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Archive for the ‘Awesome of the week’ Category

NOC THE BELUGA WHALE sounded exactly like a human. A human who has swallowed a kazoo and is completely drunk-off-his-ass wasted:

I can’t listen to this without visualising a man staggering home from the pub banging into streetlights and singing, his hat held out in one hand saluting an invisible audience as he tap-dances and jigs his way down the footpath. Listen to it again and imagine with me.

NOC level drunk

NOC level smammered

Captured by Inuit hunters in 1977, NOC lived in captivity until passing into drunk Beluga afterlife in 1999. Beluga whales have often been noted for their mimicry, but Noc’s vocalisations were particularly human. According to Sam Ridgway, from the National Martine Mammal Foundation, “They were definitely unlike usual sounds for a [beluga], and similar to human voices in rhythm and acoustic spectrum.”

I imagine there are a lot of false alarms, where handlers think that their whales/dolphins/whatever are using human speech:

“Eeewaeeepeeneep totally said her own name the other day. We were all shocked. I turned to my colleague and I was like ‘Did she just say Eewaeepeenoop or Eewaeepeeneep?’ He said it was Eewaeepeeneep FOR SURE.”

But NOC was the real deal.

Now watch this beluga whale dancing to a mariachi band:

But most of all, this:

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WE ARE ALIVE. So are these dancing army figures:

We dodged a bullet and the world didn’t end. I’m planning to live as if it’s ending this year, just in case, but for now – we live!

33393281What is it to be alive? I looked it up.

Life is “the condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organisms, being manifested by growth through metabolism, reproduction, and the power of adaptation to environment through changes originating internally.”

To live is “to have life, as an organism; be alive; be capable of vital functions”.

Living means “having life; being alive; not dead”.

No wonder we’re confused about what life means.

But hooray for us!

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I AM IN AUSTRALIA. And it is awesome.

I said that I had one last plan. It was to come back home before the world ends.

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Disembarking from the plane, I mounted my trusty boomer and rode down the dusty track toward home

I came in secret, like a thief in the night, hoping to surprise my family. It was a comedy of errors. My mother and sister are in Hawaii: surprise ON ME. I tried to surprise my Dad, but jetlag defeated me and he surprised me on the couch. I did manage to surprise my brother though, and my best friend. I had to see them all before the end (I’m seeing my mother and sister in Hawaii on the 21st, the Last Day of Earthly Things). I also had to meet my best friend’s baby. Most of all I had to come back to where I was from.

“Ah, the Australian lynx” – said no naturalist ever

It’s strange to be back in a place where memories are all around. The walk home was like time travelling. There’s the road I would bike up and down, pretending to be chased by dinosaurs. Those are the gates from which the Dobermans would bark at me. There’s the empty block where I caught a rabbit. That’s the gully I used to explore, running through the pipe beneath the road to the beach. In another empty block I would search for possum nests. There’s the field where I thought I saw a lynx. At my primary school, we thought we could see a cat’s eyes in the space beneath the classroom, and I decided it was the lynx, so I spent days digging a hole to get under there, hiding from the teachers, until it was big enough for us to crawl through. The eyes were a trick of the light.

Melbourne is a beautiful city, the most beautiful modern city that I’ve seen outside of Europe.

I am very sunburnt. I make red look orange. Moths are attracted to me.

I can’t wait to see my mother and sister on the Last Day.

I’m happy.

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dog-driver2THIS DOG CAN DRIVE A STICK. And I can’t. You win, Monty the giant schnauzer cross.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Auckland, New Zealand, is teaching three dogs to drive a car in order to demonstrate how intelligent the animals are. The aim is to encourage people to adopt rescued dogs. From the SPCA’s Driving Dogs Facebook page:

Every year, the SPCA need to find homes for thousands of dogs just like Porter, Ginny, and Monty — dogs who have been abused, abandoned, or just forgotten. They may be a mixed up motley bunch, but they’re all smart and they’re all lovable. So please don’t forget about them. Adopt them.

This opens up so many opportunities for New Zealand jokes – but I’m going to let them go. Because honestly:

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Here’s the video:

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Unicorn poop: tastes like delicious

IN THESE OUR LAST DAYS before the end of the world, there is still reason to be joyful. One of these reasons is unicorns. They pee lemonade and poop rainbows. First mentioned by the Ancient Greeks, unicorns supposedly lived in India, but apparently made it as far as North Korea, because a few days ago the Korean Central News Agency put this on their website:

Pyongyang, November 29 (KCNA) — Archaeologists of the History Institute of the DPRK Academy of Social Sciences have recently reconfirmed a lair of the unicorn rode by King Tongmyong, founder of the Koguryo Kingdom (B.C. 277-A.D. 668).

