Filtered for elephants and apocalypse

10.29, Wednesday 24 Dec 2014


This elephant can speak Korean. It puts its trunk in its mouth to make the sounds.


  • hello
  • no
  • sit down
  • good
  • apparently one or two other words but these are not disclosed by the article

The elephant’s name is Koshik.

See also: Cat barking like a dog and getting caught.

See also: Fictional speculation that the English word “hawk” is from crow-language.

See also: The Author of the Acacia Seeds.


How Frozen took over the world, in the New Yorker.

(Yes, I just cancelled my subscriptions to the London Review of Books and the Economist, and started one to the New Yorker.)

What an awesome movie. I saw it for the first time last night.

The first act is perfection. Zero narrative slack. Wall-E is the only other animated picture that does that so well.

Then the lack of villains… the sisters… I totally understand why this movie is so popular.

Plus, girls. Aren’t most of Pixar’s movies most appealing for boys-and-dads?


Here’s one of my favourite stories.

An aquarium in Fushun, China, has dolphins. In 2006, two dolphins swallowed some plastic and the vets couldn’t get it out.

But they realised that China being China - a billion plus humans - they also had the world’s tallest man. And the world’s tallest man has the world’s longest arms. And the world’s longest arms could reach down the dolphins’ throats and pull the plastic out.

So they called him up - Bao Xishun, Mongolian herdsman, world’s tallest man - and he came along and saved the dolphins.

One of his arms is 1.06m long.


Engineer Joshua Pearce explains how to feed 7 billion people after a global catastrophe.

All the trees would be dead, for lack of light. And so we would need to significantly ramp up our rate of cutting trees down. Plus, temperatures would drop. We looked at a 10-degree and a 20-degree scenario. In the 20-degree scenario, you start having things like say, all of the wood in Canada freezes. That type of problem. Even if we want to do things like chop the wood down and get fields of mushrooms and that kind of thing, frozen wood is much more difficult to deal with. … We’re probably the first to ever calculate how many chain saws there are in the world and what their duty cycles were and how fast we can manufacture them in order to make sure that we had enough cutting power.

Didn’t see any of that in Frozen.


I just finished reading The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu (translated by Ken Liu). Intriguing because there’s an explicit parallel to the Cultural Revolution that runs through the whole book, and it’s a challenging idea (this is the first of a trilogy which is currently bonkers popular in China). Also there are some hard sci-fi ideas in the back third of the book that I’ve never seen anywhere else. No spoilers, but:

an important mark of a civilization’s technological advancement is its ability to control and make use of micro dimensions. Making use of fundamental particles without taking advantage of the micro dimensions is something that our naked, hairy ancestors already began when they lit bonfires within caves. … From the perspective of a more advanced civilization in the universe, bonfires and computers and nanomaterials are not fundamental different.

There are some narrative quirks that I’m not sure I like or not… odd shifts in point of view, and flourishes that remind of mid-century American sci-fi. Unimportant in the scheme of things. Solid read, give it a go.

Merry Christmas if that’s a thing you celebrate! I do, it’s going to be a cracker.

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