First Peoples in a New World

Writing in American Scientist, Douglas K. Charles, professor of archaeology at Wesleyan University, reviews David J. Meltzer’s First Peoples in a New World: Colonizing Ice Age America, characterizing it as “a masterful exploration and encapsulation of the last two centuries of American archaeology and the first five millennia of the earliest Americans.”

See more in Pleistocene Pioneers.

Published in: on May 10, 2010 at 9:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Random Book of the Day: The Drunkard’s Walk

“If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.”
— Thomas Watson

As if by chance, Powell’s Books earlier this month featured Doug Brown’s review of Leonard Mlodinow’s The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives. There’s a good probability you’ll want to read this book.

Published in: on May 10, 2010 at 5:21 pm  Leave a Comment  


Touting their new 169 Best Illusions special issue very effectively, Scientific American features a slideshow of eleven delightful illusions — interesting and fun.

Update: Here’s another delightful illusion, this one from New Scientist in ‘Impossible Motion’ Trick Wins Illusion Contest.

Published in: on May 10, 2010 at 3:45 pm  Comments (1)  

Success in Country Music Seminar

Nashville producer and author Gabriel Farago will appear in the Haysville Community Library Community Room Friday evening, May 21st at 7:00 pm for a seminar based on his new book Secrets to Success in Country Music.

The two hour program applies to all genres and styles of music, and includes a ten minute ‘artist development’ video, on-site talent evaluation, and an open question and answer period following the detailed presentation.

Here’s how Gabriel Farago’s website describes the substance of this seminar:

“The Secrets to Success in Country Music seminar will show you how to:

•Discover if you really have ‘what it takes’.
•Turn your goals into winning gameplans.
•Put together a recording session in Nashville (complete details).
•Learn how and where to effectively book yourself.
•Turn your talent into trea$ure performing at country fairs, rodeos and festivals even without a big name.
•Create professional looking promotional material.
•Get radio airplay before you’re signed to a record label.
•Discover ‘inside’ strategies used by Nashville’s top promotors, talent agents and managers.
•Write a song (crash course!)
•Create a marketable ‘star’ image that sells!
•Break down the barriers to Nashville’s major labels.
•Launch your career overseas.
•Scam-proof yourself.
•Attract investors using sure-fire techniques.
•Find career-launching caliber songs.

“Based upon his new book Secrets to Success in Country Music, Nashville producer and author Gabriel Farago has created a career-launching potential seminar for singers/musicians wanting to break into the music biz. ‘You can have all the talent in the world’, says Farago, ‘but if you don’t know what you’re doing, it will forever remain a well-kept secret. This seminar deals head-on with the key issue: How to make your talent work for you.’”

Published in: on May 10, 2010 at 3:01 pm  Comments (1)  

The Laser at 50

Keck Observatory laser guide (December 2006)

The laser – light amplification through stimulated emission of radiation – is fifty years old this year, though in so many ways it still seems an emerging technology. New Scientist celebrates the anniversary with an interesting short slide show.

Published in: on May 10, 2010 at 2:27 pm  Leave a Comment  


“The world’s varieties of English range from the ‘crazy English’ taught to the Chinese-speaking officials of the Beijing Olympics, to the ‘voice and accent’ manuals issued by Infosys and Microsoft at their Bangalore headquarters. Thus, English today embodies a paradox. To some, it seems to carry the seeds of its own decay. In the heartlands of the mother tongue, there are numerous anxieties about its future: in the United States, language conservatives agonise about the Hispanic threat to American English. But simultaneously, and more stealthily – almost unnoticed, in fact – the real challenge to the English of Shakespeare and the King James Bible comes less from alien speech than from the ceaseless amendments made to English in a myriad daily transactions across the known world. Here, global English, floating free from its troubled British and American past, has begun to take on a life of its own. My prediction is that the 21st-century expression of British and American English – the world’s English – is about to make its own declaration of independence from the linguistic past, in both syntax and vocabulary.”

There’s a bit of silliness in Robert McCrum’s writeup on his own book Globish: How the English Language Became the World’s Language in the UK’s Guardian. But there’s also a considerable measure of good sense. One hopes the book, soon to be released, emphasizes the sense and jettisons the nonsense.

Published in: on May 10, 2010 at 12:29 pm  Comments (2)  

Solar Prominence

Solar Prominence (NASA -- Solar Dynamics Observatory)

Today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day from NASA is a brief but fascinating time-lapse video from the Solar Dynamics Observatory of the eruption of a large solar prominence. Wow.

Update: Here’s an outstanding three minute video on the Solar Dynamics Observatory and its mission from the Goddard Space Flight Center.

Published in: on May 10, 2010 at 11:40 am  Leave a Comment  

The Fiction of Philosophy, the Fiction of Dreams

Whether or not you have read any of the works of Jorge Luis Borges, the great Argentine writer, essayist and poet (and, if you haven’t, you should), this delightfully thought provoking interview, conducted in 1976, should capture your interest.

Published in: on May 10, 2010 at 10:45 am  Leave a Comment