Life: Creeper Plants Climb Trees

Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel’s Life series has been receiv­ing a lot of rave reviews for its stun­ning footage of plants and ani­mals.  This excerpt show­ing creep­er plants climb­ing trees lives up to the hype. Leave it to a lit­tle time-lapse video–not to men­tion a voice-over by Oprah Winfrey–to blur the line between plant and ani­mal.

UPDATE: A read­er in Europe informed me that this video is appar­ent­ly being blocked out­side of the US. It’s extreme­ly rare that this hap­pens with YouTube videos (I’ve only seen it hap­pen with full movies), but for some rea­son, it hap­pened here. My apolo­gies. [Dan]

Wes Alwan lives in Boston, Mass­a­chu­setts, where he works as a writer and researcher and attends the Insti­tute for the Study of Psy­cho­analy­sis and Cul­ture. He also par­tic­i­pates in The Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life, a pod­cast con­sist­ing of infor­mal dis­cus­sions about philo­soph­i­cal texts by three phi­los­o­phy grad­u­ate school dropouts.

Hitler Reacts to Takedown of Hitler Parodies

Note: strong lan­guage in this video.

You have prob­a­bly all seen them — the count­less par­o­dies of the now famous scene from the 2004 Ger­man film, Down­fall, which records the last days of Hitler and the Third Reich. Ear­li­er this week, the fun start­ed com­ing to an end when Con­stan­tin Film, hold­er of the movie’s copy­right, asked YouTube to remove the clips for rea­sons enu­mer­at­ed here. But almost as quick­ly as YouTube took them down, new ones start­ed to pop up. Above, we have one par­o­dy show­ing Hitler respond­ing vio­lent­ly to the take­down request. And, then, tak­ing an entire­ly dif­fer­ent stance, we see him being the mas­ter­mind behind the con­tro­ver­sial purg­ing of videos. The meme lives on … for now. Thanks to @wesalwan for the tip here.

For 100+ free movies, includ­ing many great clas­sics, see our col­lec­tion of Free Movies Online.

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Flight of the Bumblebee … On an iPad

Great lit­tle find by Doug. At an April 19th con­cert in San Fran­cis­co, the Chi­nese pianist Lang Lang threw his audi­ence a bit of a curve­ball when he start­ed play­ing Niko­lai Rim­sky-Kor­sakov’s Flight of the Bum­ble­bee on … yup … an iPad. Accord­ing to The Wall Street Jour­nal, this per­for­mance comes pre­loaded on the Mag­ic Piano App that retails for 99 cents. Thanks Doug for send­ing this one our way!

via 9to5mac

Michael Pollan on Sustainable Food

If you’re look­ing for some quick insight into Michael Pol­lan’s best­selling work on food and “our nation­al eat­ing dis­or­der” (The Omni­vore’s Dilem­ma, In Defense of Food, Food Rules, etc.), then you’ll want to spend some time with his 15 minute talk pre­sent­ed at Pop! Tech 2009. The talk gets down to a time­ly set of ques­tions. How can we, as indi­vid­u­als, eat bet­ter? How can we improve our health? And how can we make our food sup­ply more “green” and sus­tain­able. Pol­lan gives you a quick taste of his think­ing here and offers five take­away tips. Watch above, or down­load his talk in video or audio from this page.

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Artists Under the Influence

artists under the influenceIt’s no secret. Many writ­ers have writ­ten their mas­ter­pieces under the influ­ence of var­i­ous liq­uids and chem­i­cals, rang­ing from fair­ly innocu­ous to not. This month, Lapham’s Quar­ter­ly has pulled togeth­er a list that cor­re­lates great works with con­tribut­ing sub­stances. Here’s a quick sam­ple:

