Stories tagged cool

I love movies, and since I don't have cable, I probably watch at least a movie a week. That's a lot of movies in a year, so occasionally I like to watch a special kind of movie that makes me feel less guilty -- and a little smarter.
Coming soon to a theater near you!: A Neighborhood for Raingardens
Coming soon to a theater near you!: A Neighborhood for RaingardensCourtesy Steve Rhodes

Enter the documentary.

Wait! Don't click away from the page yet.

This misunderstood film genre entertains as well as educates! Seriously, today's documentaries are not the lame-o film reels your parents watched in high school. Some documentaries are pretty fantastic (Planet Earth, anyone??).

You too can entertain and educate yourself (and treat a friend!) to the Minneapolis premiere of A Neighborhood for Raingardens this Friday, September 9th at 7pm at our very own St. Anthony Main Theater.

The 60-minute film, sponsored by the Institute on the Environment and and The Film Society of Minneapolis/Saint Paul, is about

"an inspirational initiative to clean up Powderhorn Lake one yard at a time. Guided and encouraged by Metro Blooms, hundreds of Powderhorn residents got together over the course of four months to install more than 100 raingardens."

Tickets are only $8.50 general, $6 students and seniors. If you'd like more information or to purchase advance tickets, check out this website.


Should we be eating the eggs of parasites?: You be the judge!
Should we be eating the eggs of parasites?: You be the judge!Courtesy Meng Weng Wong
Oh, look: Here's an article about how eating parasitic worm eggs might alleviate the symptoms of chronic bowel disease. (In addition to that, however, it will also give you parasitic worms, so the whole worm egg treatment is kind of a double-edged sword at this point.)

I don't feel like summing up the article for y'all right now, so I'm just going to paste some excerpts for you to suss out:

"A man who swallowed worm eggs... restores mucus production in the colon... abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea... (parasitic worm)... self-treatment with the worm eggs... increase mucous production in the entire colon... the worms trigger a big sneeze of the gut... lucky... may exacerbate bowel inflammation.... a worm that infects pigs."

Pretty rich stuff, eh? You could just eat that with a spoon.


Declared by the "The No Child Left Behind Program" (NCLBP) and the State of Minnesota, science is an important subject and required for student's after the graduating class of 2011 to pass in order to graduate. The first MCA Science test was handed out last year to students in 6th and 8th grade, since it was their first year testing students on Science the scores has not yet been posted.
In the past, there were different types of MCA's passed out to student's, there was the MCA 1 and the MCA 2 and there is a plan for an MCA 3 in the year of 2014. With each different tests, it gets more and more rigorous, but the question is why? For each tests the standards have changed ( if you want to check out the standard for science in the MCA check out this link and download Academic Standards: Science K-12 (2009)) in the past few years and the standards are changing to be a set higher than the years before. Could this be the reason why many students are not able to meet the standards for the MCA? The groups that tend to not meet the standards are special education and the limited English students, these groups will have a handicaps for the test. We also know that if any group of students who did not meet the standards the entire school suffers the consequences. The problem is not that these students will always fail but that the school should do is provide these students with resources that they need to help pass this test and especially Science. Science does not only consistences of just reading but also math and critical thinking, all of the students should also have the opportunity and resources to help pass these tests. What the N.C.L.B.P. should do is not place the entire school under academic probation but to step back and provide helpful resources to students who are willing to step up and take responsibility for themselves.
Every time I requested or asked for information about the standards from the years of 2004- present from those who worked for the MCA, my question was either avoided or never answered, I decided to interview people who works for the state, I asked Roger Anderson who worked for the Research and Assessment and a few other people who works or had information about the MCA and it's standards. I had sent my interview questions to all of them and never got a reply in return. I meet Ms. Wilson at school after she gave a power point presentation about the MCA and how Harding students did last year on the test. I was quite surprised to see the data and the dramatic change in the scores from the MCA 1 and MCA 2, compared to MCA 1, the MCA 2 was made more rigorous because of the scoring and the standards set higher than the MCA 1. In result with the changes in the different test more students had failed or did worse than the previous year.
I am almost positive that the MCA's for Science will also be following the same pattern where the standards will continue to get more and more rigorous as the years go by. I understand that it may not always be the tests fault that students fail, most of the time students are not prepared for the test because for two reasons. One they chose not to study or prepare for the test, or two the teachers did not teach the MCA requirements for the student's. With these constant changes in the MCA standards it has effected how the students perform on the tests and how the teachers teach their students. It is just as important that student's prepare themselves for the test just as that those who work for the MCA keep the standards the same. For more information go to about the MCA.


