Dan Goodman's prediction and politics journal.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Friday December 5, 2003. I've taken the LiveJournal discussion of regional terms into some mailing lists. And that led me to the following:

Dialect Topography is a research project that investigates what English words people use in Canada, as well as regions of the United States that border Canada. The project is directed by Professor Jack Chambers of the Department of Linguistics at the University of Toronto. The databases are hosted by CHASS (Computing in the Humanities and Social Sciences).

***Rereadings: Yesterday -- John Brunner, _Meeting at Infinity_ (Ace 1961). It's good crosstime opera; three different worlds are described well enough to make them live. The prologue doesn't seem to serve any purpose, though.

Today -- Patricia C. Wrede, Shadow Magic (Ace 1984). Pat Wrede's first novel has a good story, but some awkwardness in the way it's told. She's become more skilled since then.

Isaac Asimov, the first part of _Foundation and Empire_, "Dead Hand" aka "The General". (1945 in Astounding; 1952, as part of the fix-up, Gnome Press.) The Roman Empire (with the serial numbers filed off, and given spaceships and other sufficiently advanced technology)
on its way down to falling apart completely against the Foundation, which was set up to shorten the period of barbarism which will follow the Empire's collapse. Still a good adventure story, but it creaks in places.

And I kept remembering how the real Roman Empire differed from the model Asimov used. For one thing, the Roman Empire survived till 39 years before Columbus sailed out to make the second European discovery of the New World. (Or possibly the third, depending on whether Basque fishermen preceded him.) [Arnold Toynbee took the view that it didn't collapse till the Ottoman Empire's defeat in WW I.]

For another, some technology advanced radically after Rome fell.

The second part of _Foundation and Empire_ is "The Mule." After a couple of pages, I decided not to bother rereading it. I've never really cared for it.

From scitechdaily.com -- November 24th, and I hadn't seen it elsewhere:

Just a half-teaspoonful of cinnamon makes the blood sugar go down -- and helps it stay down. And it has other health benefits, too ...

From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php
Public Release: 4-Dec-2003
Changing one gene launches new fly species
By replacing a single gene in fruit flies, evolutionary biologists were able to observe the first steps in the origin of a new species. Flies with one version of the gene were better adapted to life in the tropics. Flies with the other version were better suited to cooler climates. The change also altered the flies' pheromones, perhaps pointing the two groups toward sexual isolation.
National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation

Public Release: 5-Dec-2003
Climate to linked to the quality of musical instrument making
Columbia University scientists presents a hypothesis on the climatic catalyst behind the tonal superiority of the 17th and 18th century violinmakers.

Public Release: 4-Dec-2003
Outstanding UCLA undergraduates present research
More than 30 UCLA undergraduates presented original research at the annual Southern California Conference for Undergraduate Research on topics ranging from prenatal effects of alcohol to Jews and the Spanish Inquisition.

Going to the press release full text:

Among them were:

# Omid Michael Foladi, a fourth-year history major with minors in public policy and education. Foladi is a Wasserman Undergraduate Research Scholar and his senior thesis focuses on medieval Jews and the Spanish Inquisition. His research evaluates the role that the Spanish Inquisition played in the lives of Jews and conversos living in medieval Spain -- more specifically, in the Kingdom of Castile and in the Crown of Aragon.

His research paper addresses the question of whether those persecuted, tortured and often executed were actually guilty of secretly practicing Judaism or simply the victims of violent mob mentality and mass paranoia towards non-Catholics. Foladi is studying the time period spanning from the establishment of the Inquisition in 1478 to the mass expulsion of all Jews from Spain in 1492. His research project takes into account the works of several leading experts in the field of medieval Spanish Jewry. He is a pre-law student, studying under the guidance of Professor Teofilo Ruiz, chair of UCLA's history department.

From A Fistful of Euros November 27 http://www.fistfulofeuros.net/
Moore's Law As Applied To Humans

Dumbest thing a lawyer's said this year? Thanks to jmhm on LiveJournal. From the Associated Press:

Earlier Friday, Limbaugh's attorney, Roy Black, accused the Palm Beach state attorney of investigating Limbaugh only for political reasons. Black said Limbaugh was not a target of State Attorney Barry Krischer's investigation until October when the National Enquirer quoted Limbaugh's maid as saying she had unlawfully sold Limbaugh such medications.

"Suddenly an elected public official could not ignore the name Rush Limbaugh," Black said on NBC's "Today" show. Black is also a paid NBC commentator. "They are looking to publicly embarrass him and affect his radio program....Why is Rush Limbaugh the only person treated like this in America?"

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