Wednesday, 7 August 2013

14! 21! Vivaldi + Pachelbel’s Canon. Lose yourself in glorious ecstatic music!

Vivaldi Tribute, played by Tina (14 y.o.), played on her Vigier Excalibur, taught and filmed by her teacher Renaud Louis-Servais ( )
"Presto" is the 3d movement from Antonio Vivaldi's "Summer", from the "Four Seasons".This version is an extract from Patrick Rondat's guitar adaptation in his "Amphibia" album (1996).

and while we’re in guitar hero mode, an almost historic (2005/8!) intertubes sensation – Funtwo (click this link for his website) plays Pachelbel’s canon. His real name is Jeong-Hyun Lim from Seoul, Korea. Lim's video is the fifty-sixth most viewed and tenth most favourited video on YouTube, as of June 26, 2011, with over 90 million views and counting.

And here’s how he has refined it by 2012. Probably this doesn’t quite have the raw edge of the original.

and the original "classic" version



Friday, 17 May 2013

No title necessary

On the 40th anniversary of the famous ‘Blue Marble’ photograph taken of Earth from space, Planetary Collective presents a short film documenting astronauts’ life-changing stories of seeing the Earth from the outside – a perspective-altering experience often described as the Overview Effect. Worth going directly to Vimeo for to see the full sized video.

The “overview effect”, that the astronauts talk about, was pretty much predicted by Theodore L. Thomas, in a short story in “Astounding”, in August 1956 edition – before man had even been to space for the first time. The title of this was “The Far Look”. Unfortunately, it does not seem to be available on the web.

OVERVIEW from Planetary Collective on Vimeo.


Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Goody versus baddies plus spirit of humanity

Here is a very funny spoof documentary from Click this link for the full story starring Bill Oddie as a naturalist exploring the territory of that not-quite-human species, the feral banker (homo fatuscatus).
Bill got evicted from the bank while filming.

And here, just because I like it and we see the Earth in all its magnificence, is the viral (6.5 million views since yesterday) of Commander Chris Hadfield in the ISS singing modified lyrics to David Bowie’s Space Oddity


Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Aqua Lung Ocean Wings +

Flying under water. Reminiscent of the post I did with the under water wheelchair (Not the Paralympics), here’s the latest from the inventive French. I will do more environmental posts soon, I promise….


They glide downwards using the “wing” and ballast and use a gas bottle buoyancy device to get back to the surface; have a look at

Aqua Lung Oceanwings / The underwater human flight experience

And now, in complete contrast to the former dreamy sequence, here is the latest wing suit mayhem. Don’t get confused by the smoke – it’s not jet propulsion à la Yves (Jetman) Rossy - it’s 1) so one we can see their track better and 2) so they can see each other better as they manoeuvre in narrow spaces at very high speeds.

Dream Lines IV - Wingsuit proximity by Ludovic Woerth & Jokke Sommer


Friday, 1 February 2013

Perspective, Giddiness and Magic

This wonderful video was shot a few days ago in New Zealand. It shows the Moon rising in real-time - this is not a time lapse – over Mount Victoria Lookout in Wellington, N.Z.

Take four minutes out of your day to watch this and wonder at the dance of the planetary spheres in the dark of space, and sense how small we are. Feel giddy!

Source: NASA


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

How the climate “debate” must be handled from now on

 I’m reposting a comment I just made to the top climate blog on ThinkProgress (headed up by Joe Romm) as it contains my current feelings about how the sheer danger and urgency of the position that humanity finds itself in is not effectively getting through to the public, and how the conventional way the scientific position is  being communicated is now failing us badly. I sketched out how we need to take the fight to the deniers, the propagandists and the irresponsibly complacent.

Romm’s post was about a recent New Scientist report – click link for the ThinkProgress post discussing it called 7 reasons climate change is even worse than we thought. Also have a look at the cover of the November 17th edition of New Scientist here which says it all loud and clear.

new scientist cover

My post was in answer to the well rated poster “Prokaryotes” who posted this comment:

prokaryotes says:

November 26, 2012 at 7:25 pm

Precautionary principle DEMANDS that we start cutting Co2 emissions immediately and go aggressively after the deniers”


To which I responded:

Yes, Yes, Yes! We need at least a two pronged attack. There are two major elements of the "sceptical arguments". Those put forward by the "lukewarmers", which have some scientific validity, and the much greater number of deceitful "magic tricks" that can fool those not up to speed with enough science. Both need addressing in different ways because they resonate with two different segments of society.

Firstly, we need a widespread global media friendly "debate" between four types - 1) representatives of the mainstream climate science position. Perfect would be Richard Alley. 2) the top "lukewarmers" - Lindzen is the obvious candidate 3) representatives from the risk assessment and forecasting industry such as actuaries from Munich Re. 4) economists who can assess the relative costs and benefits of doing either nothing or as much as it takes depending on the perceived risks.

At the commencement of this debate, the chairman should state the relative numbers of working, publishing peers that each scientific "side" of the debate has in their area of expertise and what the relative proportions of scientists supporting each side is.

Regardless of whether Lindzen put up a good show or not, the audience would see that his position is very much a tiny minority one. Too many of the public currently thinks there is an evenly balanced case on each side. Once they become aware of this error, they might see that they are in the position of Dirty Harry and the punk, neither of who knew for sure whether there was a bullet left in the Magnum  - except that the relative numbers of scientists and risks puts the public more in the situation of playing Russian Roulette with their family's and descendant's futures with an AK47 with a full magazine except one bullet...

