Three reasons it's not a good idea to directly compare the temperatures of different planets

1. Contrary to what you might have learned from Star Trek and Star Wars, planets do not have a single climate.
So it's not really reasonable to say "Winnipeg is as cold as the surface of Mars", unless you're going to specify where on Mars you are talking about. And when in the Martian year you are talking about it. Geekquinox, the blog that first started the current trend of comparing Canada to the Red Planet, was looking at the afternoon temperature (sans wind chill) in Winnipeg on December 31st (-31 degrees Celsius) and daily temperatures collected in November and December by the Curiosity Rover, at Gale Crater, Mars (lowest afternoon high: -31 degrees Celsius). This comparison leaves out the fact that Gale Crater is in the Martian tropics. In the mid-latitudes, however, the average temperature is closer to -50 degrees Celsius. Also, Mars has huge temperature swings from day to night. On the same day that Geekquinox reported a monthly average high at Gale Crater of -31 C (Sol 486) the monthly average low was -110 C.

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Lonesome George: musical homage to last of a Galapagos tortoise species, from "2012:Mashed"

Rich Fulcher, comedian and writer whom some of you may know from his recurring roles on "The Mighty Boosh," shares this wonderful little musical video from "2012: Mashed," a new show debuting 28 December, 11.40 pm on Channel 4 in the UK.

"It's got some very bizarre and interesting videos on the news topics of 2012," Fulcher explains.

"What's good about the show is it doesn't cull clips from the internet but commissions various artists and internet gurus to do their thing."

The clip shared here, "Lonesome George," is about the last Galapagos tortoise to die, "done retro video game stylee."

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Ai Weiwei’s “Gangnam Style” parody video

Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei covers PSY's viral hit. At WaPo, Max Fisher writes more about the video here. What's with the handcuffs he pulls out about halfway through? This. (thanks, Oxblood!)

Paranormal Activity 4 has been infiltrating all of your social media with secret plot things

Dread Central has been doing a little bit of investigating into the viral campaign being run by Paranormal Activity 4. Accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube apparently belong to a man named Jacob Degloshi from Henderson, Nevada. But appearing in one picture he's shared on Twitter is a young blonde woman named Alex, who happens to be a character (not an actress) in the newest installment of the found-footage franchise. And, Dread Central points out, the pool and the house in one of the videos should look very familiar... I like this expansion on the viral, Blair Witch approach to movie promotion, even though the whole "fact or fiction" element is clearly absent. But similar to The Walking Dead's web videos that go into stories about people who aren't the main characters, this is a cool way to build the mystery. (via Dread Central)

Examining the viral spread of Gangnam Style, through graphs of API calls

Sean Creeley of Embed.ly writes that K-pop star PSY's "Gangnam Style" sensation "created some interesting data on the rise of one of the most viral videos of all time." He shares stats on the "growth of that video over time as it relates to API calls." 

Royce Reed, star of campy-bizarro viral videos: RIP

At Dangerous Minds, our friend and former (frequent) guestblogger Richard Metzger writes about the death of Royce Reed, co-star of the “Royce and Marilyn” viral videos. She passed away last night.

"In 2009, when I was guest-blogger at Boing Boing," he writes, "I helped get the ball rolling on the Royce and Marilyn craze." Indeed he did. His post today on the sad news includes many more videos and links.

Back in 1999, the LA Weekly ran the definitive profile on Royce and her comic partner Marilyn Hoggatt. A great loss to Weird Culture. These women were basically real-life versions of Absolutely Fabulous meets Norma Desmond, shaken up with a little Englebert Humperdinck samba. More great videos here.

Medical aid worker on Kony 2012: "The aid industry has just been Biebered."


(Photo: Joseph Kony, via Reuters)

On his personal blog, Marc DuBois of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors without Borders) writes about the impact of the viral Kony 2012 campaign on the work of long-established humanitarian efforts in Africa.

"Most madmen love the idea of fame, so Joseph Kony’s wet dream just came true," writes DuBois.

Many aid workers are simultaneously offended by the project and jealous of its unprecedented reach. At the time of this blog post, the promotional video for Invisible Children's fundraising/"awareness" campaign about the fugitive African rebel leader has exceeded 70 million views, making it the fastest-growing viral video in internet history.

Snip from DuBois' blog post:

So why, really, are we aid insiders so bothered? It’s the big green monster. Is there another charity whose message has captivated so many so fast? About six months ago, my niece “Lisa” in Chicago excitedly asked me to contribute to Invisible Children. At the time, I’d never heard of it. I poked around. I can’t say I was taken by the cause, but I couldn’t help feeling envious of IC’s having so effectively reached Lisa, usually more interested in dance and boys. These young upstarts at IC are the next big thing. And we aren’t.

Why? Well, for one, they have a simple message that people grasp. For another, good looks. More importantly, Invisible Children has discovered what the entertainment industry figured out a decade ago. It’s not about us old timers. It’s not people who read the Philip Roth or contribute conscientiously to their pension fund. It’s about the under 25s, maybe even the under 15s. It’s about the kids. That’s why there are a couple dozen TV shows about teenage vampires. That’s why we have Jedward.

The aid industry has just been Biebered. IC’s hundreds of thousands of donor / activist – they were invisible to us. Kids. That’s the target and that’s the message. If you think the aid world depends on gray haired HNWIs (High Net Worth Individuals, aka rich folk), wait and see what IC does with its pubescent legions. My advice to the aid industry? First, get over it. Then, get on the boat.

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DuBois isn't speaking for MSF, but I spoke to another MSFer via Twitter today: Avril Benoît, the group's Director of Communications, who pointed me to DuBois' blog post. I asked her if MSF had released an official statement in reaction to the Kony campaign: No. But, she said, "MSF teams in LRA-affected regions of DR Congo, Central African Republic & South Sudan are likely wary of retaliation risks."

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NONONONO Cat

[Video Cat]

Today’s weird animal viral video is, like all great examples of the genre, equal parts funny, creepy, cute, and sad.

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