22 July 2018

Running Lights


This is lovely.  Two boys discover a dead animal at the side of the road on their way home and decide to bury it.  If that doesn’t sound like a promising premise then be patient and watch Running Lights created by PetPunk.  Although you may not prescribe to the particular circle of life as represented in this animated short I do believe you will find it heart-warming at the very least!  If you don’t quite get it until at least half way through then don’t worry about that either!

Love in Luoping


If you have never heard of Luoping before, you have now.  If you have never wanted to visit Luoping (probably because you have never heard of it) then after watching this you will probably want to get on a plane… right now.  Situated in China’s Yunan province, Luoping is famous for its gorgeous scenery and its fields of rapeseed (canola) which, when in bloom, cover the mountains in a sea of golden bloom.

The place attracts many photographers, including the folks at Perfect View China.  What makes this different to the many travel videos we include on Kuriositas is that here there is as much attention paid to the people as to their surroundings.  Although this does have the effect of making the video look as if it might have been made for the local tourist board, in my opinion it gives an interesting second layer to this particular piece.

If you need convincing any more then Luoping is the site of a recent massive fossil find.  Over 20,000 fossils make up the remnants of an ecosystem which developed after the mass extinction of 250 million years ago.

21 July 2018

Please Help Keep Kurositas Online

You may or may not know this but Kuriositas is curated by just one person – and that person would be me! There are a number of expenses that the site incurs each month and so, with my cap in my hand, I’m going to beg a favour.

If you enjoy Kuriositas, please consider helping out with the cost of running the site.  As you can guess, it takes a lot of time and effort, too!

Below this post you will see a button which will enable you to make a contribution safely and securely. There is also a Support Kuriositas button right at the top right hand corner of the site.

You can give as little or as much as you like – I’m not going to limit your choices. Anything will be gratefully received and will help to ensure that I can carry on bringing you all the great science, art and interesting things in-between that makes the site what it is.

So, if you read or watch something that you have really enjoyed, please think about sending us a small donation. Thanks!

Best regards

Robert-John

PS: The donation page is set to US dollars as that is where we get most of our traffic from. So, if you are outside the USA please remember to calculate the amount from your currency first!

Image Credit

What is a Mermaid's Necklace

If you were wandering along a beach and came across one of these, would you know what it is?  Folklore tells us that it is a mermaid's necklace.  Who knows how she may have lost it and how it came to be on your beach but it is easy to imagine many legends springing up about these peculiar objects.  Of course there is a scientific explanation and the fact that it can be found on our sibling site, The Ark in Space, might suggest that it is a biological one too...  Why not pop over and discover what a mermaid's necklace truly is?

Image Credit Dystopos

19 July 2018

The Giant Puffball: Nature’s Orbicular Idiosyncrasy

There are worse things you can find in the woods.  As summer turns to fall, woodland and meadows the world over play host to one of nature’s more orbicular idiosyncrasies.  It is large, round, white and has a distinctly extra-terrestrial appearance.  Yet the giant puffball is very much of this world, albeit one of its stranger fungal denizens.

It can also make for a tasty meal.

Image Credit Nunzy Gareffa
As much as anything else the giant puffball is noticeable and notable by its unexpected and sometimes astonishing size.   It has a distinct lack of camouflage advantage and can become a meal – not to mention a temporary home – to any passing herbivore such as the rabbit above.  Yet although easy prey to animals its structure is immensely strong.  Giant puffballs have been seen to push up slabs of asphalt as they develop, such is the powerful forces generated by their growth.

Dancing in the Movies


If like me you are a big fan of dance then take a few minutes out to watch this – but beware! You may be a little dizzy by the end of it!  CLS videos have put together this amazing compilation of dance moments from films that span the decades.  Many you will know and a lot will leave you thinking “where on earth did that amazing looking piece of choreography come from?”  If you have a need to know you can find them all on the CLS blog.

Grandma's Pie


Grandma hasn’t so much got early onset, she has irredeemable, completely and untterly gone onset (if there can be such a thing).  So when a dragon attacks the town she is utterly oblivious while defenders try to save their once quaint abode.  But let's face it - priorities are priorities and when a pie needs to be baked it bloody well needs to be baked - and things do get rather ensanguined during the process. Grandma's Pie was created by Camilo Castro and Ricardo San Emeterio at the Ringling College of Art.  I have to suspect that Messrs Castro and San Emeterio had perhaps a little too much fun devising the grisly demises of the various brave knights who face the dragon.  Bravo, chaps!

A Father’s Day


So, you may know how we at Kuriositas love anything undeadish so how could we possible ignore a short film like A Father’s Day?  It is set – as so often – in a post-apocalyptic world (here it is the UK, possibly post-Brexit too!).  A father is unexpectedly reunited with his daughter among the ruins of the world as they knew it, a father is determined to make this day special, even if they are already dead. A Father’s Day was written and directed by Mat Johns with funding by Creative England and BFI Newtork.

16 July 2018

Alternative Math: A Visit to Post-Truth America


An experienced maths teacher runs in to more than a little trouble when she tries to correct a student who has failed his recent math test.  What should have been a quiet moment of teaching and learning turns in to a traumatic week-long hell on earth for the teacher: She may have a trick or two up her sleeve but what chance does she have against Tommy, his parents, the principal, the school board and the media?

All satire exaggerates and Alternative Math has hyperbole in spades.  The premise is ridiculous but it resonates because it has its roots well and firmly dug in to the truth – whatever that may be in 2018.  We may have breathed a sigh of relief decades ago when 1884 became 1985 and there was little sign of Orwell’s dystopian vision coming to life.  Yet a few decades later, Alternative Math highlights, through comedy, the insidious nature of what truth means today.  George would have recognized the scenario all too well.

What makes it a little depressing is the fact that as a teacher this resonates a little too familiarly with me. The exaggeration in the film aside I have colleagues who have been through a form of what happens in this short albeit without the ending we have here (and it is worth the nine minutes of this short just to get to that point, believe me!).  It may be close to home but I am happy it's here.

Alternative Math is brought to you by Dallas-based Ideaman Studios and was written by Malcolm Morrison and David Maddox, with the latter doing the directing honors.  Well, that is if you believe the end credits are truthful, of course…

14 July 2018

Center Pivot Irrigation: The Real Crop Circles

If you have been in a plane over a large agricultural hub you may have casually glanced out of your window. And then you may have performed a very, very quick double take. What on earth are those circular shapes below? They are not the alien crop circles of infamy that’s for sure – in fact whole fields seem to be circular in shape. There are way too many of them, too, to have been done as some sort of practical joke. So, what are they? Welcome to the world of center pivot irrigation.

Why Do Cats Like Boxes So Much?

One question which gets asked time and time again is what, exactly, is the fascination that cats have with boxes?  Until they learn to talk we may never know the answer but we can have a few educated guesses.  Over at our sibling site, the Ark in Space, is a photo-packed feature on this most vexing of issues.  OK, it’s an excuse for a cute-fest but, honestly, do you care?

Image Credit Paul Hyde

8 July 2018

Spectrum


Who is the masculine man?  This is the question that Spectrum poses and indeed the concept of masculinity in dance and society as a whole.  The video was directed by Artur Zaremba in collaboration with dancers Jontae McCrory and Stefanos Dimoulas.  As dance becomes more gender fluid (is it the mirror of society or is it the other way around?), these are questions which have to be asked.

Sunrise, Bull Rock, Cork, Ireland


A few times of year during the summer, the sun is lined up perfectly to rise through the natural tunnel running through the Bull Rock. This is a short video showcasing this amazing rock and its neighbors, the Calf and the Cow by landscape photographer Peter Cox.  It is a powerful and immediate piece of film which I have to say made me feel almost like I was there – but my strongest feelings are, however, a need to really be there!

Catkin


A young girl lives with an unhappy home life finds solace in nature.  This alone sounds a little been there, done that.  However, what makes this animated short by Charlotte Davis (who created it during her time at Hertfordshire University) is how beautifully nuanced it is. As any animator will tell you it is no mean feat to create an inner life for a character made out of pixels.  Yet Davis does this with panache and delivers a short and heartfelt story which you may find lingering in your mind for quite a while.

What is Synthetic Biology?


We now have more knowledge about DNA than ever before and that opens certain paths which many oppose.  Yet there may be positive sides to being able to manipulate DNA as this visual essay by Vasil Hnatiuk.  Although this particular shape of things to come might be scary (or even terrifying) to many I have to admit I like the sound of cities made from renewable materials…

7 July 2018

Mo‘ynaq – Graveyard of Ships in the Desert

Many have visited an abandoned city and wondered what catastrophic event could have caused such an exodus from a metropolis once so evidently thriving. Yet these cities are usually hundreds if not thousands of years old, the everyday clamor and cry of civilization just an echo. Visit Mo'ynaq in Uzbekistan, however, and you can see apocalypse right here, right now.

