Sunday, September 21
An interesting article was posted this week on Slate on Radio Free Europe, which, yes, does exist outside of an R.E.M. song. "RFE/RL provides uncensored news and information in countries where a free press is either banned by the government or not fully established." An interesting, and seemingly more effective take on foriegn policy: imagine that, educating the public through broadcast media in a non-partisan way by their own journalists; as opposed to sending troops. It seems only natural in this age of information to bolster this type of foriegn presence, and let people make their own decisions. Unfortunately, the government funds used to support RFE/RL have dwindled considerably, from $230 million to $75 million. That money pays for transmitters, salaries, security, and anti-jamming technology, as well as programming and Internet content in 28 languages ($75 million is also the cost of four apache helicopters.) I get the feeling the McCain/Palin ticket won't be supporting that either...
Monday, September 15
Wow. Apparently, they've built a "giant scientific instrument" near Geneva that will be used to recreate the Big Bang. That's right, recreate the Big Bang. That would be taking all of the abstract mathematical calculations about physics and realizing them, such as the Standard Model and the existence of things we think exist, but only because we can see their effect on something else, like dark matter or strange matter.
The Large Hadron Collider is a particle accelerator that will enable scientists to view the behavior of beams of hadrons, a type of subatomic particle. The LHC is 17 miles long and exists under a region. At first I thought this was surely the work of science fiction, but apparently this thing was tested last week. A UK newsite notes "The LHC is the world's largest cryogenic installation. In preparation for Wednesday's initiation, 37,000 tonnes of equipment had to be cooled down by 300°C to 1.9° above absolute zero (-271°C). The machine also uses the world's most advanced superconducting magnet technologies. LHC's conception and construction involved 10,000 people from 500 institutes in 50 countries."
It seems suspicious that mimicking the circumstances that began the universe might not affect the existing universe, right? Will it cause the universe to end, or create a new one on top of ours? Will it even work?
It's like living science fiction without the jetpacks or the jumpsuits.
Sunday, September 14
I've been really enamoured of Mike Mills film work for awhile now, but only recently discovered that he designs posters and fabric. Pretty (yes, I said it) little anxiety filled ruminations on social interaction to hang on your wall. I can forgive him for misspelling "buried."
The Journal of American Ethnic History is an online journal that includes essays and reviews (and something called "review essays?") on ethnic identity as it has evolved through the course of geographic location, historical events and cultural circumstances. An interesting, uh, "review essay" by Tasha Oren looks at two recent publications that examine how popular culture is made by and through ethnic difference. "Immigrants and American culture have created each other. Popular culture can thus be mapped as much through its pangs of longing, hurt, struggle, and hope as through underlying structures of institutional and social power."
Wednesday, September 3
A hapax legomenon is a word that occurs only once in a written body of language, and is therefore difficult to define. They have historically acted as signatures internal to the work itself: Shakespeare's works contain a similar percentage of hapax legomena not found elsewhere in his work, something that would be difficult for a forger to duplicate. It's like how the writer uses the structure of the text to leave his mark on it, like a tattoo or a birthmark, something that is a unique biological mark on it's body. Create your own aleatoric useless objects here.
A list of the top ten disappearing languages in the world. An excerpt: "Yuchi is spoken in Oklahoma, USA, by just five people all aged over 75. Yuchi is an isolate language (that is, it cannot be shown to be related to any other language spoken on earth). Their own name for themselves is Tsoyaha, meaning "Children of the Sun". Yuchi nouns have 10 genders, indicated by word endings: six for Yuchi people (depending on kinship relations to the person speaking), one for non-Yuchis and animals, and three for inanimate objects (horizontal, vertical, and round). Efforts are now under way to document the language with sound and video recordings, and to revitalise it by teaching it to children."