Nobel recipient lets it fly

Nobel physicist George Smoot doesn’t just do physics; he does other stuff too, like risk finding out he’s not as smart as a fifth grader:

Brushing aside objections from his Lawrence Berkeley lab colleagues, who argued it would not portray the world’s premiere research lab in the right light, he decided to appear in September on the Fox TV game show, “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?”

He appeared earlier in the year on the CBS sitcom, “The Big Bang Theory,” playing himself as the keynote speaker at a conference attended by the main characters, ultra nerdy scientists. He said he agreed to go on the show because he likes that the scientists are portrayed as heroes.

But “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” was different.

“It was kind of like rebelling,” Smoot said. “It was risky because there was a big chance you wouldn’t answer everything correctly. You are supposed to be this example to new generations, and to have to say you are not smarter than a fifth-grader would be embarrassing.”

How come I never had fun professors like this?

Lady Gaga lets it fly

I’ve bored all of my friends senseless with my love for all things Lady Gaga. I listen to her album over and over again because it just makes me want to dance. I think her outfits are ridiculous, but she’s talented and she’s letting loose and she doesn’t care who knows it.

Compare to the Lady Gaga—or should we say, Stefani Germanotta—of a mere four years ago, on MTV’s “Boiling Point”:

Clearly this woman decided, “You know what? I gotta be who I am.” And it’s worked for her.

HP guy lets it fly

Well, this is one way to deal with corporate shakeups, I guess: leave your job, buy an RV, and start traveling.

The guy walks away from a middle-management job at Hewlett-Packard, moves his wife and two kids out of their Almaden Valley home, loads them into a 37-foot RV and hits the road. The plan? Well, on the road you have time to figure out little details like that.

“We sort of jumped into it without thinking about it too much,” says Philip May, 47. He’s on the phone from the Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort, a few miles from the strip. His family as been crisscrossing the country for three-plus years. “I think if I would have thought about it too much I wouldn’t have done it.”

I don’t know if I’d want to do that, but it certainly sounds like a crazy adventure!

Foraging for food

Ever wonder how restaurants plan on which food to have on a particular day and how much of it they’re going to need?

Boy howdy, some restaurants went ahead and tossed that planning out:

A restaurant has opened that encourages diners to bring in produce from their home gardens, which the chefs then make into dishes to put on the menu.

…It’s very now too. The food is simple, fresh, rich and comforting. The menu — as dictated by Kim’s regular trips to the farmers market and whatever foraged produce comes in on any given day — is constantly in flux, and a popular dish can run out long before dinner service or brunch is over.

The chef takes food that people are growing and just bring in and give to him.

Foragers are repaid with a barter system — Kim offers gift certificates or just feeds them a meal or dessert. “Most of the time, people don’t want money, they just don’t want to throw the food away,” said Kim.

I am agog.

On the other hand: apparently he makes it work. Which is cool: no wasted food! Make do with what you have, and when it’s done, it’s done.

I can’t see this working on a large scale, but I’m glad someone thought to try it out.

Filming in secret…at Disneyland

Randy Moore, filmmaker, had an unusual ambition: to film an entire feature-length film, in secret, at Disneyland

Mr. Moore, without permission from Disney, filmed “Escape From Tomorrow” inside its theme parks and hotels in Florida and California. If that wasn’t gutsy enough, his film is a horror fantasy that harshly critiques Disney’s style of mass entertainment. It’s not the Happiest Place on Earth in his movie. Not by a long shot.

The movie, while careful to leave out certain copyrighted material (like the “It’s a Small World” song), would seem to test the limits of fair use in copyright law. It has a lot of Disney iconography: Mr. Moore, a first-time director and the movie’s screenwriter, filmed inside at least eight rides, and a lengthy sequence involves the line for a Buzz Lightyear attraction.

How did Mr. Moore get away with it? After all, his cast and crew went on the It’s a Small World ride at least 12 times, filming all the way with high-tech (albeit small) video recorders. “I was surprised the ride operators weren’t a little more savvy,” he said.

Now that’s dedication to art. I have no idea how good the movie is (it’s at Sundance, though) or what he could be saying about Disney in his critique, but who cares: that’s art. 

Brian Feldman thinks marriage is gay

Brian Feldman would like to protest the ridiculousness of gay couples not being able to marry. And he’s going to protest it by getting married himself. <a href=”″>To anybody.</a>

<blockquote>As a pre-Valentine’s Day commentary, acclaimed conceptual artist Brian Feldman (and one of the 20 Coolest People in Orlando according to aXis Magazine) will marry any woman (must be a U.S. citizen with no legal liabilities) who shows up to the Orange County Courthouse Marriage License Office in Downtown Orlando on Monday, February 8, 2010 at 3pm. This may result in the marrying of a woman he doesn’t know, has never met and for all intents and purposes does not love.

YES – you read that correctly – Brian Feldman will join in matrimony with a total stranger, and that stranger could be YOU!

Is this entire project a mockery of marriage? Not at all! It’s completely within the legal rights of Brian and any other heterosexual couple with $123.50 (plus $6 for a standard marriage certificate). Sound absurd? Not nearly absurd as denying the equal right to marry for same-sex couples who truly care about each other; who’ve been in committed, productive and, most importantly, loving relationships for upwards of 20+ years. That, to Brian, and millions of Americans who believe in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality, is truly absurd – to say nothing of a civil injustice.

Now that’s taking a stand!

I would love to be a performance artist like this. Honestly. That’s having a point of view and <em>rocking it</em>, with no safety net.


BART riders let it…uh…fly

There’s something about mass demonstrations of silliness that really make me laugh. <a href=””>Lots of people on public transportation removing their pants</a> cracks me up:

<blockquote>”We’re part of the Pants Liberation Front,” he said. “Pants have been keeping us down too long. I’ve been itching and chafing for 24 years.”

The event, dubbed No Pants 2010, was organized by Improv Everywhere, which started the annual pantless party in 2001 on the New York City subway.

Improv Everywhere has organized dozens of other stunts, such as drawing hundreds of people – via Facebook and other social media – to congregate at a Best Buy store in blue polo shirts and khakis, and to move in slow motion at a Home Depot store, both in New York City.

On Sunday, subway riders in 44 cities around the world stripped off their pants in the name of silliness.

Candace Leong was headed to Berkeley but changed plans when she saw the hairy legs and cheery smiles of her fellow BART riders. While on the train, she spontaneously took off her jeans, stowed them in her bag and joined the unclothed masses headed to San Francisco.

“I was going to go rock climbing but thought I’d do this instead,” she said. “It’s liberating, although it might be a little awkward if you did it alone.”

Not everyone appreciated the humor. Tony Jackson, clad in a shimmering gold suit and tie, was headed to church on BART when he came across the pantless people.

“What the hell? It’s a disgrace,” said the San Francisco church elder, shaking his head. “It’s an abomination.”

That quote from “church elder” in his “shimmering gold suit and tie” cracks me up. What the riders did might be rude (although the article doesn’t mention anyone flashing or otherwise accosting other passengers, although perhaps “not someone you want to see in their underwear this early in the morning” might count). But an <em>abomination</em>? Mr. Jackson needs to let his flag up the flagpole a little: children starving is an abomination. People riding BART without pants is just silly.

With a stunt like this it would be so easy to say only in San Francisco, but of course it wasn’t.