Showing posts with label Awesome. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Awesome. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Design 'Er B'ys!

Beautiful Quidi Vidi Gut, the setting for Design 'Er B'ys

Is HGTV one of your guilty pleasures?  Are you secretly convinced that if you only had the chance, you too could perform miracles of home improvement? More important, have you ever rolled your eyes a little skeptically and wondered about what may have been going on off-camera for who knows how long which never made the cut for a 26 minute show format? Then, read on! This blog post is for you!

From time to time every human being enjoys a moment of the purest pleasure; a sublime interlude when the stars align to bring a couple of the elements closest to one's heart together in a sensational synthesis that comes close to perfection. For me, the niftiest imaginable confluence of awesomeness would be anything that combines my love for decorating shows, my love for salt of the earth Newfoundland and my love for great comedy. I never thought it could happen.

Until yesterday...

... when a Facebook friend (actor and singer, Robert Power) posted the link below.  It is a "proof of concept" trailer for a potential new TV show in Canada (apologies to the rest of the NiftyUniverse; you might be out of luck.  However, activism pays off, y'know - start "liking" the youtube video and spreading the word and perhaps you, too, can make this happen on a tv channel near you!).

They did a good job - but
three months! That's too long
to be without a kitchen and a
bathroom. You know
what I'm saying'...
Here's the concept for "Design 'Er B'ys" straight from the keyboard of Unstoppable Urges Productions:

For Dan and Jimmy, 2 gay men living in the Quidi Vidi area of St. John's, "the Gut", NOTHING is more important than finishing their ambitious renovation projects. Nothing that is, except pretty much everything... friends, family, dogs, school, pickling - they might be living in reno hell forever. And now their well-meaning friend and huge fan Doris has entered them in a contest to host their own reno show. But that would mean finishing the reno...

An appealing couple surrounded by an assortment of genuine (and hilariously frank) friends and beloved dogs, mired in a never-ending renovation project - I ask you, what's not to love about this concept?

Featuring legendary Newfoundland actor and comedian, Greg Malone , the cast draws on a rich range of musical, acting and comedic talents with RenĂ©e Hackett, Blair Harvey,  and the b'ys* Craig Pike and Miles Sharp. The trailer is a pitch perfect fusion of Newfoundland humor, wonderful comedic acting, refreshingly authentic Newfoundland settings and a marvelous tongue in cheek send-up of the current mania for interior design by Everyone! We could all be designers and the B'ys can too!

Enjoy the trailer and then LIKE it and SHARE it! Nifty Readers -- ENGAGE!!

* b'ys -  Newfoundland for two or more friends (usually male).  e.g.. "Me and the b'ys are going down to the pub!"

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tuesday Tonic - Make Your One Life Extraordinary!

"I was not argued out of faith - I was inspired out of it." Brandon Fibbs 

For your Tuesday Tonic today: a special treat from Plumbline Pictures. The elegant, inspirational and beautiful message of this video is only matched by its stunning visual beauty. Bonus: After the main video there is a seven-minute montage of iconic film images.

The video (linked below this post) is in HD. Do yourself a favor: close the office door, turn off your phone, bring the video up on full screen, turn up the volume and soak up the goodness. You'll feel relaxed and restored after this rejuvenating Tuesday Tonic!

Here is a transcript* of the video:

One Life...

As a Christian, I believed, as most persons of faith do,
that this life was temporary,
a sort of proving ground, in which we made ourselves worthy, through our beliefs and our deeds,
for an eternity spent with god in paradise.

The most critical decision anyone could possibly make, was to accept god's redemption
for their broken, sinful nature,
and to love others into the Kingdom of God.
Because this mortal existence was destined to evaporate in the blink of an eye
it was critical to understand the bigger picture
and recognize that only eternity mattered.

Absolutely everything else was superfluous.

All pleasure, all happiness, all love,
even all the good you did in this life
was to be jettisoned
if it in any way distracted you from your heavenly goal.

Pain and hardship was to be endured cheerfully
because the worst of it was nothing compared to the glory that awaited.
This life was merely a foretaste of things to come,
a trial run, an existential impostor, a pale reflection of future glory.

As an atheist, however, I have a very different perspective.

