In my house we call it “Poking the Bear”

There are those I know who will adamantly dispute this, but alas it really is true.  I have mellowed with age. There was a time in my not too distant past that I would purposely stir up trouble, especially in meetings, just to sit back and watch the fun.  We call this: Poking the bear

There were reasons for this:  I hated meetings and found most of them to be a waste of time. People who think they are ALL that annoy me.  And there are just some people who are fun to watch when they get indignant.

Though it still does occur at times, getting laid off and having three years with a crazy one-eyed boss taught me to control it some.

This year, though, I have met the master of bear pokage: Neil deGrasse Tyson



Being both a science and sci fi geek, it is very surprising to those I know and even to myself that I never saw the original Cosmos hosted by Carl Sagan.  However, this year, after seeing posts from by blogger friend Echo, I went in search of the newest shows, and found them on Hulu.

I was hooked after the first episode.  Some of the things covered I’d known for years, others, I’d never heard of, but watching this reawakened the scientist the younger version of me had always dreamed of being.  Shoot, even watching Gilligan’s Island as a kid I always thought the professor was the most important person of a 7 castaways.

The man is plain just fun to listen to, and if taking a class from him is anything like the way he hosts Cosmos, and he taught at WSU in the 80s, I would now be typing this blog from a lab somewhere.

You may be wondering with all this, where does ‘bear poker” come into play.

Well, to experience that you must first follow the man on Twitter.  Many of his tweets are important scientific happenings, which some find boring (not me) but some are MUCH better.

Personally, I like to picture the man sipping a glass of wine, and having a tweet pop in his head.  For second, he ponders, “Really, should I do that?” Then he takes another sip, smiles knowingly to himself, and reaches for his phone. He just strikes me as someone who loves to stir the pot.

An example you ask?  Well here you go from Christmas Day:

On this day long ago, a child was born who, by age 30, would transform the world. Happy Birthday Isaac Newton b. Dec 25, 1642

People, I am here to tell you that all hell broke loose on the Twitterverse!  How dare he post something like this on Christmas day!  But when you are an astrophysicist and cosmologist (among other things) Newton invented your language. He deserves a shout out on his birthday.

But yep, the way it was written, he was suckering in those who way too easily take offense, and it worked.  The overly religious went nuts, and are still trying to lambaste him for this. Meanwhile, I am guessing, he just sat back, watched and kept smiling.

However, this was not my favorite Christmas post of his.  Check this.

Santa knows Physics: Of all colors, Red Light penetrates fog best. That’s why Benny the Blue-nosed reindeer never got the gig

Who says science can’t be fun!  (BTW, I never knew this. Its fun when a cartoon I’ve watched for 50 years turns out to be accurate,  I wonder if the writers knew this, or it was dumb luck?

Just a couple of days ago he posted this:

Students who earn straight “A”s in school do so not because of good Teachers but in spite of bad Teachers.

Once again, those who don’t actually read what was said, and understand the meaning went on the attack.  Obviously (per the narrow-minded) he is insulting ALL teachers.  Clearly he thinks the hard-working teachers who work with our children all suck.  You elitist bastard piece of crap Neil!

But, when you actually read the tweet, and think back to your own school days it makes sense.

I have friends who are EXCELLENT teachers.  I was also lucky to have had GREAT teachers growing up (see Teaching sure as hell aint easy).  I also had some crappy ones.  No lie, Mr. Vecchio, my 7th grade science teacher (also taught shop) used to read playboy with his feet on the desk and had us read chapters and take tests.  Getting an A from him was easy, but the next level of science was a helluva lot harder because of what I didn’t learn.

Maybe its the fact I like poking the bear that let’s me see the true intent of the messages he tweets.  It is also the “poking skill” that helps me enjoy those who respond.  For the vast majority, in a battle of whits they are hopelessly outgunned.

If you want to think, follow the man, it is worth it.  And if you haven’t watched the new Cosmos, make some popcorn, pour a glass and hang on. I guarantee you will learn something!

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