Here Comes Science!

Here Comes Science is an album by They Might Be Giants for kids, about science! I haven’t heard most of the songs, but I really enjoy the accompanying videos. I previously posted the Electric Car video.

Cartoon Brew posted a nice round-up of the videos thus far, so I won’t embed them all. This one’s fun:

The Wandering Albatross

ngs0_8191[via Discovery]

Albatrosses are incredible birds. Such dignity soaring through the air, such absurdity when they crash-land and waddle about on the ground. They range from huge to extra jumbo, with the largest of the species having up to an 11 foot wingspan. Which is why, of course, having an albatross hanging from your neck a la Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner is an inconvenient thing:


You see, an albatross was following the ship, which is a good omen, but the mariner shot it down. He was forced to don it as a necklace, a penance for the bad luck he was sure to have caused.

Anyway, the birds are monogamous, can live more than forty years, and greet their partner with a silly clacky honk honk dance:

What’s more, the difficulty taking flight and clumsy landings seen in the animated movie, The Rescuers, are actually true to life. Though, more specifically, the young birds in this video are just learning to fly:

There’s a great segment about the waved albatrosses that nest on the Galapagos islands in the BBC documentary, Galapagos, which is, by the way,  narrated by Tilda Swinton. An English accent is pretty much a prerequisite for narrating nature shows.

I don’t believe I’ve ever come across an albatross out in the wild blue, but I did see a massive taxidermed specimen at the natural history museum in Oxford.

Class dismissed.

Absinthe & Flamethrowers

absinthe and flamethrower cover (Large)

I enjoyed reading William Gurstelle’s latest book, ‘Absinthe & Flamethrowers: Projects and Ruminations on the Art of Living Dangerously.’ It’s sort of a reaction against increasing societal nannyism. More or less, Gurstelle advocates enjoying the risks that human curiosity is ere to, within reason. He provides some fun do-it-yourself projects, like how to make your own black powder and model rockets, and covers other varied topics, such as how to properly enjoy absinthe and the history of fugu.

People who know me might laugh at the assertion that I live ‘dangerously’— I don’t scale mountains or jump from airplanes. I’m not interested in that stuff, although I was a cub scout once upon a time. Gurstelle is really advocating risk-taking. Admittedly most of my big risks have been bourgeois gambles, like choosing to go to expensive schools to study impractical subjects, going to England by myself for a while, moving to San Francisco by myself, and things like that.

I think those sorts of risks are imperative towards finding direction in life, and finding enjoyment. You’ve got to fail once in a while in order to have fun. If I have kids, I’ll let them get themselves into trouble from time to time.

Anyway, let’s have a gun powder and absinthe party.