When I gave up a belief in god, I also relinquished any sort of claim on an afterlife
While such a surrender is not, by definition, required by atheism,
I have found as much evidence for life beyond death as I have for the god
who supposedly awaits us in it.
As with the concept of god,
I see far more persuasive evidence that the afterlife is an human construction
meant to allow us to pretend we can cheat death
and hold our tenuous mortality at bay.

The afterlife exists only within the pages of our ancient books;
we have no true evidence for it.

We have no reason to believe human beings have eternal souls
or that anything outlives the cessation of our wondrous but constantly degrading biological machinery.

Life is not some sort of launching pad for something greater.
The human story is far simpler
and far more profound:
this is the only life you and I will ever have. Right here. Right now.

The belief in an afterlife cheapens and diminishes the value of this existence,
and dehumanizes the people in it.

It hobbles our ability to live life fully
because we imagine there's something much better waiting in the wings. It's the ultimate greener grass.

If life is eternal, then where is the sense of urgency?
We take our pleasure and our pain less seriously.
Such a belief allows us to downplay our own discomfort, biding our time for relief later.

We consent, we surrender, we settle.

Such a belief gives us the ability to overlook injustice
because an omniscient god sees all and metes out punishment even after death.
But if there is no afterlife,
much less an ultimate judge keeping tally of our sins and transgressions,
it means we are responsible for our own choices, actions and deeds.

You are not some sort of spiritual marionette,
with the forces of good and evil pulling your strings.
No one made you do anything, and no one will absolve you of it later.
You are not born monster,
you become a monster through your own choices.

We must not shirk our responsibility to see justice done in the here and now.

Knowing that this life is all there is pushes you to live well,
not because of some reward or punishment, but because this is all you have.
The truth is, our desire to love brightly,
live fiercely,
hold death at bay
and mourn our dead
shows that, whenever we may claim to believe,
it's not how we actually live.

Look around you.

What you see is all there is or ever will be.
Don't neglect it. Don't trivialize what it offers or who you shares it with you.
The great American poet Walt Whitman said:
"O Me! O life!...of the questions of these recurring What good amid these, O me, O life?
Answer: That you are here, that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse."
George Bernard Shaw said:
"Life isn't about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself."
Some people are terrified at the prospect of creating their own meaning and purpose.

They prefer to have something larger and smarter than themselves in charge.
Others, like myself, find it liberating.

You are the captain of your ship.

Your fate is in your hands.
You carve your own shape from life's marble.
While religion forces you into prescribed molds,
forbidding and punishing those who leak out into other shapes,
a life without faith has no prescribed limits.

Stop allowing religion to permeate you with fear,
and trick you into believing that your life must be lived within the tiny boundaries of suffocating ideology.

Your freewill is not the false freedom religion prescribes.
Don't live as if everything is predestined.
Your steps are not ordered.
You do not have a destiny.

You are not a automaton.

Nothing is written.

This is not terrifying, it is emancipating.

It is one of the great privileges of being human.

Instead of working toward some ephemeral reward,
turn those energies to the here and now.

Seize this empowerment.

Decide for yourself.
Your world is moldable.

You can change it.

It responds to your touch.

Death could come for us at any second.

We are breathtakingly fragile.

Recognize that you are human, that you are mortal,
that your time here, in cosmic terms, is a blip of a blip.
But that is what makes us so precious.

An eternal being is not rare or special.

Instead, our lives are defined by our limitations.

We are exquisite exactly because we are rare,
because we are born, bloom and perish.

And when this life ends-
and it will end for us all, prince and pauper-
all we experienced, all we loved, all we learned, all we changed,
will vanish.

This is not a hopeless situation, as some assert.

It merely transfers importance from there to here.
It exchanges false hope for present actions.

When I die,
my body will disintegrate back into the atoms which make up its constituent parts
I will, once again, become stardust.

I will feed the cosmos,
and I find that breathtaking.

You are but an infinitesimal speck in a Cosmos that has not the agency to know or care of your existence.

And yet, you -finite, fallible you-
are able to take it in, to investigate it,
to examine it, to interrogate it, and even,
to some degree,
to comprehend it.

You possess the most special power of all:
a human brain capable of rational thought.

The ability to reason.

That is what makes you marvelous.

