What’s So Great About Carl Sagan?


The other day I was asked “what’s so great about Carl Sagan?” Caught off guard, indecipherable splutters formed the sentence “how much time do you have?”, followed immediately by “I’m sorry, that was rude. What do you know about Sagan?” The response, “he had a TV show about space, Cosmic or something like that”, landed with a thud. Answering “yes he narrated a show called Cosmos”, gave me time to think.

Throughout the brief exchange continuous loops of “what’s so great” played in my head. Feeling disinclined to spew snippets of Sagan’s accomplishments forced me to admit I was annoyed. I heard myself say “Google Carl Sagan’s biography if you want to know the magnitude of his influence, listen to him if you need to know why I consider him a great man”

 

Pokemon Go


Dialed middle son this afternoon, hadn’t talked in a few days and wanted to know if he knew about Pokemon Go. Raucous laughter took a moment to subside, gaining composure he replied ” I’m on the seawall hunting Pokemon”. What was I thinking? Of course you are.

He was six in 1995, the year Nintendo solidified Japanese anime in popular culture. The premise was simple – mythical Pokemon were not created equal, each one has unique abilities, basic powers were varied but common, all powerful Pokemon existed but were extremely rare.  Human “trainers” captured Pokemon pitting one against the other in “battles”. Players started with a basic Pokemon, climbing levels as they acquired Pokemon and won battles.

As lone non-gamer in the household, it wouldn’t be fair to attempt discussion of Pokemon’s popularity. As a parent who fulfilled Nintendo Christmas wishes, drove kids to comic book stores to spend allowance on Pokemon trading cards, bought Pokemon pajamas, bedding, toys and lunch boxes – I “get” masterful simplicity capable of crowning Pokemon the second most lucrative game/media franchise in the world after Super Mario Brothers. As of September 2015, global revenue of 40.5 billion U.S. speaks to global phenomenon.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon

Last week Nintendo released Pokemon Go in a format dubbed “augmented reality”. Forget hand held controllers tied to television screens, Pokemon Go uses cell phone GPS to transform a player’s location into the matrix. “Go” is a literal term, play takes place in the real world. Ponder “real world” – get off the sofa, go play outside. The game knows where you are and what time it is, dispatching Pokemon accordingly. Locations where battles take place are called “gyms”. I won’t claim to understand intricacies, but had to laugh when reading Westboro Baptist Church, the den of U.S. abortion, homosexual and racial intolerance is ruled by pink Pokemon “Clefairy”. In accordance with game rules, nicked named “love is love” by the current gym leader.

Back to middle son. This afternoon he walked the seawall hunting Pokemon, late last night a twenty minute walk to join players in a local park. Apparently the game tracks distance – walking 10 kilometers allows players to “hatch” rare Pokemon. Calling his behavior uncharacteristic is putting it mildly.

Late this evening youngest son told me something that prompted another call to middle son, asking him “how did you download the game, it hasn’t been released in Canada?” Fervent hullabaloo clouded the fact Pokemon Go was only released in the United States, Australia and New Zealand. His answer left me feeling middle aged. No closer to understanding how to pirate  video games, I knew one thing for certain – Pokemon Go was worth the effort. Augmented is the new reality of gaming, I don’t have to play games to know Pokemon Go single-handily revolutionized the future of entertainment.

 

 

Boaty McBoatface


Last month Britain’s Natural Environment Research Council settled on a splendid idea to raise public awareness of science. Launching a website dedicated to naming the UK’s new state of the art arctic research vessel, the public were invited to submit and vote on names. Not having seen the site for myself I can’t speak to contest regulations, nor assume knowledge of approval or moderation. Whatever the guidelines – the call went out, submissions were made, citizens voted in good faith.

Within hours of a wise crack suggestion by former BBC Radio host John Hand, “Boaty McBoatface” took a commanding lead. When contest dust settled, Boaty McBoatface prevailed with four times the votes of second place Poppy-Mai (a baby girl with terminal cancer).

Panties in a wad, aghast Science Minister Jo Johnson gave the over my dead body to Boaty McBoatface. Johnson was firm, saying, “I think we were clear when launching the competition that we were looking for a name that would be in keeping with the mission.”

