G’day World #363 – Ben Templesmith, Comic Book Artist / Writer

If you read comics at all, you’re probably know who Ben Templesmith is already. If you don’t read comics – then why not?

Anyway, Templesmith is an Australian-born comic book artist / writer who now lives and works in the USA where is perhaps best known for his work on 30 DAYS OF NIGHT (which he co-created and which was subsequently turned into a hit Hollywood film), WORMWOOD, HELLSPAWN and FELL (which is authored by Warren Ellis, perhaps the best known comic book writer working today).

Ben has a new book THE PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES which just came out, as well as a new comic GROOM LAKE and a one-off DOCTOR WHO.

I chatted with him recently about how you become a world-famous comic book artist and what motivates his art.




Teaching The Scientific Method

My project with my kids this month is to teach them the scientific method. I think that this is perhaps one of the most important things we can teach our kids. They obviously aren’t doing a good enough job of it in the schools. If they did, I wouldn’t have so many bozos say to me “science doesn’t know everything” when trying to justify their irrational belief in Jesus or crystal healing or Mayan predictions of the end of the world. So it’s up to us to teach our kids why the scientific method is the best way that humans have so-far devised to work out what is likely to be true when it comes to working out how the universe works. It’s not just important for sorting out fact from fiction when it comes to things like religion, either. Having a solid evidential view of things is important when politicians tell you things such as “Saddam has WMD – believe me.” As a society we need to start asking “show me the evidence” to our religious, political, military and corporate leaders on a more regular basis.

So on the weekend I set my kids a project to give me a 5 minute presentation on the scientific method before they could turn the XBOX on. They knew nothing about it before they started. So I told them to Google it and to specifically look for sites that explained it in kid-friendly terms (bonus lesson contained within – how to create good search terms in Google). I told them to answer four questions in their presentation:

1. What is it?
2. Why is it important?
3. What is the process?
4. Who invented it and when? (trick question but worth asking so they get some perspective on the history)

They came out after about 30 minutes and presented what they had. It was about one minute long. They basically just wrote down a one line answer to each question which they had copied and pasted from different sites. When I did the Q&A they failed. So I sent them back to expand on it a bit. This process went on about 3 or 4 times until they were finally able to present on it credibly for 5 minutes including a Q&A.

Later that day I re-inforced their understanding and ability to communicate it in the pool when we played “science swim”. This is a variation on a game I often play with them in the pool, the other variants being “spell swim” and “maths swim”. The basic idea is that I ask them both a question. In this case “What’s the first step in the scientific method?”. The first person to answer it correctly gets a pass. The one who either gets it wrong or is too slow, has to swim two laps (bonus lesson contained within – improves their swimming ability).

I’ve kept it up over the last couple of days while walking them to school, asking them to explain, in their own words, why the scientific method is the best way to determine fact from fiction. They are getting pretty good at it. I’ll keep this up for the next few weeks until it’s drilled into them. Then we’ll start on the theory of evolution.

GDay World 362 – Mara Bun, Green Cross Aust

My guest today is Mara Bun, CEO of Green Cross Australia. According to their site:

Green Cross Australia is a new national NGO that works on the frontline of climate change: the human dimension. We anticipate and resolve conflicts over natural resources that put our environment at risk, and we foster sustainable partnerships between business, government and the community. We prepare communities for environmental impacts in Australia and overseas. This ranges from the impact of fires, floods and environmental disasters on Australian cities to the mass displacement of populations due to rising sea levels.

Pretty topical, with the floods in QLD and the fires in VIC. Mara talks about her background (which is an interesting story) and the vision of Green Cross.


GDay World 361 – Livewire Launch

Today my guests are Omar Kalifa, Managing Director, and Cinnamon Pollard, Partnership and Marketing Manager, of a new social networking site that is bring officially launched today called LIVEWIRE. According to their site:

Livewire is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Starlight Children’s Foundation and is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the Clever Networks Program and in-kind contributions from Starlight and Livewire partners.

Together we are working towards keeping children & young people living with illness or disability connected

It’s estimated there are over 400,000 children and young people aged 10-21 years old coping with the impact of living with a serious illness, a chronic condition or a disability in Australia.

While I think a social networking community for young people with serious illnesses is a good thing, I am concerned that this site has cost $14.7 million to set up, with half of that money coming from the Federal Government. I asked Omar and Cinnamon where the money went.


Anaxagoras Day

I hereby declare December 25th to henceforth be celebrated as “Anaxagoras Day”.

Anaxagoras is the first recorded atheist; has been described as the first scientist; and was the first philosopher to take up at his abode at Athens. He was the father of the idea of atoms and the teacher of Pericles. Around 450BCE he wrote his treatise “On Nature” which declared (among other things but we don’t know much of it, as it’s been lost to history) that the sun was a red-hot stone (an idea borrowed from the ideas of Anaximenes) and that the moon was made of earth and derives it’s light from the sun. He was accused of being an atheist, sentenced to death, but seems to have escaped (probably with the help of Pericles) and been exiled from Athens.

