Space is Super Cool

The Dude has always been a lover of space. The infinite, unknown is very cool. Limitless opportunity.

A quick glance up, and you realize quickly how small we are and how little we know.

Mi padre was a stargazer and took the time to share constellations and rad stellar events as we were growing up. NASA was also a big deal for a long time (what happened to that?!), so space was a regular topic of discussion.

It seems the allure of space has faded a bit these days. Perhaps because our heads are stuck looking down at technology so much.

But space still dazzles the Dude. I love to gaze up at the stars and point out constellations to the kiddos. It doesn’t get much better than a fire-pit  a few brews, and some gazing towards the heavens.

With that in mind, let’s take a few minutos to enjoy some space…

Google Presents an Interactive Visualization of 100,000 Stars: Google may be spying on our every move, but they sure do offer some cool tricks. 

 One Hundred Thousand Stars  is an interactive map of space including the locations of—you guessed it—more than 100,000 stars. (Note: Before you experience the map, you will need to download the Chrome browser.)

Read the full description at It’s worth the read…space is crazy cool!


An Astronaut Self-portrait: How cool is this?!

This awe-inspiring self portrait brings into one frame “the Sun, the Earth, two portions of a robotic arm, an astronaut’s spacesuit, the deep darkness of space, and the unusual camera taking the picture.” – Hat tip to

Astronaut Self-portrait

Astronaut Self-portrait

The Universe & a Brain: And if that wasn’t enough space radness, it seems the Universe is growing like a giant brain. Nature is awesome.

A team of scientists from University of California San Diego recently published a study in Nature Scientific Reports suggesting that the bioelectrical firings between brain cells mirror the shape of expanding galaxies. – Gracias

Cultivate Awe

Hubble Telescope "Cat's Eye" Nebula

Hubble Telescope “Cat’s Eye” Nebula

Are we becoming harder to impress? Harder to fall into states of awe?

I guess technology has the potential to do this to us. As we advance, the ‘awe’someness that once was becomes mundane. We carry computers/TV’s/cameras in our pockets, we’ve been to the moon, we’ve looked into the far reaches of space.

But should we be any less moved by life today than we have in the past? At its core, life is still a complete mystery and amazingly ‘awe’some.

As the great Walt Whitman once said:

“As for me, I know nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under the trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love,
Or sleep in bed at night with any one I love,
Or watch honey bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon…
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown,
Or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring…
What stranger miracles are there?”

Life is awesome and we need to treat each and every second as the miracle that it is. We live at an amazing point in history when the advancements seem exponential. Growth is speeding along, but we should not let this numb us to the awe.

In fact, it is in the best interest of our minds, our spirit, and our health to cultivate awe as much as we possibly can.

The title of a new Stanford study tells us all we need to know: Awe Expands People’s Perception of Time, Alters Decision Making, and Enhances Well-Being.

Apparently, watching awe-inspiring vidoes makes you

  • less impatient,
  • more willing to volunteer time to help others,
  • more likely to prefer experiences over material products,
  • more present in the here and now, and
  • happier overall.

We all need to cultivate awe, and to get us started, here’s a great video about “The Biological Advantage of Being Awestruck” from Jason Silva.

I mentioned Jason in a post earlier this year. This dude is RAD. He is out there in such a great way. Will all of his ideas come true? Who cares? He’s making us think with his “shots of philosophic esspresso,” and the Dude digs. Keep on preaching Jason.


Hofstadter’s Law: Why the Dude’s Projects Always Take Longer Than Planned

Douglas Hofstadter

Douglas Hofstadter

The Dude has been on a slow blog roll for a couple weeks.

A week or so ago I mentioned that Mrs. Dude has me working a 2nd job as a painter, and the sun room painting project has been consuming my extra time. Hence the slow blog roll.

In that post I said, “We should be able to drop the brushes soon and get back to life without painting.” Nice and vague Dude, good work.

I didn’t anticipate this lack of commitment to a deadline and getting “back to life without painting” would still be dragging on almost two weeks later!

Why do Dude projects always take longer than expected?!

Turns out I have an answer to this question. Hofstadter’s Law.

Hofstadter’s law, conceived by the cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter, goes like this: any task you’re planning to complete will always take longer than expected – even when Hofstadter’s law is taken into account.

Yep, sounds like every project the Dude takes on.

