Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Nerd Nite December 10: Science and Pseudoscience

World War II club
50 Conz Street, Northampton MA
Monday, December 10, 7:00pm, $5.00 admission
Guests are welcome to bring their own food or order take-out at the venue

First Talk: ‘The Warped Views of Flat Earthers’ by Aaron Wood
Second Talk: ‘How to *Not Explain Things Effectively – Teaching Physics Through Students Doing Things’ by Brokk Toggerson
flat earth‘The Warped Views of Flat Earthers’
The concept of a flat Earth seems to be gaining traction again. Besides simply thinking that we live on a flat object, what are some of the other reasons people actually believe this? Join Aaron Wood for an entertaining peek into the misled minds some flat Earth theorists.

Aaron is a graphic designer currently residing in the state of Massachusetts. When he’s not creating artwork that has a social media or pop culture angle to it, he’s probably trying to cook up a plot to score some lobster.

How to *Not Explain Things Effectively – Teaching Physics Through Students Doing Things’
If you took physics in high-school or college, you probably sat through a lecture and watched your teacher solve problems on the board. Then you went home and tried to solve, potentially impossible-seeming, problems on your own at home. Why do we teach physics this way? Does it actually work? What other options are there and is it possible to try to teach 100-300 people at a time in such a way?

Brokk Toggerson is currently in his fourth year of teaching introductory physics for life-science students at University of Massachusetts – Amherst. While his background is in experimental particle physics at CERN’s ATLAS experiment, he has since his Ph.D. been focusing on physics education. He is a fan of ballet, based in his own years of training and performance, and while not teaching physics enjoys cooking and rock climbing.

$5 entry – cash only. Guests under 21 years are welcome in the banquet room area, but are restricted from the front bar, so please have your ID on you if you’d like to order alcoholic beverages.

Nerd Nite September 10th: I Now Pronounce You Sand and Wife

World War II club
50 Conz Street, Northampton MA
Monday, September 10, 7:00pm, $5.00 admission
Guests are welcome to bring their own food or order take-out at the venue

‘Take it With a Grain: What Can Sand Piles tell us About Traffic and Cancer?’

Granular materials are all around us, yet are still poorly understood, hence an explosion of interest in these systems in the physics community in the last few decades. Granular materials also serve as a model systems for any dense system of interacting “particles,” be it crowded cars on the road or crowded cells migrating in the body. This presentation will explore several examples of where research into granular materials has given insight into more humanly relevant examples, such as traffic and cancer.

About the Speaker, Kerstin Nordstrom: Physics professor at Mount Holyoke College whose lab studies granular materials. I did my PhD and postdoc also in this field.


‘BetterTogether: Relationship Hacks from a Seasoned Divorce Attorney’

Seasoned divorce attorney, mediator and author Gabrielle Hartley explains that by making three important shifts earlier on in their relationship many of her clients may have been able to avoid coming to her office in the first place. This talk explores how by incorporating these simple skills rather than splitting  you may become better together.

About the Speaker, Gabrielle Hartley: A divorce attorney and mediator for over twenty years in both private practice and clerking for a divorce court judge, and author of Better Apart: The Radically Positive Way to Separate (HarperCollins 2019)!

$5 general admission. Drinks available for purchase, and you are welcome to bring a snack or take-out to eat.

Nerd Nite August 13: ‘How the Mafia Came to Springfield’ and ‘Ask Me About My Feminist Comics Agenda’

World War II club
50 Conz Street, Northampton MA
Monday, August 13, 7:00pm, $5.00 admission
Guests are welcome to bring their own food or order take-out at the venue

‘How the Mafia Came to Springfield’

Pasqualina Albano and Carlo Siniscalchi were local royalty on Water Street in Springfield’s Little Italy at the start of Prohibition. But in his first year as the self proclaimed Bootleg King, Carlo was killed, leaving Pasqualina to rule in his stead. She forged a bond with New York’s Genovese crime family, and continued her family’s business, a legacy that endures to this day.

About the Speaker, Justin Cascio: Writer of the award-winning blog, Mafia Genealogy, Justin Cascio’s articles have appeared at The Mob Museum, Gangsters Inc., Informer, The Good Men Project, and elsewhere.


‘Ask Me About My Feminist Comics Agenda’

Women are the future of comics. From the success of Kickstarters like Check, Please! to the fact that women are over 50% of the active floppy comics readership, big publishers may be missing out on the true core demographic of comics.

About the Speaker, Ellie Hillis: Ellie has worked as a comics retailer for 5+ years, while also writing, blogging, and interviewing people in the comics industry. She’s continued writing on comics through an inclusive feminist perspective, and maintaining communication with creators, especially indie and small press creators.

