Star-studded NASA PSAs

11-Dec-12 1:33 PM by
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It's my policy to not express political opinions in any public online venue, but I suspect readers of this blog will agree: NASA is underappreciated. The United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration is one of the most advanced, intelligent, resourceful, and reliable agencies our government has. In the past year, it launched a Mars rover on a nine-month space journey, navigated it through seven minutes of terror, and successfully landed it within 1.5 miles of its intended target. The event was documented through an incredibly savvy Twitter account and a professional, informative, and dramatic video:

Yet the right people don't seem to appreciate these astonishing accomplishments. NASA knows that to reach the stars, they're going to need some star power — so they've recruited some celebrities to help get the word out.

In a recent series of public service announcements (PSAs), pop culture stars such as June Lockhart, Norah Jones, and Alex Trebek. Of course, you can't hope to trek across the stars without acknowledging the icons who have been there. Here's a PSA with Wil Wheaton:


Who's a Geek?

01-Jul-09 1:30 PM by
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Earlier this week, John Hodgman, perhaps best known as the PC from Apple's "Get a Mac" ads, spoke at the annual Radio & TV Correspondents' Dinner, with President Obama in attendance:

Though the USA's current presidential administration does seem to be more science-oriented than its predecessor, the correlation between that and the President's own geeky nature and background is oft overlooked.

Barack the BarbarianObama's familiarity with Superman's legacy is evident not only in the picture Hodgman presented, but also when Obama roasted McCain some months ago. The President has since appeared in several comics of his own, including not only Spider-Man, but also an original title that segues perfectly with Hodgman's slideshow.

However, as proud as I am to have a geek president, I think we need to consider the image that Hodgman reinforced. It was just a decade or two ago that geeks were shoved into lockers, had sand kicked in their face, and never, ever got the girl. To hear Hodgman speak, those days are still with us, and the lines are still sharply delineated as the jocks-and-geeks war rages on.

In reality, as society becomes more technologically dependent, the geeks are inheriting the earth. Those who know how to use Twitter aren't just sharing lolcats; they're helping the Iranian revolution. Playing video games does not make us geeks; that activity has gone mainstream. Some of us would just as soon go for a 150-mile bike ride as we would watch Star Trek.

So if not the classic stereotypes of yesterday, and not the extremes that Hodgman parodied, then what defines the modern geek?

For that, I'll let geeks speak for themselves:

My Secret Identity

25-Oct-07 2:22 PM by
Filed under Celebrities; 1 comment.

Angela Gunn is proving quite the sleuth at revealing the unpublicized lives of the stars. First she found a list of 66 celebrities who blog (ever wonder what Jamie Lee Curtis, John Cusack, and Jeff Bridges have to say that's [supposedly] unscripted?). Now she's dug up their resumes to reveal their inner nerds — that is, "celebrities who work at traditional artistic pursuits to make their way in the world, but have been known to kick back with a little astrophysics or microbiology in their spare time."

The list is a good balance of the expected and the surprising. Masi Oka, Wil Wheaton, and Bill Nye we already know about — but Dolph Lundgren? Rowan Atkinson? Lisa Kudrow? You have to be kidding me. I don't know whether to be impressed by these geeks' intellectual genius, or by them defying stereotypes and playing characters completely antipodal to their nature. (By contrast, my acting self receives daily audition notices for the fifth season of Beauty and the Geek.)

Excellent job, Ms. Gunn, for this fun and insightful piece (my contributions to which — Drake Hogestyn and Natalie Portman — reveal perhaps more about ME than I'd like…).  In a culture where "heroes" are often such for all the wrong reasons, it's nice to have admirable reasons to respect these stars.