Culture on My Mind – They’re Baaaack!

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
They’re Baaaack!
October 15, 2021

The Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track is back! After the shenanigans of a live-action Dragon Con and a little time off to recover – the analgesic creams seem to have done the trick – Joe and Gary have brought the atomic batteries to power and the YouTube turbines back up to speed.

On October 7th, they were joined by Kevin Cafferty, the Cadavers (namely, Nicole and Ryan), Beth van Dusen, and Michael Bailey to talk about horror sequels. To celebrate the spookiest time of the year, these brave explorers plumbed the depths of the Horror Hall of Fame to honor all the horror properties that came back for a second, a third, or even a 13th life. Only sequels needed apply, for reboots and re-imaginings were not welcome in this livestream.

 


Going forward, these Classic Track Quarantine Panels will be held once per fortnight. (That’s once every two weeks, he said with a wink). If you want to play along at home, pick up your internet-capable device and dial up the YouTube channel and/or the group on Facebook. If you join in live, you can also leave comments and participate in the discussion using StreamYard connected through Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch.

Join these fine folks on October 21st as they have more fun with Halloween, and keep every other Thursday open as the American Sci-Fi Classics Track explores the vast reaches of classic American science fiction.

The episode art each week is generously provided by the talented Sue Kisenwether. You can find her (among other places) on Women at Warp – A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast.

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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – Behind the Scenes of Nautilus

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Behind the Scenes of Nautilus
August 6, 2021

This week, the educational side of YouTube is on my mind. Specifically, I’m looking at a slice of submarine history with the Submarine Force Library and Museum in Groton, Connecticut.

The Submarine Force Library and Museum is home to the USS Nautilus (former SSN 571), the first nuclear-powered submarine in the world which now serves as a National Historic Landmark to educate visitors about the United States submarine force. The museum sits downstream from Naval Submarine Base New London on the Thames River, which is where I served for part of my submarine career. In normal times, it receives approximately 250,000 visitors per year.

The museum has a tour route through the forward compartment of the Nautilus, offering an in-person look at life on a nuclear submarine, including where sailors would eat, sleep, and work. In early 2021, Commander Brad Boyd presented a series of videos that go beyond the normal tour route and offer a substantial amount of historic and experience-based information.

I went through sub school with Brad and we served together at two duty stations. I was very pleased to see the news in 2018 when Brad took over as the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of Historic Ship Nautilus, and this series was part of a larger effort to keep the museum in the public eye during the pandemic. It was a smart move during a tough time to run a public attraction.

Brad was recently relieved as OIC and sent on to his next duty station. I wish him and his family the best of luck. I know he’ll do well in the future.  

This series of eighteen videos represents a great way to learn about history and life in the Silent Service. 


Episode 1 – Nautilus Introduction and Overview


Episode 2 – Nautilus Torpedo Room


Episode 3 – Nautilus Wardroom


Episode 4 – Staterooms


Episode 5 – Operation Sunshine


Episode 6 – Attack Center


Episode 7 – Sonar, ESM, and Ship’s Office


Episode 8 – Control


Episode 9 – Radio & Interior Communications


Episode 10 – Crew’s Mess


Episode 11 – Storerooms and Battery


Episode 12 – Berthing and Chief’s Quarters


Episode 13 – Gallery and Storeroom


Episode 14 – Berthing


Episode 15 – Underneath the Superstructure


Episode 16 – Escape Trunk


Episode 17 – Sail


Episode 18 – Bridge

 


You can find the Submarine Force Museum on YouTube, Facebook, and their official site. If you’re ever in Groton, Connecticut, it’s also worth an in-person visit.

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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – The Physics of Bowling Balls

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
The Physics of Bowling Balls

October 1, 2021

This week, I have Veritasium on my mind. I love to go bowling even though I’m not particularly good at it. Bowling is fun and (before the pandemic) gives me a great opportunity to chat with friends in the time between throws.

I have seen a lot of these ball movements over the years, but I didn’t have enough information to understand why the physics worked like they did.

Veritasium did the work.

Happy Friday. See you again soon.

