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Spark Your Soul/Brain #2

photo by The Bui Brothers

photo by The Bui Brothers

On the eve of San Diego Comic Con 2013, it’s time for a new Spark Your Soul/ Brain! For the first time in 5 years, I’m unable to attend Con (*sad face*) but that doesn’t mean that I can’t get into the geektastic spirit and send the rest of you off with some thought provoking and inspiring articles & videos to help occupy your long waits for Hall H.

A topic is always lurking the halls of a Con is that of the ‘fake geek girl’. I’ve even written a blog post about it on my website in reaction to this Forbes article last year. Now there is a new post on Jezebel that has been generating comments. The post itself isn’t inflammatory; rather it spotlights a song about not having to prove you’re a geek– by the talented female duo The Doubleclicks.

The topic and the post’s passionate comments helped to jump start this SDCC themed Spark Your Soul/Brain as I chose to look beyond the geek girl definition and to the creative, brilliant women in STEM subjects who are changing the world paradigm.  You might argue that they are geeks – a musical math genius, head of DARPA, geeky psychologist, and techno anthropologist, but I would simply argue that they are superheroes… the types of visionaries and leaders we need. And they happen to be female.

1.  Vi Hart. Twelve Tones (VIDEO)

Omg please just watch this video. It’s thirty minutes, I know, but it may be the very best 30 minutes of video that you watch online all year. I’m serious. It’s about constraining art through the twelve tone rule in music (you’re not able to repeat a note).  But really it’s about science, beauty and the universe. I will not even try to do justice to the existential yet simple core of this piece. I am now an ardent fan of Vi and am thrilled that she is know a Khan Institute teacher — are you watching it yet? Go!!!

2.  Regina Dugan, TED TALKS Director 2012. (VIDEO)

What would you do if you knew you could not fail. This is the question that Ms. Dugan, the former head of DARPA, asks of her audience.  It’s not a unique question, one most self help guides will pose, but Ms. Dugan does an excellent job of using a science & technology case study to reflect how taking that small first step is imperative; you need to take that first leap, even if it is just a few feet, before you can fly, let alone at Mach . It also poses some interesting concerns about the future use of great technology – what will the government do once it is in their hands; will all innovation be corrupted into a weapon? Watch the video then watch this video  from #D11 this year where she is interviewed about her new work at special projects for Google owned Motorola — it involves electronic tattoos and ingestible passwords – fascinating and frightening.

3.  Amber Case, ‘We Are All Cyborgs, Now’ — TED TALKS 2010 (VIDEO)

I love this 7 minute TED Talk. Ms. Case opens our eyes to how we have become neural cyborgs through extending the mental self via a smart phone. She gives so many fun analogies as to how technology functions in our lives; have you ever thought about how the weight of your phone doesn’t change no matter how many files/ apps you add to it? It’s like Mary Poppins’ bag! She also explores the idea of the digital second self — how we all experience a digital adolescence… and it’s for public consumption. This is important to recognize for the new generation coming online.  In those brief minutes she touches on a ton more interesting ideas – you will never look at your ‘wormhole’ phone the same again.

4.  ‘The Superhero’s Shrink’ by Becka Wright– UCLA Magazine July 2013.

I tweeted out about this article a few weeks ago — an inspiring article about how a young girl’s love of comics and the hero/ villain psyche paved the way for her to become a psychologist — which ultimately culminated in her being written as a character in Gail Simone’s Batgirl — such an inspiring story!

5.  ‘The Problem with Wonder Woman’ by Shoshanna Kessock –

Speaking of Gail Simone, her Wonder Woman ‘The Circle’ is one of my favorite comics. So I’m shifting from real women superheroes to those of our comic mythos. Being that my alt ego is the Amazon warrior and that she inspired me to start writing my own content, I give much thought to why Wonder Woman has failed to make it to the big screen or even TV — this post on arrives closest to my own opinion. And it all comes full circle back to women and geekdom. Why is Wonder Woman relegated to Superman’s arm Candy in the new 52– her mythology is too fantastical and complex? She has her own origin outside of any male hero – – why can’t this stand on its own? All the kitschy tech (ie. Invisible plane, bracelets, truth lasso) used to be a sticking point for me in bringing it into present day —  but now it can all be upgraded to legit tech! I could go on but just read the article and, of course, the comments. (And if you haven’t seen the animated movie which came out a few years ago, do yourself a favor and watch it – plus it’s voice by Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion.)

6.  Dorothy Parker ‘The Art of Fiction no. 13’. Paris Review.

This has nothing to do with inspiring women of STEM or Comic Con – Dorothy Parker couldn’t be further away from geekdom – or could she? She has everything to do with women breaking through into a male dominated (literary) realm. She became a mythic hero in her own right – presiding over the Algonquin Round Table. And as this interview highlights, she never gave herself credit for the fierce wit she was celebrated for. Eye opening and fascinating.

And as a last little bit of geeky fun to arm yourself as you hit the Con floor:

600 Superpowers — a mega graphic of every super hero and their power!

William Shakespeare’s STAR WARS—Star Wars re-imagined as a Shakespeare play!

Photive iPhone backup charger – you know at SDCC how annoying it is that your phone dies within two hours, so you are always trying to find an available outlet which then means you have to sit along a wall waiting for it to charge? No more! This portable charger will change your life!

And on a closing note — I leave you with a request.  With all this talk of ‘geek girls’, of whether one is a ‘true’ geek, whether a pretty actress is playing to the fanboys by wearing a TARDIS tee, please embrace anyone who is discovering these myths of our generation.  The ascension of geekdom into the mainstream is simply indicative of our population looking to foster community and a shared story — a shared mythos if you will as the cultural fabric of our world is evolving. Who knows where someone’s new geek inclination will lead to — for me it took me down to the quantum level and up to the stars, fostering a new and true passion for science that inspires my work and daily life.  Beyond exciting where it could take someone else.

Taryn O'Neill

About Taryn O'Neill

TARYN is an actress, writer and new media producer originally from Vancouver, Canada. A competitive figure skater for 12 years, she graduated from Duke University. She has appeared on the TV shows ‘Vegas’, ‘Navy N.C.I.S.’, ‘The Inside’ ‘Lie to Me’ and plays a recurring role on the BYUTV family drama ‘Granite Flats’. She has acted in over 20 webseries (winning Best Supporting Actress at the Indie Soap awards for her work on ‘Compulsions’) as well as producing two series (including the Streamy nominated scifi series ‘After Judgment’.) She added writing to her repertoire after starting a blog in 2009, and in 2010, her first comedy script, “The Very True Adventures of the Madoff Girls,” was a Finalist in the NYTVFest FOX Comedy Pilot Contest. She has since written a full length series for ‘Stan Lee’s World of Heroes’ and has numerous web and tv projects in development, scifi being her genre of choice. In her spare time she studies all things science and trains in martial arts. Her quest to be an onscreen badass was first chronicled at her tumblr Operation BABE (Badass Alien-Fighting Body Endeavor), and has evolved into being a blog about being an inspired badass in all areas of life.