7 Quick Takes (11/4/11)

— 1 —

This will be a lightning-quick Quick Takes since I found myself unexpectedly travelling for work this week and am now both exhausted and in the tackiest city on earth.  (Well, maybe second tackiest after Dollywood).  Once I’m back on the East Coast, I’m looking forward to responding to some of the comments on “The Matriarchy Trap” and “How do you pick a teacher?”  For now, a whirlwind tour of links.

— 2 —

The image above is a stained glass window depicting “Our Lady of Rugby.”  In France, one group of Catholics has a special devotion to Mary because she has a special devotion to the sport of definitely-not-gentlemen.  Two more images from her chapel are here.

— 3 —

I am busy and tired, but never too much so for statistics.  It turns out the Khan Academy charter schools are using some really interesting metrics to gauge student progress.  They’re using computer-based lessons and want to figure out how you know when a student is proficient.  Plenty of  Bayesian nerdery for me and some of you, for the rest, there’s a layperson’s outline.

— 4 —

I really appreciated Joe Carter’s post castigating Congress for passing a resolution reaffirming “In God We Trust” as a national motto.  It’s a lose-lose proposition.  It cuts atheists like me out of the national identity and it blurs out all the interesting (and demanding) parts of religious belief so it can pass as universally agreed upon.

— 5 —

Which means I also want to give credit where it’s due to Justin Amash (R-MI), the only Republican to vote against the measure.  Amash explained:

The fear that unless “In God We Trust” is displayed throughout the government, Americans will somehow lose their faith in God, is a dim view of the profound religious convictions many citizens have. The faith that inspired many of the Founders of this country — the faith I practice — is stronger than that. Trying to score political points with unnecessary resolutions should not be Congress’s priority. I voted no.

(h/t Friendly Atheist)

— 6 —

And that brings a close to the substantive portion of tonight’s post.  Instead: a proposed building in Mexico that would extend 65-stories underground.

— 7 —

And, finally, what appears to be the best job ever: an effects rigger for food commercials.  Much more in the story, but here’s one of my favorite set-ups:

“We recently did a shot where this doughnut was tumbling through the air and through a curtain of sugar,” he said. As he spoke, he reached under a table and brought out a pair of matching, foot-and-a-half-long black catapults, powered by air cylinders, which he’d originally built for a Long John Silver’s commercial in which shrimp collided.

“I put the doughnut in here,” he says, pointing to the end of one catapult. “And I had it strike a paintbrush to get it tumbling. Then I connected it to a device that bumped a table and sent up the sugar right as the doughnut passed through.”

You could throw the doughnut by hand, he explained. But with a rig, as everyone in this industry calls these little Rube Goldbergs, you get the exact same results, over and over, which means fewer takes.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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  • What? Donuts don’t just spontaneously fly through the air? I thought all those commercials were documentaries!