You know how exciting it is to watch professional-level rock, paper, scissors in an arena? Me either. But in Japan they do and they somehow make it seem really exciting. Take a deep breath and check out this short clip:
Derren Brown would obviously win that competition, um, hands down… Sorry. There is also a robot hand that someone built for some reason that always wins. It is clearly an important sport.
Now, to ramp up the competition, they should play the next level of the game. Rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock. The rules are explained in the Big Bang Theory. You might want to write it down:
Someone was clearly stoned and/or drunk and was listening to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and thought “Dude, that could totally be made into a short film.” So they did just that. Surprisingly, given that a lot of Bohemian Rhapsody seems like gibberish, it actually works pretty well and makes sense. There is one scene where they have to say “No” and “Galileo Figaro” and “Bismillah” and other randomness where it falls down a bit, but otherwise it is fun.
Good, not great, but definitely worth 4 minutes of your time if you happen to be at work. Turning songs into short films should become a new internet meme. Here is Bohemian Rhapsody as gritty (and occasionally silly) thriller. Magnifico! Enjoy.
This is amazing. A guy dialect coach called Andrew Jack shows what the various accents are like around the UK. If you have never been to Britain this will probably be bizarre and baffling but the guy is incredible and when he shifts dialect he is spot on. I guess it is what he does for a living and has been the dialect coach on a ton of different movies, including all the latest Star Wars movies and the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok.
In case you are bored, here is a map showing the accents from around the UK. Fairly interesting stuff as the UK has a weird variety of regional dialects, especially when you consider its size. Obviously the correct way to pronounce everything is with a North London accent but people are surprisingly reluctant to agree. Check it out:
This is incredible. The band ‘OK Go’ always does pretty cool videos but this one took so much planning and is so well done that I found it hard to believe at first. What they did was set up a load of events, timed everything with computers and digital triggers, then filmed ‘The One Moment’, real time, in 4.2 seconds. The music video is then that 4.2 seconds stretched out.
Here is an excerpt with Damian Kulash, Jr. (director and singer), as he explains some of the stuff in the video:
Just how slow is this, and is it all one speed?
It is not all one speed, but each section is at a constant rate, meaning that time does not “ramp” (accelerate or decelerate). We just toggle from one speed to another. When the guitars explode, we are 200x slower than reality (6,000 frames per second), but Tim and Andy’s short bursts of lip sync (Tim twice and Andy once) are only 3x slower than real life (90 frames per second). The watermelons are around 150x, and the spray paint cans are a little over 60x.
How did you plan all this?
The whole point of the video is to explore a time scale that we can’t normally experience, but because it’s so inaccessible to us, our tools for dealing with it are indirect. The only way we can really communicate with that realm is through math. The choreography for this video was a big web of numbers — I made a motherfucker of a spreadsheet. It had dozens of connected worksheets feeding off of a master sheet 25 columns wide and nearly 400 rows long. It calculated the exact timing of each event from a variety of data that related the events to one another and to the time scale in which they were being shot.
You probably skipped all that text and just want to see the damn video already. So here it is. OK Go and The One Moment:
I will keep this brief because there isn’t much to say. I saw this video on some social media feed or other and thought “Holy shit, those waves are huge!” Which, combined with my compulsive need to share things has led to this. These are waves in Taiwan and they are massive. The lighthouse is apparently around 75 foot tall and is presumably empty or sheltering people in brown pants.
I was on a beach last month and wanted to read something short and fun. I hadn’t read a murder mystery in ages and thought that would fit the bill. So without thinking about it too much, I did the obvious and went for an Agatha Christie novel. You can’t really go wrong with her books. I chose The Murder of Roger Ackroyd because I like the title, it had good reviews, and was a Poirot.
The book centers around two deaths: one is before the book starts and the other is the eponymous Roger Ackroyd. Hercule Poirot has retired from sleuthing and just happens to be living in the village where it all occurs, but as he is good at solving exactly these kinds of mysteries the police wisely let him in on the action. I can’t say much more without giving too much away.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a great read and it doesn’t really matter if this is your first Poirot or Christie novel. I read it on a kindle and it was quite fun seeing which sections and sentences people had highlighted in their attempt to work out who did the crime. The clues are there and like nearly all Agatha Christie novels, you probably won’t guess who did it. She was very good at what she did.
