Your Saturday Nerdout: Neil deGrasse Tyson Has Had Quite Enough Of Flat Earth Rappers
You don't want to make NdGT angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry
The weekend is here, and it's time once again to enjoy all the nerding you can handle. Like Neil deGrasse Tyson putting an uppity flat-earther rapper fella in his place, which is solidly on a round planet Earth. Also, we've got Good Mormon Kids confronting a moral dilemma involving coffee, and a bunch of other goofy stuff, too.
It's Called The 'Music Of The Spheres' For A Reason, Dammit
You may or may not have heard about the bizarre Twitter musings of rapper "B.o.B.," who is pretty darn sure that the earth has to be flat, because even up on top of a mountain, you can't see the curvature of the Earth.
Why has science been lying to us, huh? It was a brief curiosity on the Twitterwebs, and B.o.B. even released a diss track to take Neil deGrasse Tyson to task for lying about the true nature of the Cosmos all these years. Tyson wasn't about to let that go unanswered, and so he used the forum of Larry Wilmore's "The Nightly Show" to set things straight. The problem isn't that a rapper doesn't know astronomy, but that other people with actual power are throwing science out the window, too:
This whole thing is just a symptom of a larger problem: There's a growing anti-intellectual strain in this country that many think may be the beginning of the end of our informed democracy. Of course in a free society you can and should think whatever you want. If you want to think the world is flat, go right ahead. But if you think the world is flat and you have influence over others, as would successful rappers, or even presidential candidates, then being wrong becomes being harmful to the health, the wealth, and security of our citizenry ... Isaac Newton, my man, said "If I have seen farther than others, it's by standing on the shoulders of giants. So that's right, B.o.B., when you stand on the shoulders of those who came before, you might just see far enough to realize the earth isn't fucking flat. And by the way, this is called gravity.
As a side benefit of B.o.B.'s silliness, io9 also brings us a brief history of the Flat Earth Society, which was (is!) a real thing promoted by a real True Believer who was certain that Earth is flat, NASA is a fraud, and there aren't any satellites, either. And it also reminds me that one of these days I need to finish reading Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea, which among other things, makes absolutely clear that nobody in Christopher Columbus's crew was afraid of falling off the edge of the world.
Issues Of Our Day: 'A Cup Of Coffee'
From BoingBoing comes this student film-like thing from 1980, dredged up by the YouTube channel Hard-to-Find Mormon Videos, which we definitely need to explore further. "A Cup of Coffee" tells a tale of moral questioning, with a twist ending that we guarantee is worthy of M. Night Shyamalan if he were a high school sophomore in 1980. Strangely, the main action of the movie is all conveyed through still photos with semi-audible voiceovers, while a sign-language interpreter stands in the way of several of the shots. It might be a masterpiece of naïve filmmaking, or it might be about coffee. WHO CAN TELL? You will never look at Juan Valdez the same.
Here Is A Movie Where Christopher Walken Turns Kevin Spacey Into A Kitty Cat
If the threat of coffee doesn't make you question all your assumptions about reality, then how about this trailer for the upcoming theatrical release Nine Lives, which as far as we can tell is a real thing that people paid actual money to make. Five people were paid to write it (no, that doesn't scream "development hell" at all), and Barry Sonnenfeld was paid to direct it, and Kevin Spacey, Christopher Walken, Jennifer Garner, were given money to perform in it. Or perhaps they were all blackmailed by a shadowy conspiracy. It is the story of a rich man who is forced to live inside the body of a cat, to learn a lesson about appreciating his family or something. Nobody had the courage to say "No," which is also how we got the Donald Trump campaign.
Nine Lives is scheduled to be expelled into an uncaring world August 5, and our entire culture and economy are nothing but lies, despicable lies.
How A Cheesy Anime Adaptation Made One Nerd's Life Bearable
Oh, this is much more like it: A lovely essay by novelist Charlie Jane Anders about how Star Blazers, the 1980s American re-cut and re-dub of the 1970s Japanese series Space Battleship Yamato, made one of the worst years of her life as a nerdy kid bearable.
Every day when school ended, I would take off running. I was out of the chair before the bell even tapered off, and into the hallway. I ran like my life depended on it, because there were kids I wanted to avoid running into after school at all costs -- but also, I knew if I made it home without being terrorized, I had Star Blazers to look forward to.
When I write about bullies and feeling isolated in my new book All the Birds in the Sky, I’m thinking back to that time in my life. And when I think about mad science and magic helping my two main characters to survive being misfits, I’m definitely remembering how Star Blazers gave me an escape.
I don’t think a narrative had seized hold of my brain in the same way that Star Blazers did, before this point. It was the combination of high drama and aggressive serialization. The crew of the Yamato (or the Argo, in English) were constantly running from one terrible situation to the next, and their poor old ship was always pushed to its breaking point.
Go read this, even if like Yr Dok Zoom, you've never seen a single bit of either show. Like Jo Walton's novel Among Others, Anders looks at that special comfortable nexus where life and fiction meet, where "escapism" isn't such a bad thing when you consider how much there is for any of us to want to escape from, where a good ripping story -- even if you look back and see how cheesy it is years later -- can sometimes come along at exactly the right moment to take a reader or viewer to a fictional world that's far more cohesive, interesting, and satisfying than mere everyday reality. For us, that was Star Trek and Frank Herbert's first four Dune novels. Now, if someone can just explain why a sunken WW II battleship makes a good spaceship...
Star Wars Looks A Lot Like Star Wars
Here's a fun little animation from Dorkly that points out that just a few elements of the new Star Wars movie look familiar. If by chance you still haven't seen the new one, be warned that 1) there are spoilers and B) You may have your Nerd Card revoked.
OMG Studs Terkel! Give Money!
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.