28 January 2011

Behind the scenes of a news broadcaster

France24 is one of my major sources of news (online print and online live streaming), in addition to several Australian news services, BBC News and CNN on subscription television.

It was therefore interesting to watch a behind the scenes view of the workings of France24 shown by Francois Picard.

News anchor Jessica Lemasurier also shared one of her secrets.

27 January 2011

Upright locomotion by Western Lowland gorilla

From Aspinall Foundation's Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent (South East of England), a male silverback Western Lowland gorilla named Ambam was shown walking upright as filmed by Johanna Watson. See 'Gorilla Walks Like A Man' (Aspinall Foundation)

According to keeper Phil Ridges
Ambam's father Bitam used to display the same behaviour if he had handfuls of food to carry. Ambam also has a full sister, Tamba, and a half sister at Howletts, who also sometimes stand and walk in the same way. All gorillas can do it to some extent but we haven't got any who do it like Ambam and he is quite a celebrity at the park.

We think he might use it to get a height advantage to look over the wall when keepers come to feed him and standing up can also help him in looking for food generally in his enclosure as it gives him a better vantage point. Ambam can also carry a lot more food if he stands and uses both hands and walking on two feet also means he doesn't get his hands wet when it is raining!
Channel 4 News has reported that Ambam has become an internet celebrity.

Gorillas have short legs.

24 January 2011

The Story of Eames Furniture

I've previously written about the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman and its launch in 1956.

German publisher Gestalten released a book in September 2010 about the designers, The Story of Eames Furniture. Publisher details
Release Date: September 2010
ISBN: 978-3-89955-230-0
Authors: Marilyn Neuhart with John Neuhart
Language: English
Features: 800 Pages, full cover, hardcover, 2 volumes in slipcase
Format: 25.5 x 29.2 cm
Catalog Price: €150,00 | US$199,00 | £140,00

In this unique 2-volume, 800-page book with more than 2,500 images, Marilyn Neuhart tells the story — to paraphrase Charles Eames himself — of how Eames furniture got to be the way it is.

The Story of Eames Furniture was written and designed by Marilyn Neuhart together with her husband John. Both have worked at the Eames Office in various capacities since the 1950s. They have looked after the house of Charles and Ray Eames since the designers’ deaths and have supervised the Eames Archive. More familiar with the material and protagonists than almost any other, Marilyn Neuhart has spent the last 15 years compiling the stories, images, and recollections featured in this book.
In this video from Gestalten, the Neuharts talk about the Eames and the book.

The Story of Eames Furniture: Marilyn Neuhart with John Neuhart - Interview from Gestalten on Vimeo.

The book is wonderful tribute to two of the greatest designers of the twentieth century. On my wishlist.

See also Brain Pickings and The Casual Optimist.

23 January 2011

Rehabilitating former fighting dogs

From PBS Need To Know program, a story (inspired by Jim Gorant’s book The Lost Dogs) about what happens after fighting dogs are rescued. There is a backstory relating to an NFL football player who was imprisoned for involvement in dogfighting.

The most interesting part of this story is what happened to the former fighting dogs.

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

Read more.
For more information on dogfighting in the U.S., and what’s being done to combat it, check out these organizations:

Bay Area Dog lovers responsible about pit bulls
ASPCA: Ten ways to help end dogfighting
Best Friends
Humane Society: Dogfighting
Pit Bull Rescue Central
Thankfully, there is no (known) dogfighting culture in Australia, although this recent report from Townsville is worrying.

22 January 2011

headline of the month

The last entry in my headline of the month was over three months ago. My first for the year. From France24
The weakest Linke: German far left party mired in controversy
A very clever way of combining puns in English and German. Linke is the German word for left (both directionally and politically, just as in English). From a French news outlet no less. Très bien.

13 January 2011

Queensland floods - rain we no longer want

Most of Australia was gripped by drought for many years and the rains that broke the drought last year were hailed and welcomed. Unfortunately and more recently, rain continued and became a destructive force.

I've previously written (twice) about the Victoria bushfires of early 2009, the Haiti earthquake of early 2010 and the Pakistan floods of mid 2010.

The Queensland floods this week are a little closer to home. Unlike the rural small towns and villages that were affected by the 2009 bushfires, Brisbane is a large metropolis with a population of around 2 million people. Over the last 20 years, Brisbane and the Queensland south eastern corridor have experienced high population growth, primarily due to internal migration. Most Australians, therefore, would know of someone living in Brisbane.

I was born in Brisbane but now live and work elsewhere. My first home as a baby was located in a suburb, which is now mostly underwater. Two brothers live in the southside of Brisbane, that was thankfully largely unaffected. I also have numerous friends in Brisbane, many of whom moved there and many locals that I have befriended over the years.

I also visit Brisbane on a regular basis, supporting and attending home games of my football team the Brisbane Lions, while also catching up with family and friends. It is my home away from home.

The media reports over the last week have been difficult to watch and read.

This clip from the Courier Mail shows the effect of the flood.

The most heartbreaking story has been about 13-year-old Jordan Rice, who told a rescuer to save his 10-year-old brother instead, before being swept away with his mother. Brave, heroic, selfless and tragic. We weep for him and his sacrifice.

The most poignant words were spoken today by Queensland Premier Anna Bligh at one of her regular two-hourly press briefings
As we weep for what we have lost, and as we grieve for family and friends and we confront the challenge that is before us, I want us to remember who we are.