The Soviet era sign still welcomes people to the city. Yet there are few visitors who stay more than a few hours. They all leave after they have done looking at what is reminiscent of a scene from a science fiction disaster movie - big ships adrift in the desert.

3 July 2018

A Frenchie's Miserable "Miss-mom" Howling is Made in to a Concerto


We don't often have two videos in one post on Kuriositas but you have to see this.  Walter Geoffrey the Frenchie does not like being left alone in the car – please watch the short video above for ample proof.  When his human companion has to leave him behind for a short time he understandably gets a little upset. His almost musical but nonetheless miserable howling entranced YouTube viewer at the end of May this year.  It entranced one of them, lyoug, so much that they created the video below.

Note that Dog concerto in A-sharp minor is is completely unedited, no speed change or autotune.   The only addition is Guitar Pro’s MIDI clarinet and harpsichord sounds.  It’s probably the best thing I’ve seen all month.  Walter Geoffrey may still be miserable but at least now he is musically so…

2 July 2018

The Dead Leaf Butterfly - Camouflage King of the Asian Tropics


Although the title of this article at our sibling site the Ark in Space has already given the game away, take a close look at the ‘leaf’ above.  Dead and withered, its dark veins still stretch across the parchment thin remains of its once emerald resplendence. Yet a closer look reveals a head, eyes and legs.  This isn’t at all what it appears to be – and that is exactly how nature intended.  Pop over to Ark in Space and see what is to be found on the inside of the wings!

First Image Credit - Wikimedia

Things To Do When You Can't Sleep Because Of Racing Thoughts



Let’s face it. Sometimes you just can’t make the voices in your head shut up and go away, can you?

Hold on: we didn’t mean it like that. We meant figurative, metaphorical voices that represent your innermost stresses, anxieties, and worries, not actual creepy voices that whisper things in your ear, like instructions on how to cook tuna flavored cupcakes. (Don’t ask.)

Yes, folks. Trying to get to sleep while you’re brain is moving at 200 mph isn’t the easiest feat in the world to accomplish. Quite the contrary: it literally feels impossible.

What’s worse is, when you start beating yourself up about not getting to sleep while you’re trying to get to sleep, then, well, you really aren’t going to get any sleep. You’ll be stressed about being stressed which will keep you awake longer. And that, friends, is counterproductive.

We’ve got a suggestion for you: learn how to take it easy. That might sound easier said than done, but it’s a valuable piece of advice that no one should ignore. So how does one actually “chill out” as the kids call it these days, anyway? What does it take?

Just a little bit of self-care maintenance is all. Here are 3 things to do when you can’t sleep at night because of racing thoughts from Sarah of the Sleep Advisor. Ready, set, relax!

Make a list

“Rename your “To-Do” list to your “Opportunities” list. Each day is a treasure chest filled with limitless opportunities; take joy in checking many off your list.” ― Steve Maraboli

A recent study that Baylor University and Emory University conducted in which over 50 young adults were surveyed revealed that writing to-do lists helped them fall asleep an average of nine minutes faster than those who didn’t.

Sometimes our racing thoughts are caused by the anxiety we feel about all of the tasks, responsibilities, and deadlines we feel looming over our heads on the horizon.

These could be a big presentation you have to give for class or work, a massive special event you’re planning, bills you have to pay, taxes you need to do, or blog posts about reducing stress to get better sleep that you need to write.

Grabbing the nearest notebook and jotting down all of these goals and duties will help you clear your head and make you feel like you’ve got a better handle on things than you think you do. Also, it will help you realize what’s necessary and what’s not. That’s important, too.

Say, while we’re on the topic...

Write it out

“Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.” - Stephen King

Write out your feelings. Pencil, pen, keyboard, smartphone or tablet screen - it doesn’t matter. Just focus on expressing how you feel about what’s going on in your life and in your head.

Describe what you’re afraid of, what’s bugging you, what’s making you feel like you’re in a perpetual state of anxiety. Articulating what’s happening in your life will help you manage your stress and boost your physical health as some studies have suggested.

