Posted On: May 9, 2014 In: In the Spotlight
Nothing says spring in Kansas like Earth, Wind, and Fire. If you want to dig deeper on the subject, our presenters have put together some great resources for your perusal.
Don’t know what Nerd Nite is? Check out our local page (http://lawrence.nerdnite.com) for speaker bios and the origin story involving a bar, a nerd, and an indigo bird!
And you should probably put a hold on this, since we’re all thinking it anyway (unfortunately we just have one Earth, Wind, and Fire album, something that will be remedied soon).
With the role of the landscape architect increasing in importance, this first comprehensive survey of the art and practice of landscape architecture fills a great need. Norman T. Newton has included over 400 illustrations in his book, which conveys a basic understanding of the aims and scope of landscape architecture and offers visual analyses of major historic works, each in the context of its own time. The first third of the study is concerned with landscape architecture in the Western world, mainly Europe, from ancient times to the mid-nineteenth century. But the major part of the work is devoted to the development of landscape architecture in the century that has passed since it acquired the status of a profession and an independent discipline. Concentrating primarily on the United States, Mr. Newton reviews his subject from its beginnings in colonial days to the work of Olmsted, Vaux, Cleveland, Weidenmann, Eliot, Platt, and the founders of the American Society of Landscape Architects. He discusses the Columbian Exposition of 1893, the “City Beautiful” movement and the growth of city planning, the Country Place Era, town planning in England and America, American national and state parks, parkways, urban open spaces, and recent variations in professional practice. Mr. Newton concludes his book with a timely discussion of the vital role that landscape architecture plays in the conservation of natural resources and in protection of the environment.
For more than thirty years, the beautifully illustrated Architecture: Form, Space, and Order has been the classic introduction to the basic vocabulary of architectural design. The updated Third Edition features expanded sections on circulation, light, views, and site context, along with new considerations of environmental factors, building codes, and contemporary examples of form, space, and order.
This classic visual reference helps both students and practicing architects understand the basic vocabulary of architectural design by examining how form and space are ordered in the built environment. Using his trademark meticulous drawing, Professor Ching shows the relationship between fundamental elements of architecture through the ages and across cultural boundaries. By looking at these seminal ideas, Architecture: Form, Space, and Order encourages the reader to look critically at the built environment and promotes a more evocative understanding of architecture.
Filled with dramatic accounts of tornado touchdowns, this book addresses the whirlwind of questions surrounding the phenomenon of the tornado. How often does a tornado hit a particular location? How fast are the winds? Do tornadoes really seek out trailer parks? Can they actually defeather a chicken? How many tornadoes hit the United States every year? How big can tornadoes grow? Thomas P. Grazulis, a tornado research meteorologist and founder of the Tornado Project, has been a consultant for television specials including Cyclone (National Geographic), Target Tornado (The Weather Channel), Forces of Nature (CBS), and others, providing answers to these questions for the general public. Here he sets the record straight about tornado risk, the Fujita Scale, and the number of tornadoes occurring annually. He also sheds light on misconceptions and contradictory theories about tornadoes. Recreating the incredible drama so often accompanying interactions between people and tornadoes. The Tornado: Nature’s Ultimate Windstorm provides detailed meteorological and statistical information on these marvels of nature, which are among the most fascinating scientific puzzles on the planet.–BOOK JACKET. Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
