Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Early American Accent

I came across an interesting article recently about the difference between American and British accents. For two groups who used to be one, we now have very distinct speech patterns. It seems almost common sense that early Americans must have sounded like modern Brits and eventually lost the accent when we lost the king. But, think again:
What’s surprising, though, is that those accents were much closer to today’s American accents than to today’s British accents. While both have changed over time, it’s actually British accents that have changed much more drastically since then.
It's fascinating how I somehow put the British flag with the British accent. When we lost one I'd just assumed we lost the other. But why shouldn't the opposite be true? Hat tip to Lindsay Thompson.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

World Trade Center Tribute

Couldn't think of a better way to say goodbye:

And here they are 9/11/01.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Heading to the Boston Improv Festival

Speaking of the improv news feed, here's the most recent Alchemy Improv Comedy post:
Before Alchemy Improv Comedy gets fully underway, Harrison is off to the Boston Improv Festival to perform and teach. He’ll be playing with Paula Pazderka, Artistic Director of the Dirty South Improv Theater. Together they form the improv duo Pound for Pound. They’ll be performing Saturday September 10th at 10:00 PM At the ImprovBoston Main Theater
Harrison will also be teaching an afternoon workshop on Sunday entitled The Invisible Hand of the Scene. Here's the teaser:
Introduction to improvisation reveals that scenes will naturally gravitate towards comedy. However, in more advanced classes you find out that for scenes to consistently successful you have to be the engine for that scene. Like basic economics, there is an invisible hand of the scene, but the reason the hand is so effective is because of industrious scene entrepreneurs. Understanding how to play and initiate both premeditated and truly inspired scenes will make you, your scene partners, and of course your audiences very happy. With exercises like “game (of the scene) theory” and “slow growth model”, you’ll be able to see how the machine we call a scene work. We’ve all been funny by accident. Now it’s time to find out how to innovate funny on purpose.
If you’ll be in Boston or know anyone who will be, let them know that Southern comedy will be there in full force!
Yes that's right, I'll be flying on the 10th anniversary of September 11th. I told you I wasn't scared.

Introducing Alchemy Improv Comedy

Now that I'm settling back in Greenville, my plans to create an improv company here are falling in place. Along with three of my good friends and great improvisers, we'll be doing a weekly show downtown every Friday night. You can catch all the details at our website. And if you'd like to stay up date with our news, subscribe to the feed. Shows begin September 23rd!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Emptying the Bottle: Early-September '11 Links

Here is a list of the worthwhile links I've Bookmarked recently:
As always, feel free to email me anything interesting you come across.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Blockbuster's Future, A Guest Story

Despite my warnings, my wife recently visited Blockbuster. This is her story:

Her: (After picking up the last disc of Mad Men season 4, she walked up to line. A couple minutes go by.)

Another customer: Why are there 4 employees and only 1 register open? Why you make us all wait like that?

Employees: Sorry sorry sorry (as 1 more register was opened and the old crotchety man was helped. But then that new register was closed once he was helped. Eventually my wife got to the front of the line with cash in hand.)

Employee: Oh your paying with cash. We'll have to go to another register. (They move to another register.)

Employee: Is this Blockbuster card new?

Her: No. It's pretty old. I got it when I lived in Clemson.

Employee: Oh, the nationwide system can't read this.

Her: Can I give you a phone number?

Employee: We don't do that anymore. Do you have card for your license number?

Her: I don't know. I just want to rent this.

Employee: Well let's try that (she tries to run her licence number). Nope that doesn't work. Would like to fill out the paperwork for a new card?

Her: I already have a card. I just want to rent this.

Employee: Well let's try that card again. Oh here it is! But this says it's for Harrison Brookie?

Her: Yes he's my husband. I can call and get his licence number.

Employee: No, it has to be you.

Her: [sigh] I just want to rent this...

Employee: Okay (somehow her card magically works now).

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Liberals are the People of the Future

My understanding of liberals and conservatives goes like this: Liberals are optimistic about change. Whether it's religious freedom in Rhode Island hundreds of years ago or Civil Rights 50 years ago, it was liberals pushing for change they believed would improve the country. Conservatives on the hand are skeptical of change. Whether it's the fight over the National Bank in the 1800's or FDR's New Deal, it was conservative trying to stop the change they believe would harm country.

Liberals are looking forward to improve the world and conservatives are looking backward. That means, if life is changing then by default, liberals are the people of the future. What was reprehensible in the beginning of the 19th century was the norm by the end of the century (think the train, the lightning rod, and jazz).  What was reprehensible in the beginning of the 20th century was the norm by the end of the century (think the car, birth control, and rock and roll).

But that does not means liberals are always right. The future is not always better. Growing government, shrinking families, stagnant economies are just a few problems of modernity. However, this can help us predict what cultural shifts will become normal. For example, recently in Italy a woman convicted of murdering her sister had her prison sentence reduced based on her abnormal brain scan. Another example is the future option of choosing our children's genetic futures. These ideas make me very uncomfortable, but I'm not sure if they'll make my grandchildren uncomfortable.

My rule of thumb has been to ask myself if once the change is complete, is the world better off or worse off. Ignore the technological and political hurdles required. Ignore the cultural destruction it will cause. Ignore how it makes you feel and try to calculate how it could make you feel. Or, just see what your liberal friends think.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Difference Between Humans and Animals, Part XXIV

First, the surprising similarity of all animals:
Though big and little creatures look very different, below the surface there is a surprising unity. Biologists have compared the heartbeats of mammals and discovered that on average (this won't apply to any individual, just to groups) elephants and shrews and most of the critters in between have a limit of about a billion and a half heartbeats in a lifetime and then they die.
That is, except for us:
Human beings used to fit into this pattern, but now that we have learned to drink safe water, wash and bathe and create medicines, we last longer than our size would predict.
You can hear the details at NPR's Krulwich Wonders.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Earth Shattering Odds

As I was catching up on my blog reading tonight (still yet to completely get there since Europe) I came across an article comparing the different proposed methods for dealing with an asteroid headed for Earth. Here's how it closes:
The researchers do note that the asteroids they used in their calculations are not immediate threats. The asteroid Apophis is expected to fly harmlessly by Earth on April 13, 2036, with only a 1-in-233,000 chance of hitting our plane
When I saw that number I wasn't comforted. It felt a little too likely. So I compared it to the chances of winning the South Carolina Education Lottery:

Not sure if this makes me more nervous about asteroids or people who play the lottery.