FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #442 | Doc Explores Roles Artists Play In Gentrification

November 17, 2014 

(via) This short documentary film from The Atlantic is called “Gentrification ‘Without The Negative’ in Columbus, Ohio”. It details how a group of artists took over a derelict, multi-storey industrial building and turned it into a thriving community of creatives. If the loose artist’s collective looks strikingly familiar, it could be because Vancouver has something very similar: 1000 Parker Street Studios (located on the southern periphery of Strathcona).

Nearly a quarter of the homes in the Franklinton neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio are vacant. In 2011, an arts group moved into an abandoned factory in the area to create 400 West Rich Street, a community that now leases space to woodworkers, performance artists, a coffee shop, painters, sculptors, and others. This short documentary considers the artists who work in 400 West Rich Street, why the space attracted them, and what it means for revitalization of the neighborhood.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #434 | Time Lapse Shows California’s Stunning Diversity

September 15, 2014 

(via) This timelapse showcasing California was filmed over a four year period by Hal Bergman.

“California is the most populated state in the United States, and the third largest. It’s almost double the size of the United Kingdom and slightly larger than Japan. If it was it’s own independent country (as it was briefly for a few weeks in 1846), it would have the 8th largest economy in the world by GDP. It contains the highest summit and the lowest desert in the Contiguous United States (and the second-lowest point in the world), both of which are in the same county. It’s most known for movies, technology, wine, and national parks, but also grows more than a third of the vegetables consumed in the US, two-thirds of the fruits and nuts, and an unknown but presumably huge percentage of marijuana. It contains every major climatological biome except tundra. More important than those facts, to me, is that I was born and spent most of my life here.”

Locations include (in alphabetical order) Alabama Hills, Big Sur, Bombay Beach, Death Valley National Park, Gilroy, Inyo National Forest, Jenner, Joshua Tree, Lake Tahoe, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Malibu, Mono Lake South Tufa Reserve, Mount Shasta, Napa, Onyx, Owens Lake, Salinas, San Diego, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Santa Monica, Sequoia National Forest, Venice, Weldon, and Yosemite National Park.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #434 | Cool Time Lapse Shows Ohio Amish Barn Raising

September 4, 2014 

This recent Ohio Amish barn-raising took a little over 10 hours to complete. The whole operation is condensed down to three and a half minutes in this time-lapse video. It’s a pretty astounding thing to watch, especially at the 2 minute mark, when all the hammers drop and the small army of hatted workmen disappear off-screen, presumably for lunch, only to reappear to finish the job.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #433 | Rush Hour In Taipei Is NOT Like It Is In Vancouver

In Taiwan’s Taipei City, the morning rush hour across Taipei Bridge appears to be as smoothly mesmerizing as it is unfathomably insane. If the calm is typical, it really puts the peak-time chaos of entering/exiting Vancouver into embarrassing perspective. It would be a fascinating thing to watch our many road/roid raging morning commuters try to merge with such a calm, purposeful throng. There would likely be casualties, so it’s for the best that our respective road systems don’t connect.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #429 | How To Make Good Hunting Blowpipes In Borneo

(via) “Only a few elders of Borneo’s Penan tribe still know how to make their unique hunting tool, the blowpipe. Balan is the last person in his village who practices the dying craft.”


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #428 | In The Congo, Making Soccer Balls From Trash

(via The New York Times): “As soon as I saw a photograph of an African soccer ball, stitched together from old rags in the geometric patterns so familiar to us, I wanted to tell its story. And so last July my filmmaking crew traveled to a village outside of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where we shot this Op-Doc. Although the country did not qualify for the World Cup, people there – as in most of Africa – are mad about soccer. They play it everywhere. And because soccer balls like the ones common on American fields are a rarity in much of Africa, the sport is often played with homemade balls, like the one in this video.” – director Jerome Thélia.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #425 | On Phobos & Deimos, The Two Martian Moons

“The Moons of Mars Explained — Phobos & Deimos” is a pretty self-explanatory short video about the past, present, and future of the two, potato-shaped (and ultimately doomed) moons of Mars. It was created by the science nerds at Munich-based Kurzgesagt.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #425 | The 2,000 Year Evolution Of The City Of London


(via) The evolution of the 2,000 year old city of London (“Londinium” during the Roman occupation of Britain) is beautifully visualized in this seven minute animation by The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis. The short film brings together thousands of geo-referenced road records to chronologically show the extent of human development in the ancient city (eg. Tudor, Stuart, Early Georgian) while giving pride of place to structures of great cultural and historic import. It’s a very fascinating thing to watch unfold (not least because Vancouver is merely 200 years old). Press play!


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #423 | On Old Bombs And Shaking Hands Like A Goof


Monsieur, you’re totally doing it wrong: The President of France, François Hollande, needs a remedial course in shaking world leaders’ hands.

