April 17 Nerd Nite
TRANZAC – 292 Brunswick Avenue
8:00pm, doors open at 7:30
$5 at the door

Presentation 1: “The Universe in a Computer”

From smartphones and tablets to FuelBands and Google Glass, computers have revolutionized our everyday life. But did you know that computers also allow us to learn about the Big Bang and black holes? In this talk I will discuss how the largest supercomputers in the world allow astrophysicists to gain insights into the workings of the universe around us.

JD Emberson is an Astrophysics PhD student at the University of Toronto. His work involves using supercomputers to study the structure of the universe on large scales and at early times in its history.

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Presentation 2:”So long, and thanks for all the pink”

Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, or so they say – but are we really so different? We will explore sex and gender, and how our conceptions of the differences between boys and girls have changed over the past 3000 years (or so). We’ll look at how societal expectations and marketing have shaped our views on what is and isn’t appropriate for boys and girls – including, but certainly not limited to, which colours they should wear!

Dr. Jenn Neilson has a PhD in philosophy specializing in gender norms, from the University of Texas at Austin. She is the founder of Jill and Jack Kids, a clothing company that’s inspiring the next generation of leaders to think beyond pink and blue. She is also co-organizer of Versatile PhD Toronto, a networking community for recovering academics.

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Presentation 3: ”I want to do EVERYTHING (Life as a Polymath)”

When you meet new people for the first time and they ask you what you do, do you have a dozen different answers? If so, you’re not alone. A confluence of different personality traits and learning and thinking styles can lead people to become “scanners”. Because choosing is hard, but learning is fun!

Adam Emanon is a man of a million hobbies (yes, he has a day job too) with an unrelenting desire to keep learning. He takes pride in being a diverse “non-expert” and sharing as much of what he finds (information and resources) as possible, with others. Adam runs a blog at www.curiositycrossroads.com

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Trivia!

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March 13 Nerd Nite
TRANZAC – 292 Brunswick Avenue
8:00pm, doors open at 7:30
$5 at the door

Presentation 1: “We’ll Never Be Royals: The Relationship Between Royalty and the Media” by Carolyn Harris

Since the invention of the tabloid press in the early 19th century, the media has been on Royalty like white on rice. The first news event to be captured on film was Czar Nicholas II’s coronation parade, and the current Queen’s coronation kick-started the Television industry. Media attention changed how royalty connected to the public and the public’s expectations of royalty.

Dr. Carolyn Harris teaches history at University of Toronto, School of Continuing Studies. She provides royal commentary for CBC radio and the CTV news channel. Her articles about history and the monarchy have been published in the Globe and Mail, Ottawa Citizen, BBC News Magazine and Smithsonian Magazine. She blogs about royalty at www.royalhistorian.com.

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Presentation 2: “Stupid Questions: Is Fire a Solid, Liquid or Gas?” by Craig Fay

You’ve heard it said “there is no such thing as a stupid question.” Whats more likely is you’ve actually heard a stupid question. Questions that make you grimace, make your brain hurt. Questions that show no understanding of the subject whatsoever! And it’s for that reason that stupid questions are so great. They allow us to explore all the cool and interesting facts, theories and ideas behind the misconceptions and explain so much more about the world then the original question ever intended. In this presentation Craig answers the stupid question “Is fire a solid, liquid or gas?”

Craig Fay is a Toronto based stand up comedian with a mechanical engineering degree and a passion for talking about science. As a comedian he’s appeared at the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal, was named Toronto.com’s Funniest Torontonian, and has appeared on CBC Radio’s Laugh Out Loud.

Twitter: @CraigFayComedy
FB: Facebook.com/CraigFayComedy
URL: craigfay.com

March Trivia brought to you by our favourite know-it-alls, the guys you hear heckling from the back of the room, Monty Bertin and Tom Aylward-Nally.

In honour of Pi Day, there will be Pie. Oh yes, there will be pie.

 

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February 13 Nerd Nite
TRANZAC – 292 Brunswick Avenue
8:00pm, doors open at 7:30
$5 at the door

Presentation 1: “Medical Marvels 2″

The heart is the internal organ most linked with Valentine’s Day, but that’s not the one we’re talking about. Find out which organs you can live without and–related–what Virve has been up to the past four months.

Virve Aljas is the founder and co-Boss of Nerd Nite Toronto.

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Presentation 2: “The Myth of ‘The One’”

True love. We spend so much time on our quest for “the one” that we can accidentally overlook many wonderful people that don’t fit our ideal of “perfection”. The goal of finding a soulmate is placed on us almost from birth, and it can feel impossible – especially when single – to escape it. Why is it so important that we “settle down” with only one person? Samantha will examine the myth of “the one” from a polyamory perspective just in time for the holiday that turns love into a commercial cash grab guilt-trip for all. An open mind required.

Samantha Fraser is a life coach, polyamory advocate, consultant, producer, and author of Not Your Mother’s Playground: a realistic guide to honest, happy, and healthy, open relationships. She loves discussing taboo subjects openly, and has spoken about non-monogamy at conferences including Momentum, Playground, Atlanta Poly Weekend, and PolyCon. Samantha has appeared on shows such as CBC DocZone’s “Thoroughly Modern Marriage”, and SexMatters TV, and has also been in publications like InnerSPACE, The Grid, and Toronto Life. She is the founder and executive producer of Playground sexuality conference, and currently splits her time between video game project management and selling sex toys.