Here’s a quick read about Hofstadter’s Law from the Guardian. It’s worth 5 minutes to read (although, I’m sure I’m underestimating how long it will take :)), but I’ll pull out a couple quotes I dig…

  • How to get around Hofstadter’s Law? – The unlikely trick is to plan in less detail: avoid considering the specifics and simply ask yourself how long it’s taken to do roughly similar things before. ‘You’ll get back an answer that sounds hideously long, and clearly reflects no understanding of the special reasons why this task will take less time. This answer is true. Deal with it’
  • Better yet, where possible, avoid planning altogether. Use the “ready, fire, aim” approach, and correct course as you go along.
  • Sometimes, the secret to getting things done is just to do them.

So, as I spend my kid-free Saturday inside painting rather than enjoying the summer sun, I’ll keep Mr. Hofstadter’s Law firmly in my mind to help me remain realistic.

I’m going to finish today – says the painter who will finish sometime next week…maybe. 🙂

PS – The image included here is from an article/interview Hofstadter had in Wired magazine…also worth a quick read. This Hofstadter dude seems like a cool cat.

Indeed, A Small Group Can Change the World!

Small Group = Change

Small Group = Change

The other day I posted a video of a 12 year old dropping some serious knowledge about how The Man is hosing us with an economic/banking/big-business system that is clearly broken. The video is well worth the 6 minutes it takes for Ms. Grant to break it down to terms even a 12 year old can understand.

The end of the video closed with a vote by Margaret Mead…

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

And now there seems to be evidence that Ms. Mead is right on. A recent study from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute demonstrates that the tipping point for spread of ideas is 10%.

10%! That’s amazing. We can change the world with a 10% consensus. Think about that.

Now, the Dude’s padre is a statistics professor who continually reminds anyone who will listen that many studies are not performed well, and the results are questionable. So, we should take this study with a grain of salt, but it’s interesting none-the-less. And if it is even remotely accurate, there are far-reaching implications for the ability to make significant changes to the world we live in. By the way, RPI is a pretty reputable school.

Here are a couple impressive quotes from the researchers/studies:

  • “When just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society.”
  • One of the researchers observed, “When the number of committed opinion holders is below 10 percent, there is no visible progress in the spread of ideas. It would literally take the amount of time comparable to the age of the universe for this size group to reach the majority. Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame.”

Thanks to Tom Woods for sharing.

Physics Can Blow a Dude’s Mind

The Elegant Universe

The Elegant Universe

A few years ago I read The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene. It’s a dizzying explanation of string theory and quantum physics.

Back then, the internet was just taking off, and TED wasn’t pumping out 20 minute videos on YouTube about dizzying ideas. Now we can learn what took me a few weeks to muscle through in a matter of minutes.

The internet is awesome.

Here’s a great video of Brian Greene diving into some awesome ideas about physics, the Multi-verse, string theory, the future of cosmology, and why our Universe is perfect for us.  If you’re into science that sounds like science-fiction, you’ll dig this.


The Future is Amazing…According to Jason Silva

Have you heard of Jason Silva? Odds are you haven’t. This dude is out there…in an awesome way.

He’s a “performance philosopher” that is spreading some crazy, but great, ideas about what the future holds. And some mainstream publications are listening. Here’s a lengthy article from The Atlantic, and below is a video of a talk he did for The Economist.

Both are filled with wild ideas about the exponential growth and potential that we have as a planet.

Silva merges ideas from a lot of varied areas, and the majority of his thoughts center around the rapid advancement of technology, which in his mind seems to lead us to merging with technology. A singularity.

A technological singularity is not a new idea, but Jason’s fast-talking approach to “performance philosophy” is captivating. And while he just scratches the surface on all of the ideas he puts out there, it’s intriguing, and he paints a positive perspective of the world…which is nice to see these days.

It could be 90% BS, and all areas require additional research and contemplation, but this dude’s worth watching. If for no other reason than he can help us get excited about the lives we’re living and the potential we all have…whatever that means.

I haven’t made it through all of Jason’s “philosophical espresso” on his Vimeo channel, but the Dude will definitely be tuning in for some more wild ideas.



Dude’s News: The Holiday Edition

Passed Thanksgiving and fast on the way to Christmas. How does time move so quickly? The older we get the faster it moves? Or do kids do that to us? It’s hard to keep track of what’s going on in the chaotic circle of the Dudes.

As a result of the fast gallop that life is taking into the future, the Dude has once again accumulated some tasty morsels of internet sweetness. This edition of Dude’s News will be a bit of a potpourri, but there will be some holiday tinged items to keep us festive.

Local News

The resident photographer was out at a meeting the other night, so the Dude got to enjoy a solo dinner with the kiddos. Dinner conversation with the kids is always fun. The Princess generally leads the way.

