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February 24, 2011

The alignments of Shakespeare

Mightygodking.com -- ALIGNMENT CHART! Shakespeare

On reading Asimov in the 21st century

Asimov was my first literary hero, from about age 11 or so. The man wrote hard sci-fi that was still profoundly, achingly human. Threepenny: Lesser, On Isaac Asimov
One of the advantages of looking back on Asimov’s work from the remove of several decades, not to mention the turn of a century, is that one can see how deeply enmeshed he was in the history of his own time. He was the child of Russian emigrants who left the Soviet Union for America in 1923, just three years after their son Isaac was born; and one can, if one chooses, view his whole science-fiction oeuvre as a recapitulation of the Soviet experiment and the Cold War reaction to it. Yet these novels, although they wear their anti-totalitarian garb as prominently as Orwell’s ever did, are unlikely ever to be kidnapped by the right, for the simple reason that all the individualistic, novelty-mongering American virtues are countered in Asimov’s work—and sometimes outweighed—by their opposites: that is, a belief in collective effort, a passion for history, and an ineradicable pessimism about the prospects for human progress. For Asimov, super-civilization and technological achievement always go hand-in-hand with a general softening or attenuation of the human spirit, and it is only by getting back to basics (or intuition, or felt sensation) that people can continue to move ahead. It is an essentially nostalgic view, and as such it is profoundly Russian, however much Asimov may have felt himself to be a fully fledged citizen of his new country.

February 21, 2011

Russian Paleontoligist Rewrites Lord of the Rings from Sauron's Point of View

ymarkov: The Last Ring-bearer The result of this re-appraisal was...

February 17, 2011

Great Gatsby is now a great free game

IndieGames.com - The Weblog - Browser Game Pick: The Great Gatsby (Great Gatsby Team)
The Great Gatsby is a free-to-play Flash game adaptation of a literary classic with the same name, featuring NES-style graphics and a surprisingly catchy chiptune soundtrack to complement this four-level 2D platformer. The developers have gone to great lengths in trying to make it look like an authentic NES cart release, up to and including making manual scans and a Japanese cover illustration to complete the package. The game itself doesn't disappoint either. Playing as Nick Carraway, you can throw your hat at enemies, collect coins for points, or grab power-up items for extra health and temporary invincibility. Each stage takes about a minute or two to beat, and if you reach the end of the game without losing a single life you'll be treated to a slightly extended ending for a reward.

February 14, 2011

Recommended Reading: Berlin Noir by Philip Kerr

Amazon.com: Berlin Noir: March Violets; The Pale Criminal; A German...

February 07, 2011

Getting married to snag in-state tuition

Marriages Made in Tuition Heaven - The Bay Citizen
But economically, in-state students have a huge advantage over their non-Californian counterparts, for whom tuition costs an additional $22,000 per year. The financial stakes are so high that some out-of-state students are employing an unusual technique to meet the University of California’s strict residency requirements and acquire the coveted in-state tuition: they’re getting married. Of 16,000 undergraduate students at Berkeley who received financial aid during 2009-10, 416 were married. The number of married students has remained virtually static for the past few years. UC officials say they are not aware of students marrying for tuition purposes. "If a student has a valid marriage license, it is accepted as proof of his/her marriage," UC spokesman Ricardo Vazquez wrote in an e-mail. Getting married to secure lower tuition does not technically break any laws, but students are understandably hesitant to speak publicly about it. The Bay Citizen was able to find nine such couples. Together, the nine couples identified by The Bay Citizen cost UC Berkeley an estimated $350,000 in out-of-state tuition. In some cases, both spouses took advantage of the in-state tuition or increased federal financial aid; in others, only one spouse did so.

February 06, 2011

Literary speed dating at the SF public library

Singles check one another out at S.F. Main Library
Four minutes later, they were back at introductions with other book-clutching speed daters. Twenty-five lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender participants, and 38 straight participants the night before, got a chance to find love before Valentine's Day during the library's first literary speed-dating events. The events drew so much interest that the library hopes to replicate them again soon. Announced at the start of the year, each free event was designed to accommodate 36 people. Enrollment for the straight night closed at the end of January with a waiting list of 50 people, said librarian Donya Drummond. "This is changing the image of the library, showing that it can be a social place and not just a studious place," she said. The buzz at the tables, decorated with heart-shaped Valentine's Day candies and flowers, seemed to tell that story. "I'm definitely a person that gets turned on intellectually when someone shares what they're passionate about," said Jesse Mills, a 33-year-old homeless San Francisco writer and musician who attended the straight event. But books didn't help break the ice for everyone.