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I'm not sure how I missed this, but PBS's America Revealed, which has apparently been running since last month, is the American version of the popular Britain From Above. Four episodes have aired so far on transportation, electricity, and manufacturing, along with a making-of episode. Here's a clip from the transportation episode.

The series airs on Wednesdays at 10/9c. Although it looks like the full series ran already. It wouldn't make much sense to go over the making-of in the middle. On the upside, four episodes are available online.

Had I known this existed, maybe I wouldn't have subjected myself to the monstrosity of a show in United Stats of America.

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Bright red telephone boxes, afternoon tea, bobbies with batons. Today even the most naive tourist knows this Mary Poppins vision of Britain is about as true to life as Dick Van Dyke’s cockney accent. But what, then, does it mean to be British in 2012? That’s a question the London Festival of Photography has tried to answer with its headline show, “The Great British Public.” The exhibition brings together 13 photographers who have captured modern British life, from posh wingdings to a wind-lashed laundry day on Scotland’s Orkney Islands. “We wanted to celebrate Britain more than be depressed about it,” says curator Grace Pattison, noting her countrymen’s talent for grousing. “It’s about the quirkiness, irony, the humor of the British. It’s quite an uplifting show, really.”

Nothing jars more with the British sensibility than the idea of forced positivity. Yet Pattison is savvy enough to have built a ‘warts-and-all’ show that winks at its subject while patting it on the back. Some of the photographers have taken on traditions that still thrive in parts of the country. Chris Steele-Perkins captures the lives of the increasing number of Brits who live to be 100 and receive a congratulatory birthday card from the Queen. Arnhel de Serra (the only non-Brit in the show) has captured the action at countryside agricultural shows, where elderly ladies in tweed vie for top prizes in jam-making and flower arranging. Giulietta Verdon-Roe presents a different glimpse into rural life with her elegiac images of the northernmost Orkney Island, population 51 (plus a few thousand seaweed-eating sheep and one very tall lighthouse).

Other photographers focus on the new traditions being created. Photographer Ewen Spencer followed the rise of the Grime music scene (epitomized by black artist Dizzee Rascal), and the young people who hope to rap their way out of London’s poorest neighborhoods.

And then, of course, there is Britain’s ethnic diversity, often packed into small areas like the borough of Hackney in London, documented by Zed Nelson, or a street in the northern city of Birmingham, photographed by Liz Hingley, which hosts over 30 different places of worship including a mosque and a Hindu temple.

It’s impossible to talk about British photography without mentioning Martin Parr, whose seminal The Last Resort: Photographs of New Brighton (1982-86) presented working class holiday-makers—they of the bulging, pink flesh and oily fish and chip wrappers—in all their vulgar glory. For the exhibition, Pattison preferred not to dwell on Parr’s 80s oeuvre (“It’s not the most exciting way to talk about Britain anymore.”). Rather, she chose an homage to Parr in the work of Peter Dench, who returned to the parts of New Brighton featured in The Last Resort and photographed them as they are today. Even now, the northern town near Liverpool provokes wry bemusement among the British: “It’s all quite gray and the scenery isn’t that exciting,” says Pattison. “It’s seaside life, but with a quite humorous look.”

One image of Parr’s does appear in the exhibition: a picture of an English bobby, standing in a red-brick town, hands on hips, while children hula hoop in the street. “At first glance, you think, ah, it’s a really traditional English scene,” says Pattison. “But it’s actually a historic museum in the Black Country [the industrial Midlands]. It’s actually just a mock street and he’s an actor dressed up as a policeman.”

Finally, the exhibition touches on the British at play, whether it be country and seaside escapes (Simon Roberts), a barbershop in London where locals hash out the day’s politics (Nick Cunard) or the beer-swilling excesses of English football fans (Homer Sykes).

Even with such a multifarious show, Pattison is worried the British public in question will find something to quibble about. “By calling it ‘The Great British Public’ we are potentially asking for criticism if people don’t feel like their view of Britain is in there,” she says. But in the year of the London Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, Pattison is allowing herself to be Britishly optimistic. “Hopefully not too many people will say that,” she says with a laugh.

