15 January 2023

Elephant Trunk Hill – Guilin’s Legendary Protector

Tramping through the hills around Guilin in China is busy work, so at the end of the day an elephant gets thirsty. There’s nothing like dipping your trunk in to the river to cool off and taking a long, thirst quenching drink. Yet when you’re made of stone you might be there for quite a long time.

The Tortoise Beetle - Amazing Metallic Arthropods

Things that make you go mmm, number 976.  This little guy is for real.  It is a golden tortoise beetle and it is featured on Ark in Space today.  They don’t just come in gold either- there’s a silver variety as well other species which come in a number of hues all with an amazing metallic sheen.  Plus they have this amazing outer covering (known as a cuticle) which is often transparent. Altogether they look like insects from planet steampunk.  Read about them over at our sibling site, The Ark in Space.

Image Credit Wikimedia
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Dublin Time Lapse



Take a look at the Fair City in a different way. This time lapse by Richard Twomey (his first, believe it or not) captures the capital of Ireland beautifully.

The feeling of depth in many of the shots such as via clouds and stationary objects in the city shots paired with the camera movement is wonderful.

Although this will entrance you if you live in Ireland perhaps it is only fitting that we dedicate this to the Irish diaspora.

Wherever you are in the world I think this may fill you with homesickness!
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A Twirling Day


Someone’s spotted the zeitgeist. A Twirling Day is the latest short by ModernEye (a creative studio / director duo based in London) and it captures very well the sense of absurdity many people feel in this day and age about the decisions they have to take.

You know the ones, the ones which we have to make even though we know there isn’t really any possibility of us having any control over them whatsoever; the kind of decision that just seems to be fate playing another one of her practical jokes on you.

Directed by Jon Uriarte, and starring Alberto Rolan as the Everyman figure, A Twirling Day is not guaranteed to lighten your mood but I think a number of you may recognise yourself somewhere in here.
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The Ballad of Thaddeus Lowe


Have you ever heard of Thaddeus Lowe? No, I hadn’t but a quick check on Wikipedia verified that he did actually live and everything that you see here actually happened.  It tells the little known story of Lowe - aeronaut, scientist and inventor who came to prominence during the American Civil War when he performed aerial reconnaissance on the Confederate troops on behalf of the Union Army – in a balloon. Unfortunately his endeavors were not too well received and he had to resign in 1863.

This very amusing animated short was written, directed, animated and narrated by Kelly Jones who also wrote the accompanying song which is probably going to be in my head all day now – for which I don’t know whether to thank Ms Jones or invoice her. 

If Lowe’s civil war activities were not widely appreciated then a later invention was.  He conceived the water gas process by which large amounts of hydrogen gas could be manufactured from steam and charcoal – his patents and ice making machines associated with this process made him a millionaire.  Unfortunately he invested unwisely later in life and died without much to his name – financially speaking at least.  We, of course, will always remember him for his services to his country as an aeronaut – not to mention his ballad… “Oh Thaddeus, Thaddeus Lowe… it’s too bad you’re still unknown”.
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28 December 2022

Gedi – Kenya’s Hidden History Revealed

The thirteenth century was one of turmoil. The crusades were in full swing, the Mongol empire under Ghengis Khan swept forever westwards while Marco Polo turned his own eyes towards the east. 

Meanwhile in Kenya, East Africa, a group of enterprising people began to build a settlement which would endure for over three hundred years. Gedi, a sophisticated coral-brick built town belies the perception many have about this part of Africa - and its architecture - before the arrival of Europeans. Take a look at Kenya's hidden history revealed.

Birdboy


A terrible industrial accident changes little Dinki’s life forever.  Now Dinki’s fate may ride on the wings of her eccentric friend, Birdboy, a misfit who hides in the dead forest lost in his own fantasies.

This is very grown up, allegorical animation and was written and directed by Pedro Rivero and Alberto Vázquez. Birdboy is strange, more than a little morose but quite compulsive - I am sure you will feel the need to see what happens to Dinki and Birdboy. It is a film basically about decisions.  Can you identify with a character who dreams about learning how to fly rather than actually doing it? Perhaps, and so can many film festival goers who have given this film numerous awards.  In fact after winning the Foyle Film Festival in Ireland last year it made the Academy Award short list.

Birdboy is based on a comic entitled Psiconautas written by Alberto Vázquez and published by Bilbao publishing house Astiberri.
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27 December 2022

Six New Online Casinos You Can Join Today

Online casinos provide the ideal blend of premium casino games, huge bonuses, and high-level user security and encryption. 