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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – Dragon Con Shenanigans 2021

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Dragon Con Shenanigans 2021
September 2, 2021

The Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track recently spent some time telling the good tales about Dragon Con and teasing a bit of what’s to come this year.

I joined Sue Kisenwether, ToniAnn Marini, Denise Lhamon, Jeff Burns, Sherman Burris, Darin Bush, Chris Cummins, Kevin Eldridge, and John Hudgens to… well… geek out. 

 


If you want to keep up with the Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track in the off-season, the best ways to do that are on the YouTube channel and the Facebook group. If you join in live, you can also leave comments and participate in the discussion using StreamYard connected through Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch. (Be sure to authorize StreamYard to work with Facebook if you play that way.)

If you want to join us for real life panels, we’ll be at Dragon Con 2021 over Labor Day Weekend in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – The Secret of the Ooze and Alan Rickman

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
The Secret of the Ooze and Alan Rickman
August 13, 2021

The Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track recently talked about some heroes on the half shell and a legendary actor.

On August 5th, I grabbed a slice of pizza with Madison “Metricula” Roberts, Darin Bush, and Keith R. A. DeCandido to remember that time in 1991 when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles learned the secret of their origin and faced off against the Foot, mutants, and Vanilla Ice! 

On August 12th, it was time to honor a true legend. In his first film role, Alan Rickman stole the show as Hans Gruber. From there, he continued to be a standout performer as a sheriff, a potions master, an Australian rancher, and by Grabthar’s Hammer, a very put upon classically trained actor. Join Lacee Aderhold, Deanna Toxopeus, and Sarah Daisy Splitt as they talk about this master taken well before his time.


Once again, we’re all caught up. Fun times lay ahead, and if you want to play along at home, get thee hence to the YouTube channel and the group on Facebook. If you join in live, you can also leave comments and participate in the discussion using StreamYard connected through Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch.

The month of August will hold a couple of panels before the series takes a hiatus for real life panels at Dragon Con 2021. Join us on the journey and, if you’re so inclined, come see all of us in Atlanta over Labor Day weekend.

The episode art each week is generously provided by the talented Sue Kisenwether. You can find her (among other places) on Women at Warp – A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast.

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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – Smarter Every Day Dives Deep into Nuclear Submarines

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Smarter Every Day Dives Deep into Nuclear Submarines
August 6, 2021

This week, the educational side of YouTube is on my mind. Specifically, I’m looking at Smarter Every Day.

The channel is run by Destin Sandlin, a mechanical and aerospace engineer from Alabama. His channel focuses on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) topics, and each video provides him and his audience a chance to learn something new about the world around them. Smarter Every Day is a must-watch subscription on my YouTube feed.

Destin started a series of videos in June of last year focused on nuclear submarines. He was invited to participate in ICEX 2020, a biennial Navy exercise that explores operational readiness in the Arctic. The video series was particularly intriguing since I was a nuclear submarine officer, and I was very excited to see how the engineering and lifestyle complexities would be seen and interpreted by civilian eyes.

I wasn’t disappointed.

This series of videos was quite well done and offers an easy to digest perspective on the submarine force. My wife watched the series with me and finally understood some what my former job entailed. I want to thank Destin for that and for taking the time to teach the world about the basics of the Silent Service.

There are nine episodes in the series, filmed during a brief underway on the USS Toledo and released over a year. If you enjoy them as much as I did, consider chipping in to continue his mission through Audible, KiwiCo, or any of Destin’s other sponsors.

The first episode was published in June of 2020 and focused on ICEX. Specifically, Destin covered the science of arctic ice and how that data feeds into the Navy’s mission. After that, he boarded the Toledo and submerged beneath the ice cap.

The second episode debuted in July of 2020 and continued the story with a basic overview of his adventure and submarines overall.

The third episode took us into a torpedo tube and explored how a submarine’s teeth work. One trivia item that my wife found interesting as we discussed the video was how visitors are able to autograph the tube with grease pencil. My signature was one of the tube doors of the USS Greeneville, though I’m absolutely sure it has since been washed away by pressurized seawater over the ensuing two decades. 

