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Monday, May 14, 2007
As regards the debate over Gov. Willard Mitt Romney, I say that the issue is less what one thinks of "Battlefield Earth," but whether one cannot think of a better novel or one which you would sooner label as a (if not your most) favorite. Even as I probably like Sci-Fi enough to esteem mediocre examples more than the average person; and the subset which contain space aliens I would place above others, all else being equal; I don't think that it is a small matter that Mr. Romney would make the claim [I don't give to him the benefit of my doubt that that answer in any way represented an uncalculated or honest revelation] that a lesser example from this subset was most favored.
I don't agree that Romney was sending a coded message about Scientology, if that's what you're getting at, James. However, as I comment in the blog post and the Ideas essay, I do think it's too bad that (apparently) Romney isn't familiar with better-written examples of post-apocalyptic fiction. If he's elected president, let's start a campaign to send him one post-apocalyptic novel per month, starting with the excellent "A Canticle for Leibowitz."
* On 4/23, regarding my 4/23 Brainiac post about the watering of Mike Daisey, Sean F. wrote:
So, 87 people pay about $38 a piece to protest something a relative nobody says about Paris Hilton ---- and it just so happens that someone in the crowd was videotaping it --- and, conveniently, they were all Christians! Is this the dumbest and most expensive protest ever ($3306) or have you guys been pranked?
* On 5/1, Greg R. wrote the following helpful note, in response to my 4/9 Brainiac post about the exact street address of Poe's Boston birthplace:
You mentioned a website called Historic Map Works up in Maine. You may be interested to know that there is a local Cambridge company, WardMaps.com, that offers many of the same maps through their website. The biggest difference is that WardMaps.com is free, and all the maps are zoomable! Here's 62 Carver St in 1883. And 62 Carver St in 1917.
Very cool, thanks!
Interesting story, just a slight correction: You write "Steganography is derived from the Greek for "covered" and the Latin for "writing"; -graphy is actually Greek for writing, not Latin.
D'oh! I called it a Greek word in the Brainiac post, and a half-Greek, half-Latin word in the Ideas item. In fact, I was probably wrong both times. My OED suggests that steganographia is a modern Latin word, which is to say it was coined by 16th-century scholars -- who imported Greek words into the lingua franca. If you see what I mean.
Meanwhile, Donna D. writes about a secret code that she found inside a head of lettuce in Natick:
I sat down at the kitchen table, picked up my fork, stabbed the lettuce and put some in my mouth, all while reading the newspaper. I thought something wasn't quite right and pulled a piece of paper out of my mouth and tossed it in the sink. Something made me get up, pick up the small piece of white paper with blue lettering and examine it. Well, I was quite surprised that it had something written on it with some lucky numbers.... Thanks for the answer to this mystery.
Um, you're welcome?
A couple dozen readers asked -- in mostly paranoid ways -- what happened to the images I'd posted to illustrate the secret code item. Here's the answer: I was asked, in a very nice and reasonable manner, by Globe higher-ups, to remove them from the blog. However, once Ideas designer ad interim Mike Swartz had created blacked-out versions of the images to accompany the Ideas item, I was invited to post them. I never got around to it, but here's an example:
* Finally, I received many emails about my 5/3 Grimpoteuthis Brainiac post. Here are a few samples.
Gracelaw Simmons D. writes:
We know how to pronounce Pikachu, but could you please help us with the pronunciation of Grimpoteuthis? My son needs to mention it in an oral presentation, and we can't find it anywhere! We've guessed that it's grim-po-too'-this (with the th of thick). Are we close!?
I say: Yes.
Although you say that Grimpoteuthis looks like Pikachu, I say it looks like the Neopet's website creature Meepit.
I say: No.
Clive T. writes:
I AM SO ORDERING THAT GRIMPOTEUTHIS T-SHIRT. Beyond awesome.
I aim to please.