Deforestation?

In a bid to grab the spotlight for one of the causes he supports, Conservation International, Harrison Ford was recently in a 30-second spot (below) detailing how slash and burn methods in other countries still have a major negative impact on our own.

The slogan of the campaign is ‘Lost Here. Felt There.” While I could focus on how the whole thing makes Ford look pretty bony and old, or how the music is a little out of place and ridiculous, I’d rather focus on the positive: making a statement (punny or no) with your fame. It’s something I hope to be able to do myself someday.

But what are the ultimate results of this campaign?  Conservation international aims to be a force both for education, innovation, and conservation by working with local communities around the globe.  I can fully support that, and I think most of us do, particularly when that kind of innovation means income for the locals as well as conservation of species and other forest resources.   There are always questions regarding whose interests are more valued in conservation efforts – those trying to turn a profit, or those trying to preserve a local ecosystem – but from what I can tell from the general outlines on the website, Conservation International seems to be doing a reasonable job.  Personally, I still take the Ford spot as vindication for letting my own personal leg-forests grow. I’m saving the environment.

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I’m Mr. Yosuke Nakamura

What do a veterinary hospital, a policeman trying to be friendly, and the rooftops near Tokyo all have in common?  All of them were involved in returning one lost parrot, Yosuke, to his home.  Similar to Dory Finding Nemo, this particular parrot had learned its name and address through excessive repeating.  His family had actually be training him to talk to strangers and repeat the necessary information for the past two years, in the event he escaped his cage and was lost.  The plan worked successfully, and the smallest Mr. Nakamura is safely back at home in Nagareyama, near Tokyo, after an overnight stay at the veterinary hospital where he announced his name and address.

What was most curious about the situation was the parrot’s refusal to talk to the police, despite his training to speak to ‘anyone willing to help’.  The policeman who first found the bird on the roof of one of the Nakamura’s neighbors, says he tried to be friendly, but that the parrot was unresponsive.  Did the family have some sort of fear of the police?  Had the parrot been watching too many cop shows?  Was he waiting in vain for his lawyer to appear before questioning?  Or is it something more simple?  Did the family train the bird only to respond to people touching it, or only to those who might have had more familiarity with birds?  Could they have trained something into the parrot without realizing it?  An interesting question into the mind and education of birds.

It’s one of them electric horses.

Someone remarked to me recently on the sad state of affairs of public performance, in particular, unicyclists.  And it’s true.  In my childhood, I looked on those juggling wonders as something special, but now they are simply ordinary.  It takes more – more skill, more pyrotechnics, more risk – to perk my interest.  In some ways that’s good, as it motivates performers to increasingly amazing feats.  On the other, I worry about my failing sense of wonder.  I wouldn’t want to lose it completely.

Technology often comes to the rescue, either with the ridiculous or the truly amazing.  The Uno is both.  Think: an electric machine you ride as if it were a motorized horse (leaning to direct or stop or speed up) or a motorcycle without controls (with your legs tuck back, rather than straight down in stirrups).  Think: a unicycle alignment of two wheels close together that balances itself through computerized controls. It makes me wonder what’s next.  The same technology for wheelchairs, getting our grannies back on the streets?  Desk chairs that whisk you through the office with a thought?  A new generation of Power Wheels?  The possibilities are endless and ridiculous, which is what makes them fun.