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Nerd Nite for March 14, 2020

DC9 Nightclub

NERRRRRRDS! It’s goddamn Pi Day, and we’re celebrating with what is perhaps our most eclectic Nerd Nite lineup of all times. JUST CHECK IT OUT PLEASE AND THANK YOU:

“Dammed Commies: How Singing, Roller-Skating Beavers Destroyed the Federal Theater” by Alan Katz

Summary: Once upon a time, the federal government directly produced theater, and it was some of the best around. A revolutionary children’s musical and a misguided invitation changed all that, leading to the foundations of McCarthyism, the demise of federally-funded theater, and some sick, sick burns. And I will tell you who’s to blame.

Bio: Alan is a theater producer, director, and performer for The Arcanists and Shakespeare in the Pub. He’s a critic for DC Theater Scene and a punk ass book jockey for the world’s largest museum. He’s @dcdramaturg most places. Fun fact: when he was 16, he was offered a position to stay in Mexico indefinitely as a Pentecostal prophet. He refused, but only because he liked school too much.

“Nearly Extinct Frogs and How to Stalk Them” by Blake Klocke

Summary: A sperm-looking fungus has wiggled its flagella towards driving amphibians (frogs & toads, salamanders, and caecilians <- google it) towards extinction around the globe.  At least 501 species have experienced declines due to the amphibian chytrid fungus.  Harlequin frogs of Central and South America have been amongst the hardest hit, 30 species of Harlequin frogs are feared to be extinct.  The Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project was formed to prevent the extinction of Harlequin frogs in Panama by establishing populations in captivity through captive breeding.  I’ll share with you the stories (miracles, heart wrenching moments, and optimism for the future) of reintroducing and radio tracking critically endangered half-dollar sized frogs in the rainforests of Panama for more than 100 field days.

Bio: Blake is an animal nerd, cyclist, podcast enthusiast, and PhD student.  His future goals are conserve species on the edge of existence, disseminate knowledge of the natural world and the crisis it faces, and to assist people from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter the field of conservation biology.  One time he was on the beltway with a sloth in the car.

“How to Win a War With Balloon Animals: The Ghost Army of World War II” by Taylor Winkleman, sometimes called The Dogtor

Summary: Nerd Nite alum and perennial weirdo Taylor Winkleman is at it again, bringing you history that is fun, strange, and interactive. There are a lot of unsung heroes in the world, and while it seems strange to say it, some members of The Greatest Generation(TM) are unsung as well. Come learn why the United States Army went to Parsons to recruit for a Top Secret WWII unit, their connection to the worst movie of 2019, and what any of this has to do with balloon animals.

Bio: Taylor is a California native with a doctorate in veterinary medicine, a masters in public health policy, and a never-ending quest to learn the weirdest bits of history. Last time she appeared on this stage, she talked about epidemiology in 18th-century Crimea and set the stage on literal fire, so it makes perfect sense that we’re talking about balloon animals in world war 2 today. When she’s not learning weird history, you can find her spending her leisure time training at the trapeze school as an amateur circus artist and aerialist- and be sure to check out her show, Friday March 20th at 8pm, tickets available on the TSNY website.

Nerd Nite for February 8, 2020

DC9 Nightclub

NERRRRRRDS! It’s a hands-on skulls-blown full-on Sci-Romance ROMP this month at Nerd Nite! We’ve got the animal sex facts you’ve been craving, a deep dive into the STEM roles of women in romantic comedies, and a long hard look at how the menstrual cycle affects your behavior. HOLY SCIENCE ROMANCE CHECK OUT THIS LINEUP WHY DON’T YOU:

“Battle of the Sexes: the Surprising Complicated Sex Lives of Animals” by Sara Nemati

Summary: Mating isn’t easy in the animal kingdom! Males want to spread their seeds, females want good dads with strong genes. But there’s more to the story. From curly duck penises to sperm scoopers to flatworm penis fencing, all is fair in love and war. Learn about the surprisingly complicated sex lives of the animal kingdom and how the battle of the sexes still rages on today.

Bio: Sara Nemati is a biology teacher at Montgomery County Public Schools and likes to nerd out on science books on the side. You may remember her from the 10 Weirdest Mammals. Fun fact about me: I have a Jack Russell terrier mix that knows over a dozen tricks.

“How to lose a girl in two standard deviations – an analysis of women in STEM roles in romantic comedies,” by Veronica Carlan

Summary: Ever thought about how women are often portrayed in roles that are less technical than men? Especially leading ladies? Especially in movies targeting female audiences, like rom-coms? In this talk, we will learn about the basic structure for a rom-com, see a statistical analysis of women being disproportionately represented in non-STEM roles in rom-coms, and learn how Hollywood (are you listening, Spielberg?) could change the recipe to incorporate more diversified and technical roles for women.

