• Is American invention at risk?

    Comedian, commercial director and documentarian Jordan Brady hosts a great podcast on commercial filmmaking called Respect The Process. He recently interviewed Ryan Berman, Chief Creative Officer for San Diego ad agency I.D.E.A. The interview is a smart casual conversation between old colleagues about the modern advertising agency, the challenges of staying forward-thinking, and keeping your team fresh and energized.

    Late in the podcast (14m30s), the talk turns to Berman's own documentary film on the current state of U.S. patent law, Inventing To Nowhere, which recently screened at SXSW. Though Berman is quick to point out this was a sponsored project for The Innovation Alliance, a tech-industry lobbying group, it is not branded content. The doc is an impassioned plea for inventor protection under whatever patent reform comes from congress.

    The Innovation Alliance website SaveTheInventor.com features a petition declaring:

    …we oppose efforts by some multinational companies in Washington, DC to weaken patents and make it harder for inventors and start-ups like us to live out our dream of creating something and calling it our own. With our ideas, willingness to take risks, and hard work, we have just as much right to succeed as they have.

    On a lighter note: also check out the hilarious PSA Brady directed, Scooter The Neutered Cat which he made for animal protection group GiveThemTen.org

  • Pixar's Renderman released for free

    Pixar has released its Renderman imaging software to the public free to download. This version is identical to the software it uses on it's own films, which was invented in-house, and is used today by major film and video game studios for animation and visual effects. This free license is for non-commercial use only, which includes show reels and student films.

    Free Non-Commercial RenderMan can be used for research, education, evaluation, plug-in development, and any personal projects that do not generate commercial profits. Free Non-Commercial RenderMan is also fully featured, without watermark, time limits, or other user limitations.

    Pixar is also launching a Renderman Community Site to share knowledge and assets, showcase work, and support all the new users bound to take advantage of this unique opportunity.

    (via)

  • Tinker Crate

    Tinker Crate is a monthly subscription service, delivering cool toys to encourage engineering-style skills in kids aged 9 to 14. Instructions are included, but they also produce slick videos like the one above to further engage little minds. Project kits include parts and diagrams to make a trebuchet in one month, and a simple motor the next.

    The site doesn't list more projects than that, but since they're offering subscriptions up to 12 months, we'll just have to sign up and be surprised. (more…)

  • Kosha Dillz Passover Playlist

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    Passover is coming! To get you into the mood for matzoh, America's latest cool Jew—rapper Kosha Dillz—(SoundCloud) has a Passover playlist to rock your noggin.

    This is not a musical rendition of the ten commandments or the seven plagues, but it covers the old testament with old school rap from Blood of Abraham, HAIM, Ari Lesser, of course The Beastie Boys; and the most Jewish rapper of them all, Matisyahu.

    Here is Kosha Dillz Passover Playlist, annotated and compiled for last spring's Village Voice.

    Also, my mother would like to remind you that Passover 2015 begins the evening of Friday, April 3.

  • Little League star Mo'Ne Davis pitches for change

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    One of the biggest baseball stories of 2014 was made by Philadelphia Little League pitcher Mo'Ne Davis, whose no-hitter in the Little League World Series made history.

    Now Because I Am A Girl is the non-profit she has partnered with whose mission is

    "to break the cycle of poverty and gender discrimination. Plan is a global movement for change, mobilizing millions of people around the world to support social justice for children in developing countries."

    Davis is lending her name and her creativity to design and promote some very cool kicks by M4D3 currently available for Pre-Order. The shoe line currently has three designs, all with a distinctive baseball stitching design, available in womens and kids sizes. (more…)

  • "Nosefrida the Snotsucker" reminds us babies are gross


    I have two kids, so like all parents, I've been through some gross moments. Still, the all-natural baby decongestant Nosefrida the snotsucker brings out the giggling 15 year old in me. The picture tells the story: mom holds baby down like a prisoner and with one end of the tube in her mouth (or in my family, Dad), and the chamber tip firmly pressed onto bambino's schnozz, and snot is sucked. "Of course" product devotees will tell you, "it doesn't go up the tube, it gets captured in the chamber!!" But still. But still. (more…)

  • Mozart, but with more Klingons

    If Mozart had thought to populate The Abduction from The Seraglio with Vulcans and Klingons, he most certainly would have.

    Instead, this adaptation was left to Josh Shaw, Artistic Director of the Pacific Opera Project (POP). Their production of The Abduction premiered at the Southern Illinois Music Festival, and had a short run in the Los Angeles area.

    I did not get a chance to see it, but this review made me wish I had.

    POP has translated that German "libretto," or text, into English. And moved the harem to planet M113. And the Turkish Pasha? A Klingon Warlord. Don't question it. The results are strangely glorious. And whether you are a rabid Star Trek fan or just versed enough to get by in pop culture, this zany and pitch-perfect opera triumphs in pure laugh-out-loud hilarity.

    Opera is becoming harder and harder to sell, but the love for classic Star Trek is not dead. The production brings to mind the fan-made series Star Trek Continues, a fan-made passion project that feels to me like Waiting for Guffman in space; and another fan-made series, the even more impressive Star Trek Phase II, whose New Voyages is looking very snappy.

  • Paul Dini's cyber garage sale

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    Paul Dini is having a garage sale, and you're invited. No, it's not for charity, and these are not big ticket items, it's just, in his words, "Original art, collectibles, One-of-a-kind pieces, animation memorabilia, costumes, and generic crap I don't want to pay storage fees on anymore." It's his collection of mostly unopened toys and action figures; but to geeks, these are Paul Dini's toys! Dini is somewhat of a towering figure in the superhero world for his work as a animation and comic book writer and creator. In addition to being part of the core team of writers on Lost, he is a five-time Emmy award winner, as well as the Eisner award, Harvey Award and several Annie Awards. Now his toys can be yours!

    Paul Dini's Cyber Garage Sale

  • Relaxing with scientists

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    When the Congressional Science committee wants to talk about the cold weather, and when NASA has to defend their budget by explaining why NASA is important, it can make people who believe in facts… a bit tense. (more…)

  • Paddy Hirsch for St. Paddy's day

    The internet is aflood with gratuitous St. Paddy's Irish-ness, so why fight it? My favorite Irishman, who knows where the pots of gold are, is Paddy Hirsch, Senior Producer of Marketplace Radio, by American Public Media. Hirsch is not only the author of the very accessible book, Man vs Markets, Economics Explained, Plain and Simple, he also hosts a series of explainer videos on his YouTube channel.

    Like your favorite teacher, he can teach about the complicated levers of our everyday economy, without you feeling like a dunce. He describes the bad news and hard choices of our time with a winking sense of humor, funny doodles, and a winning Irish brogue. He knows his stuff.

    It's like sitting down with your smarter friend and learning things you probably ought to know. He refers to himself as "your mate Paddy Hirsch," and typically signs off his discussions of often sour-tasting topics like dark pools, toxic assets and quantitative easing with some reference to grabbing a drink, just like you would with your mate.