25 July 2021

Three Little Cats


Be warned.  This is sad. Heartbreakingly sad.  A happy cat family is left in mourning when the mother dies.  However, that is just the beginning of a run of misfortune which, in the end, leaves a single survivor.

Trois Petits Chats (as it is known in French!) was co-directed by four students:Benoît Delaunay, Albane Hertault Lacoste, Maïwenn le Borgne and Alexia Provoost who created it as part of their degree studies at Supinfocom.  It won Best Student Short Film - Effets Stars - in France as well as appearing at a number of other festivals.

The Men who Walked on the Moon

Do you know how many men walked on the moon without reference? If you do, then go to the top of the class. If not, like me, you probably made a ball park guess which was almost but not quite right. There have been, in fact, twelve men (so far) who walked on the moon. But what on earth (literally) do you do afterwards? Let’s take a look at these twelve extraordinary men and find out what became of them on earth-fall.

London – An Animated Interpretation of the William Blake Poem


Would William Blake recognize the London of 2021? London was published in 1794 by Blake in his Songs of Experience collection.  It was a time of great upheaval – the French Revolution had just happened and London was feeling its repercussions. There was much social unrest, due mostly to the social inequalities of the time. It seemed that the rich were just getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

So, yes – it is quite likely that Blake would be able to identify the city and its themes – not only from the landmarks that still persist from his time but because so little has changed. This animation by Alex Robinson seamlessly transposes the poem over visions of an imagined present day London. As the city (or those in charge of it) attempts to fool the world that this is a city of shiny, happy people on shiny, happy streets in the build up to the London Olympics, this comes as a welcome relief. The city, as in Blake’s day, still has very much an underbelly.

Merfolk


In a (slightly) alternative timeline the seas have become unable to sustain life for our closest living relatives – the merfolk.  Fortunately the British Prime Minister offers the refugees safe haven but even as they attempt to settle in to their new, land-locked existence, prejudice and bigotry work against them. 

Merfolk was created by Rory Waudby-Tolley as his third year major project at National Centre for Computer Animation, Bournemouth University. Humorous and thought-provoking, Merfolk won Best Animation at Purbeck Film Festival 2012.

21 July 2021

7 Best ROM Sites 2021


The gaming industry in Canada contributes more than $31 billion in Gross output and $14 billion in purchased gaming products and services. Online gambling is growing faster, and thousands of websites claim to offer bonuses, spins, and jackpots in their casino. Canadians experience a variety of websites such as jackpot casinos to choose from.

However, players need to choose safer ROM sites that offer games such as Nintendo. It is vital to download games from safe ROM sites free from viruses and ads that can harm your PC. Kevin Cochran (check profile) presents a list of seven Best ROM sites in 2021 that every player can enjoy playing mission after mission and satisfy their gaming urge.

Retrostic

It is a site that delivers quality archived games in ROM and ISO forms. The website contains emulators that gamers use in running ROM and ISO game files smoothly. The main goal of the site is to provide access links that are ads and virus-free. The site has over 70000 games, 51 consoles, and 414 emulators. In addition, the site is easy to cut across and allows online gamers to download their favorite retro games for free.

Romspedia

It is a great site that offers substantial updated ROMs ranging from 10000 titles. The platform is easy to navigate, equipped with a powerful; l search engine and emulators for all consoles. There is a contact page that aids gamers in requesting new or missing games. A blog section entailing gaming news and articles keeps gamers updated with knowledge in the gaming industry. Romspedia offers BIOS files that combine with emulators to assist whenever there is an issue emulating a game.

Romania

Romania is an epic site with an extensive database of all old fashion game consoles and their cartridges. All games in Romania are free and safe to download with no ads and viruses. Some prefer downloading and playing offline, while others prefer an online experience. Whatever the preference, this ROM site will deliver the best results.

Gamulator

The homepage is designed to allow users to navigate easily. It simply shows favorite emulators, most downloaded games, and the most commendable consoles at a glance. The homepage is appealing, with fewer sidebar ads that hardly irritate the eyes. However, it's among the best ROM sites because it's safer to download retro games and free from viruses.

ROM Hustler

It is said to be the safest ROM site due to accessible download links and an enormous list of games that many have not had a chance to play. It has a primary interface that has text and minimal images. However, it has fewer ads that hardly bother visitors. The website is easy to access, and players access a search bar to get ROM, console, or emulator. Casual visitors can enjoy the convenience of accessing the site archived ROMs without a membership account.

Cool ROM

CoolRom adds to our safest and working sites that offer downloads and approved ROMs. It is an excellent site that offers step-by-step tutorials that serve newbies struggling to get what they desire. CoolROM offers ROMs and emulators compatible with mobile devices such as android, iOS, and Windows to add more ice to the cake.

Vimm’s Lair

Vimm’s Lair aims at keeping reminisce away from the mightiest consoles and games ever developed. With a plain and straightforward homepage, players enjoy all their desired ROM by searching the website content through the left-side navigation panel. The classic color combination gives a spine-chilling effect. The site has an emulation layer that aid in downloading several emulators. Access is guaranteed by the vault that entails details from 1997. Gamers can enjoy cutting across the site without interference from aggressive pop-up ads.

Online gaming is here to stay and is one of the ways to make money online. The business aims to work hard to provide a platform that suits its consumers. However, old is gold. Sometimes gamers may feel the necessity of reliving their sweet childhood memories through ROMs. 

The problem arises when they don’t know which is the safest ROM site. The good news is that you can find such ROMs on Jackpotcity Canada on top of the sites that we have listed above. With their growing numbers, some are likely to download malware that may harm devices. The best and safest ROM download sites are free from viruses and ads, making them easy to access and offering a non-stop gaming experience.  

Photo by Immo Wegmann on Unsplash

19 July 2021

Naqsh-i Rustam - Incredible Reliefs of Persian Empires

Most people have heard of the ancient city of Persepolis in Iran.  Yet just north of the metropolis of antiquity is a sheer cliff, known as Naqsh-i Rustam. Here, in the second millennium BCE, work began on a quite staggering series of rock reliefs which – even today – have the ability to awe in terms of their size and the staggering amount of work which must have been involved in their creation.

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


Architectural modelmaker Lasse Henning loves Norway – and you can tell that immediately from this engrossing time-lapse he created between August 2014 and October 2015 which he calls The Moods of Norway. The locations vary from Rjukan and Gaustadtoppen in the south to the Lofoten and Senja islands in the north.  If you have never wanted to visit Norway, surely after watching this you will have changed your mind?

Apollo: A Tribute


This short film is a tribute to the NASA Apollo Program space missions which successfully landed 12 men on the Moon. It was created entirely from still images from the Project Apollo Archive, which has bought together scans of all the original unprocessed images taken by the crews of the Apollo 10 to 17 space missions.

Created by Chris Coupland, the elements that make up each image were separated with Adobe Photoshop and then animated within After Effects to create movement and parallax between the layers in the image. Effects and textures have been added to create a sense of action and transition between the scenes.

Glass Half


Two amateur art critics meet in a gallery and argue passionately about the pieces they see, until finally they find a piece on which they can agree... All of the visuals of the film have been realized using free/open source software, the film itself and all the assets that make up for the film are being released open and free as Creative Commons CC-BY. Glass Half was directed by BeornLeonard.

13 July 2021

The Kiss of Death

This astonishing sculpture forms part of Barcelona’s Poblenou Cemetery.  The Kiss of Death (El Petó de la Mort in Catalan and El beso de la muerte in Spanish) dates back to 1930. A winged skeleton bestows a kiss on the forehead of a handsome young man: is it ecstasy on his face or resignation? Little wonder the sculpture elicits strong and varying responses from whoever gazes upon it.

Compelling Reasons Why I Should Quit Smoking


About a week ago I decided that enough was enough – again. I set a date (Monday 12 July 2021) and decided that I would stop smoking on that day. The day came round and sure enough, after my last packet of cigarettes had been empty for around an hour my willpower collapsed. I toddled down to the local shop and guiltily built some more. Now it’s Tuesday morning and I’ve run out of cigarettes again.

