Penguins: Spy in the Huddle

Penguins - Spy in the Huddle

PBS premiered a 3-part mini-series called Penguins: Spy in the Huddle on Wednesday night and OH MY GOODNESS IT WAS SO AMUSING! Researchers made animatronic penguin cameras and sent them out to mingle with real penguins to get a better sense of what penguin life is like. Here’s the description of the show from PBS’s website:

For nearly a year, 50 animatronic cameras disguised as realistic life-size penguins, eggs and rocks infiltrate penguin colonies to record the tough challenges penguins face from the moment they emerge from the sea to raising their chicks and finally returning to the water. The intimate, emotional, and sometimes amusing behavior of nature’s most devoted parents bringing up their young against the most extraordinary odds is revealed as never before.

If you missed the first episode, you can stream it online on PBS’s website. The next two parts will be available on PBS over the next two Wednesdays at 8pm.

Reading Rainbow Kickstarter

Yesterday, LeVar Burton created a Kickstarter campaign called “Bring Reading Rainbow Back for Every Child, Everywhere.” By the end of the day, they had already met their goal of $1 million and as of right now, they’re just shy of double that. Wow!

With the money raised on Kickstarter, Burton wants to make Reading Rainbow available to children everywhere, encouraging them to grow into lifelong readers.

Twelve Years a Slave

Summary

Twelve Years a SlaveTwelve Years a Slave is a memoir by Solomon Northup, a free-born black man from New York who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. For 12 years, Northup worked on cotton and sugarcane plantations in Louisiana before he was ultimately rescued and able to go home to his wife and children.

I can speak of Slavery only so far as it came under my own observation — only so far as I have known and experienced it in my own person. My object is, to give a candid and truthful statement of facts: to repeat the story of my life, without exaggeration, leaving it for others to determine, whether even the pages of fiction present a picture of more cruel wrong or a severer bondage.

Review

Twelve Years a Slave is truly a remarkable narrative and I was blown away by the amount of detail it contained. Solomon Northup provided fascinating and painful insight into what slave life was like.

So we passed, hand-cuffed and in silence, through the streets of Washington — through the Capital of a nation, whose theory of government, we were told, rests on the foundation of man’s inalienable right to life, LIBERTY, and the pursuit of happiness.

I read the enhanced edition by Sue Eakin, who spent her life researching Solomon Northup’s story. When she was twelve, she read a copy of the book, which had disappeared into obscurity by then. Eakin dedicated her life to researching Solomon Northup’s story and she breathed life into it again by republishing in 1968, annotated with her extensive research notes.

Movie

Solomun Northup’s story was turned into a movie, 12 Years a Slave, which received the Academy Award for Best Picture earlier this month.

Obviously, there are some deviations from the book in the movie (like omitting Northup’s escape from Tibeats through the swamp), but, for the most part, it stays very true to the book, even quoting some of it verbatim. Definitely worth seeing.

Tiny Death Star

Tiny Death Star: Leia fighting a stormtrooper

Star Wars: Tiny Death Star was released last week, a Star-Wars-themed version of Tiny Tower. In Tiny Tower, you build up a tower by adding floors of residential and commercial areas to attract virtual people (“bitizens”) to move there and spend money, so you can build your tower further. It’s a simple game, but it’s one that I was hooked on for a while. It also won iPhone Game of the Year in 2011.

Gameplay in Tiny Death Star is very much the same as Tiny Tower, but with a Star Wars theme. The “bitizens” take the form of pixelated ewoks, droids, and stormtroopers and characters like Leia, Lando, and Boba Fett make occasional appearances. Perhaps the biggest difference is the addition of Imperial floors, which let you build floors beneath the tower to interrogate rebel spies and create star maps.

Tiny Death Star: Elevator
Using the Elevator
Tiny Death Star: Suspect
Rebel Suspect
Tiny Death Star: Workers
Bitizen Workers

Tiny Death Star is every bit as addicting as the original version (since it’s more or less a reskin) and I think they did a great job with the Star Wars theme. I’ve noticed a few issues with the game, though. Although you can link it to your Google+ account, you cannot sync the game across multiple devices. Bizarre. The game also continues to play sound effects even when you have them turned off in the settings menu. Hopefully, those will both get fixed in an update or something.

Tiny Death Star is free in the Google Play Store and iTunes Store.