James Espy, the first meteorologist in America, thought of tornadoes as “rapidly rising column[s] of air” that operated according to the laws of steam power, pumping warm air into cold; his lifelong rival, William Redfield, maintained that the storms were “gigantic whirlwind[s], spinning around a moving center like a top.” Though they were essentially espousing “two halves of the same process,” they were never able to reconcile their differences and find common ground. Sandlin, however, deftly synthesizes and illuminates the duality of his title-both the tornado itself, which early settlers in America referred to as “the Storm King”; and the individuals who made it their life’s work to document, predict, and better understand those despots of the plains. Legendary storms roil throughout the text, from the funnel of fire-or as one eyewitness (whose eyeballs were consequently seared) described it, “the finger of God”-that destroyed Peshtigo, Wis., in 1871, scorching over a million acres and killing 1,500 people, to the Tristate Tornado of 1925, which rampaged for 219 miles across parts of Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. On ground level, Sandlin describes mankind’s efforts to comprehend storms, from Ben Franklin’s famous kite experiment to the F1-5 intensity rating system developed by Japanese immigrant Tetsuya Fujita. Sandlin makes talking about the weather much more than a conversational nicety-he makes it come brilliantly to life. 16 pages of b&w illus. Agent: Danielle Egan-Miller, Browne and Miller Literary Associates. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Bluestein, a professor of meteorology at the University of Oklahoma, has been pursuing tornadoes since long before storm-chasing emerged as a hobby of choice for thrill seekers. Though his motivation is primarily scientific, he acknowledges the role awe plays in his quest to understand these violent yet magnificent storms. He invites readers to accompany him on his two decades of storm-tracking through the famed “Tornado Alley” of the American Great Plains. When Bluestein points excitedly at a tornado or cloud formation, he directs the reader’s gaze not to the power of the event alone, but also to details of its form and dynamics. In doing so, he employs the straightforward and often detailed discourse of the enthusiastic scientist discussing the topic that has driven his intellectual life. The book’s historical organization traces the development of severe-weather science through the last half-century, from early anecdotal observations to today’s high-technology measurements. The story ends where it began: at the dawn of a new quest into fuller understanding of the origin and development of these monster storms, demanding ever more detailed observations using ever advancing technology, plus an ample dose of old-fashioned human curiosity and awe. Myriad illustrations and vivid photographs, many of which Bluestein himself shot, help break up the dense technical prose. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
For almost a decade, economists Kevin M. Simmons and Daniel Sutter have been studying the economic impacts and social consequences of the approximately 1,200 tornadoes that touch down across the United States annually. During this time, Simmons and Sutter have been compiling information from sources such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Census in order to examine the casualties caused by tornadoes and to evaluate the National Weather Service’s efforts to reduce these casualties. In Economic and Societal Impacts of Tornadoes, Simmons and Sutter present their findings. This analysis will be extremely useful to anyone studying meteorology and imperative for anyone working in emergency disaster management.
If you can build a sand castle or make a mud pie you can make a sand mold to produce castings for your metal shop projects. It really is cheap and easy with a simple solid fuel furnace.Here are plans to build the melting furnace and instructions for basic pattern making and molding to get your shop project under way. Charcoal is the fuel and aluminum and zinc alloys are the metals to cast. None of the pulsation or roar associated with gas fired furnaces. Build your own molding bench and flasks. Make your own melting pots and most of the simple tools required. Discover how cheap and easy it is.Even if you already have a lathe and other equipment this simple foundry setup will greatly expand the capacity of your shop by providing you with a supply of cheap castings for your projects.Discover why so many shop hands say “Metal Casting has opened a whole new world of shop experience”. Heavily illustrated with many photographs that will show you step – by – step how to build a foundry.
Dave designed this furnace especially for the home shop foundry. Very quiet in operation. Easy to light and simple to operate. The body and lid raise for safer crucible handling. Operates on natural or bottled gas. Costs only a fraction of the price of a commercially built unit and it will melt aluminum, brass and even gray iron.
The best page on the net for hobby foundry & casting ideas.
The best forum on the net for nearer-to-professional quality foundry & casting advice.
Posted On: Apr 9, 2014 In: In the Spotlight
Tonight our presenters will talk about the cycle of extinction, host domination, and neolithic burial practices. Here’s your sources for getting nerdier on death.
