In which John Green teaches you a little bit about drought, which is a natural weather phenomenon, and famine, which is almost always the result of human activity. Throughout human history, when food shortages strike humanity, there was food around. There was just a failure to connect those people with the food that would keep them alive. There are a lot of reasons that food distribution breaks down, and John is going to teach you about them in the context of the late-19th century famines that struck British India.
In which we meet Brooklyn-based artist Nina Katchadourian in Lawrence, Kansas, at the former home of American writer William S. Burroughs (1914 - 1997). Nina takes us on her journey of sorting Burroughs’s book collection and challenges you to sort some books yourself!
Episode 13 Instructions:
1. Choose a person you know or would like to know better
2. Take a look at/through their library
3. Make 3 stacks of books to develop a portrait of the person
4. Upload it to your social media platform of choice using #theartassignment
5. Fame and glory (your work might be featured in a future episode)
And don’t forget to check out the rest of Nina’s Kansas Cut-Up series. They’re all great, and we only showed you a few.
Special thanks to The Lawrence Art Center, William Burroughs Communications, Yuri Zupancic, and Tom King, for the assistance in making Nina’s project and this episode happen.
This week’s episode of Mental Floss was written and hosted by me! (Sorry for stealing your job, fishingboatproceeds.)
Intern Paige did a wonderful job hosting mental floss. She’s funnier than me and also smarter, and should probably just be the new host, except that she has to go to college.
The Nerdfighter Online Video Workshop
There are three important ingredients to a good video…the writing, the performance, and the editing. Now, of course, lots of videos have those things blend together…sometimes I write while I film and sometimes while I edit (deciding to put stuff on screen or cut things (cutting is a huge part of writing) or even to go back and shoot something new.)
But while I once upon a time showed you a video of me editing…I’ve never shared anything about my writing process or my shooting process. So I’m gonna open the book as part of a larger project. Let’s call it the Nerdfighter Online Video Workshop.
It comes in three parts:
Check out the prompts (and guide) on my WattPad, here. Write scripts and share them on WattPad using the appropriate tags. Whether or not you are writing in the workshop, feel free to thoughtfully and conscientiously critique submissions (which you can find by searching for the appropriate tags) using WattPad comments.
- A long boring video of me writing a script
- A bunch of Vlogbrothers and SciShow scripts
- The prompts at WattPad
- Other People’s scripts
Check out the scripts (particularly the unpublished Vlogbrothers and SciShow scripts) and film (and ideally edit) your performance. Of course we understand that your software and hardware aren’t necessarily going to be top notch. Phone videos encouraged! Upload your video and name it “NOVW PERFORMANCE VIDEO *USERNAME*” with your username in place of *USERNAME*.
Whether or not you are making a video for the workshop feel free to search YouTube for “NOVW PERFORMANCE VIDEO” and thoughtfully and conscientiously critique performances.
- A video of me unedited…so you can see that vloggers don’t just rattle off their scripts perfectly the first time.
- Various Vlogbrothers and SciShow scripts
- Other People’s Performances
Download this unedited Vlogbrothers video (there are lots of ways to download YouTube videos, this one works well for me), edit it however you want…do literally whatever you want to it, and then upload it with the title “EDITEDCOMMENTSVIDEO *USERNAME*” where *USERNAME* is your username.
Whether or not you are uploading an edited video, feel free to search for videos in the editing workshop and thoughtfully and conscientiously critique them.
Yes, I will be looking at this stuff…though probably not for a while because I’m going to be traveling a bit over the next week or two (or three). I’m very excited to see what comes of this. Please be helpful and thoughtful and encouraging to each other. I hope this is interesting and useful to you (and also to me.)
Also, tag all related content novw here on Tumblr or on YouTube or Twitter or wherever.
In which John Green teaches you about the Little Ice Age. The Little Ice Age was a period of global cooling that occurred from the 13th to the 19th centuries. This cooling was likely caused by a number of factors, including unusual solar activity and volcanic eruptions. The Little Ice Age greatly impacted human social orders, especially during the 17th century. When the climate changed, and weather became unpredictable, the world changed profoundly. Poor harvests led to hunger, which led to even less productivity, which even resulted in violent upheaval in a lot of places. All this from a little change in the temperature? Definitely.
This week’s theartassignment kicks off Book Club with Dave Hickey’s “Air Guitar: Essays on Art & Democracy.” We discuss everything from John geeking out in a library to Michael Jackson’s chimpanzee - Bubbles. Oh, and we discuss the book a little too.
So fun just to talk with my wife about art we love (and a book we both loved).
The Brain Scoop:
Sharks Sharks Sharks & More Sharks
I think it’s safe to say most people conjure up a picture of the great white when they think of sharks as a whole, which is a total shame since there are more than 440 known and described species of sharks and the diversity of those is impressive to say the least.
There are 12 living Orders of sharks, cartilaginous fish that fall into the subclass Elasmobranchii. Some sharks have beards. Some sharks are electric. Some have poisonous skin. And they are all 100% awesome.
Check out our last video from five consecutive calendar days dedicated to cartilaginous fishes - we hope you enjoyed the inundation of videos last week, and that our 19 minutes of programming proved to be a good alternative to sensationalism and mistruths.
I hope Rosianna will forgive me posting this video she made six years ago after meeting Hank and me for the first time.
Today, Rosianna Rojas is my close friend and colleague. (She is often called my assistant, but she does many things—from project management to helping shape the strategic direction of our educational and charity projects.)
And six years ago, when we met for the first time, she was a self-described fangirl.
This term has become pejorative—fangirls are dismissed for their over-the-top enthusiasm; they are described as rabid and obsessive and ridiculed for screaming/shaking/crying.
As pointed out in this great post by Emily, there’s a lot of misogyny involved in this way of imagining teenage girls and their interests. The truth is, many of the brightest and most enthusiastic young people today are fangirls, and if you’re a creator with those viewers/readers/whatever, you’re lucky as hell to have them. It’s not just that they’ll grow up to do important and fascinating work; they’re doing that work now, online and off, creating art and community and nonprofit initiatives and much else.
So Rosianna, on your birthday: Thank you. Thank you for watching vlogbrothers starting on January 1, 2007. Thank you for sharing your talents with the nerdfighter community all these years. Thank you for your professionalism and wit and unironic enthusiasm. I am your biggest fan.
I hear that it’s RESULTS DAY tomorrow. I have a video for that. I hope it helps
Lex gives us all great advice about what happens when a world ends.
Let us now discuss Ebola, meningitis, public health, and western-centrism.
I am recovering from meningitis but still a long way from feeling back to my regular self. I hope to be fully recovered in the next couple weeks, but between now and then I’ll be a bit less active than usual online.