Tag Archives: Mental Floss

Sheldon Cooper Presents “Fun With Flags”: A YouTube Series of Podcasts

The other day I happened to be eating lunch and staring off out the window. While that may not seem important, it is. Most of the time, I like to be reading or doing something, while I’m eating. I completely understand that it’s probably better to not do this, but I often can’t help myself. Anyway, as I was sitting and just eating, an idea came to me. (Don’t you find that ideas come to you when you’re not thinking about them?) The idea, as the title of this post suggests, a web series from one of The Big Bang Theory’s main cast members: Sheldon Cooper.

I don’t know if you’ve seen the show (it’s quite funny), but a few times throughout the six seasons, Dr. Sheldon Cooper has led us on a journey through the wonderful world of vexillology: “scientific study of the history, symbolism and usage of flags or, by extension, any interest in flags in general.” Sheldon’s generally a pretty funny guy (not on purpose, that is, on purpose by the writers, but not by the character himself), so when he does these short podcasts on flags, it certainly provides a laugh or two. To date, there have been 5 instances of “Fun With Flags.”

In the first podcast, Sheldon and his, at the time, “girl who’s a friend, but is not my girlfriend,” Amy Farrah Fowler, introduce us to vexillology and tell us a bit about Oregon’s state flag.

Every time I watch this one, when Sheldon asks Amy about the white flag, I can’t help but laugh… “I’m submitting… to fun.”

In the second podcast, we learn about Bavaria.

In the third podcast, we learn a little bit about flags in Star Trek with Wil Wheaton.

In the fourth podcast, LeVar Burton replaces Wil Wheaton in attempting to teach us about flags in Star Trek.

In the fifth podcast, Penny (Sheldon’s across-the-hall neighbour),  helps teach us about Nebraska’s state flag.

The idea is that these podcasts could actually become an online series that supplements the show. They wouldn’t necessarily have to be every week or even every other week. The idea is that Dr. Sheldon Cooper could teach us about flags. This could be a big boon for CBS and The Big Bang Theory as I can’t imagine it not being a hit with fans of the show. Plus, there’s the whole social media aspect to it. That is, these clips would undoubtedly be shared vehemently across many networks.

Maybe I’m way off, but my guess is that this could really be a creative way for the show to engage viewers on a medium other than the TV. There could even be “special guests” (i.e. other cast members or noted vexillologists [are there any?]).

If you’re an executive at CBS and you’re reading this, I’d encourage you to get the marketing team on this and see if they think that there are enough people to warrant this kind of endeavour. I understand that there’d still be some cost to it (paying Jim Parsons, the film crew, the editing team, etc.), but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’d be profitable.

~

For those of you who think that I may be a bit biased because I like these online learning formats (John Green, Hank Green, ASAPScience, Michael Sandel, etc.), I’d encourage you to take a look at some of the number of followers of these accounts. The Crash Course has almost 1,000,000 subscribers. AsapSCIENCE has almost 1.5 million subscribers. MinutePhysics has almost 2 million subscribers. Consistently, the videos that these users upload obtain views in the hundreds of thousands.

One final note — Mental Floss. They’ve, in a sense, tested the market as they already have a “Fun With Flags” kind of series. They’re up to episode 17. Here’s a link to the first.

 

Can There Be Too Much of a Good Thing?

Earlier today, I saw a tweet from Mental Floss about the home run derby. In fact, it wasn’t about the home run derby that happens the day before the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, no, it was about the home run derby TV show from back in the 1960s. After being reminded of the home run derby from the 60s, I wondered, can there be too much of a good thing?

My first thought is, no! I love the home run derby, as do many other baseball fans. It’s a fantastical display of ability by some of the greater sluggers. There’ve been quite a few memorably home run derbies. There was Cal Ripken, Jr. in 1991. He hit 7 more HRs than the second place hitter. This was particularly memorable for me because it took place in Toronto (my hometown). There was also Josh Hamilton from 2008 when he broke the record for most HRs in one round, but went on to lose the home run derby. There was also Ken Griffey, Jr. in the last 90s. He won back-to-back home run derbies in 1998 and 1999. He still has one of the sweetest swings in the history of the game.

Then, as I thought more about it, maybe seeing the home run derby once a week would begin to take some of the shine off of the event. Maybe if the home run derby happened once a week, we wouldn’t have the once a year, mid-summer classic, to look forward to for the display of towering home runs.

Thinking about this also made me think about the slam dunk contest. It’s one of my favorite parts about the NBA all-star game. Watching the creativity of some of the best “slam dunkers” is really entertaining. If there were a slam dunk contest every week, would that be too much?

Other than actually producing the show, there’d be no way to know (for sure). If I had to hazard a guess, my guess is that it would be too much. Part of the fun of the home run derby and the slam dunk contest is that it only happens once a year. The amazing feats of ability are rare (at least in their display in this context). And that rarity also adds to the fun of the event. We know that at the end of the night, we won’t be seeing the feats again for another year.

50 Common Misquotations, but no Howard Thurman

Mental Floss, Mental Floss List Show, Mental Floss YouTube, Mental Floss Salon, Mental Floss Screen Shot, If you follow my Facebook page, you certainly know that I like quotes. For the last 200 days or so, I’ve shared a quote of the day. Sometimes, two! I’ve also written about quotes here on the site. So, when I saw that Mental Floss‘s latest list video was about misquotations, I was pretty stoked!

Most of the quotes in the video I had heard of and knew that they were misattributed, but there were a few surprises. Most of all, I was disappointed not to see one of the quotes that I’ve written about before on the list. I understand that there are lots of misattributions with regard to quotes and 50 is only a small sample, but I really had hoped to see it in there — because it’s a good one! Watch the video and afterwards, I’ll remind you of the quote to which I’m referring.

There are some really good quotes in there, don’t you think? I’d be interested to hear which one’s your favorite — let me know by leaving a comment.

Anyway, the quote that I wanted to see in there:

Do not ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

It’s often attributed to Harold Thurman Whitman (which isn’t actually a person). My guess is it’s some amalgamation with Walt Whitman and the real author of the quote: Howard Thurman. I wrote more about the quote a couple of years ago.

 

Protection from Nuclear War: Look to the Cockroaches

Yesterday, I saw a post from Mental Floss about whether or not cockroaches would be able to survive a nuclear war. That is, not whether or not the cockroaches would put up a fight in a nuclear war, but whether or not they would survive the radiation from a nuclear war that happened where they existed.

The post cited research done by MythBusters that concluded cockroaches have a much higher tolerance for radiation.

Does anyone else see an opportunity for innovation here?

If I were a scientist, (aside from ethical conundrum), I might be interested in seeing how much radiation cockroaches could withstand before it affects their ability to function. Why? Because then I would want to study what it is about the cockroaches that allows them to withstand such radiation. Then, I’d want to see if I could design some sort of protection for humans. To be fair, it’d be very hard to get this to pass through any kind of Institutional Review Board (IRB). That is, the IRB would probably balk at any kind of research where humans were being used to test the strength of some kind of cockroach shield. Though, I imagine that scientists might be able to work around this by using human cells in the lab, right?