• What does the stingray say?

    One of my favorite things about language is the quirky way cultures interpret animal noises. Dogs for example bark "Woof, Woof" here in the US, "Mong, Mong" in S. Korea, "Av, Av" in Serbia, "Ghav, Ghav" in Greece, and "Hau, Hau" in Ukraine. David Sedaris touches on this in his essay "Six to Eight Black Men":

    Guns aren't really an issue in Europe, so when I'm traveling abroad, my first question usually relates to barnyard animals. "What do your roosters say?" is a good icebreaker, as every country has its own unique interpretation. In Germany, where dogs bark "vow vow" and both the frog and the duck say "quack," the rooster greets the dawn with a hearty "kik-a-ricki." Greek roosters crow "kiri-a- kee," and in France they scream "coco-rico," which sounds like one of those horrible premixed cocktails with a pirate on the label. When told that an American rooster says "cock-a-doodle-doo," my hosts look at me with disbelief and pity.

    Typically, when talking about animal sounds with friends from new cultures, the topic switches from "what does such and such say where you are from?" to more exotic topics like "what does a giraffe sound like?", however I've never wondered what a stingray sounded like, until I ran across this YouTube video from Fish Thinkers Research Group which shows a mangrove whipray and cowtail stingray clicking:

  • Small nuclear reactor design to be approved

    NuScale's small modular reactor (SMR) design will be the 7th design certified since the inception of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) on January 19, 1975. With the expiration of 2 nuclear reactor designs previously certified by NRC, NuScale's SMR design is to be 1 of 5 reactor designs utilities may reference when applying for a combined license to build and operate a nuclear power plant. For a sub 2 minute breakdown of the NuScale SMR design, see this video released in 2018:

    For more details on the NuScale SMR power plant design, see this video released in 2020:

    Finally, Joe Scott has an excellent video that delves into the game changing nature of SMR designs:

  • The evolution of HBO's Sonic IDs

    Marketers have long used Sonic IDs to associate brands with a desired behavioral response that resonates on an emotional and subconscious level. Sonic IDs can be transient, leaving a vague affinity that rises to the fore only when encountered again; however some Sonic IDs like those employed by HBO have been known to persist through repeated encounters, tied to powerful narratives festooned with emotional hooks. Planet Money's Wailin Wong collaborated with Twenty Thousand Hertz to share this fascinating walk through the evolution of HBO's Sonic IDs:

    Let's take a look at the visual portion associated with the Sonic IDs mentioned above in HBO 2.0, starting with the HBO Static Angel, which at over 20 years old, is showing it's age like this opening sentence from William Gibson's novel "Neuromancer": "The sky above the port was the colour of television, tuned to a dead channel"

    By mimicking the introductions used by movie theaters at the time, HBO's 1982 intro sets the tone for future revisions to come:

    1983 saw HBO further refining it's 1982 intro, stretching it out to over a minute long:

    HBO began to use this shorter update of the 1983 intro in 2017, which would go on to be fractured into tiny sound bites lasting only seconds each, while retaining the same impact as the whole:

    Dallas Taylor from Twenty Thousand Hertz, boils down the sentiment behind the success of HBO's Sonic IDs:

    After all these years, that theme music and that static sound are still the foundation of HBO's sonic brand. They're catchy. They're memorable. And they're just satisfying to listen to. But the nostalgia that people have for these sounds is just as important as how they were designed, and nostalgia isn't something you can manufacture, and it's definitely not something you can buy.

  • Watch sheep "cosplaying" as other animals to highlight wildlife preservation

    San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance garbs sheep in animal costumes, to help illustrate the irreplaceable nature of wildlife once it's gone. Here's AdAge.com's description of this advertising campaign:

    Created by Goodby Silverstein & Partners, the idea revolves around imposter sheep posing as wild animals such as lions, giraffe, rhinos, penguins or peacocks, to get across the message that "you can't replace wildlife once it's gone." Videos and outdoor ads reveal the sheep dressed up in ridiculous guises while radio ads put a fresh take on the lyrics of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."