Yesterday “more suitable” designation went to fourth place Sir David Attenborough, the RRS Sir David Attenborough will set sail in 2019. Hoping to squelch a shit storm of public dissent, geniuses behind the debacle spoon feed voters a trite assurance – one of Sir David’s mini submersibles will bear the name Boaty McBoatface.

The UK screwed this up on so many levels I don’t know where to begin. Ponder those dumb asses brain storming  to raise awareness of science – think, think, think erupts into back slaps and chortles when one of them says “let’s have a contest to name our vessel”. Unanimous accolades seal the deal. Hearts beat faster as submissions roll in – ‘oh my goodness it’s working!”. Good, bad, we don’t care – people are voting. Gulp, what’s this? Boaty McBoatface – WTF?

Here’s the thing Jo Johnson, you asked the public to name a research vessel, you claimed desire to raise awareness of science. At any time you could have rejected names not “in keeping with the mission” or narrowed submissions to a handful of acceptable suggestions. You could have taken submissions and announced a winner without public input. But no – you tossed it to chance, conned people into thinking input mattered, then spat in their faces. Do you have any concept of what you’ve done?

Boaty McBoatface spanked the competition because it made us smile. McBoatface would have become an entity. You’re an idiot! McBoatface might have had millions of social media followers. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – where’s McBoatface, what’s McBoatface doing, ask McBoatface a question.  On what planet would Boaty McBoatface not raise attention? You’re a nincompoop Johnson! Boaty McBoatface could have had story books, television programs, lunch boxes – your precious arctic explorer could have ignited a generation of scientists but for the fact you’re a dumb ass.

 

"Boaty McBoatface" likely will not be emblazoned on the side of the U.K.'s polar research vessel.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-36225652

Understand


I need help understanding why some are incapable of exchanging points of view without making personal attacks. Why do so many lack the ability to debate without hate? Why are some of us born with open minds while others simply switch off at suggestions of  different points of view? How is it that some people repeat only what they hear, never stopping to ponder logic or offer opinions of their own? What triggers the closing of minds –  ignites suspicion, fear, bigotry and exclusion? Help me understand.

Strong opinions from politics, religion, environment to my silly dog; I make myself abundantly clear – writing from the heart without mincing words. No intention, other than matching word to thought.. What you see is what you get; this is who I am. Along the way I’ve met people with vastly different viewpoints – people who present their side of an issue thoughtfully, concisely and without malice. People I respect and consider friends, people willing to “agree to disagree”.  This I understand.

I encounter closed minds – those wishing myself or family harm; people full of hatred. These are the people quoting opinionated broadcasters verbatim, people choosing to spew unsubstantiated rhetoric, people without an original thought or perspective to cloud their venom. Help me understand.

If I didn’t possess a fundamental belief in humanity, my ability to function without despair would have collapsed years ago. I shake my head, scrape my jaw off the ground and carry on. That said – at times the weight of closed minds becomes unbearable. Help me understand – what would it take to strip the blinders from millions of scared, angry people?

Vladimir Putin 2016 Calendar


Prior to the Sochi winter Olympics, shirtless Vladamir Putin wasn’t a matter of global scrutiny. Sochi  introduced bare chested Putin in gob smacking splendor. Images of stripped down Putin photo shopped atop exotic animals ambushed unsuspecting hotel guests. Shirtless Putin became the face of modern Russia.

Vladimir Putin’s official 2016 calendar tempers bare skin with representations of a man for the people. Dough eyed Putin sniffing a flower, suited Putin snuggling a puppy, rugged camouflage Putin with fish (perhaps after shirtless fishing rod Putin caught a chill ), tough guy sweat pants Putin working out – a publication one must see to believe.

What compels the leader of global super-power Russia to strut his stuff is anyone’s guess. On the cusp of 2016, as I hang a northern lights calendar on my kitchen wall – millions of Russians nail Putin’s surreal calendar to theirs.

t

We Have Flowers


Each and every one of us needs to watch this video. Since posted on Youtube, over 25 million views might explain why the person who recorded it blocked links – it can only be watched on Youtube. Below is a still image, followed by a link to The Telegraph that should work.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/12000869/Paris-attacks-Father-and-sons-moving-conversation-in-wake-of-terror.html