Archive for the Genre: Science Fiction Category

The Game of Life

Posted in Genre: Science Fiction, Literature, Mathematics on January 22, 2008 by weirleader

Game of Life (Conway)

No, not the Parker Bros. classic – I’m talking about John Conway‘s Game of Life (or here).  It’s really quite interesting, even for non-math-types (I think…  guess I’m sort of assuming there).  The great part about it is how complexity can arise from a very simple set of rules.

I’ve been familiar with this for years, but just had it on my mind (can’t recall even why) and figured I’d do a bit of advertising.

At the very least, read through the description and perhaps fiddle with the Java applet.  It’s pretty cool to mess around with, if you’ve got the time.

One literary connection – David Brin (one of my favorite sci-fi authors) actually incorporated the Game into a novel (Glory Season)…  very interesting novel, for more than the math.

Hope you enjoy it (even just a little).

(Bradbury) – (Boob-tube) = (Books)

Posted in Education, Genre: Science Fiction, Literature, Music, Movies & Entertainment on June 5, 2007 by weirleader

Just had a moment to peruse my favorite few blogs, and Mental Multivitamin caught my eye with a piece on Ray Bradbury.  Although I’m a big sci-fi fan, I’ve only read one of his books cover-to-cover…  perhaps I was too young, or just a bit ADD at the time, but I never became a huge fan.  Nevertheless, the book mentioned was the one I’d read – Fahrenheit 451.  Surprisingly, the claim is that the book which, to me, was quite obviously about government censorship and authoritarianism turns out to not be about that at all.  According to Bradbury, it’s about his fear that television will kill books.  Now that I’ve heard that, it does make a sort of sense…  but boy that never would have crossed my mind.

My first instinct is to say that in no way will television really do that – after all, I’d take a good book almost any day over TV.  To add proof to this, I’ve gone through 3 or 4 books in the past couple of months, as opposed to spending at most an hour or two a week watching TV…  we’ve really been weaning ourselves from TV addiction, and it’s quite the relief.  It’s pretty sad how easy it is to start scheduling your week around the shows you “must” watch.   In all honesty, we do still watch movies and series, but we only watch DVDs borrowed from the library and we watch them on our terms – when we have the time.  I didn’t include that in that one to two hours a week I mentioned earlier – but I’d claim that most TV watching is of the random “flipping-channels-just-to-see-what’s-on” variety, and that’s not us.

Anyhow, while I am in no way in danger of forsaking books for TV, it occurs to me that many of my high school students seem to already be there.  One, almost proudly, informed me the other day that he hadn’t read a book in something like three years.  I have students that get frustrated with me because I won’t put their calculator away for them – they can’t be bothered to get up and walk 15 feet to the drawer.  So there’s a piece of me that sees that kids are increasingly inclined to take the quick and easy TV over the much deeper, fulfilling, and yet time-requisite, world of books.

While thinking about what I’d put in this blog entry, I was reminded of what Pete wrote a short time ago in his article Non Sequitur – how on the back of Brenna’s book was the statement “Learn to read.  Watch TV.”  I’ve got to admit, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
I try to be slow to see the world as going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket, but there does seem to be some sort of problem with younger generations and commitment to things that matter – whether those things be related to education, to family, to the community, or even to self-improvement.  Still, I don’t want to be too pessimistic here – I’m sure some of this is the product of my environment, teaching the already-disadvantaged students of downtown Grand Rapids.

Alas, as happens too often, it seems like I’m beginning to get on another education rant…  so I’ll cut this off right here.  Suffice it to say that I highly recommend Bradbury’s book, recommend reading in all shapes and forms, and leave you with the statement that much of what is wrong with society today is due to the fact that many “are more concerned with their rights than with their responsibilities.”

Sadness and Humor Juxtaposed

Posted in Genre: Science Fiction, Humor, Music, Movies & Entertainment on August 8, 2006 by weirleader

Through Stephen, I was led to the blog of Bob Harris – apparently the author of Prisoner of Trebekistan.

But this particular entry was just hilarious and yet I felt bad laughing at it.  I suppose if it was intentional it would be much less funny.  Whereas this is just an example of how you can never plan for all the strangeness of how technology will play out – such as Google’s AdWords, tailoring your advertising to your search interests.

On a less philosophical note, the book looks like it might be fun to read – however I can’t be sure, seeing as how two of the most glowing reviews came from 1) the author’s girlfriend, Jane Espenson (Stephen also pointed me to her own blog), and 2) Joss Whedon, creator of the completely awesome Firefly (which just happens to have as one of its writers… you guessed it, Jane Espenson).  I mean, I like their taste – but how to separate true appreciation from sticking up for your friends?

They also apparently worked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer – which I’ve only caught glimpses of, but perhaps should watch (given that Firefly only lasted 12 episodes – a victim of bureaucratic bungling).

If you ever get a chance, check out Firefly – so I can determine if it really is as good as I think, or yet another instance of my flexible standards in action.  🙂