We are Queenslanders. We are the people they breed tough north of the border. We're the ones that they knock down, and we get up again.
Here is the clip, which is worth watching.

The premier has been a pillar of strength, leading and reassuring her people at what is one of the worst times in the state's history. We salute her.

You can help by donating to Premier's Disaster Relief Appeal (provision is made for international donations).

Round-the-clock reporting is being provided by ABC News 24, which is (geo)unblocked and may be viewed online.

06 January 2011


Prisencolinensinainciusol was a song composed by Adriano Celentano, a prolific singer and songwriter, and released in 1972.

The song has enjoyed a resurgence following a mention by Boing Boing in 2009 as an illustration of how English sounds to non-English speakers.

While that wasn't the intention of Celentano, it is certainly Gibberish and was not meant to mean anything.

05 January 2011

Vivian Maier - unseen photographer

Broadcast by PBS affiliate WTTW on Chicago Tonight (22 December 2010), this story about Vivian Maier has left many historians and photographers gasping. Vivian Maier was a prolific photographer in Chicago, whose work is only now coming to light, following her death in 2009. There are more than 100,000 photographs by Maier still to be seen.

The majority of the collection is now owned by John Maloof, with around 12,000 held by Jeff Goldstein.

John Maloof, Anthony Rydzon and Lars Mortensen are in the process of producing a full-length documentary film, Finding Vivian Maier. You can back the project through Kickstarter.

A book will also be published by powerHouse Books.

See also
- article in Chicago magazine
- John Maloof's website/blog vivianmaier.com
- Jeff Goldstein's website Vivian Maier Photography
- YouTube channel vivianmaierphoto (Maier also took some video films)

04 January 2011

SOAP - The Show

Hot out of Berlin and following its success at the 2010 Edinburgh Fringe Festival comes Circle of Eleven's SOAP - The Show comes to the Sydney Opera House (click for ticketing information). Created in 2007 by Markus Pabst and Maximilian Rambaek, a bathroom is turned into a stage, where seven bathtubs allow performers to show their extraordinary gymnastic and acrobatic skills amidst the tubs and other paraphernalia.

The show runs from 4 to 23 January 2010 at the Sydney Opera House, followed by a tour to Blackpool/UK before returning to Berlin, then a tour to Amsterdam.

Below is a preview

An in-depth preview of Eike von Stuckenbrok's performance

More of Eike von Stuckenbrok in detail

The work may seem familiar, as Markus Pabst had created a similar piece for La Clique with bathtub acrobat David O'Mer, which has been a part of the Sydney Festival in 2006 and 2009.

Australian Didj Wentworth will perform on the straps as shown below (Michael Lanphear)

It looks stunning and breathtaking.

02 January 2011

wasting food 4

I've previously written about wasting food. On Boxing Day (26 December 2010), Jennifer Rajca writing in the Sydney Morning Herald reported that annually "[a]cross Australia, about 4.45 million tonnes of food, worth $7.8 billion, is discarded."   According to Jon Dee, founder of Do Something! "each household throws away $1036 worth of food, or 585 kilograms, each year."

That is a staggering amount. There needs to be a more careful study that audits food by type such as fresh (including vegetable, meat and dairy), processed foods (including condiments and their expiry dates) and frozen foods. While I very rarely discard fresh food as they are usually consumed before they get to spoil, processed condiments such as mayonnaise with expiry dates that require refrigeration often expire with significant content in the bottle. Hence packaging sizes may be a factor on such items.

Relatedly, last month, Sophie Morris in the London Evening Standard reported about a wonderful concept called "The People's Kitchen". Extrait
Sundays start slowly in Dalston. The local hipsters have been up late. If not partying, they've been customising their latest vintage clothing finds, writing short films to release as virals or debating radical politics.

So it's gone 4pm when a crowd begins to gather around chopping boards and crates of onions and potatoes at Passing Clouds on Richmond Road, a newish venue that wants to offer all things to all-comers, be that a funk night, drum workshop, gin-soaked ragtime and swing afternoon, golden oldie film screening or, in this case, a tasty home-cooked Sunday feast.

The venue describes itself as a “collective of artists and musicians” but now a band of foodies are staging a weekly takeover dubbed “the People's Kitchen”. You can eat a leek and courgette tortilla, oozing runny eggs and fresh greens, curled up in one of the worn velvet and leather armchairs in front of a film, or grab a spot at the bar with a bowl of spicy aubergine pasta. Latecomers pile up plates of bread and cheese before settling in for the evening's jam session, a weekly event performed by some of Passing Clouds' regulars.

The food is all waste collected from Spitalfields Market and local businesses that would otherwise have been thrown away, and some of the people who have turned up to help out have experience in professional kitchens, so the food and environmental boxes are ticked. But, best of all, this Sunday lunch is completely free.
Read more. It is a fascinating read. Wasting food is just simply sinful.

01 January 2011

Новый Год the meme

Новый Год (Novy God) means New Year in Russian. It was also the name of a song that was a huge hit for Russian boy band Стекловата (Steklovata) a few years ago.

Despite the catchy tune, the cheap effect of the video clip, has spawned a meme devoted to parodying the clip. Here are a selection

Attempted subtitling based on English phonetic interpretation (there is also a Swedish version)

Swedish miming 'tribute'

Brazilian trash version

Polish mime (one of the earliest ones)

More recently, from Allan Hyde via Twitter (actor in True Blood) of Gourmetfilm's tribute

There are many more on YouTube. World News website has aggregated a few.

Happy New Year!