Friday, October 29, 2004

"Hobbit" Discovered: Tiny Human Ancestor Found in Asia

A fascinating discovery of fossils of a minature species of Homo (Homo floresiensis) on the Indonesian island of Flores. Amazingly, they apparently died out only 13,000 to 18,000 years ago! Although an isolated island, the fact that they lived contemporaneously with Homo Sapiens leaves one breathless with conjecture (or at least leaves me that way, as my boyhood dream was to be a physical anthropologist).

I'm surprised that the article's title made it through the National Geopgraphic editors, as the species is clearly not our 'ancestor', but rather a cousin (perhaps descended from Homo Erectus).

Thursday, October 28, 2004

San Francisco to Expand Wi-Fi Program

A terrifice idea, to provide free wireless Internet access to those who can't afford it. This follows Philadelphia's program, which is even more ambitious. I hope that it's an idea that spreads broadly throughout the country.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Shatner Wants to Boldly Go on Space Flight

Shatner is one of more than 7,000 people who have expressed a keen interest in paying the estimated $210,000 for a flight aboard Virgin Galactic's proposed service...slated to begin operation in 2008.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Kramnik Retains World Title

Down 6-7 in games, Kramnik barely squeezed by Leko of Hungary to capture the last game. As has been the case for decades, the World Champion (in this case, the 'Classical World Chess Champion') retains his title in the event of a tied match.

This sets the stage of a reunification of the FIDE and defunct Professional Chess Association's champion, Kasparov (still ranked #1 in the world), should he win a match against Rustam Kasimdzhanov of Uzbekistan (FIDE World Champion), to be held in Dubai in January. In any case, Kramnik will play the winner of this match, and the world will once again have a unified Champion (sounds much like the boxing world in the 70's and 80's, with it's many competing title holders).

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Bobby Fischer 'ambushed' by U.S. gov't plot, new lawyer says

An interesting litany of supposed U.S. government abuses of Fischer's rights. One must consider the source of course.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Sunday Times -- Chronicles by Bob Dylan

A lovely book review. I can hardly wait to see Bob perform again. This time he's at Stabler Arena, Lehigh University, November 16th.

Bobby Fischer vigorously defends his manhood

Such a sad situation.

Being Shatner: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

A terrific 'appreciation' of someone else who holds Shatner at arm's length...and in his heart.

Friday, October 15, 2004

CD Tries to Show Shatner's No 'Has Been'

Believe it or not, this sounds like an interesting album. OK, maybe I'm the only one interested....

King of the Game

A very nice bio of Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand of India -- former World Champion.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Bobby Fischer vows to take revenge for being put in slammer

Maybe Dubai wants to reconsider using a Fischer game (see previous entry).

Three-billion-dollar Chess City planned for Dubai

"Up to 16 black and 16 white hotels will sit on a 64-hectare plot of land resembling a chessboard, depending on which game configuration is chosen as a blueprint, said Ilyumzhinov, who is also president of the Russian republic of Kalmykia.
Pawn-shaped hotels

“So far we plan either to copy a Bobby Fischer game or possibly one of (Russian chess master Garry) Kasparov’s,” he told journalists."

Follow the link to read more.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

It's All Trew: Quills, nibs, ink bladders were part of daily life

Some early memories of pens and pencils from retired rancher Delbert Trew, from the Amarillo Globe News.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Shatner Enjoys Bombast of 'Boston Legal'

Of course, some would say his is a career based on bombast...but not me of course. He''ll forever be my Captain!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004 | Nobel nomination of Bob Dylan sparks debate: Is it literature?

Nobel nomination of Bob Dylan sparks debate: Is it literature?


By MATTIAS KAREN / Associated Press

How many roads must a man walk down, before you call him a ... Nobel Prize-winning songwriter?

It's a question being asked increasingly in literary circles, as the annual debate over who should win the Nobel Prize in literature — to be announced Thursday — tosses out a familiar, but surprising, candidate: Bob Dylan.

While many music critics agree that Dylan is among the most profound songwriters in modern music, his repeated nomination for the Nobel Prize has raised a vexing question among literary authorities: Should song lyrics qualify for literature's most prestigious award?

