altNon Campus Mentis:  World History According to College Students, compiled by Anders Henriksson (Workman Publishing, New York, 2001) (Later retitled Ignorance Is Blitz)

This compilation of major historical events was pieced together from the essays and exams of students at a variety of colleges in the United States and Canada.  If you know a reasonable amount of world history and geography, you will find it hysterical, at least till you get to the quiz in the back of the book.

It would be a good book to read aloud at a party, although you would miss some pretty funny misspellings.  Reading it aloud in the car, however, as we did, would be unwise:  If you think texting puts the driver at a disadvantage, you should see what happens when he's doubled over with hysterical laughter.  (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, October 10, 2010 at 11:36 am | Edit
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For friends and family who prefer to ignore Facebook:

Jonathan:  Dad, the spaceship book gave me an idea, and I'm going to be working on a project. It requires liquid oxygen....

Anyone have some spare LOX for an ambitious six-year-old?

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, September 11, 2010 at 6:16 am | Edit
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For reasons obscure (who needs a reason, anyway?) I was looking up mathematician/musician Tom Lehrer and came upon this.  Enjoy!

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 6:51 am | Edit
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Meet Feudal Effort, the latest addition to the comics list on my Sursum Corda page:


 I find it fun.  Sometimes there's a bit of mildly objectionable language, but nothing the nephews can't handle, and I don't think the grandkids are reading my comic list yet.  :)

You can get to know the characters here.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, June 4, 2010 at 11:30 am | Edit
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Is there a word, in any language, for "my daughter's husband's cousin's husband"?  That's what Kevin Michael Johnson is, and I'm proud to claim the family relationship, however distant and awkwardly-phrased.  Kevin is an actor, living in New York City with his lovely singer-songwriter wife, Steph Shaw.  One of his recent triumphs was in the show Wild Black Yonder, which a number of members of our family (but, alas, not I) were privileged to see at "The Kate" in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

Kevin's latest venture is The Raid, a documentary about the tremendously popular online game, World of Warcraft.  Everything I know about WOW I learned form the Foxtrot comic least until I watched Kevin's promotional video.  The embedded video below is from YouTube, but the link will take you to a video on the official, more informative site, where you can also get involved in the project if it excites you.  You can also check them out on Facebook.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 7:44 pm | Edit
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Forget whatever witty and informative post I was going to provide tonight.  Go over to The Occasional CEO and read about the latest and greatest economic forecasting tool:  Just Follow the Bones.
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 9:06 pm | Edit
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Nanosurf—the company that put an atomic force microscope on Mars and good Swiss bread on Janet's table—has a cool promotional video.

Disclosure: I receive no direct material compensation for posting this video or anything else about Nanosurf.  It can't be denied, however, that the support of our daughter's family is of considerably more value than receiving a free book.
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 9:31 am | Edit
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Today's Stone Soup says it all.  Far from being boring, the people I know who are not active on Facebook are choosing instead to live their First Lives.  :)

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 7:07 am | Edit
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Thirty years ago we entered the world of adventure gaming.  We had graduated by that point, so I believe it was my brother who first hooked us up to the University of Rochester's computer system, on which was installed ADVENT, the one, the true, the original computer adventure game—running on a DEC-10, I'm pretty sure, though my memory is misty on the details.  After ADVENT we moved on to the original Zork, which was just as much fun.  No devotee of today's high-action, graphic-heavy, semi-realistic games will ever understand the delight of those simple, text-based games.  (The links will take you to Wikipedia's description of the games, but I'd avoid them if you ever think you might play them yourself.  The ADVENT—Adventure—entry especially gives too much away.  And if you're wondering why the name was ADVENT rather than Adventure in those days...believe it or not, it's because "Adventure" has too many letters.

What was truly wonderful about the games was the social interaction.  One of my favorite memories is of the houseful of relatives who had come to share Thanksgiving with us.  We had a borrowed terminal and the old-fashioned type of modem—new technology then—into which one fitted the telephone handset after dialing in and hearing the carrier tone.  We took turns typing commands into the computer, and everyone participated in solving the puzzles, each person contributing his own special knowledge and way of thinking.  The idea of "cooperative games" leaves a bad taste in my mouth, being associated with the misguided self-esteem movement in public schools some years ago, but these, truly, were cooperative games, in which we all won and to which everyone had something to contribute. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, October 5, 2009 at 11:01 am | Edit
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My favorite section of the newsletter we get from Wycliffe Bible Translators is where they give some interesting example of the challenges of accurate translation.  The "back translation"—translating back into English something that had been translated from Engilsh to the new language—often reveals subtleties and misunderstandings that can be quite funny.

As it turns out, one doesn't need to be documenting a rare, unwritten language to find translation humor.  Our new printer came with the following warning:

This product is supplied with a plug that has a protective earth pin.  This plug will fit only into an earthed electrical outlet. This is a safety feature.  To avoid risk of electric shock, contact your electrician to replace the electrical outlet if you are unable to insert the plug into it. Never use an earthed adapter plug to connect the product to an electrical outlet that lacks an earth connection terminal.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, October 3, 2009 at 6:26 pm | Edit
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Too much politics lately.   Time for something lighter.

Here's what looks like a Japanese game show where the contestants must wake up, get ready for school, and be out the door in less than five minutes.  That's just a guess—the only words I understood after "three, two, one, go!" were "bento" and "sandwich."  I love it for the reminders of Japan, and for the really cool lunch the mother makes for her child to take to school.  Note the Japanese way of quick shirt-folding.  Can any of my Japanese-speaking readers (all one and a half of you) tell me what on earth she is doing with the shirt? And why that would be part of a normal morning routine?

I never did understand brushing one's teeth before eating, though.
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, September 21, 2009 at 6:02 pm | Edit
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Hat tip to Andy Bonner for this humorous look at the copyright mess.

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 4:49 pm | Edit
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My sister called me a geek because I adorned reserved church pews with such labels as "DSTB 1" and "NMB 2."  To me, that was a compliment, but I still maintain I'm too old to be a geek.  Nonetheless, I was pleased to note that I scored higher than expected on Geek Dad's 100 Essential Skills for Geeks.  (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, July 20, 2009 at 8:45 am | Edit
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To prove the Front Porch Republic isn't all academic discussions of too much length and intensity for the casual reader, check out Animals Were Definitely Harmed in the Production of this Story, explaining why, unlike modern movies, farm life entails "‘the harming of animals of every shape and in every fashion."

The story is less morbid than amusing, and rings true to life outside of Hollywood.  Here are a few excerpts to tempt you. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 1:59 pm | Edit
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The lituus is not a test to determine the pH of a substance, although that's how I read it at first.  It's a musical instrument, and one of the last works written for it was J. S. Bach's O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht.  No modern listener has been able to hear Bach's motet as it was intended, however, because the instrument fell out of favor and became extinct.  No one today knows what it looked or sounded like. 

Until now.  Alistair Braden and Murray Campbell, from the University of Edinburgh, at the request of—ta da!—the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, applied to the problem software they had designed to improve modern brass instruments. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 11:10 am | Edit
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