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Presentation 3: “How to Enjoy Porn… Even More”

Porn is easier to access than ever before, but that doesn’t mean we understand it any better than we did when it came in brown paper bags. There’s a constant stream of moral panic about porn’s potential to damage sexuality, both personally and within relationships, but is it justified?  This presentation explores how a toolkit of honesty, open-mindedness, communication skills and proper critical thinking abilities can transform porn from a dirty little secret to a thoroughly enjoyable way to learn about sex and sexuality.  We’ll also show you how to find ethically-made porn, navigate fantasy vs. reality and discuss and include porn in your sex life.

Sophie Delancey is the vice president and jack-of-all-trades for a group of “beautiful porn” websites devoted to spreading the message that porn can be both aesthetically pleasing and ethically viable. She writes blogs, interviews and reviews for numerous sites including Fleshbot, PolicyMic and Playboy, has appeared on many radio shows/podcasts, and has spoken at many events, including the first ever Feminist Porn Conference at the University of Toronto. She focuses on using real couples in porn, creating high-quality content from a DIY perspective, responsibility in transparency and outreach to pornographic audiences.

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Trivia! Goodie bags, to show our love for you (in a mostly non-creepy manner)! Pre-Valentine’s fun!!

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January 9 Nerd Nite
TRANZAC – 292 Brunswick Avenue
8:00pm, doors open at 7:30
$5 at the door

Presentation 1: “Sex and the Sick Bee”

Using the beloved and timeless characters of the HBO comedy series as our guide, we will explore the beautiful evolutionary journey from single egg-laying sawflies to honey bee orgies. But it’s not all sex and nectar drinking in our honeycomb city, and just as Samantha had her breast cancer (SPOILER!), so too must the honey bee deal with her Colony Collapse Disorder. It’s a story of sex, drugs, deception, exploding males, and zombies. Just like any other episode of Sex and the City, only with three times the shoes.

Ben Taylor is the Assistant Director of Education for the UW Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, but, even more so than jamming words into his job title, his real passion is for bees. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in entomology from the UW-Madison, Ben worked on a nine-month research project focusing on native bee pollination in Wisconsin’s apple orchards. Yes, he has been stung in the face. No, it was not a pleasant experience.

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Presentation 2: “The Art and Science of Songwriting”

Songwriting is a black art – completely unteachable. Or is it? When Murray Foster was (accidentally) hired to teach songwriting at Trebas a year ago, he had to figure out how to teach it. Murray talks about that journey, and spells out a few tools that every songwriter should have in their “toolbox.” He may even sing you a song.

Murray Foster plays bass for Great Big Sea, and was a founding member of Moxy Fruvous. In 2012 he wrote and recorded 30 songs in 30 days as part of the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s “DARE” campaign. He’s also one of the lead singers of the fake British band The Cocksure Lads.

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Trivia! Be prepared.

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December 19 – Nerd Nite Holiday Nerdtacular
TRANZAC – 292 Brunswick Avenue
7:30pm, doors open at 7
$5 at the door

Presentation 1: “Slinging Drinks” by Michael Webster 

Learn about the brass tacks of cocktails, from the basic underlying principles of what it takes to make a great cocktail to what to look for from a bar/bartender when ordering a cocktail in a restaurant.

Michael Webster is a 34 year old Barman who has been slinging drinks from behind the stick since 1998. In addition to creating several cocktail lists and assisting with opening many popular restaurants in the city (Weslodge, Momofuku, Bar Isabel) he is also a writer/comedian/actor.

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Presentation 2: “Making Magic: Surprisingly not a talk about sex*” by Ben Train 

*It’s about the design and engineering of a magic illusion.

Since finishing sixth in a “Ben Train” look-alike contest, Ben Train has devoted over ten years to lecturing and performing across North America. Combining sophisticated sleight-of-hand, unique philosophical insight, and a wikipedic knowledge of the arts, Ben talks the talk, walks the walk, and rocks the flock.

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Comedy with Craig Fay.
Craig Fay is a Toronto based stand up comedian quickly winning over audiences with his unique ability of making accessible material smart and smart material accessible.

Craig has performed at the world famous Just For Laughs festival in Montreal, was voted Toronto.com’s Funniest Torontonian and has appeared on CBC Radio’s Laugh Out Loud.

You can follow him on Twitter @CraigFayComedy, like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/CraigFayComedy and visit his website at craigfay.com

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Challenge! Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest! Trivia!

Of all your holiday parties, this will be the best.

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We’re getting closer to our goal of 200 organ and tissue donor registrations! Our donor drive is inspired by a fellow Nerd Niter.

Check your status or register at beadonor.ca/nerdnitetoronto and pass it along!

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For you advance planners, here are upcoming Nerd Nite dates!

Thursday December 19 – Annual Holiday Nerdtacular!
Thursday January 9
Thursday February 13
Thursday March 13

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November 21 Nerd Nite
TRANZAC – 292 Brunswick Avenue
8pm, doors open at 7
$5 at the door

Presentation 1: “Questioning Chemophobia” by Tyler Irving

Literally everything is made of chemicals, so it’s understandable that chemists are often exasperated by consumer products that are advertised as ‘chemical-free.’ Some even use the word ‘chemophobia,’ to describe what they see as general ignorance about chemistry among consumers. But we really misinformed, or simply being cautious? This talk will look at what we know – and don’t know – about the chemicals in our daily lives.

Tyler Irving is a media officer at the Science Media Centre of Canada. Previously, he spent three years as the staff writer and news editor for a magazine called ACCN, the Canadian Chemical News, a role he describes as that of ‘Canada’s only chemistry journalist.’

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Presentation 2: “Panel and Frame: Comic Books on Film” by Martha Hunter

Over the last few years, comic book movies have taken over the industry in a way that would make any supervillain jealous. I’ll be talking about the historical development of comic book movies and some distinguishing characteristics of the genre, like whether “art” comics adaptations should count, the sociology and materiality of the (source) text, and how much Green Lantern really, really sucked. Excelsior!

Martha Hunter works in academic publishing, but clearly misses being a cultural studies student. She wishes it was easier to feed her comic book addiction while also making rent.

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TRIVIA!

It’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), so be prepared for a literary theme!

 

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October 17 Nerd Nite
TRANZAC – 292 Brunswick Avenue
8pm, doors open at 7
$5 at the door

Presentation 1: “WTF Evolution”

Sometimes when you look at the beauty of nature you just have to wonder “Seriously? Who thought THAT was a good idea?”. Some animals are too cool and others just too weird. Learn how evolution works, both natural selection, and the kinky sexual stuff your science teacher was too freaked out to cover.

Laura Wodlinger is a high school science teacher by day, who loves to test out new (and more fire-generating) science demonstrations by night. When not teaching science, Laura loves to travel to exotic places, sing karaoke, and rewrite lyrics of pop songs to be about science.

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Presentation 2: “A Recorder Builder’s Odyssey”

Bach, Vivaldi, Händel; the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin: they all wrote music for the recorder. What is it about this deceptively simple instrument that has inspired composers and songwriters — and beguiled listeners — for over 800 years? Last year I traveled to England to learn the dying art of recorder building, and came home with a reproduction of an early 18th century recorder from the instrument’s golden age.

Alan Cantor began playing recorder as a 20-year-old university student. Over the years, he has been a bread baker, puppeteer, educator, and technology consultant. In his current life, he works at the University of Toronto, hangs with his family, grows heirloom tomatoes, and takes recorder lessons.

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TRIVIA & COSTUME CONTEST!

Come in costume (geeky, nerdy, or just plain scary) and enter our costume contest! A great place to take your costume for a dry run to make sure it works. Be creative!

 

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September 12 Nerd Nite
TRANZAC - 292 Brunswick Avenue
8pm – doors open at 7
$5 at the door

Good things come in threes.

We’re kicking off the new season with a Birthday Party! Nerd Nite Toronto is turning three! The usual lineup of great presentations, trivia, and some goodie bag delights.

NOTE: Main event starts at 8pm, but there will be a fun challenge at 7:30 for those who’d like to partake. Hint: I bought the challenge materials from a Clown Supply site. Really.

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Presentation 1 – “The Game of Operation: True Stories of Medical Marvels” by Heili Orav

Western science can do amazing things for the human body, but Eastern medicine has also played a key role. We’ll hear about some of the unbelievable and completely bizarre stories, myths and truths surrounding transplantation and the game of operation. This presentation is chock full of graphic images and emotionally sensitive content, so viewer discretion is advised (eh, nothing you can’t handle).

Heili Orav works in finance at a credit union in Toronto and is not a doctor. Her recent interest in transplants in part stems from her brother’s generous donation of one of his kidneys. He’s doing just fine these days.

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Presentation 2 – “He’s a Pinball Wizard…” by Joe Ciaravino

Decades before Nintendo or Atari, Pinball was the #1 amusement game for North America’s youth. In its heyday, pinball was both a distinctly American icon and a worldwide phenomenon, but with the “death of the American arcade”, today pinball is all but extinct… or is it? Joe will take us through the fascinating history of Pinball, which much like the silver ball itself, has seen many ups and downs over the last hundred years.

Joe Ciaravino is a self-confessed movie geek, boardgame hoarder, cat-cuddler and pinhead (the preferred nomenclature of a pinball enthusiast). He works in the Canadian television industry and is a part-time film blogger. Twitter: @totalfilmgeek

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TRIVIA!

 

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May 30 Nerd Nite
Revival Bar – 783 College Street
8pm – doors open at 7
$15 online, $20 at the door

NNPoster_new

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Presentation 1: “The Limits of the Human Body” by Jake Ward

Our bodies are incredibly fragile. They burst, burn, and break, and yet we constantly travel to dangerous places, dive under the ocean, fly, drive, drink alcohol, and otherwise do crazy things that our bodies are wholly unqualified to handle. Tonight we’ll be looking at the science of human limitation, and what fundamental technologies make it possible for us not to suffocate, freeze, catch on fire, or otherwise die the thousand deaths that our unbelievably dangerous lives whisk us past each day.

Jake Ward is editor-in-chief of Popular Science, the world’s largest science and technology magazine. He’s written for The New Yorker and Wired, and has hosted television shows for Discovery, PBS and National Geographic. He splits his time between New York and California.

Presentation 2: “The Music Geek Quiz” by Alan Cross

In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan Cross has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters.  He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music and The Secret History of Rock.  He’s also written four reference books on alt-rock, recorded four audio books (all top-sellers on iTunes), written liner notes for dozens of CDs and contributed to magazines and other publications in Canada and the US.  He’s also a sought-after college and university lecturer, writes a weekly national music column for Metro and travels to music festivals all over the world.

His new radio show is The Secret History of Rock, which runs across Canada and in the US.  Alan has been deeply involved exploring the present and future relationships between music, technology and social networking.  More information (along with plenty of daily updates) can be found at www.alancross.ca

Live Music from The Cocksure Lads

A band dreamed up by Murray Foster and Mike Ford, both former members of Moxy Fruvous. Both of them had (and have) a passion for early-60’s British pop, and in the early 90’s, just for fun, they began writing songs that were loving send-ups of that genre. By 2010 they had written 25 Cocksure Lads songs, so that summer they went into the studio and recorded “The Greatest Hits of the Cocksure Lads, 1963-1968”.