  • State of California to brand its own low-cost insulin

    As manufacturing trends have progressed from offshoring to nearshoring to onshoring, California seeks to go a step further with manufacturing low-cost biosimilar insulin with the launch of the in state drug label: "CalRx." California Health and Human Services outlines the details of reducing the cost of insulin in it's May 2022-23 budget summary as:

    The downstream impacts of the market failure for affordable insulin impacts California and its residents. National data suggests as many as 1 in 4 diabetics cannot afford their insulin, and thus ration or stop taking insulin altogether. Affordable insulin is critical for Black, Brown, and lower income Americans because they are much more likely to have severe diabetes-related complications, such as renal disease and amputations. The May Revision includes $100 million General Fund one-time for the CalRx Biosimilar Insulin Initiative to implement partnerships for increased generic manufacturing of essential medicines under Chapter 207, Statutes of 2020 (SB 852). Through a contractual partnership, the Department of Health Care Access and Information (HCAI) will invest $50 million towards the development of low-cost interchangeable biosimilar insulin products and an additional $50 million towards a California-based insulin manufacturing facility.
    CalRx biosimilar insulin products are expected to be a fraction of the current market price of over $300 per vial and would disrupt market forces that keep insulin products unnecessarily high. Many Californians, such as the uninsured, underinsured, and those with high deductible plans would benefit significantly from low-cost insulin that is broadly available.

    While Michigan and Utah are seeking similar initiatives, the knock-on effect arising from the sheer size of California's market power could push insulin prices down across the nation. In AP News' report, California Health and Human Services Agency secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly stated:

    he hopes a state as large as California making its own insulin would significantly diminish the role of pharmacy benefit managers in insulin pricing.

    If successful, Ghaly said he thinks the price of California-branded insulin would be so competitive that patients could buy it off the shelf cheaper than going through their insurance plan.

    "We expect to save hundreds of millions of dollars for California because of this," Ghaly said. "This gives us an opportunity to create a blueprint for healthcare affordability that has been so far out of reach for states and, frankly, the federal government, and it's really exciting to see where it can go."

  • Bear cub: Mom says it's my turn to play Xbox

    This bear cub's wobbly steps is a short Unicorn Chaser to help lighten your day. As always, the real gold is in the reddit comments:

  • Unpacking an alpaca cria

    Newborn alpaca are known as "cria", and the birthing process is known as "unpacking"; which can be seen in the video above , that details the unpacking of Archimedes the cria, and the tiny milestones leading to those first uncoordinated steps taken on wobbly legs.

  • Watch electrofishing method used to survey fish populations

    Electrofishing is exactly what the name alludes to, but it's more nuanced than just using electricity to stun fish. Sciencedirect.com has an excellent breakdown on how the process works, in their synopsis of William L. Thompson, Gary C. White and Charles Gowan's book "Monitoring Vertebrate Populations":

    Electrofishing gear consists of three major components: a power source (a generator, usually producing alternating current, or a battery), a transformer to convert current from the power source to different voltages or to direct current, and electrodes placed in the water to create an electrical field. In general, direct current (DC) is preferred over alternating current (AC) because it produces an "attraction" zone within which fish actively swim toward the anode (galvanotaxis), is usually less injurious to fish, and is less dangerous for operators (Hendricks et al., 1980). Pulsed DC requires less voltage than unpulsed DC to achieve comparable stun zones (Reynolds, 1983), but may cause more injuries than unpulsed DC (Snyder, 1993). Despite advantages of DC, AC produces larger stun and death zones and may be preferable when capture efficiency takes priority over minimizing fish injury. Alternating current most often is used in boat-mounted systems for lakes and larger rivers (Heidinger et al., (1983).

    There are many factors that go into electrofishing, so here's a great video from North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, on how fish populations are sampled using this method:

    Boats aren't the only way to electrofish, and this Colorado Parks and Wildlife video shows the handheld electrofishing method used to conduct annual surveys on rivers and streams:

  • David M. Bird breaths life into his Becorns

    Since 2008, David M. Bird has been crafting and refining his photography series "Becorns", which zooms into the small world of acorn people interacting with nature.

    Interleaved with David M. Bird's Instagram pictures below are quotes pulled from his foltbolt.com portfolio.

