Who Would You Put on Mt. Rushmore?

One of my current favorite podcasts is Slate’s Culture Gabfest, which, as the name conveys, is just a huge fest of all things culture. It feels like my little slice of American culture, and I eat it all up.  Yum.

Most recently on the podcast, Culture Gabfest met listeners in New York for a live show.  Words cannot describe my excitement at hearing the topic for discussion:

Who would you put on the face of Mt. Rushmore?

Rules: Must be dead. Must be American. Must have contributed to society. Must be cultural icons in some way.


Come to me, my people.  Let us talk of important things.

This immediately led to some heated discussions at work.  Do they have to be dead? Yes, because otherwise they’ll do something unfortunate and you’ll have Bill Cosby on a mountain next to Emily Dickinson.  Is it important to display the entirety of American culture across one mountain?  This remains unsettled.  What roles do race and gender play here?  Do we need to keep a balance?  Aesthetics must be considered, and figures were chosen for impressive beards and stoic chins as well as accomplished careers.


Mark Twain, Bob Dylan, Billie Holiday, Walt Whitman

Music/writer heavy with this combination.  The beard is nice, yes?


Dwight Eisenhower, Andrew Carnegie, Susan B. Anthony, George Washington Carver

This combo gets a little bit more historical, but guys… the inventor of peanut butter is on here.  There has been some serious societal contribution done here.  And can we all just agree how good they look together?


Harriet Tubman, Sitting Bull, David Farragut

This combination was one of my favorites.  The person behind this choice picked these because of their contributions, and argued that they were hugely famous, and that if they weren’t extremely well-known, it was only because of the cultural bias of history.  David Farragut was the first ever American admiral, best known for his quote of “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”

This project was hard.  Even though I knew it wasn’t real, I felt the weight of an entire country as I mentally blueprinted a national monument.  How would Billie Holiday look next to Neil deGrasse Tyson?  James Earl Jones? (For a while, I was bending the rules on the whole “must be dead” thing)  Would there be outrage if I chose one person over another?

No.  I must stand by my decisions, wrong as they may be.

Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.

-Mark Twain

What are your picks?  Did you enjoy this as much as I did?


UPDATE: My dad’s awesome physics class had some picks of their own. How cool are these kids? I’m fairly sure that I had no idea who half of these people were when I was in high school.  



The Minimalists

Is it just me, or is minimalism cool again?

the minimalists.jpeg

All over the internet, I am surrounded by 2016 resolutions inspired by minimalism.  Marie Kondo’s philosophy of de-cluttering has achieved cult level popularity. The Minimalists podcast proclaims its message as “to live a more meaningful life with less stuff”.  The culture that wants for nothing now wants nothing.

Joshua Fields Nicodemus and Ryan Millburn are The Minimalists.  Each week on their podcast, they discuss new topics like how to live a minimalist lifestyle with children and how to use technology without letting it consume your life.    Josh and Ryan describe days past earning huge salaries and spending all of it on more stuff.  Although they seemed successful, they both found only emptiness in these lifestyles.

Some of their ideas are a bit much for me (ie, the Packing Party where you pack up all of your possessions like you’re moving, then only unpack the essentials–the rest is junk).  I really liked the overall message, and wanted to somehow incorporate it into my life.

The least I could do was clean out my email inbox, which as it turns out, was full of great information.  50% off Caribbean cruises?  Flower arrangement deals for Valentine’s Day? Perfect!  One by one, I deleted them all and hit “unsubscribe”.

Next up, I’m planning to give up TV.  Not forever, not at first, but at least for lent.  I’ve done this two years in a row, and loved all the time I get back.

Inspired? Check out this 30 Day Minimalism Challenge for easy, quick ideas.

Insomnia Post: Space Buddies

This is completely my own fault, but I can’t sleep.

I refuse to sleep during the daytime even when I work night shift, and my sleep inevitably suffers.  I feel totally upside down most of the time; I never have any idea what day it is, but I just keep on keepin’ on and soon enough, I’m back to working day shift.  As of now, I’m wide awake at 1:00 AM watching Netflix with my cat, wishing we were both sleeping.  We have a big day ahead of us tomorrow.

This week, I heard an amazing podcast, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it (this has not helped with the insomnia, by the way).  I’m about to expose myself as a big huge nerd here, but it’s called Star Talk with Neil deGrasse Tyson.  The premise of the show is that a really cool astrophysicist interviews famous people about their nerdy side, most recently Bill Nye, Bill Clinton and Seth McFarlane.


When I heard the Seth McFarlane interview, I had to pause for a second.  I’ve always liked Family Guy, but really loved Seth McFarlane.  Did you guys know that he’s performed at Carnegie Hall?  And that every piece of music on every episode of Family Guy is recorded live by an orchestra?  So much YES.

On Star Talk, I learned more reasons to love McFarlane.  Basically, the story they told was that they met at a party, became best friends, and decided to make a show together.  A lot of people doubted that McFarlane would come through with the network connections, but Neil deGrasse Tyson never did.  He cited several key Family Guy moments as proof that McFarlane was a big huge nerd.  This was actually strangely fun to listen to on the radio: they had a few astrophysicists dissecting the validity of comments made about the Big Bang Theory on the show, and jokes about a “Jesusaurus”.  Nobody questioned the talking dog or evil genius baby (if you’re not a fan of Family Guy, there are a lot of questionable lapses in logic.

The eventual result of this awesome deGrasse Tyson-McFarlane union was Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, a remake of the 1980s series by Carl Sagan.

I think the reason why I loved this particular episode of Star Talk so much was that it awakened my own sleeping jealousies; I really really wanted to be best friends with both of these guys.  Can the three of us just be friends and make a space-related TV show together?  Or just get lunch? It sounds so fantastic that just listening to the two of them get along made me incredibly happy.

For now I’m just going to have to settle for my learning about the corner of space that exists in my dreams…To infinity and beyond.


For the full podcast with Seth McFarlane, click here.