However, with so many options, you are bound to find slow payout times and unreliable customer support bundled behind a flashy-looking website made to entice you.  But an online casino guide can help you through the process.


So, we've analyzed the market using our tried-and-true methods to identify the top casino sites that provide various casino games, large bonuses, and reasonable playthrough requirements in this guide. They also have a quick customer care service to assist you in avoiding such online casinos.

Mirax 

Mirax is one of the best game and crypto casinos offering players outstanding gaming experiences with cryptocurrencies. Their website is easy to navigate with a beautiful user interface. 


Mirax is much more than the standard casino. They provide players with a futuristic circus carnival of magic in France, where they experience the thrill of an exciting show with different entertaining elements.


Here are the perks you get from playing at Mirax:

  • 6000+ fiat and cryptocurrencies game

  • Prompt payouts in crypto to avoid regular currency issues

  • A well-secured platform. Your data is safe with them

  • Never-ending promotions and tournaments

  • Mirax offers players a loyalty program

Slots Ninja

Start your casino games adventures with Slots Ninja and boost your casino repertoire with their daily, weekly, and monthly coupons. If you are new to their website, you get a welcome bonus redeemable four times, with 30 extra spins on Zhanshi every time you use it.


Dig through Slots Ninja's coupon area, and you get a bonus on every deposit with their deposit match bounties with free spin offers.


Slots Ninja Casino also has a collection of Slots and Table Games for gamers to explore. Every game comes with unique features to give players an exhilarating experience. 

Ducky Luck

Ducky Luck is an online casino game site launched in 2020. The platform has over 400 games from top software providers worldwide and is available in over 40 countries, including the United States. Players can play with four crypto deposit options with the opportunity to select live dealers. Ducky luck is mobile-friendly and can be played on the go. 


DuckyLuck has some fascinating casino promotions and bonuses. But be careful, as some restrictions may not match your gambling style. Make sure to read and understand the terms and conditions of the platform before playing. 

Slot Madness

Slot madness is your go-to online casino games platform for the best Vegas online casino action. The website is secure and fast-paced, and reliable payouts and deposits. Explore a variety of their online casino games and catch all the inside scoop of the world of casino games news on their website. 


Slot Madness Casino gives you the best experience with its free casino games. Ensure you read and understand the website's terms and conditions and abode by them to avoid being kicked out of the game. Also, you should ask questions whenever you need clarification about a policy or if something seems out of the ordinary. 

Lucky Tiger

Players at Lucky Tiger Casino enjoy a diverse collection of games through its smooth, flash-play website, supported by a wilderness-like storyline and attention to massive prizes taken into consideration.


Launched in 2020, Lucky Tiger is still fresh, but the owners understand the strategy to manage a top-notch casino website. Lucky Tiger operates on no accreditation services, which is a red flag. 


However, players are made to feel safe through various security rules of conduct on the platform, which includes modernized high-tech standards. Lucky Tiger's flexible user interface makes the gaming site easily accessible to players. The jungle-like setting gives it an even more thrilling feel and experience. 

Rich Palms

Rich palms casino is one of the best online casinos in terms of functionality, stunning user interface, and design. As a fresh player on the platform, you get a 280% welcome deposit to your bonus account. You can use that to try some exciting casino games available in the lobby. 


They also support cryptocurrency banking, making paying and cash-out rewards much more accessible. The customer support system is available 24/7 with solutions to any issue encountered while using the website. Rich Palms casino offers newbies a free trial period to play and practice before they can start playing with cash. It is compatible with mobile devices. 


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Cities and Stadiums You Should Visit in Europe as a Soccer Fan

Football is not just a sport for fans. It is a lot of experience with thrilling joy and love for the players. They will go to the end of the world for footballers they love and adore. And part of the experience is visiting and seeing where the action takes place in real-time. You can even make Super Bowl picks during your visit. 

There are many stadiums in Europe to explore and get a thrilling feel of the world of your favorite players that offer much more than watching them live on TV. Being able to experience this at least once in a lifetime can enrich a voyage immeasurably.


The joy of being present at these stadiums can sometimes be found in the fantastic atmosphere that the football stadium provides before, during, and after a game. Other times, it's all about the extra activities available in addition to watching your favorite sport. 