So, why not take up the ancient art of journaling to explore the possibilities of your life and help fine tune your circadian rhythms considerably at the same time?

Focus on now

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” - Dr. Felice Leonardo Buscaglia Ph.D.

Most of the time those anxious thoughts that are kind of, sort of driving you into a sleep deprived craze aren’t based in the here and now.

They’re about things that haven’t happened yet, or regrets about the past, or false constructs that you bult to make yourself worry yourself for no good reason other than the fact you might be addicted to the adrenaline rush.

Whatever your excuse (or reason) might be, it’s best to step back and accept that you’re having these thoughts. Acknowledge that they exist, then also acknowledge other things that exist outside of yourself, too.

Become aware of the room and your surroundings by focusing on one sensory stimulus at a time. Look at the colors, hear the sounds, feel the sensations, and start thinking about what’s out there and less about what’s in here, so to speak.

We hope that these tips for quieting down your rampaging, anxious mind have been helpful to you. We wish you peace, good luck, and way more than forty winks in bed tonight. We also hope that whatever you’re going through sorts itself out sooner rather than later in a way that benefits everyone involved - you especially.

Bio:

Hey, I’m Sarah. Recent vegan, long-time yogi and lover of a great sleep. I used to suffer from insomnia in my teens but since turning to meditation and yoga (and paying more attention to my health in general), I’ve found that I’ve never slept better! I get to bed early and gone are the days of lying awake with anxious thoughts. And I want to help others sleep more soundly, too!

23 June 2018

The Windcatchers of Persia

They appear throughout the Middle East: Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan have these antique Persian designs dotted around their towns and cities. They are windcatchers, known in the area as Bâdgir. Serving as ventilation systems they have given the people of the Middle East air conditioning for thousands of years. Yet despite their antediluvian origin, windcatchers may even provide a solution for some very modern architectural problems.

Windcatchers come in a vast array of sizes and a number of different styles. They function in one of three ways. Some direct the airflow downwards and use direct wind entry. Others direct airflow up either using a temperature gradient assisted either by the sun or the wind.

21 June 2018

Unicorns Must Exist

Written tongue-in-cheek by Dragoș

Visiting Harrods for the first time has definitely changed my perspective on so many things.

To list only a few ...

I sure didn't know - or even expected - that there are bed sizes bigger than King size.

I didn’t know because nobody told me. Also because I never thought to ask; I mean, King size is already big - and frankly quite enough slumber area, even for a couple - so I don’t imagine anyone would spend time contemplating sleep improvements and coming up with bigger bed sizes as THE solution.

19 June 2018

Do You Remember Alan Kurdi?


In September 2015 the world was riveted by a photograph of a dead toddler, a Syrian refugee washed up on a Turkish shore, a tragic consequence of the war in his homeland and his family’s decision to seek refuge abroad.  The search for a safe life ended in tragedy for the Kurdi family and his image was and remains a wake-up call to the world.

The 18th - 24th June is Refugee week and lest we forget, the International Observatory of Human Rights (IOHR) have released four new films.  The one I have chosen to include on Kuriositas is an interview with little Alan’s aunt, Tima.  I think we have to remind ourselves, sometimes, of what happened to Alan and to many, many like him.  It’s very easy to turn a blind eye to something that is happening such a long way away.

I’m not going to pretend that this will not upset you.  It probably will resonate because we have all lost loved ones and talking about them can often provoke tears (representing many different sometimes conflicting emotions).  Yet Tima Kurdi is a lady who has chosen to talk about a member of her family who will never experience the joy of learning to read and write, will never experience the first day at high school, the first kiss, the first driving lesson  – the nevers are endless.  This is going to produce an emotional response in you and for that I cannot make any apologies.

As the beginning of the film implies – we can simply turn off the footage.  Yet this is happening to families all over the world on a daily basis and it will have a crushing, lifelong impact on them.  Tima believes that the millions of refugees the world over have been let down by countries, many of which have a direct responsibility for fuelling the war in Syria.

She has a point.  The IOHR hope that focusing on the situations that refugees find themselves in as well as paying tribute to those, like Alan, who have lost their lives, this interview will help us regain the sense of the personal when we reflect on the awful crisis facing these people.

If you would like to watch the other three videos in this series, then please visit the IOHR YouTube channel. You may find them revelatory.  Please also follow #BeARefugeeSponsor and #RefugeeWeek2018 if you would like to support.