Princess: I don’t like sweet potatoes. I don’t like sweets.

Dude: Sweet potatoes aren’t that sweet.

After a minute of contemplation. Princess: I like candy. It’s a type of sweet.

This exchange is followed immediately by, Princess: But I don’t want dessert tonight.

Dude: Ok.

Princess: Mom gave me a consequence this afternoon; no dessert. But I’m all right with it. Mom gave me a choice – tv or dessert – and I chose dessert. I felt like telling the truth would be better because later you would have said, Princess why didn’t you tell the truth?

She’s right, I would have. I congratulated her on telling the truth, and we talked about what happened while we finished dinner.

As I was clearing the table, Princess: But Mom said I could choose not to sleep in my bed, and that’s what I chose. I’ll just have to sleep in the bean bag.

Dude: No, that’s a punishment for us dealing with a tired version of you tomorrow.

She’s crafty, just like her mother.

In other local news, Princess finally has a loose tooth! Hasn’t fallen out yet, but it’s on the way. And, the boy’s hair is growing fast and furious. We are officially passed the one year mark (Thanksgiving) since his last haircut. Awesome.

Evolution of a Crazy Man

Evolution of a Crazy Man

Say It Ain’t So
Is the U.S. government seriously considering pizza as a vegetable?! For real?! This is some sort of bizzarro world, right? House of Representatives say pizza = vegetable. 🙁

 11 Best Illustrated Children’s & Picture Books of 2011
Unfortunately, I can’t say that I’ve read all (or any) of these books, but they all seem pretty dope, so I figured I’d share.

Street Skiing
When I grew up, we use to drive six hours to Upstate New York for a week long ski vacation each year. We had friends that lived in NY, so it was a good excuse to visit and enjoy a week of skiing at the local mountain.

This dates me a bit, but snowboarding wasn’t even really an option at that point. It was skiing or nothing. By the time I hit college, I traded in the skies for a snowboard, and I never really looked back. Skiing seemed dated to me.

But skiing has regained much of its coolness over the years, and this video actually made me envy skiers again. Thanks Kottke.


Super rad, right? But back to my original point. Long distance family road trips. Awesome…in a grueling way.

We took a trip to West Virginia for Thanksgiving. It was a great time in the mountains with family, but the seven hour car ride was a bit challenging. Anytime with two adults, two children, three dogs, plus luggage, locked in a vehicle for seven hours is going to be tough. Now mix in some puke, and you have a legendary (or is it normal?) family road trip.

The Princess got sick about five minutes after we entered the car for the ride home. She handled it like a champ, and there was no sign of sickness the next day. Made for a brutal trip, but glad it passed quickly.

Good times.

Free education…that’s fun?! Can’t be. But it is. Check out this awesome site ( that is so simple, but such an amazing idea.

Over the years, I’ve realized how important – and cool – math really is, but figured I squandered my opportunities in school to truly understand it. Strange considering my Dad is a math professor. But Khan Academy has given me the gift of free math tutoring that is easy and fun…for real. And although they (really just he) started with math, there are all sorts of new topics coming online.

Here’s how the site describes itself:

Watch. Practice.
Learn almost anything for free.
With a library of over 2,700 videos covering everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and 253 practice exerciseswe’re on a mission to help you learn what you want, when you want, at your own pace.

The Dude is a big fan of education. Not necessarily “formal education,” but learning in general. It’s fun to learn new things, and beyond love, it’s probably the most important aspect of life. So we is that we start to learn?

How about before we’re born?! Sweet! This is a cool TED talk


Surf Break
Everyone needs a little surf in their life. Here’s your dose for today with a surfer with one of the coolest names, Taj. (Thanks Kid)


Christmas List!
For all of those hard to shop for little dudes and dudettes, here is the Dude’s absolutely favorite list of the 5 Best Toys of All Time from Wired Magazine.

If you know Wired, you’re probably expecting some sweet technical gadgets, but be prepared to be amazed by simplicity. Love it.

In the first edition of Dude’s News I mentioned an article that discusses that early humans (as in 100,000 year old humans) were intelligent enough to seek out and mix materials to create paint for cave art. Very impressive.

Along the same lines, here’s an article that suggests that humans 42,000 years ago had enough “high levels of planning and complex maritime technology” to go deep sea fishing for tuna! Unreal. Our educational system teaches us about the last one to two thousand years, and the way we learn it makes it seem like there isn’t much to learn beyond that. Seems like there was a whole lotta life going on before our current frame of reference.