How to be a Great Host: Toxoplasma Gondii and You
Parasite Rex: Inside the Bizarre World of Nature’s Most Dangerous Creatures by Carl Zimmer
For centuries, parasites have lived in nightmares, horror stories, and the darkest shadows of science. In Parasite Rex, Carl Zimmer takes readers on a fantastic voyage into the secret universe of these extraordinary life-forms-which are not only among the most highly evolved on Earth, but make up the majority of life’s diversity. Traveling from the steamy jungles of Costa Rica to the parasite-riddled war zone of southern Sudan, Zimmer introduces an array of amazing creatures that invade their hosts, prey on them from within, and control their behavior. He also vividly describes parasites that can change DNA, rewire the brain, make men more distrustful and women more outgoing, and turn hosts into the living dead. This comprehensive, gracefully written book brings parasites out into the open and uncovers what they can teach us all about the most fundamental survival tactics in the universe-the laws of Parasite Rex.
Zombie Makers : True Stories of Nature’s Undead
Are zombies real? Scientists know this for sure: dead people do not come back to life. But there are things that can take over the bodies and brains of innocent creatures, turning them into senseless slaves. Meet nature’s zombie makers Nincluding a fly-enslaving fungus, a suicide worm, and a cockroach-taming waspNand their victims.
Parasites Radiolab (But there are a few factual errors)
Ed Yong’s Ted Talk on how parasites take over the behavior of their hosts.
Bring Out Your Dead: the cozy relationship between living and dead in 7000 BCE Çatalhöyük
The Leopard’s tale : revealing the mysteries of Çatalhöyük
Catalhoyuk, in central Turkey, became internationally famous in the 1960s when an ancient town – one of the oldest in the world – was discovered together with wonderful wall-paintings and sculptures, many featuring images of leopards. The archaeological finds included female figurines that suggested the possible existence of a “Mother Goddess” cult.” “Ian Hodder peels back the layers of history to reveal how people lived and died, how they engaged with one another and with the spirit world. Full of insights into past lives and momentous events, The Leopard’s Tale is illustrated with images of the art, the artifacts, and the excavations at this world-famous site.
The goddess and the bull : Çatalhöyük – an archaeological journey to the dawn of civilization
Veteran science writer Michael Balter skillfully weaves together many threads in this fascinating book about one of archaeology’s most legendary sites— Çatalhöyük. First excavated forty years ago, the site is justly revered by prehistorians, art historians, and New Age goddess worshippers alike for its spectacular finds dating almost 10,000 years ago. Archaeological maverick Ian Hodder, leader of the recent re-excavation at this Turkish mound, designated Balter as the project’s biographer. The result is a skillful telling of many stories about both past and present: of the inhabitants of Neolithic Çatalhöyük and the development of human creativity and ingenuity, as revealed in the recent excavation; of James Mellaart, the original excavator, whose troubles off the mound eventually overshadowed his incisive work at the site; of Hodder and his intense, brilliant crew who marveled and squabbled over the meaning of finds in dusty trenches while attempting to reintepret Mellaart’s work; and of the recent history of the theory and methods of archaeology itself. Part story of the human past, part soap opera of modern scholarly life, part textbook on the practice of modern archaeology, this book should appeal to general readers and archaeological students alike.
Religion in the emergence of civilization : Çatalhöyük as a case study
This book presents an interdisciplinary study of the role of spirituality and religious ritual in the emergence of complex societies. Involving an eminent group of natural scientists, archaeologists, anthropologists, philosophers, and theologians, this volume examines Çatalhöyük as a case study. A nine-thousand-year old town in central Turkey, Çatalhöyük was first excavated in the 1960s and has since become integral to understanding the symbolic and ritual worlds of the early farmers and village-dwellers in the Middle East. It is thus an ideal location for exploring theories about the role of religion in early settled life. This book provides a unique overview of current debates concerning religion and its historical variations. Through exploration of themes including the integration of the spiritual and the material, the role of belief in religion, the cognitive bases for religion, and religion’s social roles, this book situates the results from Çatalhöyük within a broader understanding of the Neolithic in the Middle East.–Provided by publisher
Posted On: Mar 12, 2014 In: In the Spotlight, Other, Uncategorized
Nerd Nite gets mysterious tonight. We’re going to learn about the enigmatic James Bond of page and screen, the mystery of Big Foot and his other fantastical brethren, and the cryptocurrency known as Bitcoin. Check out the full details on our local Nerd Nite page.
