Archive for December 2005
The Linguarium series of language maps promises to be interesting, but it is the Russian educational institution’s Atlas of the Caucasian languages that is of particular note for its mapping of the many diverse languages spoken in that region. Map 18 in the series is of particular note, since it claims to show the distribution of Caucasian languages in their Turkish immigrant diasporas.
The 1991 computer game SimEarth: The Living Planet, available here at Home of the Underdogs, is wonderfully addictive. I’ve known this ever since I got that wonderful hacked copy of the Commodore 64 version of SimCity back in 1990. SimEarth, though neglected, is particularly interesting inasmuch as ambitious players can try to terraform planets, to make Mars and Venus livable planets.
As it happens, I don’t seem to be a very good terraformer. I can only play with unlimited resources available to me, otherwise I end up with not enough ice meteors to create oceans (or, in Venus’ case, to keep the oceans from evaporating entirely), or with only prokaryotic life. Even then things can go badly”: Last night, one wonderfully terraformed Mars of mine was blighted entirely by an information-age civilization that I seeded, expanded to a global population of two billion, then collapsed and left the planet a desert. Again.
In the course of my evening’s migration south Yonge Street, I passed that Foot Locker again. The memorial had grown hugely, flowers in vases and stuffed animals and impassioned memorial signs filling a third of the sidewalk, the crowds taking another third. One of the memorials announced a candlelight vigil being held at Yonge-Dundas Square just down the street even as I walked, and indeed there was a vigil, the CTV trucks bracketing a gathering that covered a tenth of the space of the square. I couldn’t hear the slogans being shouted, though; the wind was too great.
The lessons of (among other dramas) the third-season Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “Gingerbread”have come to my mind frequently this week. Horrible crimes can easily unleash significant political movements, massive pressures for change. The key is to make sure that the change is sensible, and frankly, I don’t think that the current emphasis on law-and-order routines to the exclusion of deeper processes of social reform bodes well. That this is the season of a hotly-contested federal election only pushes the chances down
Martyrs are terrible things to have in functioning democratic societies, aren’t they?