Friday various

  • An Outtake from Word Freak: The Enigmatic Nigel Richards. Possibly the world’s greatest Scrabble player…though he doesn’t take much enjoyment from the game. [via]
  • Israeli Man Changes Name to Mark Zuckerberg to goad the company into suing him. I have no love for Facebook, but his company seems like a pretty clear violation of Facebook’s terms of service, and the man himself seems like an ass.
  • Jon Scalzi on the “flying snowman”:

    This is not to say that, when encountering fantasy work, one has to abandon all criticism. But if you’re going to complain about one specific element as being unrealistic, you should consider the work in its totality and ask whether in the context of the work, this specific thing is inconsistent with the worldbuilding.

  • Zach Handlen on the TV adaptation of Bag of Bones:

    A good genre story is designed in such a way as to distract you from its inner machinations. Intellectually, you can go back and say, yes, this was a scene of rising action, this was a character development moment, this was a piece of information that will become crucial later on, this was was a resolution of an earlier mystery. Everyone quotes Chekhov’s comment on a gun in act one going off in act two, and at heart, that’s all stories really are: First you load the pistol, then you aim it, then someone pulls the trigger. It’s a method of delivery for a series of stimuli designed to provoke audience response, and the better the book, movie, or TV show, the less time you spend thinking about the mechanics of the process, and the more time you spend luxuriating in the response.

    I have to admit, I kind of want to see it now.

  • I noted this on Twitter, but it bears repeating: if you’re offended just by the idea that some Americans are not Christian…then you are a bigot.
  • Terry Gilliam continues to dream the impossible dream.
  • As much as I think I’d love any movie where Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy do nothing but talk to one another, I kind of hope they don’t make another Before Sunrise movie. The two, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset work so well together, and I feel like revisiting the characters would be going to the well one too many times. (They also appear in Waking Life together.) Still, I’m willing to be proven wrong.
  • A gorgeous photo of the Milky Way from the top of the world [via]
  • Speech Synthesizer Could ‘Resurrect’ Dead Singers. I think that sound you’re hearing is the echo along the Uncanny Valley. [via]
  • And finally, some wonderful bedtime stories from Doctor Who cast members:

Monday various

Tuesday various

Tuesday various

  • Zadie Smith’s rules for writers:

    When an adult, try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would. [via]

  • “All these worlds are yours except Europa…and possibly Titan.” [via]
  • The Sad, Beautiful Fact That We’re All Going To Miss Almost Everything:

    It’s sad, but it’s also … great, really. Imagine if you’d seen everything good, or if you knew about everything good. Imagine if you really got to all the recordings and books and movies you’re “supposed to see.” Imagine you got through everybody’s list, until everything you hadn’t read didn’t really need reading. That would imply that all the cultural value the world has managed to produce since a glob of primordial ooze first picked up a violin is so tiny and insignificant that a single human being can gobble all of it in one lifetime. That would make us failures, I think. [via]

  • So long and thanks for all the fish: Underwater Translator May Finally Let Us Talk to Dolphins. [via]
  • And finally, My Little 11th Doctor [via]:

Monday various

  • Michael Chabon’s essay on the Wilderness of Childhood got a lot of attention when it was first posted, back in July. (It’s been sitting in my saved links since then.) I think Chabon made some interesting points, but I also think Sergei Lobanov-Rostovsky’s response is worth repeating [via]:

    I’m not really arguing with Chabon here: he may be right that all children are instinctively adventurers, and he’s certainly right that limiting their exploration of the world in the name of safety threatens their creative imagination. But let’s be clear: the maps we draw for our children are not the maps that guide their lives. They draw their own maps, but it’s a mistake to confuse them with the nostalgic – or anguished — images produced by adult memory. Childhood is a foreign country to us. We once knew its landmarks, but they’ve grown wild in our imaginations, so that the “adventures” we remember are now just stories we tell. Adventure is what we call it when we show the slides. The natives just call it life.

  • Leaving aside the silliness of a religion based on Star Wars, or the questions that are maybe raised about established religions when you ask why this one is silly and they’re not — or even Tesco’s valid point that plenty of Jedi(s?) in the movies don’t walk around in public in their hoods — why can’t you wear a hood in their store? [via]
  • Well, at least he wasn’t wearing this flip-top zombie shirt… [via]
  • Permanent Bedtime, which plays a complete recording from BBC Radio’s late-night Shipping Forecast. Warren Ellis describes it as such:
  • The latenight edition of the Shipping Forecast has long been praised by the British as a gentle aid to restful sleep. And dream-filled sleep, too, because the Forecast is famous for listing “places” that are entirely notional, a virtual geography inhabited only by ships and the wondering minds of people drifting off into sleep. Sleep districts of the British imagination: Fastnet, Rockall, Dogger, Cromarty, Viking…

    It’s quite interesting to take an afternoon nap with that playing in the background.

  • And finally, I’ve only watched a couple of episodes, but I quite like NASA’s IRrelevant Astronomy video podcast, particularly the Robot Astronomy Talk Show. [via]
  • I quite liked the most recent episode with Linda Hamilton and Dean Stockwell, super genius: