The Mountain Goats is one of those bands that has been around seemingly forever, creating a steady stream of great music year after year. I discovered them about fifteen years ago when a friend recommended their album, “We Shall All Be Healed”.
That same year they released “The Sunset Tree” which includes one of my favorite songs of all time (from any performer), “This Year”. It’s a surprisingly upbeat tune in which the singer declares his intention to escape an abusive home environment.
There’s much to like about Stephen Cobert’s Late Show that debutedÂ last September, starting with the opening credits. The visuals are hard to describe, a video flyover of New York scenes, modified using techniques that make the imagesÂ look like a combination of miniatures and a color saturated drawing, slightly out of focus at the edges to give a dream-like feeling.
Many differentÂ inexpensive and free image editing programsÂ allow amateurs like me to play with the technique (like one of myÂ pretty lame attempts at the right) but it takes real artistry to create the 45 seconds that open Colbert’s program every night.
Now the show has released a longer, “director’s cut” version of the opening videoÂ 1I’d embed the video here but CBS is rather old school and doesn’t believe in sharing. with about 90 secondsÂ of unreleased footage. As a bonus, it’s backed by the full version of the show’s wonderful jazz-funk musical theme. Go. Watch. Enjoy.
YouTube hosts a wonderful gem in which Stephen Colbert* interviews Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Director of the Hayden Planetarium and in the same class as Carl Sagan when it comes to explaining complex science topics to a general audience. The result is a smart, funny, and very entertaining discussion.
They cover a variety of topics but I especially love Tyson’s assessment of our academic system.
Our academic system rewards people who know a lot of stuff, and generally we call those people “smart”. But at the end of the day, who do you want, the person who can figure stuff out that they’ve never seen before, or the person who can rattle off a bunch of facts? At the end of the day, I want the person who can figure stuff out.
During the audience questions, someone asks about how he would improve the scientific literacy of American society. His answer includes the advice that parents need to allow and encourage their children to experiment and explore the world around them, even if it does get a little messy at times.
In the schools, I don’t have a problem with the fact memorizing, but don’t equate that with what it is to be wise or what it is to be smart. Smart should be some combination of facts, yes, but also what is your lens on the world? How do you figure things out? You promote that by stimulating curiosity. Â I don’t see enough stimulating curiosity in this world.
The whole thing (from January 2010) is well worth an hour or so of your time. Watch.