Live and Let Dine: James Bond as an Effete Gourmet Assassin
The James Bond Bedside Companion
The only book to cover all aspects of the James Bond phenomenon in a single volume, it includes: a) An intimate portrait of Ian Fleming as remembered by his friends and colleagues; b) a character study of James Bond—his background and early life, his clothing and other personal habits, his preferences in food and drink, his attitudes toward women and marriage; c) The by-products of Bondmania and the merchandising of 007; d) Detailed analyses of every James Bond novel by Ian Fleming, as well as those written by other authors through the 1980s; e) A critical look at the 007 film series—the producers, screenplays, directors, actors, soundtracks, and special effects; f) over 100 photographs; g) An Introduction written by Ernest Cuneo, perhaps Fleming’s closest American friend; h) And enough facts, figures, and miscellaneous Bondian trivia to satisfy even the most ardent fan.
007 James Bond: A Report
The earliest analysis of Fleming’s novels and the Bond character.
The James Bond Dossier
Another early analysis of the Bond character written prior to Amis’s writing of the Bond novel, Colonel Sun.
Life of Ian Fleming
John Pearson’s famous biography remains the definitive account of how only Ian Fleming could have dreamed up James Bond, for he led a life as colourful as anything in his fiction, which in turn became a covert autobiography. Charming, debonair and a ruthless womanizer, globetrotting from wartime Algiers to beachside Jamaica, Fleming was as elusive and opaque as his imaginary creation.
Annotations and Chronologies for Ian Fleming’s Bond Stories
Provides details about each of Fleming’s novels, their chronological relationship to each other, notes about unusual items and events mentioned in the novels, and estimates of the number of days spanned by each novel.
Check out our Ian Fleming books. One of these is not like the other.
Websites that are all things Bond
The James Bond Dossier
James Bond MI6
Snipe Hunt: Cryptozoological Creatures and the Stories They Tell
Matthew Lord & Kent Smith
Throughout our history, humans have been captivated by mythic beasts and legendary creatures. Tales of Bigfoot, the Yeti, and the Loch Ness monster are part of our collective experience. Now comes a book from two dedicated investigators that explores and elucidates the fascinating world of cryptozoology.
Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero have written an entertaining, educational, and definitive text on cryptids, presenting the arguments both for and against their existence and systematically challenging the pseudoscience that perpetuates their myths. After examining the nature of science and pseudoscience and their relation to cryptozoology, Loxton and Prothero take on Bigfoot; the Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, and its cross-cultural incarnations; the Loch Ness monster and its highly publicized sightings; the evolution of the Great Sea Serpent; and Mokele Mbembe, or the Congo dinosaur. They conclude with an analysis of the psychology behind the persistent belief in paranormal phenomena, identifying the major players in cryptozoology, discussing the character of its subculture, and considering the challenge it poses to clear and critical thinking in our increasingly complex world.
Monster the A-Z of Zooform Phenomena
Zooform Phenomena are the most elusive, and least understood, mystery `animals`. Indeed, they are not animals at all, and are not even animate in the accepted terms of the word, but entities or apparitions which adopt, or seem to have (quasi) animal form. These arcane and contentious entities have plagued cryptozoology – the study of unknown animals – since its inception, and tend to be dismissed by mainstream science as thoroughly unworthy of consideration. But they continue to be seen, and Jonathan Downes – the Director of the Centre for Fortean Zoology – who first coined the term in 1990, maintains that many zooforms result from a synergy of complex psychosocial and sociological issues, and suggests that to classify all such phenomena as “paranormal” in origin is counterproductive, and for researchers to dismiss them out of hand is thoroughly unscientific. Author and researcher Neil Arnold is to be commended for a groundbreaking piece of work, and has provided the world’s first alphabetical listing of zooforms from around the world.
