“Day of the Doctor”: Doctor Who Turns 50 Today

Doctor Who! Fifty years ago, on November 23, 1963, a huge event occurred, unrelated to either John F. Kennedy’s assassination or the Beatles, but equally as transformative, its effects still being felt globally.  And not just by geeks.

Doctor Who turns fifty. And today is “The Day of the Doctor.” Movie theaters in the US and UK will be hosting special screenings of the 50th anniversary episode, which is airing on the BBC, of course, and  BBC America at 19:50 UTC (2:50 pm ET). A live pre-show, beginning at 2:30pm ET, will show on BBC America and on BBC-A’s YouTube channel. “The Day of the Doctor”  is the biggest global “Who” event ever, shot in 3D  and airing in 75 countries simultaneously.

The time traveling Doctor Who, who has been played actors including Paul McGann and John Hurt, will incarnate as Peter Capaldi in the upcoming season. (The trailer may have spoilers).  Enjoy!

Destroying The Princess Machine: Toy Company Remixes Beastie Boys Song, Advocates Toy Choices for Young Girls

The toy company GoldieBlox released the absolutely best thing on the Internet this week.

The spot consists of three girls assembling a Rube Goldberg machine while simultaneously reciting remixed lyrics to the Beastie Boys song Girls released just in time for the holidays.

The remix takes this Beastie Boys verse

I like the way that they walk

And it’s chill to hear them talk

And I can always make them smile

From White Castle to the Nile

And turns it into

You like to buy us pink toys

And everything else is for boys

And you can always get us dolls

And we’ll grow up like it false

It’s time for change

According to Brett Doar, the lead architect on the project also known for creating the Rube Goldberg machine used in OK Go’s video for This Too Shall Passthe build required a crew of 5 working for over two and a half weeks.

The sentiment expressed in the video is not just a company angling for page views– it’s at the heart of the GoldieBlox philosophy.

Founder and CEO Debbie Sterling is a stunning example of practicing what you preach. She holds a degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University and sees the depressing statistic that only 11% of world’s engineers are women as an opportunity to, in her words, “disrupt the pink aisle”.

The GoldieBlox website is unapologetic about their mission and they have no interest in burying the lead:

At GoldieBlox, our goal is to get girls building. We’re here to help level the playing field in every sense of the phrase. By tapping into girls’ strong verbal skills, our story + construction set bolsters confidence in spatial skills while giving young inventors the tools they need to build and create amazing things.

GoldieBlox is here, clear about what they want, and people are responding.

Last year the company launched a successful kickstarter that blew its $150,000 goal out of the water garnering $285,881 in pledges.  As of this writing the youtube video for this spot amassed over 7 million views and show no signs of stopping.

The company is currently competing for a coveted (free) ad spot during the 2014 Superbowl. (more…)

Late Night: Sex Kills!

It’s almost hump day, so why not?  According to  study is published in the journal PNAS, some species of marsupials mate so vigorously and intensely that they die from the act of fornication. And I don’t  mean la petite mort either.

The antechinus, the phascogale and the dasykaluta  are insect-eating  marsupials that live in New Guinea, and the males of the species die in large numbers after mating with as many partners as possible in marathon sex sessions lasting up to 14 hours at a time. The males attempt to mate with as many females as possible in long, laborious bouts, driven by high levels of hormones including testosterone, as well as stress hormones.

The females of the species are also highly promiscuous, and have synchronized their reproductive cycles to allow for young to be born at times when food is plentiful. By mating with many males, the females are able to  weed out the poor quality males. Successful fertilization increases the odds better offspring survival, and the males dying post-coitally decreases the competition for food. Dr Diana Fisher from the University of Queensland, the lead author of the study, explained:

If we humans get huge stress, we have a feedback system and we bring it down. But the marsupials just keep ramping it up more and more and are driven to spend all their time mating competitively.

I wonder if they die with a smile on their little marsupial faces?

Orgasms: Put Down the Crossword Puzzle and Come Here!

Dr Duran Duran and Barbarella experiment with the orgasmatron.

Orgasms are good for you. Very. Very. Good for you. Along with working out the body to get to one, once you’re there, your brain is getting more blood flow than a crossword puzzle or game of Sudoku provides. According to Rutgers University professor Barry Komisaruk, who has been researching orgasms for decades:

At orgasm we see a tremendous increase in the blood flow (to the brain). So my belief is it can’t be bad. It brings all the nutrients and oxygenation to the brain. Mental exercises (such as crosswords and Sudoku) increase brain activity but only in relatively localised regions. Orgasm activates the whole.

Komisaruk has conducted his research with female volunteer subjects in his brain scanning laboratory at the university’s Department of Psychology. The lucky ladies slip inside a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine and bring themselves to orgasm while their responses are measured. Fellow Rutgers researcher Nan Wise confesses that for her PhD studies she herself enjoyed sessions in the functional magnetic resonance imaging machine:

I have have been my own subject more times than I would like to say.