The London Festival of Photography’s exhibition The Great British Public will be on view from June 1 through June 24. More information is available here.

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We've posted before about researchers exploring slime molds as a kind of bio-computer capable of some amazing accomplishments in information processing. Recently, computer scientist Andrew Adamtzky of the University of the West of England in Bristol and his colleagues used a slime mold to devise optimal interstate highway systems for the United States, Britain, Mexico, Brazil, the Netherlands, and Canada (above). He will detail his latest slime systems in a forthcoming issue of the scientific journal Complex Systems, "devoted to the science, mathematics, and engineering of systems with simple components but complex overall behavior." For a teaser, check out Adamatzky's recent op-ed in the New York Times, titled "The Wisdom of Slime."

 

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GRRR
GRRR: A young boy flexed his muscles during a regional bodybuilding competition in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday. Bodybuilding is one of the country’s most popular sports. (Johannes Eisele/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

COUNTRY STRONG
COUNTRY STRONG: A hat was raised in the air during the Stagecoach country music festival at the Empire Polo Field in Indio, Calif., Sunday. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images/Stagecoach)

LYING OUT
LYING OUT: A man slept on a bus Monday in Dhaka, Bangladesh, during the second day of a strike. Authorities charged 44 activists with involvement in bombings and vandalism during the strike, which was called to protest the disappearance of opposition figure Elias Ali. The government denies involvement. (Abir Abdullah/European Pressphoto Agency)

PEEKING OUT
PEEKING OUT: A Chinese People’s Liberation Army naval officer looked out from the missile frigate Yuncheng as the vessel made a port call in Hong Kong Monday as part of a celebration to mark the 15-year anniversary of the hand-over of Hong Kong from Britain to China. (Kin Cheung/Associated Press)

PILED UP
PILED UP: Job seekers waited in front of the training offices of Local Union 46 in Queens, N.Y., Monday. Hundreds of people have been waiting since the state Department of Labor and the union announced that they were looking to hire 50 iron and wood apprentices. (Keith Bedford/Reuters)

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The Bad Astronomer writes "Astronomers have used two big telescopes to create an infrared survey of the Milky Way that is the largest of its kind: the resulting image has an incredible 150,000 megapixels containing over a billion stars. Something that large is difficult to use, so they also made a pan-and-zoom version online which should keep you occupied for quite some time. These data will be used to better understand star formation in our Milky Way, and how far more distant galaxies and quasars behave."

The interactive image is powered by IIPImage which happens to be Free Software and is cool in its own right (right click the image to get help — it has a full set of keybindings for navigation).


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An anonymous reader writes "In response to a plans to introduce real time monitoring of all UK Internet communications, a petition has been set up in opposition."

Previously covered here, El Reg chimes in with a bit of conspiracy theorizing and further analysis: "It would appear that the story is being managed: the government is looking to make sure that CCDP is an old news story well ahead of the Queen's Speech to Parliament on 9 May. Sundays — especially Sunday April the 1st — are good days to have potentially unpopular news reach the population at large."


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TEDxSalford - Benedict Allen - Surviving the Impossible

Benedict Allen, one of Britain's most prominent explorers, is best known for his arduous expeditions to remote corners of the globe without the help of any technology back-up and surviving against all the odds in adverse conditions. By not using a film-crew and pioneering the use of a hand-held video camera, he allowed millions of people around the world to witness for the first time adventures unfolding genuinely in inhospitable terrain and has paved the way for the current generation of TV adventurers. Benedict Allen has experience of surviving adversity in some of the world's most remote location. An accomplished adventurer, he uses his experiences to inspire and motivate audiences around the globe to achieve their own personal goals and shows that is it possible to succeed even when faced with adversity. "Benedict is part of the history of television" says Mark Thompson, Director General, BBC. About TEDx, x = independently organized event In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)
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