Another List of Power

Saturday, September 28, 2013

In this next installment of self-aggrandizement, I'll share some of my favorite web sites.  From science and social-science blogs to my favorite webcomix, the list below is what occupies my internet time when I'm not watching the YouTube vids I shared last week.

This week:  Best of the Web.

The Best (IMO) of the Web

Besides for our favorite blog friends (Streak, Mrs. Furious, Mr. Furious, us), here's a couple blogs I enjoy in no particular order:

What If?
From the cartoonist of XKCD (see below) comes his blog whereby he answers wild and weird questions from whomever emails him.  He picks the most fun or intriguing, and using a combination of good science and wild-assed guesses, he does his best to answer.  This site is so fun.  My favorite:  the first one that kicked-off this site.  Relativistic Baseball.

It's Okay to be Smart
This is the Tumblr that started the YouTube Channel I shared last week.  Joe got his start blogging his thoughts, linking to cool and engaging science, and generally celebrating what we know and can know about the universe.

The Drunken Moogle
The blend of Geek culture and adult beverages.  This guy makes up mixed drinks based on popular video game and geek culture.  He also links to interesting nerd-related drinking apparati (pint glasses with superhero capes, shot glasses etched with Game of Thrones sigils, etc).  I might or might not have some of the glassware listed there...

One of my favorites, second only to What If, above.  It's a blog run by women, whereby they discuss feminism, atheism, secularism, science, pseudoscience, and skepticism.  Their commentary on feminism is especially thoughtful and engaging and makes me think really hard about my privilege and how I might come across, and my own latent sexism that I don't even recognize.  Challenging stuff.  I love their takedown of internet trolls.  They have a daily "Skepchick Quickies" post that always links to fun, angering, enlightening bits, beautiful of teh interwebz.  They've created some spin-off sites as well; one of them is Mad Art Lab.  Beautiful art based on scientific principles.

Sci-Fi in Six
Quite simply: science fiction stories told in 6 paragraphs or less.  Fun! Little tastes of much bigger stories.  Concepts come to fruition in just a few sentences.  Worlds revealed that make you curious for more.  Love this kind of stuff.

Tiny Little Love Stories
Whoever runs this blog is sick.  A sick, sick bastard with a sick sense of humor.  And I love it.

What I really enjoy about webcomix is that they can be examinations and critiques of our world presented in a way that finally makes sense.  Humor blasts through things that make us so mad or concerned.  Laughter in recognition of our own faults is wonderful medicine.  Here's some of my faves.

Questionable Content
It's hard to describe why I like this comic so much, but I'm hooked.  It takes place in an alternate Earth, where much is the same as ours but there are other advancements that are much different.  It allows Jeph Jacques, the author, to introduce interesting concepts, characters, and technology without it being a big deal why.  Other than that, it's a "slice of life" comic with characters I like a lot.

The comic is over now, or at least for now.  It's storyline has been resolved, but left open if Nate Piekos, the author, ever comes back to it.  I hope he does.  But it's worth going to the beginning and reading through.  Fantasy comic, funny, subtly picks fun of typical fantasy tropes while being an engaging comic.

Smart-assed, snarky humor mixed with old hand-drawn comics in the Victorian style.  Bizarre and hilarious comic.

Do I really need to describe XKCD?  If you're not reading it, you're not a nerd.  And you don't care.  This is the grand-daddy of webcomix.  Sometimes, to get the math or computer programmer humor, I have to use Google, but that's not often with this one.  Brilliant.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
Sometimes updated multiple times a day, this comic is hilarious, twisted, sick, poignant, and everything in between.  I love how the author plays on common concepts.

The Oatmeal
Another funny, insightful comic.  One of the best, actually.

Enjoy all this as much as I do!


ATK List of Power

Sunday, September 22, 2013

It takes a ton of work to be as nerdy as possible.  From SCIENCE to fantasy/sci-fi to video games to the best of nerd tv, I figured it's finally high-time to come out of the basement (closets are reserved for other comings-out; nerds seem to be basement-based), engage in some self-aggrandizement, and share with anyone who cares (which is really no one) the various ways I find to entertain myself and stay on top of being the biggest nerd.

This post: YouTube Channels.

The Best (IMO) of YouTube

Founded by nerd icon Wil Wheaton and his equally nerdy friend Felicia Day (of The Guild fame), Geek and Sundry is kind of an uber-collection of various contributors.  My personal favorites on the channel are Wil Wheaton's TableTop, in which he plays wonderful board games with his friends (tv and movie stars, fellow YouTube-rs, etc), and Felicia Day's 5-minute-episodes of The Guild, a fun bit of fic that follows a group of MUD users who are online "friends" in a world much like World of Warcraft.  

TableTop has introduced me to many of the board- and card-games I own; it is actually a great way to see how some games work in a crowd; kind of a risk-free play test.

Using stop-animation whiteboard illustrations, physics concepts, chemistry, and science in general is explained in 1- or 2-minute clips.  Never have Relativity and other complicated concepts been explained so simply and elegantly.  Bonus:  my kids watch it with me, and are able to "get it."

Join Destin and his various underwater and high-speed cameras as he demonstrates and explains physics stuff.  This usually involves guns, bullets, explosions, and breaking things.

Another "use short vids to explain awesome science" site, but well-edited, well-done, and engaging.  Kind of Myth Busters-like in editing and use of science (just without the prove/disprove aspect).

Minute Physics, but this time:  biology!

These guys find a fun or a my-mind-just-got-blown fact, and explain it.  Sometimes deep, always well and simply explained.

VSauce with an animated whiteboard.

A few teachers offer "crash courses" in higher-level concepts - including biology, US History, economics, world history, ecology, and chem. "Reconstruction and 1876;" "Westward Expansion;" and "Equilibrium Equations" are just a handful of the many vids on this channel.

PhD Biologist Joe Hansen's YouTube channel, based on material from his very popular Tumblr of the same name.  He won a big grant from PBS to make his Tumblr content available in vid format.  I like his videos quite a bit, and he's got a decent online presentation style.  His Tumblr site sometimes waxes a tad philosophical - drippy sometimes - but I'm almost always guilty of the same. 

A couple more that I watch on occasion:
These couple of sites are less accessible than the ones above, so I watch them less often, but they are no less fascinating when I'm in the mood:

My kids have responded well to Minute Physics, ASAP Science, Minute Earth, and Smarter Every Day.

There you have it.  These channels are what I call church on a Sunday morning.  A hot cup of coffee, kids playing quietly as the house wakes up, and these vids.  Thought-provoking, fun, fascinating, funny, and celebratory of geek culture.  I hope you like them.


Syria Question

Friday, September 06, 2013

Am I the only lefty who thinks it was a bad idea for President Obama to ask Congress for a resolution authorizing military action in Syria? (Over Syria?) I am not asking if the military action itself is a bad idea, I just don't think the President should have gone to Congress about it.

What do ATK's 1.6 million liberal readers and 2.3 conservatives think?


Game Review

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The Geekbox "Comedy Button" reviews church as if it were a video game.



Potential Drunks

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