It is what sets you apart from all the other animals sharing this planet with us.

You can peel back mysteries and see the clockwork of the Cosmos.

That should make you feel...


You only get this one chance
this one chance to experience this exquisite planet.

The world is vast and full of wonder.
Replace judgment with curiosity and explore.
Be famished, every day, to learn something new.
Love incandescently and be loved the same in return.
Laugh as often as possible.

Instigate happiness-
for yourself and for those around you.

Aid in transforming the suffering of others whose brief flicker in this universe may be one of pain and anguish.

Stop judging others and trying to control how they live and who they love.

Stop killing time, treading water and running in place.
Stop limiting yourself.
Risk standing out.

Dare to be unique and unfettered.
Dare to dream big and live even bigger.

This is it. This is all you get.

One life.

No exceptions.

It's not for the timid,
but it rewards the bold.
How will you make your life...

- Brandon Fibbs, January 2, 2013

I can hardly believe that this video has only about 6,600 views - I hope NiftyReaders will share the link and do something about that! (This video is a feast for the eyes: the niftiest way to view it is to turn off the CC and just take it all in).

* transcript via transcriptsearch.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

More Than A Second String Queen!

(via A Capella Science - shamelessly ripped off Pharyngula)

Love science? Love Queen? 

Sit back, turn up the volume and take in the latest tour de force from a rising star in science education media.

Tim Blais has done it again! If you thought he could not outdo himself after "Rolling in the Higgs", you are in for a treat! This video has everything - musical talent, humor, an Einstein puppet and best of all - it condenses some difficult science concepts down to a nearly comprehensible 4 minutes! Sure, I still haven't a clue about string theory, (hello, people go to university for years to try to understand that stuff!), but oh it is thrilling to see the first glimmers of that distant light!

For your Wednesday Wonder:  Bohemian Gravity!

Bohemian Gravity

Is string theory right?
Is it just fantasy?
Caught in the landscape,
Out of touch with reality
On S5 or T*S3

Space is a pure void
Why should it be stringy? 
Because it's quantum not classical

Any way you quantize
You'll encounter infinity
You see

Must interact
Via paths we understand
Using Feynman diagrams
Often, they will just rebound
But now and then they go another way
A quantum
Infinities will make you cry
Unless you can renormalize your model
Of baryons, fermions
And all other states of matter

Curved space:
The graviton
Can be thought of as a field
comic by xkcd

But these infinities are real
In a many-body
Loop diagram
Our results diverge no matter what we do...
A Quantum Soup (any way you quantize)
Kiss your fields goodbye
Guess Einstein's theory wasn't complete at all!

I see extended 1-D objects with no mass
What's their use? What's their use? Can they give us quark plasma?
What to minimize?
What functional describes this
Nambu-Goto! (Nambu-Goto)
Nambu-Goto! (Nambu-Goto)
How to quantize I don't know
I'm just a worldsheet, please minimize me
He's just a worldsheet from a string theory
Reperametrized by a Weyl symmetry!

Fermi, Bose, open, closed, orientable?
Modes! They become particles (particles!)
They become particles (particles!)
They become particles (particles!)
Become particles (particles!)
Become particles (many many many many particle...)
Modes modes modes modes modes modes modes!
Oh mamma mia mamma mia,
Such a sea of particles!
A tachyon, with a dilaton and gravity-vity-VITY

(rock out!)

Now we need ten dimensions and I'll tell you why
(anomaly cancellation!)
So to get down to 4D we compactify!
Oh, Kahler!
(Kahler manifold)
Manifolds must be Kahler!
(Complex Reimannian symplectic form)
If we wanna preserve
Any of our super-symmetry

(Superstrings of type I, IIa and IIb)
(Heterotic O and Heterotic E)
(All are one through S and T duality)
(Thank you Ed Witten for that superstring revolution and your new M-theory!)

(Type IIB String!)
Dual! Dual!
(In the AdS/CFT)

Molecules and atoms
Light and energy
Time and space and matter
All from one united

Any way you quantize...

Lyrics and arrangement by Tim Blais and A Capella Science
Original music by Queen

String Theory 2  (artwork via fractalpages)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Tonight's The Night! (Perseids!)