Christopher Ricks, co-director of the Editorial Institute at Boston University — and an avid Dylan fan who has written scholarly papers on the songwriter's work — said the question is "tricky."

"I don't think there's anybody that uses words better than he does," said Ricks, the author of highly regarded works of literary criticism such as "The Force of Poetry" and "Allusion to the Poets," as well as books on T.S. Eliot, Lord Alfred Tennyson and John Keats.

"But I think his is an art of a mixed medium," Ricks said. "I think the question would not be whether he deserves (the Nobel Prize) as an honor to his art. The question would be whether his art can be described as literature."

It definitely can, said Gordon Ball, an author and literature professor at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va. — who has nominated Dylan every year since 1996.

"Poetry and music are linked," Ball said. "And Dylan has helped strengthen that relationship, like the troubadours of old."

The Nobel Prize in literature is given out annually by the 18 lifetime members of the 218-year-old Swedish Academy. Candidates can be nominated by members of other literary academies and institutions, literature professors and Nobel laureates.

Each year, the Swedish Academy receives about 350 nominations for about 200 different candidates, which is narrowed down to about five finalists. The winner is announced in October. The finalists, except for the winner, are not revealed for 50 years.

Speculation in the literary world is that the 2004 winner will be a woman, something that has not happened since 1996, when Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska was honored.

Some names emerge time and again, including Lebanese poet Ali Ahmad Said, also known as Adonis, and several women, including Danish poet Inger Christensen, novelists Margaret Atwood of Canada, Algerian Assia Djebar, American Joyce Carol Oates and Britain's Doris Lessing.

Ball said he first nominated Dylan after the writer Allen Ginsberg urged him to do so. Ginsberg, a Beat poet whose literary circle included Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady, nominated Dylan in 1996.

"Dylan is a major American bard and minstrel of the 20th century" who deserves the award for his "mighty and universal powers," Ginsberg wrote in his nomination letter, which Ball read to The Associated Press.

The literary value of Dylan's texts are also supported by The Norton Introduction to Literature, a textbook used in American high schools and universities, which includes the lyrics to Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man."

University of Virginia professor Alison Booth, who co-edited the anthology, said she doesn't "have any trouble at all considering (Dylan) for a literary interpretation."

"Literature has historically been defined very broadly," Booth said. "I don't think we're testing some radical limits of literature by putting that in."

Several collections of Dylan's lyrics have also been published as books.

Still, most Nobel watchers say it's unlikely the Swedish Academy — traditionally drawn to novelists and poets who are often out of the mainstream — will expand the scope of the prize to include songwriters.

"If so, it would be in a fit of marvelous free-mindedness," said Svante Weyler, head of one of Sweden's largest publishing houses, Norstedts. "It would be very surprising."

But not entirely unprecedented.

In 1997, the prize went to Italian playwright Dario Fo, whose works also need to be performed to be fully appreciated, some say.

And when Winston Churchill received it in 1953, for his historical and biographical writings, the academy also cited his "brilliant oratory" skills.

While the academy never discusses individual candidates, Carola Hermelin at the academy's Nobel Library said songwriters are not excluded from the prize.

"Song lyrics can be good poetry," she said. "It depends on their literary quality."

But Weyler said he was skeptical about including songwriters.

"Then you're categorizing everything that includes words as literature," he said. "Literature should not have to be read by the author for it to be good."


On the Net:

Nobel Prize:

Swedish Academy:

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Bob Dylan is just a mortal after all

An interesting look at Dylan from an 'outsider' . I don't personally agree with many of his comments (he thinks "Highlands" to be "...aimless,", while I consider it one of Dylan's best), but it's refreshing to read an assessment from someone who isn't a devotee.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Interview: Transcending Technobabble -- Antiquated Sci-Fi: Neal Stephenson Weighs In

From the interview:

"Not only has Stephenson forayed further back into time, his method for writing The Baroque Cycle was equally antiquated. The entire series was written longhand with fountain pen, a process Stephenson preferred to typing for its slow, deliberate nature. The entire Baroque Cycle numbers at over 3,000 pages, making his decision to write by hand doubly ironic considering that Stephenson’s status as a cutting-edge, tech-savvy writer."