Animal Olympians: Gymnastics

The desert sands of Namibia are home to a remarkable miniature acrobat. The Golden wheel spider turns on a performance that rivals the tumbling floor routine of any gymnast.

Colonialism: The Scramble For Africa

An excerpt from the film Uganda Rising showing in a (very!) brief overview the utter decimation of Africa that took place via colonialism and the so-called "Scramble For Africa."

Despite the film's focus on Uganda, I think this excerpt sheds light on just how much of the violence that we see today actually has a colonial/European precedent rooted in exploitation and racism.

It's also an instructive lead in, I think, to Darfur in 10 Minutes: An Overview of the Conflict in Sudan.

Uganda Rising was produced by Alison Lawton.

It was directed by Jesse James Miller and Pete McCormack (me). Jesse also edited the film, and I wrote it.

For more about the film, visit

Transformer Owl Original: Amazing Video!!

From Wikipedia:
"The Southern White-faced Owl (Ptilopsis granti) is a fairly small owl in the family Strigidae. It is native to the southern half of Africa. It was formerly regarded as a subspecies of the Northern White-faced Owl (P. leucopsis) but the two are now commonly treated as separate species.

"It is 22-28 centimetres long and weighs 185-220 grams. The upperparts are grey with dark streaks and there are white spots on the scapular feathers. The underparts are whitish with dark streaks. The face is white with a black border and black around the large orange eyes. The head has two short "ear" tufts with black tips. Juvenile birds have a greyish face. The Northern White-faced Owl is usually paler and browner with reduced streaking below.

"The call is a series of fast, bubbling hoots. It is uttered at night and frequently repeated. The Northern White-faced Owl has a very different two-note call.

"Its range extends from Gabon eastwards to southern Kenya and southwards to Namibia and northern South Africa. It inhabits savanna and dry woodland. It is usually seen alone or in pairs. It hunts for large invertebrates and some small mammals, birds and reptiles are also taken.

"The eggs are usually laid in the old nest of another bird. The clutch contains two or three eggs which are incubated for about 30 days. The young birds leave the nest about a month after hatching.

"The owl has the unique ability to modify its appearance in times of danger or threat. It may enlarge its body to ward off other owls, or it may make itself appear shrivelled to camouflage itself as a tree trunk or branch.

"This owl came to popular attention when it was featured in a Japanese video titled 'Transformer Owl.' The owl in that video was named Popo-chan and came from South Africa."

Cute Baby Cheetah Kitten Mewing

So I was on Safari (photographic) in August of 2010 in Namibia Africa. I was staying with some people who had a huge mansion and roughly 44,000 acres of free land around them. Friends of them had found this with its mother, who had sadly been hit by a car. The people I had stayed with took this Cheetah in and cared for it, and this is how I came to have a video of it. Please feel free to comment if you have questions, and I will do my best to answer them.
Also, this baby cheetah was only tied up during night hours, and before it was fed. It was walked regularly, and taken care of properly. This video was taken right before it was about to be fed, that's why its both tied up and making those adorable squeaks. Enjoy :)

What an Astronaut's Camera Sees

An intimate tour... in 1080p... of Earth's most impressive landscapes... as captured by astronauts with their digital cameras. Dr. Justin Wilkinson from NASA's astronaut team describes the special places that spacemen focus on whenever they get a moment.

We start with the coast of Namibia in southwestern Africa, the very dry desert coast of the Namib Desert. You can see a cloud band butting up against the shore and some straight sand dunes in the lower left of the picture. Yeah those are big red sand dunes that the astronauts say is one of the most beautiful sites that you can get when you're flying.

Coming into the view on the left is an impact crater right in the middle of the picture, right about now and some wind streaks. We know where this area is because it's a bit unique. We've got a major dune field coming into the picture on the left there: the Oriental Sand Sea, as it's called in French, and on the top is the Isawan Sand Sea.

This is the island of Sicily with cloud over Mt. Etna, so you can't quite tell there's a big volcano in the middle of the picture right now. And there's the toe of the boot of Italy coming into the picture from the left. See a good example of sun glint on the right with the sea reflecting the sun.

This is the smooth east coast of the Kamchatka peninsula again. As you move inland it gets even more striking as a picture because of all the volcanoes on this peninsula and the snowy mountains. There's a volcano just coming into the picture from the top left there. You can see a knob-shaped feature.

Here is a smaller finger of land in China sticking into the Pacific Ocean. In winter you can see all the snow lower left. This is called the Qindoa P eninsula and we recognize it. And again, the sun glint point moving along the coast upper center.

In a very clear picture, the Zagros mountains with snow on them in Iran, in the country of Iran.

Here we have the north coast of Australia and the gulf of Carpenteria and some islands. The biggest island at the bottom of the screen there is Groote island, which means the big island in Dutch.

When you see a huge powerful feature like this and the astronauts do shoot them a lot and we have had some detailed views looking right down the eye, looking at the eyewall. In fact I seem to remember views of breaking waves on the sea surface at the bottom of the eye. Amazing detail.

