Archive for January 13th, 2010
Fantasy has made in-roads into science-fiction, though they always shared a fan base. Still, it’s great to read what used to be hard-core science-fiction: take where we are today, in terms of technology and social trends (including business and government), and extrapolate those into the near- and mid-term future. And that is exactly what Daniel Suarez has done with Daemon and its sequel Freedom(TM).
If you like science-fiction at all, or
if you follow technology at all, or
if you follow politics and/or business at all,
then you owe it to yourself to read these books. Soon, before the events actually start happening.
UPDATE: Freedom(TM) is the conclusion: it’s a two-part novel with Daemon the first part, Freedom(TM) the second. Don’t miss it.
I’m plugging away at my Spanish learning, and I’ve found a couple of books to be useful—and both are written by polyglots.
The first is Language is Music: Over 70 Fun and Easy Tips to Learn Foreign Languages. I got this as an eBook, and the tips are indeed useful. The emphasis is on listening to the language you’re learning as music: learn the tonal patterns, the rhythm, the flow of the language. The author, Susanna Zaraysky, uses the example of native speakers of Vietnamese, a language in which each syllable is spoken as a word. When a native Vietnamese speaker learns English without learning the "English melody"—the rhythm and tones of English—the staccato delivery makes his speech difficult for a native English speaker to understand. Thus Zaraysky strongly recommends listening to the language from the very beginning: songs, movies, audiobooks, native speakers, radio or TV programs: whatever is handy. Listen to the language at length, until you absorb its tonality, rhythm, and sound.
Zaraysky studied ten languages (English, Russian, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Serbo-Croatian, Hebrew, Arabic, and Hungarian) and still speaks seven of them.
On the whole, I have found her book (with 70 tips in all) to be helpful in moving my learning along.
Another polyglot, Kató Lomb, started learning other languages as an adult. A translator and one of the first simultaneous interpreters in the world, Lomb worked in 16 languages for state and business concerns in her native Hungary. Polyglot: How I Learn Languages, first published in 1970, is a collection of anecdotes and reflections on language learning. Because Dr. Lomb learned her languages as an adult, after getting a PhD in chemistry, the methods she used will be of particular interest to adult learners who want to master a foreign language.
Both books are quite valuable for adult language learners.
As if erectile dysfunction wasn’t bad enough, now BPA is implicated in heart disease. Rachel Ehrenberg in Science News:
A previously reported link between exposure to the plastics chemical bisphenol A and heart disease stands, reports a new study published online January 12 in PLoS ONE.
Added to previous work, the finding provides a third prong of evidence implicating the chemical in cardiovascular and metabolic problems, notes Richard Stahlhut of the Center for Reproductive Epidemiology at the University of Rochester in New York. “It’s becoming a coherent picture that really does fit together,” says Stahlhut, who was not involved in the research. “If these all connect, we really do have a problem.”
Researchers analyzed data from the 2005–2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, or NHANES, conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NHANES uses physical examinations, clinical and lab tests, and personal interviews to get a snapshot of the health and nutritional status of the U.S. population. The new analysis of 2005–2006 data reveals an association between concentrations of bisphenol A in urine and risk of cardiovascular disease, a link also detected in the 2003–2004 NHANES data.
“We now have two completely separate samples with completely different people,” says study coauthor David Melzer, an epidemiologist at the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, England. The new work shows that the previous finding of a link “wasn’t a blip,” Melzer says. “It does need to be investigated.”
Human exposure to bisphenol A is widespread. The chemical is a building block of polycarbonate plastics and is common in the epoxy linings of canned food. It also mimics estrogen. Numerous studies have found that BPA interferes with development and function in a range of tissues.
The NHANES link to cardiovascular disease is a third line of evidence implicating the chemical in …
I like the recursion. Take a look if you like that sort of thing.