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Nerd Nite #47: Our past and present futures

February might be the month of love, thanks to the martyrdom of Saint Valentine (somehow?), but it’s also an important month for nerds who love learning from other nerds. Passion is the name of the game, whether it’s a passion for solar power, or dubious history. We’re excited to present a February Nerd Nite that looks back, with a mind toward the future.

Nerd Nite: It’s like the Discovery Channel, but with beer!

When: Tuesday, February 19, 2019 (doors @ 7:30pm | show @ 8pm)
Where: Westbury Theatrea, ATB Financial Arts Barns (10330 84 Ave NW)
Tickets: $20 in advance (plus fees + GST)

Buy tickets now

Our line-up of talks includes:

Shocking moments and facts about Alberta politics
Dave Cournoyer

Since Alberta was founded in 1905, our province has been at the vanguard of some of Canada’s biggest, and strangest, political shifts. From the founding of the democratic socialist Cooperative Commonwealth Federation to the rise of Bible Bill’s Social Credit Party and Preston Manning’s Reform Party to the election of Rachel Notley’s NDP, politics in Alberta can be a wild ride. In my talk I will focus on some of the more shocking moments and events that have shaped Alberta politics over the past 114 years and as we approach the 2019 election.

Dave Cournoyer is a writer and communications professional based in Edmonton. He is the publisher of the popular politics website daveberta.ca and co-host of the Daveberta Podcast. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Alberta and in 2015 was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Yeggies for a decade of blogging about politics in Alberta. He lives in northeast Edmonton with his beautiful wife Kyla, his son Ben, and their dachshund, Maximus Dogus. He once ate dinner with the Queen.

The Nerd Value of Solar Power
Andrew Leach

Two years ago, my students convinced me that I should install solar power on my house. How did they do that? They included nerd value in their financial calculations. In 20 minutes, let me tell you about how solar power works, whether it will make you money, what happens when it snows, and how to watch a solar eclipse from your basement.

Andrew Leach is an energy and environmental economist in the School of Business at the University of Alberta. In 2015, he chaired Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan. Since then, he’s been yelled at a lot on social media. His research spans energy and climate change and covers topics including the changes coming to our electricity sector and the challenges facing our oil sands. When he’s not being yelled at on social media, you can find him cycling, running, or spending time with his two kids, Will (10) and Caroline (9).

Where We Stand: Edmonton’s legacy of discrimination and how we can move forward
Bashir Mohamed

If you have lived in Edmonton for a while then chances are that you have probably driven by Connors Hill, enjoyed thrilling rides at K-Days, walked by the old Enbridge building downtown, or gone for a swim at Borden Park. These are locations integral to Edmonton and are places that Edmontonians remember fondly.

Remembrance is important and shapes how we view our city in the present day. However, remembrance of our dark history is also necessary. For example, the landmarks mentioned above also hold a dark history. In 1931, the Klan lit a cross on Connors Hill to celebrate one of their supporters becoming Mayor. In 1932 the Klan got approval to hold a picnic and cross-burning at Northlands – where K-Days happens. In 1922, Lulu Anderson — a Black woman — was refused entry to the Metropolitan theatre (where the old Enbridge building stands now). And in 1924, the newly opened public pool in Borden park refused to admit Black citizens. This is our history and remembering it is necessary to understand the legacy it has to this day.

Bashir Mohamed is an Edmonton-based writer. He is interested in Alberta’s history and how those legacies connect to the present. Currently, he works as a civil servant and spends his free time cycling or in the archives

Nerd Nite #46: New Year, new nerdy you

We don’t want you to get tied up in knots about Nerd Nite… Well, we do, but only with your enthusiastic consent. Join us for the first Nerd Nite of 2019. We have a line-up of speakers passionate about a range of topics off the beaten path — as always. With a twist: this time, we’ll be doing the show in the Arts Barns Lobby!

Get that Christmas shopping done early and get those tickets today!

Nerd Nite: It’s like the Discovery Channel, but with beer!