Around 11:00 PM tonight, the show of the summer begins! Skygazers will be treated to the annual show of shooting stars from the Perseids meteor shower.

The name "Perseids" is derived from the fact that the annual celestial show appears to originate from the part of the night sky occupied by the constellation Perseus. This constellation appears in the northern sky - look to the northeast if you are in North America.

The Perseids meteor shower is caused by a collision of the earth's atmosphere with debris leftover from a comet. As the earth crosses the orbital path of the Swift-Tuttle comet each August, it blasts through the comet's debris field, and little pieces of that debris burn up in our planet's atmosphere, causing the "shooting stars" which delight stargazers every summer.
The constellation Perseus

If you are lucky enough to be at a distance from city lights, and can sit out under the stars between 11:00 PM tonight and dawn tomorrow morning, just do it! You won't be disappointed. The show gets better as the pre-dawn hours approach, due to the tilt of the earth. If you can't stay up late, set your alarm clock and get out there before sunrise tomorrow morning.

At it's peak (tonight and tomorrow) the Perseids can produce more than one shooting star a minute - 90-100 per hour. It is going to be quite a show!


If you cannot get away from city lights, please take a moment to enjoy this wonderful video produced by stargazer Henry Jun Wah Lee at Joshua Tree National Park, August 10-15, 2010.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tuesday Tonic - Bernadette's Solution!

Sit back and enjoy a little nugget of awesome on a Tuesday morning.

Big Bang Theory:  Bernadette doesn't want to have a child. (Season 5, Episode 12)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

FTB CONscience!!

Exciting news!  FreeThoughtBlogs announced this week that they will be hosting an online conference:

"FtBCon is a free, online conference organized by the Freethought Blogs network. It will take place on July 19-21 and will focus on social justice, technology and the future of the freethought movement. Without travel, registration, or hotel costs, FtBCon will be accessible to freethinkers around the world. Conference sessions will be held through Google+ hangouts, and attendees will have the opportunity to interact with each other in chat rooms and to submit questions to moderators.

We are currently assembling our schedule. If you or your organization are interested in participating, submit your session ideas for consideration by e-mailing PZ Myers with a proposal."

It's free! It will be packed with fantastic speakers and contributors! It will be interactive!

This might just be the best news you'll read all day. Mark your calendars, NiftyReaders!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Monday Music - Broadway's Not Just For Gays Anymore!

The Tony Awards will be presented this coming Sunday, June 9 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Theater! Music! Dancing! On that glittering evening, we will be treated to a taste of the best of all three for 2013. Maybe if we're lucky, there will even be a little dollop of humor to spice things up.

So break out the popcorn and get comfortable (What? There has to be some upside to not having a snowball's chance in hell of actually attending a star-studded event like this in person. We get to eat popcorn, so eat your hearts out celebrities!). Here is a warmup for NiftyReaders!

For your Monday Music, Neil Patrick Harris and company at the 2011 Tony Awards.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thorsday Tonic - Tropes vs Women in Video Games

                                                                                                                               photo via feminist frequency

Back in March, I wrote a blog post featuring the work of feminist - and enthusiastic gamer - Anita Sarkeesian in honor of International Women's Day. Ms. Sarkeesian has faced down a veritable army of haters who have attacked her viciously for the 'crime' of criticizing the prevalence of harmful sexist tropes in video games.

In 2012, Sarkeesian made the "mistake" of launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund a series of videos examining the prevalence of sexist gendered stereotypes in video games. While the project was hailed as a great idea by many feminist gamers (both men and women), it was met with outrage by a significant subset of gamers and misogynists on the internet. The resulting firestorm of misogynistic harassment ranged from expletive-laced comments on the website to threats of rape, torture and death. Her blog, Feminist Frequency, was hacked. Enraged gamers created "games" featuring Sarkeesian as a character who is raped, beaten or killed (or all three) - one was called "Beat up Anita Sarkeesian" and featured the *fun* of punching the animated Anita until the blood-spatter turns the screen red. Furious gamers sent videos of the violence being done to her "game character", perhaps meant as a warning and a threat, but undoubtedly meant to harass, intimidate and silence her.
Yeah, this really was a thing.