The lair is located 200 meters from the Yongmyong Temple in Moran Hill in Pyongyang City. A rectangular rock carved with words “Unicorn Lair” stands in front of the lair. The carved words are believed to date back to the period of Koryo Kingdom (918-1392).

Which is awesome. I assume that the lair was discovered when North Korean archeologists followed a trail of rainbow poop to a cave somewhere. “Unicorn Lair” had presumably been inscribed over the entrance by the unicorn himself using his horn.

It might all be a case of poor translation, however. According to blog io9, who first made fun of the Korean Central News Agency, then were set straight by a PhD student at Columbia University, what was really going on was this:

SexyUnicornGuyNorth Korea actually announced this discovery in 2011, but only recently released the announcement in English. The English release poorly translated the name of a historical location, Kiringul, as “Unicorn Lair,” a very evocative name for Westerners. But in Korean history, the name Kiringul . . . is one of the sites associated with King Tongmyŏng, the founder of Koguryŏ, an ancient Korean kingdom. The thrust of the North Korean government’s announcement is that it claims to have discovered Kiringul, and thus to have proven that Pyongyang is the modern site of the ancient capital of Koguryŏ.

I hate it when people spoil the fun. So here is this authentic North Korean news program:

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HAVE YOU EVER IRONED A SHIRT while bungee jumping off a bridge? What about while parachuting? Snowboarding? Right now you’re asking: “Why the hell would I have?” Because extreme ironing is a sport, goddamn it, a real sport . . . Or a “performance art” . . . or something. No one is sure. But it actually exists.

The sport/art/thing was invented in England by Phil “Steam” Shaw in 1997. It combines the thrill of well-pressed clothing with the thrill of extreme outdoor activities, such as rock-climbing or diving. How do you iron underwater? Not very well, I assume. In the beginning, extreme ironers used long extension cords to power their irons, but now the Extreme Ironing Bureau recommends Starch and Hotplate battery powered irons.

Ironing is already kind of extreme for me. So hats off to these people for taking it to the next level.

There is a breakaway, rival group, called Urban Housework, centred around vacuum cleaning. They can vacuum my room if they like. It’s more extreme than you’d think.

Extreme ironing has also inspired the invention of extreme cello playing.

More examples:

“I’ll iron this shirt if it’s the last thing I dooooooooooo . . . “

Now you’re just getting cocky.

“I was so sure this would work.”

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IMAGINE THAT THE EARTH WAS A GLASS TANK on a gigantic table, the ant-farm of some bored god. It rains when he waters us and shakes when he knocks the glass. The wind is from a hatch in the top, which he opens to reach in from time to time. This would actually weird me out less than the truth.

The Earth is a ball of rock and metal hurtling through cold space. But somehow we’re on it. It’s spinning at 1,674 km/h while we sit at our desks, lie in bed, or walk down the corridor to do our laundry. At the same time, it’s sailing around a giant, burning ball of plasma over thirteen billion years old. Our galaxy contains another 200 – 400 billion stars, many of which also have planets. There are probably over 170 billion galaxies in the observable universe, which is 93 billion light years in diameter. Billion of stars. Billions of galaxies. Billions of everything. Billions of anything does my head in.

I have to admit that it doesn’t take much to weird me out. For example, I think it’s weird that breasts produce milk. Milk is something I associate with cardboard cartons that come from a supermarket. As far as I’m concerned, you might as well be shooting orange juice from your tatas. In fact, it’s amazing that humans can make babies at all. We are people factories. Breasts are like a built-in cafeteria. ADD to that the fact that we are people factories on a sphere of rock flying through nothing. Mind = blown.

If you told this idea to Glass Tank Me, I would think it was ridiculous. I’d imagine myself running backwards in a comic fashion to maintain balance on a spinning blue and green ball made of rocks and trees.Look at it. Instead of rolling along the ground, that ball is hovering in the air, held up by nothing. Except that it isn’t hovering – it’s hurtling at 107,000 km/h in a huge circle. There I am, my hair blown back and my cheeks wobbling. I’m peeing myself because I hate scary rides. I’m flying around and around a giant sphere of fucking FIRE which somehow reaches out invisible fingers of gravity, like the spokes of some enormous carnival ride, to maintain my mad careen. At the same time, the whole system itself – the orbits of both balls – is swooping around in a much larger circle at 970,000 km/h. My shirt buttons are popping off and my arms are flying out behind me like strings of spaghetti as I spin. Around a HOLE, a black HOLE of NOTHING. FOR NO REASON. WHY? WHY IS IT HAPPENING? I DON’T KNOW.

It is AMAZING.

Earth, you’re awesome.

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