Episode 24: The Tiny Water Bear and Sesame Street Controversies

Episode 24: The Tiny Water Bear and Sesame Street Controversies

The water bear, the moss piglet, the tardigrade has had many names in the past. And despite it’s small microscopic stature it’s one of the most resilient creatures on Earth. It has survived Earth’s mass extinctions, extreme temperatures and even, space. Justin tells us all about these tiny little ‘slow steppers’ and how they can survive virtually anything. A big part of it is their ability to curl up into a dehydrated ball and hibernate for up to 120 years! 

Unlike the microscopic tardigrade, Sesame Street is huge! One of the most popular childrens show of all time. But throughout its 49 year history, it hasn’t been without controversy. This week, Clarke explains how Sesame Street has struggled with a possibly racist Muppet, a terrorist Muppet and an HIV positive Muppet. She also breaks down the difference between the Jim Henson characters like Kermit and Miss Piggy and the classic Sesame Street characters like Elmo and Big Bird. W is for weird in this weeks episode of @thesoftbrains. Episode 24: The Tiny Water Bear and Sesame street Controversies

A 3D tardigrade/Water Bear/Moss Piglet.
Tardigrade eggs
Adorable tardigrade cartoons by K. Jaramillo.

Old school Cookie Monster with a pipe.
Roosevelt Franklin, who was later removed from Sesame Street, with his mother.
Osama Bin Laden and Bert, a placard that was all over a Bangladeshi rally.

Check out the website that displays Bert, of Bert and Ernie, as an evil-doer below.

Million Muppet March in DC which was sparked by Mitt Romney’s proposal to cut PBS funding and therefore, Sesame Street.
The newest addition to Sesame Street, Lily. The first Muppet to portray homelessness and food insecurity.
Episode 23: Jackie Chan and Russia’s Toughest Prison

Episode 23: Jackie Chan and Russia’s Toughest Prison

The life of Jackie Chan or Chan Kong-Sang is one full of Kung Fu, organized crime and softcore porn. This week, Clarke tells us all about Jackie Chan and his escapades over the years including working with Bruce Lee, releasing 20 musical albums and owning a Segway dealership. One of the most recognizable stars in the world, Jackie Chan has got to have one of the most interesting histories of Hollywood’s greatest.

Black Dolphin isn’t just a black dolphin, it’s also one of Russia’s toughest prison’s. With an average of 5 murders per inmate, Black Dolphin prison is full of cannibals, serial killers and child molesters. That’s right, Justin didn’t hold back this episode. He tells us all about Russia’s most prolific serial killer and the prison that he’s in. Find out why they call him the ‘werewolf’ killer in episode 23 of @thesoftbrains : Jackie Chan and Russia’s Toughest Prison

The Softbrains podcast is available on all major podcast apps including iTunes, Spotify and Google Play. Link in bio to listen, or copy and paste for a direct link to our latest episode: https://bit.ly/2yw94Us
Little baby Chan Kong-Sang (Jackie Chan).
Young, yolked Jackie in a fight scene.
Bruce Lee beating up young Jackie.
Jackie in 1978’s ‘Drunken Master’
A clip from Drunken Master, the movie that put Jackie on the map.
Rumble in the Bronx poster.
Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in 1998’s Rush Hour.
I’ll Make a Man Out of You from Disney’s Mulan in Cantonese sang by Jackie.

The statue outside of the ‘Black Dolphin’ prison.
A prisoner at Black Dolphin being transported in the stress position.
Caucasian Shepherd Dog or Ovcharkas that guard the prison.
Mikhail Popkov, the police officer, “the Werewolf,” who was charged with 78 murders. Making him Russia’s most prolific serial killer.
Episode 22: The Tragedy of Armero and the Cobra Effect

Episode 22: The Tragedy of Armero and the Cobra Effect

Natural disasters happen, it is an inevitability of living on Earth. What we choose to do when presented with warning signs of impending doom can make the difference between life and death. In 1985, there was a small town named Armero in Columbia. It sat in the shadow of Nevado del Ruiz, also known as La Mesa de Herveo or Kumanday: an enormous albeit quiet stratovolcano. The Earth rumbled and smoke came forth, telltale signs of what was to come. Why did thousands of people die?

In a completely different subject matter, Clarke looks into British rule of colonial India. Delhi had a problem with the number of venomous cobra’s , and the British Government decided to do something about it. Somehow, their plan only caused the snake population to explode, and also gave us The Cobra Effect, a phenomena seen the world over where an attempted solution only makes the problem worse. What happened? Find out this week in @thesoftbrains Episode 22: The Tragedy of Armero and The Cobra Effect.

The Softbrains podcast is available on all major podcast apps including iTunes, Spotify and Google Play, and more. Listen in every week for weird history, awkward anecdotes and current events with your hosts Clarke and Justin! 

Mount Nevado Del Ruiz seen from space.
Nevado Del Ruiz about two weeks after the eruption.
An updated hazard map of the Lahars path.
The town of Armero covered in debris, water and sludge, otherwise known as the Lahar.
Omayra Sanchez, a young victim of the natural disaster.
An Indian cobra
Hanoi, Vietnam under the rule of the French colonial empire.
A map of the sewer pipes that ran throughout Hanoi, filled with rats.
Maurice Duplessis, his era as premier in Quebec was called ‘the great darkness.’
Duplessis Orphans.
Duplessis Orphans.
Episode 21: Star Wars Matte Paintings and the Power of Milk

Episode 21: Star Wars Matte Paintings and the Power of Milk

Everyone remembers that famous scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. The movie is finishing up, the bad guys just got their faces melted off, and the government worker is wheeling the lost ark into the depths of a huge warehouse. Or is it a huge warehouse? It’s actually a painting on glass called a ‘matte painting.’ This week, Clarke dives into how matte paintings have been used in Star Wars, the Wizard of Oz and Harry Potter. She explains the genius of the artist Christopher Evans and how he helped George Lucas bring his universe to life. 

Justin continues with the mysterious connection between the Mongolian army, milk, horses, and the plague.  Surprisingly, milk was a great advantage for Ghenghis Khan and his army, influencing future generations and their ability to process milk. We all know the plague was caused by rats, but what role did Ghenghis Khan and milk have in the spread of the black death? Find out in this weeks episode of @thesoftbrains Episode 21: Star Wars Matte Paintings and the Power of Milk.

The Softbrains podcast is available on all major podcast apps including iTunes, Spotify and Google Play. Listen in every week for weird history, awkward anecdotes and current events with your hosts Clarke and Justin! 

The Government Warehouse from the last shot of Raiders of the Lost Ark. A matte painting by Michael Pangrazio at Industrial Light & Magic,
‘Un Homme de Tetes’ by Georges Melies from 1898. Perhaps the first use of matte paintings in film.
Norman Dawn’s sketch from ‘Missions of California’ that details how he used matte painting to change telephone poles into trees. 
A very famous matte painting from the Planet of the Apes showing the Statue of Liberty destroyed on a beach. 
Christopher Evans working on Darth Vaders Imperial March. Filling in the details on the storm troopers. 
The completed matte painting used in Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi
One of the last hand painted mattes used in a major motion picture was in the 1997 epic, Titanic.
The 100 foot canvas background matte painting used in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
The Power of Milk!
An artists representation of a Mongol warrior.
Homemade Airag:  the fermented milk from a mare
Mongol archer on his itty bitty horse and asymmetrical skeleton.
Human for scale. 
Flea carrying the black plague that was carried on rats that was carried on horses that carried the Mongols. 
Got the plague? See your local plague doctor.