When: Tuesday, January 8, 2019 (doors @ 7:30pm | show @ 8pm)
Where: Lobby, ATB Financial Arts Barns (10330 84 Ave NW)
Tickets: $20 in advance (plus fees + GST) — AVAILABLE NOW!

Our line-up of talks includes:

The Making of Midgard: How did complex life arise on Earth, and what do Thor and Loki have to do with it?
Beth Richardson

This talk is about EUKARYOGENESIS, a horrific word created by mashing together the Latin and/or Greek words EU (good, well), KARY (nut, kernel), and GENESIS (making of, creation). We’re going to discuss what makes a really good nut — the “really good nut” in question being the cell nucleus. The origins of cells with nuclei, or eukaryotes, is a controversial issue in evolutionary cell biology. It has resulted in: opinion pieces in Nature; counter-opinion pieces in Nature; counter-counter-opinion pieces in Nature; yelling at conferences; and grown-ass men dragging each other on Twitter, all in the last forty years. I will introduce you to the history, the science, and the myths surrounding eukaryote origins, and how a little bit of divine intervention from Asgard has finally allowed us to get some real evidence for how these squishy info-nuts genesis-ised.

Beth Richardson grew up in a small town in Oxfordshire, England. She studied for her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Natural Sciences with a biochemistry specialisation at the University of Cambridge (though she tells everyone she went to Hogwarts). She joined the University of Alberta in 2014 after her PhD supervisor lied to her extensively about the weather, and now uses computational biology to figure out how single-celled eukaryotes adapt to environmental change while never going outside herself.

Nuclear Radiation: that thing you’re afraid of but don’t know anything about
Sean Wagner

“Nuclear waste,” “Contamination,” “Hundreds of thousands of years of uninhabitability…” If these phrases pop into your head whenever someone talks about nuclear power, you might be victim of misinformation about radiation, what it is, and how it works. Since Sean does not own a tinfoil hat, he doesn’t really care why so many people are against nuclear power: only that the misinformation they have spread over the past 40 years has almost made it impossible to stave off global climate change. So, hoping that a little bit of knowledge can go a long way, we get to have a little trip through the basics of radiation and why there are good reasons that we require stringent safety measures, but also why it’s not nearly as bad as it is made out to be, and far less harmful than most people think.

Sean has been a lifelong nerd in as many fields as he could find, theatre, space, lasers, materials, track and field, Star Trek, and now nuclear energy. With two degrees in engineering, he feels that he has an okay grasp of how systems work and how to optimize things that currently aren’t working. Right now, the things that he believes aren’t working are our response to Global Climate Change and the growth of the economy in ways that benefit all people, not just corporations. Luckily for him he thinks that the answer to both problems is more efficient and effective production of energy and that is nuclear power. Let’s see if he can convince us all.

‘Hey honey, I’ve seen it on Pinterest. Let me tie you up to the ceiling’ — A primer on rope bondage
Jeff Vanelle

“Rope bondage,” “Shibari,” “Kinbaku.” Most have heard those terms, most have seen pictures, maybe some videos — far fewer have experienced it. Deeply rooted in medieval Japan (XV century or so) as a mean to restrain prisoners, the “art of binding” came to be in the early XIX century. From there, the art developed as any others in different currents influenced by the culture surrounding it. Today this art form has taken an aesthetic and erotic form, retaining the psychological and physical aspect of its origins. I have been very fortunate to be exposed to shibari through some incredibly talented friends in town and abroad. While each of them is far more of an expert than I am, some have dedicated their lives to it, I have not. In fact, I don’t speak Japanese, my mentors are Mexican, German, Scottish, American, and… I’m French! So don’t expect a lecture on Japanese Arts and History. Still I’ll share my own humble experience with ropes, provide you with some basic information and shed some light on this beautifully exciting hobby of mine. Is it safe? Does it hurt? Will it leave a mark? Can anyone try? So many knots to learn!

Jeff is an eclectic, life long learner, passionate about too many things to fit in a day. Computer graphics tech nerd, saké brewer, photographer, bacon, cheese and sausage maker, competitive dragon boat racer. Each of those topics could be the subject of a Nerd Nite (who knows?!). But today, Jeff will share his experience in… Rope bondage.