Suppose you remove football rivalries from the discussion. In that case, you'll probably discover that even some of the clubs you've grown to despise have stadiums that contribute to the sport experience as a whole.

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London

The stadium is relatively new, as it was opened in 2019. With incredible architecture and top-of-the-world modern design, ensure that fans and viewers have the most breathtaking view of the pitch no matter where they are seated. 


The bowl design gives room for a brilliant atmosphere, while the South Stand rivals Dortmund's Yellow Wall, housing 17,500 fans in a single tier. The stadium is built with the idea of being able to house American Football matches as well as Spurs games in mind, meaning that there are separate facilities for teams from the two sporting disciplines. 


The Goal Line Bar in the South Stand is 65 meters, making it the longest in Europe and, therefore, well worth a visit for those who enjoy a pint at half-time. The Tottenham Hotspur stadium is an imposing and magnificent one true to the club's spirit, which is why it is a place for all lovers of football should explore at least once in their lifetime.

Parc des Princes, Paris

The first sound you'll hear from this place on game day is "Allez Paris," which can be heard around the Parc des Princes. The stadium was launched in 1972 and is home to Paris Saint-Germain of Ligue 1. The "Princes' Park" was once the hunting land for the royal family, but today, it is best known for its extraordinary and iconic exterior design and boisterous football supporters.

Allianz Arena, Munich

The home stadium for Bayern Munich is called Allianz Arena. It is intriguing to note that the stadium, constructed in 2005 to host the needs of the World Cup, failed to do so but is used for Champions League matches due to various UEFA regulations. 


The Allianz corporation paid for the 30-year license to use its name on the stadium. Every game features extraordinary lighting and laser effects released from the stadium, making for a sensational show.

Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid

Although it was first constructed to host the 1997 World Athletics Championships, Wanda Metropolitano is now the home field of Atletico Madrid. Given that the household belonged to Athens, the 20,000-seat stadium was left without a use. 


The stadium was initially known as the Madrid Community Stadium. It later changed its name to the Madrid Olympic Stadium when Spain's bid to host the Summer Olympics was turned down. 


As a result, the stadium was shut down in 2004. It was acquired by Atletico in 2013, though, after the club's new owner, the Chinese company Wanda, took over. Wanda made a significant financial investment in the stadium, which now seats 68,000 people and has a contemporary appearance. In September 2017, it was formally inaugurated.

Camp Nou, Barcelona

The Nou Camp is undoubtedly one of those places that football lovers must visit to get a feel of the pitch. 


The 99,354-seat stadium in Barcelona made it to this list for its cultural importance. Popularly referred to as the "temple of football," this stadium attracts visitors from all over the world yearly due to its historic architecture and flair for cultural preservation. 


There are chances that you know someone who has visited this place even if you have yet to explore it; yep, it's that famous and a favorite tourist place in Barcelona.  

Anfield, Liverpool

Everton played there when Anfield first opened in 1884, but over time Liverpool, Everton's local rival, began to dominate its reputation. Due to Anfield's illustrious past, the Reds' current owners decided against constructing a new home for their footballers. The club's colorful background sets it apart from other structures despite lacking beauty or a smoldering mood.


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26 December 2022

School Portrait


A somewhat jaded school photographer is on his latest assignment.  The brown stuff has really hit the fan in his life and his current cynicism is reflected in the way he asks the children to pose for their photographs.

That is, until one little girl comes along...

Comedy is difficult and comedy with children even more, so hats off to director Nick Scott for attempting this and succeeding so wonderfully.  I paticularly like the little boy who says he hasn't filled out his tax form because I don't want to. Ah - if only life were that simple!

It isn’t often that a short film of less than three minutes in length can show a turning point in someone’s life so effortlessly. Despite its less than happy subject matter, School Portrait is a funny and affecting short film.
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The Chocolate Hills of Bohol

Bohol in the Philippines is home to a dramatically unusual geographic feature – the Chocolate Hills. A shame, but a certain Mr Wonka has not been visiting (and neither is this the entrance to the fabled land of the Oompa Loompas). In the summer the lush green grass that covers the hills turns brown and it is this, rather than any fictional intercession which gives the place its name.

Skip


What happens when two very different characters from two very different movies get caught up with each other as their celluloid world slips and slides (and skips!) around them? This is the question posed by Skip, a very cool animated short by Sarah Jolley who made this short when she was a student at the Vancouver Film School where the standards are always of an incredible quality.

