Whales in Hermanus, seen from above

(September 1st, 2015)

To start the publication of a series of photos shot in South Africa, here is gallery of some quite unusual pictures: Whales shot from a small plane (African Wings) in Hermanus, about one hour driving out of Cape Town.

We could see quite clearly a large number of whales like this Southern Right Whale paddling around:
Southern Right Whale

Since this is the right season, there were some young calves too, like this one with its mother:
Whale and calf

Two of the most happy whales demonstrated there aptitude to jump out of the water.
Southern Right Whale - breaching

Southern Right Whale - breaching

One finishing its somersaults with a ring of bubbles in which it softly stopped, as if it wanted to draw a picture for us:
Southern Right Whale - bubbles ring

While we were flying there, we also could find Great White Sharks near the surface of the Ocean (they are quite easy to spot around the boats who a re dropping fish and bloood to attract them to sell “cage diving” to tourists looking for strong (and rather artificial) sensations:
Great White Shark

One last shot on the way back to the airstrip…
From high in the sky

Many thanks to Evan and Dave. this has really been an incredible experience. Your willingness to help (including photographic recommendations, assistance before and during the flight) went beyond our expectations and those are photos I am really proud of.

What if ISIS did not disappear?

(July 23rd, 2015)

This is the rather terrible but also very troubling question asked by Stephen M. Walt on Foreign Policy in a paper titled “What Should We Do if the Islamic State Wins?

The author does no really answer the question he asks but I find it mind-opening to start from his postulate: Daesh is not automatically going to disappear because we want it to (or because this is a monstruous group). It may take much more than that to avoid the group which proclaims itself “Islamic State” or “Califate” really becoming an islamic state, stable and well poised between Irak and Syria, which may be what it is doing despite international efforts.

As Stephen M. Walt, I absolutely do not like this perpsective, but we’d better start exrecising our intellect on the worst hypothesis in front of us. And I hope that some other authors will be able to bring some fairly good/intersting (or even mind-blowing) answers.


(June 30th, 2015)

Aren’t they cute these pinnipeds?

The world’s coldest surf photographer

(June 2nd, 2015)

Chris Burkard is totally out of his mind, and he’s a surf photographer who decided to explore the world’s coldest waves. He brought back images, videos and a TEDtalk presentation which are really exceptionnal:

All about ISIS

(May 24th, 2015)

It is always easy to portray Islamic State as a bloodthirsty monster and… to stop here. This kind of attitude presents two majors drawbacks (to my eyes):

  1. As all black-and-white approaches, it does not allow understanding,it does not allow determining where Daesh or ISIS is coming. It’s happy with just condemning, preferably in reference to the bloody demonstrations (which are a key part of their own propaganda, which we fall for).
  2. Worst, without understanding what ISIS really is, there is little hope to stop them, to contain them or to reduce them.

With this in view, I found two remarkable articles which try and bring some light on this very complex issue. One tries to determine the operating modes of ISIS (a sectarian organisation, but not an arbitrary lack of logic; A rigid organisation directed by rules extracted from the Kuran) in order to define pragmatic orientations to oppose the Islamic State with some efficiency (and which gives explanations on why some strategies are/were so blatanlty inefficient). Written by Graeme Wood, published in The Atlantic, What ISIS really wants is a realtively long paper, but worth all your reading time.

The other looks more specifically into power structures of the organization. This is a barely understood side (even if newspapers sometimes speak about the Coalition efforts to eliminate some of ISIS leaders), and it is written by Adrian Lewis for BBC: Islamic State: How it is run.

Each of these require your taking time and concentration to draw most of their contents, but I believe that they are useful for all who want to understand first, before building an opinion and before proposing an action plan.

Microcredit, my experience

(May 3rd, 2015)

According to the definition, microcredit consists in attributing small sum credits to small enterprises or indidivuals. The principle had been shown to work well by Bengali Muhammad Yunus and the bank he created, the Grameen Bank. For this, they receieved no less than a Nobel Peace Prize.

We could think that this is very far from us but there is a way you can participate thanks to the Internet. A web site, Kiva, offers you to also lend money (at no interest for you) to people from around the world (maybe in your own country too).

KivaKiva recruits small credit banks all other the world and puts them in contact with people willing to act, from US$25.

You will earn no money, I don’t. There is a small risk seeing somebody unable to reimburse (weather, sickness are common causes I could observe). But how could you not feel obliged to use a few dollars/euros to help people who have no other chance to invest in their future since they have no access to big international banks (the same ones who hesitate to lend money to people like you and me or Ben Bernanke)?

So, since 2011, I lend small sums, I get reimbursed, I lend again. Twice, the money did not come all back. Once, it took a real long time before I got repaid. But I fear I am considering this as a very small price to pay for changing a life or transforming the future of a family or a group of people.

Why wouldn’t you try too? Just go to Kiva and send them 25$ (or 50€?)

PS: Don’t worry! I will earn nothing if you click on the links here, except the small egotistic satisfaction of seeing people following my advice.

Fast forward to 29,029 ft (Mount Everest)

(April 27th, 2015)

Mount Everest is high.

No. It’s the highest point on Earth and it is 29,029-feet high.

Do you see what it really means? This is too high to easily recognize. So, Richard Johnson, Bonnie Berkowitz, and Lazaro Gamio provided a web page with a long graphical representation of this height. You can visit at Scaling Everest. This will slowly open your mind to the perception of new heights.

When you’re finished scaling the huge peak, you can actually fly to its summit in the following NatGeo video:

Breathtaking is the word.

Sources: GeekPress & Beyond the Edge.

Costa Rica: Hummingbirds in flight 3/3

(April 16th, 2015)

Scaly-breasted Hummingbird

Scaly-breasted Hummingbird

Scaly-breasted Hummingbird

Scaly-breasted Hummingbird

Scaly-breasted Hummingbird

Scaly-breasted Hummingbird (Phaeochroa cuvierii, Colibri de Cuvier).
Costa Rica, 2015.

Costa Rica: Hummingbirds in flight 2/3

(April 15th, 2015)

For this hummingbird, the identification is more difficult. Even its name (Stripe-throated Hermit) does not seem very apparent on the photos. But it’s even worse when you see this little hummingbird in flight and not simply on a computer screen.

Stripe-throated Hermit

Stripe-throated Hermit

Stripe-throated Hermit

Stripe-throated Hermit

Stripe-throated Hermit (Phaethornis striigularis, Ermite à gorge rayée).
Costa Rica, 2015.

Costa Rica: Hummingbirds in flight 1/3

(April 14th, 2015)

You should have no difficulty recognizing this bird from its name: Rufous-tailed Hummingbird.

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird (Amazilia tzacatl, Ariane à ventre gris).
Costa Rica, 2015.

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