University of Kansas Center for the Study of Science Fiction set up an online Science Fiction Resource Center, including the following projects:
* Helping authors and fans to set up tests for the Accelerated Reader Program that currently controls the reading choices of tens of millions of American school kids. AR lists in most states are currently profoundly bigoted against science fiction.
* A new Speaker’s Bureau for Science Fiction Authors and Futurists that will offer a web site where anyone from a local librarian to a Fortune 500 CEO might search for speakers/consultants who have something to say about tomorrow. The database (any experts?) will be sortable by distance from the venue (by zip code), topic, range of speaker’s fee (adjusted for travel) and some other factors. This should have existed during the run up to 2000. Experts on database management, or people with serious experience in public relations, would be welcome to help out.
* A new accredited course for teachers, educating them about SF and how it might help to reach students. (I was once quite active in this. I formerly sponsored a contest aimed at using new tools - and science fiction - to benefit both teachers and kids. The resource list (and concept) are still useful!
*See a collection of resources for Teaching Science Fiction
as well as Using Science Fiction to Teach Science.
Those who are interested in the general topic mixing Science Fiction and Education might consider joining the Reading for the Future discussion group. (Or telling your SF-enthusiast teacher pals.)
Sometimes the topic also comes up on the “Brin-L” discussion list.
==Finally, some misc items==
A massive global increase in the number of strong hurricanes over the past 35 years is being blamed on global warming, by the most detailed study yet. The US scientists warn that Katrina-strength hurricanes could become the norm. Worldwide since the 1970s, there has been a near doubling in the number of Category 4 and 5 storms – the strength that saw Hurricane Katrina do such damage to the US Gulf coastline late in August 2005. Peter Webster of the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, says the trend is global, has lasted over several decades and is connected to a steady worldwide increase in tropical sea temperatures. Because of all these factors, it is unlikely to be due to any known natural fluctuations in climate such as El Niño, the North Atlantic Oscillation or the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.
Now here’s a creepy item that should go in a novel. UC Berkeley researchers were able to take several 10-minute sound recordings of users typing at a keyboard, feed the audio into a computer, and use an algorithm to recover up to 96 percent of the characters entered. The researchers used spectrum analysis, statistical learning theory, spelling and grammar checks, and learning trials to obtain...
And now, under the category of “how much noise would this have caused, if it happened under Clinton?” Largest Theft in History: $1 Billion Missing in Iraq .The money missing from all ministries under the interim Iraqi government appointed by the US in June 2004 may turn out to be close to $2bn. Of a military procurement budget of $1.3bn, some $200m may have been spent on usable equipment, though this is a charitable view, say officials.
As GOP senator Everett Dirksen once said (back when “conservatives” believed in fiscal responsibility): “A billion here, a billion there. Pretty soon, you’re talking about real money!”