Monthly Archives: July 2012

“Here we go and on we go”: Maira Kalman’s loopy optimism

Maira Kalman makes the case for optimism and expresses what I love most about her work:

The sense that people get from reading my work is that I don’t have antipathy to people. I really care about the people that I’m writing about. And I have a humanistic attitude and a kind of loopy optimism — because I’m acknowledging all the sadness and all the heartache and all the trouble, but I usually come out on the side of: Well, despite that, here we go and on we go, and things can also be fantastic at the same time as they are horrible.

Yes. We can’t choose the facts of the world, but we can choose how to respond to them.

Maria Popova at Brain Pickings teases out more of the themes from the video, including the nature of identity and the meaning of life. My previous thoughts on Kalman here.

(via Brain Pickings; image via Kalman’s blog at The NY Times)

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The case for optimism, cont’d: “The future is never the way you can imagine”

Jo Walton sums up a science fiction panel she participated in, and offers thoughts on “The Future”:

There are ways in which this future, the one we’re living in, is a whole lot better than what we imagined. It has women in it, and it has women who are not just trophies and are not manipulating their way around because they have no power. This future has women with agency. It has men and women who aren’t white and who aren’t sitting at the back of the bus or busy passing. It has gay people out of the closet, it has transgender people, and all over the place, not only in the worlds of Samuel Delany. Beyond that, unimaginably shaping the future we couldn’t imagine getting, it has the internet. […]

[T]he future’s still there. The moon’s there and people have walked on it, the stars are there and extra-solar planets, and I still believe we’ll get there. We won’t get there the way we imagined, but the future is never the way you can imagine. After the panel, I was talking to a group of four fifteen year friends who had been in the back of the room and asked interesting questions. They were local, they had come to the con on their own after one of them had come last year. They didn’t think that we’d lost the future, far from it. They thought it was just that we had too limited an idea of what the future could be.

Check out the rest here; it’s a wonderful read. Philip Reeve’s and Neal Stephenson’s takes on imagining the future are worth looking at as well.

More reasons for optimism here.

(via Tor; image via Wonkette)

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Quarks to quasars, cont’d: Zooming in on the universe

Click on the image to start zooming around (be sure to view it in full-screen). It’s fantastic.

Number Sleuth’s interactive universe graphic one-ups the Hwangs’:

While other sites have tried to magnify the universe, no one else has done so with real photographs and 3D renderings. To fully capture the awe of the vastly different sizes of the Pillars of Creation, Andromeda, the sun, elephants and HIV, you really need to see images, not just illustrations of these items. Stunningly enough, the Cat’s Eye Nebula is surprising similar to coated vesicles, showing that even though the nebula is more than 40,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times larger, many things are similar in our universe.

Read more and click around here.

(via The Dish)

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Science for the people!

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Leon Lederman answers science questions from passersby on the street corners of New York:

Chemist Stephen Benkovic answers questions in Philly:

What a wonderful, and wonderfully democratic, idea. I wish there were more; the videos, produced by ScienCentral, date from 2008 and 2009, and no more seem to have been filmed since then. Too bad; making scientists accessible, and having them engage directly with the public about their questions and concerns, seems like an excellent way to make science feel relevant again, and help raise the science literacy of the country — one curious passerby at a time.

(via Boing Boing)

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100 reasons to love rock n’ roll

Alex Chadwick blazes through a hundred iconic guitar riffs in a 12-minute survey of rock n’ roll. Goddamn:

(via NPR)

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Happy Fourth

It’s a day late, but I can’t resist sharing this gorgeous rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner by one of my favorite groups, The Civil Wars:

On a related note: Andrew Sullivan offers a meditation on America here, and points to another inspiring piece here.

(via Great Smitten)

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Nora Ephron versus Anne-Marie Slaughter: Can women have it all?

Anne-Marie Slaughter says women still can’t have it all. Nora Ephron would have disagreed:

This is the season when a clutch of successful women — who have it all — give speeches to women like you and say, to be perfectly honest, you can’t have it all. Maybe young women don’t wonder whether they can have it all any longer, but in case any of you are wondering, of course you can have it all. What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications. It will not be anything like what you think it will be like, but surprises are good for you. And don’t be frightened: you can always change your mind.

Read the rest of her very funny and inspirational speech here.

Or perhaps Ephron and Slaughter wouldn’t have disagreed at all; read Slaughter’s full article for her very thorough and nuanced take on what it means to structure society so that women (and men) get to lead full, and fulfilling, lives.

(via Brain Pickings)

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