$5 general admission. Drinks available for purchase, and you are welcome to bring a snack or take-out to eat.

Nerd Nite July 9th: Permaculture and The Force

World War II club
50 Conz Street, Northampton MA
Monday, June 11, 7:00pm, $5.00 admission
Guests are welcome to bring their own food or order take-out at the venue

‘Designing a Suburban Permaculture Homestead’

By living simply and in community, you can play a vital role in modeling regenerative land stewardship. In this case study, learn how Broadfork used the permaculture design process to establish a vibrant homestead on one acre in a suburban neighborhood. Learn how they invested in relationships with the community and utilized social capital to make it possible.

Ashley Schenk co-founded Broadfork Permaculture, a co-operative landscape design company in Western Mass. He also builds and enjoys earthen ovens.


‘The Luminiferous Aether and the Force’

The universe of Star Wars does not appear to obey the same natural laws as the one we know. Lightsabers, the Force, even the way spaceships move seem to defy our understanding of the world. But what if they can be explained by a theory we abandoned long ago in an experiment not so far away?

Tim McLaughlin Jr has been studying astrophysics, especially cosmology, most of his life. He has a keen interest in abandoned theories, conspiracies, and other fringe ideas that helped inform this curiosity.

Nerd Nite June 11: Presenting on Presenting and Anarchists in Spain

World War II club
50 Conz Street, Northampton MA
Monday, June 11, 7:00pm, $5.00 admission

‘Bullets are Bad for the Brain: Designing Effective Presentatpresentation vinteions’

Presentation design software wants you to be boring. This presentation about presentations gives the audience a few simple rules that will ensure that the next time they need to present on a topic, no one will die of ennui.

Fred Zinn is Associate Director of the Innovate@ Team at the
University of Massachusetts Amherst. His areas of interest and expertise include: visual communication of complex ideas, teaching people to draw and design their own instructional images, designing useful user interfaces, and advocating for effective (bullet-free) presentations.


‘Anarchists in the Spanish Civil War’

Cooper will give a brief description of anarchism, discuss famous “anarchists” (some non-anarchists included), and provide a short history of anarchism in Spain.

Cooper Wood became interested in the Spanish Civil War in high school after reading “For Whom the Bell Tolls”. He’s currently writing his novel, and recently moved to northern MA from New London.

May 14th: ‘Life in the Earth’s hot, dark crust’ and ‘Let me Google that for you’

World War II club
50 Conz Street, Northampton MA
Monday, May 14, 7:00pm, $5.00 admission

‘Life in the Earth’s hot, dark crust’
It is estimated that 20% of Earth’s microbes live in Earth’s crust. How do these microbes live there? What do they eat? Do they cooperate with one another or compete for resources? What can they teach us about origin of life and life on other planets?

Presenter Begüm Topçuoğlu loves microbes and their impact on Earth, and completed her PhD on this topic.


‘Let me Google that for you’

A look at the more esoteric features of Google search in Google and Google Scholar. Advanced search, search tools and how to get the most relevant results will help you ferret out the good bits and leave behind the chaff.

Lorre Smith has been a librarian and an expert in searching databases and teaching others to search since before Google was invented.

Nerd Nite April 9th: Comics and Craft Brews

World War II club
50 Conz Street, Northampton MA
Monday, April 9th, 7:00pm, $5.00 admission

‘Brewing Through the Ages’

A talk about the history of beermaking, from ancient civilizations, through industrialization, to today.

Jordana Starr & Mike Schilling own Beerology in Northampton and incorporate history into our classes. They find Beer history extremely fascinating, having attended a beer history conference that armed them with tons of great stories to share!


‘Why Comics? The Accessibility and Unlimited Potential of Words and Pictures’

Comics – a medium that means many things to many people. What counts as a comic? What is unique about this art-form for the sharing of the human experience and communicating information? Comics are for everyone, even you, too!

Christian W. Z. Reader, or XTN for short, has been enjoying comics in Western Mass since they were young. Now they own a boutique bookstore focusing on comics and everything words and pictures. They live in Easthampton Ma with their wife and business-partner, three awesome house-mates and two incredible dogs.

Nerd Nite March 12th: Saving Lions and Diagnosing Presidents

World War II club
50 Conz Street, Northampton MA
March 12th, 7:00pm, $5.00 admission

lion‘Pride in Our Prides: Can a Story Save the African Lion?’

