American Elephants

March Afternoon, Unbearable Ennui by The Elephant's Child

Garden Porn by The Elephant's Child
January 28, 2014, 6:39 am
Filed under: Art, Environment, Freedom | Tags: , ,

What could be sexier than pollination? With the weather freezing in much of the country, our weather here in the Puget Sound area is mild, but nippy (in the high 40°s) and it’s been foggy for days. Still, a nice pollination video is just what the doctor ordered. Reposted from last year.

The Magic of Winter. Blowing Bubbles. by The Elephant's Child

When the temperature dropped to 16 degrees in Washington, and everyone hid indoors around the fireplace, the stove, or just wrapped up in blankets,  Angela Kelly and her 7 year-old son mixed  up some homemade soap and blew bubbles to see what would happen:



Angela took photos as the frost created intricate designs in the larger bubbles, while the smaller ones froze and shattered as they it the ground. Before the sun came up the bubbles behaved as if they were made of glass. After the sun came up, the tops of the bubbles would defrost. Here is the rest of the story:

What a great idea. Perhaps people all over America will be blowing bubbles in the cold.

Old Cars and Small Town Streets by The Elephant's Child

The Elephant sent me a link to this story, which is definitely a guy thing, but completely charming just the same. It reminded me that a while back, I had posted something by the same photographer, actually three years ago, about small-town America, in a town called Elgin Park. Quite worth digging out of the archives.  Enjoy!

Ella! by The Elephant's Child
October 10, 2013, 8:36 pm
Filed under: Art, Entertainment, Heartwarming, Music | Tags: , ,

Three-Dimensional Illusions in Street Art by The Elephant's Child

(h/t: Maggie’s Farm)


This Little 6″ High Figure Is a 3-D Printed Portrait! by The Elephant's Child


If you happen to be in Germany this summer, in Hamburg, you can stop by a new company called Twinkind, and for just $300 get a stunning 6″ high 3-D printed version of yourself. The final figurines range in size from roughly 6″ to 13″, around $1,700. The final figurines are strikingly realistic, capturing everything from poses and facial expressions down to hair styles and the folds in clothes— all in full, faithful color.  Pretty cool!

The picture comes from an article in Wired which has a slide show to show some of the figures they have done. They have perfected a system that could photograph subjects in the round in a split second. The products are small but the technologies and workflows are pretty complex.

I don’t understand 3-D printing at all, but these results are truly spectacular.


Shadow Dancing by The Elephant's Child
July 24, 2013, 6:54 am
Filed under: Art, Entertainment, Music, Politics | Tags: , ,


The Magic of the Paper City by The Elephant's Child

Here is paper folding and pop-up paper gone wild. Beautiful and magical.

Built For Running: Explaining Cheetahs by The Elephant's Child
June 3, 2013, 5:47 pm
Filed under: Africa, Art, Energy, Freedom | Tags: , ,

And Now for Something Wonderful: by The Elephant's Child
May 19, 2013, 12:11 pm
Filed under: Art, Education, History | Tags: ,

“Making a presentation is a moral act as well as an intellectual activity.
The use of corrupt manipulations and blatant rhetorical ploys in a report
or presentation — outright lying, flagwaving, personal attacks, setting up
phony alternatives, misdirection, jargon-mongering, evading key issues,
feigning disinterested objectivity, willful misunderstanding of other
points of view— suggests that the presenter lacks both credibility and
evidence. To maintain standards of quality, relevance, and integrity for
evidence, consumers of presentation should insist that presenters be held
intellectually and ethically responsible for what they show and tell. Thus
consuming a presentation is also an intellectual and a moral activity.”

……………………………………………………………………………………Edward Tufte

(click to enlarge)

Charles Joseph Minard’s data-map describes the successive losses in men of the French Army in the Russian campaign of 1812-1813.  Drawn by M. Minard, Inspector General of Bridges and Roads in retirement, Paris, November 20, 1869.

The numbers of men present are represented by the widths of the colored zones at a rate of one millimeter for every ten thousand men. The tan represents the men who enter into Russia, the black those who leave it. The overall toll, French and Russian was approximately 700,000 to 1,000,000. Place names are shown, as are the rivers, and at the bottom a graphic table of the temperature in degrees of the Réaumur thermometer below zero. Moscow, October 18; October 24 –rain; November 9, –9°; November 14 –21° at Smolensk; December 1, –24 ° at Minsk; December 6, –30°.  Only one soldier in 42 survived this brutal campaign — six months from start to finish.

At the war’s beginning , the army crossed the Nieman River with 422,000 soldiers. At the end, 10,000 soldiers returned across the Nieman River. The width of the lines accurately represents the numbers. So much information is conveyed by this one beautiful analytical graph, in a combination of beautiful design, true and accurate information, and a long dreadful story. Amazing.

Edward Tufte is a Professor Emeritus at Yale University, where he taught courses on statistical evidence, analytical design and political economy. He has written four books on visual displays: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Envisioning Information, Visual Explanations, Beautiful Evidence. They are incredibly beautiful, true, refined and luscious books, and I cannot recommend them highly enough. Tufte is also a sculptor. His works are available through his website:  as is a poster of the above beautiful graphic in either French or English. He includes this analytical graph in each of his books, as probably the best graphic conveyance of information ever made.

First You Need A Few Balloons… by The Elephant's Child

Here’s a time-lapse video of how a 20-foot acrocanthosaurus is made. The Airigami team assembled the dinosaur and its ecosystem, including plants and some crawly insects at the Virginia Museum of Natural History’s Hall of Ancient Life. It took them four days, but it looks like they didn’t have to blow up the balloons, at least not there.

That is without question the best balloon accomplishment I’ve ever seen.


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