Bio: Veronica is a math and statistics professor at Northern Virginia Community College, as well as a part-time data scientist at Elder Research. (So it’s pretty safe to call her a nerd.) When she’s not sculpting the minds of America’s youth, she can be found with her main man, Bongo the Shepherd, on some of Virginia’s best trails.

“Fertile and flirty: Menstrual cycle influences on behavior (or how, if for some forsaken reason you’re using the rhythm method, you’re your own worst enemy)” by Liz Necka

Summary: Despite what your friend who got pregnant in high school said, it is incredibly rare to conceive from a single act of sex alone. So rare that, without intervention, it’d be hard to keep up reproduction at a rate sufficient to continue the species. Enter evolutionary forces: animals have evolved to behave and appear in ways that make it more likely that they’ll get their freak on at the right (wrong??) time. But these forces are in play even when our own goals are not in line with our biological imperative to reproduce, and when we’re engaging in behavior that can’t directly do anything to advance our species. In this talk, we’ll explore these behavioral adaptations in humans and other animals, how they affect our social world, and importantly (if you have ovaries or are person who has sex with someone with ovaries), how to keep yourself in check (or lean in) when your body really wants to fulfill its duty to the human race.

Bio: Liz is a social neuroscientist from the University of Chicago who studies how biology shapes (and is shaped by) how we perceive, behave towards, and react to other individuals. She’s a social and behavioral science advocate, a science policy enthusiast, and a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow. Outside of work, Liz can be found lindy hopping, nerdy-gaming, or hiking with her 120 lb dog. Her current project is trying to convince her husband that ferrets are cute and that she should have one in their home.

Nerd Nite for January 11, 2020

DC9 Nightclub

“All the Reasons Why Country Rankings are Harming International Development: A Ranking” by Tunde Olatunji

Summary: Ever wonder why we tend to think that Norwegians are the happiest people in the world? Or that there’s a lot of corruption in Nigeria? In many ways, our understanding of how the world is organized (economically, politically) is informed by a handful of annual country rankings (“indices” if you’re annoying) that help make sense of a complex world that we’re otherwise not super familiar with (unless you studied abroad, in which case you already know everything and I’m sorry for wasting your time). For the rest of you, I’ll give an overview of the sexy world of country rankings and then try to figure out just how some of these rankings are defined and whether we should be skeptical of them. If this doesn’t sound interesting to you, do bear in mind that I am incredibly sensitive and WILL cry on stage if heckled.

Bio: Tunde comes to us from Lagos, Nigeria. He works on international development research at the world bank and has lived in DC for 6 years. Identifying as a nerd in 2020 feels like stolen valor to him so he won’t. But also gatekeeping in nerd culture is kind of bullshit so maybe he should to make a point? Tunde (aka the nerdiest boy there ever was) enjoys playing soccer and has a Morrissey tattoo that has aged poorly.

“The Real Constitutional Crisis: News Media Vs. Intellectual Property” by Emma Raviv

Summary: Both the press and copyright law are mentioned in our great Constitution:  Art. I section 8 clause 8 allows the government to give “exclusive rights” to owners of creative works, and the First Amendment enshrines the freedom of the press.  But this has become, somehow, this era’s true constitutional crisis:  the press seems to be super confused about the not-so-subtle nuances of intellectual property law.  Together, we’re going to untangle these nuances, and you’ll walk out of DC9 more knowledgeable about IP than the New York Times.

Bio: Emma Raviv is the Assistant General Counsel for the PBS NewsHour, the nightly news program which, for the record, has never mixed up intellectual property law terms.  She used to litigate copyright, trademark, and trade secret claims at a law firm in New York for advertising and cruise ship and fitness companies, and also worked at the U.S. Copyright Office, but these days prefers advising producers and reporters on what they can and cannot include in their stories.  They tend to listen, and so she mostly is able to sleep at night.

“Sexy Creatures with Mystical Features – How Coral Get Their Sex On” by Beth Lenz

Summary: Coral are super sexy – time to get down and funky with these  sea beasts.

Bio: Beth is originally from The Golden State, but recently moved to DC after finishing her PhD at the University of Hawaii at Manoa studying coral reefs. While in Hawaii, she was the Nerd Nite Honolulu Boss and is stoked to share the Aloha with DC nerds. She and her island jungle pup Charlie are excited to be here while Beth works on The Hill for the next year.