In 2013, half of the lion population were poisoned in Northern Botswana. Poison is an indiscriminate killer with cascading impacts throughout the ecosystem. We started an innovative program to individualize the cats, telling their stories to the communities, to help increase tolerance for coexisting with these big cats.
Andrew Stein is a wildlife biologist and National Geographic Explorer focused on the conservation of large predators- specifically the big cats. Over the past 16 years, he’s lived and worked on various projects in Kenya, Namibia, South Africa and Botswana living in remote field sites with local communities to learn about ways to promote coexistence. He recently started a non-profit called the CLAWS Conservancy (Communities Living Among Wildlife Sustainably) to address the conservation of lions in the Okavango Delta, Botswana.
‘”Crazy Like a Fox” or Just “Crazy? The Case of Donald J. Trump’
Questions abound as to whether Donald trump is “mentally unfit” to be president of the United States and whether the 25th amendment should be invoked to remove him from office. We will look at whether the “Duty to Warn” trumps the “Goldwater rule” for mental health professionals to ethically speak out about signs that the President is mentally unfit for office and a danger to society. After reviewing the criteria for Narcissistic and Antisocial Personality Disorder, we will look at tweets and videos so that members of the audience can form their own conclusions.
David Arbeitman has a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Cornell university. He’s a licensed psychologist with 25 years of teaching Psychopathology and Ethics in the Psy.D. Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University. He’s an avid reader of politics and political opinion.

Nerd Nite February 12th: Don’t live-tweet your heist!

World War II club
50 Conz Street, Northampton MA
February 12th, 7:00pm, $5.00 admission

‘Heist, Heist Baby (Too Bold, Too Bold): A discussion on caper culture, and certainly not an outline on how to plan and execute your own successful swindle’

What do the Shelby Mustang GT500, the Declaration of Independence, and John Travolta’s face have in common? At some point, someone has wanted to steal them for some ridiculous reason. In this talk, we examine how heist movies have evolved over the last 100 years, and see what lessons can be gleaned from their fictional successes and failures.

Joe Van Allen has some degrees in stuff not related to heists, is a capable contortionist, and gets a little emotional during Ocean’s 11 when they’re all standing at the fountain and Clair de Lune is playing.


‘Don’t #AskMeAnything: A review of social media fails and blunders by people who should know better’

Since the dawn of Facebook and Twitter, humankind has exhibited very poor judgment in the way they use social media. Major public figures and huge companies far too often post things that make us want to grab a bag of popcorn and watch things play out in a mixture of amusement and horror. In this talk, I’ll discuss the major ways in which people fail at social media, ranging from the funny to the serious, and throw in some wins as well.

Ebru Kardan is the Director of Communications at the UMass College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and one of the co-organizers of Nerd Nite NoHo. She’s managed social media for nearly a dozen organizations and businesses and has, on more than one occasion, given herself anxiety attacks by posting the wrong thing to the wrong page.

Nerd Nite November: Skeletons & Socialists

November 13th at the World War II Club

7:00pm  |  $5 general admission

Marx-2a-verticalSocialism, the Radical Future of Capitalism: How we can stake our claim to a radical future by guaranteeing health care, child care, and employment to all.
– by Sanjiv Gupta

This Skeleton is Full of Bugs: Learning about character rigging in video games by looking at the ways it goes wrong.
– by Connie Hildreth


“Socialism, the Radical Future of Capitalism”
The 2016 election revealed astonishing support for Bernie Sanders’ “democratic socialism.” But what is socialism? Karl Marx conceived it as the radical future of capitalism and democracy, one in which we enjoy our individual and collective capacities to the fullest. Capitalism works especially harshly in the U.S. But capitalism is also creating the means for a radically democratic society, one in which all of us participate consciously in making the future. In this talk I introduce Marx’s description of socialism. I also argue that we can stake our claim to this radical future by guaranteeing the following to everyone in the U.S.: health care, child care, and gainful employment.

Dr. Sanjiv Gupta is an Associate Professor of Sociology at UMass Amherst.


“This Skeleton is Full of Bugs”
In animation and games, rigging is the step in creating a character where you define how a character can move. It’s done once you already have a 3D model but before you animate it. It is a mix of technical and tedious that depends on what kind of movement a character needs to be capable, and is difficult to explain to your dentist when they ask you what you do for a living and why it’s not animating.

The importance of rigging and how it makes the media we enjoy is really apparent when it goes wrong. In animation, you only see this in blooper reel, but in games it results in eyeballs floating out of a character’s head, faces that look like knifes and running jauntily along with their arms at 90 degree angles. We’ll talk about why those things happen so much and in the way they do.

Connie Hildreth is a web developer who previously worked on rigging and tool development at a local animation studio.

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