Obviously, I’m more than just physically addicted – it’s psychological too (really, Mr Holmes?). So, I’m going to do something I haven’t tried before. Each day I’m going to write down a compelling reason why I should quit smoking (I used “quit” instead of the more British “give up” in the title because most of my readership are American). I don’t plan to post this on social media, however. I may be publicly shaming myself to Kuriositas’ regulars, but there’s no need for me to go out of the way to highlight my human frailties to the rest of the internet: my family are more than happy to point those out.  So, I’m happy for my ramblings about quitting smoking to stay in this quiet corner of the web…

What I do hope is that writing about my (probably failed) attempt to give up will provide a psychological spur to me, a daily reminder to help convince my hopelessly addicted brain that there are many, many very good reasons for giving up.

As I write, I keep on thinking about how a cigarette right now would be really, really, really good.

Compelling Reason #1 – Price

Tuesday 13 July 2021

I’m writing this in the UK where cigarettes are taxed to the point where “tailor-made” are unaffordable for a lot of people and “roll your own” is often the choice. I’m still on packets and my brand is about average price in the UK. My local supermarket sells them for £9.80 for twenty but local shops (aka convenience stores) often add a pound on to that because they can. In American, that’s $13.58 at today’s exchange rate.
 
In a month of 30 days that’s £294 ($407). In a year of 12 months that’s £3528 ($4888). In ten years that would be… well that math is easy enough. Holy crab apple. If my employer gave me a 3.5k pay rise I would be so happy I would perform double summersaults down the street even though I would probably have to promise dark and unspeakable things in order to merit such an incredible increment. I seem to be unable to award myself one, however, simply by giving up the ciggies. So, this is the first compelling reason – an appeal to my natural avarice.

10 July 2021

The Eiffel Tower: Different Perspectives

It is one of the most well-known buildings in the world. It is, possibly for that reason, easy to take it for granted when seen from afar. After all, by 2010 over 250 million people had visited it. Yet up close it reveals another side to its character.  When seen from different perspectives, the Eiffel Tower regains the power to astonish.

This Land Is Mine


It is a small strip of land but whether you call it or some of its respective parts Israel, Palestine, Canaan – or any other name (which no doubt would smell as sweet) then one thing is for sure – it has been fought over and for an awfully long time.  Here Nina Paley gives us a potted history all to the tune of This Land is Mine sung by Andy Williams.

We start at pre-history and early man.  From there we go from the arrival of the Canaanites quickly conquered by the Egyptians.  From there it is inexorably onwards, in quick order, to the Assyrians and then the Israelites.  In fact, I will stop there – this remarkable animation (for body count alone) takes us all the way to the modern day with Palestinians, the British, Zionists, the PLO and Hezbollah.  It is quite a ride and the last one standing will be? Paley doesn’t hold back on what she thinks the final historical outcome of all this fighting will be.

For a full list of the nations involved in this millennia old struggle, visit Nina Paley’s blog where all will become clear.


Timelapses from the Silk Road



Chris Northey, a freelance digital designer, shot these timelapses while traveling along the ancient Silk Road from China to Uzbekistan in mid-2012. They feature familiar places to many, Beijing and Xi'an in China, then moving on to lesser known Chinese cities, Turpan (left) and Kashgar.  Thence to Kyrgyzstan and we experience the sights of ash Rabat and Song Kol. Finally we end up in Uzbekistan, visiting Tashkent, Bukhara and Samarkand.

These short timelapses are woven together to create a whole and although we see the Silk Road through very modern eyes many of the sights are the same as people would have seen centuries ago.  The whole short is wrapped up with atmospheric music from My Life in the Bush of Ghosts by Brian Eno and David Byrne.  Sublime.


4 July 2021

The Art of the Romanian Haystack

At this time of year the fields of the Romanian countryside are full of new haystacks.  Over the centuries this particular method of haystack building has become more refined to the point where the haystacks of Romania have their own unique characteristics. Haystacks like this are found nowhere else on earth.

It is of absolute importance to get the haystack just right.  In the past, without the extra food supply to see them through the cold Romanian winter, vital farm animals would have perished.  If the haystack is compromised then disaster could strike.  Great care, then, has always been taken in the construction of these stacks, some of which tower over four meters in height.

The Shark and the Piano


A somewhat challenged shark finds it difficult to make friends in the underwater depths.  Things get worse when he realises its his teeth that are frightening away and potential companions. Then, one day, a piano arrives on the sea bed and things could be about to change.  This charming, multi-award winning animated short was written and Directed by Gabriele Pennacchioli and co-Directed by Alessandro Carloni both of Munich Animation (2001).