The fourth episode premiered in October and focused on two of the most dangerous casualties that a submarine can face: Fire and flooding. Since Destin is an engineer, he was also able to explore the principles behind how the sailors fight these casualties.

The fifth entry was about how submariners eat. Since submarines are designed to make their own water, air, and electricity, food is truly the limiting factor for how long a boat can stay on station. The methods and creativity involved in feeding over a hundred sailors are unique in the submarine force.

The sixth episode came at the end of 2020 and explored how submarines listen underwater. It was quite fun to see just how far the discussion could go before hitting classified information. This video will give you the basics of the sonar science and how one can see underwater without light and windows.

In February, Destin discussed how submarines make and maintain breathable environments while underway. The counterintuitive science of lighting a fire to produce oxygen was a fun topic to watch him explore.

In May, sanitation was the topic du jour. Toilets and showers seem simple enough, but they’re a bit different on the boat. Water conservation is vitally important and one wrong move could mean getting a face full of feces. Not the most dangerous thing you might do on a submarine, but…

The series came to a close on July 30th with the complex evolution of surfacing the ship under the polar ice cap. Surfacing a submarine is already a complex and dangerous evolution, but the added wrinkle of precision piloting is a whole new level. It’s not something that I ever did, but I still studied the basic principles at one point.

 


Once again, if you’re interested in STEM topics, Smarter Every Day is a great place to land for quality education and production values. Thanks to Destin for sharing his perspectives and experiences with the world.

You can find Smarter Every Day on YouTube.

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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – Legally Mars, Syndicated Toons, and a Fresh Prince

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Legally Mars, Syndicated Toons, and a Fresh Prince
July 30, 2021

The Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track recently talked about aliens, blonde lawyers, syndicated cartoons, and the Willennium.

On July 8th, Chad Shonk, Lola Lariscy, Jonathan Williams, and Nathan Laws took up arms against alien invaders as they chatted about Independence Day and Mars Attacks!

On July 15th, it was time to attend the twentieth anniversary reunion of one of the best Harvard graduating classes ever. After all, once you’ve judged a tighty-whitey contest for Lambda Kappa Pi, you can handle anything. I joined Sue Kisenwether and ToniAnn Marini to talk all about Legally Blonde and it’s impact on pop culture since 2001.

On July 22nd, the stream was a full house as latchkey kids united over a love of syndicated cartoons. GI Joe! He-Man and the Masters of the Universe! Transformers! Star Blazers! Tranzor Z! Voltron! Disney afternoons! Special guest stars included Chris Cummins, Kevin Cafferty, Jeff Burns, Denise Lhamon, and Nathan Laws.

On July 29th, the month came to a close with a story all about how pop culture got flipped, turned upside down by a West Philadelphia (born and raised) rapper and actor who came to dominate the charts as well as the box office: The Fresh Prince himself, Will Smith! Those who got jiggy wit it were Sherman Burris and Jonathan Williams.


We’re all caught up for now. Fun times lay ahead, and if you want to play along at home, get thee hence to the YouTube channel and the group on Facebook. If you join in live, you can also leave comments and participate in the discussion using StreamYard connected through Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch.

The month of August will hold a couple of panels before the series takes a hiatus for real life panels at Dragon Con 2021. Join us on the journey and, if you’re so inclined, come see all of us in Atlanta over Labor Day weekend.

The episode art each week is generously provided by the talented Sue Kisenwether. You can find her (among other places) on Women at Warp – A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast.

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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – The New Colossus

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
The New Colossus

July 23, 2021

This week, I have Emma Lazarus on my mind.

Emma Lazarus was born on July 22, 1849, in New York City. She studied American and British literature and several languages, including German, French, and Italian. By the age of eleven, she was writing poetry. Over the course of her life her writing won recognition in the United States and Europe.

One of her most famous poems is the sonnet “The New Colossus”, which she wrote in 1883 to raise money for the construction of a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty (formally known as Liberty Enlightening the World). She was convinced to write the poem by writer Constance Cary Harrison who argued that the statue would be of great significance to immigrants sailing into the harbor.

