Tastes Like Lead

What should I write here? I have absolutely no clue. Hmm...

Harrison Ford May Be Graff In Ender's Game

So, I know it’s been ages since I’ve posted anything here. Figured this was post-worthy.

I’m a huge Orson Scott Card fan and I can definitely say that Ender’s Game is my favourite book. I don’t know why, but I just can’t not re-read that thing over and over. I’m a little sad that my first paperback copy of it is now lost to the ether, but it did free myself up to grab a hardcover copy, so all is not lost. 

Anyways, I know that this movie has been in development essentially since the novel was released and I’m glad that casting has officially started. Ender and (possibly) Graff seem like good calls, but I know that I am forever going to be disappointed in Bean.

I mean, Bean is meant to look like a 4 year old, but have the insightful intelligence of something super-human. He’s smarter than all of his peers and all of the teachers, as well. I know this only comes out in Ender’s Shadow and beyond, but from what I understand, the goal was to pen a movie that encompassed both novels: Game and Shadow. 

Oh well. It seems as though the film has been slated for release in 2013. Now we play the waiting game…

The Free Fall Research Page

Or, in other words, how to survive when you’re falling at terminal velocity from more than 15,000 feet (~4.6km) in the air.

Happy St. Hildegard’s Day!

A long while back (but I guess not too long, since it’s been less than a year), I read a blog post that put forth the idea of a Conlanging Holiday. I loved the idea and held on to it, marking it on my calendar for celebration.

Well folks, today’s that day. The feast day of St. Hildegard von Bingen, a 12th century conlanger!

I plan on celebrating by revising, organizing, and expanding my primary conlang (Ounuan U:shos) and its sub-dialects (Fjamen, Ptachel, Rachego, Mnagame, and Irroi).

So, to wish you all a Happy St. Hilde’s Day:

So:mparimacra:! (“Be joyous!”)

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Named Best Picture of 2008 by the National Society of Film Critics.

An Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film.

One night at a bar, an old friend tells director Ari about a recurring nightmare in which he is chased by 26 vicious dogs. Every night, the same number of beasts. The two men conclude that there’s a connection to their Israeli Army mission in the first Lebanon War of the early eighties. Ari is surprised that he can’t remember a thing anymore about that period of his life. Intrigued by this riddle, he decides to meet and interview old friends and comrades around the world. He needs to discover the truth about that time and about himself. As Ari delves deeper and deeper into the mystery, his memory begins to creep up in surreal images.

Fantastic movie. I’ve watched it a few times and every single time has been just as moving as the first. 

(Source: metaconscious)

The Sparrow

I’ve been re-reading one of my favourite books called The Sparrow. I went through a phase about a year or two ago where I thoroughly embraced my nerdy linguist-hood and read a ton of novels with linguists as main characters. Honestly, most of them are pretty… meh. But The Sparrow stood out among them.

It’s a science-fiction novel (set varyingly between 2020 and 2060) about a group of Jesuits who travel to another world because SETI has actually found proof of alien existence there. The main character is a Jesuit who has worked as a missionary and so has learned many languages, but is also a linguist.

He has a brief passage that I just read where he’s attempting to explain to a small group of Vatican officials about the difference between being ‘multilingual’ and being a ‘linguist.’ Well, really he was explaining why his research focused beyond simply ‘learning to speak the language.’

The ability to speak a language perfectly does not necessarily confer any linguistic understanding of it… Just as one may play billiards well without any formal understanding of Newtonian physics, yes? My advanced training is in anthropological linguistics, so my purpose… was not merely to be able to ask someone to pass the salt, so to speak, but to gain insight into her people’s underlying cultural assumptions and cognitive makeup.

His focus in the passage is on Anthropological Linguistics, which is an interesting field. He (or the author) is making a bit of a stretch by saying you can infer cognitive make-up from language, but underlying cultural assumptions can definitely be extracted. He was essentially probing semantic fields and ranges, seeing what terms were grouped and how objects were described.

Anyways, it’s a really good book. Definitely recommended for Linguists and non-Linguists alike. And if science-fiction isn’t your cup of tea, it’s not even heavy science-fiction either!

linguistics & the military


Gathering intelligence, cracking codes, coordinating communications systems, learning dozens of languages, serving your country. Sound like something you’d like to do? The military and other government organizations are hiring linguists!

*Note: This post is U.S.-centric, because that’s what I’m familiar with. Similar jobs at equivalent agencies are available in most countries.

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The Canadian equivalent is CSIS.

Linguists are code-breakers, pure and simple. We’re given tons of data and asked to organize, categorize, and simplify. It would be nice if the term ‘linguist’ didn’t mean ‘multilingual’ out in “The Real World.” Alas, we’ll just have to settle with being particularly apt at being spies and speech pathologists.

(via a-v-p-deactivated20111230)

That's No Millenium Falcon...

Some sort of perfectly circular object was found 285 feet below sea level. It left a near 1000-foot length impact trail behind it.

Now, it’s probably nothing, but I can hope and pray that it’s some sort of alien spaceship… right?


I want this to happen. It’s maglev trains in vacuum-sealed tunnels. No air resistance means crazy fast speeds. Nifty.

The lack of air resistance could permit vactrains to use little power and to move at extremely high speeds, up to… 6400–8000 km/h, or 5–6 times the speed of sound at sea level and standard conditions…

Apparently it would be extremely useful for intercontinental travel, which at those speeds would be ludicrous. Apparently London (U.K.) to New York would take under an hour of travel time. The problem, however, is tectonic shifting. These things have to stay vacuum sealed, but those tectonic plates move an inch or so in a year. That’s gonna mess up that air-tight seal.

Possible science-fiction form of travel, though. I like space flight and all, but tens of thousands of years in the future and people are still flying around in the atmosphere at Mach 0.8 (~272m/s). Intercontinental subway systems are the way to go.

Related image:: http://i.imgur.com/3yOWR.jpg from Reddit.

Magical Deductions: Parseltongue in IPA


(I’m no expert. Corrections welcome.)

/saijaχasaʃi || saijaχasijɛθ/

Clip of this scene: on YouTube

/xɛʃ χa sa/

/ʃjaχs aŋgaʈas sɛliθɨin/

/saθai hɛθɛs/

Nagini: /χalχ sakaθ aχa/
Harry: /sanaχ/
Nagini: /sɛlɛtɛs/

/saija χasaθ alasajaʃɛ/

/sɛs lɛθjo loçin || haʃɛʃ nana…

Wow. I’m completely impressed with this. I’ve done transcription before and it’s painful, painstaking work. 

I remember at the beginning of August I watched the films again and wondered whether Parseltongue was a legitimate conlang, or just a bunch of sibilants and coronals strung together. I was also very drunk at the time.

Some advice: When creating a Harry Potter drinking game, do not make a rule stating that you have to take a shot when “Voldemort” is spoken or a house receives points. You will not make it past Sorceror’s Stone.

(via magicaldeductions-deactivated20)

Eagle Owl Attacking Camera at 1000fps


Owls are scary.