Bigfoot : I not dead
In his eagerly anticipated follow-up to Me Write Book, Bigfoot returns from exile to share his inspiring, hilarious, and often deeply disturbing experiences as a misunderstood forest gentleman and tragic media darling. These entertaining and often grizzly stories stand not only as a testament to the greatness of the legendary man-beast, but also as a chilling cautionary tale of the downside of a life of celebrity, cannibalism, celebrity cannibalism, wanton violence, and lack of toilet training. As in Me Write Book, full-color glossy spreads depict every intimate, disgusting, and downright insane moment of Bigfoot’s life. Bigfoot: I Not Dead is an unforgettable memoir that will stay with readers long after his foul scent has dissipated.
The oversized Hellboy hardcover series continues, collecting the climatic “Death of Hellboy” storyline from Mike Mignola and Duncan Fegredo, and one-shots by some of the greatest talents in comics! Hellboy has racked up multiple awards, numerous spinoffs, a novel line, video games, cartoons, and two feature films. Hellboy Library Edition Volume 6 collects two complete trade-paperbacks: The Storm and The Fury and The Bride of Hell and Others, as well as an extensive selection of previously unreleased art.
Cryptomundo is a place to enjoy the adventures, treks, theories, and wisdom of some of the most respected leaders in the field of Cryptozoology. This is a place for all ages to share, read, see, and learn about the finds and evidence of the most elusive and rare animals (cryptids) on this planet Earth … Bigfoot, Yeti, Chupacabras, Ivory Billed Woodpecker, Nessie, Yowie, and more. Come back often and be part of the community for Cryptozoology breaking news, new views, fun, and yes occasional humor. We’re glad you’re here and look forward to hearing from you soon.
Cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin: Such money. Very technology. So future. Wow.
The original essay about Bitcoin by Satoshi Nakamoto, creator of Bitcoin.
A helpful youtube video explaining what Bitcoin mining.
Posted On: Feb 12, 2014 In: In the Spotlight, Other
Don’t worry, we won’t get too romantic on you guys. This evening’s Nerd Nite is exploring the nature and myths of love. Whether it’s the myth of the perfect family, the perfect relationship, or questioning roots of violence against women (which is too often couched with the term love). For full bios and descriptions check out our local site. Grab a beverage and prepare to question the very nature of affection and romance.
The Myth of White Picket Fences: The American dream confronted in Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson.
Housekeeping in all of it’s formats!
Idioms, currencies, and fantasies: An exploration into the tenants of relational satisfaction
Casing interpersonal communication: Case studies in personal and social relationships by Dawn O. Braithwaite
Why we love: The nature and chemistry of romantic love by Helen E. Fisher
Anthropologist Fisher argues that much of our romantic behavior is hard-wired in this provocative examination of love. Her case is bolstered by behavioral research into the effects of two crucial chemicals, norepinephrine and dopamine, and by surveys she conducted across broad populations. When we fall in love, she says, our brains create dramatic surges of energy that fuel such feelings as passion, obsessiveness, joy and jealousy. Fisher devotes a fascinating and substantial chapter to the appearance of romance and love among non-human animals, and composes careful theories about early humans in love. One of her many surprising conclusions suggests that, since “four-year birth intervals were the regular pattern of birth spacing during our long human prehistory,” our modern brains still deal with relationships in serially monogamous terms of about four years. Indeed, Fisher gathered data from around the world showing that divorce was most prevalent in the fourth year of marriage, when a couple had a single dependent child. Fisher also reports on the behaviors that lead to successful lifelong partnerships and offers, based on what she’s observed, numerous tips on staying in love. And though she’s certain that chemicals are at love’s heart, Fisher never loses her sense of the emotion’s power or poetry.