The sonnet was the first read at the auction of art and literary works in November 1883 and remained associated with the exhibit until it was closed after the pedestal was fully funded in 1885. The sonnet was largely forgotten after this, even at the statue’s formal opening in 1886, until 1901 when Georgina Schuyler stepped in.

Composer and article writer Georgina Schuyler, the great-granddaughter of Alexander and Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, was a friend of Emma Lazarus. Lazarus died in November 1887 at the age of 38, most likely from Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and Schuyler spearheaded the effort to memorialize her friend and the sonnet. The effort succeeded in 1903 when a plaque bearing the sonnet’s text was placed on the inner wall of the statue’s pedestal.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The Petrarchan sonnet evokes several images related to the statue’s New York Harbor home and prestige:

  • The title and the first two lines refer to the Greek Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and contrasts that symbol of imperial grandeur against the maternal strength of Lady Liberty.
  • The “sunset gates” are the Hudson and East Rivers, and the “imprisoned lightning” is the statue’s lighted torch.
  • The “twin cities” were New York City and Brooklyn, which were separate cities since the boroughs had yet been consolidated. That would happen in 1898.
  • The “huddled masses” were the large numbers of immigrants arriving during the 1880s. Emma Lazarus was also an activist and advocate for Jewish refugees who sought asylum from persecution in Czarist Russia.

The poem changed the face of the statue, shifting her from a monument to the principles of international republicanism to a welcoming mother figure that shined a beacon of hope to outcasts and downtrodden around the world. The symbol has cemented the reputation of the United States as a sanctuary and a golden beacon on the hill.

As poet and Princeton professor Esther Schor, author of the award-winning biography Emma Lazarus, stated: “The irony is that the statue goes on speaking, even when the tide turns against immigration — even against immigrants themselves, as they adjust to their American lives. You can’t think of the statue without hearing the words Emma Lazarus gave her.”


For more information on Emma Lazarus, the American Jewish Historical Society has a detailed presentation on her life and their efforts to memorialize her.

For a general overview of the Statue of Liberty’s history and more, check out this video by Jared Owen.


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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – Dads and Princes

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Dads and Princes
July 9, 2021

The Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track recently talked about daddies and Robin Hood.

On June 24th, Kevin Eldridge, Leigh Tyberg, Tom Morris, and Elizabeth Jones celebrated Father’s Day by considering quality jokes, sage advice, and removing limbs while talking about the best dads in science fiction.

On July 1st, it was time to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of yet another retelling of the Robin Hood mythos. That’s right! Three decades ago, we got a film with action, drama, a spectacular sheriff, and a very questionable accent. Join Darin Bush, Nathan Laws, Jeff Burns, and Deanna Toxopeus as they talk about kitchen utensils, relative pain, and the second-highest grossing film of 1991.

 


We’re all caught up for now. Fun times lay ahead, and if you want to play along at home, get thee hence to the YouTube channel and the group on Facebook. If you join in live, you can also leave comments and participate in the discussion using StreamYard connected through Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch.

Down the road a ways, the Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track has more of these panels in store, including alien attacks, lawyers, cartoons, and reptile martial artists. Join us on the journey.

The episode art each week is generously provided by the talented Sue Kisenwether. You can find her (among other places) on Women at Warp – A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast.

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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – Independence Day

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Independence Day

July 2, 2021

This week, I’m thinking about a major holiday here in the United States. The Declaration of Independence was ratified by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. It was a pronouncement by the Thirteen Colonies that they should be independent states free of British control, a revolution that they were fighting for at the time in the Revolutionary War.

While the nation is not and has never been perfect, it still embodies certain elements that people around the world admire. For me, the American Dream is that we can reach that ideal some day, and that keeps me fighting for the principles expressed in the Declaration. I believe in the core philosophy of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.

Today, two days before the anniversary of ratification (and on the anniversary of the Lee Resolution’s passage), please enjoy this presentation by Kenneth C. Davis on some of the lesser known facts about the Declaration of Independence.

If you’re celebrating the holiday, please be safe and have a good time.

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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.