Two timely videos worth watching (on sting rays and hydrogen-powered cars)

Two timely videos worth watching (on sting rays and hydrogen-powered cars)

Summary: To me, the Web is all about getting informed on-demand. Two videos that are making the rounds this week really get that point across.

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To me, the Web is all about getting informed on-demand. Two videos that are making the rounds this week really get that point across. The first of these had to do with Croc hunter Steve Irwin whose tragic death brought great sadness into our home.  Our children are big fans of his shows on Animal Planet. Prior to getting married, my wife and I loved watching Irwin in action so much that when we went to Australia for our honeymoon, we hoped to visit the zoo he ran and meet him (unfortunately, he wasn't htere at the time). Our weekend was dominated by wondering just how it is that such a docile creature as a sting ray -- one that seemed least likely of harming Steve Irwin given the sorts of beasts he customarily tangled with -- ended up doing the harm that it did. CNN has a video that very specifically, and in laymans' terms, answers that question, in the context of Irwin's death. The link to it appears in this article. As a side note, Animal Planet is scheduled to run a tribute to Irwin at 6pm EDT this evening.

The other video came to me by way of my father and touches on another issue that my wife and I learned a lot about when we were in Australia: global warming. Given the proximity of Australia's rainforests to the Great Barrier Reef, it's one of the few places in the world that one can see a lot of the world's ecosystem wrapped up into a neat package in a single day's outing. 

Nutrients from the plant and wild life on the rainforest's mountains find their way down the mountainside where they're naturally filtered by mangrove roots in brackish water (crocodile infested brackish water I might add) after which they flow out into the ocean towards the Great Barrier Reef fueling an entirely different chain of nature that loses its footing if those nutrients disappear. But, as the average temperature rises annually, the plant and wildlife at the mountains' tops (life that requires a lower average temperature) dies off and is replaced by that which existed at a lower band on the mountain (in other words, global warming causes life to creep up-mountain in order to survive). 

The result of certain wildlife being "popped" off the top is that entire classes of nutrients never make it down the mountainside, through the mangroves, and out to the Reef which in turn causes devestation to the Reef which in turn results in an irreversible cavalacade of cataclysmically harmful events to the oceans, Mother Nature and the Earth. Back in 1999 when my wife and I were on our honeymoon in Australia and when there were lots of people saying that global warming was nothing but propaganda, the naturalists who gave us the tour showed us some very tangible evidence of the problem. Ever since that trip, we've tuned into stories about global warming (and tuned out the naysayers). 

This BBC video (on YouTube) showing a one-of-a-kind GM-built salt water-derived hydrogen-powered vehicle of the future that can be converted from a car to a pickup truck in 30 minutes makes me want to place an order for one right now. OK, at $5M, it's a little steep for my budget. But, seeing this video and hearing about how it may only be 10 years off before these are reality gives me hope that our children might have a world to look forward to.

Both videos make me think back to the days before video was readily available on the Web and how the only way to experience such content unless you were lucky enough to be watching TV when it came on was to hear about it second hand from someone else who saw it.  When I was on vacation in Maine, connectivity to the Net (using June Fabrics PDANet for Windows Mobile and my Motorola Q) was too spotty for video consumption.  Sure, it was good to get away from the world. But I really missed having quality information at my fingertips the way I'm used to having it -- on demand -- at home and work.

Topic: Social Enterprise

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  • The show must go on?

    As a former supporter of Wildlife Preservation Trust International (WPTI), I have to confess that I was never one of Irwin's fans. I visited the WPTI Zoo on the Isle of Jersey (in the English Channel); and, while it may sound dull, the opportunity for extended conversation with curators who really knew their stuff trumps Joe-sixpack-style entertainment any day in my book. I do not doubt that Irwin was serious about wildlife, but I wonder to what extent this all had to do with the strategy of American television producers to exploit that seriousness for their own interests. Now we are being treated [SIC] to a video of the guy's last moments. It looks like most of the ugly visions of Paddy Chayefsky's NETWORK have now become reality.
    kitchen-cynic
    • Clarification

      This is not a video of Steve Irwin's last moments. It's a video that answers the question of how and why a sting ray defends itself. As someone who has snorkeled with sting rays and experienced how amazingly gentle and tame they are, I was very interested in knowing more about the circumstances under which such a lethal injury could take place. I have no interest in seeing any footage of the incident and think it would be a major faux pas on behalf of anyone to publish it, despite any wishes he may have had.

      More importantly the point I was trying to make in the post is how, at at time when I'm trying to satisfy an information need, the Web is really very much there in meeting that need in an on-demand fashion. When I was on vacation in Maine, I appreciated being largely disconnected from the outside world. But it felt good to be back where, when I had a question about something, I could get it answered immediately.
      dberlind
  • Steve actually wanted the video of his death shown

    Steve had always said no matter what happens, keep that camera rolling. From what I read, his family actually wants the video shown.

    Tragically, it might have been better if Steve left that barb in him because as I understand it, most of the damage is done from the extraction as it tends to rip a lot more flesh. He seemed to lose consciousness soon after it came out.
    georgeou
    • That's a bit sick, don't you think?

      That video will probably wind up on the next "Faces of Death" series. Watching someone die for real is just too disturbing, unless it was Osama bin Laden or the Iranian president dying, then it would be [i]hysterical.[/i]

      As for the barb, he probably should have left it. If the barb pierced his heart, pulling it out would have caused him to bleed to death really fast.
      Mr. Roboto
      • Not for me to judge

        It would be sick if the video was shown against the family's wishes. But if Steve and his family want it shown, then I say we honor their wishes. No one forces anyone to watch it, and I probably wouldn?t watch it.
        georgeou
  • GM Hy Wire

    Well, the video of the Hy Wire vehicle was timely FOUR YEARS AGO when it was first shown on Top Gear. Which just goes to show that the web is great for seeing old TV shows we can't get here in the States.
    big red one
  • GM Hy-Wire Is Not New

    My brother told me about the YouTube video. After a small amount of research, I found that the car was introduced in 2002. Just want you and your readers to know this is not new technology. Is GM still working on this?
    loringt
  • Steve, Harasser of Animals, receives poetic justice....

    ...did you happen to notice he never did a TV Show in Qannadda? Because abusing, harassing, pulling the tails on snakes,or any wild critter etc. is illegal.
    Feldwebel Wolfenstool
    • Can't see the forest for the trees

      So he harmlessly pulled a tail here and there to illustrate something.

      He did more good for the causes of animal protection and welfare in one short and energetic life, than most of us could or would do in multiple lifetimes. Rest in peace, Steve.
      Chiatzu
      • Steve Irwin

        I have to agree with Chiatzu. Steve did a huge amount for our "less attractive" but nonetheless important (ecologically) animals. Much of his work was unheralded, and he did not look for praise. Just run through his web site at Australian Zoo, it will take you hours to read about his activities.

        BTW it is difficult to leave the barb in when it is still attached to the stingray.

        A proud Australian.
        coxey@...
  • RE: Two timely videos worth watching (on sting rays and hydrogen-powered cars)

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