Charles Darwin: The great naturalist was born 200 hundred years ago.
Charles Darwin: The great naturalist was born 200 hundred years ago.Courtesy Public Domain
Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, one of science’s most revered figures. Special events marking the occasion are planned throughout the world especially in England where he was born on this date (February 12th) in 1809. This year’s also the 150th anniversary of the publication of the famed naturalist’s most important work, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, a book that revolutionized the science of biology, and one that - despite enormous amounts of evidence in its favor - remains controversial to this day. Born in the town of Shrewsbury, Charles Robert Darwin took after his grandfather Erasmus Darwin and from an early age showed a keen interest in the natural world, particularly geology, botany, and biology. While in college, a professor arranged for Charles to join the surveying expedition of the HMS Beagle to South America. It was during the five-year voyage that Darwin formulated his brilliant theory of evolution through natural selection. He returned to England in 1836 never to venture abroad again, and spent the next two decades writing out his ideas. On the Origin of Species was published on November 24, 1859, and sold out immediately. Five more editions were published during Darwin’s lifetime. He died April 19, 1882.

Darwin Online
Darwin Day site
Darwin Bicentennial at London’s Natural History Museum
About Darwin
Voyage of the Beagle (eBook)
Galapagos Islands in peril


Oh, I don't know...: It's a tree, it sort of looks like a man, it's kind of kingy... Just read the post, okay?
Oh, I don't know...: It's a tree, it sort of looks like a man, it's kind of kingy... Just read the post, okay?Courtesy Natmandu
I’ve never seen that show “Ugly Betty,” but I’m assuming that the premise is that there’s a girl who’s too poor to buy the clothes and makeup that would make her hot, and that her parents were too poor to buy the childhood braces that make our teeth hot, and that eventually she’ll have some sort of Cinderelly event where she gets all these things and finally just be Hot Betty.

I could be off on this, but I feel pretty confident.

There’s also that late-90s movie about the dorky girl and the hot guy who goes out with her on a bet… What was that called? It was in the vein of “10 things I hate about you” (#1: your attitude)… It doesn’t matter. At some point in the movie, somebody had this sort of scientific/religious revelation that if they let the dorky girl’s hair down, and put her into a tight, red dress, she would suddenly transform into a hot girl (who still knew how to read and stuff)!

I’m not sure if I actually saw that one either, or if I just watched the preview a bunch of times, but I’m pretty sure it was a great film.

Anyway, last year the world got to experience a similar transformation in real life, thanks to Dede Koswara, the Tree Man. Y’all remember him? He has an extremely rare genetic condition that prevents his immune system from controlling the growths caused by the human papilloma virus—that is, he was covered in monster, foot-long, horny warts. I guess they kind of made him look like a tree, which, outside of fantasy epics, is decidedly un-hot. They also prevented him from being able to feed himself, which is also pretty un-hot.

Last spring, then, Dede was offered medical treatment for his condition, and underwent some serious pruning. All in all, more than 14 pounds of warty growths were cut off of him, and… sparkle sparkle… a regular Javanese James Dean emerged, a latter-day Skeet Ulrich, a living Corey Feldman!

Don’t believe me? Check out this picture. Not only can he feed himself now, he can smoke! And if you can see through the smoke and remnant warts, you’ll notice stylish glasses, and a brooding expression. Very nice. I think the world has just found its “Mr. Ugly Betty.”

Sadly, when one assumes the Crown of Cool it’s only a matter of time before tragedy finds him. James Dean, Steve McQueen, River Phoenix, James Franco—all casualties of the rock and roll lifestyle of the blisteringly cool. And now, it seems, Prince Dede’s warts are growing back.

While doctors say that the condition is no longer life-threatening, we members of the cult of Koswara can only stew in our dread and wait for Dede to return to the way he was.