    Hi, I'm David M. Bird. I live in Rhode Island, USA, with my wife, daughter, and collection of Becorns. Becorns are figures that I build out of acorns, sticks, and other natural materials, and then photograph in the wild with real animals. Becorns evolved from my experience as a toy designer at LEGO in Denmark.


    One of my roles there was to design characters for Bionicle sets, using abstract mechanical parts.
    The experience taught me about building and character design, but more importantly, it taught me the value of visual storytelling as a means to entice and inspire.


    After I left LEGO, I missed the creative process, until one day I was sweeping my mom's driveway and I looked into the pile of sticks and acorns at my feet. I realized I didn't need bricks; I could build with sticks!


    I could apply everything I'd learned at Lego – character design, world building, and storytelling – to create my own world, with the central premise: What might life be like in a world where creatures grow on trees?


    When I'm lucky, I get the picture I envisioned, but that rarely happens. More often, the animals surprise me with something more idiosyncratic and true to their nature than I could ever have planned.


    For example, I once built a birdhouse for Eastern Bluebirds, hoping to get a picture of the fledglings on their first flight. I failed to get that shot, but instead got pictures of Mom and Dad with all manner of grubs and spiders in their beaks, passing the Becorns on their way to feeding the babies.


    Sometimes people say, "You must be so patient!" The work requires patience, it's true, but it's easy to be patient because I'm having so much fun. The process deepens my connection and appreciation for nature and it takes me back to the feeling of wonder that I got as a child.


    In sharing my work, I hope to evoke those feelings in you.


    Below are two videos that give a better insight into David M. Bird, his process and his story:

  • Murder hornet gets renamed Northern giant hornet

    In a move towards diversity, equity, and inclusion, the Entomological Society of America's Governing Board revised their naming policy for the ESA Common Names of Insects and Related Organisms List, and began a "program to review and replace insect common names that may be inappropriate or offensive" in March 2021. ESA's previous President Michelle S. Smith, BCE stated:

    "The purpose of common names is to make communication easier between scientists and the public audiences they serve. By and large, ESA's list of recognized insect common names succeeds in this regard, but names that are unwelcoming to marginalized communities run directly counter to that goal,"

    USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab | Public Domain

    Following suite with ESA's common naming revision initiative, comes this July 25, 2022 announcement that the common name for Vespa mandarinia would be changed from "Murder hornet" or "Asian giant hornet" to "Northern giant hornet". Current ESA President Jessica Ware, Ph.D. stated:

    "Northern giant hornet is both scientifically accurate and easy to understand, and it avoids evoking fear or discrimination."

    National Geographic reported that researcher Chris Looney's Northern giant hornet name proposal was partly due to the fact that:

    "All hornets are Asian hornets," Looney says—it's redundant. "It's like adding the word 'ocean' to whale names."

    Also included with Chris Looney's approved name proposal was adoption of "Southern giant hornet" as the common name for Vespa soror, pictured below:

    Thai National Parks | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Hawai'i receives final coal shipment for its last coal-fired power plant

    Established under a 2008 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the long-term partnership between the State of Hawai'i and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the Hawai'i Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI) is a "framework of statues and regulations supported by a diverse group of stakeholders committed to Hawai'i's clean energy future." At it's inception, the HCEI's was described as:

    "an unprecedented effort to transform the entire Hawaii economy from getting 95% of its energy, including most electricity, from imported oil today, to meeting the state's energy needs from 70% clean energy (primarily indigenous renewables and efficiency) by 2030."

    The 2008 MOU was later updated via the 2014 MOU, where the State of Hawai'i and the DOE recommitted to the HCEI, describing it's renewed mission as:

    "In 2014, HCEI renewed Hawai'i's commitment to setting bold clean energy goals, including achieving the nation's first-ever 100 percent renewable portfolio standards (RPS) by the year 2045."

