(1) Pablo Vazquez has identified himself as another San Juan in 2017 NASFiC bid committee member — he is one of the bid chairs — so you can add his name to the list.
The formal launch is at ContraFlow/DSC in New Orleans next weekend. There is a Facebook page – San Juan in 2017.
(2) A great read about trying to make a game based on Lovecraft that wasn’t so dismal as to be unplayable – “Lovecraft on the Tabletop”.
The story of the development of this tabletop RPG of Lovecraftian horror, soon to be renamed Call of Cthulhu, is one of the more fascinating and inspiring case studies in the annals of gaming history. The end result reverberates to this day not only through the world of tabletop gaming but also through its digital parallel.
(3) An archaeological find has added 20 lines to the Epic of Gilgamesh:
The new T.1447 tablet, according to the article Back to the Cedar Forest: The beginning and end of Tablet V of the Standard Babylonian Epic of Gilgameš published in June, 2014 is:
- The revised reconstruction of Tablet V yields text that is nearly twenty lines longer than previously known.
- The obverse (columns i-ii) duplicates the Neo-Assyrian fragments which means the Epic tablet can be placed in order and used to fill in the gaps between them. It also shows the recension on Tablet V was in Babylonia, as well as Assyria and that “izziz?ma inappat? qišta” is the same phrase that other tablets being with.
- The reverse (columns v-vi) duplicates parts of the reverse (columns iv-vi) of the late Babylonian tablet excavated at Uruk that begins with the inscription “Humb?ba pâšu ?pušma iqabbi izakkara ana Gilg?meš”.
- The most interesting piece of information provided by this new source is the continuation of the description of the Cedar Forest:
- Gilgamesh and Enkidu saw ‘monkeys’ as part of the exotic and noisy fauna of the Cedar Forest; this was not mentioned in other versions of the Epic.
- Humbaba emerges, not as a barbarian ogre, and but as a foreign ruler entertained with exotic music at court in the manner of Babylonian kings. The chatter of monkeys, chorus of cicada, and squawking of many kinds of birds formed a symphony (or cacophony) that daily entertained the forest’s guardian, Humbaba.
- The aftermath of Gilgamesh and Enkidu’s slaying of Humbaba is now better preserved.
- The passages are consistent with other versions and confirm what was already known. For example, Enkidu had spent some time with Humbaba in his youth.
(4) Sigourney Weaver is in the Ghostbusters reboot – a cameo, presumably, but nobody has revealed whether she’s reprising her original character.
(5) “Bing Watney Home!” is not a File 770 typo, though you could be pardoned for thinking so.
Bing Maps is doing “real time” tracking of Astronaut Mark Watney’s journey across Mars to the Schiaparelli Basin, a stage in the effort to rescue and bring him back to Earth.
And Microsoft is promoting itself and The Martian movie with a contest called “Hacking Mars”.
It’s the year 2035. Astronaut Mark Watney is stranded on Mars. The best minds on Earth are joining together to help him survive. What would you do? One small, unmanned spacecraft will carry the winning solution to Mars.
Check out how to #HackMars and bring Watney home. Submit your design for a chance to win $25,000 and a trip to Microsoft to experience HoloLens. Deadline for submissions is October 13, 2015, 11:59PM EST.
There are three challenge categories. The first is —
A primal human motivation is survival. We all have physiological needs like air, water, and food.
Mark Watney finds himself stranded on Mars. He has no way to contact Earth or his crew. It’ll be four years before a manned mission can reach him. Watney doesn’t have nearly enough food to last that long. He has to make a decision, survive on Mars or perish.
Mars is incredibly cold, unpredictable, and has many ways that it threatens human life. If an emergency comes up Watney must either solve it or die.
For this challenge, design a solution that helps Watney sustain the basic things that every human being needs to survive. This could include ways to grow food, filter air, and produce water.
(6) Back in the dismal real world, claims are being made that the bones of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa have been discovered.
Historical records suggest that Gherardini, who spent her last years in the Sant’Orsola convent in Florence, was laid to rest at the site. On Thursday, researchers announced that carbon-14 dating showed the bones they found in the convent date from around the time that Gherardini died, in 1542, when she was 63.
“I’m convinced it is her,” Silvano Vinceti, an art historian who led the research team, told The Telegraph.
The next stages of the investigation will prove highly challenging. Some scholars say that as dozens of bodies were buried beneath the convent over several decades, the remains could belong to someone else. So, DNA samples will need to be taken from the bone fragments and compared with DNA extracted from the remains of two of Gherardini’s children. Those remains have been badly damaged by flooding in the tomb in the Basilica of Santissima Annunziata in Florence.
And even if the bones are proved to belong to Gherardini, scholars are divided over whether she really was the model for the “Mona Lisa.” The absence of a skull has also thwarted efforts to reconstruct the face of the noblewoman, making it nearly impossible to compare it to the painting.
Your mileage may vary, but I find this to be nothing more than a grotesque job of grave robbing. The notion of finding a skull to reconstruct in order to compare it with the face in the painting seems a pretty dim piece of scientific wishfulness – as if the reconstruction could surpass the work of a painter who had the living subject available.
(7) Amanda S. Green devotes a whole post on Mad Genius Club disputing John Scalzi’s analysis of the Author Earnings Report but refuses to link to his post, drawing all her Scalzi quotes from Chris Meadows’ TeleRead article instead. Is this some kind of pretentious purity ritual? Like people who will only quote Vox Day based on what’s transcribed here? I’m not a big fan of laundered quotes. If you want to reference the person, link the primary source. You’ve quoted the guy – his words are in your head. You get no credit for cooties avoidance.
(8) The National Endowment for the Arts blog has listed “Our Top Ten Ray Bradbury Quotes”.
- “‘Stuff your eyes with wonder,’ he said, ‘live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.’”
- “We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”
- “Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”
- “We are an impossibility in an impossible universe.”
- “I spent three days a week for ten years educating myself in the public library, and it’s better than college. People should educate themselves – you can get a complete education for no money. At the end of ten years, I had read every book in the library and I’d written a thousand stories.”
- “There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”
- “I’m never going to go to Mars, but I’ve helped inspire, thank goodness, the people who built the rockets and sent our photographic equipment off to Mars.”
- “Don’t worry about things. Don’t push. Just do your work and you’ll survive. The important thing is to have a ball, to be joyful, to be loving and to be explosive. Out of that comes everything and you grow.”
- “I don’t believe in being serious about anything. I think life is too serious to be taken seriously.”
- “You’ve been put on the world to love the act of being alive.”
[Thanks to Will R., and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]