I am used to reviewing science fiction or fantasy – or in my day job the odd travel book – so there is usually more to say. Here though the summary can be: if you like murder mysteries or any book written by Christie, you will like The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Lots of suspects, suspicious goings on, red herrings, clues, and a surprise. Oh yeah, and a murder. Recommended holiday read.
Benedict Cumberbatch was on Saturday Night Live the other day (probably on Saturday) because he seems to be contractually obliged to be absolutely everywhere at the moment. To be fair, that is quite subjective – we just saw Dr Strange (which I loved), that prompted my wife to re-watch Sherlock, all while I have been re-listening to Cabin Pressure on my commute. So that has been a lot of Cumberbatch.
Anyway. On SNL he did a spoof of the Apple 1984 Macintosh advert and I found it mildly amusing. It’s a Monday, so mildly amusing is about as good as things can get. To be honest, I would quite like a toilet like that – you can have a stand for a book/iPad and flush with ease. Here is Cumberbatch on a toilet. Enjoy.
In case you are a child, here is the original Macintosh 1984 advert:
Being of a certain age – Generation X is all you need to know – I have grown up with computers. So I don’t fear them. I love gadgets and technology because… well, because they are awesome and let you do amazing things. I wrote this in Bangkok and you may be reading this on a bus in Iceland on a tablet while streaming music from a server in America to your bluetooth headphones. For example. That is pretty damned impressive.
As someone who has a professed love for tech, I am often asked by non-computer people to help fix stuff or get stuff to do other stuff. This can be someone from an older generation who has an inbuilt suspicion that younger people have some kind of computing algorithm in their DNA; someone who lives in constant fear of pressing the secret button that self-destructs their device. Or it can be co-workers and friends who are of a similar age or younger, who ask me to help because they are bizarrely luddite enough to eschew basic tech knowledge, (too busy or cultured,) but still want to post inanities on Facebook. Whichever it is, it makes me feel important and helps my feeble sense of self worth. So I am happy to help.
Unlike quite a few of my peers however, I am not actually trained and have no knowledge of how these things really work. I could explain what I, and others who like tech but aren’t IT specialists do when asked, but as is so often the case, the superb site xkcd has a graphic explaining it. This is my long-winded way of sharing a graphic that amused me. You can follow this and now be as competent as I am.
I saw a clip of this on Facebook and delved a bit deeper only to find out that it was Moby. I used to love Moby’s album Play back at the turn of the century and I am sure he has been doing great stuff ever since. What made the clip actually stand out for me though, are the cool stylised visuals by London artist Steve Cutts. I have seen some of his other work and this guy really hates mobile phones in particular and all the shite happening in the world in general.
Which is fair enough really. I had seen some Cutts illustrations before, such as the rats on the underground (see below) but hadn’t realised it was the same guy until I wrote this post and did some research. Great art and generally making a decent point.
Without further waffle, here is Moby and Steve Cutts video “Are you lost in a world like me?” I hope you are sufficiently old school enough to be watching this on a laptop. (Below are some pics by Steve Cutts – check them out.)
Moby is well known, so you can check him out for yourself. In case you don’t know Steve Cutts, he does some great work. For some reason he reminds me of 60s/70s cartoonists like Robert Crumb and Gilbert Shelton (who are still working today, I hasten to add). His work can be found here: http://www.stevecutts.com Here is some of his stuff:
Borrowed Time is an animation by two of Pixar’s animators: Lou Hamou-Lhadj and Andrew Coats. Don’t think light-hearted cheerful Pixar though, think of one of the darkest and saddest moments of a Pixar film – usually the beginning bit where someone dies and the rest of the movie is there to cheer you up. Borrowed Time is that beginning bit but darker.
I loved it. (If the youtube clip doesn’t work, try the Vimeo page.)
A trailer has just come out for Planet Earth II, narrated by Sir David Attenborough. The original Planet Earth came out ten years ago and was the most expensive documentary ever commissioned by the BBC and the first to be filmed in high definition. Planet Earth II took 4 years to make, and was filmed in 64 countries and in Ultra-High Definition. All with Sir David Attenborough’s superb and perfect voice talking authoritatively and enthusiastically over it all.
Attenborough and the BBC make the best nature documentaries and I am consequently damned excited. Nearly everything I watch these days is streamed but I still buy the occasional BluRay and increasingly, they are documentaries – mostly Attenborough and Professor Brian Cox documentaries, to be precise. They are just stunning on a big TV and one of the few things that might convince me to go 4K. I can’t wait to watch this and I just hope the BluRay comes out before Christmas. As yet there is no air date, so it seems unlikely.