I think the time has passed when just stating the consensus scientific position still works well enough to counter the powerful rhetoric and misleading arguments that the sceptical side has developed and refined over the last few years. The public is confused and uncertain as to who has reality on their side because the arguments of the "denialists" are just so damn convincing in THE MINDS OF THE PUBLIC. I have argued this point with committed educated "alarmists" and have been distressed to find out that too many just cannot understand it - they still think the way to convince the public is just to keep chanting ever louder that "the science is settled", "the consensus says" etc etc - they cannot seem to grasp that the public just doesn't blindly take the words of scientists as gospel any more and cannot see that their strategy is no longer helpful, but is fast becoming a handicap to generating more public pressure for urgent action.

In order to get political backing for the fundamental reforms we need, it is certain that the general public will need much greater confidence that action is necessary now and fast and that will only come when a large majority accept that the risks of doing nothing are huge and the benefits of an all-out assault on emissions will be much greater than they have been led to accept.

Websites such as are brilliant for the already converted, and their phone app debunking common denialist arguments is fantastic, but this is not enough. The general public has clearly not been exposed to those ripostes enough. The existence of resources like this that debunk the propaganda have not swayed the popular tide of doubt and uncertainty.

The second prong of the attack should be very widespread - newpaper ads, TV slots, radio shows, mass mailouts to residences etc - and should attack the denialist arguments that are just simple magic tricks, designed to mislead e.g. CO2 is a trace gas; it was warmer in the past; climate is always changing; warming stopped in 1997; CO2 is plant food; it's the Sun etc etc. answers these by a clear exposition of the science but this is not an optimum strategy for convincing the mass of the public - what is needed is a clear set of analogies from ordinary life that ordinary people are familiar with and can relate to. An example to answer the "warming stopped in 1997" meme, which works because the climate unrealists draw a trend line from a recent cool period back to the height of the El Nino warmth and claim the trend is flat or declining, would be for the public to consider the graph of the weight of someone who overeats over decades but whose weight also varies wildly as they indulge in successive crash diets followed by periods of binge eating. Over thirty years they would only have to overeat, on average, by one ounce a day to eventually get to weigh over 600 pounds. The thirty year graph of their weight would look like the Himalayas as their weight varied by 50 pounds plus or minus as their eating habits changed but if the overeater drew a trend line from a "light" dieting period back to a "heavy" bingeing period, and claimed that they had no eating problems, most people would easily see that they were deluded and yet such a trick in the climate arena fools too many who are not familiar with such as the natural ocean cycles affecting temperatures over a couple of decades, climatologically, and thereby creating the convincing illusion on a cherry picked graph (to those unfamiliar with planetary mechanisms) that global warming has paused or reversed. People who would never get the statistical necessity that temperature trends only become significant over periods longer than 15 years would understand such a simple analogy straight off.

We need such a suite of analogies to "go aggressively after the deniers" because current practices are simply not working well enough. Too many still believe that the scientific debate is evenly balanced - that the climate sensitivity is too uncertain to guarantee a threat - even more would like to believe the hundreds of convincing pieces of deceit that there isn't any threat at all and that the science has been cooked up to get more governmental control of their lives or taxes out of their pockets.


Monday, 29 October 2012

Guerilla Food Security

If people listen carefully to the news, in amongst a whole bunch of trivial stuff, they would hear about growing food problems in the world, certainly price increases now, but probably shortages next year too.
You’ve heard of guerrilla gardening? These inspiring videos take the concept further, and legitimise it a bit. It’s a sort of modern day Dig for Victory campaign
What should a community do with its unused land? Plant food, of course. With energy and humour, Pam Warhurst tells at the TED Salon the story of how she and a growing team of volunteers came together to turn plots of unused land into communal vegetable gardens, and to change the narrative of food in their community.

A whirlwind of energy and ideas, Stephen Ritz is a teacher in New York's tough South Bronx, where he and his kids grow lush gardens for food, greenery -- and jobs. Just try to keep up with this New York treasure as he spins through the many, many ways there are to grow hope in a neighbourhood many have written off, or in your own. (Filmed at TEDxManhattan).

Just to keep it local, a commenter to this post points out that "St Mark's church in St Helier noted that it had unused land down one side of the church, so it let a member's son build raised beds for local residents to grow vegetables in. If they can do it, so can others..."

And finally here is more or less the swan song of Andrew Wilford – “Wilf”. Filmed at TEDx a few months before he died. It sort of covers the whole problem. It includes some jaw-dropping figures about the mass of people plus our food animals versus the natural world.  He touches on the reasons why unending growth, whether of food supply, energy, economies etc,  is no longer possible.

Wilf was a Director of "Be The Change" Australia, President of Quest 2025 (an organisation illuminating the illusory nature of current economic systems) and a Director of Best Futures (a global research organisation focusing on biosocial system transformation). Wilf also worked with the Kokoda Foundation developing National Resource Security Immersive Scenarios examining climate, energy, water, food, ecosystem and economic futures. Sadly, he died on 13 August 2012, aged 48.

Text taken from the intros to the videos