She comes first: The thinking man’s guide to pleasuring a woman by Ian Kerner
As women everywhere will attest, when it comes to understanding female sexuality, most guys know more about what’s under the hood of a car than under the hood of a clitoris. And while it seems that men have struggled valiantly since the dawn of time to find ways to reliably elicit the female orgasm, rare is the guy who has the modesty to ask: “What do I do?” Ironically, the answer has always been right there on the tip of his tongue. Welcome to the world of She Comes First, where the mystery of female satisfaction is solved and the tongue is proven mightier than the sword. According to Ian Kerner, clinical sexologist and evangelist of the female orgasm, oral sex has long been deemed an optional aspect of foreplay, but, in fact, it’s coreplay — simply the best way for leading a woman through the entire process of sexual response. Fun, informative, and easy to read, She Comes First is a virtual encyclopedia of female pleasure, detailing dozens of tried-and-true techniques for consistently satisfying a woman and illustrated step-by-step instructions to ensure success. These simple methods represent a new era in sexual intimacy, one in which the exchange of pleasure occurs on a level playing field and fulfillment is mutual. She Comes First exuberantly offers a fresh new sexual philosophy that inspires every man to make a mantra of Rhett Butler’s infamous line to Scarlett O’Hara, “You should be kissed, and often, and by someone who knows how.”
Against Love by Laura Kipnis
Against Love examines the meaning and cultural significance of adultery, arguing that perhaps the question concerns not only the private dilemma of whether or not to be faithful but also the purpose of this much-vaunted fidelity. It offers no easy answers. Rather, it intends to engage you in a commonsensical and brave examination of the plight of the modern personality, caught between the vicissitudes of desire and the decrees of social conformity.
Sex matters: The sexuality and society reader by Mindy Stombler
This anthology of more than 50 readings from contemporary scholarly literature, trade books, and popular media, looks at the dual forces of social construction and social control of sexuality.
Massage and Loving by Anne Hooper
Great sex: A man’s guide to the secret principles of total-body sex by Michael Castleman
Author Michael Castleman is the nation’s top journalist specializing in men’s sexuality. He has been a sex educator, counselor, and writer for 30 years, including 5 years as the expert who answered the sex questions submitted to the Playboy Advisor. Written with the help of an advisory board that includes some of the nation’s leading sex therapists, Great Sex is certain to help you overcome your sex problems; become a better, more confident lover; and enjoy the sex of your dreams.
No Means No: Shining light on violence against women and how hope and healing persevere
Gina Egan, PhD
Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn
New York Times columnist Kristof and his wife, WuDunn, a former Times reporter, make a brilliantly argued case for investing in the health and autonomy of women worldwide. “More girls have been killed in the last fifty years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the wars of the twentieth century,” they write, detailing the rampant “gendercide” in the developing world, particularly in India and Pakistan. Far from merely making moral appeals, the authors posit that it is impossible for countries to climb out of poverty if only a fraction of women (9% in Pakistan, for example) participate in the labor force. China’s meteoric rise was due to women’s economic empowerment: 80% of the factory workers in the Guangdong province are female; six of the 10 richest self-made women in the world are Chinese. The authors reveal local women to be the most effective change agent.
The New Soft War on Women by Caryl Rivers
Rivers and Barnett’s (She Works/He Works) vital study of the state of women in the labor force draws upon statistics, interviews, and cultural analysis, to argue that, contrary to the widespread belief that women are outstripping men in the classroom and workforce (“the myth of female ascendance”), the situation is far from ideal. Moreover, the authors claim that gains that women have made since the early part of the 20th century, such as access to contraception, are in danger of disappearing. Although the copious use of statistics to debunk myths can become tiresome, it’s hard to ignore overwhelming evidence that shows the undesirable and unsustainable conditions women face in the 21st century. Though many struggles sound old hat-whether women are natural caretakers and subordinates, the struggle to balance career and family, the undue influence of a woman’s appearance, the disparity in wages-this book will move readers who believe that feminism is an outdated movement, or that gender discrimination is a thing of the past. Although the book doesn’t offer comprehensive strategies to win the “soft war,” it effectively shows how old ideas are still at work and unveils their contemporary manifestations.
