HRSFANS.org

misce stultitiam consiliis brevem

Archive for March, 2010

Every Time You Make A Powerpoint

This happens, although don’t click on that link unless you have some tolerance for dark humor.

Well, I think it’s funny, and I also think Edward Tufte’s stand on PowerPoint is interesting (if not news at this point):

Slideware may help speakers outline their talks, but convenience for the speaker can be punishing to both content and audience. The standard PowerPoint presentation elevates format over content, betraying an attitude of commercialism that turns everything into a sales pitch.

For example, here’s a scathing criticism of PowerPoint use in NASA:

I examine a key slide in the PP reports made while the Columbia was damaged but still flying….In the reports, every single text-slide uses bullet-outlines with 4-6 levels of hierarchy.  Then another multi-level list, another bureaucracy of bullets, starts afresh for a new slide.  How is it that each elaborate architecture of thought always fits exactly on one slide?

Anyway, to my knowledge, no animals were harmed in the creation of the first link.

h/t: Felix Salmon

No comments

Space Ace, um, of Cakes

This has to be seen to be believed.

At first look, the opening picture just looks like a stack of toys.  But when you realize that it’s all edible, mostly made of fondant — and not just impressive fondant statues of Marvin the Martian, Audrey II, and the Alien queen (piping gel drool!), not just Han Solo frozen in carbonite, ALF, Tom Servo complete with translucent Life-Saver head, a Dalek victim, and more, but also a cake pan underside made into HAL’s brain room, a fondant Tardis, and an inside joke only a SF geek could love — that’s in addition to the Obvious Exploitable Weakness — then you start to realize it’s pretty amazing.  Oh, also, she made a brick wall out of 1,500 fondant bricks mortared with royal icing, and two tiled movie-theater carpets out of caned fondant.

Look, really you just need to click on the first link and look at the whole thing piece by piece, to appreciate its utter majesty.

The awesomeness of the creator, Kimberly Chapman, is not to be underestimated.  Her other works of cake and sugar art include a Periodic Table of Cookies, a Fraggle Rock cake, a Shelob cake and an Orc head cake.

No comments

Vericon this weekend

Vericon is this weekend!

Vericon is a science-fiction, fantasy, gaming, and anime convention featuring many events and distinguished guest speakers. It has been held annually at Harvard University since 2001. The tenth Vericon will take place on Friday-Sunday, March 19-21, 2010. The convention is sponsored by the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association (HRSFA), an undergraduate student group.

This year’s Guest of Honor is Timothy Zahn. It’s guaranteed to be a great Con, so if you’re in the Boston area–or can get there in the next 24 hours–I highly recommend you check it out!

In addition to all of the wonderful Vericon events, we have two HRSFANS events planned for the weekend: Saturday night Non-Cons, and Sunday lunch. See the hrsfans-announce email list for more information.

No comments

National Grammar Day

To the dismay of linguists everywhere, it is once again National Grammar Day. Yes, you read that right: dismay. As my colleague Gabe explains on his blog Motivated Grammar:

My problem with National Grammar Day (and most popular grammarians in general) is that it suggests that the best part of studying language is the heady rush of telling people that they shouldn’t say something. But if you really study language, you know that there’s so much more to it than that. Each time March 4th comes and goes, we’re missing an opportunity to show people how wonderful the field of linguistics is.

Gabe goes on to describe a couple of papers that got him interested in linguists, and then proceeds to celebrate National Grammar Day by debunking ten common myths about grammar. So rather than giving into the “better than thou” spirit of the day, go read Motivated Grammar and learn something new and inspiring about language.

5 comments