Domestic Policy


Margaret was an ambulance driver on the Western Front during the Great War. Now, however, it’s 1919: the war is over and she has gone back to her job as tea lady to government ministers.  It is while she performs her duties that she overhears the plans that the cabinet has for women now that their war-time services are no longer required.  Written and directed by Alicia MacDonald this short film may leave you wondering whether it is fact or fiction…

How to Design a Particle Accelerator


Have you ever wondered how to design a particle accelerator but were too afraid to ask? Well, now you don’t have to live in ignorance anymore.   Suzie Sheehy discusses how they work, what form they take, and what champagne means to an accelerator physicist.  This animation is part of an excellent series of science-based shorts by the Royal Institution which have really helped to make science more approachable to a lot of people.

Water Hunters


In 2034 there is a global water shortage and things are getting a little Darwinian to say the least.  People are constantly thirsty and many go to extremes to ensure their survival. A young man and woman, lonesome water scavengers are forced, through circumstance, to work together.  Yet is their coming together something more than pure accident?  This dystopic animated short was created by Italian animation studio IBRIDO, written and directed by Salvatore Centoducati and Massimo Ottoni.

27 June 2021

The Fire Rainbow: Beautiful and Rare Circumhorizontal Arc

If you are very lucky you may see a fire rainbow once or twice in your life. It sounds almost as if it could be the title of one of a series of children’s books – Harry Potter and the Fire Rainbow has a certain ring to it: but this phenomenon is not fiction. If you are in the right place and at the right time then a fire rainbow is something that you will remember.

To name it properly, a fire rainbow is a circumhorizontal arc. It is also known as a circumhorizon arc but whichever you chose, scientists (and aficionados) call it a CHA. It is given its name because it looks as if a rainbow has spontaneously combusted as it made its way across the sky. One might even suspect that some malign fairy or goblin has blown the rainbow up to stop some errant human discovering that elusive pot of gold at its end...

19 June 2021

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


This is Moscow by drone and done in such a way that this city has probably never looked better.  Mixing the old and the new, Timelab’s footage makes the city look truly magnificent.  I particularly liked the shots of the statues way up high, the features on their faces up close.  Plus the whole thing seems to have been filmed at the golden hour, imbuing the city with an iridescent beauty.  The film was shot using the DJ Inspire 2.

Solaria


Five decades in to the future and we have a raft of research stations in Earth’s orbit.  Yet the dwindling resources of the planet means that they are no longer economically viable (perhaps they are having a recession similar to ours at the moment, let’s hope it’s not the same one!).  All of the stations have been closed except Solaria – and time is almost up for that too.

This means an end to the work of Dr Alex Russell.  He has devoted his life to trying to find a way to wake up Rachel.  She is in a deep coma but is immune to the aging process.  If Alex can wake her before the ship arrives to retrieve him and close down the station, this breakthrough will change everything.  Yet the clock moves forward.

This short film really does have a twist in its tail but I must follow the River Song mantra and avoid giving it away! Solaria is Directed by John Hoey and written by Darren O’Connor and Craig Broughton.  Alex is played by Richard Sherwood and Rachel by Daria Kalista.

Touch

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This is such a life affirming short film that it may well make you cry (if you are as big and as soft as I am it is a guarantee).  It shows, through a series of tiny vignettes, the relationship between two people from their original introduction until – well, watch it and find out.  At just over two minutes no one can accuse you of wasting your time, even if you are work.  OK, possibly if you are at work but if you share it with your boss then you should be fine. Don’t send me a bill if you get fired, though.

Touch is directed and edited by  Nimer Rashed and produced by Lindsay Fraser who also appears in the short as Katie.  He was the Royal Court Theatre’s filmmaker-in-residence in 2012 (if you live outside of the UK that’s quite prestigious).  He also writes plays and theater scripts.

Missing U


A young writer, I, discovers that she is missing her U.  So, she embarks on a journey to discover what has happened to U.  That’s about all I will say about Missing U – you should really watch this for yourself.  It’s a bold piece which relies on both the ingenuity of the rhyme and the animation and so could fail on two fronts.  However, this marvelous animated short by Brooke Wagstaff succeeds perfectly.  

Wagstaff created Missing U as her senior thesis in Computer Animation from the Ringling College of Art and Design, class of 2013.  She was responsible for all the work shown above, from story, design, and modelling to texturing, animation, lighting, rendering and compositing. 

