Nice short video overview of the ScienceOnline2012 unconference I attended last january, just days before my life went into a turbulent period from which I am still recovering. I had several blog posts in mind to record my own experience at the meeting, and summarize the discussion in the un-session I was able to lead there. It is nice to see this video which reminds me of the warmth of that unconference, and jogs memories that should help me write those blog posts… just as soon as I’m done catching up with all the other more urgent scheisse that has piled up at work in my absence! In the meantime, enjoy this video, which even has my own hairy face on camera for a second, laughing at something Brian Malow, the Science Comedian said during lunch on the final day. Its only been a couple of months, but feels so long ago that I have to say: ah, the memories!
Sad times indeed, now that Adrienne Rich too has disappeared. At least we still have her powerful voice with us… if only we choose to listen.
In his very second outing, the newest Doctor Who (a white guy… ever wonder why the last remaining Time Lord in the universe keeps choosing to be reincarnated as a parade of white guys?) and his newest (and whitest; again, where’s the kick-ass black beauty Martha Jones who accompanied him for a season?) companion land on a strange sort of ship which is really home to all of Britain transported into outer space somehow.
A spectacular view of the freshly rain-and-snow-washed Sierra Nevada range had me in its thrall during my morning commute this morning! Just the kind of view that all-too-rarely these days reminds one of the value of living in Fresno, so near to these fantastic mountains. Yet also so far sometimes as we get too caught up in the daily mundane. A view like that, and a video like this one, remind me again that I don’t go up in these mountains as often as I would like to… as I really should! At least I get to see them from my windows more often than most people, though. Besides, perhaps it is better that more of us enjoy getting up close to them via such HD footage than actually crushing those trails (like the one here going up Half Dome which the National Park Service is seriously worried about) underfoot. I also particularly love the nocturnal shots in this film, showcasing a Yosemite that is likely even less accessible to most people, including those who tromp through there on short visits. Therein lies the trade-off in capturing such spectacular footage of such special places, I guess: it is great that some of us have access so they can bring all this beauty to the rest of us!
[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/35396305 w=500&h=281]
A 3-minute journey through the last 250 years of our history, from the start of the Industrial Revolution to the Rio+20 Summit. The film charts the growth of humanity into a global force on an equivalent scale to major geological processes.
The film was commissioned by the Planet Under Pressure conference, London 26-29 March, a major international conference focusing on solutions.
The film is part of the world’s first educational webportal on the Anthropocene, commissioned by the Planet Under Pressure conference, and developed and sponsored by anthropocene.info
Now that sure looks like a fun movie, doesn’t it? Pirates! Aardman’s brilliant digital claymation wackiness! and Pirates! What’s not to like?
Well, a rather big chunk of the premise of the story, apparently – if you’re American. For the film is based on a novel titled “The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists”. Not just any old scientists either – but the story actually revolves around Charles Darwin, whose Beagle is sunk by the titular pirates who then actually team up with him for some scientific mayhem. Sounds like fun, right? But you wouldn’t know any of that from the above trailer for the film intended for the American market. Not only is there no mention of Darwin (although some of us may recognize him from one tiny glimpse in the above trailer; hint: he didn’t have that famous beard while on that voyage of his youth), the trailer makes it sound like some comic knock-off of that awful Disney Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. With a Band of Misfits!
Why, Sony, why? Is this what your marketing department and its focus groups told you? That mentioning scientists or Darwin would be the marketing death knell for this movie in America? That no one would go to see a movie with scientists in the title? Is this what we have come to in this nation that was once the proud global leader of science? That one must remove not only any mention of philosophers, but even scientists from children’s literature and cinema? I guess the marketers know something we don’t quite appreciate fully – just how low science has sunk in the estimation of the American public! And that is rather sad and quite alarming…
At least the British aren’t as squeamish about science or Darwin, going by this, rather more fun, musical trailer being shown in the UK – although this trailer too doesn’t exactly play up the science bits:
Let’s hope the actual movie itself hasn’t been purged of references to science or Darwin when it hits the screens here in the US. Or I will have to look for ways to pirate that original UK edition myself!
Bonus: David Tennant, who voices Darwin in the film, was on BBC’s Five Live with Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode this week to talk about the film. He said something about having to fight to keep the original title at least in the UK. You can listen to the interview online for the next few days, or download the podast.
My favorite, most poetic definition of jet lag, that modern malady of the flying-across-time-zones age, comes from an observation attributed to an Indian (of the American kind) saying which goes something like this: “if you travel too fast, your soul can’t keep up“.
I particularly like what he says at the end about the problem of unemployment, and the sheer waste of human potential when we allow people to be unemployed.
That wonderfully evocative description, in a paragraph about of a cup of chai being made, can be used to describe this entire piece of memoir written by my friend Samina Najmi. It is a beautiful, moving piece about place, displacement, and family, about how families are torn apart, scattered, and brought together in strange, heartbreaking, beautiful ways. And if you let Samina’s words catch the light as you read, they too glitter like a garnet waterfall. Here’s a taste – but go read the whole thing:
But my greatest connection with Abdul centered on our common love of strong, hot tea, no matter how warm the day. He would come in from the balcony and, eyes shining brightly, ask: “Should I make some chai?” Most of the time I said yes because I wanted it, and sometimes I said yes so he could justify making himself a cup. He would make his way to the kitchen and put his favored kettle on the stove. It was a small, aluminum kettle with a handle that was neither heat-resistant nor firmly attached to the body of the container and a lid that had an independent life, falling out entirely if you poured at too steep an angle. The kettle wavered threateningly as you guided boiling hot water out of its spout and at the same time tried to keep the lid from unleashing its scalding breath on your hand. Abdul, who dismissed any glossy whistling kettles that my mother or I might have tried to foist upon him, would grasp the overheated handle with one of his many rags, his thin, unsteady hand dangling the kettle over the teapot. Loose Lipton tea leaves awaited as he poured the hot water into the teapot and placed an embroidered tea cozy over it to keep it warm–even if he himself was sweltering. While the tea steeped, he would heat the buffalo milk my father had purchased from the neighboring farm that very dawn. Then out came the mismatched china cups, into which Abdul would pour the rich, aromatic tea through a strainer. If it caught the light while he poured, the tea would glitter like a garnet waterfall. Then Abdul would plop milk and sugar into each cup to suit his own taste. He often carried several cups of tea as they chattered with their companion saucers on a tray, an ensemble that made its way tremblingly to the living room.
If you’re still lingering here (why?), instead of clicking on the above link to read all of Abdul’s story, allow me to add a personal note of thanks to Samina for catalyzing my own (rather less glittering) forays into more personal memoir-ish writing (especially on this blog of late). As you may have gathered, like so many of us in the diaspora, I too have been preoccupied with questions of place, displacement, home, and identity amid our globally scattered lives. Samina has been a good friend to talk with about some of these notions, over not nearly enough cups of chai (will have to remedy that when I get back to Fresno next week!). She also inspired my very first piece of such personal (as in not having to do with ecology, or science, or my work in any direct way) writing in this post over on Reconciliation Ecology written after my first visit to her home.