The first video in the series, Tropes vs Women in Video Games, Damsel in Distress Part 1 can be found here

Yesterday, Part 2 of Damsel in Distress was released to almost instant attack by the same sort of internet trolls who have been harrassing Ms Sarkeesian from the moment she decided to challenge the status quo in the video game industry. As Jason at Lousy Canuck reported, her video was false-flagged and pulled from YouTube within an hour of its posting. 

Think about that for a moment. People are so desperate to attack Sarkeesian and any attempt at injecting feminist commentary into video games, that they’re willing to silence her by marking it as objectionable. Not because the content is incorrect, or because the content is damning of the industry, but because how daaaaaare this mere woman criticize this immature art form that we love so much? Jason Thibeault, Lousy Canuck, May 28, 2013.

The video is back up now and it is as good as, if not better than, the first one. 

Gather the teenagers 'round and take a few minutes to view. Don't forget to discuss!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Audi is Star Trekkin'!

via skyguyuk (hat tip to richardguru who posted a link to this treasure on Pharyngula)

This may be the best thing you look at all week!  For your Thorsday Tonic this week, I was planning to post "Star Trekkin'". But why wait until Thorsday? Let's make it a Wednesday Wonder!

Context:  So, it seems like the entire Facebook universe is sharing an AUDI S7 video ad featuring Leonard Nimoy (Spock, the original) and Zachary Quinto (Spock, recent incarnation).

Undeniably, the Audi ad rocks! If you have the spare chunk of change, I order all NiftyReaders to race right out to your local dealer and buy one of those cars at once! haha not really. But, wow, if awesome ads could ensure marketing success, Audi for the win!

For the younger crowd, the little 60's-vibe ditty ("Bilbo Baggins") that Leonard Nimoy is groovin' to as he drives to the club may be the most rocking thing about the entire ad - which is saying a lot! The video at the top of this post fills in the missing context. Enjoy!

And, because it is just so full of win, here is the Audi ad:

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Thorsday Tonic - On Little Cat Feet


The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

In The Eye of the Beholder - You Are Beautiful

The video below may be the best thing you see today. Please take 3 minutes out of your busy day to watch it. If you are a NiftyWoman, you may want to have a hanky handy!

Sure, it's an ad campaign, but this is the best kind of use of corporate clout writ large. These Dove campaigns give wide exposure to crushing toxic notions of femininity that feminist groups have been struggling - and failing - to overcome for decades.

Harmful, demeaning cultural pressure on women to conform to an impossible fantasy of beauty is propped up by the constant barrage of media objectification of women and an unquestioned beauty culture. Girls soak up that poison early, too, so that self-criticism will usually fill in on the rare occasions when another person might try to reassure her that she is beautiful just as she is - that her beauty is in her humanity and all that makes her her, not in whether she wears a certain dress size or has a certain set of facial characteristics.

Just as rape continues to be epidemic even in so-called egalitarian, progressive societies because few powerful voices challenge the notion that most rape is not really rape, so the toxic beauty culture persists because few powerful voices challenge it either. One such powerful voice could be a large corporation with a robust advertising budget.

I think these promotions may and should pay off for this company. They have invested in ideas that matter. They have given corporate sponsorship to a recognition of the value of humanity - of women - beyond the superficial. And, as we have learned, well-funded campaigns really do change societal opinions and  bring meaningful shifts in cultural norms.

Someone at Dove decided to pair corporate self-interest with a social conscience. I call that a win-win.

What a NiftyIdea!

via doveunitedstates

Friday, March 8, 2013

Pwned! (An International Women's Day Feature Presentation)

In honor of International Women's Day, may I present a great story about a remarkable woman. This story has it all: a courageous heroine, vicious enemies, conflict, cultural relevance, tension and drama. And a very satisfying conclusion. It's like the best video game ever!

Anita Sarkeesian is a young feminist. She has also been an enthusiastic video gamer since childhood. As she grew from happily video-playing child to thoughtful teen and feminist adult, Sarkeesian became increasingly disturbed by the portrayal of female characters in video games. It seemed that the vast majority of female-identified characters were either victims, trophies or wily (lying) temptresses - always, always hyper-sexualized and all too often brutalized as some part of the storyline.