The Great Wall of China – Diverse Perspectives

China’s Great Wall – created over centuries to protect the Chinese Empire from intrusion and invasion – is one of the world’s best know sights. Yet again and again we see the same stretch of wall, the same throngs of tourists, soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army and a stream of visiting politicians. Takes these elements away and there is a sublime change - a shift in perception. Here is the Great Wall of China from various diverse perspectives, some stretches of the wall you may not be familiar with and hardly a tourist or soldier in sight.  The Great Wall of China suddenly becomes a mystery again, inscrutable and elegant, unfathomable and incredible.

15 June 2021

E-commerce Business Tips: Developing Finances Through Software


Consistent innovation across the technological landscape is working to influence the way in which e-commerce is approached on a regular basis. Both hardware and software developments in recent years, such as augmented reality and machine learning, have been lucrative avenues of exploration for the forward-thinking business owner. 

For many people in the e-commerce industry looking to gain an advantage over their competitors, turning to the digital realm of ever-evolving software options is a necessity, especially at a turbulent economical juncture.

When first starting out in the complex world of digital sales, budget constraints can provide a stumbling block for many aspiring entrepreneurs, providing an additional barrier to conquer the path to success. Thankfully, for those striving to find new ways to make the most out of their budget and stand out among their rivals, there are more than a few neat software options to choose from. 

If you are one such ambitious business owner, here are some useful points you may wish to consider:

Project Management Software

Whether you happen to be an elite team consisting of yourself and a laptop, or a multi-departmental workforce for any occasion, project management software can help you save time, which of course, translates to money. 

Project management is an essential part of business and leadership, and perhaps an endeavor made increasingly difficult by the concept of remote working. But collaboration does not need to suffer when there are so many great options out there, including Zoho projects, which offer a free service initially, branching out into cost-effective plans should you need more space. 

By implementing effective collaboration software, you can start to reduce potential downtime, therefore allowing you to better direct your attention elsewhere. Many smaller businesses often focus on the immediacy of the day, forgoing a long-term perspective. By integrating software into your daily operations, you may be able to successfully nurture an all-encompassing game plan. 

Saving on Utilities

Perhaps one of the more overlooked areas in the mind of the money-saver, the cost of paying for utilities can quickly accumulate to take its toll on the wallet of the small business. There is some superb software to help in this area, however, along with an expert team to support at utilitybidder.co.uk, which is certainly worth checking out for those of you who wish to change suppliers and relish in some peace of mind.

Payment Fees/Options

A shocking injustice for some, a dour acceptance for others, payment fees can add up over time and start to look like a substantial figure on the bank statement. This number can differ widely between vendors, so search far and wide to find the one that best suits you. If you are incurring fees from a redundant or rarely used payment method, it might be worth considering changing the options to rely on one popular method or switching to PayPal. Moreover, there are some great software options to help you streamline the payment aspect of your business in general, such as Payoneer, Reach, and Square. 

Marketing Software

Since there is a multitude of marketing tools available, many of them completely free to use, spending some time on utilizing the one that best suits your individual needs as a company is a surefire way to gain a competitive edge when it comes to identifying potential customers and growing your brand. 

Zapier is good for cross-platform automation and integration, as it allows you to streamline the apps you already rely on in your day-to-day operations. Saving money by electing to go for free software choices no longer means you have to sacrifice quality, making it a fantastic choice for money-saving efforts.

Other great options include MailChimp, Sendinblue, and HubSpot. It may also be worth considering a journey into the world of keywords and SEO if you want to work on creating natural traffic for your website without having to part with vast amounts of capital.

Financial Management Software

When it comes to saving money, a cohesive financial management software option has you covered. Sometimes, the best way to save is to gather your cards and expense reports into a singular, clear, and easy to access location. Applications such as Mint, Goodbudget, and YNAB are great examples of this style of platform. 

Add-Ons and Extensions

It would sometimes seem as though there was an infinite number of browser extensions in existence for nearly every type of function you could possibly imagine. This is good news for those of you attempting to save money, as there are many in-browser extensions that can keep an eye on your daily financial operations. 