Look at this neat picture of Great Salt Lake in Utah. And the variation in color? That's due to an almost a complete blockage of the circulation of the lake by a trestle for a railroad that crosses from one side to the other. It stops the circulation and things get a little bit saltier and certainly saltier at the north end of the lake.

Here you see two circles coming in to the top of the view now. These are either volcanoes or effects from inside the earth producing circular features. We think this is the Big Bend area of Texas.

This is an interesting sideways view of the peninsula of Florida, with the Keys stretching out into the lowest part of the picture there. And the shallow seas around the Bahama Islands top right. And Cuba coming into the picture lower right.

And this I believe is the coast of Northern Chile in South America. It's a very straight coast, except for that strange headland out to the right just disappearing. And so the desert is the first part of the inland zone, and then you see much blacker at the top of the picture the Andes Mountains with some many dozens of volcanoes.

Here is a thunderhead. The typical look of the thunderheads, the big rainstorms, that develop over the Amazon Basin. And another one coming in top right. Here's an obviously a major river. There's an even bigger one coming in on the right. That looks to me like it could well be the Amazon River, with one of its big tributaries on the left. And the flow would seem to be from the bottom of the picture to the top.

Earth As You've Never Seen It... in 1080p

Catch these stunning images in 1080p! Since the space age began over five decades ago, we have endeavored to travel beyond Earth to discover its origins, and test our own mettle in hostile alien realms.

To see what other planets are made of, and to see to the far corners of the cosmos. Satellites in space have given us ring-side seats in the explosive death of stars, in the formation of stars and planets, in the collision of giant galaxies.

And yet some of the most striking views have come when we turned around and looked back at Earth. To see how breathtaking our planet can be, simply select a location. Okay, Australia.

To the west, Shoemaker crater is the oldest known impact site. It was formed about 1.7 billion years ago... and is today dotted with colorful salt encrusted lakes. An early explorer followed a series of streams to a large lake in Western Australia. It too was laced with salt, so he named it Lake Disappointment.

Now,two views of Russia. Winter in Kamchatka. A volcanic terrain is hidden under snow-covered peaks, while glaciers feed ice into the deep blue Pacific. Here's a cubist collage in Kazakhstan. Windbreaks of densely planted trees border farmlands in winter.

Now over to China. A remarkable alluvial fan blossoms across a desolate landscape on the border of the Taklamakan Desert. Nestled at the foot of China's Bogda mountains, is a strange mix of salt lakes and sand dunes, all set below sea level. Snowy ridges and peaks shepherd the confluence of China's major rivers.

Bordering Asia to the west, you'll find the Middle East. Down on the largely uninhabited Great Salt Desert of Iran, is natural canvas painted on which nature has painted shallow lakes, mudflats, salt marshes, and sinuous valleys. And here are the wadis of Jordan, dry meandering streambeds that may fill with the onset of drenching seasonal rains.

Now down to the continent of Africa. In the country of Namibia, the Brandberg Massif is an intrusion of granite, graced with unique flora and fauna and pre historic cave paintings. Namibia's Ugab River only flows above ground for a few days each year. But its waters bubble up into hollows that sustain wildlife. Coursing through parched, landlocked Mali in Western Africa, the Niger River skirts the edges of the dune-striped Sahara Desert. In Libya, a mountainous outcropping rises 6000 feet above the barren plain. Rivers of sand race around it.

Now South America from the warm Caribbean Sea almost to Antarctica. The Negro River in Brazil is one of the Amazon River's largest tributaries. Along the border of Chile and Argentina is a scattering of about 1,800 volcanoes, 28 of which are active today.

Now we travel north, to Mexico. Snow-capped Colima, the most active volcano in Mexico, in the state of Jalisco. Legend has it that gods sit atop the volcano on thrones of fire and ice. In Sonora, hundreds of volcanic vents and cinder cones were formed when rising magma met underground water to create pockets of steam that blew circular holes in the overlying crust. Here, in southern Campeche on the Yucatan Peninsula is the immense Terminos Lagoon.

Go North again to the Gulf of Mexico and the turbid waters of the Mississippi Delta. Marshes and mudflats take hold amid the shipping channels. Now, at the confluence of Alaska Yukon and the frigid Bering Sea, an intricate maze of lakes and waterways form a rich and priceless natural habitat.

There is stunning beauty too in the landscapes of Europe. On the southwestern coast of the Netherlands, an elaborate system of dikes, canals, dams, bridges, and locks was designed to hold back the North Sea. Cold ocean waters reach into the mountainous coastline of northern Norway, defining ice-sculpted fjords that can be hundreds of meters deep. The Provence region of France dips into a network of finely sculpted bays and peninsulas on the Mediterranean Sea.

Now, finally, our favorite in this series. Wind sweeping across Alaska's Aleutian Islands has created a natural masterwork... on a planet that is forever sculpting and adorning its surface.

Animaniacs: Yakko's World

Yakko Warner, of the Animaniacs, sings all the nations of the world (at the time anyway).

Yakko's voice provided by Rob Paulsen.