Sarkeesian talked about this portrayal of women in video games on her video blog as part of the overall discussion of the issue of the negative depictions of women in all aspects of popular culture. She discussed it with other gamers, too, and while she did receive encouraging feedback from many, she also received angry blowback from some. Recognizing that this sexist portrayal of women characters was not accidental, Sarkeesian decided to try to examine the issue a little more closely.

But, it's just a game!
Why can't these b****es lighten up?
In 2012, Sarkeesian made the "mistake" of launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund a series of videos examining the prevalence of sexist gendered stereotypes in video games. While the project was hailed as a great idea by many feminist gamers (both men and women), it was met with outrage by a significant subset of gamers and misogynists on the internet. The resulting firestorm of misogynistic harassment ranged from expletive-laced comments on the website to threats of rape, torture and death. Her blog, Feminist Frequency, was hacked. Enraged gamers created "games" featuring Sarkeesian as a character who is raped, beaten or killed (or all three) - one was called "Beat up Anita Sarkeesian" and featured the *fun* of punching the animated Anita until the blood-spatter turns the screen red. Furious gamers sent videos of the violence being done to her "game character", perhaps meant as a warning and a threat, but undoubtedly meant to harass, intimidate and silence her.

Fortunately for young women everywhere - and more directly for women gamers - Anita Sarkeesian did not let the harassment silence her. She persevered in her quest. Other feminist gamers supporting her effort spread the word about the Kickstarter and the rest, as they say, is history.  Here is Anita Sarkeesian speaking at TED+Women last fall telling the story in her succinct, engaging and calmly awesome way:

Online harassment - even harassment that reaches criminal levels - is almost never successfully prosecuted. The law has not caught up to the technology yet and in any case the anonymity and enormous size of the online population makes enforcement of any laws problematic.  The internet is the perfect home for enraged cowards who lob verbal and visual attacks at their targets before scuttling away into the shadows of the interweb. While it is likely that most of these lowlifes would never risk their own hides by coming out into the open and attacking the object of their wrath in real life, the sobering fact that no one can be certain about what rage-filled people might do is often enough to frighten a victim of online harassment into silence.

What? It's just a simple beach shot!
Why do those feminazis always get
their thongs in a twist, anyway?
The goal of the anti-feminists who perpetrated the campaign against her was to silence Anita Sarkeesian through online harassment so vicious and threatening that it is actually nauseating to read about.  Instead of achieving their goal, however, they inadvertently assisted her in her goal of funding the video series. With great courage and determination, Sarkeesian not only continued to promote her project but she actually used the online campaign of terror against her as a case in point supporting the need for exactly the series her kickstarter was attempting to fund.

The TED talk linked above occurred last fall and this week, Ms. Sarkeesian released the first video in the series, Damsel in Distress: Part 1 - Tropes vs Women in Video Games.

Upcoming videos in the series will include:

The Fighting F#@k Toy - Video #2
The Sexy Sidekick - Video #3
The Sexy Villainess - Video #4
Background Decoration - Video #5
Voodoo Priestess/Tribal Sorceress - Video #6
Women as Reward - Video #7
Mrs. Male Character - Video #8
Unattractive Equals Evil - Video #9
Man with Boobs - Video #10
Positive Female Characters! - Video #11
Top 10 Most Common Defenses of Sexism in Games - Video #12

In addition to what looks to be a fantastic series of videos about this issue, Sarkeesian is developing materials for a classroom curriculum kit to help educate a future generation of gamers and internet media participants. As she pointed out in her TED+Women talk, "video games are the fastest growing form of mass media today". This is a huge communication tool, with enormous power to influence and shape our culture. As a society, we can sit back and allow it to more deeply entrench harmful tropes which dehumanize, objectify and exclude women or we can use it to help build a more just and equitable society.

Clearly, a significant, vocal and vicious subset of society wishes to enforce compliance with the first option. But feminists like Anita Sarkeesian and her supporters have fought for and achieved a small step toward ensuring that the second option has a chance to flower.

In short, Anita Sarkkeesian pwned the very people who wanted to force her to shut up and go away.

Well done, Anita Sarkeesian!

Take a few minutes to view the masterfully done video below. It is entertaining, quick-moving, and makes its points clearly and concisely. The video clips from some of my favorite games are fun, too!

