Did a bit of soul-searching this weekend and realized that perhaps I took the wrong path. A few years ago, I opted for the easier route — the one which I knew was going to be a more ‘comfortable’ pick. Oh well. No regrets. Still brought me a lot of good. Perhaps there is still time.
You hear a lot of chatter in ever-flowing meta-critique of popular culture about how “It’s cool to be a nerd” these days. Take Joseph Gordon Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, who managed to break the entire internet for a day by making a Youtube video of themselves using a ukulele to mutually hipsterbate, and you’ll realize that being techy and awkward has grown oddly desirable.
It can’t be a coincidence that the rise of nerd-love accompanies the maturation of 1980’s kids. When we grew up there was a concerted effort to educate us via television. Misters Rogers and Wizard – who taught us the importance of changing our shoes and setting our kitchens on fire – were aired alongside cartoons that had premises built entirely on toy merchandising and science fiction.
Captain Planet was clearly a show about recycling, but it featured hovercraft and decoder rings that could command the elements. X-Men resonated with us because it was about growing up different, but along the way it was full of detailed explanations of adamantium and the frequency of DNA mutation. The Ninja Turtles were created with mysterious green ‘ooze’ that turned animal into badass. Wishbone was about the inherent dangers of time-travel. Clarissa Explains it All solved the gasoline crisis.
Which brings me to my non-point: We were always nerds. Our generation found the internet and realized that there’s no shame in being highly technical. When you grow up watching science fiction, you’re ready to embrace science.
Which brings me to my actual point: I have a huge, geeky man-crush on Neil DeGrasse Tyson – and I’m not just saying this because he seems like the lovechild of Carl Sagan and Samuel L. Jackson.
“What ain’t no black hole I ever heard of! Can light escape the event horizon of What?”
Tyson is a hyper-educated guy who grasps the details of quantum mechanics and knows how to deliver a joke. He is simultaneously the biggest geek and coolest guy in the room. Neil can go to the bar and tell girls his balls are named Higgs and Boson, and he’ll still walk away with their numbers.
Pull up any video and watch him talk about the universe – the man is lit up with such passion for his work he can turn pictures of billion-year-old light into intellectual astro-porn.
It’s not that nerdy is cool – it’s passion that is cool, and Tyson’s burning passion is proof. If you can make it cool for a culture to celebrate science, you breed more great scientists. , Like Bill Nye before him, Neil DeGrasse Tyson is making science fun again – and if one kid gets inspired to pick up a do-it-yourself volcano and burn the whiskers off of their cat in the name of science, the world is a better place for it.
And to any kids reading this article, a word in closing: It might seem appealing to become a ladies-man internet blogger like your old pal, Danny April. But remember: Writers can only dream up storylines about radioactive spider blood. Scientists remain legally allowed to feed plutonium to tarantulas.
Thus the explorations of space end on a note of uncertainty…We know our immediate neighborhood rather intimately. With increasing distance our knowledge fades, and fades rapidly. Eventually, we reach the dim boundary—the utmost limits of our telescopes. There, we measure shadows, and we search among ghostly errors of measurement for landmarks that are scarcely more substantial. —Hubble, Realm of Nebulae p201
Are all galaxies spiral?
How many galaxies are there in the universe?
Is our galaxy contracting, unchanging in size, or expanding?
“People will never stop asking you if you’re eventually going to go to college. And unless you’re clairvoyant, you will never be able to answer this question, which doesn’t stop people from asking it all the time. No matter what you’re deciding to do with your life, your answer will never seem good enough for some people. You have to learn to mentally flip the bird to them as you respond with something light and pithy, like, “Oh, who knows! Maybe one day.” These are the same people that will eventually plague your life with questions like, “When are you going to get married?” or “Don’t you want to have a baby?” What they’re really asking is, “So where exactly do you fit into this framework of social acceptance that I have bought into?” They are judging you by their own standards, and you shouldn’t be made to feel inferior as a result of not conforming to them. Even with a college degree, you’ll never know how things are going to turn out for you.”—Rookie » Skipping School (via theclotheshorse)
Well I’ve been putting it off long enough. I did LOVE the book but I haven’t had the time and energy to focus on writing an entry about it.
Margaret Lea, who lives upstairs from the antiquarian bookshop owned by her father, receives a hand-written request from Britain’s most inspiring and much-loved novelist. Ms. Vida Winter, known for ‘telling stories’ (versus the truth) during interviews, asks Ms. Lea to write her biography as she has been gravely ill and feels that her chance to recount the truth surrounding her life might no longer be possible.
Before accepting the task, Ms. Lea starts to read her father’s rare copy of Ms. Winter’s Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation. Her father is a fan of Ms. Winter’s work but Ms. Lea has not read any of her work. Upon reading the book, she finds herself enthralled by the stories and is quite bewildered why there are only twelve.
The story is written in both first and third person. Third person as the main voice, and switches to first when Ms. Winter tells her story. I love Ms. Setterfield’s ‘writing voice’ (for this book) as it reminds me of the the Bronte novels.
Ms. Winter’s life entails stories within stories, which lead to gasps after gasps when mysteries unravel. With the mysteries being layered, you come across who-done-its and cover-ups that surround the family’s dark secrets. Although the book does center around Ms. Winter’s story, Ms. Lea is also confronted by secrets of her past and tries to deal with these issues as some of them relate to the story she is writing.
I also noticed small pieces in the book that, in my opinion, felt like clues to some of the reveals. One, would be the similarity between Ms. Winter’s estate with the Angelfield estate. Then, there’re the books and objects that ‘escaped’ one of the events in the story.
Ms. Lea, after discovering about the probable cause of her mother’s estrangedness, begins to bring her loss to the forefront. Loss of a part of her, that is. It sporadically makes an appearance which causes her to think that it might be calling for her.
Even after the threads of mystery disentangle, it felt like the decision as to how to treat the resolutions and revelations were entirely left up to the reader’s perspective (like most, but not all books).
The journey through the novel felt more emotional than I expected. I was definitely pushed a bit farther from my reading comfort zone but the novel is a must read.
I shall patiently wait for Ms. Setterfield’s next stories.
PAD 4.24.12: Current Reading, Parasol Protectorate: Soulless
Hail to the victorious parasol!
I started reading Soulless about 10 days ago, trying to limit myself to a couple of chapters a day (I’m not really a fast reader either). I’m almost done but I tend to stop when it reaches the last 50 pages because of separation anxiety. I have to remind myself that there are 4 more books left in the series.
The book belongs to the steampunk - paranomal genre. After reading the Thirteenth Tale (updated entry to post tomorrow), I needed to find a story that was a mix of the genres I most enjoy. Thanks to L for recommending this series.
The main character, Alexia Tarabotti is a soulless spinster, with interesting affiliations. The book is written in the first person and the heroine has a very distinct voice. The story opens with her being attacked by a vampire who she accidentally kills. Her existence as a preternatural (being soulless) is not known to her parents and most people—although her preter-state is registered with the Bureau of Unnatural Registry. The parasol plays an important role and is with her in the most important times in the story.