As we atheists need something to celebrate on December 25th, I’m proposing that we remember the bravery, insight and diligence of the first recorded atheist in history by celebrating ANAXAGORAS DAY.

This year on December 25th I will be sending out Anaxagoras cards to friends and family, decorating my home with pictures remembering the story of Anaxagoras and composing hymns to the life of Anaxagoras. I hope you will join me.

If you want to join us in celebrating the life of Anaxagoras, just join the Facebook group. I just see it as a day to celebrate the fact that we CAN be atheists without fear of persecution. It’s a great day to think up a way to spread a little bit of rational thinking.

Perfect Timing and Inches

I’ve been thinking tonight…. that it’s all about INCHES.

Okay… so I stole that line off of Al Pacino and Oliver Stone, but it’s been in my head tonight, so I’m claiming it.

Life is a lot about timing.

When you meet someone special, if it’s a month too soon, or a month too late, it doesn’t work out.

If you start a business, and you’re a year too soon or a year too late, it can make all the difference.

I don’t know how you know when the timing is right. Maybe people smarter than me know. Or maybe we don’t ever know. Maybe it’s just chance, or the holographic universe frakking with us. Maybe things are either meant to be or not. Maybe it’s all a cosmic joke.

All I know is that timing is a magic ingredient that either makes it work… or not.

I’ve been very lucky in my life. I’ve had good and bad timing with a few things. I started working at an ISP in 1996. That was good timing. I started working at Microsoft in 1998. That was bad timing – the share price that had climbed for 12 years climbed for another two years – then plummeted. I started podcasting in Nov 2004 – that was good timing, too. Maybe sooner than the market was ready for it, but early enough to get an opportunity to study the market from the outset and build a bit of a brand in an industry from the ground floor.

“In any fight, it’s the guy who’s willing to die who’s going to win that inch.”

In my personal life, too, I’ve had good and bad timing. I’ve met people exactly when I needed to and I’ve met people when it was too soon or too late, either in my life or theirs. You can’t predict that. And you can’t do much about it when it happens. It’s just timing.

In retrospect though, perhaps when I thought the timing was bad, it was actually right. The person/business/job that I thought would have been perfect for me, actually wouldn’t have been.

I know people will say “you make your own luck” but that’s VERY unscientific. It might sell self-help seminars, but it doesn’t stand up to examination. There is no free will. There is only physics. Or the hologram making it LOOK like there is physics. Either way, we ain’t in control.

Perhaps it’s like poker. Sometimes you get the right cards in the right hand and if you know what to do with them, it works out profitably. But if you get the right cards in the wrong hand… well, you can lose your wallet.

I don’t know. Too deep for this time of night. I just thought I had to get it out there. Timing. Inches.

G’Day World #360 – Jed Montgomery on Obama

When I was visiting my girl Chrissy in Seattle last October, I met her best friend Jed Montgomery. The four of us (including Jed’s partner Chris) had some vigorous debates about American politics. I was trying to make my point that for all of Obama’s intelligence and oratory, at the end of the day he’s a member of the Democratic Party. In the last 60 years, the Democrats have provided a pretty appalling list of Presidents:

Harry Truman – Among other things, authorized the only use of nuclear weapons on a civilian population in history

John Kennedy – Among other things, authorized the attempted invasion of Cuba, nearly brought the world to the brink of nuclear war, was sleeping with Marilyn Monroe, etc.

Lyndon Johnson – Among other things, escalated the Vietnam war. Possibly implicated in the Kennedy assassination.

Jimmy Carter – Actually, a pretty good guy, defender of human rights.

Bill Clinton – Bombed and starved the people of Iraq, decided the best way to spend his days in the White House was to get blowjobs and stick cigars up an intern’s vag.

So… will Obama be another Jimmy Carter? Or… one of the others?

Anyway, Jed joins me on the show today to talk about our hopes and concerns for the Obama administration.


G’Day World #359 – Antony Loewenstein on Gaza

You’ve seen it in the news over the last month. On December 27, Israel broke a six-month truce with Hamas (the democratically-elected leaders of the Palestinian people living in Gaza) and launched a three-week long attack on the small, densely-populated region.

Palestinian casualties – 1,400 dead including more than 400 children and 100 women. Israeli casualties – 12 Israeli soldiers and 3 civilians.

My guest on this show is Antony Loewenstein, Sydney-based journalist, author and blogger.

Read more:

David Rose article in Vanity Fair

Henry Siegman, director of the US Middle East Project in New York, former national director of the American Jewish Congress and of the Synagogue Council of America, article “Israel’s Lies”


A note about this show:

With the help of my two assistants Tim Grainger and Jonathan Hewlett, we ran a LIVE TWITSTREAM of the interview through the gdayworld twitter account. We asked people to submit questions via Twitter during the interview and I fed those back to Antony during our call. It was my first attempt at podcast twinterviewing and the results were interesting.

Thanks to Darryl King from iReckon for seeding the filthy idea into my head over coffee a few days ago.