Oddities Science Fiction and Fantasy

Scientists locate sarcasm in the brain

I just had to share a news item titled Scientists locate sarcasm in the brain (via Peter Watts). Not surprisingly, Israelis are at the forefront of this research, labouring in the sarcasm-rich environment of the University of Haifa and the Rambam Medical Center.
Peter Watts comments: So sarcasm and irony are more advanced traits than religion and morality. No surprise there, but it’s nice to get empirical confirmation.

I got pointed back to Watts’ site by a link to a presentation he put up about Vampire Domestication, a sort of promo for his new book.

Software and Programming

IO::All to rule them all

I just wrote my first perl script using IO::All. I think I have to sit down and breath.
The job? change every link in a directory tree of HTML files to use the name of the new server instead of the old one.
The script:

use IO::All;
my ($datadir) = shift;
for my $file (io($datadir)->All) {
	my $text < $file;
	$text =~ s|fred[^\:]*?\:1337|bert|g;
	$text > $file;

(The regular expression made use of the fact that the original server, call it fred, was running a web server on a non-standard port, say 1337).

This. Is. Very. Cool.

Oddities Science Fiction and Fantasy


The U.N.I.T website (linked to by Steve Jackson) appears to be the actual site featured on the fifth Doctor Who episode. Kewl.

Update: reminds me that the password for the secure login is buffalo.
Also sorta related, here’s a page with all the Doctor Who themes.


The Lester Dent Pulp Paper Master Fiction Plot

The Lester Dent Pulp Paper Master Fiction Plot (via Warren Ellis) is a formula for writing a 6000-word pulp story, by the creator of Doc Savage. An interesting mix of good advice:

First line, or as near thereto as possible, introduce the hero and swat him with a fistful of trouble. Hint at a mystery, a menace or a problem to be solved–something the hero has to cope with.

With silly:

The writer learns they have palm trees in Egypt. He looks in the book, finds the Egyptian for palm trees, and uses that. This kids editors and readers into thinking he knows something about Egypt.

And good advice that launched a multitude of clichés:

DON’T TELL ABOUT IT! Show how the thing looked. This is one of the secrets of writing; never tell the reader–show him. (He trembles, roving eyes, slackened jaw, and such.) MAKE THE READER SEE HIM.

(roving eyes are a favorite of Thog’s Masterclass).

Blather long

The Personality Defect Test

You were expecting content after two and a half weeks of silence? No, it’s silly meme time (which is still more effort than the usual linkage).