Nerd Nite 45: a Nerdy reprieve before the chaos of the Christmas break

It’s time for one last hurrah… before the holiday season verily takes over our lives. Oh, don’t worry, we’ll be back for more nerdy nites in the New Year (alliteration!). But you’ll want to get your fill now. Because who know what can happen between now and the turning over of that annual clock.

Nerd Nite: It’s like the Discovery Channel, but with beer!

When: Tuesday, November 13, 2018 (doors @ 7:30pm | show @ 8pm)
Where: Westbury Theatre, ATB Financial Arts Barns (10330 84 Ave NW)
Tickets: $20 in advance — AVAILABLE NOW!

Our line-up of talks includes:

The State of Wireless in Canada. Or; Why Is My Cell Phone Bill So F*cking Expensive?
Aaron Hoyland

Smartphones are great. They let you keep in touch with family and friends, help you stay organized, and allow you to take amazing photos wherever you are. It’s just too bad that you have to remortgage your house every time the bill comes due. Ever wonder why Canadians pay such high rates for our wireless devices? Think the only explanation is greedy cell phone companies? Think again! Join us for a deep-dive (or at least a shallow dip) into the wireless industry in Canada. What decisions brought us here? Why does this seem like such a difficult problem to solve? We’ll answer these questions and more as we peer into the fascinating world of wireless regulation, MVNOs, spectrum auctions, and why it really pays to live in Saskatchewan or Quebec.

An engineer by education and a nerd by birthright, Aaron has been fascinated by science and technology since he was a wee lad taking magnets to his parents’ computer screen to see what would happen. For the last decade, he’s been obsessed with the fast-paced and ever-changing world of smartphones and wireless technology and how they intersect with our day-to-day lives. As a former corporate trainer, Aaron gets his jollies distilling complex technical topics into something interesting and accessible. When he’s not staring into a tiny screen, you’ll find Aaron listening to podcasts, playing video games, consuming news and political commentary or hating himself at the local gym.

Moss: the BIG life of tiny plants
Mallory Hazell

Moss might be the saddest plant on earth; it’s terribly misunderstood and underappreciated. In fact, many people consider it a nuisance. But if you purchase an expensive hand lens, and dedicate thousands of hours to infuriating plant identification, you too can begin to see the beauty of these tiny plants. You’ve likely seen moss growing on trees and sidewalks, but you might be surprised to know that there are entire ecosystems dominated by moss, and that those ecosystems have a tremendous impact on our planet. In fact, the restoration of one moss-dominated ecosystem is becoming recognized as immensely important towards the fight against climate change!

Mallory Hazell is Vegetation and Wetland Ecologist with an eccentric passion for moss! She is a professional biologist with the Alberta Society of Professional Biologists, and recently completed a Master’s degree in wetland reclamation from the University of Alberta. She conducted research on how to design and construct a peatland (a moss-dominated wetland) on a former oil sands mine. While her love for mosses started several years before graduate school, it was during graduate school that she started to appreciate the impact some moss-dominated ecosystems have on our planet. She is a member of the Western Canada Bryophyte and Lichen Interest Group, but insists that she is still an absolute bryology beginner.

All the stats you never wanted about women in YEG politics
Lana Cuthbertson

Only about a quarter of our politicians in Canada are women. There’s been some improvement from the time (some) women won the right to vote, but the progress has been slow. Today, new challenges have popped up, like the public square that is Twitter and how it impacts women in politics. Then there’s #metoo and how that movement plays into this issue. We need to do better. But where are we at, exactly, and what do the numbers show? And why should we care? Why is this important? And most importantly, how can we make it better? There is a way—and it involves you.

Lana Cuthbertson is the Chair of ParityYEG, an Edmonton-based organization dedicated to getting more women into politics and public office. She also works in ATB Financial’s Transformation department, where she listens to other people who work at ATB and shares their stories throughout the company. She loves storytelling, innovating, and promoting women in leadership. She has degrees in journalism and English literature and sings in a choir.