Scientific Spirit

Eddie Goldstein hopes for a society that values science by fostering a scientific spirit founded on curiosity and a belief that answers come from logic and evidence. He talked about how the OJ Simpson trial showed him how unscientific legal thinking was, that it was not about seeking truth but winning the case. Conversely, he fears that many people believe science, like law, has an agenda, and that facts are biased. For scientists who work so hard to address bias and speak cautiously about conclusions, this perception must be maddening. Meanwhile, communicators aiming for clarity might be losing some nuances.


Science Cartooning

As part of a workshop on media in science storytelling at the BC science outreach conference, I did a little demo of making a science inspired comic. Three reasons for drawing science cartoons by hand are

1. It is visual. Our brains seem "drawn" to images.

2. Hand drawn images reflect personality and authenticity that seems lacking in photos and slicker illustrations. And it is less slick and intimidating.

3.  Humor, used judiciously, can help create a more benign atmosphere, especially useful if the audience seems intimidated by science.

I was reading Dan Roam's Show and Tell which describes four steps in thinking visually that I applied to making the cartoon.

1. Look, as in Look at what your options are. So I asked the audience for science subjects and got starfish, maggot, giraffe vocal chords, CRISPR.

2. See, as picking out relevant ideas. I think you could cover most subjects, but figured maggots provided the easiest for me to work on because it would an immediate reaction. (The giraffe vocal chords referred to an actual blog post I had done before, which was very touching to me). I have heard about CRISPR but had no clue how to draw it.

3. Imagine, as in Imagine possibilities. I asked for associations with maggots - decomposition, bird food, smell, flies, death, crime scene. And I imagined two maggots chatting over dinner. A book called The Humour Code suggests much Humour involves the convergence of a benign violation. The image of maggots in a rotting corpse is a violation of good taste perhaps. So I had them chatting in a very benign way.

4. Show, as in show what you're thinking. For efficiency, I did a single panel cartoon of two maggots having dinner in half a decomposing human head. I began with the maggots. In the workshop, I included eyeballs but in This is a revised recreation, I left them out. I figured showing part of the head would be the most obvious indication of a corpse, though it was still hard to get the scale approximated. I didn't bother with colors in the original although the wash helps differentiate areas in this version done with a Jot Pro stylus on my iPad in 53Paper.



Science Comics

Warming up for a workshop I am delivering at the BC Science Outreach conference today, in which I will attempt a cartoon with a live studio audience. 



Ki-Chi-Ra-No Nikkei National Museum Walking Tour

Multi-talented Carolyn Nakagawa led an intriguing though chilly Ki-Chi-Ra-No walking tour, about the Japanese Canadians in Kitsilano before the War, near the Burrard St. Bridge, from before there was a Burrard St. Bridge. Men from Tottori working for a lumber company, gradually grew to about 1000 people, until they were all forcibly relocated in 1942. Nothing remains of the community that included a Japanese school, a Buddhist temple, and the Anglican Church where Joy Kogawa's father was a minister and pedophile. That side of Burrard is now lined with luxury car dealerships catering to rich Asians.


Destination Imagination

I had the privilege and pleasure of volunteering as an Fine Arts appraiser for the regional Destination Imagination tournament. The challenge this year involved telling a story in which a color vanished from the world. The creativity and cooperation shown by the children was inspiring. Yellow and green seemed to be the most popular colors, symbols of optimism and growth. The tournament is their opportunity to perform and I help give feedback on their efforts after they have worked for months on their own. I hope that regardless of their outcomes, they enjoyed the process of learning along the way.


Midnight Diner


I don't use my limited Japanese much anymore and I haven't been to Japan in over twenty years. Watching the Midnight Diner series on Netflix in Japanese with English subtitles was somehow nostalgic. Each episode is titled after a dish that the Master of the tiny diner prepares for patrons who become the focus of the story.  Beginning with people who would eat at a diner open from midnight to seven in the morning, the quiet, often quirky, stories beautifully reflect some idiosyncrasies of Japanese society and the complex nuances of human relationships that can make living there so stressful.

Human Book

I got to be a human book on my alternative science-related career for some grade nine students. They were supposed to ask me questions and a few actually did. I told them about when I was in high school and our group attempted to make an energy resource exhibit, which was a brilliant idea that we were unable to execute. I hope that is not a metaphor for something. Also I told them about my high school teacher who looked like Vincent Price and ate a piece of mould growing on some bread he left out. That's inspiration.