17 June 2018

The Incredible Glasswing Butterfly

It never ceases to stagger me what nature can come up with and the glasswing butterfly is just that – staggering.  The name speaks for itself – the glasswing’s claim to fame is that its wings, spanning up to six centimeters, are almost completely transparent. That’s right, you can see just about right through them.  The Ark in Space, our sibling site, has a feature today on this extraordinary creature.

Image Credit Naz Dore

Turkmenistan: In Isolation


Take a few glimpses at Turkmenistan. This Central Asian state is rarely featured in western media so much of the architecture of its capital Ashgabat – grandiose and glittering – will seem almost like something from a science-fiction movie.  Plus its terrain is unforgiving and unwelcoming, and includes the Darvaza crater – otherwise known as the gateway to hell.   Digital nomad Pete R created this cinematic piece which will stay with you a while.

Under the Apple Tree


Don’t sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me… so goes the old song but this particular apple tree is one which you may wish to give a wide berth.  It is home to a little worm who soon finds himself homeless.  Never mind, the shenanigans between the owner of the orchard and his priest brother will soon create an opportunity. An animated stop motion horror comedy (not for the littluns!) about worms, apples and death, this is also about families and the troubles they bring!  Under the Apple Tree was produced and directed by Erik van Schaaik.

Alientologists


Earth has gone – destroyed in some unnamed but by the looks of it fairly terminal cataclysm.  As the remnants of our civilization wheel around the planet they attract the attention of a curious blue-skinned race of aliens. One of them finds it difficult to fit in with the others but could his discovery lead to a greater understanding of our disappeared culture and forge a closer bond between him and his colleagues?

Directed and written by Tyler Rabinowitz, Alientologists isn’t half (or a quarter or an eighth) as serious as it sounds – in fact it gets deliriously silly about the five minute mark and doesn’t stop being resplendently daft till the end - but is not without poignancy either.  If you don’t have a smile on your face at its conclusion this then I expect you are, like the Earth imagined in the short film, quite dead, definitely deceased or at least something slightly to the left of alive.

16 June 2018

The Bristlecone Pine: Twisted Contortions of the Ancients

They have lived through millennia. Dispersed in sub-alpine groves in the Western United States some of these ancient trees are over 5,000 years old.  They contain in their ranks the oldest known individuals of any species on Earth. Their twisted branches, formed over innumerable years stretch towards the sky, sublimely if anthropomorphically expressive. What might these immovable ancients have pondered as epochs passed?

10 June 2018

The Astonishing Eggs of Alien Nations

They may look like they come straight out of a science fiction film, but these eggs are real - they come from the stink bug. It’s life, but most certainly not as we know it. Our sibling site, Ark in Space has a new feature today about the eggs of insects.  It doesn't sound thrilling exactly until you see them - then your jaw slackens. Take a look at the astonishing eggs of the alien nations all around us.

Image Credit

Would You Like to Write for Kuriositas?

We are looking for a number of writers who wish to improve their online portfolio by publishing on a well-established site with a good reputation for featuring high quality articles on a number of arts, science and travel-related subjects.

If that sounds like you, then we would like to hear from you.  

What can you write about?  We would like to broaden our remit by including reviews – film, television, theater, books – you name it, we will consider it.  If you wish to write about somewhere interesting and unusual, that also ticks the right box.  Science stuff? This is also the right site.  Our sphere of interest and activity is broad – anything that you think curious minds would enjoy.

All we ask is that your work is original and anything that is published on Kuriositas will not be published anywhere else online.  Obviously, too, the standard of your written English must be high – we will not have the time to proof and edit anything that comes our way.  Finally it must not be, in any way, shape or form an advertisement for you, your product or those of others.  So, for example if you do a theater review we would not link to the theater’s site – and so on.  We’ve been doing this internet writing malarkey for a while now, so we’ll spot you a mile off if a link is all you want!

What do you get in return? No money, we’re afraid.  However, you do get the kudos of seeing your work published on a high quality website which will broaden the range of your online portfolio.  We will give you full credit for your writing at the top of the post with your name linked to your own site if you have one (and maybe even a small picture of you if you would like). We can also include contact details if you so choose (maybe at the end of the article).

So, what are you waiting for? Write telling us why you would like to write for Kuriositas, including an example of your work to taliesyn30@aol.com (what can we say, we’re old school) and let’s start a conversation.

