused. Most likely he was frightened. The crowds before him had broiled out of nowhere, grown so fast, unlike anything he had ever seen, and now they pushed so close that their breath, frosting in the night, mingled with that of his increasingly anxious men."
  • "This language of Lego isn't just something our family has invented; every Lego-building family must have its own vocabulary. And the words they use (mostly invented by the children, not the adults) are likely to be different every time. But how different? And what sort of words?

    Hence, a survey. I asked fellow parents to donate their children for a few minutes, and name a selection of Lego pieces culled from the Lego parts store."

  • "Does everyone see a little bit of themselves in animated cartoon characters? Or do the artists actually draw the characters to look more generic, less racially distinctive? There have been few studies about the perceived race and ethnicity of animated cartoon characters, and none focusing on the unique Japanese anime style."
  • "[I]t seems that a lot of people are missing the point of NaNoWriMo altogether. Despite Chris Baty's invitation to "write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together," a lot of folks are getting really amped up about having finally written a piece of fiction of substantial length and are more concerned about FINALLY BECOMING AUTHORS ZOMG than about having fun writing crap, which is what the contest is really about. If even one sentence of whatever you concoct in the spirit of NaNoWriMo leads you into a publishable novel somewhere down the road (with substantial editing and revision, of course), you should count yourself lucky."
  • "The words left behind are ironically what the books are about, but not in the way their authors intended. The evangelical/fundamentalists, from their crudest egocentric celebrities to their "intellectuals" touring college campuses trying to make evangelicalism respectable, have been left behind by modernity. They won't change their literalistic anti-science, anti-education, anti-everything superstitions, so now they nurse a deep grievance against "the world." This has led to a profound fear of the "other.""
  • "[W]hen students were asked whether their professors understand technology and have integrated it into their courses, only 38 percent said Yes. Further, when students were asked about the top impediment to using technology, the top answer was "lack of faculty technology knowledge," an answer that drew 45 percent of respondents, up from 25 percent only a year ago.

    And only 32 percent of students said that they believed their college was adequately preparing them to use technology in their careers."

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