The Invisible War
Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Kirby Dick investigates the troubling epidemic of rape in the military while speaking with courageous victims who have refused to be intimidated into silence. In 2009 alone, 16,150 service members were sexually assaulted. Meanwhile, it’s estimated that female soldiers in the U.S. military are more likely to be raped by a male soldier than shot by an enemy combatant. Despite the overwhelming evidence presented by these victimized soldiers, however, only 2% of rape accusations in the military end in prosecution. In some cases, male soldiers have even been awarded medals for bravery and professionalism while being investigated for rape. In addition to hearing from women who have been sexually assaulted while serving their country, we also learn how systemic corruption allows the vast majority of their attackers to walk free and what is now being done to ensure that no crime goes unpunished.
Jackson Katz’s TedTalk: Violence against women -it’s a men’s issue
Domestic violence and sexual abuse are often called “women’s issues.” But in this bold, blunt talk, Jackson Katz points out that these are intrinsically men’s issues — and shows how these violent behaviors are tied to definitions of manhood. A clarion call for us all — women and men — to call out unacceptable behavior and be leaders of change
Websites Gina recommends.
V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. Vday.org is their website.
Another website is A Call To Men aims to end violence towards women by educating men.
http://knowyourix.org/ educates students about their rights under title IX.
David Lisak & Paul M. Miller’s paper on Repeat Rape and Multiple Offending Among Undetected Rapists
Posted On: Jan 15, 2014 In: In the Spotlight, Other
What is nerd nite? Aside from awesome, it’s a monthly lecture event that strives for an “inebriated, salacious, yet deeply academic vibe.” (credit: Nerd Nite – San Francisco)
Check out our local chapter’s website to learn more.
After the lectures tonight, be sure and check out our resource lists if you want to get nerdier with games, puzzle and video ones alike.
From Heisenberg to Parker Brothers: Cracking the Soma Treasure Map
My Best Mathematical and Logic Puzzles by Martin Gardner
The noted expert and longtime author of Scientific American‘s Mathematical Games column selects 70 of his favorite “short” puzzles. Enthusiasts can challenge their skills with such mind-bogglers as The Returning Explorer, The Mutilated Chessboard, Scrambled Box Tops, Bronx vs. Brooklyn, and dozens more involving logic and basic math. Complete solutions included.
How to be a Genius by John Woodward
Taking a sometimes humorous approach, this heavily illustrated encyclopedic love letter to the human brain covers such topics as memory, the five senses, creativity tricks and illusions, and the brain’s evolution-not to mention how one’s gray matter actually works. One spread illuminates how the brain processes data, labels experience and creates stereotypes by using photographs of a grass snake (the brain associates the harmless grass snake with other venomous snakes); another section utilizes a cartoon robot in a discussion of the development of good and bad habits. Photographs, flowcharts and activities work in tandem to create an accessible, fast-paced and informative read. Ages 9-12. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Riddles of the Sphinx and other Mathematical Puzzle Tales By Martin Gardner
Solving these riddles is not simply a matter of logic and calculation, though these play a role. Luck and inspiration are factors as well, so beginners and experts alike may profitably exercise their wits on Gardner’s problems, whose subjects range from geometry to word play to questions relating to physics and geology. We guarantee that you will solve some of these riddles, be stumped by others, and be amused by almost all of the stories and settings that Gardner has devised to raise these questions.
How to Solve It By George Polya
In this best-selling classic, George Polya revealed how the mathematical method of demonstrating a proof or finding an unknown can be of help in attacking any problem that can be “reasoned” out–from building a bridge to winning a game of anagrams. Generations of readers have relished Polya’s deft instructions on stripping away irrelevancies and going straight to the heart of a problem. “How to Solve It” popularized heuristics, the art and science of discovery and invention.
