Dr. Birdcage passed this along – “The List: 5 Reasons Why We Should Worry About an Ape Revolution.” It’s from Smithsonian Magazine’s Around the Mall blog.

With the impending release this Friday of the documentary summer blockbuster Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I thought we should all be prepared in case we ever face chemically enhanced apes that attempt to take over our world. In the past on our site we’ve investigated zombies and kept a running record on robot technology, but the threat of ape rebellion had yet to be cataloged. The National Zoo’s Amanda Bania, a keeper who works with the great apes, told me that gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans and the other ape species can best us in many ways, even without being injected with mysterious serums by James Franco. This week’s list deals with 5 ways that apes outdo humans:

[read the whole post]

I mostly posted this to fuel JunglePete’s clearly rational and justified fears about the impending ape-based apocalypse.

“NASA’s ‘Extreme Planet Makeover’; Crochet Coral Reef at the Smithsonian”

By Rachel Saslow
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 7, 2011; 2:44 PM
Art and science

And the rest of us just knit scarves . . . Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef, National Museum of Natural History

An impressive exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History ties together art and science with yards and yards of sparkly yarn. The “Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef” is, amazingly, just what it sounds like: an enormous crocheted coral reef created by hundreds of local crafters, a spinoff from the worldwide Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef Project. (“Hyperbolic” refers to a kind of geometry that appears in some natural forms, including corals and sponges.) Sisters Margaret and Christine Wertheim launched the project in 2005 in their Los Angeles living room to promote ecological awareness and highlight the need for conservation. There are miniature beaded-crochet sea anemones, woolen jellyfish and a plastic portion of the reef, created to bring attention to ocean pollution. Sound weird? It’s magnificent. The exhibit runs through April 24.

(You can go visit the page to read about NASA – I quoted the whole section about the coral because it was a difficult article to find online in the first place).

I’m a docent at the reef and I’m usually there on Tuesdays but I won’t be there today, unfortunately.

If you don’t live in Washington, DC you might not have been wallowing in the crazy cuteness of the 7 lion cubs born at the National Zoo. Back in August, lions Shera and Luke had a litter of 4 cubs. Then, in September, Naba and Luke had a litter of 3 cubs.

The cubs are named John, Fahari, Zurie, Lelie, Aslan, and Lusaka.

Right now they only get to go out into the lion yard on a limited basis. As they get older, they’re starting to stay out longer. As long as it’s sunny and not raining or snowing, they’re out between approximately 12:30 and 1:30 each day. They’re growing fast, so you’d better hurry if you want to see them while they’re still small(ish) and crazy.

How crazy?

I’ve taken about 100 short videos of them but I haven’t gone through them and culled the ones where people’s heads suddenly block the frame or the camera jerks as I blurt, “Oh My God They Are So Cute!” at Michele Banks. You know, in case she’s forgotten how cute they are.

It was bitterly cold & windy but Husband and I stopped by the zoo on Sunday. Watch the cub on the lower tier, s/he’s adorable. S/he starts out in the little cement cave in the beginning of the video & then at around 2:30 – after mom hops down and they tussle behind a tree – there’s another outbreak of cuteness. Not that they aren’t all cute, because ohmygod that’s a lot of cuteness!

(I may need to re-upload the video. It looked fine but now it’s all pixelated. Hmmm. Maybe my internet connection is just crappy tonight. Please tell me if the video quality is bad).

This isn’t the most exciting video, but I wanted to share it with my mom so I put it on youtube. And since I put it on youtube, I figured I’d share it with you, because I care. Or maybe just because I can. You’ll never know, will you?

Yes, in the ideal world there wouldn’t be a need for zoos and these beautiful lions would live someplace wild, but it’s not and they don’t. Disclaimer: Husband and I donate money to the National Zoo and we’re very fond of it’s critters.

Starting tomorrow, Saturday, October 16, at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History there will be a temporary exhibit depicting a coral reef and related eco-system. The reef is constructed of crocheted coral made of yarn, found objects, and recycled materials. The reef is installed in the Sant Ocean Hall, on the first floor of the museum.

The [Hyperbolic] Crochet Coral Reef resides at the intersection of mathematics, marine biology, handicraft and community art practice, and also responds to the environmental crisis of global warming and the escalating problem of oceanic plastic trash.”

The Smithsonian community reef is a satellite project that’s part of a larger project created by the Institute for Advanced Figuring, “an organization dedicated to the poetic and aesthetic dimensions of science, mathematics and the technical arts.”

Here’s IFF Co-Founder Margaret Wertheim’s TED Talk, “Margaret Wertheim on the beautiful math of coral.”

Other satellite reefs have been constructed in other places and there are more on the horizon, the Institute’s website has more information on that schedule.

I was pleased to be able to to contribute a number of pieces of coral that I made, which are now part of the Smithsonian’s permanent collection.

I was able to some devote some time to the assemblage and curation process and I can tell you – with no bias at all – that the reef looks amazing!*

More information about the exhibit can be found here and there will be lots of family-oriented activities in the exhibit area tomorrow, starting at 11. The reef will be on display until April 24, 2011.

*Maybe a little bias, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true!

The hyperbolic crochet coral reef project is extremely cool.

The Smithsonian will be participating by installing a reef in October 2010 and you can participate. There’s a workshop and lecture this Sunday at the Natural History Museum from noon – 4. (rsvp: sicommunityreef@yahoo.com)

You can still participate even if you can’t attend that workshop.

