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Musica Videos What the world needs more of

C-R-A-Z-Y

Never thought I would experience a k-pop-obsession revival in Serbia, but oh yes.

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adorable animals Adventuring Travel Videos

Why I’m not getting a parrot

Nine months ago, I set out to travel the world. The goal wasn’t to find myself, as the cliche goes, although I have done a good deal of that, incidentally. Believe it or not, the main motivating factor for my journey was a parrot. Not just any parrot, but the future parrot I would get when I returned to New York City. Growing up with birds most of the first 19 years of my life, then spending the next eight years without that source of happiness and loneliness prevention, I decided that I would travel so that I could get all the wanderlust out of my system, come home, and be stable and content with staying in one place. Only then could I be the kind of person who was fit to care for a parrot—perhaps I’d even raise one from an egg like I did with my last parrot so it would be more inclined to learn an expansive vocabulary.

But now, after much deliberation, I don’t think I should have a parrot. I think that we, the parrots of the world and me, should all be free to travel for the rest of our lives. We should never involve ourselves with anyone trying to cage us or control us, only with those who simply extend a hand to hold us from time to time.

As someone who cried through almost the entire duration of Pixar’s Rio, the decision to not adopt a parrot is not something I arrived at easily. Part of this change of heart came from tracking wild parrots around the world, as I have been doing in my spare time.

In Barcelona I found flocks of wild quaker parrots. I first found them in the trees near the marina while walking to get ice cream with the guy I was seeing. I heard their sunset feeding frenzy and followed the calls. He had the same reaction most people do when they find out about my parrot affinity: a mix of incredulity, amusement, and was probably a little weirded out or maybe charmed. As they were the same species as my beloved pet Kiwi, I could recognize their calls from a mile away. I followed them everywhere I could and let them guide our walk through the Gaudi park, hoping for the chance to observe their green-and-grey feathers and clownish ways in the wild.

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Not satisfied, I started to find reasons to run errands around sundown and would hurry over to the marina parrot zone. There I met the local bird lady who fed them loaves of bread and water. I told her in broken Spanish that yo amo los pajaros verdes, and she smiled and gave me some of her bread to feed them. Every day around sundown, she would go to these trees and toss the bread specifically to the parrots, shooing away the gluttonous and bullying pigeons in an act of eugenics I fully condoned.

IMAG0894In Paris, I followed a lead given to me by the famous giant squid hunter Steve O’Shea (who also happens to be a hobbyist birder), “around the Lac Daumesnil over near the Buddhist temple,” which I deduced to be the Kagyu-Dzong. It was the day of my flight out of Paris to Berlin and I’d been walking for an hour around the lake when I finally found the temple. I searched the sky for the Parisian parrots, but I didn’t hear or see anything. I asked a woman coming out of the temple if she’d seen them, and she looked at me like I was crazy and said she didn’t think there were parrots in this region. Then, just as I was about to give up, my eyes welling up with tears of disappointment at myself for not being the parrot tracker I thought I was, I caught a brilliant flash of green out of the corner of my eye! I imprinted its call and followed its trail, cutting through the trees until, behold: A dozen Indian Ringnecks, bright green with beautiful blue neck rings, sitting in a fruit tree gorging themselves. I’d brought them some stale baguette to feed them that they had absolutely no interest in, so I threw my offering on the ground and just watched them. A friendly young guy walked up behind me and began to flirt in broken English, but I had no interest in anything that would take my attention away from the parrots. When I’d reveled in observing their majestic ways for long enough, I hit the guy’s joint, thanked him, and triumphantly went along to catch my flight.

IMAG2036Almost every city I’ve visited, I’ve located the wild parrots. To my surprise, the first morning I woke up opened the door to the second story balcony of my current residence in Dubai, I was greeted by a tree full of parrots, laughing and squawking away.

While in the Netherlands, I happened to catch a tweet from fellow parrot enthusiast Rich Minnerich about a documentary called Parrot Confidential. I watched, and the decision I was already leaning toward from seeing these creatures so happy and free in the wild was solidified. Parrots are unwanted as pets. Owners purchased them for selfish reasons and couldn’t take care of them, so these poor, incredibly emotionally sensitive creatures wind up in terrible situations and wind up afflicted by psychological ailments just as humans are. Raised in environments so different from their natural habitats and without any members of their flocks, they live lives of confusion and frustration. As one person in the documentary says, “they don’t even know they’re birds.”

So, I will not participate in perpetuating the cycle of parrot humanizing, for to humanize them is to destroy them in this sense. What I will do is devote my time in the future to appreciating them in the wild, rehabilitating troubled parrots, and helping out with projects to protect their natural habitats and restore their wild populations. And I will learn to find my happiness in human form, or maybe get a cat or some stupider animal that is bread to be domestic.

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Entropy Musica Videos

We are in a state of flux

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Hell Yes Musica Videos

Latest addition to my live music bucket list

Amon Tobin DJs while projecting sick images onto a landscape of 3D boxes set up on stage, one of which he is inside. Um, what? Yes please.