    Built in 1995, the AES Hawai'i power plant is the sole coal-fired power plant in the state. After years of diligence and collaboration, the HCEI has laid the groundwork for shutting down Hawai'i's only coal-fired power plant in September 2022. The 15,000 ton, final coal shipment has arrived in Oahu, marking the next step towards a cleaner future. Governor David Ige posted this tweet to mark the occasion:

  • Happy Meat Day

    Japanese culture has a fondness for homonyms (a word that sounds the same or is spelled the same as another word but has a different meaning), which is how we get to the Japanese concept of "meat day". The numbers "2", pronounced Ni as in "need", and "9", pronounced Kyū as in "cuckoo clock"; combine these two singular numbers together (like saying two nine instead of twenty nine) and the result sounds like the Japanese word for meat (Niku). This is why the 29th day of each month came to be considered by some as meat day:

    Leap years create a special situation in Japanese culture, where February 29th has come to be known as Japan's national meat day, pronounced "uruo niku no hi":

    Here's a more concise description of Japan's national meat day from The Japan Society:

    "In Japan there is a curious word play regarding the 29th day of the month in Japanese, put into just its number components it creates the word ni-kyuu [二九] which is the same as niku [肉] which means meat. So, quite often many people can be found eating meat on this day in Japan. Delving into the mystery of 'niku' day turns up a number of interesting facts about Japanese culture, and of course meat. For example, the 9th of February is also a day of meat [肉の日] due to it being the second month and the ninth day, ni-kyuu [二九], and the 29th of April is a day for eating lamb and mutton [羊肉の日]. More importantly, the 29th of February only occurs every four years so it is known as uruo niku no hi [閏肉の日], a leap day of meat and therefore a special day."

  • Watch the making of Daft Punk's "Around The World" music video

    Exactly one year after disbanding, Daft Punk released the 25th anniversary remastered edition of their Homework album on February 2, 2022, accompanied by an ongoing series of videos focusing on various aspects of each song.

    Watching the making of video for Around The World, showcasing the work Michel Gondry and his team put into creating such an iconic video; and seeing the dancers moving in what felt like slow motion, it dawned on me that I hadn't realized the final music video was sped up in post production. In the video below, Michel Gondry speaks about granular details behind the origin and production.

    I opted to use dance because the band had said they liked the idea. All the dancing I usually see in videos exasperates me. I regarded it as a challenge to come up with something I liked. So I began the choreography using the idea of representing each instrument by a group of dancers, capturing as closely as possible their characteristics. So the bassists are athletes, the rhythm boxes are mummies, guitars are skeletons, vocoders are robots, and synthesizers are disco girls.

  • Two tourists fall off Chinese suspension bridge obstacle courses

    Adventure seekers in China have elevated the danger experience with the latest suspension bridge obstacle course fad. Varying classifications of fall arresting personal protective equipment can decrease/increase risk potential; which is what two tourists learned at different adventure parks on the same day.

    Safety Harness Types | Andrew Yi

    Safety harnesses are broken down into location specific classifications, but for the sake of this post, it's important to recognize the Chest Harnesses worn in at both locations vs the typical Full Body Harness type typically worn in situations where a large vertical drop is below the wearer.

    Starting with the video above, we see a 10 year old boy hanging on as an onlooker can be heard yelling "Grab hold, grab hold, kid!" According to Matthew Loh at Insider.com, this occurred "at the Dixin Valley tourist site in Enshi, Hubei province"; luckily, Matthew Loh reported that the "boy suffered several fractures along his spine and cuts to his scalp but did not sustain any life-threatening injuries, the official notice said."

    According to the Tianjin Jizhou District Culture and Tourism Bureau's Weixin post: "a tourist suddenly fell into a coma while playing the "Boo Bu Jingxin" project in the Jiushan Scenic Spot" in the video above, where the staff was able to get to the comatose man, however attempts at rescue resulted in the man falling to his death. Let the fact that someone died here, underscore the importance of using proper protective equipment for the situation at hand. Keep this in mind along your adventures, and be your own greatest advocate in dangerous situations like these.

  • George R.R. Martin catches COVID, and no, Winds of Winter is still not done yet

    George R.R. Martin posted a short video to his Not A Blog webpage, to announce that he has caught COVID and is self quarantining in Los Angeles, CA prior to returning to Santa Fe, NM.

    In his video, George R.R. Martin mentioned that he is fully vaccinated & boosted for COVID, and casually described his condition as:

    "I feel a little sniffle-y, but really nothing bad. I've had worse colds."

