Wednesday, 17 October 2012

$1.4 million Raised for Nikola Tesla Laboratory: Faith in Humanity Goes Up Ten Points

(Before you ask, I'm not keeping a tally but, if I was, Tim Minchin and his wonderful nerdy ilk would be responsible for most of them.)

Hardcore nerdism is apparently rife in Shoreham, New York, where the Tesla Science Centre at Wardenclyffe group has raised $1.4 million via online crowd funding to buy Nikola Tesla's laboratory in order to turn it into a museum. As a soon-to-be owner of a Nikola Tesla T-shirt, this excites me very much.

It being in America both disappoints and thrills me. I am disappointed because, unless by some miracle I suddenly get very rich, it is unlikely that I will be able to go. However, considering the sheer stupidity that has come out of America, I am overjoyed that this has happened at all. Reading about it only makes it seem so much better.

The point of the museum is that it is a place that is dedicated to science and education with Nikola Tesla - an inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist and futurist whose work led to the way electricity is used today - at its foundation.

Tesla was born in Serbia in 1856 and emigrated to America in 1884 to work for Thomas Edison. He soon moved on to work for himself and conducted high-voltage, high-frequency experiments, which resulted in inventions that made him world famous. Essentially, he made explosions out of electricity for a living, which is pretty damn awesome as far as I am concerned, never mind everything else for which we have to thank him.

In typical mad-scientist fashion, he spent as much money as he made on more and more experiments and ended up dying penniless in January 1943. But still managed to keep his hair suspiciously neat, judging by the pictures of him.

In 1901, Tesla bought 200 acres on Long Island's north shore where he established what is now his only remaining laboratory. It was purchased with the intention of building a wireless transmission tower but was never fully operational. Wardenclyffe Tower - also known as Tesla Tower - remaining, even if in diminished form, as a tribute to his life and achievements is amazing. It seems only fitting that that the group also hope to have it provide space for companies to perform scientific research.

Aside from his brilliance as a scientist, Tesla was one damn incredible human. He lived his life by a strict routine, squishing his toes one hundred times per foot in the belief that it stimulated his brain. Judging by his work, he may well have been right. He worked from 9am to 6pm, at least, every day, often continuing until 3am once he had had his dinner. He walked 8 to 10 miles ever day to keep in shape; he was elegant, stylish and incredibly groomed (just look at his hair!). His gray-blue eyes, he claims, used to be darker until they lightened due to so much use of his brain.

Tesla never married, but even he admitted that it was a bit of a loss to the world that his genes were not preserved. Then again, he also said that being celibate allowed him a lot more time to devote to his work, which was most certainly a good thing. However, he was sociable, and everyone who knew him loved him. He was considered to be charming and lovely and poetic, and it is almost no surprise that so many women threw themselves at him.

After all, he made shit like this possible...

He was wonderful. If he were alive today, he still would be. It is a shame more men are not like him in this world. I am a little bit in love with him. And with good reason.

If I ever get the chance, I am going to that Tesla museum and I am going to behave like a stalkery little fangirl and I am going to love it.

Funds are still being raised on the Tesla Science Centre website to continue with the restoration of the laboratory and the creation of the museum.

It is going to be awesome!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Back The Fuck Off, PETA!

On the whole, and with no exceptions that come to mind, I am definitely for the ethical treatment of animals. I am a person, which means that I would come under the plural heading of people. So it would seem not unreasonable to assume that I should be in favour of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and their behaviour. Of course, in generalising everyone who supports PETA, I am purposely ignoring the crazy ones who firebomb medical research facilities for the cause; I am sensible enough to assume that these nutters are in the minority and that most of the supporters are decent people who just really dig animals.

If I had to point out something that bothered me about PETA, I would direct you here and I would advise that you listen very carefully to what they have to say. I would point out that the things highlighted in this show are largely the crazies mentioned above, but the woman who uses insulin but says that others shouldn’t because it was tested on dogs strikes me as a hypocritical cow.

Otherwise, I would generally think well of the organisation’s intention to bring a little more joy and a little less fear into the lives of creatures less evolved than ourselves.

And then I heard that they were ragging on Pokémon. And then I got mad.

Then I calmed down and did some research, just to see if it was worth me getting mad about it.

Yes, it was.

On this website, I found this: 

“Much like animals in the real world,” read PETA’s statement, “Pokémon are treated as unfeeling objects and used for such things as human entertainment and as subjects in experiments. The way that Pokémon are stuffed into pokéballs is similar to how circuses chain elephants inside railroad cars and let them out only to perform confusing and often painful tricks that were taught using sharp steel-tipped bullhooks and electric shock prods … If PETA existed in [the game world of] Unova, our motto would be: Pokémon are not ours to use or abuse. They exist for their own reasons. We believe that this is the message that should be sent to children.”