  • Hon­oré de Balzac, La comédie humaine, Cof­fee
  • W.H. Auden, Sep­tem­ber 1, 1939, Ben­zedrine
  • Tru­man Capote, In Cold Blood, Dou­ble Mar­ti­nis
  • Ken Kesey, One Who Flew Over the Cuck­oo’s Nest, Pey­ote & LSD

via @kirstinbutler

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An Epic Journey on the Trans-Siberian Railroad


Google and the Russ­ian Rail­ways recent­ly joined forces to cre­ate a vir­tu­al tour of the his­toric Trans-Siber­ian rail­road. It’s the longest rail­way in the world, mov­ing from Moscow to Vladi­vos­tok, cut­ting across two con­ti­nents, 12 regions and 87 cities. Now, you can take the six-day jour­ney from the com­fort of your own home. Through a spe­cial page on Google Maps, you can watch video of the trip unfold, as if you were a pas­sen­ger, and also enjoy clas­sic Russ­ian lit­er­a­ture, music and pho­tos along the way. As you roll out of Moscow, start lis­ten­ing to a free audio ver­sion of  Tol­stoy’s War & Peace (in Russ­ian, of course) and ease into the 150 hour trip. How’s that for an epic vir­tu­al jour­ney?

via @6oz

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David Remnick on Obama

David Rem­nick won a Pulitzer in 1994 for Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Sovi­et Empire. Then, in 1998, he began his suc­cess­ful run as edi­tor-in-chief of the New York­er mag­a­zine. Now, he gives you a long biog­ra­phy (672 pages) of Barack Oba­ma, the first African-Amer­i­can pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States. Oba­ma’s per­son­al sto­ry is well known, thanks in part to Oba­ma’s own auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal account. But, Rem­nick­’s work (which debuted as the #3 best­seller on The New York Times non-fic­tion list) nonethe­less has some­thing new to say. It is exhaus­tive­ly researched and dense­ly detailed, and adds col­or in areas miss­ing from oth­er accounts. It also places Oba­ma a bit more square­ly with­in the con­text of Amer­i­ca’s black free­dom strug­gle.

To get a glimpse inside this new work, you’ll want to lis­ten to this inter­view with David Rem­nick. It was con­duct­ed by Michael Kras­ny in San Fran­cis­co last week. Down­load the mp3 or grab the iTunes ver­sion here. Or sim­ply stream it below. The book, by the way, is avail­able in audio for­mat via Audible.com, and if you try out their 14 day free tri­al, you can even down­load the audio­book for free. More info on that here.

City Poems: A New Literary iPhone App

Writ­ing in The Guardian, Vic­tor Kee­gan, a long­time jour­nal­ist and poet, talks about his new iPhone app, City Poems. The new­ly released app will run you $2.99 on iTunes, which makes it less than open, I know. (Have you seen our free app, by the way?) But it’s admit­ted­ly a pret­ty nice con­cept for the cul­tur­al crowd, enough to jus­ti­fy giv­ing it a quick men­tion here. About City Poems, Kee­gan says:

City Poems – pub­lished today – … uses satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion to guide cul­ture vul­tures and tourists alike through the streets of cen­tral Lon­don poem by poem. After weeks of research­ing poems about the city, I realised that you can learn more about the past life of a city from poems than from most guide books and his­to­ries. Wher­ev­er you are stand­ing in Lon­don (or New York for that mat­ter) with an iPhone (or iPod Touch or iPad) in your hand it will tell you how many metres you are away from places and events that poems have been writ­ten about.

They include the exe­cu­tion of the crim­i­nal Jonathan Wild (one of the inspi­ra­tions for John Gay’s The Beg­gar’s Opera), pub­lic burn­ings in Smith­field (“His guts filled a bar­rel”) or the curi­ous sto­ries behind the stat­ues in Trafal­gar Square, which I had passed by in igno­rance for many decades…

Like I said, an intrigu­ing con­cept, and it seems as though Kee­gan has plans to bring this mate­r­i­al to oth­er mobile plat­forms. You can grab the app on iTunes here.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.