    Prior to catching COVID, George R.R. Martin attend San Diego Comic-Con 2022, skipping every party and event out of caution, save for the House of the Dragon Full Panel; where Ron asked this question:

    Ron: Will we see you in a cameo?

    GRRM: I don't know, I mean; for the last couple of years since COVID hit, I've hardly left my house. I've been, you know, trying to stay away from COVID and, also you may not know but there's this book I'm writing, it's a little late and I don't see me visiting the set or doing anything until, until I finish and deliver that book, and then if the show is still going, who knows, maybe I'll show up.

    Back on April 29, 2022, George R.R. Martin did tease details about "Winds of Winter", writing:

    THE WINDS OF WINTER is going to be a big book. The way it is going, it could be bigger than A STORM OF SWORDS or A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, the longest books in the series to date. I do usually cut and trim once I finish, but I need to finish first.

  • The unexpected pleasure of finding Voir

    There is a scene in Amélie, where the she finds a box of treasures secreted long ago behind a tile knocked loose from the shock of Lady Diana's death. As Amélie gently inspects the contents of the box, the narrator voices:

    "Only the discoverer of Tutankhamen's tomb would know how she felt upon finding this treasure hidden by a little boy 40 years ago."

    That exhilarating feeling of discovering something precious and new, is what I'm feeling right now, having found Voir after a BBS member asked this question about the post: Tony Zhou of "Every Frame A Painting" on Bong Joon Ho and ensemble staging

    "What happened to Every Frame a Painting? They haven't put out a video in years."


    After digging deeper into Taylor Ramos & Tony Zhou, I found the 2021 Netflix series "Voir", where the EFaP duo had directed 3 out of the 6 first season episodes. Remember that scene in Blow where a chemist test the purity of a drug shipment and starts to complain that he can't feel his face? Well, I've quickly tested the Voir merch, and right now I can't feel my face.

    Voir describes it's ethos as "Film lovers examine the cinematic moments that thrilled, perplexed, challenged and forever changed them in this collection of visual essays."

    Peter Sobczynski at Roger Ebert.com describes Voir as:

    The six episodes cover an array of topics, ranging from broad examinations to close analysis of specific films; the approaches similarly veer between the straightforward to the deeply personal. Three of the episodes come from Taylor Ramos and Tony Zhou, who have done a number of visual essays in the past under the name Every Frame a Painting and whose efforts here tend to follow a more traditional and historical-minded approach to their subjects with mixed results. "The Duality of Appeal" utilizes expert testimony from Brenda Chapman and Gil Kenan to help explore the dynamics of design, in terms of how animators strive to make visually appealing characters and how CG animation has altered the landscape in that regard. Blending together history, criticism (especially in regards to the ways in which female characters tend to be developed) and a look at the actual filmmaking process, this is both the best of their contributions and one of the very best of the entire series.

    Watching Taylor Ramos & Tony Zhou unconstrained in this new series is like catching up with old friends, and even though everything has changed about each of you, it still feels like that same old magic that is all the more precious because we lost the ability to create it's type long ago.

  • Moody paintings with superimposed videos of smiling mouths

    Watch Notre Arte take a frown and turn it upside down: a moment of levity to brighten your day.

    The video above definitely belonged to r/EndedTooSoon, so here's another variant.

  • Tony Zhou of "Every Frame a Painting" on Bong Joon Ho and ensemble staging

    What a film director really directs is an audience's attention.

    Alexander Mackendrick

    I long for the days when Tony Zhou's Every Frame a Painting succinctly broke down movies from the perspective of an astute editor. Here, Tony talks about Ensemble Staging via Bong Joon Ho's 2003 movie "Memories of Murder."

    Bong Joon Ho would go on to refine the subtle yet powerful use of Ensemble Staging's aesthetic through the years, culminating in his latest 2019 film Parasite.

  • Roku wishes happy birthday to Daniel Radcliffe in a very Weird Al way

    The Roku Channel tweets happy birthday to Daniel Radcliffe accompanied with a picture from their upcoming biopic" Wierd: The Al Yankovic story.

    Al Yankovic tweeted his own Happy Birthday to Daniel Radcliffe, with a TIL about UHF's July 21, 1989 release date.

    For more on WEIRD: The Al Yankovic Story, see the teaser trailer below: