Spectacular short movie

A 6-minute short animation film from Disney, in black & white, which made me smile - I am sure you'll like it.

Well, did you? :-)

This brought tears to my eyes...

Read through, please. Touching.

The Memory of a Kenyan Elephant

In 1986, Mkele Mbembe was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University.

On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Mbembe approached it very carefully.

He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant's foot and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it.

As carefully and as gently as he could, Mbembe worked the wood out with his hunting knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot.

The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments.

Mbembe stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away.

Mbembe never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.

Twenty years later, Mbembe was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenage son.

As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Mbembe and his son Tapu were standing.

The large bull elephant stared at Mbembe, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man.

Remembering the encounter in 1986, Mbembe couldn't help wondering if this was the same elephant.

Mbembe summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Mbembe' s legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly .

Probably wasn't the same elephant.

The best dance routine EVER recorded

I only found out about these geniuses through this article in MentalFloss. Amazing, amazing dance routine, starting at around 1:30 of the video below. Before there is a nice song by Cab Calloway, so do watch it in its entirety...

Did you know them? Move on, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly... nothing to see here.

The story of the week: A poem that's almost a story

In my quest to bring you worthwhile texts, I stumbled again across this seminal poem by our buddy Allen Ginsberg. I hesitated to include it, since the title is "the Story of the Week"... but to hell with rules and regulations in my bloody blog! So I've decided to sneak it in... as usual, after the break.

Tell me in the comments if you had read it before and what your thoughts are. Should I include more poetry?

Fly through the Universe

A video done with the information we already have of the Universe. It's amazing and awe-inducing.

(Pls think that the biggest dots in this animation are galaxies, 100 billion kilometres across - that will give you an idea of the scale of this work).

And then, we are supposed to believe that the entity who created all of this concerns itself with what you do behind closed doors?

Realism challenge!

Those who follow my blog know I love realism. For me it's the ultimate show of talent (anyone can draw a line and call it art, but to draw a hyper-realist picture, you at least have to have technique).

So I was delighted when I came across the below. I like to see creation at work and, as you can see, this one involves a lot of technique... and patience.

Did you like it? There are more in the channel of the author.

The song of the weekend: bet you haven't heard THIS Stairway to Heaven

Spectacular version by a cover Beatles band of the Zep song "Stairway to Heaven" as it if had been done by The Beatles. Listen, and lift your dropped jaw!


If you can answer these, you did better than American graduates

It has come to this. This article shows some math questions most American graduate university students couldn't answer. Amongst other "Gordian knots", we find pearls such as:

Students were presented with a number line, ranging from -2 to 2. When asked to roughly pinpoint the location of 0.7 and 13/8, only 21 percent of students answered correctly

Kidding, right? No, unfortunately not.

(By the way, the article starts with this cartoon, of one of my favourite cartoonists, Gary Larson - Google him and his "Far Side" up, his creations are amazing).

This is the ultimate proof that the scientific advance of a nation is done by its "intellectual elite" - but before we thought that University students were part of it. Looks not.

Throw away your thermometer...

Taking your temperature? Nah, what a thing of the past! With the soon-to-be released SCOUT device, you'll just place it on your temple, and in 10 seconds...
it will read your pulse transit time, heart rate, electrical heart activity, temperature, heart rate variability and blood oxygenation. 
I think this is amazing. As the Chinese say: "may you live in interesting times". And by Jeeves we are!

Some companies get it right

It takes too little to make a customer for life. But so few companies do it exactly right. Like Lego.

It turns out that a kid lost one of his action figurines of Lego, and his dad sent him a letter. The response is absolutely epic.

(I must confess that for some reason, when I read the article, tears came to my eyes. Am I a secret Lego fan and don't know it?)

The story of the week: A Fable by Mark Twain

It's been a long time since I have read a fable - moreover, most of the well-known ones are usually written by a few select "specialists" (such as Aesop). But this one is short and has an interesting message. And, of course, it's written by none else than Samuel Langhorne Clemens (the Twain himself).

The above was not it (though it's funny). The story is after the break. Let me know if you liked it.

You have a cognitive bias...

...and so do I, and everyone else. It's impossible not to be influenced by these biases in our daily lives.

Which one/s affect/s you more, and why?

(PS: The 12 in the article above are some of the main ones. The complete list is here. As usual, thanks Wikipedia!).

He likes handling his ball

... his crystal ball, of course. What were you thinking?

Imagine the hours he must have practiced for this - the fluidity of the ball is amazing, isn't it?

The song of the weekend: an etilic rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody

First of all, if you are reading this, it means the world hasn't ended. That's good. (I have written this post in advance, so we may all be running for our lives now).

Now on to the music: some of you may have seen this video, it's an epic rendition of the Bohemian Rhapsody by an inebriated lout who was picked up by the Canada Police. Do yourselves a favour and watch it (sound comes only from the right channel):

The funniest part? He gets it (mostly) right.

Gravity as glue (amazing!)

So this guy does sculptures with rocks, only using gravity. I know, it looks like a trick - but he swears it's not and has videos to prove it.

Some examples (video after the break):

Amazing, huh?

And if you don't have time to stargaze..

...then use this handy photo with lots of gazillions of pixels, to show you what you are missing. The hi-hi-hi-res is here.

Amazing, isn't it?

If you don't have time to climb Mount Everest...