Best quote:

"In the game of patriarchy, women are not the opposing team; they are the ball."


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tuesday Tonic - Happy Darwin Day!

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being,

There has been an effort to have February 12 officially declared "Darwin Day" in honor of Charles Darwin who was born on this date in 1809. The famous naturalist is the author of The Origin of Species (full title: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection) his seminal work which first introduced the public to the theory of Evolution.

A simple demonstration of natural selection.
"As many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive; and as, consequently, there is a frequently recurring struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it vary however slightly in any manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving, and thus be naturally selected. From the strong principle of inheritance, any selected variety will tend to propagate its new and modified form." Charles Darwin

To mark Charles Darwin's 204th birthday, here is a BBC Horrible History performed by (an actor portraying) the man himself! As if this awesome video about an awesome man and an awesome subject is not enough of a treat, you get an extra bonus: the entire thing is set to the tune of David Bowie's awesome song, Changes!

Enjoy! And Happy Darwin Day!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tuesday Tonic - Interspecies Cooperation!

via Keller Laros

According to this article, diver Keller Laros was taking a group out for a night dive to swim with the manta rays when a lone dolphin appeared and seemed to be asking for help. Mr. Laros, an experienced diver with over 10,000 dives to his credit, quickly spotted a fishing hook imbedded in the animal's pectoral fin. While the dolphin bobbed patiently next to him, Mr. Laros was able to remove the hook from the fin and then used his diving tools to cut the animal free from the attached fishing line in which it had become entangled.

Because the diver regularly takes groups out for these dives, he often has a professional photographer along to record the experience for the group. On this occasion, videographer Martina Wing managed to capture the whole amazing encounter on film.

Above is a version of the encounter that Mr. Laros has posted with captions explaining what is happening. For the full eight minutes of raw video of the event (with captions, too), look here.

Nice work, Keller Laros!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday Inspiration - Little Drummer Boy, Bowie/Crosbie

Many people love this version of the Little Drummer Boy performed by the aging, but still velvet-voiced Bing Crosbie and a young, charismatic David Bowie.  I had no idea there was an actual video of this!


Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth

David & Bing:
Come they told me pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
A new-born king to see pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Our finest gifts we bring pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Rum-pum-pum-pum, rum-pum-pum-pum

David: Peace on Earth, can it be
Bing: Come they told me pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: Years from now, perhaps we'll see
Bing: A new-born king to see pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: See the day of glory
Bing: Our finest gifts we bring pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: See the day, when men of good will
Bing: To lay before the king pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: Live in peace, live in peace again
Bing: Rum-pum-pum-pum, rum-pum-pum-pum
David: Peace on Earth,
Bing: So to honour him pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: Can it be
Bing: When we come

David & Bing:
Every child must be made aware
Every child must be made to care
Care enough for his fellow man
To give all the love that he can

David: I pray my wish will come true
Bing: Little baby pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: For my child and your child too
Bing: I stood beside him there pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: He'll see the day of glory
Bing: I played my drum for him pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: See the day when men of good will
Bing: I played my best for him pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: Live in peace, live in peace again
Bing: Rum-pum-pum-pum, rum-pum-pum-pum
David: Peace on Earth,
Bing: And he smiled at me pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: Can it be
Bing: Me and my drum
David & Bing: Can it be

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Full Frost Moon - And Jupiter, Too!

photo by TaviGreiner

The moving moon
went up the sky,
And nowhere 
did abide:
Softly she was
going up,
And a star 
or two beside -

(from The Rime of the
Ancient Mariner,
Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

The full moon tonight came with a special treat: just off the moon's left shoulder a bright "star", which is not a star at all, but the giant planet Jupiter. Jupiter is the largest planet and the fifth planet from the sun in our solar system. In the ancient Roman pantheon, Jupiter was the name of the putative "king" of the gods - his Greek equivalent was Zeus. Jupiter is the ruling planet of the astrological sign Sagittarius, bestowing upon those lucky individuals good fortune, nobility and lives of meaning and purpose. Jupiter is also associated with luck and happiness.