Enjoy the sunny day in Vancouver and be glad that we aren’t in Chicago, New York, Boston, or anywhere else in the wintry wrath path of the storm the Weather Channel is now calling Hercules. Side bonus: the ice and snow and low visibility makes Niagara Falls look much cooler. Side side bonus: ditto the cover of The New Yorker. Side side side bonus: these snow-shovelling nipples.

New film asks if backpackers are destroying the world (trailer).

We’ve always liked Kentucky, but it’s about to get even better: “On February 4, Bill Nye “The Science Guy” will debate Ken Ham, Creation Museum founder and Answers In Genesis president/CEO, at The Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky.” Advantage: Nye.

World War II is still killing people in Germany.

The first day of retail marijuana sales in the state of Colorado – where the use/sale of recreational weed is now legal – exceeded $1 million. You don’t say!

The origins story of Carl Sagan’s awesome humanity communications plaque on the Pioneer 10 spacecraft, which was the first ever man-made object to leave the solar system.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #421 | On Pepper Spraying To Collect A Pay Cheque

October 25, 2013 


It was nearly two years ago when UC Davis policeman Lt. John Pike calmly walked down a line of prone, peacefully protesting students and pepper sprayed each one of them in the face like he was refreshing so many hydrangeas on a Sunday morning. Well, he’s just received over $38,000 in worker’s compensation for the suffering that followed his actions (the poor dear received a lot of angry emails). The protestors settled their lawsuit against the university for a $1 million. After paying off their lawyers, each of them received $30,000, less than the “traumatized” Pike. Go justice!


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #417 | Who Wants To Plan An Expedition To Morocco?

September 6, 2013 

by Andrew Morrison | North Africa remains the expedition of my dreams, especially the stretch from Mali and Mauritania to Morocco and the Mediterranean. The idea of a trip to those parts has simmered on the backburner of my brain for years, and this jaw-dropper of a travel film from Vimeo user Vincent Urban has brought it up to a full boil. He and some friends spent three weeks in Morocco earlier this year, driving in a well-kitted-out Land Rover and filming as they went from the coast, through the medinas of Fez and Marrakech, across the Atlas Mountains, and into the Sahara Desert.

Foreign Intelligence Brief #416: And So We Examine The Many Facets Of Swedishness

I don’t know if this amusing, David Attenborough-esque short film explains why the Sedins can’t score for the Canucks in the NHL playoffs but they can for Team Sweden seemingly any time they feel like it, but it’s pretty illuminating just the same (and there are others to blame, anyway).

Foreign Intelligence Brief #413: On The End Of Caviar And The Last Roll Of Kodachrome

January 18, 2013 

Got 30 minutes? Good. Press play above to watch what legendary photographer Steve McCurry did with the last roll of Kodachrome film (spoiler alert: he took good pictures with it).

Options he smartly dismissed: salt and pepper shakersmagnetspaper towel holders.

If anyone ever asks you if analog can hold a candle to digital in the internet age, there any number of correct responses, but the coolest is always going to be Banana Drawings.

Counterpoint: these Gothic/Islamic architecture-inspired stained glass window designs that were made from 100 sheets of laser cut paper.

Aw, a sweet home movie starring Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at the Blue House in Mexico City.

Facebook introduces free telephone calls for iPhone users. The service is not available in Canada, though. Because Canada.

The New Yorker wonders what it would be like if Facebook worked like Yelp. Because The New Yorker.

After (maybe) going on a donkey killing spree in Africa, Google files patent for a virtual keyboard.

How mainstream has marijuana become? I don’t know, man. What?

Related: Dude, I think I just saw an 80 ton bird nest in South Carolina.

Unrelated: the future of green architecture (exists mostly on design and architecture blogs).

Real science: Americans, British, Russians, and The New York Times race to find life under Antarctica’s ice.

Not so much science: Hey! This off the shelf breakfast cereal actually is freakishly rich in iron.

It’s the end of wild caviar as we know it, and I feel fine.

So there’s a cross-dressing meth priest who digs cathedral sex in Connecticut. The local paper writes of how he liked it in the “rectory”. For serious.

Head scratcher: The elfven hero of the American Left, Dennis Kucinich, has joined the cast of Fox News.

Bonus: How the Hobbit should have ended.

Foreign Intelligence Brief #406: Kiwi Troops Welcome Home Dead With Big Haka

The government of New Zealand has announced that it will withdraw its small troop contingent (145) from Afghanistan as rapidly as possible after three soldiers were killed in a roadside bomb attack outside Bamiyan last week. This chilling video shows members of the 2/1 RNZIR Battalion acknowledging the return of their comrades’ bodies to their parade grounds with a traditional Haka war dance.

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