Awesome article. Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Time. Time is a amazing.

Here’s a sneak peek at #10:
10. A lifespan is a billion heartbeats. Complex organisms die. Sad though it is in individual cases, it’s a necessary part of the bigger picture; life pushes out the old to make way for the new. Remarkably, there exist simple scaling laws relating animal metabolism to body mass. Larger animals live longer; but they also metabolize slower, as manifested in slower heart rates. These effects cancel out, so that animals from shrews to blue whales have lifespans with just about equal number of heartbeats — about one and a half billion, if you simply must be precise. In that very real sense, all animal species experience “the same amount of time.” At least, until we master #9 and become immortal.

Make sure to enjoy all one and a half billion beats!

University of California, Berkeley, astronomers have discovered the largest black holes to date ‑- two monsters with masses equivalent to 10 billion suns that are threatening to consume anything, even light, within a region five times the size of our solar system.

Stop and ponder that for a minute. The size of 10 billion of our suns!? Think about the size of the Universe. We are just a tiny little speck in the middle of nowhere among an infinite amount of galaxies, stars, and planets. From a sheer statistical perspective, there’s no way we are alone in the Universe. No way. There is soooo much we have no clue about.


  • Children smile 400 times per day
  • Smile + frown = smile
  • Darwin: Facial Feedback Response Theory = smiling makes us feel better
  • Smiling creates as much brain stimulation as 2k bars of chocolate
  • Smiling reduces stress enhancing hormones, increases mood enhancing hormones, & lowers blood pressure.
  • Smiling makes us appear more likeable, courteous, and competent.

Seems like we should all be smiling much more.


Holiday Rituals
In the last edition of Dude’s News, I mentioned that I’ve been testing out the “primal” diet/lifestyle, and I have to say that it is going very well. Based on a month or so of walking the walk, I would highly recommend considering it. The ideas seem like commonsense…to the Dude anyway.

Here’s a recent post from Mark’s Daily Apple, the primal blog that I’ve been following, that discusses ritual, and it’s a great reminder of the importance of our holiday rituals, regardless of what they are.

Over the years, I’ve questioned the specifics of the rituals to much, and as a result I lost the bigger picture. It is important to bond us, as groups, in a common story and experience. Rituals help us know who we are and where we come from.

Keep up the rituals, and if you don’t have any, now’s a great time to start.

Dude’s News

The quantity of information available these days is amazing.

A short 10 – 15 years ago, the biggest source of information was TV and radio. We are now inundated with information almost constantly. We are riding the information superhighway after all.

I think it’s about as rad as rad can be. I love finding new sources of information, learning something new, starting a new hobby, teaching myself how to do something I’ve never done. The pace of learning has exploded.

I’m sure it’s a double-edged sword. I’m sure negatives can be argued, but I dig the plethora of information at our finger tips. The drawback I find is having the time to consume all of the ideas that I’m interested in.

I have so much great information coming at me through my RSS feeds (If you’re not familiar with RSS feeds, it’s worth the read – awesome way to collect info you’re into without having to go find it.) that it’s impossible to follow every idea down the rabbit hole, and even content that I dig is often pushed aside or forgotten.

I’ve been collecting a few nuggets of greatness in my email for a week or two. My goal has been to write separate posts for each, but time keeps passing, and the content keeps coming. So, rather than try to get individual posts out, I figure I’ll share them all at once under the amazingly clever name of “Dude’s News”…I know, you love it.

Let’s start with some Local News

Local News
The Boy is a lunatic, and the lunacy grows everyday. Running, screaming, throwing, kicking, and a whole bunch of eating along the way.

Words are coming slowly but surely. He is always moving and exploring, and he’s becoming much more sure-footed. It’s fun to set him loose in the yard and follow him around. A great way to slow down and enjoy some everyday exploring.

The Princess is crushing first grade. Reading like a champ, loving piano lessons, and being a fantastic big sister.

The local news is all unicorns, gummie bears, and rainbows.

Here’s a very cool video from TED (as in “Ideas worth spreading,” TED) about the complex experimenting and decision making that babies and toddlers use to figure out the world around them. I get the impression that the collective “we” views babies as lacking in some of the cognitive muscle that we flex as we get older. But maybe “we” have it wrong.

Judging by Little Dude’s constant exploring mentioned above, I’m inclined to think that psychologist Alison Gopnik may be onto something here. She says something in the video about toddlers not having ADD but rather lacking the ability NOT to pay concentrated attention to all of the amazing things around them, and that seems to fit Little Dude to a T.

Here’s the video description: “Babies and young children are like the R&D division of the human species,” says psychologist Alison Gopnik. Her research explores the sophisticated intelligence-gathering and decision-making that babies are really doing when they play.”


In other science news, here’s an article from Discover titled: 100,000-Year-Old Paint Factory Suggests Early Humans Knew Chemistry.

As in one hundred thousand, 100k, one hundo thousundo! That’s craziness!

As a culture, how can we feel comfortable with the idea that we have any clue about what is going on? We know of a blink in time of history.

Jesus was around two thousand years ago. We have written history for something like ten thousand years. That still leaves 90,000 years between our knowledge and people sophisticated enough to craft paint.  That’s “20,000-30,000 years before archaeologists had previously thought such complex thought processes possible.”

That’s a huge amount of time. Wild.

Lastly in the science department, this is what the Universe looks like. Insane, right? The Universe. You’re looking at it. A second ago I implied we don’t know anything, and now we have an example of us mapping out the entire Universe. Life is full of paradoxes.


As described on “Richard Feynman talking about the beauty of science and of the natural world over a bunch of video footage taken from NASA, Microcosmos, and BBC nature docs like Planet Earth.”

This video is super cool. Got a special place in your heart for Mother Nature? You will after you watch.


In a similar nature-loving vain, here’s a great video of a dude following mountain climbers for National Geographic. The Dude is becoming increasingly intrigued by mountain climbing.

If you have a chance (especially if you have Netflix), check out 180° South. It’s a surfing/mountain climbing “documentary,” and it’s pretty rad…with a rad soundtrack. It gave me a new outlook on mountain climbing. A completely isolated and useless act, but you come back with a new perspective. Anyway, onto the feature presentation.


Amazingly Cool
In the amazingly cool department, ABC News is reporting that the DeLorean is coming back! Back to the Future…Present.

And, it’s coming back as an electric car.

Nice work making electric cars cool. Didn’t think it could be done.

And to round out the Dude’s News coverage, let’s take a quick look at a report from Bloomberg stating that DC now outpaces Silicon Valley for the highest household income in the country.

As Don King is fond of saying, “Only in America.” How is the region that houses the government and all of the cronies that go along with it the highest paid area of the country? How is that possible?

Federal workers earn an average of $126,000 in total compensation!

Our tax money pays them, correct? Do we see the shitstorm going on in country/world right now? Are they really worth an average salary of $126,000? Things are waaaaayyyyy out of whack these days.

Amazingly Cool Part Deux
To end on a positive note, let’s showcase what could be one of the greatest father/son bonding experiences of all time – and absolutely the greatest Hotwheels track the Dude has every laid eyes on (hats off to for another gnarly video)…


The Kid Should Definitely See This

I think I just found my N.F.B. – new favorite blog.

Classic videos that entertain Dudes and Little Dudes. Short videos approved by a 3 year old co-curator that will make you smile…and forget that you might be learning something new.

Great description from the site:

There’s just so much science, nature, music, arts, technology, storytelling and assorted good stuff out there that my kids (and maybe your kids) haven’t seen. It’s most likely not stuff that was made for them…

But we don’t underestimate kids around here.

I’m amazed by the wide selection of videos. Kudos to the curators…keep the radness coming.

I didn’t know elements could be so entertaining:


Wow! We’re Small.

Rather than paraphrasing a relatively short post from another blog, I’m just going to do the old copy and paste routine. Below is a post titled “The Tiny Humanity Bubble” on the jackadamblog that offers some potential mind-blowingness.

“Mankind has been broadcasting radio waves into deep space for about a hundred years now — since the days of Marconi.

That, of course, means there is an ever-expanding bubble announcing Humanity’s presence to anyone listening in the Milky Way. This bubble is astronomically large (literally), and currently spans approximately 200 light years across.

But how big is this, really, compared to the size of the Galaxy in which we live (which is, itself, just one of countless billions of galaxies in the observable universe)?

To answer that question, I put together the following diagram of our galaxy with the “Humanity Bubble” embedded within it. You’ll need to click on it to get the full resolution image and zoom in on the highlighted region.”

Wow, we’re tiny! Nature is so much more substantial than we commonly give it credit for. We are a just a tiny, tiny piece of the ever-expanding big picture.

It seems to me that aliens/intelligent life should be a foregone conclusion given the sheer magnitude of the known Universe. How could we be arrogant enough to believe that we could be the only game in town?!