Honey is one such example and a must for anyone looking to save money online in a host of areas. It can automatically apply discount vouchers to your purchases and search for the best prices available on products of any description. This makes the extension valuable for avid online shoppers everywhere, including business owners.

InvisibleHand is another money-saving extension that can automatically compare prices across supported retailers and find the best deal available, making it hugely beneficial for sourcing mass products or even just shopping for essentials. The ease of automation can save both time and money throughout your working day. 

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) 

Finding your demographic as an e-commerce business is critical to success, but this is simply the starting point when it comes to the complex world of sales, as, in most cases, the endeavor requires constant monitoring to remain beneficial. 

All of these factors can influence the way in which business owners tailor their e-commerce requirements. Salesforce is one such platform that strives to help businesses of various sizes connect with their customers in a variety of insightful ways, making it an ideal choice for those of you who wish to get the most out of your financial investments. 

By implementing a great piece of CRM software, you can expect to fine-tune your sales figures based on a wide range of customer information, including buying habits, search terms, website interaction, and location.

Top Image Credit

13 June 2021

The Line


Regrets, I’ve had a few... What sensations do you experience when you meditate upon age? The answer will probably depend on how old you are but the unnamed lead in the enigmatic short film The Line experiences a range of emotions from regret and despair through to anger and on to hopelessness.

Much is left to your imagination – the back story of the old man is right there for you to fill in the gaps yourself. Why is he in such misery? What is driving him towards his suicidal actions?

This is the first film by Brooklyn based Joe Petrilla and as such is quite remarkable in terms of the control over both material, dialogue and storyline shown here. I think the word that I was just looking for was restraint. See what you think.

The short movie stars a very familiar face – one of those character actors who you immediately recognize but may struggle finding his name. It is James Rebhorn who has appeared in many movies including Independence Day, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Snow Falling on Cedars, The Game, Scent of a Woman and My Cousin Vinny. Unsurprisingly the film did well at Festivals and won best-short at the Festivus Film Festival in Denver last year.

The Myth of Finn McCool and The Giant's Causeway


If you have ever wondered how the Giant’s Causeway came to be, but want the legend rather than the geology, then here you have The Myth of Finn McCool.  This animated short tells you one version of the legend (there are a number) but in a rather delightful way.  Created by The Pond Studio, this short film will be played on a giant screen in the brand new National Trust visitor center at the Giant’s Causeway.

The Pond is a creative CG Animation company with a passion for narrative, imagery and visual style. The Pond's creative team have experience in all areas of 3d and in a range of media. They have worked on projects for the BBC, Discovery Channel, ITV as well as feature films.

Robocoq


After a series of scientific experiments in 1986 a new type of chicken is produced – the first ever with teeth.  Unfortunately the roosters are not given teeth and so the balance of power in the farmyard turns inexorably towards the hens. By 2112 the chickens have all the power and the roosters are second class citizens, soon no doubt to be consigned to history.

A group of rebel roosters decide to create a robot capable of travelling in time to rewrite history. This very amusing animated short was created by Simon Cottin, Charline Courivaud, Quentin Prigent, Guillaume Ronteix, Nicolas Poupart, David Sossah, Frederic Marzullo and Jean-Louis Marco at ESMI in Bordeaux. These students are obviously movie addicts as they throw a very decent amount of visual references in to the mix here, not least of course Terminator. You need to watch the credits too - there is a little extra for you after them...

Namaqualand – South Africa’s Daisy Sensation

Namaqualand is dry for most of the year, an arid almost desert landscape which extends along South Africa’s western coast for 600 miles. Yet when the rains are good, something like a miracle happens.  Water, the driving force of all nature, soaks in to the parched earth.  An uncountable host of flowers materialize as if from nowhere, creating an extraordinary eruption of color, transforming the countryside and dazzling the eye.

12 June 2021

Lunar Leftovers: How the Moon Became a Trash Can

We hear about the amount of waste floating around space all the time. However, the biggest trash can outside of earth’s atmosphere is in fact the moon.

The moon has only been accessible for decades, rather than hundreds of years. However, in the short time available to humanity it is estimated that we have left over one hundred and seventy thousand kilos of debris on the surface of our once pristine satellite. Here are some of the more notable pieces of trash on the moon.