Best regards

Robert-John

What we are not looking for
As mentioned above, we are not seeking attention from those whose sole aim is to publish articles with a link to either their business site or one owned by others.  As this effectively is marketing, please make your way here instead.  We do accept advertising posts but with some conditions attached.

Mythos


An excellent alternative name for this fantastic animation would surely be Minimalist Myths.  Here we are presented with the legends of Midas, Persephone and Icarus among others but in a way in which you have (probably not) seen them before.  Interpreted for the age of the pixel and the gif these stories still have great resonance today. Direction and design is by Stephen Kelleher, with modelling and animation by Chris Guyot and sound design by John Poon.

Rebooted


Owl Guy is old hat.  His adventures are consigned to the very back of the local comic shop.  Yet one day he discovers a portal in to a mysterious new edition and – kapow! – the realisation suddenly dawns on him that he has been… rebooted.  This affectionate but comically incisive animated short was created by Sagar Arun and Rachel Kral as part of their programme at Ringling College of Art and Design.

9 June 2018

Surfing in the City: Munich’s Eisbach

If you live in a large town or city and it isn’t situated anywhere near an ocean then probably one of the last things you might expect to see is the sight of someone in full wetsuit sporting a surfboard walking nonchalantly down the street.  For the residents of Munich in Germany, which is about 500km from the sea, it’s nothing strange. Thanks to the Eisbach (or ice brook in English) you can go surfing in the city.

A Brief History of Bingo

Bingo is a game beloved by million the world over.  Whereas today it is fairly straightforward to find the best bingo sites to win on at the click of a mouse, in earlier times it wasn’t so easy.  For many years the game seems to have been restricted to traveling carnivals so only played at certain times of the year – when the carnival came to town, effectively. So, where did the game originate, what led to its massive popularity today and what is the secret of its success?

The game probably began in Italy during the renaissance.  So Da Vinci and Michelangelo may well have played this game – known then - and today - as Il Giuoco del Lotto d'Italia.  It has been going on ever since and is vital to the country’s economy.  It may well be the longest ongoing game in the world!

From there the game went to France, also under the name of Le Lotto but becoming something which might be familiar to our modern eyes – it consisted of three horizontal and nine vertical rows with 5 random number arranged on blank squared.  Numbers would be pulled from a bag and read out and the first person to cover a horizontal row would win the prize.  Sound familiar?

Of course, like many ancient games, Bingo found a new lease of life in the USA where it was first known as Beano in the 1920s.  Rules were created and standardized, with a book published in 1933 which led to the mass popularity of the game across the USA – and it soon spread over to the UK too.  By the 1940s the game was widespread across both countries.

We’re not quite sure where the modern name bingo comes from.  The most popular legend is that a player, excited at being the winner, called out bingo instead of the traditional beano.  It stuck.  One can imagine the second, then the third, then the fourth winner using the new, funnier word and before long the original name had been lost to history.  Bingo halls popped up everywhere and groups of friends would enjoy nights out, chatting and playing.  The carnival had come to town but this time it was staying...

Then came the internet and everything changed, even if it wasn’t exactly in the blink of an eye.  The very first online bingo site was launched in 1996.  The regular balls have gone and in their place numbers are randomly generated.  Apart from that the game remains effectively the same.  Even the social aspect is retained – virtually!  Most online games have a chat feature so you can talk to friends as you play and share the excitement.

And the secret of its success today?  In the UK, for example, it is defined by law as “a lottery played as a game”.  As people are given a random set of numbers it means that each participant has an equal chance of winning.  So bingo has been able to sidestep some of the more punitive laws around online games of chance, allowing it to thrive.  So, the chances are that somewhere in the world, someone is shouting “bingo!” at the top of their voice at this very moment.

5 June 2018

Joud - An Unconventional Meditation on the Cycle of Life


It’s sometimes amazing how profound a single word can be.  Take the Arabic word joud for example – such a short word but it translates to ‘generosity in the face of adversity’: something that could have so many inferences that it is almost difficult to believe that such a small world can contain such breadth of meaning.

Beautifully shot in stunning Saudi Arabian landscapes, Joud is a film and a meditation at the same time.  It reflects on the cycle of life but it does it in reverse and doing so it dares the audience to do something.  Take your everyday experiences and look beneath the surface; what seems to have little depth or meaning may be just the opposite.  The little things in life may also have a profundity which belies their seemingly superficial nature. You can also find out more about the movie at its website - www.joudmovie.com.

