Monday, March 09

Music Monday: Happy Birthday John Cale

by Scott Lydon


Happy Music Monday! There aren't many composers who can go from fronting the seminal punk band to playing what many would describe as classical music. John Cale has never stopped making music that's interesting and exciting, and seeing how today's the date of his birth, Scott's decided to pay this cool guy a little tribute. Perhaps you can join in, eh?

The Velvet Underground - Sister Ray NSFW due to elementary school-style body part talk your boss might not like

 

The debate with John Cale isn't where to mention the Velvet Underground, it's when. Do you close with it? Do you lead with it? I just decided to throw this beloved game-changing song in at the very start. Lou Reed gets most of the credit for being up front, but try to imagine this song without John Cale's organ. YOU CAN'T.

More like John Cale hits inside, after the jump.

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Tuesday, March 03

The Debunker: Did Feminists Burn Their Bras?

by Ken Jennings

 

March is Women's History Month in much of the English-speaking world. This means the patriarchy is currently keeping the eleven other months for itself but hey, baby steps. Ken Jennings, like many Jeopardy! contestants, would be the first to admit he knows nothing about women. But he'll be with us all month correcting some misconceptions about history—or is it herstory?!?—that even the most ardent Women's Studies majors might miss on the final.

The Debunker: Did Feminists Burn Their Bras?

"Bra-burning," a shorthand term for the outspoken second-wave feminism of the 1960s and 1970s, was often deployed with a condescending snigger by the older generation—those nutty women's-libbers, burning their bras! What a crazy thing to worry their little heads about. Today, the term has been used for so many decades that most people probably assume bra-burning was a not-uncommon street-corner sight during the turbulent sixties, like sit-ins and bell-bottoms.

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Monday, March 02

Music Monday: 3-2-1 Count

by Scott Lydon


Happy Music Monday! 3. 2. 1. 5. Well, it's not perfect, but it's as close to a countdown and we're gonna get for a while. So today, Scott's choosing 5 songs that count. Three, two one... GO!

Peter Schilling - Major Tom

 

Four, three, two, one! Of course, this song is also a sorta-cover of Space Oddity, just in case there's anyone left who didn't know that.

More to come after the jump. Count on it.

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Tuesday, February 24

The Debunker: Do People Breathe in Oxygen and Breathe Out Carbon Dioxide?

by Ken Jennings

In addition to his day job as Woot's full-time "Debunker," Jeopardy! wunderkind Ken Jennings moonlights as an author of books, and this month he has a new one in stores. It's the fifth in his Junior Genius series, this time chock-full of amazing facts about The Human Body. To mark the occasion, he'll spend all of February debunking anatomical anachronisms and medical misinformation for us. Finally: the inside scoop about our own insides.

The Debunker: Do People Breathe in Oxygen and Breathe Out Carbon Dioxide?

Well, okay. Yes, you do breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, which is why you're still alive. Fine. But you also breathe in plenty of carbon dioxide and breathe out plenty of oxygen. It's a lot more complicated than the diagram you remember from third grade where the people are pumping out carbon dioxide and the trees are pumping out oxygen.

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Monday, February 23

Music Monday: Opera

by Scott Lydon


Happy Music Monday! Opera is often considered to be complex, hard to get into, overly dramatic... and that's all wrong wrong wrong. Scott's here to set you all straight with five lovely opera pieces that you will enjoy. Or else.

Jacques Offenbach: Les Contes d'Hoffmann - Barcarolle

 

Let's start with a setting here: the day after having his heart broken by an underage robot, the writer awakes in a whore-covered tavern where his muse is protecting him. No, that's not the start of a new Warren Ellis anime! That's the second act of "The Trials Of Hoffman" and it's like an opera MADE for comic book nerds! Where you at, Christopher Nolan? Why can't you do for this what you did for Batman! Also, the music is lovely, as you'll see when you listen to the above video.

Can you believe there's still more to come? Well, there is. Come inside and enjoy.

