Saturday, 31 December 2011

Old but always relevant: The Medieval Help Desk

Introducing ... "The Book".

I'm getting an iPad and was thinking about whether my mother, an avid reader, would do well with something like that.  Or a Kobo or Kindle.  Then I remember what it's like when the scrabble game on her computer isn't loading fast enough.  I get a call:  "I don't want to be a bother, but..." and, after I explain that I can get over there after picking up my kids from band practice and get some water boiling for supper, and also get the grades in for class, she'll prod "Well, yes, those are all important things, but if you were just to pop over for a minute, you can do all those things afterwards".

And then when I realize she's off to Arizona tomorrow, I imagine myself trying to talk her through technical assistance on one of those toys.  Then I want to cut my wrists.  I'll let her stick with the bound book.  We'll both be happier.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011


I love cleverness. I don't understand art, but I know what I like.

This is clever use of shadows.  The first panel is the day view.   You can see the statue clearly in this park in Kaunas, Lithuania during the daytime.  Dots on the wall behind seem out of place.  At night the carefully-place street light adds context by putting the statue's shadow in position by the dots on the wall!

"The Sliver of Perception"

This cartoon from the Abstruse Goose very cleverly points out why science is so important.

(Via Pharyngula)

Tuesday, 27 December 2011


When I was growing up, I loved the "Hinterland Who's Who" spots that came on during commercial breaks.  It's got a very distinctive flute solo that announced when it was to begin, then the announcer would go into some detail about the habitat of the featured creature.  We'd get some interesting facts and after about a minute of education, back to animated mind-candy.

It was so Canadian.  It was just like a film loop - sometimes the sound wouldn't quite synch, there were lines scratched into the celluloid, and the picture jumped a bit.  I can imagine some grant of $50 being handed to a graduate student in ecology to put these together with the available equipment of the time.

This is a great sendup of the old HWW set.  In the originals, there was no experimentation being done on the creatures, but you'll see why that's important here:

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Touchscreen frog

You'll want to clean your screen protector if you play this game with your pet frog!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Is this humour? Or just sad?

I don't know where to put this, but "Humour" seems to somewhat fit.  There's a sad letter sent out by an incompetent teacher and a classic "Snap - yo' mama" response from someone with intellect and objectivity.  The original letter is a rant from an "educator" who apparently doesn't even know the state's requirements for teaching and - even worse - is in a position of authority.  Here's the original letter from Ricky Line, a school superintendent in Kentucky:
(Continues after the fold)

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Evolution videos

The only real thing that there is about evolution here is the word "evolution".  These videos have good humourous takes on evolution, though, and amuse me - so I thought I'd pay it forward to you.  Be aware that there are some strong language and religion issues!

I'll start with Lewis Black and his rather calm and collected way of describing how he views fossils and young Earth creationism.
Next let's look at a beer commercial.  Guinness put this together.  It's not the best quality, but I was reminded of this by my kids, who saw it a few years ago and still visit the site for old time's sake.

I just stumbled on this one with Louis CK.  It's got less science than the other two, but is pretty funny in my opinion.

Monday, 5 December 2011


Bio-Rad has classic ads.  They embrace the inner nerd and do a fantastic job promoting their products in a fun way.  Here's a great one for PCR enzymes!  (My thanks to Elise for passing this along, which prompted me to look up their older classics!)  They work with the firm CompareNetworks, Inc. who create ads that target the appropriate audience.

You want more evidence of their high-quality advertising?  Try these:



Sunday, 4 December 2011

Feedback from YouTube

 I wasn't sure where to put this, but I thought the "Humour" page would be the best fit!  I love creating artifacts (teaching objects) and posting them on YouTube.  A few years ago I put up one for my Introductory Biology students to show how to use Excel on the Mac so they could hand in better Lab Manuscripts.  It turns out that the pages really took off and I sometimes get comments about them.  The one I posted below reminded me of something in my life that was rather funny, so I responded as you can see:
  • thank you for uploading this :) it is the perfect savior for a senior on the last minute trying to get done with internal assessments
    ur voice has a calming effect by the way =)
  • @a2310kj Thanks for the feedback and the nice comment about my voice. I want to share something: my low voice calms lots of students. I'm a professor at Mount Royal University and during my job interview here, I put the Dean to sleep during my teaching demonstration (a part of the hiring process). It didn't stop me from getting the job, though. And just to prove it's not a fluke, I also put an external evaluator to sleep two years later!
 Another response was succinct:
I like that because I picture a student who's been struggling to get something right  - much as I was doing as an undergraduate - and finally the catharsis and relief when it all comes together.  And I'm warmed that I had a little contribution to that.  I hope that person did well in whatever they were up to.

And my son just about crapped his pants when he read this one: (There's colourful language, so I put this after the jump.  Don't go there if you are offended by the f-bomb...)

  • Dude, this was fucking amazing. Thank you so much! Because of you, I can now finish my lab. You are a fucking genius. I asked my lab T.A AND the school's tech place and they couldn't help me. Thank you so much. i fucking love your geniusness.
 I suspect the popularity of the videos is easily explained.  Some of the things you have to do to get Office products to do what you want are ridiculous.  This idea is summarized by this entry:

  • Fuck you Excel. It's passed midnight and I've got a lab report due tomorrow morning at 8AM. Why are you so DAMN complicated?! I just want to make a simple LINE GRAPH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thanks for the tutorial, by the way.

New note:

OMG, this is so funny - to me, at least.  I clicked on MsKTMvalley and the F-you Excel might be considered a tad... disrespectful.  The wallpaper on MSKTMvalley is this:

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Friday, 25 November 2011

Fireworks fail

I posted recently about the opening and closing of the Mount Royal centennial celebration.  I posted a video showing our fireworks and was showing it to my friend Jim.  He told me of another, more interesting fireworks display in Scotland.

The entire show was choreographed to last over 10 minutes... but due to a technical problem, they went off within on minute.  Here's what transpired.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Monday, 14 November 2011

Culture and science

I occasionally get sent some first-rate links to excellent science humour.  Thanks to Elise, I got a great laugh from this stand-up comedian Dara Ó Briain (yeah, I double-checked the spelling!).

Here he goes with some good sense about homeopathy!

Warning:  strong language.