Seeing leaf-cutter ants in the wild is the sort of thing that makes you want to spend all day crawling on the ground following them around. These are charismatic microfauna

Here, a few seconds of footage I took while playing around with a GoPro near Jaco, Costa Rica, last December.

They don’t eat the leaves, petals, and other bits of foliage they bring back to the colony, but use them to cultivate gardens of fungus that act as a food source. 

Share
science

Touchdown on Mars

Here’s something you don’t see every day: The Rover’s eye view of landing on Mars.

Four photos per second snapped by the Mars Descent Imager.

Somebody took the photos, made them full-screen, and smoothed the video out:

And as for just where the rover touched down, as of today, it’s called Bradbury Landing:

Share
Standard
China, environment, multimedia

China Green

The Asia Society’s Center on U.S.–China Relations recently published China Green, a multimedia site that will highlight stories of China’s environment. Its initial set of videos and images focus on how climate change is affecting the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalayas, which host the headwaters of most of Asia’s major rivers.

screenshot of China Green website

The Asia Society took its first leap into multimedia and China’s environment last year with its Clearing the Air website, which introduced viewers to the environmental challenges—especially regarding air pollution—that China faces. The most compelling feature of that site is the calendar showing Beijing’s shifting air quality, Room With A View. The calendar is continually updated, its most recent image being of a clear blue sky on Monday, January 12:

image of beijing air

While visiting China Green, be sure to try using the interactive timelines comparing photos of Himalayan glaciers several decades ago with glaciers today. You’ll see what I mean on the opening page of China Green, as it shows the time-lapse loss of the Rongbuk Glacier. And if you know that you’ll be in New York City on January 16th, check out the Asia Society symposium Meltdown: The Impact of Climate Change on the Tibetan Plateau. [Update] If you can’t make it, the Asia Society will stream a live webcast of the event on its site that day.

Disclosure: China Green was produced by people I consider friends and colleagues. I’d like to especially point out the work of Michael Zhao, who has done a great amount of work in both multimedia and China’s relationship with the environment. A notable example of the combination of those being his look at the importation and processing of electronic waste in China, the first coverage of any depth I’ve seen on the subject.

Share
Standard
China, cool, video

Monkey

I haven’t been watching the Olympics, mainly because the rabbit-ears on our television don’t pick up NBC. But if I were, I’m sure I’d be just as disappointed with NBC as everyone else seems to be–the tape delays, the incessant commentary. Since NBC is blocking international video feeds online, I can’t see any that way, either (the software NBC streams is created by Microsoft and requires a PC or an Intel Mac). So I’ve missed out on the counterfeit fireworks, the counterfeit singer, the allegedly counterfeit 16-year-old gymnasts, [update 8/15: counterfeit ethnic children, too!] and all the other hijinks.

One thing I don’t regret missing, though, is the promotional marketing that NBC must be constantly playing. Boring, I’d guess, but designed to appeal to everybody. Boring. So points to BBC SPORT for choosing something inventive, and specific. That’s Monkey. Fans of Damon Albarn and the Gorillaz will be pleased.

A high-res version with more info is available at the BBC.

While we’re at it, here’s an old favorite:

Share
Standard
China, cool, really?, talent, technology

The Shanzhai Huaxiangji Question

An unusual video showed up on the Ifgogo blog that’s created a ripple on the internet over the last few days. It’s a video of a Chinese farmer piloting a flying machine that he is supposed to have built on his own. The shanzhai huaxiangji, or little mountain village glider, if the translation’s any good (山寨 滑翔机), has sparked some debate as to its veracity. Here’s the video that YouTube commenters claim is a fake:

Fair enough. It’s hard to know based on the perspective; and I didn’t watch closely enough to tell if there was much inconsistency between the pilot’s bumpy ride and the background. But Ifgogo blogger Aw Guo has updated his post to include more video to back up the story. The YouTube video is helpfully titled “I don’t think the farmer-made plane is fake.”

Share
Standard
influence, lost, television, Uncategorized

Nickelodeon Encomium

What happens when people my age (28) or younger start to feel nostalgic? Some turn to the common cultural thread of television. I’ve found a handful of YouTube tributes to the cable channel Nickelodeon, which, according to a couple of these videos, enjoyed a golden era from about 1990 to 2004.

The kids born in 1990 will be starting college this year, so I’d guess some of these are a product of that cohort more than my own. Still, there are some good shows in there, and a few nods to the 1980s–which I still remember, anyway. After all, that was a decade that Nickelodeon carried shows like Mr. Wizard, Double Dare, Danger Mouse, Belle and Sebastian, The Little Prince, and You Can’t Do That on Television. (And at least one musician my age got a name out of this list.)

I think there’s one feature common to several shows that Nickelodeon broadcast that makes them worthwhile. Think of the earliest in that list: You Can’t Do That on Television. The element (and value) in subversion was a feature of these shows more than the average television fare available to young people. The existential frustration of Ren and Stimpy, the striving defiance and ingenuity in The Adventures of Pete and Pete, and the quotidian repression (and weird sexuality) of Rocko’s Modern Life–all these things were tossed into the cultural stew of the 80s and 90s and helped prepare those kids who listened for John Stewart and Stephen Colbert, Arrested Development, Napoleon Dynamite, and the sensibility referred to, sometimes derisively, and, I think, not always accurately, as “quirk.”

Share
Standard
Asia, history, journalism, lost, video

Panic in Da Nang, 1975.

Before the fall of Saigon, there was the loss of Da Nang, a major port city and host to American military forces during the Vietnam War. As North Vietnamese forces approached the city, residents tried to evacuate.

For a little more information that covers some of the technical details–fuel loss, passenger load, etc.–click on the video (or here) to read the summing up that accompanies the piece on YouTube. Have been thinking about the Vietnam War lately–less because of Iraq than because John Peabody is working on a story about the Hmong community in California. 

P.S.: Sometimes journalists, these days, wonder what the best medium is to tell a story. An event like this can, and probably should, be told many ways. But it’s clear that to get it fast and make it pack a punch, video (or probably film, in those days) is the way to go.

Via Kottke.
Share
Standard
anticipation, competition, politics, race, really?

It is on.

Who says politics has devolved into a slideshow? Looks more like it’s the center ring. This was recorded for the WWE, broadcast last night. I guess they really are trying to get that working class white male vote. No more direct route than pro wrestling, right?

 

I like how McCain suggests that he’s “the man.” Hard not to hear that and think about “the Man.” As in, don’t let the Man get you down.

While we’re at it, here’s one version of the Fatboy Slim video for “Don’t Let the Man Get You Down.” It is supposed to have multiple endings. I am not suggesting that McCain is racist.

Share
Standard
China, consumption, environment, international, journalism, video

Get To Know Your Electronic Waste

I’m a little late to the party on this one, but friend and colleague Michael Zhao has posted his multimedia project on electronic waste in China online in documentary form. He starts in California, where trashed computers are dismantled and, occasionally, recycled. More often they’re sent over to China, where men, women, and children pick them apart for materials that might be of value. My first glimpse of all this was when Michael was putting the piece together and he showed me footage of toxic-looking orange-colored smoke rising from tubs of chemicals as workers extracted gold from circuit boards. Here’s a three-and-a-half minute preview:

Josh Chin gives more of the back story here.

Andrew Leonard at Salon sang its praises here.

Michael talks about the project for the Asia Society, where he now works, here.

And you can view the whole thing here.

Share
Standard