Yet what also makes the film unique and rather special from my perspective is the way that it structures its story.  To modern eyes it looks experimental but it is in fact drawing on an ancient form of poetry, one which even predates Islam.  It is called Qasida and what makes it very different is that each and every line rhymes on the same sound.  If you think that sounds like something difficult to achieve and still have poem that makes sense this particular art form was extended to such a degree that the poems often extended to over a hundred lines.

Take a look at these two trailers for the film Joud and I am sure you will be entranced by them.  The film dubs itself ‘an ancient poem for modern times’ and this may seem at first to be a simplification.  But then, you must reflect and perhaps see yourself in its depths…

JOUD is produced by Abdullah Aleyaf and Todd Albert Nims for Ithra in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (www.ithra.com), in association with UK’s The Edge Picture Company’s production team.



3 June 2018

If You Have Never Wanted to Visit Slovakia, You Will After You Watch This


Present-day Slovakia only became an independent state in 1993 but it has over 1500 years of Slavic cultural history behind it not to mention some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe.  Dominika Martincova hails from this small but incredibly vibrant country and created this marvelous time-lapse of her homeland (called Time for Slovakia) on returning to it after almost three years of globe-trotting.

How Will You Die?


This is a question that, if you have a Facebook account, you may be confronted with every day thanks to your news feed and depending on the general silliness of your friends and acquaintances.  However, this animation by Steve Cutts (created for NPR originally) is not a daft quiz, gets to the point within seconds and – with great comedic bluntness – tells you how you will really die.

The Runt


When the runt of a litter of rabbits is to be disposed of, a young boy’s please result in a stay of execution but with a proviso: he must look after the runt but after a year he must kill it himself.

Yet when the year is up will the boy be able to go through with his promise? This animated short has script, design and direction by Andreas Hykade of Film Bilder.  Please don't expect a happy ending - this animation is European.

The Saguaro Cactus And Its Greedy Guests

The Saguaro cactus, found in Mexico, Arizona and some parts of California is a giant among its type, growing to the size of a tree. It also gets a number of greedy house guests during its life time.

The desert isn’t a place that you might normally associate with teeming life, but our planet is full of surprises. The saguaro manages to survive in extremely harsh climates and, wherever it lives animals are to be found. Some even manage to make the enormous cactus their home. This Gila Woodpecker, for example, seems completely at ease among the spines.

The Poitou - The Donkey with Dreadlocks

This is the Poitou Donkey. Only thirty years ago, less than thirty of these beautiful and friendly animals were left. Now, thanks to a conservation programme, it looks as if the dreadlocked donkey is set to stay awhile on Planet Earth.  Our sibling site, the Ark in Space, has its story.

2 June 2018

GCSE English Language - Student Example Answers for Question 5 Paper 1


Are you wondering how to pass GCSE English 9-1? Then look towards the end of the exam papers. For example, question 5 of Paper 1 of the AQA GCSE is worth half the marks for that paper.  So it’s one of the questions that you seriously cannot afford to get wrong.  Sometimes it is good not only to practice writing stories or descriptions yourself but to take a close look at what others have written too.   In fact you can do a million GCSE English past papers and still get everything wrong if you do not look at exemplars - these are good examples of what the answer could look like.  Markers know this as indicative content and use it to measure the quality of your responses, so even they use this method! So in this video we take a look at narratives – that is short stories.

This video contains two stories written by real students.  They were written in exam conditions and took 45 minutes from start to finish.  This video takes you through both the vital planning stage and shows you what the students actually wrote afterward.

There is also a commentary from world-famous exam marker Lavinia Shufflebottom (OK, she is fictional but what she says is worth listening to!).  The key to this question, really, is planning – ensuring that you include everything that the examiner wants to see.  Take a read of these and see what you think.  Why not give them a mark yourself?

The two stories are also available - free - on the TES website.

For those of you who are wondering what this is doing on Kuriositas, I am a teacher in the ‘real world’ and make the occasional video to help my students along.  I hope that by putting it up on the site it will help a few more too!

28 May 2018

Iguazu Falls – Big Water of the Borders

In the local Tupi language, the word means big water.  One look at the staggering Iguazu Falls, located on the border of the Brazilian State of Paraná and the Argentine Province of Misiones and you realise that this is no exaggeration.

Amung Feedjit
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