I love the look of this animation, the character design and the clever use of colors, not to mention the (ever so slightly) knowing take on the various genres of movies you see here.  I suspect we have not heard the last of Ms Jolley!
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The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore - Academy Award Winner


I have to say, I was not expecting this, but The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore made me shed a little tear, such is its gentle loveliness.  A natural but somewhat introverted bookworm, Morris is swept away by a tornado to a land where books can fly and he can help heal people through the curative power of storytelling.

Little wonder then that out of five animated short films that were considered for the 2012 Academy Award for Short Film (animated), this won! Congratulations to all involved.

This gorgeous Oscar winning piece of animation was created by award winning author and illustrator William Joyce together with Co-director Brandon Oldenburg via Moonbot Studios.
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20 December 2022

Nicholas Was... by Neil Gaiman - Animated Version

If you haven't been looking forward to Christmas and you think you are going to have a terrible time then spare a thought for Saint Nicholas.  Father Christmas, Santa Claus - whatever name you use for him, consider this.  Howe many centuries has this poor man endured his yearly task to take presents to the (sometimes ungrateful) children of the world?

Not only that, he disappears before the children wake up and have a chance to thank him.  Well, by way of thanks - or at least commiseration - here is a wonderful animated version of the Neil Gaiman poem Nicholas Was...

It is actually the creation of 39 Degrees North, a Beijing based animation studio and there way of doing the same thing.  Don't have nightmares for poor old Santa...
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Waiting for Santa


Did you ever have a sleepless night on Christmas Eve waiting for you-know-who to arrive with your presents?  This young man is certainly finding the land of nod a difficult place to reach but will his dreams of a new red bike be realised?

This charming silent short by J Palmroos answers that question but it left me with another! Who really enjoys Christmas the more – the child or the parent?
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A Dandelion Going To Seed - Carl Sagan on Space Travel


In 1977 Carl Sagan gave the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures Lectures on space travel. In his final lecture, he spoke about the human race venturing out into space; his words are as relevant now as they were then.  

A wonderful simile that Sagan used when imagining the human race venturing out in to space was ‘a dandelion going to seed’.  Once can only wonder if, as we look to send people to Mars and then beyond, are we finally realising Sagan’s vision?

This clip was animated by the Ri animator-in-residence Andrew Khosravani. Although I love the pale blue dot animations I have seen it's great to see another set of Sagan's memorable words brought to life again through the medium of animation.
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Sign of Christmas

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The Titty Fruit – A Crop like No Udder

Sometimes you really do give the name of a plant a quick double take just to see if you had read it correctly.  Solanum mammosum, to give the Latin name to this strange fruit, is one of those.  It has a variety of names in the English language – but the best by a long chalk is the Titty Fruit.  We will have a look at some of the alternatives (which are almost as Carry On in their capacity to raise a dirty snigger) a little later. 

The Caterpillar with Penguins on its Back

Over at our sibling site, the Ark in Space, there is a feature on one of nature’s oddities. If you look at the caterpillar of the forest tent caterpillar moth (Malacosoma disstria) with a little imagination you can see something remarkable. Found throughout North America, along the top of this caterpillar is ranged a set of what looks like dancing penguins. It looks as if his grandma knitted him a sweater for Christmas but decided that one motif simply wasn’t enough.

Click on the links or the picture to read the full feature and see a host of other photographs of this remarkable creature.

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12 December 2022

I Spent $50 on TikTok SHOP & Here's What I Got!

Some of you are aware that Kuriositas is not my “day job”. That would be teaching Information and Creative Technology to 16-18 year olds at Lewisham College in South East London. I always enjoy seeing what my students come up with in their spare time – after all, I hope that one of them will become a content creating multi-millionaire and buy me that little flat in Barcelona I have coveted for so long…

One of this year’s crop of students is Omar, who has created his own YouTube channel called Omro. It is a young channel with less than two hundred subscribers (as of today) but Omar has set himself a target of getting 400,000 subscribers by June 2023. How he came up with that specific target I don’t know. I suppose I should have asked but I didn’t. It probably seemed like a nice round number and there you are.


Omro’s videos are eclectic but come down to a young questioning mind asking those questions that the rest of us wish we had, like how dumb is WikiHow? Combine this with trying new things like making a pineapple pizza or cutting your own hair and you have the essence of the channel, at least as it is at the moment - daft! No doubt it will develop further over time but what is great is seeing a developing talent take the plunge online. Nice one, Omar – I mean Omro!
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28 November 2022

How Do Footballers Spend Their Spare Time?