Perhaps Gustav Holtz was thinking about the good luck and positive influence attributed to Jupiter when he subtitled the movement dedicated to the giant planet, "Bringer of Jollity". Listen to the beautiful Jupiter movement of Holtz's orchestral suite, The Planets. You'll hear the parts which remind you of Jupiter's connection to the idea of higher purpose around the 3 minute mark. Turn up the volume and lose yourself in a 7 minute musical vacation which will be a tonic to body and soul.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by James Levine.

Off to the right and slightly below the moon shines the red giant star, Aldebaran.

Apparently, tonight's full moon was the smallest one of 2012, because the moon is at its apogee - the farthest distance from earth in its orbit. Don't tell me or Carolyn Ann that it was small, however. Tonight's huge moonrise was as spectacular as many a Harvest or Hunter Moon. The huge buttermilk- coloured orb ascending in a deep azure sky that was pierced by the light of the moon's two brilliant celestial companions was truly captivating.

The November full moon is known as the "Beaver Moon" or the "Full Frost Moon" in Native American lore. There was also a lunar eclipse earlier today, but unless you were in Australia or at least in Alaska, you probably didn't have much of a view. Lucky for you, Nifty is here to save the day!

A little night-sky gazing for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thorsday Tonic - Science is Real (They Might Be Giants)

via ParticleMen

"A scientific theory isn't just a hunch or guess - it's more like a question that's been put through a lot of tests and when a theory emerges consistent with the facts, the proof is with science; the truth is with science."

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday Inspiration - Evolution

Check out this gorgeously illustrated, clear, concise and relatively brief (10 minutes) explanation of the Theory of Evolution.

Helpful for parents trying to help older children understand, too!

via QualiaSoup

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thorsday Tonic - Mario Kart Love Song

via blinktwice4y

A little love song for a Thorsday morning! Enjoy!

You be my Princess and I'll be your Toad,
I'll follow behind you on Rainbow Road,
protect you from red shells wherever we go,
I promise.

No one will touch us if we pick up a star,
and if you spin out you can ride in my car,
When we slide together we generate sparks
in our wheels and our hearts.

And the finish line is just around the bend,
I'll pause this game so our love will never end,
let's go again

The blue shell is coming, so I'll go ahead,
if you hang behind it'll hit me instead,
but never look back cuz i'm down but not dead,
I'll catch up to you.

Don't worry about Bowser or DK,
Just eat this glowing mushroom and they'll all fade away

Chorus 2X:
and the finish line is just around the bend,
I'll pause this game so our love will never end
Oh, the finish line is just around the bend,
I'll pause this game so our love will never end,
let's go again

To the Mushroom Cup,
and the Flower Cup,
and the Star Cup,
and the Reverse Cup,

Wala wala wala wala wa... Wala wala wala Waluigiiiiiiiiii!

Music and Lyrics by Sam Hart

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wednesday Wonders - Rolling In The Higgs

I am a sucker for a cappella singing, especially multiple harmonics. I am also a sucker for clever lyrics which make science both easy to understand and fun.

Tim Blais has combined both of these things in a great little video that is well worth less than 4 minutes of your time.

Rolling in the Higgs - Lyrics

There's a collider under Geneva
Reaching new energies that we've never achieved before
Finally we can see with this machine
A brand new data peak at 125 GeV
See how gluons and vector bosons fuse
Muons and gamma rays emerge from something new
There's a collider under Geneva
Making one particle that we've never seen before

The complex scalar
Elusive boson
Escaped detection by the LEP and Tevatron
The complex scalar
What is its purpose?
It's got me thinking

We could have had a model (Particle breakthrough, at the LHC)
Without a scalar field (5-sigma result, could it be the Higgs)

But symmetry requires no mass (Particle breakthrough, at the LHC)
So we break it, with the Higgs (5-sigma result, could it be the Higgs)

Baby I have a theory to be told
The standard model used to discover our quantum world
SU(3), U(1), SU(2)'s our gauge
Make a transform and the equations shouldn't change

The particles then must all be massless
Cause mass terms vary under gauge transformation
The one solution is spontaneous
Symmetry breaking

Roll your vacuum to minimum potential
Break your SU(2) down to massless modes
Into mass terms of gauge bosons they go
Fermions sink in like skiers into snow

Lyrics and arrangement by Tim Blais and A Capella Science
Original music by Adele