Dark ’70s animation of Japanese fairy tale on tsunamis and death: “The Guiding Jizo”

Matt Alt points ot to a beautiful clip from the 1970s animated show Manga Nippon Mukashibanashi (Animated Japanese Fairy Tales). The legend upon which this particular clip is based is hundreds of years old. Matt writes:

In it, a young mother and child from the island of Kessenuma Oshima happen across a statue called the michibiki jizo — the guiding bodhisattva. According to local legend, the soul of a person that is about to die appears before this particular jizo the day before they pass away. The mother and child are shocked to see a whole parade of spirits appear before the statue — male and female, old and young. 

When they return home, the father laughs it off as a figment of their imaginations. But the very next day, when the family is fishing at the seashore, the tide pulls out and doesn't come back in. Minutes later, a massive tsunami wipes out the entire town as the mother, son, and father watch escape to a hilltop. They are the only survivors. 

Given the fact that Kessenuma is in the headlines today for the very same reason, there is no doubt that this "fairy tale" is based on a true story. It's particularly haunting in light of the ancient stone markers that dot the Japanese coastline warning of tsunami from times of old, a literal message to future generations from ancestors long since shuffled off this mortal coil.

[Video Link, 10:42] and Matt Alt’s blog.

Alex Metric & Steve Angello: “Open Your Eyes,” feat. Ian Brown (dir: Peter Serafinowicz)

[Video Link / YouTube Link]

You may know Peter Serafinowicz as an actor and funny dude. He is also a fine director, as this music video (in which he also stars) proves. The song is ‘Open Your Eyes’ by Alex Metric & Steve Angello, featuring Ian Brown, and will be released on iTunes on May 8th.

Farewell, LCD Soundsystem: an interview with James Murphy (video)

[Video Link] Ari Kuschnir of m ss ng p eces points us to this 2006 interview with James Murphy; a small antidote to the pangs of withdrawal fans are going through this week. After 10 years and three Grammy nominations, LCD Soundsystem played its final show this past weekend.

About the video, Ari says: “It was a 30 minute interview which we’ve cut into 9 minutes for your viewing pleasure. Murphy shares his thoughts on musical discovery, the future of taste, artistic value in the face of technology and what he did with our plot device, something.”

Human remix: Amazing transgender performer on “Thailand’s Got Talent” (video)

Video Link. A version with English subtitles is here.

Above, Bell Nuntita, or in Thai, Nuntrita Khampriranon, on the “Thailand’s Got Talent” TV show.

I will refrain from including any spoilers in this blog post, but just stay with it. The performance is clever and beautiful. Thailand is a country with many problems, but it’s pretty awesome that a moment like this can happen in popular culture there, with applause and acceptance.

Make sure you see her message to her father, the last 45 seconds or so of the video clip. And you just *try* not to cry while you’re watching that.

(Via Andrea James)

Conflicting reports over impact of Chernobyl: Miles O’Brien on PBS NewsHour


This is something that I really want to look into over the next few months. I’ve been told by many sources, and read in several places, that the actual human toll from the Chernobyl accident was relatively small, compared to what we imagine. For instance, in a report for PBS on Tuesday, Miles O’Brien quoted the United Nations Chernobyl Forum as attributing only (“only”) 4000 deaths to the disaster. O’Brien says:

the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, issued a report contending: “There is no clearly demonstrated increase in the incidence of cancers or leukemia due to radiation in the exposed populations. Neither is there any proof of any non-malignant disorders that are related to ionizing radiation. However, there were widespread psychological reactions to the accident, which were due to fear of the radiation, not the actual radiation doses.”

That’s in line with what I’ve learned from multiple independent sources. But, it’s apparently not the whole story. Other sources that O’Brien spoke with for his PBS report—mainly doctors and scientists from the Ukraine—say that there is evidence of much more widespread Chernobyl-caused health problems in human populations.

I can’t promise I’ll have answers on this quickly. But it’s something that I’m going to look into. In particular, I’m really curious whether the different groups of people studying Chernobyl are coming up with wildly different data, or whether the data is similar but the conclusions are wildly different. Is one group relying too much on anecdote? Are the other group’s results based on research that didn’t go deep enough or last long enough? I’ve got no idea. But I’ll be interested to find out.

You can watch O’Brien’s full report from Chernobyl, and/or read the transcript, online. Fair warning, this is heart-wrenching stuff. Especially his interview with one of the Chernobyl liquidators—military and firefighting crews who were brought in to do hands-on cleanup of highly radioactive material.

Image: After visiting the Chernobyl site, Miles O’Brien is screened by a radiation detector. Photo taken by Catherine Buell. More images at PBS.

Robot bird takes flight

Festo, creators of robot penguins and a robotic elephant trunk, created the majestic robot bird in this video. From New Scientist:

SmartBird is modelled on the herring gull and can take off, fly and land while its flight is controlled remotely from the ground in real time.

To take off, the robotic bird flaps its wings with the help of an onboard motor. As the wings beat, the front edge also twists, enabling airflow along the wings to generate thrust. Once in flight, the tail acts as a rudder to steer the bird through the air. The technology could be used to design “stroke wing generators” – devices that produce energy from water.

Robot bird soars through the sky