Archive for the ‘Cool Video’ category

Your Morning Awesome

January 16, 2014

Thanks to increasingly indispensable blogger Lt. Col. Robert Bateman, who pops up every week or so over at Charlie Pierce’s joint, I just watched this:

Because I am a kind and generous soul, now you can too.

I Want One (Well, Not Really, But Still…)

January 9, 2014

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!

Stephen Fry Shows How It’s Done

October 16, 2013

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:

Seriously.  Not only is this a beautiful sequence, one that can be admired (and dissected) purely for its documentary technique, it’s also a brilliant tutorial on the art of interviewing.  Look at how Fry permits his subject to give the viewer precisely what he or she needs to get the point — with never less than perfect politesse from Fry himself.  You could call it interlocutory murder — but there’s nary a scrap of blood on our Stephen’s hands.
A masterclass.
Enjoy.

Women in Science Communication: Two Lows and One High

October 15, 2013

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:

*To be precise.  The post was a year old.  Byrnes updated it last night to identify Zivkovic by name, a decision triggered, she wrote, on reading of Danielle Lee’s troubles at Scientific American.

Take Notes, Children

July 30, 2013

Let’s keep the night alive with this gem:

So what off-coloratura* ripostes do y’all go going tonight?

[Signed]

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.

Don’t Even Think About Being The Coolest Person On (Above) The Planet…

May 12, 2013

…that slot is taken:

Tip o’ the hat to Commander Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadlfield) aboard the International Space Station.

CPAC, Rendered

March 16, 2013

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.

1909_Stag_at_Sharkey's

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.


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