Monday, November 30, 2009

RIP Milorad Pavić (1929-2009)

Today Milorad Pavić died at the age of 80. He was the author of numerous novels, in particular the before-its-time hypertext Dictionary of the Khazars. The Dictionary of the Khazars was supposedly an encyclopedia about the Khazars, a medieval Eastern European tribe that accepted Judaism, but in fact it was a surreal work reminiscent of Borges in which the story was not told from front to back of the book but by following the references between articles. It would have been trivial to implement in HTML, but the book was written in 1984.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Origin Day!

Today, 150 years ago, the first edition of Darwin's Origin of Species was published in London. I actually just learned that today -- while there was a lot of noise about the 200th anniversary of his birth last February, I didn't hear much about this ahead of time, so no, I didn't schedule a party like I did for Darwin's/Lincoln's birthday. Not that this seems to be the most opportune time for a party, given the oddly large number of people who attended the last one who now are otherwise occupied being new parents...

So I guess everyone's responsible for their own entertainment on this one.

But I'll leave you with some interesting links at least.
  1. Tired of the Origin's Victorian English? Read in in another language! Esperanto German French Spanish
  2. How about the Origin as a graphic novel?
  3. "Almost Like a Whale"/"Darwin's Ghost" This book, written by noted science popularizer Steve Jones, is an attempt to follow the structure of Darwin's Origin, but making adjustments to incorporate modern knowledge. While I'm a fan of the history of science and the value of primary sources, I understand that a lot of the difficulty in reading Darwin (besides his verbose Victorianisms) is that biology was a very different field in Darwin's day, both in terminology and outlook. Jones ably deals with this.