Via Ira Cashewnutskaya

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Psychology Videos

The Century of Self

Instead of watching The Oscars last night, I watched a documentary about the father of the American propaganda machine and applied to some international reporting jobs. My friend Molly informed me there were a lot of guys resembling Thor who won awards, so I almost regretted this decision, but the documentary alone was worth it. It explains how Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, invented most of the advertising tactics that penetrate our poor helpless craniums via the media today: product placement, associating products with feelings, even the acceptance of Freudian theory itself. I always thought Freud’s theories seemed too stupid and self-involved to have been accepted by academics, and it turns out I wasn’t wrong. But I guess it at least got people thinking about psychology. The fact that they made it to the beginning of our Psych 101 texts though is indicative of the kind of leverage Bernays had in the world.

Enjoy.

H/t Sheida Jafari for recommending this!

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Fierce broads Hell Yes Musica Videos

New Fave

Sometimes I get obsessed with songs/videos and listen to/watch them on repeat. This is the latest. I love everything about this.

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LOL Nerdy Videos

Happy Pi Day!

In honor of Pi (AKA 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288…) Day, I had to visit my old friend Frank the Science Punk‘s site and dig up this video. It is pretty much the most epic video about Pi ever made, ever.

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haiti Videos

If an earthquake occurs in a poverty-stricken country and no Americans are around to witness it…

…they can still see it on instant replay and feel like they’re there. Way to go, technology.

(Update: 1/23/10 — The original video was taken down for violating terms of use but I found another one and posted that)

My mom just sent me this video… it only has 345 views so it must not have circulated much yet, but this totally floored me. Watching this you can really get an idea of the force that inflicted the damage. This is one of the results of that force:

A densely-populated area in Port-au-Prince.

These housing systems are where many poverty-stricken Haitians live. Because Haiti is extremely mountainous, those who lack transportation (I recently read that only 1 in 200 haitians has a car) live in these close-knit valley-side structures to facilitate getting the resources they need to sustain themselves in everyday life. Lots of people did not even get the bare necessities before. What will they do now?

This is my first blog entry on the Haiti Earthquake. I’ve been following it around the clock since I first got news of it on Tuesday evening. I have a lot of thoughts that I want to verbalize and plenty of them are backlogged in my brain. I know that if I try to start from the beginning it’s going to mess up my flow, so I’m just going to go from here and step back to reflect when I can.

For some background, my father and sister are in Haiti right now. They live in Petionville, right near the epicenter of the first 7.3 quake. They’re OK for now, and I really hope they stay that way.

I was in Haiti in June of 2009 visiting my family for about half a month. There are many things about that country that are difficult to understand without having been there. I’ll do my best to share my perspective.

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Photo from Flickr by Matthew Marek, American Red Cross.

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Nerdy Scientists Videos

Autotune the Cosmos

I was delighted to find this video posted on my facebook wall tonight:

Thanks, Marina!

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Musica Nerdy Videos

My top 5 favorite music videos involving robots

I like music. I really like robots. It is ♥ when the two are combined. Here are my favorite occurrences of this combination.

#5) Janelle Monae – Many Moons

I saw Janelle perform at the Williamsburg Music Hall this January when she opened for Of Montreal and was amazed with her stage persona. She stays in character as an alien android the whole time she performs and keeps an aloof, almost emotionless expression on her face while she busts bizarre dance moves with robotic precision. Between that and her Snork hairstyle, I felt like I was in The Fifth Element after leaving that show.

#4) Orgy – Fiction (Dreams In Digital)

Robot in hot woman suit commanding a cyber army with a wave of her arm and a twirl of her skirt while being the eye candy of the band I totally crushed on in high school? Yes please.

#3) Rokysopp + Robyn – The Girl and the Robot

I love the rendering of the robot and the general cinematography here, but there is a major problem with the concept: Robyn is waiting around by her lonesome in a party dress while her man bot is off… GARDENING??!! I don’t care what it was programmed for — if I was going to buy a robo hunk, he would have to be well-equipped to serve my needs; waiting around is not my style. But if I did fall for a robot and learned he was watering plants instead of keeping me company, it would be off to the impound lot for him.

Amanda Palmer seems to be on the same page of me, and that’s why the #2 slot goes to the Dresden Dolls:

#2) The Dresden Dolls – Coin Operated Boy

OK… I guess the chase is half the fun. But the prospect is rather tempting.

And for my number one favorite robot video of all time………

#1) Bjork – All Is Full Of Love

The most amazing sci-fi artistry, in my opinion, is constructed such that the brain can’t distinguish CGI from something that could be real and tangible. Aside from the concept of the assembling bots, which is amazing, the way the designers flawlessly mapped Bjork’s facial features onto her robot counterpart is a huge technological win. In college I spent a good deal of time watching a 3-D modeler work and, trust me, it is extremely complicated and time-consuming. But aside from that….. the concept of this video is sensual robot sex. Screw DARPA and military advancement, I want to see the nation’s top labs working to achieve this technological feat.