Category Archives: Amazing

Seriously cool robot

These two robots, developed by Boston Dynamics, are Youtooobing:

I can imagine this one (called the Sand Flea) being used by the military and police for sending in cameras and other spy equipment in an urban landscape. The Big Dog (below) is something I really could use when I am gardening – a container on its back, and a voice interface so I could tell it to go empty itself in the compost bin when it is full of garden refuse.

QI shooting for comprehensible incomprehensibility

To me, this just might be the best episode of QI ever (and that says quite a lot, doesn’t it?)

Incidentally, should you miss it, here is the second part:

Now, if someone could just syndicate this show to just about every TV channel on earth, the world would be a much more agreeable place. Smarter, more erudite, and less superstitious. In short, A Good Thing.

Please make it so.

Tim Minchin’s Stormy dinner conversation

This video by the rather hard-to-control Tim Minchin is so brilliant that I just have to have it grace my unworthy and insignificant corner of the blogosphere:

And now I know where to point people who tells me I don’t know everything…

(via Gunnar’s excellent Norwegian blog). And here is a live, text-based version.

Jay Leno remakes Rendezvous

One of the most famous car movies ever made was Claude Lelouche’s C’était un rendezvous, which is a single take, 9 minutes long, of an incredibly fast drive through the streets of Paris. The film was not speeded up, and the only safety concession was a lookout near the Louvre for a particularly sharp turn into traffic. The car used was a Mercedes 450SEL 6.9 (erhm, not unlike mine…) but the sound of a Ferrari was overlaid later. Here is the result:

Now Jay Leno, car collector and talk show host, has made a version of this for LA, doing a lap around Mulholland Drive and Beverly Hills in a Mercedes SLS AMG. Though not as exciting as the original (given that the driver is identified, it would have landed him in jail), it nevertheless induces some of that sinking stomach feeling from going really fast around a bend with a good car. (Note that the speedometer is never shown.) Enjoy:

(Yes, it is kind of childish, I know. But fun.)

Manic depressiveness as illness and lifestyle

Youtube turns out, no particular surprise, to be a fount of interesting info- and entertainment. After watching Stephen Fry about Gutenberg’s press, I came across a documentary he had done for BBC on bipolar disorder, also called manic depression. I found it very interesting because it lays out a good description of the illness and the consequences it has for patients and their families, all in a quiet and informative way that never becomes sensationalistic or titillating. It does become personal, though: You can see on Stephen Fry’s face in episode two, when he is informed of the severity of his own condition, that this is a hard message to get.

Mental illnesses are gradually becoming less of a taboo in society, and more and more we understand the underlying causes, though treatments to a large extent are experimental, treating symptoms rather than causes. This documentary, in an excellent fashion, shows the link between personality and illness – a surprising number of people with bipolar disorder like the manic phases, when creativity is flowing and inhibitions are lower. The illness is part of their personality as well, and potentially losing that is difficult choice to make.

Highly recommended. (The videos below may change, occasionally BBC kicks it off the ‘tube, then it appears again….)