Posts Tagged ‘japanese astronauts know what we want’
Friday, August 20th, 2010 by Sean
You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who could say something good about traffic, especially the Los Angeles variety. The City of Angels is home to some of the world’s biggest parking lots, including the 405–the most congested and traveled piece of pavement in these United States. While dreams of bullet trains and congestion-free arteries remain piped, Angelenos have been left to their own devices to stress, fester, and fuss about the inescapable rush hour routine…or enjoy a puppet show.
Joel Kayak, an MFA from USC, has been voluntarily braving LA traffic with puppets on hand and a radio transmitter in truck. He hangs out a sign telling people to tune into 89.5 FM and when they do, they’re taken from spirit-crushing congestion to appreciating a large-scale public art project: Superclogger.
Kayak is a creature of chaos. Evidently, he thrives on it, “I like things that are moving in and out of control, like negotiations of agency and resignation. And for me, the traffic jam is that.” Word. Kayak may want commuters to reflect on the unquestioned bedlam in their lives, but even if his formula fails, his anthropomorphic shrub is surely going to provide a well-earned escape:
Monday, June 14th, 2010 by Nick
Friday was a good day for stories about cooperation. Trouble was, Sean already had a great Double Down in the works and frankly, Fridays should be reserved for the most fun-filled of posts. Let’s be honest, I have a tendency of posting the drier, more sciency side of good. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that Fridays aren’t academic- Fridays are all about the platypus.
Back to the cooperation though- the underpinning of any good cooperative effort is the principle that two or more partners can achieve greater results together than they could alone. Normally, it’s rare that government agencies or corporate giants engage in this sort of thing. But recently, they’ve been doing just that.
Speaking from the Berlin Airshow last week, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver told reporters that NASA’s new direction would allow it to expand international partnerships beyond what had previously been possible. It gives me a warm feeling to know there will be more international cooperation in the space program. If exploring the vastness of space can’t bring this pale blue dot together what can? Furthermore, I hope this leads to the speedy establishment of an Intergalactic House of Pancakes.
The second, and infinitely more surprising, example of cooperation that I stumbled upon came out of the pharmaceutical industry- a sector rarely recognized for it’s feats of teamwork.
As it turns out, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s research are pretty challenging pursuits. These brain disorders can affect people of dramatically varied ages and may progress differently depending on the patient. Studies often focus on small groups of patients which can make it hard for researchers to draw meaningful conclusions about either disorder as a whole.
Now, the Coalition Against Major Diseases has brought pillars of big pharma such as AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer together to share the data they’ve collected studying these diseases. By pooling their findings, these pharmaceutical giants will be more able to effectively analyze and develop new approaches to combating these widespread and debilitating medical mysteries. Even if this collaboration is motivated by the promise of profits, patients will be the inevitable beneficiaries from any resulting medical breakthroughs.
Today, there are many reasons to cooperate. With a tough economic climate and increasingly entrenched political divisions, cooperation might be a necessity for institutions hoping to weather the storm. At the end of the day though, cooperation carries emotional benefits too- at the intersection of teamwork and togetherness is a powerful force of good.
Friday, April 30th, 2010 by Sean
Watching Bill Moyers Journal is much like attending a college lecture from the best professor you ever had. His hour-long program is chock full of compelling and indispensable information that speaks to the fabric of this little project we’re all working on. Though some folks beholden to rigid political ideology consider Moyers nothing more than a loopy liberal, watching his show reveals that the man is just a devout populist hungry for better government and honest discussion.
Though a lot of people bidding farewell to Bill tonight have watched him for decades, I only came to know his show in 2007 (forever grateful, Father). I was incredulous at the conversations he would have every Friday night — conversations being the operative word. There’s not much yelling on public broadcasting, but Moyers goes even further. His discussions with guests make the solutions to all of the great ills of society seem simple.
Moyers is our staunchest advocate — steadfastly independent of the mainstream media and inexorably devoted to addressing the root causes of what’s ailing our country. I imagine if Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert weren’t allowed to crack wise, their shows would end up looking something like Moyers’ broadcast. Watching Bill talk to Jon, it was evident that the two commentators were cut of the same cloth:
We’re about to lose one of our great thinkers — one who was driven by obligation, not ambition. He turned down high-ranking positions in presidents’ cabinets, laughed at requests to run for office, and came out of retirement to present the arguments that weren’t being made. But, at 76, you have to respect the man’s desire to fulfill obligations outside of the industry he had a hand in forming. No longer will we have protracted discussions about man and his myth. No longer will there be a voice of reason sitting at the table on a Friday night. In a piece semi-eulogizing Bill in the Los Angeles Times, Neil Gabler bemoaned the gaping hole that will be left on television after tonight, arguing “There is no shortage of loudmouths on television. There is, however, a very short supply of soft-spoken moralists — exactly one.”
Moyers has always sought the most interesting thinkers, people who would never otherwise be on television, and then discussed their ideas in search of timeless truths. In the last two months alone, he has interviewed naturalist Jane Goodall, playwright Anna Deavere Smith, economist James K. Galbraith and U.N. human rights investigator Richard Goldstone — a disparate group, none of them exactly headliners. In a sense, then, the title of one of his series, “Now,” was a misnomer. Moyers has never been about now. He has always been about something beyond the moment. Or put another way, while everyone else in the media has been exploring topography, Moyers has been exploring geology. This belief in the efficacy of ideas in the service of good is also what has made him such an extraordinary interviewer.
Do your best to catch the last episode of the Journal tonight at 9 on your local PBS affiliate. We all know Boots will:
Saturday, March 13th, 2010 by Sean
Hanging out with kids has its perks. Yes, they appreciate flatulence in a way we’re no longer allowed to, but there’s so much more than just that. The more we age, the more we ebb out into the regrettable realm of the known. No alarms. No surprises. Suicide is some awful term that refers to some even worse act. But when you’re a feral moppet devouring every second until your next chance to botch a cartwheel, every term you’ve never heard is synonymous with love.
Proof comes in the form of the choppiest cell phone video that’s ever been worth your time:
Monday, March 8th, 2010 by Nimesh
I’m a big proponent of Twitter as Facebook without any of the time-wasting (or seedy undercurrent of rampant drug use and unprotected intercourse). You say what you want to say quickly, and read only what you want to read — also, quickly. But even the most interesting Twitter user is going to have a hard time topping ASTRONAUTS TWEETING FROM SPACE. Now, those two white fellows do a lot of talking, but a Japanese fellow by the name of Soichi Noguchi seems to know exactly what we want: PICTURES, and lots of them. As NASAs popularity declines with politicians, maybe social networking can help it increase with the people.
(Psst, I mean us.)