19 December 2016

Redeem: The Beginning - Multi Award Winning Sci-fi Short


In another time, another place, a young woman is surplus to requirements and so subject to elimination by a death squad.   Yet she was given time till sundown to redeem herself – something gave her a second chance.  This multi-award winning short by Dennis Peterson is hopefully to be made in to a feature film, so catch the original while you can!

Krampus: Santa's Sadistic Sidekick

The song lyrics have never been truer.  Oh You better watch out,  You better not cry,  You better not pout, I'm telling you why.  Yet it isn’t Santa Claus that you have to watch out for – it is his sinister and somewhat sadistic sidekick – Krampus. He has a whip – and he is going to use it.

What on earth has this creature of the night – more orc than elf – to do with Christmas?  If you have children you may well be aware of the mantra – if you don’t behave then Father Christmas won’t bring you anything.  The idea behind Krampus is similar – only the threat is not that Santa won’t bring them anything but that Krampus will whip them in to the New Year.

17 December 2016

15 Witty Grammar Jokes for You


There have been a lot of grammar memes over the last ten years and when you see them on social media they are beginning to look their age.  So, Teaching and Learning Resourcesfor Me on YouTube has decided to have a little fun (well, it’s Christmas, I guess) and has put 15 of the funniest in to a new video.  It may not completely satisfy your inner grammar nerd but it’s a start!  You can decide for yourself whether the title of this post is ironic, sarcastic, both or neither.

Lost, Missing and Found Posters - The Funny Side

You have all seen them – you may have even appeared on one yourself – posters proclaiming the loss of a dear pet or relative.  Although some disapprove of them for their intrusion on public space most would not dream of removing them in the hope that whatever was lost will be found. And then there are those who embrace them as a form of alternative art.  Their alternative lost posters amuse and irritate with, quite possible, equal measure. We prefer to see the funny side – and so here are some of the best on the net.

10 December 2016

The Supertrees of Singapore

They look like a set from a forthcoming science fiction movie but these supertrees in Singapore are very much of this world.  A collection of eighteen of these trees, varying in size from 80 to 160 feet (25 and 50 meters), creates an amazing backdrop for Singapore's central business district.  What is more, they actually mimic real trees.

Eleven of these immense structures are fitted with solar panels.  The sunlight caught by these energies is converted in to energy which helps to run this thriving business center.  They are part of an area known as Gardens by the Bay.  Yet it will be many years before the energy they create recoup their initial cost.  The entire garden, despite its energy-efficient and green credentials, not to mention its increasing reputation as a conservation area for rare plants, cost three quarters of a million US dollars to build.

Fight!

Over at the Ark in Space there is a terrific set of photographs of animals caught in the act of fighting. Some of these conflicts are simply play - but in others you can see a real tooth and claw (or beak and wing for that matter) struggle going on. Wild!

He that fights and runs away
May turn and fight another day
But he that is in battle slain
Will never rise to fight again.
Tacitus


Image Credit Flickr User fPat

Beyond – Action Adventure Short


Fancy a Spielbergian adventure movie but only have ten minutes to spare? Then try Beyond – it has all the required elements but has the additional attraction of being quite brief on its side too.  Written and directed by Jeremy Haccoun, the short film centers on young Leo. When a rock fall traps his parents inside a burning car, he must find the hero within him in order to save their lives...

The Moment


A stranger asks an artist to draw his portrait and the moment becomes pivotal to her life.

This lovely animated short film explores, very simply, the idea that all that we see on the surface is perhaps of little importance to the profundity that lies beneath. It is also beautifully animated. The Moment was Written, Directed, and Animated by Karis Oh.

When Were Slot Machines Invented?

Let’s face it, over the centuries people have created any number of ways to gamble.  It is even said that Keno, an ancient form of lottery invented by the Chinese helped to fund the building of the Great Wall of China.  Today we associate slot machines with online casino bonus software but their origin is not that much older (at least when we take the whole sweep of human history in to account!).

Whenever you see a machine with three or more spinning reels operated by a single lever at the side then you are in the presence of a slot machine, variously known as fruit machine, the slots, or pokies depending where you are from in the English speaking world. The lever today is mostly gone from designs but a number of new machines keep it as a kind of homage to history.

The precursor of the slot machine was developed in 1891 by Sittman and Pitt in New York.  Although it proved very popular there was no direct payout mechanism – this was considered too complicated as it used five drums.  If you won you had to show the proprietor of the bar and a prize would be given from a pre-written list.  As the prizes depended on the proprietor they could vary enormously.  What was needed was a simpler payment mechanism.

This came about in 1895 when San Francisco based  Charles Fey invented a system based on three spinning reels and five symbols: the Liberty Bell plus horseshoes, diamonds, spades and hearts.  This simplified the complexity of reading a win which meant that payoffs could be made.  The biggest was set if you managed to get three bells appearing in a row – the princely sum of 50 cents would be yours.

Ironically, California banned what became known as the Liberty Bell but Fey found it hard to keep up with demand elsewhere!  This is generally seen as the beginning of the mechanical gaming device industry.  By the turn of the century Fey’s machines (and their copies) were all over the continental United States.

It would take until 1963 for Bally Manufacturing to develop the first fully elctromechanical slot machine.  Known as the Money Honey it was the precursor of all electronic games which followed.  The lever would become defunct (we could even say vestigial) with the advent of these machines.  Fast-forward to today and the online games we play still echo these first machines.  The internet would seem quite foreign to those people who played the Liberty Bell back in the 1890s but the overall concept remains the same.

If You Have Never Wanted to Visit China, You Will after You Watch This


China from Above is, as you have probably guessed, drone footage. Using a DJI Phantom 4, traveling videographer Stef Hoffer has captured some truly awesome landscapes as he crossed the country. This video takes us from the northern 'rust belt provinces' to the beautiful mountain landscapes of national parks like Zhangjiajie (often named as an inspiration for the Avatar movie) and Jiuzhaigou.  Sit back and take it all in and then, if it not there already, put China on to your list of places to visit!

4 December 2016

The Century Old Color Photographs of Prokudin-Gorsky

In 1909 a remarkable project was initiated by Russian photographer Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorsky. His mission was to record – in full and vibrant color – the vast and diverse Russian Empire. Here, with his story, is a selection of his amazing century old full color pictures.

Just over one hundred years ago a Russian photographer, began a remarkable project. With the blessing – and funding – of the Tsar, Nicholas II, he embarked on an extraordinary journey to capture the essence of Russia in full color photographs. Many of these pictures look as if they could have been taken yesterday, with only the costumes worn by the people captured in their moment of time betraying the age of the work. The first shows two men crossing a small river.
Amung Feedjit
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