You can contact the local organizers at sicommunityreef@yahoo.com to arrange a local community workshop or you can attend one at Fibre Space on June 24th, from 5-9 pm:

Join our Thursday night “Stitch in Space” every week, starting June 24th to make your own piece to the crochet coral reef. Jennifer Lindsay from the Smithsonian Community Reef will join us on the 24th to help everyone get started. Or you can find your own inspiration at the Institute For Figuring’s Gallery of Crocheted Models. Our reef will be on display in our front window before heading off to the Smithsonian in August to become part of the larger reef project.

Here’s video of a recent TED talk by Margaret Wertheim, co-founder of the The Institute For Figuring, in case you want to learn more (or you just can’t figure out what the hell I’m talking about and why it’s cool).

Some places we aren’t:

Flashback Weekend in Chicago, featuring a 40th anniversary reunion event for George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.

Sharon Salzberg and Robert Thurman‘s workshop, Working with Our Enemies: Finding Freedom from Hostility and Fear (Admittedly, we were too lazy to go to this. We could have).

The US Olympic Team Trials for Track and Field in Eugene, Oregon. It seemed like a wasted trip since we’re pretty confident that as soon as we tried to run they’d arrest us. We’re old and slow. And don’t do track and field. I hear Oregon is nice, so there’s that, but it wasn’t enough.

Crafty Bastards in Silver Spring.

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival. It’s not that I don’t enjoy being packed into an enclosed area with a lot of sweaty tourists on a sweltering day, who doesn’t love that? It’s mostly that I shared an office with NASA-types in Grad School and I think I’ve probably explored that culture enough, thanks. Some nice people doing cool things, to be sure, but I’m not sure this is a culture we want to share with impressionable youngsters from Iowa. Bhutan and…NASA? I honestly thought that was something made up by The Onion.

I can picture the tent full of post-docs who haven’t bathed in a week, are so jittery from mainlining espresso that they’re speaking really fast and in falsetto like Mickey Mouse yet none of them notices, and have been sustaining themselves by grazing off the olive bar at Shopper’s Food Warehouse. The very idea of that makes me slightly itchy, I think I need to stay in my house today.

FYI: If you go to Folklife and you visit the NASA area and you hear vigorous and heated discussions about RDA, they’re referring to Richard Dean Anderson, star of Stargate not a new kind of rocket fuel.

Also, “DIp” is Klingon for beer.

You can thank me later for this information.

Husband and I went to visit the Buddhas today at the Sackler Museum of Art. We always stop and say hello to Ganesha. We also checked out the Southeast Asian Ceramics exhibit, which we hadn’t seen yet even though it’s been up for months.

The Sackler store was playing some sort of demonic j-pop Christmas/Dance music. We had to leave quickly, the music was blocking our qi.

In our wanderings we also meandered through the National Museum of African Art. I wanted to link to a couple of especially cool pieces in the Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection, but the site crashes Firefox and is giving me an error message in Safari. I’m too tired to figure out the problem. Searching google, I was able to get bypass the Museum website’s splash page and go directly to the section about the masks on display, but there’s no deep-linking. Let’s take that as a sign that you should just go browse the exhibit yourself and pick your own favorites. (Why can’t you go between the Sackler and African Art anymore without leaving the building?)

We also passed through the Freer Gallery of Art to visit their Buddhas. We made the obligatory stop into the Peacock Room on our way out. I’d never noticed it has sunflower-shaped fireplace doohickeys. (I don’t know what they’re called – are they part of the screen? I’m from Florida. We don’t have fireplaces. I could look it up, I suppose. But I probably won’t).

We’ve realized that at any given time, in any museum in the world, there are always five people there. Not the same five people, quit being so literal and/or paranoid. Five representatives of the basic museum-going archetypes. Perhaps they’re Museum Spirits who don’t exist outside the confines of institutional cultural presentations? Who can know. They are: Aging Hippie Woman Anthropology Professor, Woman Wearing Too Much Perfume, The Bickering Couple, and Random White Guy. The museums were all practically empty, yet at each one we kept bumping into incarnations of the Museum Spirits.

Husband pointed out that maybe to other museum goers he appeared to be The Random White Guy. He was smart enough not to point out I could play the role of the Aging Hippie Woman Anthropology Professor, otherwise we might have also found ourselves playing the role of The Bickering Couple.

Yesterday I had a meeting downtown and took a brief detour through the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery of Asian Art. I was looking at that lovely, serene building with it’s beautiful and dignified collections and it’s noble mission to educate and enlighten in the public sphere and I thought to myself, “You know, Washington really needs more overpriced and tacky shit.”

I’m not really sure how Washington, DC survived all these years without a Madame Tussauds, so you can imagine how happy I was when I opened the Washington Post this morning and saw that the new wax museum is nearing completion in the old Woodies building. I’d heard about this project, but was in complete denial, I think.

I’m relieved that kids will be able to see replicas of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. I’m often worried that they’ll go see the real ones for free. And in some sort of historical context or some such nonsense. The time I save no longer worrying about that can now be blocked off for fretting over the rise of Mike Huckabee. You’re saying “who?” now, but that’s what people outside of Arkansas said about Clinton, too. (Which? Both).