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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

The Desert Bus for Hope Charity, Featuring Me. Bid On a Meteorite!

By Phil Plait

Today (Sunday, Nov. 18) at 1:00 p.m. Pacific time (21:00 UTC) Iâll be doing a live web video interview with the Desert Bus For Hope campaign. Iâm doing this to help raise money for Childâs Play, a charity that supports kids with cancer by giving them toys and games. This is a great cause and Iâm really happy to be a part of it.

This takes a wee bit of explanation. Desert Bus is a videogame produced as part of a package of minigames for the magicians Penn & Teller; in it you can drive a bus across the desert. In real time. And thatâs it. Nothing ever really happens in the game, ever (I think at one point you pass a cactus, and thatâs it). Itâs also 8-bit, with terrible graphics. And if you donât constantly navigate the bus youâll drive off the road and have to start all over again, so you canât put the controller down and get a drink or go to the bathroom or anything.

Thatâs the joke. When you realize Penn & Teller are behind it this all makes perfect sense.

However, something very important has come out of it. An internet comedy group called LoadingReadyRun started the Desert Bus for Hope campaign, where they and other people play the game live-streamed over the ânet continuously for days, raising money through donations for Childâs Play. If you wonder why they would do that, then please please please read this blog post by my dear friend Liz Smith, who is part of the campaign and who makes it very clear why this is important work. In the six years Desert Bus For Hope has run, theyâve donated over $800,000 to Childâs Play.

Liz asked me last year to participate, and I didnât hesitate because sheâs awesome, and so is this event. So youâll see my bebearded face eating up valuable real estate on your monitor when you tune in, and Iâll chat with the people playing. I also have a big olâ pile of swag Iâve donated to them to auction off and raise money, which includes a real meteorite and a tektite! The meteorite is a Sikhote-Alin iron piece from a meteor fall over Russia in 1947. A tektite is a piece of glass formed in a bigger meteorite impact; the heat of the impact fuses the soil into glass. That molten blob gets blown into the sky and forms weird shapes as it falls back to Earth and cools. The picture here is of the two actual pieces of cosmic debris youâll get if you win the auction (the tektite is on the left and the meteorite on the right).

The Desert Bus campaign goes on for a solid week, and they have other guests scheduled, including geek musicians Jonathan Coulton and The Doubleclicks, my friend the geek philanthropist Steve Dengler, as well as geek god and My Close Personal Friend⢠Wil Wheaton, and more. Thatâs a lot of geeks.

This is a fun chance to donate money to a really, really great charity, and help out kids who could really use it. Thatâs why Iâm doing it, and I hope itâll help raise some spirits. If you can, please help out. Thanks.

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