For more information about Planet Earth II (or 2), plus the chance to see some clips from the first series, check out the BBC webpage.
(Apologies to all DC comic book fans who came here by accident but you should watch this documentary too.)
Recently, Elon Musk talked about going to Mars. He wants humanity to be a multi-planetary species, so that we should survive a disaster. (Hopefully some other animals too – I want a genetically adapted giant space dog I can write around.) The rationale is that at some point, something awful may/will happen and it would be a shame for civilisation to be wiped out when we have gone to so much sodding effort for millennia. Which I think is a valid point. I get the argument that we have messed up the Earth but I will only accept that argument from someone who hasn’t bred. If you have kiddywinks, look to the future. Also, most of the people I see arguing that climate change is real, the need for renewable energy, and generally being less dickish to the planet, tend to be the same ones that want to go into space. Leave the frackers behind.
I think Musk is a good guy and at time of writing, hasn’t shown any hints of: “You will kneel before Musk” agenda. So you can imagine how excited I was when he was talking about Martian colonization plans that will become possible thanks to his “Mars Colonial Transporter”. There is even a video clip showing how it will be done:
You can then imagine how that excitement rose further still when he renamed the Mars trip equipment stuff to the even more exciting: “Interplanetary Transport System”. The only possible conclusion being that he wants to go to more than just Mars.
Sadly for the “tl;dr” crowd there isn’t a video of future space exploration but as a placatory extra, Elon ‘Stark’ Musk and his gang have released a load of pretty pictures on the interweb. There are quite a few to be found on the SpaceX Flickr account and here are a couple. Enjoy and engage!
I saw this on the always awesome xkcd (www.xkcd.com) site. It is a timeline showing the average temperature of the Earth from 20,000BC to now. It is brilliantly done and is essentially a superb counter argument to people who argue that the Earth has always warmed up and cooled down. It has, but global temperatures are currently going mental.
Word of warning – if you are a creationist, you won’t like this. Also, you’re an idiot. Same goes for climate change deniers.
In case this doesn’t work or is hard to see in your browser, you can find the original here. The Earth is getting toasty, enjoy.
I normally post about science. Or books. Or films. Damn it, I don’t really have a theme. So I might as well bring you magic as well. This is legendary Las Vegas magician Mac King doing his legendary rope trick.
Apparently Mac King did this trick on the Penn and Teller show where they try and see if they can work out exactly how tricks are done. They couldn’t, and those guys are genius. It is obviously sleight of hand but that is just an easy, dismissive way of explaining a lot of magic. It is pretty damned impressive to pull off the logistics of such a trick. (I said that confidently but have absolutely no idea if it is true.)
In way of another miracle, I will shut up and share the clip. Enjoy.
Normally I would post this on Scifiward but it is pretty funny and not really science fiction – barring the fact that it features a god, obviously. The clip explains what Thor, and to a lesser extend Dr Banner (aka Hulk), have been up to and why they weren’t in Captain America Civil War. He has basically been chilling out in Australia trying to be normal. It feels like the British version of the Office but with Thor instead of Gervais.
It also shows the Chris Hemsworth is actually pretty good at comedy. I could easily watch a half hour of this, there are some great lines. (There is more humour in this clip than all of DC’s recent outings.) Enjoy.
I came across these pictures and they are amazing. Each one is a photo taken from an extraterrestrial body – i.e. not Earth – by robots. Lucky robots. Have a look at these:
Photos from extraterrestrial bodies
Pretty inspiring stuff. It is incredible that we humans, who are such dicks quite a lot of the time, are capable of flinging a robot through the voids of space, then have them land and send back fantastic pictures.
When I saw these on the internet I thought it was also pretty cool that someone had gone to the effort of collecting them all together and putting them into such a nice collage. Except they missed one. In 2005 the Japanese also landed a probe on an asteroid called Itokawa, where they took some soil and fired it back to Earth. So for the sake of completeness, here is a photo from that. Go science.
I have been a bit slack recently and that is going to change. I write for my day job and recently I have been a bit burnt out and when I get home I mostly just want to play PS4 or watch Netflix. However, I realised recently that a lot of people are making money out of the Internet and I am not one of them. Which sucks. I have been writing purely for pleasure, like an idiot. I live in Thailand and the place is crawling with ‘digital nomads’ and I want to join the smug bastards. It is a shame that this site gets hundreds of unique visitors each day and 1000s of hits, yet doesn’t make anything. So I am going to be more professional about things and thus, there will be the great monetisation of Ward.
