My 70s Sci-Fi Art tumblr hit 5000 followers!

Bob Eggleton

My 70s Sci-Fi Art tumblr, on which I post sci-fi art from the 70s, passed 5,000 followers last week! I’ve written about it before, back when I was proud that it had 300 followers, so now I’m chuckling lightly to myself about my past naivete. Which happens a lot. There may be a lesson here, and I’m sure I’ll chuckle lightly about it in the future.

At any rate, it’s picking up speed: today I added 120 new followers, which is a record for a 24-hour period. I’ve been posting a bit more, since I’m on winter break, but it proves that new people are still finding out about it every day. Take a look around the place. See what you think.

Film Fest 2013 and my latest role

For my college’s annual end-of-the-semester film festival, I hoped to put together a film noir/buddy cop/pirate mashup. I still have the script, but I didn’t have the time. Instead, I worked on another project that I’ll have a post about soon.

I did manage to act in this short film, though. It won an award at the film festival.

http://vimeo.com/80807949

This marks the fourth film fest movie I’ve acted in, and the fourth one in which I’ve been a villain. Also, it’s probably the most professionally produced one that I’ve been a part of, so it’s a great capper on my college acting career.

Pitch Idea: Science Animals

Concept art of what a dog and a cat look like. Via www.morguefile.comThe cartoon show Science Animals would follow the adventures of Pavlov’s dog and Schrödinger’s cat: two hard-bitten pets on the road of scientific discovery.

Pavlov’s dog — Pav for short — has a weakness. He drools whenever a bell is rung. Schrö, on the other hand, has a superpower: he can become a zombie, but only when no one is directly observing him.

Their dynamic is disrupted by the Hugs Bison, a loveable buffalo who enjoys hugging as a form of greeting.

They must all learn how to work together in order to handle the various Occam’s-razor-wielding villains of the week.

Serendipity and the Creative Process

Smarter

“This Will Make You Smarter,” a 2012 book edited by John Brockman, consists of a series of around 150 short essays from intellectuals in a variety of disciplines, all answering the question “What scientific concept will improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?” The text is online in its entirety, since it was originally published there. Here’s a little of one essay that I recently browsed through and enjoyed.

 

Structured Serendipity
by Jason Zweig
Journalist; Personal Finance Columnist, The Wall Street Journal; Author, Your Money and Your Brain

Creativity is a fragile flower, but perhaps it can be fertilized with systematic doses of serendipity. Sarnoff Mednick showed decades ago that some people are better than others at detecting the associations that connect seemingly random concepts: Asked to name a fourth idea that links “wheel,” “electric,” and “high,” people who score high on other measures of creativity will promptly answer “chair.”

More recently, research in Mark Jung-Beeman’s lab at Northwestern has found that sudden bursts of insight — the Aha! or Eureka! moment — comes when brain activity abruptly shifts its focus. The almost ecstatic sense that makes us cry “I see!” appears to come when the brain is able to shunt aside immediate or familiar visual inputs.

[…]

I do this remote-reading exercise on my own time, since it would be hard to justify to newspaper editors during the work day. But my happiest moments this autumn came as I reported an investigative article on how elderly investors are increasingly being scammed by elderly con artists. I later realized, to my secret delight, that the article had been enriched by a series of papers I had been reading on altruistic behavior among fish (Lambroides dimidiatus).

If I do my job right, my regular readers will never realize that I spend a fair amount of my leisure time reading Current Biology, the Journal of Neuroscience, and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. If that reading helps me find new ways to understand the financial world, as I suspect it does, my readers will indirectly be smarter for it. If not, the only harm done is my own spare time wasted.

In my view, we should each invest a few hours a week in reading research that ostensibly has nothing to do with our day jobs, in a setting that has nothing in common with our regular workspaces. This kind of structured serendipity just might help us become more creative, and I doubt that it can hurt.

Read the entire essay.

 

Infinite Jam

Lewis Carroll's Alice drawing, via Wikimedia

Lewis Carroll’s Alice drawing, via Wikimedia

Lewis Carroll is famous for just one story (and its sequel, which is usually lumped in with the first), but he wrote a number of other works. They’re all worse, which explains why they aren’t as famous. But in several of them, the fun math-and-wordplay that Alice in Wonderland is known for comes through. Here’s an excerpt from A Tangled Tale, a 1885 collection of funny stories built around math puzzles, in which a little girl points out a flaw in her governess’s reasoning:

“And what made you choose the first train, Goosey?” said Mad Mathesis, as they got into the cab. “Couldn’t you count better than that?”

“I took an extreme case,” was the tearful reply. “Our excellent preceptress always says, ‘When in doubt, my dears, take an extreme case.’ And I was in doubt.”

“Does it always succeed!” her aunt inquired.

Clara sighed. “Not always,” she reluctantly admitted. “And I ca’n’t make out why. One day she was telling the little girls — they make such a noise at tea, you know — The more noise you make, the less jam you will have, and vice versa.’ And I thought they wouldn’t know what ‘vice versa’ meant: so I explained it to them. I said, ‘if you make an infinite noise, you’ll get no jam: and if you make no noise, you’ll get an infinite lot of jam.’ But our excellent preceptress said that wasn’t a good instance. Why wasn’t it?” she added plaintively.

Her aunt evaded the question. “One sees certain objections to it,” she said. “But how did you work it with the Metropolitan trains? None of them go infinitely fast, I believe.”

“I called them hares and tortoises,” Clara said — a little timidly, for she dreaded being laughed at. “And I thought there couldn’t be so many hares as tortoises on the Line: so I took an extreme case — one hare and an infinite number of tortoises.”

“An extreme case, indeed,” her aunt remarked with admirable gravity: “and a most dangerous state of things!”

“And I thought, if I went with a tortoise, there would be only one hare to meet: but if I went with the hare — you know there were crowds of tortoises!”

Here’s the rest: A Tangled Tale

Recent Happenings – October

Spoon River

I just published a post on HackCollege:

6 Halloween Costumes for the Terminally Lazy

“When I talk about last-minute Halloween costumes, I don’t mean costumes that take a solid night’s (or week’s) work right before the Halloween parties start up for the weekend. Those guys who put entire hours of work into their costumes are too hard-working for me.

Besides, all the blog posts giving them advice were up yesterday. Now that it’s the eleventh hour, it’s time for the truly lazy costumes ideas — the ones that you can spend five minutes on, but still qualify for a party with.”

Read the rest

Also, my college’s fall play opens tonight, on Halloween. Which is nice, since it’s about a group of dead citizens of a small town sharing their life stories. Here’s an ad for it:

And I also wrote an opinion piece on feminism and Christianity:

“We all agree that women are people and should do people things, like vote. There’s very little controversy over this. And therefore, ‘feminism’—which is technically defined as the belief that men and women are equal in worth—is something that everyone can agree on. But we don’t.”

Read the rest.

I Just Wrote My Epitaph

spoon river

I’m in the play this semester, a production based off of Edgar Lee Master’s 1915 collection of poems Spoon River Anthology.  It’s set in a graveyard, featuring the monologues of the deceased inhabitants of a small town. So for our bulletin, we’re doing something new: instead of a short bio, we all get to write our own epitaphs. I composed this gem of lyrical grace:

 

Here’s Adam Rowe
As dead as sin
‘Twas finals week
That did him in.