Saturday, July 21, 2007

Dizzies Newsfeeds™ for Saturday, July 21 Featuring BOLDFACE Technology

1. Attractive columnette: F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre's "Curiosities," in Fantasy & Science Fiction. Did you know that H.G. Wells wrote a quasi-sequel to War of the Worlds?

Gradually, Davis becomes convinced that the Martians have begun a second, subtler campaign to conquer Earth: this time the Martians are modulating the cosmic rays that bombard Earth, in a manner calculated to cause gradual mutations in humanity's genome, so that humans will eventually evolve into Martians.

I can't believe how short this feature is—the current one is just three brief paragraphs long, barely filling its page. Very Borgesian, no?

2. Robert Silverberg (in Asimov's) on deciphering cuneiform:

Quickly he found clusters of repeated words, the most frequent of which was a seven-letter group that he suspected meant “king.” In Old Persian that word was “khsheihioh,” and by lining up the characters he arrived at guesses for seven letters. Then, finding what seemed to be a royal name at the proper place in the formula, he matched the letters he had already identified against the name of a known king—Xerxes, “Khshershe” in Persian—and then tested his growing list of letters against the name of Xerxes’ father, Darius—“Darheush.” Bit by bit, by trial and error, he was able to claim identification of twenty-nine of the forty-two Class I characters by 1803. Although it turned out that he was wrong about some of these, he had provided entry into the mysteries of Class I cuneiform.

3. Somehow this seems related: Are you good at checkers? (Via NYT's "Champion at Checkers That Cannot Lose to People"—robotic headline, eh?—and Jenny D)

4. From a Times review of the show Kill Point (via Jane):

Cali is street-smart, but he is also a bit eccentric, a stickler for correct grammar and syntax who grows more doctrinaire under pressure. When a subordinate asks: “How do you want me to prioritize that? Is that important or not?” Cali snarls, “There are so many things wrong with the construction of that sentence, I can’t even stand to look at you.”

5. I think this Cali character would approve of the language in Jeff Tweedy's assessment of Grizzly Bear (from tomorrow's NYT):
I read a lot about this band but resisted based on the snide expression on a couple of their faces in a magazine. I can't get past those first impressions easily. There's so much music to listen to, so you narrow it down any way you can. I've missed out on a lot of stuff (probably based on arbitrary facial displeasure).

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