Power-ups and Ammo Crates, or How I Saved the World Today: The Allure of Modern Video Games and How This Fringe Cultural Phenomenon Turned into a Titan of the Entertainment Industry
Extra Lives by Tom Bissell
Grand Theft Auto IV is both a waste of time and “the most colossal creative achievement of the last 25 years” according to this scintillating meditation on the promise and discontents of video games. Journalist Bissell (Chasing the Sea ) should know; the ultraviolent car-chase-and-hookers game was his constant pastime during a months-long intercontinental cocaine binge. He’s ashamed of his video habit, but also ashamed of being ashamed of the “dominant art form of our time”; by turning the eye of a literary critic on the gory, seemingly puerile genre of ultraviolent, open-ended “shooter” games, he finds unexpected riches. Bissell bemoans the “uncompromising stupidity” of their story lines, wafer-thin characters, and the moronic dialogue, but celebrates the button-pushing, mesmeric qualities and the subtle, profound depths these conceal-the catharses of teamwork and heroism in the zombie-fest Left for Dead, the squirmy moral dilemmas of Mass Effect, the “mood of wistful savagery” suffusing the rifles-and-chainsaws-bedecked denizens of Gears of War. Bissell excels both at intellectual commentary and evocative reportage on the experience of playing games, while serving up engrossing mise-en-scene narratives of the mayhem. If anyone can bridge the aesthetic chasm between readers and gamers, he can. (June 8) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal
As addictive as Tetris, McGonigal’s penetrating, entertaining look into gaming culture is a vibrant mix of technology, psychology, and sociology, told with the vision of a futurist and the deft touch of a storyteller. For the nearly 183 million Americans who will spend an average of 13 hours a week playing games, McGonigal’s book is a welcome validation of their pursuits. But for those who don’t understand, or who may worry that our growing preoccupation with games is detrimental to society and culture, McGonigal argues persuasively that games are in fact improving us. “Game design isn’t just technological craft,” she argues, “it’s a 21st Century way of thinking and leading.” And games, she argues, particularly the new wave of Alternative Reality Games, are not about escapism but a powerful new form of collaboration and community building. The book moves effortlessly from Herodotus to Halo, stitching together an intellectually stimulating view of human culture past, present, and future. And while not downplaying the potential for negative consequences, such as “gamer addiction,” McGonigal makes an inspiring case for the way games can both enhance our personal happiness and help society. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Game Boys by Michael Kane
Readers of a certain generation are surely thinking, video games hit the big time? Get serious. But their children or grandchildren know what the author is talking about. Today’s video games can be as exciting as movies; they can require as much skill as more traditional sports; and they are very big business. The author follows two video-gaming teams, Team 3D and CompLexity, as they battle for supremacy in the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL), which was formed in 1997. For a sport that many consider to be marginal (if a sport at all), gaming is highly competitive and full of players who are just as idiosyncratic, determined, and flashy as any other pro athlete. Kane does a nice job of catching us up in the excitement—no easy task, as we are reading a book about people who play a game on a computer screen. Like any good sports book, this one is about the game and the personalities in equal measure.
All Your Base Are Belong To Us by Harold Goldberg
This highly informative book, written by veteran gaming columnist Goldberg, is billed as the first of its kind, spanning 50 years of video game history with its zany personalities, many trends, and marketing coups. The video game industry boasts revenues equaling that of Hollywood and a huge consumer base of 70% of Americans playing its games, Goldberg reveals. He details the ebb-and-flow of video game history and stories of its creators such as Ralph Baer, Nolan Bushnell, Hiroshi Yamauchi, William “Tripp” Hawkins, Dan and Sam Houser, Graeme Devine, and Jason Kapulka. His coverage of the development of games like Tennis for Two, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Dungeons & Dragons, Myst, Sims, and Grand Theft Auto will appeal not only to nerds and gamers in Goldberg’s easily accessible anecdotes but to those who grew up with these games through generations. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Jane McGonigal’s Ted Talk: Gaming can Make a Better World
Games like World of Warcraft give players the means to save worlds, and incentive to learn the habits of heroes. What if we could harness this gamer power to solve real-world problems? Jane McGonigal says we can, and explains how.
David Perry’s Ted Talk: Are Games Better than Life?
Game designer David Perry says tomorrow’s videogames will be more than mere fun to the next generation of gamers. They’ll be lush, complex, emotional experiences — more involving and meaningful to some than real life. With an excerpt from Michael Highland’s film “As Real as Your Life.”