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Video: John Oliver explains monopolies

by on Jun.04, 2014, under Articles, Computers, Culture, Information Technology, Internet, News, Politics, Technology, Videos, Visual Media

He also has sent up the call for people to tell the FCC how horrible of an idea their current attempts at smashing Net Neutrality really is.

Video Source

FCC’s Comment Page

 

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Kickstarter: Bring Reading Rainbow Back for Every Child, Everywhere

by on May.28, 2014, under Articles, Books, Computers, Culture, Information Technology, News, Technology, Visual Media

Bring Reading Rainbow Back for Every Child, Everywhere

LeVar Burton is attempting to raise funds to re-start Reading Rainbow as a multi-pronged internet venture, targeting tablets and the internet. Which seems incredibly smart to me. I’ve seen the recent upcoming generations and at least a good portion of them are being weaned on tablets. Being on the web will make it very accessible for schools to incorporate it in the classroom. Not that this campaign mentions it, but this could also be the step to getting it back on television.

Either way, look it over, and see what you can afford. This is definitely one of those projects worth donating to.

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Kickstarter: Muzzled the Musical

by on May.28, 2014, under Art, Entertainment, Music, Videos, Visual Media

Muzzled the Musical

Never mind the premise, which seems both silly and awesome, the music is super catchy and the cast list is full of amazingly talented and funny people. Kevin Sorbo (Yes, Hercules/Captain Hunt), Lisa Foiles, Ashly Burch (Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’), Jeff Lewis (The Guild), several actors from the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which I’ve never seen but is supposedly hilarious and awesome, and many more.

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LED Solar Paneled Roads, Driveways, Parking lots

by on May.23, 2014, under Articles, Culture, Design & Development, Science, Technology, Visual Media

So here is a hilarious video about a technology someone is developing that needs some financial support.

Crowd Funding Campaign

SolarRoadways.com

Personally I’d love to see this, or something like this, instituted. We are at a time where technology can solve a significant amount of our problems but we’re being held back by commercialism and the need to make a profit. For profit corporations, who have the capital do things like this, can’t because it wouldn’t be economically feasible, but we, as a society, can use crowdfunding to give money to the people who are willing to make today and tomorrow a better place, even if they don’t make a profit.

That isn’t’ to say I’m not hesitant myself. Their prototypes honestly look kinda ugly close up, and the LED idea is really neat but I’d like to see actual pictures of the LED system, in broad daylight, and up close. But when I think about it, asphalt really isn’t all that pretty either. And there are questions of maintenance. How often will streets need to be cleaned to keep them energy-efficient, for example? Plus there are people who staunchly feel solar technology is the savior people like to make it out to be.  What happens when newer technology comes out?

The best I can say is that these questions will be addressed, or this will never catch on, but we won’t find a perfect solution, nor any solution without trying. Solar panel technology been progressing steadily in both efficiency of energy gathering and efficiency of cost over the last decade. The proposed  hexagonal system appears modular enough to be upgradable as newer breakthroughs are made. Cleaning might be easily done with current street sweeping technology.

Ultimately I think this could be a significant investment in the future, and it is worth taking a gamble on.

 

 

 

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What if, wherever you looked, you didn’t see anyone like you?

by on May.01, 2014, under Culture, Films, Trailers, Visual Media

This video is rather long, for an internet video, but well worth watching. It will help you understand an aspect of U.S. society you may or may not be aware of.

Miss Representation 8 min. Trailer 8/23/11 from The Representation Project on Vimeo.

Links to more information:
Missrepresentation.org
Facebook.com/missrepresentationcampaign
Twitter.com/representpledge

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Sexism in SFWA (and the world)

by on Feb.18, 2014, under Articles, Culture, Gaming, Video Games, Writing

You don’t have to look very far these days to see sexism but you do have to know what you are looking for. The problem is that most of us are effectively blind to it, both because it is kept behind close doors and  because it is hiding in plain sight. And when people, particularly women, call attention to it, they’re often labeled misogynist, or simply told to “laugh it off”. Even when sexism is dragged out from behind doors for all to see, it is easy to claim that it is happening to just one person, or a small group of people, hidden away, and not a systemic problem within our society.

Noted and award winning author Mary Robinette Kowal was slandered by some of her peers in the Science Fiction Writer’s Association (SFWA) the other day. Male members of the organization made comments via the organization’s public email listserv. One called her a hypocrite based upon her public views as a feminist and what clothing she chooses to wear to award ceremonies, as well as simply calling her phony and incompetent.

To her credit, Mary has offered a response which, rather than simply attacking back, called attention to this attack and focused instead on making it an example of sexism and to make note that this is not an incident she is facing alone, but that women inside and outside the SFWA suffer all the time from what is effectively verbal abuse.