... hereby I offer you the second best option: watching it in hi-res (in an amazing 2Gpx hi-res) from the comfort of your PC room. (How do I know you have a PC room? I spy on you, that's how).

This is not hi-res.
Click here for the hi-res. Enjoy your mountaineering!

The story of the week: many ultra-short stories

It is said that Hemingway considered his ultra-short story (6 words) as his best work:
For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.

Wired magazine asked several celebrities (writers and others), to give their versions of a 6-word story. Some are fantastic. Check them after the break for my favourite 5, also the link of the article with the whole collection.

EDITORIAL: The Mosquito Wars

I just came back from a well deserved holiday - as it's my custom, in the Third World. You just can't beat underdeveloped countries for great vacations in the sun, more service personnel than guests, and provided you can live with the risk of cholera, the great tasting food. The only two real problems for me are i) locals tend to drink mostly beer, sending the price of gin to the clouds and ii) the bloody mosquitoes.

You can never see the flying pest in the hotel brochure, all you get is happy people in loose white linen clothing, sipping margaritas by the infinity pool. They have probably photo-shopped away the multiple bites in their faces, arms and ankles (why always in the ankles??!!) and have drugged the models with a cocktail of repellent and Calamine lotion to numb them just long enough for the photo-shoot.

As a business man, what pisses me off the most is the mosquito community's utter reluctance to enter into any kind of negotiations. I would be delighted to offer, every day at about 7pm, a small recipient with 2 or 3 millilitres of my blood, enough for the bastards to feast on for a full night, on condition that they let me sleep in peace.

I hate them. With a vengeance. It is not enough that they don't bite me, I want them dead, their offspring dead and if possible to inflict maximum pain in the process.

Shut up and take my money!

Imagine using this RC man of steel in your own city... imagine the face on unsuspecting passers-by...

- It's a plane!
- It's a UFO!
- No... it's..

- Me, actually. Me, commanding an RC-controlled piece of plastic.

The song of the weekend: it's good to see vocal harmonies back!

After most notoriously Queen in the '70s and '80s and some glam-rock bands in the '90s and '00s, there hasn't been a band known for its vocal harmonies and arrangements. And as this is one of my guilty pleasures, I must say I was (very) pleasantly surprised when I heard this song. I hope you like it as much as I did - it's in my playlist currently.

I am not saying this band is Queen, by any stretch of the imagination - but the fact they unashamedly use vocal harmonies deserves my respect.

(Song starts at the 1:00 minute mark).

Did you like it?

Paper art like you've never seen

Yes, you've seen origami. You've seen clever folding of paper made to look like a little boat. But, my friend, have you ever seen this?

Or this?

Ok, it's not done from one uncut piece of paper, but the impressive level of detail, I believe, makes it worthy of at least a "Wow!".

 The best part? The artist encourages others to follow his method here. Enjoy!

What happens to your blood when a snake bites you?

Let's say you are walking in Africa, minding your own business... when suddenly a snake bites you. Let's put it this way: you are in trouble. Do you know why they call the black mamba snake "seven steps"? Because that's what you can do after you're bitten before you die.

Oh hai, black mamba!
As a way of showing you what the venom can do - in this short video below the break, they've put one (one) drop of a Russell's Viper's venom into a Petri dish of blood. The result is bloodcurdling (pun intended).

Your mobile as a steering wheel

Do you have an iPhone 4, 4S, 5 or an Android phone*?

Then go here on your PC. Follow the instructions (both in your PC and mobile), and enjoy.

Cool, huh?

(* works only with some Android models - my HTC One X works, for instance).

The story of the week: a twist on the "3 wishes" tale

I found this story in an anthology, and I think it's very well written. It was penned 111 years ago, so its English is a bit rusty (to-day, for instance) but the story has a good rhythm to it. I like how it begins, with the word "Without" replacing "outside" - it's the first time I've seen that use.

Did you like it? After the break, of course.

The power of the spoken word

I believe that Louis CK is a genius. He took Seinfeld's "comedy about nothing" and took it to new levels. And you can tell he is a genius because even when you only hear him, and can't see him, you have a laugh.

Do you like Louis CK?

Cause a chain reaction

If you want a website with a game that is 100% addictive, look no further than here.

I think I have never used the tag "Wasting Time" so appropriately - but bloody Hell, how addictive!

The song of the weekend: glass music (no, really!)

Wow. Luckily the guy in the beginning clarifies it is no playback, if not, I would have thought it a trick. A mazing.

Did you like it?

Three sci-fi movies to watch this year

The first one, with our favourite pixie, Tom Cruise: Oblivion

The second one with Will Smith and his son Jayden: After Earth

The third one (I heard about this one today and I am already salivating): Pacific Rim.

Which one/s will you see? In any case, let's put it this way - they can't be worse than Prometheus.

RSA Encryption... thanks to Fermat?

You may not know about the RSA encryption, but you certainly use it every day. It's the encryption with very long numbers that e-mail accounts and banks use to avoid being read by third parties.

This video below tells you how it woks in a beautiful and very simple way. You can then read more about it here, if you are interested.

For me, the most beautiful part of the video is that it tells how the RSA encryption was derived from a Theorem by Fermat (not his "Last Theorem", but the "Little Theorem"). It states that if you have a number x, and you elevate it to the power of P (P being prime), then

xP - x -> must be a multiple of P.

Example: 45 - 4 = 1024 - 4 = 1020, multiple of 5.

What a beautiful result, what simplicity - and like the video says, how useful it became!