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Tuesday, February 17

The Debunker: Do People Have Five Senses?

by Ken Jennings

In addition to his day job as Woot's full-time "Debunker," Jeopardy! wunderkind Ken Jennings moonlights as an author of books, and this month he has a new one in stores. It's the fifth in his Junior Genius series, this time chock-full of amazing facts about The Human Body. To mark the occasion, he'll spend all of February debunking anatomical anachronisms and medical misinformation for us. Finally: the inside scoop about our own insides.

The Debunker: Do People Have Five Senses?

"There is no sixth sense in addition to the five enumerated: sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch," wrote Aristotle in his landmark work De Anima, or On the Soul. And for the next two thousand years, Western civilization stuck with this view: five senses, period. "Sixth sense" became shorthand for some rare, ephemeral, unclassifiable-by-science gift, like telepathy.

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Monday, February 16

Music Monday: Heartbreak Soul

by Scott Lydon


Happy Music Monday! The holiday season is now official over! Well, until October, at least. So let's purge those sad and lonely feelings from our hearts today so we can get on with enjoying the spring and summer. Scott's got five songs about heartbreak, just to wrap things up on V-Day.

Issac Hayes - Walk On By

 

What really makes this song is the slow, passionate build-up. It's like watching two people have a fight on the other side of a window. You can't hear what they're saying, but you know what's ending. By the time the lyrics start, you just wanna buy poor ol' Issac a beer.

More inside, right after the jump.

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Tuesday, February 10

The Debunker: Is the Heart on the Left Side of Your Body?

by Ken Jennings

In addition to his day job as Woot's full-time "Debunker," Jeopardy! wunderkind Ken Jennings moonlights as an author of books, and this month he has a new one in stores. It's the fifth in his Junior Genius series, this time chock-full of amazing facts about The Human Body. To mark the occasion, he'll spend all of February debunking anatomical anachronisms and medical misinformation for us. Finally: the inside scoop about our own insides.

The Debunker: Is the Heart on the Left Side of Your Body?

With Valentine's Day coming up, we're all more aware than usual that there's no greater mystery than the human heart. But it would probably surprise you how little most people know about their own heart. Including where it even is.

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Tuesday, February 03

The Debunker: Does Lactic Acid Make Your Muscles Tired?

by Ken Jennings

In addition to his day job as Woot's full-time "Debunker," Jeopardy! wunderkind Ken Jennings moonlights as an author of books, and this month he has a new one in stores. It's the fifth in his Junior Genius series, this time chock-full of amazing facts about The Human Body. To mark the occasion, he'll spend all of February debunking anatomical anachronisms and medical misinformation for us. Finally: the inside scoop about our own insides.

The Debunker: Does Lactic Acid Make Your Muscles Tired?

If you ever went to a gym- or a gym class - in the late 20th century, you probably heard this helpful exercise "fact": the reason why muscles get sore and give out, my fifth grade P.E. teacher assured us, is a chemical called lactic acid. Yup, the same stuff that makes sour milk sour and yogurt yogurt-y. It's in the body as well, and when it's produced by active muscles, it eventually causes fatigue and then soreness. Burning, overworked muscles were a sign of lactic acid building up, a warning sign from your body that you need to dial it back a bit.

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Tuesday, January 27

The Debunker: Does the Word "Gringo" Come from Songs of the Mexican-American War?

by Ken Jennings

In January, we stand at the frontier of a new year. Obviously, there's no better month to remember that other mythic uncharted territory, the American frontier of the Old West! In the Western classic The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, a newspaper editor famously says, "This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." But that attitude has led to a lot of frontier lore that's just plain loco. We've asked Jeopardy gunfighter Ken Jennings to separate fact from legend--and print only the facts. Let's see if he can clean up this town.

The Debunker: Does the Word "Gringo" Come from Songs of the Mexican-American War?

Etymology rule of thumb: as well-known stories about word origins become more and more "fun" and improbable, the likelihood that they are true approaches zero. Take the word gringo, a scornful Spanish slang word for anglo types. According to an oft-told story, gringo dates back to the Mexican-American War, when American soldiers were frequently overheard singing marching songs like "Green Grow the Rushes" and "Green Grow the Lilacs." Gringo is actually a corruption of the words "green grow," this theory would have you believe.

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