People can spend their childhood and some of their adulthood dreaming of playing professional football for one of the world’s top clubs. Scoring the winner in a big game sounds like a fantastic job, but what else do players get to do?

Footballers are not that different from anyone else and do many of the same things everyone does but a lot more extravagantly. Here is a look at how footballers spend their spare time.

Travel Time is Spent Scrolling and Tapping

Whatever level a player is playing at, they will be spending some time on the road. For the big boys of European football, time is spent in the air instead. The situation they find themselves in is the same; players are stuck in a chair for a few hours.

Footballers will do the same things that many people do on their commutes to work, scroll through social media, and play on their phones, all while listening to music. If you see the footage of players arriving at a stadium on the TV you will see nearly all of them wearing expensive headphones, listening to tunes.

Many players enjoy playing on gaming sites on long trips. They look for the best gambling sites just like the rest of us do. You can look here for impartial information regarding gaming sites if you have a long journey or even on your daily trip to work and back.

The players with a large social media following will use their travel time to keep fans updated on the journey. Their accounts are usually closely monitored by their clubs though. Many players will have social media managers, as well as publicists, that check tweets and Instagram posts before sharing.

Football is Not Their Only Sport

Athletes cannot help themselves. They spend all week playing and practising a sport, and then they will devote a large part of their spare time to another. The biggest second sport amongst footballers is golf, and players can quite just as competitive with each other on the golf course as they do on the football pitch.

Players golf together a lot, and players from different teams will golf competitively sometimes. Golf is a game you can play on your own too. Some footballers spend a little too much time playing 18-holes. A recent example was Gareth Bale at Real Madrid, who asked to be left out of a Champions League game only to be spotted hours later on a golf course while his teammates travelled.

Footballers play a lot of other sports too but must be careful. There is a clause in most football contracts that stipulates players must avoid dangerous activities that can cause an injury.

This keeps them away from extreme sports like snowboarding, but also physically intensive sports like rugby. Golf is so popular with players because it is easy going and they are much less likely to injure themselves. It also honours their expensive contracts, and they are less likely to spend time injured on the bench.

Playing on Xbox, PlayStation, and PC

Videogames are a popular pass time, especially amongst the younger players. They may play the latest FIFA game against each other online, and maybe some fans have beaten their idols in some matches too.

They play many of the same titles everyone else does, like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto, and can play online anonymously, hiding behind a username. This can be a terrific way for players to unwind and relieve the pressure that comes from playing football at the highest level and being a professional sports star.

Fortnite is a smash-hit online game that has caused problems in the Premier League. Some players have had to be treated for addiction to the game, and it was interfering with their focus and training schedule. This problem has reared its head in the game before, with Liverpool goalkeeper David James attributing poor performances in the league to playing Tomb Raider on the original PlayStation.

Younger footballers coming through the ranks have been playing video games all their life now and continue playing when they turn professional. Now videogame addiction is replacing the drug and alcohol addiction problems that plagued Premier League teams in the 1990s.

Working for Charities

Every top club has associations with important charities. Player's contracts will often ensure they have to contribute some of their time and fame to support local children’s hospitals for example. Some players will only satisfy their contractual obligations and then move on, but many continue to support the charities as well as others that they have chosen themselves.

Regular financial donations are just the start for some footballers, with many using their social media clout and their contacts in the press to publicise charities. This can be a massive boost to many worthy causes, as the big-name players always attract a lot of attention and help bring both financial support and volunteers to their doors.

Keeping Fit and Eating Healthily

Footballers will spend a lot of their time at work training, exercising, and monitoring their nutrition. The top clubs keep a close eye on their player’s eating and workout regimes to maintain peak levels of fitness and help them to recover after an injury.

Many players take these habits back home with them, especially as they get a little older. The career of a football player is a short one. From turning professional at 18 most players only have around 20 years to earn enough money to last the rest of their lives. Playing at the highest level does not last forever either, many players will drop down to lower leagues in their thirties and will earn less as a result.

The footballers who spend time at home maintaining their nutritional plan, staying fit with cardio, and doing some yoga, will usually have a longer career and keep playing in the top leagues. Players still having a place in a top-level squad while in their late thirties is becoming common.

There you have it. Being a professional footballer seems like it is all fun and games, and it pretty much is. Players need to make the most of it when they can though. Their careers do not last long.

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