Upon reading this, I decided that PETA could fuck right off.

Clearly, not a single one of the fuckwits at PETA has watched an episode of Pokémon, let alone taken the time to understand the concept. Even without the backstories that ushered my generation into maturity, the first film alone is a monument to how the world of Pokémon is one that advocates love, equality and friendship, between all people and all Pokémon, no matter who or what they are. I refuse to believe that, after seeing the face it pulled when Ash got turned to stone, anyone can fail to believe that Pikachu loves him?

I know it made me cry when I went to see it in the cinema back when I was six years old. I know, now that I am nineteen, that it still does. Frankly, if you are not in some way affected by this face, then you are an emotionless monster.

The first series alone shows numerous examples of Ash behaving in the way that will best suit his Pokémon.  He frees his Butterfree so that it can go off with its true love, so that it can be happy even if it means they might never see each other again. He lets his Pidgeot remain in the forests around Pallet Town so that it can protect the weak wild Pidgey from a predatory wild Fearow that was terrorising their little society. He allows his Charizard to remain with a group of other Charizard where it can train until it achieves its full potential, which sadly Ash could not provide for it. Their parting is one my most distressing childhood memories, and this image still moves me because I know how much Ash  loved his Charizard and how much of a sacrifice it was for him to leave it behind where it could be happy.

Pokémon has never been anything other than a story of a boy and his friends, whom he loves dearly even when they are far apart. His friends might be human or they might be Pokémon, it does not matter to him, and it does not matter to us – his loyal and life long followers – either. We love who he loves, we cry when he cries and we cheer when he wins. We follow his defeats and we learn to accept them with him and, as we grow older and he remains perpetually ten years old, we continued to follow his adventures in the hope that one day we will see our hero fulfil all his dreams. Throughout his stories, his companions are his Pokémon and they are the most important things in the world to him. He loves them. He does everything for them. He would happily sacrifice everything for them. What is more – they love him too.

Take, for instance, the episode ‘Snow Way Out!’ (yes; I’m resorting to citing episodes; watch them, PETA!), in which Ash’s Pokémon give up the comfort and luxuriousness (yes, they are comfortable and luxurious, PETA) of their PokéBalls  to stop him from freezing.

It only takes one look at the way that Ash and Pikachu look at each other to know that they could not love each other more. I find it difficult to believe that there are many human beings that love other human beings – let alone animals – as much as Ash loves Pikachu and Pikachu loves Ash back.

If for even one day in my existence I love like that then I will consider myself content with life.

When I was kid – including the times I sometimes behave as if I still am – Pokémon taught me so much about life. I learned that it is not the quantity of friends that you have, but the quality of the friendships. I learned the no matter how far away your friends might be, they will always be important to you as long as you never forget how much they mean to you and that they will always remember the impression you had on their lives too. It taught me that it does not matter how weird or demented your friends seem at times, what matters is that they are there for you and that they love you.

It taught me that no matter how small and weak you may seem, if you work hard at what you want in life, one day you could be capable of great things.

I learned that it is not a bad thing to have weaknesses because everyone has them and that that does not mean that they cannot be overcome.

I have learned that no one can do everything alone, and that having people around you to support you no matter what is and always be one of the most important and valuable things in the world. I have learned that there is always room for improvement; it could be said that no matter how good you get there will always be someone better than you, but that is irrelevant as long as you never give up. I mean, if Meowth can talk, why can’t my dreams come true too?

Pokémon has taught me that even the hardest-seeming people can be good on the inside, even if it takes a little bit of time to see it.

Maybe it is because I was a little bit obsessed with it as a kid – maybe it is because I am still a little bit obsessed with it now – but Pokémon taught me a hell of a lot about the world. If this whole blog post has not convinced you about this, bear in mind that I have only used examples from the first series and first film. There has been a decade of Pokémon since offering the same message to my little brother, and I would not have it any other way.

My experience of Pokémon has taught me nothing but love and to have patience, tolerance and kindness to everyone and everything. I struggle to see how anyone who has ever watched an episode or played the game (and read the speech bubbles) could interpret it in any other way. In fact, it offends me that anyone could even conceive of saying such horrible things about something that quite probably had a lot to do with making me – and possibly a lot of other people my age – the person I am today.

Now, back the fuck off, PETA, and leave my childhood alone.