Today’s edition of “Caught My Eye” has an accidental theme: NERDS! Well, #1-4 are nerd-themed, #5 is about parenting. You know what? Nerds parent, too, so just go with it.
Here’s what caught my eye this week. What do you think? What caught your eye? Leave a note in the comments.
1. Children Are (or Should Be Empowered to Be) Like <b>Code</b> Monkeys!
This tremendous video at Code.org features several people – multi-generational, international, multi-racial, men and women, and some more famous than others (and not necessarily for the same reasons) – all speaking about the reason(s) why young people should learn how to code.
I’m no futurist but I can’t help but think this video has a really good point. I know a tiny, tiny bit of HTML code and am aware at how much further along Internet code has come from that. When I was a young boy, I was in a group called “High Potential” that kept us inside during many recess sessions to discuss short stories, do tangrams, and yes, write code on the computer to create cartoons (I feel like this was called
Lotus Logo (EDIT: see link in the comments) and the giant cursor was referred to as a turtle but I can’t remember for sure). I also had an 8th grade math teacher who lent me a book on writing code for the Apple IIe because I received an old hand-me-down machine for Christmas one year. At first, I was bummed; I wanted something state of the art. Later, I dug it more because I could play some classic games like Choplifter and Oregon Trail at home.
Then, with that borrowed book, I programmed code to have my computer “say” things to me like the WOPR / Joshua in Wargames…
…or the encryption data that streaks across Whistler’s sunglasses in Sneakers…
…and I think that’s why I think I enjoy integrating technology into my other passions today. It’s why I saw that Code video and immediately wanted to create something.
2. The Simpsons + The Internet = Why We’re All Connected!
I am a gigantic fan of The Simpsons and I laughed out loud when I saw Ralph Wiggum’s immortal line, “Me fail English? That’s unpossible!” received some in-depth commentary over at GeekWisdom.com after seeing it on a list of random Simpsons wonderfulness listed at Dead Homer Society who incidentally I found via a trackback to what I wrote a couple weeks back about “My Kind of Nerds” and the person at Flickr who posted a photo of Simpsons cross stitch.
And people wonder why it’s called the world wide “web.”
3. Who Likes Patchwork Quilts? Dinosaur Dracula.
I was a big fan of Matt Caracappa’s previous 80s / 90s nostalgia website, X-Entertainment. We’re both around the same age and have many similar pop culture tastes, particularly when it comes to kitsch. His latest project, Dinosaur Dracula, is nearing a year old now and last week he solicited entries from persons to help create a digital patchwork quilt for the Dinosaur Dracula Patchwork Project.
If this kind of thing gets done on a regular basis, that’s great but that’s news to me. I thought it was a lot of fun and cool to see the variances in entries. And yes, discerning readers will notice a patch by yours truly. I have no idea what compelled me to draw what I did. I opened Photoshop and just started to play around. That was probably my favorite part of this – I had a chance to take a few minutes and play. You can’t miss that gigantic signature. 🙂
4. Culture Shift: Nerds and the Autism Spectrum in Pop Culture
If you only know The Onion via the occasional silly story or genius satirical headline you may not know there’s some excellent journalism and earnest articles in its AV Club section. I came across “The changing face of ‘nerds’ (and autism) in popular culture” by Noel Murray via a great blog called The Small Journey of John Big John by John Roedel, father to a young man with autism. Here’s a pull quote:
No, what bothers me is the hoariness of jokes about bespectacled weirdoes who know the details of every Doctor Who episode but will never know the touch of a woman. First of all, they’re about as cutting-edge as jokes about airline food. Second of all: Did you know that many autists find it uncomfortable to look other people in the eye, or to be hugged? So what’s the joke here exactly? That two recognized traits of people with autistic spectrum disorders—obsessive interests and difficulties with social interactions—are a thing that exists?
I feel dense for not making this connection before reading this article yet it makes tremendous sense. I don’t write that in a dismissive way or a “Well, that explains everything!” way but in a way, I think I just get “it” a little more. How we portray each other is complex. How we understand (or don’t understand) each other is complex. Those things I knew. But connecting how “nerds” are portrayed and how persons on the autistic spectrum are portrayed and how these two demographics may be more of a venn diagram than I ever considered gives me tremendous pause. Perhaps I will watch Community or The Middle, two programs I enjoy quite a bit, with new eyes on my heart. Murray has written a solidarity piece that offers patience to those who haven’t made the connection. It’s worth a read, folks.I might even watch my first episode of The Big Bang Theory.
5. Liar, Liar, Facebook on Fire!
Sarah Emily Tuttle-Singer has written a funny, heartfelt article called “We Need to Quit Telling Lies on Facebook” about the difference between her Facebook status update…
My children and I woke up with the sun, smiling and ready to kick ass and “make it a great day.”
…and the reality, including this doozy:
“I want a tampon,” my son said. I gave him a clean one. He unwrapped it, grabbed the string, and hit his sister on the ear.
We ate leftover schnitzel and chocolate cake. Breakfast of champions, people. And I took several “spontaneous” pictures of all of us smiling 🙂 with a camera timer.
(“Come on… Please. Smile dammit! Look happy!”)
It’s a beautiful look at how we look to others and how others look to us when really, perhaps we look a little more like each other in ways we’re not necessarily ready to share with each other.
Oh, Irony. So cruel.
What caught your eye this week?