Luna 2 – 1959
If HG Wells and others were correct and there were civilizations on the moon then they would have expelled a communal gasp of horror in 1959 when the first piece of man made technology hit the moon dust. Looking now like some steam punk version of what we regularly send spinning in to space, Luna 2 was launched by the Soviets when the Cold War was at its height. The collision with the moon at least proved one thing – that our nearest neighbor in space has no appreciable magnetic field. To add insult to injury, half an hour after Luna 2 hit the moon, so did the third stage of its rocket.

Get Your Handkerchief Out: You’re Going to Need It


A little girl wants to get a cake for her grandfather’s birthday but the family are poor and not able to afford it.  If you want something that will make you shed a tear and brighten up your day at the same time, you have probably come to the right place. Created for Share and Care, an initiative in Singapore to create ripple effects of kindness I am not ashamed to say this had me reaching for the hankies…

Manhunt


Imagine if all the animals we, as a species, have killed over the millennia came back to exact their revenge, what shape would it take?  This is the question posed in Manhunt by Northern Lights.  It is a dark, surrealistic revenge fantasy of animals on humans for the mess they have made.  There are some early scenes of animals suffering so don’t watch if you are easily upset.


4 June 2021

Houses of the Hobbit Diaspora

If you think that Hobbits are fictional, do not be fooled a second longer.  Middle-earth once existed, as did all of its various species.  Yet the hobbits found themselves obliged to leave their original home of The Shire. Rescued by the ancestors of a mild-mannered English writer, they have spread across the world.  A spell cast by the Gandalf the White means that the sons of men cannot see them but if you look close enough, there is evidence to be found.  A hobbit has to live somewhere, after all.  Here are just some of the houses of the Hobbit diaspora.

The first evidence of hobbits goes back hundreds of years.  Sites in Scotland and Finland, to name but two, have shown that hobbits have been living among us for longer than anyone imagined.  In exchange for our hospitality, the Hobbits have sworn to help us thrive.  While you might argue that, globally, they cannot be doing too good a job of that, there are few hobbits to many millions of humans - so the scale of their assistance is not huge.

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!

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.

The Cat that Time Forgot

Have you ever wanted to take a trip through time to see what animals looked like millions of years ago? When it comes to cats there is little or no need.  This beautiful specimen is a Manul, otherwise known as a Pallas Cat and it is featured today over on our sibling site, the Ark in Space.  About twelve million years ago it was one of the first two modern cats to evolve and it hasn’t changed since. The other species, Martelli’s Cat, is extinct so what you are looking at here is a unique window in to the past of modern cats. Click the links or the picture to read the full piece and see many more wonderful photographs of this beautiful cat.

2 June 2021

Moby - 'Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad? (Reprise Version)' with Video by Steve Cutts

We’ve featured animations by Steve Cutts, we’ve featured music by Moby. So, this video for Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad? (Reprise Version)' combines the best of both worlds.  A reprise of one of Moby’s most durable songs with a new animated video by Mr Cutts.  The result is something incredibly moving.  Two visitors from another world visit Earth during the midst of the Covid pandemic and what they find is hard for them to tale in; we bicker while we suffer but continue our rapacious assault on the planet as if no lesson is there to be learned.  The music is wonderful and questioning, the animation more of a direct attack on our irresonsibilities.

Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad? (Reprise Version)' by Moby feat. Apollo Jane & Dietrick Haddon is taken from the new album 'Reprise' out now on Deutsche Grammophon.

Steve Cutts has worked with Moby before, on the video for "Are You Lost in The World Like Me?". Compare and contrast by all means – both songs are superlative but for me the reprise has the edge (a word that can be used to describe it in more ways than one). 



29 May 2021

Slime Mold - Alien Landscapes On Earth

Just the thought of mold is something that makes many people involuntarily shudder. Yet there is more to it than meets the eye – particularly if you are lucky enough to see Kim Fleming’s remarkable macrophotography.  Up close we are witness to an enigmatic and beautiful alien world on our own doorstep.

This strange and wonderful thing is Hemitrichia calyculata.  It typically has stalked sporocarps.  These are fruiting bodies which contain sporangia – the mold version of seeds.  They look like the weird plants that featured in numerous 1950s science fiction B-movies.  Or maybe even some strange alien egg pods, left to be discovered by innocent space travelers.  No need to worry, though – at most they reach two and a half millimeters in height.
Amung Feedjit
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