They’ve turned that CD into a live, 3D experience, with the help of notable Toronto musicians Tim Bovaconti (Ron Sexsmith, Burton Cummings) on guitar and Blake Manning (The Heartbroken) on drums.

Their sound is classic 1960’s Britpop – super-catchy tunes to go along with twitty, naïve, funny lyrics. It’s a high-energy, melodic show with witty banter between songs, vintage suits and – of course – fake British accents.

A full-length feature film about the band called “You Gotta Stay Cocksure!” is in the works, written and directed by Foster. Filming starts November 2013.

 

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April 18 Presentations

Presentation 1: “Energy and Resource Limits: Mad Max vs. Leave it to Beaver” by Jason Allen

We live on a planet with finite resources, and yet we think we can grow our economy forever. The truth is, we are running low on almost every non-renewable resource, especially oil. Don’t worry, though. We’ll explore a future that is more Leave it to Beaver than Mad Max; but with iPads and Twitter.

Jason Allen is a corporate trainer who has been thinking about, blogging about, and reorganizing his life around energy and resource limits for the past 5 years. An avid transit user, pedestrian and civic activist, he lives on a 1/8th acre Urban Homestead in downtown Hamilton with his wife, two kids, and a bloodthirsty cat.

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Presentation 2: “Archaeology in Pop Culture: Exaggerations and Excavations” by Bill Lucas

Archaeology has been the backbone for many of our favourite stories. Pop culture references have been known for making grand exaggerations, because of this there are misunderstandings about what it is archaeologists actually do. This presentation discusses how archaeology is the basis of many tall tales while giving a more realistic approach to what they do and how it affect our larger community.

Bill Lucas is an archaeologist. He specializes in North American archaeology, Aboriginal rights and digital media. He is currently enrolled at the University of Waterloo in the graduated program. Bill has done excavations across south Ontario and is thrilled with anything archaeology related!

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Nerd Nite Trivia with Irith Mcconnachie!

 

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March 14 Presentations

Presentation 1: “Kaboom” by Sunny Hope

Fireworks can be anything from old-school dried bamboo to modern displays worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Tonight we’ll take a look at how history, chemistry, and computers all explode the world of fireworks.

Sunny M. Hope can’t remember her first fireworks show, but can still stun friends by remembering the names of commercially available crackers. She has spent inordinate amounts of time ‘designing’ displays for friends’ cottages.

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Presentation 2: “A Walk in the Park: Women and Baseball” by Danielle Van Wagner

Major league baseball, like most professional sports, is played only by men. Yet a quick look at its history and in the stands of stadiums reveals a surprising amount of women. From old ladies keeping score, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, scantily clad blondes dancing on the field, and all types of women in between, I will explore the history of women and baseball and look into the expectations and perceptions of female fans in baseball culture.

Danielle Van Wagner is a historical researcher by trade, and a baseball nerd by hobby. She enjoys assorted activities of a nerdy persuasion, including photography, cat watching, used book store browsing and museum visiting.

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Nerd Nite Trivia with Jonathan and Daniel Moneta!

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Lauren Shorser’s first night as co-boss of Nerd Nite Toronto. Lauren has been described by friends and colleagues as “the bee’s knees”, “the cat’s pyjamas”, and “the weirdo in the penguin suit”. She is very excited at becoming more involved with Nerd Nite.

 

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Happy New Year!

You can find us at TRANZAC, 292 Brunswick Ave. We’re in the Main Hall. Doors at 7:30, things get rolling at 8pm.

Our first Nerd Nite of 2013 is January 17.
For you planners, the next Nerd Nite Toronto dates are:
Thursday, February 21  February’s event has been canceled
Thursday, March 14
Thursday, April 18
If you or someone you know is interested in presenting, drop us a line at virve@nerdnite.com. The surest way for us to keep you updated is through the Facebook group (Nerd Nite Toronto) or the Twitter feed @nerdnitetoronto.

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January 17: Something a Little Different

Live Recording – Dork Forest Podcast by Jackie Kashian, featuring Debra DiGiovanni and Sean Cullen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Epic Nerd Show is helping us take a break from the usual presentations – This month’s event is a live recording of The Dork Forest Podcast with special guests Debra DiGiovanni & Sean Cullen!

We’ll have a little Nerd Nite content before and after the Podcast, with some interesting projects coming up and trivia to follow.

Tickets are $10, available here:
http://empirecomedylive.com/jackie-kashian-toronto-2013/

Bio: LA Comedian Jackie Kashian has been a national touring comic for over 15 years, and is the host of the long running Dork Forest Podcast.

She has her own half hour special on Comedy Central, was a semi-finalist on Last Comic Standing, has appeared on Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, and performed at the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal.

In 2013, Jackie will be part of the inaugural NY Pod Fest in January, and later in the spring will be part of Gilda’s LaughFest in Detroit, as well as Bumbershoot in Seattle.

Her latest CD, “It is Never Going to Be Bread” was one of the top ten comedy albums on Amazon in 2010.

 

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Nerd Nite Toronto Holiday Nerdtacular, December 13 8pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Presentation 1: Sarah Reeves Aljas returns with one of Nerd Nite’s most popular talks, to answer the burning question “Why Does Elmer Fudd Talk Like That?”

Ever wonder what’s really going on with Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, Sylvester and Tweety’s speech impediments? The ins and outs of how we produce sounds (a.k.a. talk) and the difficulties some have doing so.

