In this weekly column, filmmaker Danish Aslam will be your purveyor of the finest quality random facts, useless trivia and other esoterica from the world wide web. He lives mostly behind a keyboard and may or may not be a wizened old green man who speaks in grammatically incorrect aphorisms. You can find more on his home page http://pictually.me/dontpanic
Falling From The Edge Of Space
Just minutes before I sat down to write this week's blog, a man named Felix Baumgartner fell from space. Literally. I was one of over 8 million people around the world glued to the live webcast as this Austrian skydiver & BASE jumper shattered the record for the highest sky-dive in the history of humanity - 39 kilometres! In the process, while free falling for 4:22 minutes, he also happened to break the sound barrier and become the first human to do so without vehicular power. As of writing this, the official video for the jump hasn't been posted, but this beautifully animated version should give you a good idea of what happened. It's a rare visual that gives me goose bumps, but watching this speck of a man standing on the edge of space with our tiny planet laid out underneath, was a memory that I'm not easily going to forget. Well done Felix.
PS: Here's the jump in not-very-high-res. Hopefully, by the time you read this, a simple Google search should bring you some joy.
Since we are on the topic, flight has always been a pet fascination for humanity. And most of the times, the subject of said fascination are the winged creatures that have been doing this whole flying thing since the dawn of time. But now filmmaker John Downer has brought us closer to understanding the whole experience of flight vis-a-vis birds thanks to tiny HD cameras that he mounts on them. The images that he captures form the backbone of a BBC series called Earthflight that took five years to create. When I say that the footage is nothing short of breathtaking, I may be penning one of the biggest understatements in recent memory. The show has six segments, each covering a different continent + a behind-the-scenes. Suddenly the phrase "birds eye view" has a whole new meaning.
Argo - A True Story
Some stories are just too strange to be true. And the fact that they are true is the only thing that makes their fictionalisation plausible. Ben Affleck's latest, Argo is such a story. Revolving around an offbeat CIA plan to rescue six Americans trapped in Tehran after the US Embassy was stormed, by having them pretend to be a bunch of clueless American filmmakers scouting locations for a movie, the film’s getting rave reviews. And until we get around to seeing it, there's this excerpt from Antonio Mendez and Matt Baglio’s book to tide us over. An interesting read.
Six TV Shows That Shouldn't Have Been
And then there are some stories that should have stayed strange. And untold. Like these six TV shows that various people in what can only be assumed are positions of creative power, commissioned over the years. At moments like this, I don't even have the energy to display my usual indignation at that battered-to-death phrase "the idiot box". The list includes a show about a talking orangutan that becomes a political advisor, a sitcom where all the characters were dogs, as played by actors in cheap-looking dog costumes and a cop show about Peter Boyle's soul trapped inside his dog. Apparently, animals and out-of-the-box TV pitches aren't a good combination.
The Ten Coolest Trains In The World
I'm an airport junkie. But a good train ride can be an experience unparalleled by any other mode of transportation with its uniquely immersive and simultaneously speedy nature. Which is only made better if the train you're travelling in happens to be one of these ten, collected in a list of the coolest trains in the world by Flavorwire. Well, maybe not the Japanese cat train. There is such a thing as too much cuteness.
Hangovers - The Hows, Whys & What Nexts
In the words of an anonymous person on the world wide web: “a hangover is when you open your eyes in the morning and wish you hadn't.” Truer words were never spoken. But many a time, once the fog has cleared, I've often ruminated on the whys and the wherefores of it all. What demonic combination of factors could possibly cause the humble grape (or other natural resource of choice) to have such devastating effects on the mighty human body? Fortunately, the good folks over at ASAP Science decided to help out with an extremely simple visual explanation that should be digestible by even the most ale-soaked brain. Apparently it's got something to do with enzymes.
PS: Remember to check out the sequel: The Scientific Hangover Cure. Now we're talking!
Facebook Is A Chair. And A Toilet.
So Facebook's not doing too well. Apparently being a genius coder doesn't necessarily translate into stock market wizardry as well. But the PR machinery rolls on and Mr. Zuckerberg recently decided that it was time for Facebook to release its first ad. Honestly, I didn't mind the visuals but when you compare your product to a chair, you're not just opening the door for the funny people, you're inviting them in and settling them into a comfy armchair with a nice glass of wine before the carnage begins. And begun it has. Andrew Zenn's the first one in the door with this fairly NSFW parody and toilet humour (ooooh!) aside, it's quite funny. If you don't think so, don't say I didn't warn you.
Google Earth Private Detective Agency
And finally, I'll leave you with a fascinating longread put up by Vanity Fair about how an Australian man named Saroo Brierly discovered his birth home in Khandwa and his past life as Saroo Munshi Khan using Google Earth and the hazy memories of a five-year old. And if you're one those people that prefer easily digestible five minute videos to reading (a.k.a. Disciples of the Holy Order of the Idiot Box), here's a video from Mashable that should suffice.
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