Don’t worry, it won’t be covered in ads and I will never resort to a ‘pop up’ or ‘pop under’ because they are annoying. I will mostly be trying out content related affiliate stuff, so it should be vaguely interesting and relevant.
Why should anyone besides me care? Well, it means I will be writing a lot more. I will spend more time providing awesome content on a huge variety of topics – which will mostly be about books, writing and science.
I will also be getting rid of Google Adsense as it is making me a pittance. Less than a pittance in fact, but there isn’t a word for that. If things start to work out, then I will write an update on what works best. Apparently it is all about ‘passive income’. Which sounds exactly like my kind of income. I guess ‘monetisation’ is an important word too, but for some reason I find it unpleasant.
P.S. If you are an advertiser feel free to get in touch. email@example.com. Let’s do business or whatever!
Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World is a new documentary from Werner Herzog. Apart from having an awesome voice, Herzog generally makes a pretty decent documentary. I remember seeing Cave of Forgotten Dreams in 3D and loving it.
I am a big fan of technology and the fact that it allows me to, for example, write this in Bangkok and have it read all over the world by bored people at work. Or that I can experience Star Wars VR using just my phone and a piece of cardboard. Or a thousand other things. It’s obviously not all great – if I was allowed to taser people walking slowly along looking at their mobile phones then there would be 100s of prostrate twitching idiots wherever I happened to be (just walk where you want to go and then text your stupid friends when you arrive). There are also moral and ethical dilemmas about what should be shared and issues such as the psychological effects on generation Zzz (or whatever the current bunch are) and kids of the future. I was watching Stranger Things last and was reminded how different life was in the 80s before the internet and mobile phones. I was born in 1972, so was the same age as those kids and spent a lot of time on bicycles outside with friends. The fact that I was watching in HD on a 42″ TV streaming on Netflix through my Playstation was not lost on me however.
Herzog is (allegedly) a bit crazy, but mix that in with the fact that he is also smart and inquisitive and it should mean that Lo and Behold will be an interesting and novel look at technology. If you want more info, you can check out the film’s Facebook page. The film comes out in a lot of places, including the internet obviously, on the 19th August. Here is the trailer:
I’m a big fan of Sherlock Holmes and love what they are doing with this new Sherlock version. Sure it’s a bit annoying that there are years between series and that there are only three episodes per series but they are usually superb and are movie length, so I shouldn’t grumble. Also, the stars are selfishly getting more famous every year so the way the series is structured is actually beneficial to their being able to fit it in. According to the internet, Cumberbatch finished filming ‘Doctor Strange’ just days before starting Sherlock series 4.
So the big excitement that has prompted me to write this, is that there is a new trailer. It doesn’t give much away about what will happen but it does show Toby Jones who is going to be a new villain. Sherlock tends to stick to Doyle’s stories, at least so far, and again according the internet Toby Jones updated his online CV and added a character called Culverton Smith. Which implies a story called ‘The Dying Detective’ is in the offing. I won’t ruin it with spoilers.
Not much else is known except vagueness. Moffat and Gatiss have hinted that this series of Sherlock will be much darker in tone with some heavy consequences for the characters. Which I think means someone major will die. They have also implied that there will hopefully be a series 5 and that everyone is on board in theory. Obviously series 5 will be so far in the future humanity may have collapsed, so I will be excited about that when the time comes.
There is no air date for Sherlock series 4 yet except for 2017. Traditionally, that means straight away – as in January 1st – but we shall see. Here’s the trailer:
Chris Hadfield’s version of Space Oddity has been viewed on Youtube over 32 million times. At least 10 of them were by me but that still leaves a lot. Bowie himself described it as the “moist poignant version ever made”. (Still miss Bowie, RIP, the world has really gotten a lot worse since he left, it can’t just be a coincidence.)
This clip is a ‘Behind the scenes’ video from ‘NOVA’s secret life of scientists and engineers‘ channel. In it Hadfield talks about the making of the Space Oddity video and reactions to it. I love everything about this: Hadfield, space exploration, the International Space Station, and David Bowie. These are a few of my very favourite things and all are a constant reminder that, just occasionally, humanity doesn’t suck.
Here you go:
As I always when writing about space exploration, my message to NASA: I am free, healthy, and ready to go into space. firstname.lastname@example.org.