Sarah Reeves Aljas has been a Speech-Language Pathologist for over 10 years, helping toddlers and school-aged children learn to talk and improving the way they talk. She has provided treatment for people locally as well as in NWT, Nunavut and Northern Ontario, both directly and through videoconferencing.

Presentation 2: “I Build LEGO for a Living”

This presentation will bring us LEGOLAND Discovery Centre’s brand new Master Model Builder, selected from contestants to turn a childhood pastime into a dream career. We’ll hear all about their passion for LEGO, the competition and what to expect from Toronto’s soon-to-come LEGOLAND Discovery Center. legolanddiscoverycentre.ca

Live Music by Pavlov’s Dogs Handbell Ensemble: Not your typical Holiday fare. Pavlov’s Dogs are Toronto’s hottest handbell ringers, dedicated to rocking out. They ring the bells, and you’ll be salivating. pavlovsdogs.ca

Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest: Last year’s winner killed with a sentimental backstory. This year we’re looking for extreme knitting, pyrotechnics, or bedazllers gone wild.

Building Challenge: Everyone knows an Engineer, now’s the time to bring out the ringers.

Trivia: You didn’t think we’d let you get away without thinking, did you?

Thanks to Discovery for some great giveaway prizes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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November 22 Presentations:

Presentation 1:  ”The Invisible Biosphere — How Microbes Rule the World” by Tyler Irving

Invisible to the naked eye, microorganisms like bacteria, yeast and algae were almost unknown to science until surprisingly recently. Yet these tiny organisms represent the bulk of all known life; we macroscopic creatures are the exception rather than the rule. This presentation covers the key discoveries that reveal how microbes have influenced the course of human history, the earth’s climate, and even the human body itself. You will be convinced that this is really their planet; we’re merely living on it.

Tyler Irving became fascinated with the world of the very small while designing microalgal bioreactors as part of his master’s thesis at the University of Toronto. Today he is a science journalist who interprets new discoveries for non-specialist audiences, particularly Canadian ones. His blog can be found at tylerirving.ca.

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Presentation 2:  ”The Decadent Fork” by Lauren Shorser
Food and its consumption play a central role in all of our lives, but the unsung heroes of the table are the utensils with which we eat. Although cutlery is often overlooked in our daily lives, its history is a rich and fascinating one in which politics and patriotism, industrialization and class, societies and individuals, all play a part.
Lauren Shorser is a writer and scuba diver. She finds it unsettling to write about herself in the third person.
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TRIVIA as usual. Use your noodle.

 

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October 25 Presentations:

Presentation 1:  ”…the cemeteries are full of men this world could not get along without…” by Virve Aljas

It’s a shame that some of Toronto’s most interesting people are the dead ones. This presentation will explore Toronto’s historic cemeteries and the colourful residents within them.

Virve Aljas is the host of Nerd Nite Toronto and sometimes moonlights as a presenter.

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Presentation 2:  ”Cognitive Bias—Your Brain is a Big Fat Liar” by Ryan Consell
Ryan will talk about some of the ways that your perceptions of the world are filtered and distorted by your brain, how magicians and casinos take advantage of that, and how you can work to circumvent the effects.
Ryan Consell is mountain bicycle researcher at U of W, fantasy author, blogger for madartlab.com, creator of the Creative Dissonance web series and avid science enthusiast. In his free time, he is asleep.
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TRIVIA and JACK O LANTERN CONTEST: Bring your already-carved nerdy/geeky/generally fantastic pumpkin to be judged by the audience. Remember, this is a discerning crowd so be creative!

 

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September 13 Presentations:

Presentation 1:  Internal Conflicts — The Biology of Selfish Genetic Elements
Genes and cells are the building block of living organisms, and usually genes cooperate with each other pretty well. But, like in a communal kitchen, the genome is sensitive to free-loading cheaters. Arvid will discuss what prevents selfish genetic elements from completely taking over.

Arvid Ågren is an aspiring evolutionary biologist at U of T, a Junior Fellow at Massey College, and a Swede abroad. He also has an obsession with British politics and a hugely underperforming soccer team.

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Presentation 2:  Say You, Say Meme — From Email Forwards to Cultural Phenomena
Sara will be exploring the meaning behind LOLCats and the history of internet memes. Why are they significant? Why are so many people watching videos of cats on the internet? I can has answer???

Sara Law is a Toronto-based web designer and developer. She is a member of DevTO and Girl Geeks Toronto, is an avid knitter and painter, and can often be found cuddling up with a good book and a huge cup of tea.

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Plus Trivia and giveaways and all that jazz. Maybe cake if you’re good.

 

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May 9 Presentations:

Presentation 1: We’re Movin’ on Up (to Mars) by Andrew Rader
Earth’s housing bubble is about to burst. Andrew Rader will talk about future prospects for Space settlement, with emphasis on why Mars makes a good candidate for human exploration and colonization. Andrew will also discuss Mars-related research on Earth and how we can prepare to visit the red planet.

Andrew Rader is a Spacecraft Systems Engineer at COM DEV in Cambridge, Ontario. He earned his Ph.D. from MIT in Aerospace engineering, where he conducted experiments on human subjects investigating the long-term effects of spaceflight on the human body. Andrew was president of the MIT Chapter of the Mars Society and is an advocate of both human and robotic spaceflight.

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Presentation 2: Eye Patches are the New Black–The Golden Age of Piracy by Laura Thipphawong

The Golden Age of Piracy: they were the true pirates of the Caribbean, ruling the islands from 1650-1700. They were as dirty, depraved and heinously violent as the legends and folklore depict. We’ll touch on what influenced these fringe societies, including politics, monarchy, government spending, gender issues and pure sadism, as well as recounting some of the most notorious plunders of the golden age.

Laura Thipphawong is an avid researcher of criminal psychology and historical case studies. Her academic pursuit of personality disorders, neuroses and deviant behavior has taken her through highschool to U of T, where she audits courses on abnormal psychology and criminology. The rich history, psychological and sociological aspects of 17th century piracy makes the topic of particular personal interest.

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Trivia trivia trivia

 

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March 29 Presentations:

Presentation 1: The Canadian Golden Age of comic books by Hope Nicholson
The Canadian Golden Age of comic books: a time when Canada created the world’s first superheroine, Nelvana of the Northern Lights protected the Inuit from Russian invaders, and Johnny Canuck crossed the seas to punch out Hitler–for Canada.

Hope Nicholson is the Associate Producer of Lost Heroes, a documentary airing next year on Super Channel about the history of Canadian superheroes. In her day job she’s a researcher for post-production in film.

Presentation 2: “Popcorn in the Urban Garden” by Beny Spensieri Jr.
In an urban garden, tomatoes are nice and lettuce barely earns a backward glance–but corn always impresses. Nothing cranks the WTF-factor like announcing that you’re not just growing corn, but actually growing popcorn. It’s not as difficult as you might think.

Beny Spensieri Jr. is a chemical engineer, who works at a lab in Scarborough and sets things on fire for a living. When he’s not (almost) blowing himself to kingdom come, he impresses his friends with random projects from oddball botany experiments to building TV antennas and hammocks.

Trivia this month will be brought to you by the lovely and talented Catharine Benzie. She works in news and covered the census. Be afraid.

PLUS: Free copies of the second issue of Nerd Nite Magazine…don’t get too used to this, it’s the last batch :)

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February 23 Presentations:

Presentation 1: “Alien Minds” by Lauren Shorser

Though most people will only encounter them on a dinner plate, cephalopods (octopus, squid, and cuttlefish) are much more than exotic and chewy seafood. These short-lived, anti-social, and occasionally cannibalistic invertebrates are making a name for themselves as highly intelligent beings, and we’ve only just scratched the surface of what they can do.

Lauren Shorser is a writer and scuba diver with a deep love of cephalopods. She finds it unsettling to write about herself in the third person.

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Presentation 2: “The Science Behind Your Movie Preferences” by Charlotte Armstrong

You love Star Wars, I love Star Trek. Science (and Charlotte) can explain why. Factors like technological advances in film and the viewers’ ability to access facts about the movies can affect their emotional response and attachment to the films.

Charlotte Armstrong has over 10 years experience reviewing and discussing movies in a variety of public forums including television. She is the founder and coordinator of the Southern Ontario Science Fiction and Science festivals, and is also the boss of Nerd Nite Kitchener Waterloo.
Trivia to follow!

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January 19 Presentations:

Presentation 1: “Microchips Ahoy!: The weird and wonderful ways we use computer chips” By Justin Besant

Everyone expects to find microchips in computers, cell phones, and cyborgs. Justin will talk about surprising ways that integrated circuits are infiltrating our society including disease diagnosis, modern art, and beer tasting.

Justin Besant is a PhD student in biomedical engineering at U of T developing new strategies to detect bacterial infections. When he’s not in the lab you might be able to find him goofing around on a piano or churning out hip hop beats.

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Presentation 2: “It Started in a Bar” by Christine Sismondo

Sometimes it seems like everything that ever happened in America happened (or at least started) in a bar — from the American Revolution to the Stonewall Riots. Christine Sismondo argues that the role this powerful institution has played in history has been shamefully neglected when, in fact, America was born in a bar.

Christine Sismondo is a writer and barfly who spends, what some might say is too much time thinking about and drinking in bars. With her new book, America Walks into a Bar: A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops (Oxford University Press), she hopes to change the way the world looks at their local.

For more information and to purchase the book, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nerd Nite Toronto Holiday Nerdtacular!

December 8, 2011
TRANZAC
(The Toronto Australia New Zealand Club)
In the Main Hall
292 Brunswick Avenue
A handy map to guide your way

We’ll be hearing about 2011 highlights, how to survive   the coming apocalypse, Toronto history with a holiday  spin…. and special guests The Cowgirl Choir!

Bring forth your ugliest Christmas sweaters, practice  your dreidel spinning and start training for your Festivus  feats of strength.

There’s a $5 cover, kids. See you there!

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November 3 Presentations:

Presentation 1: “Dark Energy.” That is all.

Dark energy is driving everything in the universe away from everything else at a faster and faster rate. This year a Nobel Prize was awarded to three astrophysicists who showed that the universe was not only expanding, but accelerating in its expansion. Liam will talk about dark energy’s discovery, its possible explanations, and its dismal implications for the fate of the universe.

Liam Connor is an aspiring cosmologist and actor. He’s starting his Ph.D. in Astrophysics at U of T and will be appearing in the upcoming Bollywood film Agent Vinod as an extra.

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Presentation 2: “I Was a High School DJ:  A twenty-year journey through music, technology, and crowd control”

DJ by night – Government employee by day, MontyB started his journey on a frosty Sudbury Saturday night with stops in Detroit Rock City, Miami to Ibiza and eventually T Dot Oh, with a few unlikely stops along the way.

 

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September 8 Presentations:

Mini Presentation: A look at more of your favourite Heritage Minutes: “A Lot of $#!? Went Down in Manitoba.” by Virve Aljas

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Presentation 1: Fuel Hacking (Return of the Loblaws Homebrewer)

Homemade booze is fun and easy to make. You can brew it in your kitchen with basic groceries. However bathtub hooch has more applications than just getting drunk — with a few extra steps it can be processed into fuel that will run in your car. “Fuel Hacking” demonstrates a lo-fi process for homemade biofuel, and examines the pros and cons of ethanol as an industrial alternative to petrol.

Mark Coatsworth is a computer engineer, tech entrepreneur, electronics hacker and aspiring alchemist. He has been subjecting his family, friends (and himself!) to various DIY science experiments since 2002.

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Presentation 2: That Drug Does What?  ***UPDATE*** Due to unforeseen circumstances, Michael’s presentation has to be postponed to another date. Trivia and other nerdy goodness to take its place, never fear.

The lighter side of drug side effects? Well only if they’re not happening to you. Michael Plastina, chemist and pharmaceutical veteran, walks you through the fine print of drug labels.

Warning: May cause nausea, vomiting, lower back pain, receding hairline, liver spots, blood clots, uneven tire wear, pyorrhoea, gonorrhoea, diarrhoea, halitosis, scoliosis, loss of bladder control, athlete’s foot, head lice, split ends, haemorrhoids, dry heaving, sexual dysfunction, and the condition known as ‘hot dog fingers.’

 

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August 5 Presentations:

We’re keeping the trivia train rolling with a mid-nite trivia break. Get your 80′s pop culture hat on. Woo! Trivia!

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Presentation 1:
Sarah Reeves Aljas answers the burning question–why does Elmer Fudd talk like that?

Ever wonder what’s really going on with Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, Sylvester and Tweety’s speech impediments? The ins and outs of how we produce sounds (a.k.a. talk) and the difficulties some have doing so.

Sarah Reeves Aljas has been a Speech-Language Pathologist for 10 years, helping toddlers and school-aged children learn to talk and improving the way they talk. She has provided treatment for people in NWT, Nunavut and Northern Ontario, both directly and through videoconferencing.

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Presentation 2:
Todd Van Allen and Ian Atlas talk about Comedy Above the Pub and the finer points of podcasting:

Launched in 2007, the Comedy Above The Pub podcast has risen to prominence in Toronto, and in 2010 was named Toronto’s Best Comedy Podcast by Now Magazine.

Hosted by comedian Todd Van Allen, recent guests have included Henry Rollins, Paul F Tompkins, former Mayor David Miller, Michael Showalter, Anthony Jeselnik, and many more.

Todd will be joined by producer Ian Atlas, and they will discuss the finer points of podcastery and the nerdery therein, including a brief history, technical setup, formatting, and distribution.

At the time of August’s Nerd Nite, Todd and Ian will have just returned from Montreal’s Just For Laughs comedy festival.

 

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June 10 Presentations:
We’re back at Tranzac for Nerd Nite V, kids. A later start time of 8pm so you can grab a bite beforehand. Doors open at 7:30… arrive early to snag a seat.

We’re mixing it up a bit with some trivia to start the night off. Woo! Trivia!

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Presentation 1:
Rick Roos talks about the science of home building:

Humanity’s need for the comfort of conditioned interior spaces are in conflict with Mother Nature’s socialist agenda. Insisting on “universal laws” such as equilibrium to rob thermally-conditioned spaces from honestly earned heat and moisture, Mother Nature not only participates in wholesale damage to the built environment, but also in global warming.

Rick Roos, ex-organic farmer, occasional musician and full-time hottie, is finishing up his MASc in Building Science. Expects to join Mother Nature’s barbarous thievery cartel in the fall, undertaking book-keeping responsibilities.

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Presentation 2:
D.T. Cochrane, on how diamonds are a war’s best friend:

Why did the Allied countries win WWII? Because we had the diamonds. From the bullets, to the radars and radios, from the airplane engines to the nuclear bombs, industrial diamonds were there.

D.T. Cochrane is a lowly social scientist who has somehow found himself reading academic articles in geochemistry. How else can one understand the complicated social life of diamonds and their 20th century master, DeBeers?

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April 7 Presentations:

Presentation 1:
“Welcome to the Nanoworld” by Kristin Cederquist
Did you know that gold can appear bright red, depending on its size? Nanoparticles are too small for the eye to see, but they’ve been used for over a thousand years as stains and dyes. This presentation will give a brief history of nanoparticles and why they can exhibit such bright colors–and what they’re doing in many of today’s products, from cosmetics to pregnancy tests.

Kristin has a Ph.D. in chemistry from Penn State University and is now a postdoctoral researcher at U of T. She synthesized way too many nanoparticles in her time at Penn State, but is still fascinated by the nanoworld and other advances in science and tech. She also does a killer Sarah Palin impression.


Presentation 2:
“Rocket Science Invades Your Living Room!” by Kevin Andrews
Inertial navigation is a branch of rocket science finding its way into your every day.  From Wernher von Braun’s Nazi V-2 rocket to the Nintendo Wii, explore how this pervasive technology keeps you safe, informed, and even entertained.

Kevin is a nerd of all trades, dungeon master of none.  Professionally in the business of fitting lasers onto things, typically for the purposes of navigation or mapping, he is always looking for an opportunity to work with sharks.


Presentation 3:
“Don’t dig that kinda croonin’, chum!
: When Music Genres Collide by Alan Stanbridge
Even Bing and Frankie couldn’t quite get along, style-wise. But what happens when Jazz meets Classical? Or when Opera meets Popular Music? Or when Frankie meets Elvis, for heaven’s sake? The 20th Century was littered with debris from the collisions between musical styles and genres, and this presentation takes you on a whirlwind tour of the most spectacular pile-ups. Who needs Monster Truck Madness when there’s Music Genre Madness? And without the fumes.

Alan is a full-time professor and procrastinator, although he does a pretty good job of the procrastination thing on a part-time basis too. He’s a bit of a jazz guy, but only the good jazz, not the boring stuff with the funny hats. He also likes other music. He was very flattered to be considered worthy of Nerd Nite, and briefly contemplated calling his presentation “Music: Friend or Foe?”

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February 17 Presentations:

Mini Presentation
“The Sun: friend … or foe?”
by Adam Evans
Sure, our nearest star provides us with some minor comforts (habitable climates, photosynthesis, a light source for shadow puppets), but what does the Sun have to hide? In this short presentation, we’ll explore how the star works, debunk some sunny myths, and learn how it secretly plans to kill us all.


Presentation 1:
“On the Nerdiness of Type” by Colin Barrett
Colin Barrett will share his obsession for the history, technology, and culture of typographic design. He’ll discuss some unfamiliar characteristics of some familiar characters.
Colin is a full-time cubicle dweller, amateur bookbinder, and avid type enthusiast. He is grateful for the privilege to practice his public speaking skills at Nerd Nite and for the abundance of liquid courage available on tap at its venue.


Presentation 2:
“The Art of Geocaching: Hiding Loot is not Just for Pirates…” by Tarmo Remmel and Raja Raudsepp
It has been said that geocaching utilizes billions of dollars of high tech military equipment orbiting in space to find Tupperware in the woods. Bottom-line: It is an international treasure hunt!  With GPS unit in hand, over 600,000 people have taken to the streets, forests, mountains, oceans, and even space (there is a geocache on the international space station), to find many of the over one million caches hidden worldwide.  This presentation will enlighten
you to what it is, how to do it, and how to know when you’re addicted.
Tarmo Remmel, or “kurat”, as he’s known in geocaching circles is a geographer and a geocaching addict.  While not as severely addicted as some, he has been known to bolt out of the house at midnight to be the first to find a newly published geocache or to climb through sewers or up trees to make coveted finds.  Having cached in 7 countries, he takes his love of geography to this extra dimension.
Raja Raudsepp always enjoyed a good scavenger hunt as a kid.  Now, as an amateur geocacher, she’s already suckered in a number of friends and colleagues.  Her goal: to get more of her friends into caching so she’ll have
people to go with.

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November 23 Presentations:

Mini Presentation:
The story behind “I Smell Burnt Toast” and your other favourite Heritage Minutes by Virve Aljas


Presentation 1:
“The Loblaws Homebrewer” by Mark Coatsworth

Humans were producing booze before we had writing. Fermentation is a fundamental process that occurs in nature and can be easily reproduced. This presentation covers a basic process for producing alcohol with nothing more than Loblaws groceries, hoping to simplify the science of alcohol production and give you some tasty recipes too!
Mark Coatsworth
is a computer engineer, tech entrepreneur, old time banjo picker and aspiring alchemist. He has been subjecting his family, friends (and himself!) to various DIY science experiments since 2002. He is also fascinated by entomology and pest control and is working on a control solution to the bedbug pandemic.


Presentation 2:
“There Is No Noise” by garbageface AKA Karol Orzechowski

“There Is No Noise” is part seminar, part how-to guide on the presence and function of sound in our daily lives. Whether it’s the sound of the highway outside your door, the dripping tap that keeps you awake at night, or the the swishing of your spinal fluid back and forth, sound is virtually impossible to escape from. Toronto sound artist garbageface will present a very brief genealogy of “noise,” followed by a demonstration of how the “noises” of our daily lives can be rethought and reimagined into more pleasing configurations.
garbageface AKA Karol Orzechowski maintains the dubious title the world’s first and only ambient occult rapper. He has been studying noise and its effect on people since the third grade, when his friend’s older brother made him a mix tape that included Slayer.

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Sept. 19 Presentations:

Urban Astrophotography: Taking Photos of Deep Space from the City
Let’s admit it, nerds love space.  But urban light pollution can turn your plans of a romantic night under the Milky Way into a very short star-counting session.  Fortunately, thanks to cameras and telescopes, it’s now possible for industrious amateurs to take photos of galaxies, nebulae and other obscure nerdy objects even from within the city.
Adam Evans is an amateur astrophotographer.  He spends clear nights freezing his ass off in the dark, taking astro-photos from his home-built backyard observatory in Toronto.  This presentation will feature some of Adam’s astroporn, and explore how he copes with the earth’s rotation, glowing skies, curious raccoons, and other uniquely urban threats to astronomy.
Your Memory Sucks. (At Least the Courts Think So)
Witness identification has been proven to be one of the most unreliable forms of evidence in court cases. Also, remember that time you spilled punch all over someone at a wedding when you were a kid? It never happened!
Virve Aljas isn’t an expert on memory, but her time on a Grand Jury in New York led her to find out some really cool stuff about it on the Internet.
The Stray Shopping Cart Identification System
The major obstacle that has historically prevented people from thinking critically about stray shopping carts has been the lack of a formalized language to discuss them. Montague has removed this obstacle by creating an elaborately accurate system of identifying stray shopping carts by defining the various states and situations in which they are found.
Julian Montague is an artist, graphic designer, author and raconteur living in Buffalo, New York. He is currently fabricating an intellectual history of pest control.