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This is a great story by Karen Heller about the Franklin (Institute) in Philadelphia.

I love learning and I watch the Science Channel all the time. As a kid I remember enjoying museums – The Museum of Science and Industry, the Shedd Aquarium, the Kohl Children’s Museum (I grew up near Chicago) –  where I could learn stuff, and play at the same time. I’m disappointed after reading this article about the Franklin (it sounds really weird to me to call it that).

Karen Heller: The dumbing down of science

By Karen Heller
Inquirer Columnist
www.philly.com 

Earlier this year, one of Philadelphia’s illustrious cultural institutions underwent cosmetic surgery and had its name reduced.
Our largest science institution simply became the Franklin, as if it were some glistening condo development or waterfront casino.

Which is fitting, given all the sizzle, pyrotechnics and cost. Adult admission has soared to $23.25 if you want to see the current exhibits “Real Pirates” and “Chronicles of Narnia,” the latter – correct me if I’m wrong – based on a fictional world and $1 billion global movie franchise.

“Adults” happens to mean anyone over 11, a rather severe view for an organization geared toward students. Imax? That’s $5.50 extra. Audio tour? Yo ho ho, and an additional $6. For that kind of money, I left my two adults, 12 and 14, at home.

New York’s American Museum of Natural History, a superior museum, offers $17 student tickets for ages 13 through 17 that include general admission and its more substantive featured exhibit, “The Horse.” Why does the Franklin choose to financially penalize children for aging?

Pirate booty

“Pirates” is the latest in the Franklin’s succession of tantalizing blockbusters, following “Body Worlds,” and shows on the Titanic, Star Wars, and King Tut, the equivalent of a casino floor show, there to draw in folks who might find science sort of yucky.

This show makes painful attempts at diversity. Kids, Indians, former slaves, boys and even women were once pirates, too. See? Any one could grow up to be a criminal!

“Pirates” offers instructive points on torture, amputation and hooch. Did you know that “pirates drank anything they could get their hands on?” You can acquire alcoholic alchemy: grog = rum + water. The show even offers Smell-O-Vision, a wood scent permeating the tavern display. It’s a blessing no one opted for eau de scurvy.

What “Pirates” doesn’t teach is science; instead it dumbs down learning to a theme-park level. The show ends, as these things always do, at a gift shop featuring a dazzling array of overpriced junk – swords, a stuffed “pirate pup,” and skull-and-crossbones sunglasses.

Pieces of eight

The afternoon I attended, the Franklin was swarming with tourist families and urban day-campers. This seemed a smart arrangement: Full-paying tourists subsidizing underserved city youth.

The rub was that neither group appeared well-served by science. “Sports Challenge” is more Dave and Buster’s than lessons in physiology, a homage to hyperactivity where kids run around without ever stopping to learn.

“Sir Isaac’s Loft” contains one of those George Rhoads kinetic sculptures found in airports. “Sometimes you just can’t avoid science,” the caption reads, almost as an apology. “My intention is not to exemplify scientific principles,” Rhoads states on the plaque. Oh, great.

Frequently, the Franklin seems as scared of learning as it does of science. Lopping off the “Institute” is an indication. What I watched was kids dashing madly, going from one pit stop to the other, without absorbing much. There was so much insistent fun (!) and no, this-isn’t-really-science stuff that the place is transformed into just another consumer palace.

The one science at which the Franklin excels is the dismal one of economics. Inside these hallowed walls, pretzels miraculously soar from 50 cents to $2.75. Bottled water, scientifically equal to the free fountain variety, is $2.75. Though prices rival those at the ballpark, there’s no dollar-dog day. Hot dogs are always $3.75.

Start your engines, adults 12 and older. This Wednesday is “Race Car Day,” when that great organization of higher learning, NASCAR, teams up with the Franklin for a full day of science and fumes.

That last line made me laugh :)

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Cat grows wings

chinese cat grows wings

Some crazy woman in China is claiming that her cat grew wings.

um…

Granny Feng’s tom cat has sprouted two hairy 4ins long wings, reports the Huashang News.

“At first, they were just two bumps, but they started to grow quickly, and after a month there were two wings,” she said.

Feng, of Xianyang city, Shaanxi province, says the wings, which contain bones, make her pet look like a ‘cat angel’.

Her explanation is that the cat sprouted the wings after being sexually harassed.

“A month ago, many female cats in heat came to harass him, and then the wings started to grow,” she said.

However, experts say the phenomenon is more likely down to a gene mutation, and say it shouldn’t prevent the cat living a normal life.

Is this what it feels like to be on drugs? Watch (and listen) this…

http://www.uniqlo.jp/uniqlock/

I’m mesmerized.

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So excited!

From a Rise Against MySpace bulletin:

New Album: Appeal To Reason, and Fall Tour!!!
That’s right, our new record, Appeal To Reason, has been completed and will be released October 7th, 2008. As you may know, we have once again teamed up with our friends Bill Stevenson & Jason Livermore, who produced Appeal To Reason at the Blasting Room, along with their capable team of engineers. Bill & Jason are the genius’ behind The Sufferer & The Witness and also the responsible for the re-mix of our first record, The Unraveling on Fat Wreck, as well as numerous other songs, including our recent cover of “Little Boxes” for the show “Weeds”.

If that wasn’t exciting enough, we’ve teamed up with some old friends for a fall tour and are hoping to bring it to your town. RISE AGAINST, ALKALINE TRIO, THRICE, THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM. We considered giving the tour some fancy name, but then realized that nothing looks or sounds as good as those four bands together, in our own humble opinion.

See you this fall !

-Rise Against

I don’t know who Gaslight Anthem is, but after missing Alkaline Trio last night I’m glad to know they will probably be back in the fall + Rise Against and Thrice!

That makes up for the fact that today I found out I have my first two cavities ever. booo.

 

Update: The dates have been announced and are available on Rise Against’s Myspace page. See you at the Philly show October 16th!

Another update: Got my tickets during the presale wednesday! Also, I listened to Gaslight Anthem and I don’t get why so many people are so into them. Whatever!

Matt Skiba from Alkaline Trio in H2O video What Happened

Matt Skiba from Alkaline Trio in H2O video What Happened

This might be sort of old news, but I didn’t know. H2O’s new song and video “What Happened?” features Lou Koller of Sick Of It All and Matt Skiba from Alkaline Trio. 

The song is good… Matt’s part is AWESOME (of course).

Mindy Kaling Kelly Kapor

Writer and executive producer Mindy Kaling, Kelly Kapor) will preside over The Office Games at the Mall at Steamtown in Scranton on July 19!

The event will kick off at 9 a.m. ET with a 2K Fun Run, to be followed by an Office trivia challenge, a Dwight-inspired beet-eating contest and an autograph session for the first 125 fans who purchase one of the two new games (The Office Trivia Game and DVD Board Game).

Part of The Office Games proceeds will go toward United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania, which provides community-building opportunities and services throughout northeastern Pennsylvania.

Story here.

 

(Jeff Fusco/Getty Images for the Boston Globe)