Monday, February 27, 2006

12 Monkeys + Rainbow 6 =

It's ecological theory with a delightful Malthusian twist: the BBC reports on a study which suggests that the population decline following the 14th century plague pandemic known as the Black Death caused the climate cooling known as The Little Ice Age. Fewer people clearing farmland = more trees = less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere = cooler temperatures. Or so the theory goes. Wait until Zero Population Growth gets together with Greenpeace to strategize. Early advice: don't accept any suspicious letters or unsolicited Halloween candy from environmentalists.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Ebonics of the Highlands

While casually researching my Scottish ancestry, I found my way to the website of the Scottish Parliament and to the page of my no doubt distant cousin Alasdair Morrison, MSP. Noticing that he was a member of the Gaelic caucus (Buidheann Thar-Phartaidh na GĂ idhlig), I wondered what other languages the Parliament might cater to; Cornish, perhaps? I was amazed to learn that the regional government's website was available in such unlikely tongues as Italian, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Bengali, and even Catalan. What truly amazed me, however, was that it was also available in ... Scots.

Naturally this suggested the question: There's a seperate Scottish language? The answer turned out to be: Well, kind of. Scots turns out to be a crude, phonetic rendering of the English language in the form of a heavy Scottish accent. Here's a (thankfully brief) example of the website's welcome message rendered in Scots:

"The Scottish Pairlament is here for tae represent aw Scotland's folk. We want tae mak siccar that as mony folk as can is able tae find oot aboot whit the Scottish Pairlament dis and whit wey it warks. We hae producit information anent the Pairlament in a reenge o different leids tae help ye tae find oot mair."

I at first assumed this had to be some sort of elaborate Mike Myers-inspired joke, but further reflection suggests that it is, in fact, for real. It strongly seems the equivalent of the U.S. Congress translating their website into Appalachian. I'm still torn between being amused and horrified.

Decent Remarks on Indecency

At a time when the current FCC chairman is promising faster indecency complaint processing and is poised to fine Fox because Nicole Ritchie said “shit” on the air, former chairman Powell has some interesting observations on regulating broadcast indecency, reported by Information Week:

As part of his trademark question-and-answer appearance, Powell also told event host and questioner Phil Weiser that parents need to take more responsibility for their childrens' Internet and television consumption habits, a bit of a break from his actions at the FCC, where he tried to use agency fines and other pressures to control indecency.

"There is no passive fix," said Powell, noting that his own children, like others, are technically adept and therefore likely to find technical shortcuts past adults' laws and rules if left to their own devices.

"You can cut off TV all day, and they find something through the Xbox 360," Powell said. "Parents have to be involved in their childrens' lives, and what they cull from that universe. If you don't do that, [it doesn't matter] how many laws we pass."