But it was all for science. Really. Learning how the pleasure center of the brain is activated can have far-reaching implications for those suffering from depression, chronic pain, and low Scrabble scores.

Ladies this is your brain at orgasm, courtesy of The Visual MD

Hey, Mr. President, America Has Some Ideas!

eleggua.thumbnail.jpgSo there’s this great thing on change.gov called the President’s Briefing Book, where real folks can write up an idea which gets voted on, and the most popular ideas will be brought to Obama.  Lots of them are really good, and show the wide range of concerns held by the American people from light rail transportation to the Employee Free Choice Act.

 There are a lot of things I’d like to see implemented in this country, a lot changes made, and from reading what I write you pretty much know that marriage equality is a huge issue for me, and there are several suggestions in the briefing book including the repeal of  DOMA. I voted on ideas important to me and then I…uh, wrote up one myself.

Rather than be redundant and draw away from the many articulate ideas I share with others who had posted their  (far less typo-ridden) thoughts, I wrote something new something I hadn’t really gone into before, which like Civil Marriage Equality, won’t cost the government very much money, won’t raise taxes and will benefit millions of citizens: Opening scientific medical research exchange with Cuba. I know it’s a tiny weird idea, but Cuba’s CIM, the Center of Molecular Immunology, has made some amazing strides in immunology research projects  focused on cancer immunotherapy, especially the development of molecular vaccines. Yeah, cancer vaccines.

In the United States cancer is the second leading cause of death, with some half a million people dying every year from that disease. Cancer knows no political boundaries, the immune system is not a political entity, and scientific research–like art–is both inspiration and hard work.

But in 2003 the  Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") established a regulation stating that publishing works–articles, short stories, research papers–from Cuba, Libya, Sudan and Iran was in violation of the embargos imposed on those countries, and required a license in order to publish anything from poetry to scientific articles. Those who did not comply with the regulation could have been fined up to $50,000 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

A group of publishers and editors quickly filed suit and the matter was thankfully resolved in 2007. Now I’d like to see that embargo further lifted to allow scientists from the US and Cuba to  inspire and work together in laboratories.

Opening the door for Cuban researchers to work with their American compatriots in the field of immunology allows for the exchange of ideas and information that can help speed cures and vaccines, not only for cancer, but for diabetes, hepatitis C, diabetes, allergies and HIV/AIDS. Unlocking the secrets of the immune system can lead to lowered health care costs; better, cheaper drugs in the pipeline; and and overall growth of scientific research. And yes, an end to cancer and other immune system disorders.

 So have fun in the Briefing Book, write up your own ideas, vote for what’s important to you and enjoy this new way of making our thoughts and concerns known to our new administration.

Rick Warren: The Serpent Who Believes in Dinosaurs

ribs-warren-rick.thumbnail.jpgWarren’s recorded remarks about science,  available on the Saddleback’s revised site, are very important for a couple reasons. Throughout his teachings, Pastor Rick reminds his followers that

The Bible commands us to remember the influence we have on an unbeliever.

  Melissa Etheridge, are you listening?

This recording shows that Warren wants his followers to be nice while evangelizing to shift the view point of the scientific community away from science and towards a New Earth fundamentalist thought process (not to say that you can’t believe in God and in science). 

More importantly, this snippet demonstrates that Warren feels that he and his followers should act nicely towards non-believers, gradually bringing them around to thinking along a fundamentalist lines, to "change" their ways of thinking.

It’s not them and us…To act like it’s them and us sets us a false barrier that we need to break through as believers…These are people who need to know Christ just like you and I need to know Christ. If you and I start to act like it’s a them and us kind of a thing we’re never gonna reach the scientific community or those who think qoute unquote scientifically…Obviously science is willing to change…

Here’s how Rick came to believe in creationism and rejection evolutionism (from a PDF of the site before it was revised):

I believed that evolution and the account of the Bible about creation could exist along side of each other very well. I just didn’t see what the big argument was all about. I had some friends who had been studying the Bible much longer than I had who saw it differently…Eventually, I came to the conclusion, through my study of the Bible and science, that the two positions of evolution and creation just could not fit together. There are some real problems with the idea that God created through evolution… My prayer is that you will have this same experience!

And just to let you know what that brainwashing experience entails, here’s what Pastor Rick said about dinosaurs:

The Bible’s picture is that dinosaurs and man lived together on the earth, an earth that was filled with
vegetation and beauty…man and dinosaurs lived at the same time…From the very beginning of creation, God gave man dominion over all that was made, even over the dinosaurs.

Warren also urges his followers to eschew in vitro fertilization and stem cell research:

*Deciding against any infertility options that allow embryos to be frozen and later discarded. (This is a tough decision for couples who have yet to have a child.) 
*Deciding to speak out against overzealous stem cell research, even though you know it slows down the process of finding a possible cure for someone you love.

Rick Warren’s approach of being open and friendly is simply sneaky. He’s deceptive in his kindness, much like the fundamentalist’s snake.