Archive for the ‘Cool Video’ category
Via Twitter buddy @AstroKatie, I find this:
Now, I’m not actually going to pony up five Benjamins for a rumba dancing robot spider, but the idea that it exists does make me smile.
All hail our robot arachnid overlords!
Via BoingBoing, I came across a clip in which the Stephen Fry demonstrates how to get an idiot to hoist himself on his own petard:
I’ve been spending (too much of) my day thinking and talking/tweeting with colleagues about a couple of the pathologies that have recently reasserted themselves in the popular science communication arena. One incident was the grotesque case in which Scientific American blogger the Urban Scientist, Danielle Lee, was called a whore for the sin of inquiring whether or not someone asking her to write stuff might actually pay for her work. Compounding that outrage, Scientific American took down Lee’s post describing this incident for a couple of days amidst murky attempts at justification. The original guy’s been fired from his company, I’m happy to say, and Scientific American’s leadership has made some effort to right the ship. I may/probably will have more to say about that whole story in a little bit. (Elon posted on this, btw.)
Then, last night, I learned of playwright and writer Monica Byrne’s post on an encounter with the editor of Scientific American’s blog network, Bora Zivkovic, that amounted (in my view, recalling that IANAL) to sexual harassment.* I know and have great affection for Zivkovic, which has slowed my reaction to this news (I’ve also published a couple of guest posts at Scientific American under his editorship). But there’s no doubt either about the truth of Byrne’s account — Zivkovic has confirmed it – nor about the deeper and broader reality it reminds us exists out there. Gender discrimination and harassment is not simply about the big obvious shit. It’s a daily burden, driven by the fact that women in America have to be always on at least yellow alert, even in spaces and circumstances that should be/appear-to-even-well-meaning-men to be totally safe. I’ll try to come up with something a little more thoughtful and in depth on this one too, but for now I’ll leave it at that.
I’ll add that I hope to have my thoughts in order by Wednesday, October 23, when I’ll be doing my monthly host gig at Virtually Speaking Science. My guest will be Eileen Pollack, professor of creative writing at the University of Michigan, one of the first women to earn a BA in physics from Yale, and the author of this New York Times Magazine piece asking why there are still so few women in science. It’ll be at an unusual time for the show – 3 p.m. ET — but it’ll be podcast too, and I hope you’ll check it out. We’ll have a lot to talk about.
But none of that’s what prompted me to post right now. Rather it was my chance encounter with a right proper reclamation of the place and priority of one of the great women scientists of the 20th century, Rosalind Franklin — who happens to be a rather loosely construed family connection of mine. (Franklin was my mother’s cousin’s husband’s aunt. My English relatives form kind of a clan and we count folks like that as kin. Call ‘em all cousins and let someone else sort them out.) Especially at the end of a day dealing with the recognition that my particular community is no more immune to inequity and more than any other, watching the video below offered a moment of take-that joy.
So sit back, hit play, and enjoy the new wave of science communication. Franklin, resurrected, represents:
Let’s keep the night alive with this gem:
So what off-coloratura* ripostes do y’all go going tonight?
Yr. Bargain Counter Tenor*
*stolen, brazenly, from the great Herr Doktor Peter Schickele/PDQ Bach, and the cast list from his half-act opera, The Stoned Guest.
…that slot is taken:
Tip o’ the hat to Commander Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadlfield) aboard the International Space Station.
One of the joys of middle-aged fatherhood is the gift of the absurd — which is to say whatever entertains Kidz Theze Dayz — offered up by one’s sprout.
My son’s a gamer — Starcraft, TF 2 and WoW much of the time, but with an enduring love of Minecraft as well. He’s an avid consumer of E-sports stuff on the various Youtube channels as well. If you’ve missed names like the
Yogcast Yogscast, Day 9, the Cynical Brit (aka Total Biscuit, and known in this household as Whole Crumpet) and so on, you’re (perhaps blissfully) unaware of a huge segment of pop-culture.
I’m not sure I minded my long ignorance of the subculture of ‘casters and pro-gaming as entertainment, but once made aware, I have to admit it’s amazing — if only for the way that the gamer community constructed the entire infrastructure of a sports-entertainment industrial complex substantially (though not entirely) from the grass roots up.
There are significant sociologial and cultural insights to be gained from understanding that process and its results– or smart colleagues of mine think so: we talk a lot about the political reach (or not) of the digitization of experience and the rise of social networks, and here’s a whole universe in which this is taking place that one can study absent the confounding variable of political passions.
But forget the high-falutin stuff — given his gaming and Youtube passions, my son regularly expands my horizons by showing me stuff I simply would never think to discover on my own. And because I’m no sober scholar of modern tech/youth culture, I have my own interpretative lens that colors what he finds. So, as a non-gamer DFH would-be yobbo anti-pundit, I’ll just thank my son for showing me the 36 seconds that captures the pure essence of CPAC:
So, as you read about CPAC neo-confederates wondering how Frederick Douglass had the presumption to forgive his former master, who, in their view, had merely provided food and shelter, think this vid.
Image: George Bellows, Stag at Sharkey’s, 1909.
Sometimes the internet is a swamp in which time — hell, vast swaths of life — get sucked into oblivion. Sometimes the ‘tubes are merely a crush of blinkered Philistine pig-ignorance. I suppose that for some life online is just one long “kidz theze dayz” lament…
And then one comes across something like this:
This is thanks to my Imperial College science writer and twitter buddy, @AliceBell, who has thus introduced me to the bizarre world of BBC weather report homages — of which, without the ‘net, I would never have had knowledge.
(Because I love you: bonus Monty Python sketch with a connection to the post title.)
Claude Shannon is best known as the founding titan of information theory — which was an idea of such pervasive impact, some have ranked it along side relativity theory as the most significant intellectual creation of the 20th century.
He wasn’t simply a brilliant mathematician and logical thinker, though. He was as well a lifelong tinkerer, builder, and whimsy merchant. You can get a sense of that side of his life from this catalogue of MIT’s collection of Shannonania.
Among those creations you can find a simple device, apparently inspired by Marvin Minsky (himself no stranger to orthogonal humor), one that Shannon dubbed the Ultimate Machine.
I happened across mention of it today while reading Jon Gertner’s excellent new book about Bell Labs, The Idea Factory, looked it up, and on seeing it, realized it was a perfect model for both Minority Leader McConnell’s decision today to filibuster his own bill — and for the Republican approach to the whole concept of governance.
Check it out:
As a lagniappe, enjoy this demonstration of the boss donkey’s approach to tech:
Just to deliver on a promise made in a thread last week, here’s the video of Hayes and Coates talking about Twilight of the Elites at MIT last week.
The whole evening was great, but I have to confess that while I have very little of the fan left in me at my doddering age, it was a true thrill to meet none other than Charles Pierce after the show. This just about captures my reaction.
We only had a few minutes to chat, but I can tell you that his gift for ornate invective is as present in conversation as its is on the page; I wish I could recall his crack about Eric Fehrnstrom (whom he knew when they were both reporters at the Boston Herald) well enough to transcribe it for you.
You shoulda been there.