In her response entitled”Me, as a useful representative example“, she says the following:

Then I replied to the messages saying, “Honestly, I’m fine. Four years in office inured me to this so mostly I’m just laughing.”

And this is the part that I feel I should draw attention to — I was “mostly” laughing. I was also having mild stress reactions. Dry sweats, elevated heart rate. I was ready to shrug them off as, “Meh, doesn’t materially affect me. I’ve seen worse.”

Until someone pointed it out that I was basically saying, “I’m inured to being abused, because I was abused for years.” See… the things those folks are saying in that public forum? When I was in office, they would email that bile directly to me and because I was an officer, I could not choose to ignore it. I had to read every single one. And I had to reply politely to them. Strangely, sometimes I had trouble doing that, but a polite response was the one that was expected. Now? Being out of office for two years, I can say whatever the fuck I want, but most beautifully, I don’t have to read the emails.

So this is why I feel weird about writing about this. My impulse is to tell you all that I’m fine and that this has no material affect on my life. And that is true. But I also know that I am a useful representative sample of the abuse that happens to other women.

Too many places, too many women, get this sort of unwelcome attention and commentary about what they were wearing but no one does anything. It’s always, “Laugh about it” or “Just shrug it off,” or “Ignore it and he’ll go away.”

You see how well that last is working?

So, I really, truly am fine. But watch what happens to me now that I’m posting. Read the comments when they happen. Note the people who say that because I’m talking about the abuse, I must be begging for attention.

Take me as a useful representative example. And know that I am not an isolated case.

It is sad that we need examples and I applaud Kowal for providing one. And we do need one. I recently was reading an online article about a video game that was in no way related to gender equality. In the middle of this author’s article, he says the following:

…this is, after all, a game where half the punchlines are “ogling women is funny” (and I say that as a staunch anti-feminist)…

It stopped me reading right in my tracks. It took me awhile to comprehend that the initial statement meant that the game wasn’t necessarily to be taken so seriously as it relied upon humor like men staring at women. Yet I couldn’t understand why he felt compelled to add the anti-feminism qualifier, to declare that he was staunchly opposed to a society where men and women are treated equally without discrimination or abuse, be it physical or emotional.

Actually it seems unlikely that the author is an active proponent of sexism. Instead he is likely ignorant of the amount of sexism that exists in our culture and the harm that it does. Instead he is reacting to the backlash that accompanies attempts to educate people regarding this harm, shielding himself from it by claiming that he is not a feminist. This backlash is what Mary Robinette Kowal wants you to look for in the coming days.

That backlash will be just some of the sexism that hides in plain sight.

Links:
Apparently, these guys don’t want women to write science fiction by Aja Romano [DailyDot.com]
Me, as a useful representative example by Mary Robinette Kowal [MaryRobinetteKowal.com]
Cheap Arts by Silvia Moreno-Garcia [Silvia Moreno-Garcia.com]
Mary Robinette Kowal Offers Herself Up as a Useful Representative Example by John Scalzi [whatever.scazli.com]
Does Bravely Default Hate Atheists? by Geoff Thew [HardCoreGamer.com]

 

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The science behind the angel’s glow that saved civil war soliders

by on Jan.08, 2014, under Articles, Science

I read an interesting article on Mental Floss about a pair of kids who seem likely to be apart of our next generation of scientists. Back in 2001, a then seven-year old Bill Martin went on a school field trip and learned about a phenomena  during the American Civil War where some soldiers after a battle, who waited days in the cold and mud, reported that their wounds glowed faintly in the dark. It was noted that the soldiers who exhibited this glowing had a higher survival rate than others who didn’t, and it was named Angel’s Glow.

Some hundred and forty years later, the child of a microbiologist, asked the question if perhaps it was glowing bacteria. Together with his friend Jon Curtis, they did research, and experiments, and won the 2001 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

What were their results? The answer, as it is with anything to do with real science, is that it is complicated. The glowing was due to bacteria, however the bacteria in question lived inside the stomach of parasitic worms. The two had a semi-symbiotic relationship where the worm would burrow itself into an insect and puke out the bacteria. The bacteria would then kill and break down the insect as well as any other microorganisms. The worm would then eat the remains of the insect, as well as the bacteria, where the bacteria would then continue to grow in the worm’s stomach.

However the bacteria and worm in question are normally killed by a human’s internal body heat, which ruled them out as a possibility, until the kids hypothesized that the soldiers, after spending days in the cold and mud, actually had hypothermia which would lower core body temperature enough to allow these worms to survive, and once the humans were well, would be cleared by the human immune system.

So the ultimate result was that a combination of hypothermia, parasitic worms, and glowing bacteria saved many soldiers lives.

Want more details? Click here to read the source article.

Source [Mental Floss]

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Video: TEDTalk – Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend

by on Oct.30, 2013, under Articles, News, Science, Videos, Visual Media

There have been some amazing scientific findings regarding stress and the human body.

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