We knew this would happen, Charlie, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

Enjoy. this is what would happen if the CERN experiment went all but right. ENJOY!!


Groundhog: a groundhog coming out of it's burrow

A furry little rodent crawls out of its den, is scared by its own shadow, and that means we'll have six more weeks of winter? Sounds like silly superstition, doesn't it? But several parts of the Groundhog Day legend do in fact have a basis in science and careful observation of nature:

Astronomy: Before calendars came into widespread use, Europeans divided the year into four parts, using the Winter Solstice (the shortest day of the year, around December 21), the Summer Solstice (the longest day, roughly June 21), and the Spring and Fall Equinoxes (days when night and day are exactly equal, March 21 and September 21) as signposts. The days halfway in-between these four milestones are called cross-quarter days.

February 2 lies midway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Some ancient Europeans considered it the first day of spring (a bit early, if you ask me!) Romans held a purification festival called Februus at this time, to prepare their fields for planting. (The festival's torchlight parade later evolved into the Christian feast of Candlemas.) The Celts of Ireland celebrated Imbolc on this day, a fertility ritual associated with ewes preparing to give birth.

Animal behavior: Ancient peoples observed animal behavior for clues to changes in the weather. The reappearance of hibernating or inactive animals like badgers, hedgehogs and even bears was a sign of winter's end. When German settlers came to Pennsylvania in the 1700s, they chose the groundhog as the local harbinger of spring.

Even today, we watch for animals to indicate the change of seasons. Geese flying south is a sure sign of fall. In the Midwest and Northeast, we wait for the first robin of spring. Californians wait for the swallows to return to Capistrano. And Ohio residents know it's spring when the buzzards come back to Hinkley.

Meteorology: Ever notice how bright, clear winter days are often very cold? That's because they are caused by high pressure systems. Areas of high pressure pull cold air down from the north. They also sweep away any clouds that might have provided insulation.

Farmers in ancient Europe noticed this relationship, and developed various legends and practices around it. Some of the most noteworthy involved February 2, the old cross-quarter day. An old Scottish poem says:

If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
There'll be two winters in the year.

Other cultures have similar sayings. Of course, the weather on one particular day won't determine the weather for the next six weeks. But, in general, if winter has had a lot of cold, sunny days, one can expect the pattern—and the chilly weather—to continue.

So, Groundhog Day merges three elements of pre-scientific knowledge. It takes a sign of spring — animals emerging from hibernation — and a sign of winter — clear, cold days — and combines them with a date that has astronomical significance.

Unfortunately, each of these elements works better as a general rule of thumb than as a concrete prediction. Put them together in a specific way, and you end up with a superstition: there's no evidence of winters being any harsher or milder after the groundhog sees his shadow. However, each of these elements individually is a testament to ancient people's ability to carefully observe their environment and recognize patterns — which is pretty much what science is all about.

(Researching this entry, I came across a lot of fun sites related to Groundhog Day. The Punxsutawny Groundhog Club has a page on the history of the holiday. Stormfax Weather Information has some interesting information. And The Holiday Spot has lots of links you can follow. Different sites sometimes give different information -- but with a holiday as old and widespread and changeable as this one, there are some things we may never pin down for sure.)


Personally, I think lemurs are the coolest animal on Earth. There are amazing birds, super fast cats, intelligent sea mammals, and some bizarre insects, but for me the lemur is the simply the greatest, ever. Not only are they the closest living analogs to our ancient primate ancestors but they also just look neat and seem to have great personalities (although to be fair, I have never met one in person).

Microcebus lehilahytsara. Photo: Robert Zingg

Now primatologists have discovered two new species of lemur, bringing the total known number of lemur species to 49. Lemurs can only be found on the island of Madagascar, and due to the rapid loss of environment on the island are an animal that is considered endangered. A third of the known species are already extinct.

Lemurs have evolved in isolation on Madagascar, as have many other species, since the island separated from the rest of Africa some 165 million years ago. Because of this isolation, Madagascar is home to many unique animals. There are even dinosaurs that were unique to Madagascar.

The new species are a giant mouse lemur about the size of a squirrel called Mirza zaza and a mouse lemur with short, rounded ears, and a white stripe on its nose called Microcebus lehilahytsara.