6 Billion Others – by Yann-Arthus Bertrand


The name Yann-Arthus Bertrand may strike a familiar chord – he’s perhaps most well known for his “Earth from above” series, where he’d take stunning images of the Earth from a helicopter. It turns out he’s not just a one-dimensional aerial photographer.

I just discovered one of his other ventures, 7 Billion others , which is an equally inspiring set of interviews: about 6000 people from 65 different countries were interviewed on topics common to all humanity – god, happiness, parents, experiences, family, etc, bringing a sense of commonality amidst diversity. As Yann-Arthus describes the motivation for this project:

The idea came to me while we were taking the shots for “Earth from Above”, in Mali, one day when the helicopter was out of action. The pilot had gone and I was waiting for him in a little village where I started to have a discussion with someone. I stayed there the whole day. In the evening, by the fireside, that man I’d been talking to told me his entire life, his desires, his wishes, his ambitions – they could be summed up in four words – “to feed my family”. In spite of the poverty, the drought, I still thought I understood the whole situation. But in fact I didn’t have a clue until that man put it to me, just like that, looking me straight in the eye, not complaining, not asking me for anything. That meeting changed me, it changed the whole way I see the world.


From shooting hundreds of meters above ground, he’s zoomed right to the human, face-to-face videography – the portraitures are close-up and tightly framed, capturing every bit of emotion that makes it much more touching and intimate.

And as these fellow Earth-inhabitants look straight on, honestly and earnestly sharing their personal feelings, dreams, aspirations and worries, we can’t help but be inspired, to relook inside ourselves, and into our own lives.

Head on and be inspired!

Inspiring Father-and-Son: Hoyt

When Rick Hoyt was born, he was strangled by his umbilical cord. As a result, he had brain damage and was unable to control his limbs. Doctors said he would be a vegetable for the rest of his life, and advised to put his parents, Dick and Judy, to put Rick in an institution.

But the Hoyts refused. They noticed that Rick’s eyes followed them around the room. They brought Rick to Tufts University, asking if there’s anything to help him communicate, but was told that ‘there’s nothing going on in his brains’. Dick didn’t buy that, and challenged them to tell a joke. They did, and Rick laughed.

And so, they hooked Rick up to a computer that allowed him to control a switch with the side of his head. Rick was finally able to communicate. When a high school classmate became paralyze through an accident, the school organized a charity run for him, and Rick typed, “Dad, I want to do that.”

So Dick, a self-described “porker” who’ve never ran more than a mile, tried, and pushed his son for five miles. “Then it was me who was handicapped. I was sore for two weeks!”

After the race, Rick typed, “Dad, when we were running, it felt like I wasn’t disabled anymore!” That sentenced change their lives. Dick was compelled to give Rick that feeling as much as he could. He trained up and became in such fit shape that they were ready to try for the Boston Marathon.

The officials were not keen on letting them participate and compete. They couldn’t fit into the categories: the father-and-son team was not a single runner, but they don’t quite fit into the wheelchair category either. For a few years, they just joined and ran anyway. Finally in 1983, they ran fast enough to qualify for Boston the following year.

And somebody said, “why not a triathlon?”. Dick had never learned to swim, and had never rode a bike since he was six. He’d have to lug 110-pound Rick through the swim, cycle and run segments of the race. Still, they tried.

Now, at 65 and 43 respectively, Dick and Rick had ran their 24th Boston marathon. Their best time was 2hour 40minutes, just 35 minutes away from the world record – a record held by someone who didn’t need to push another man in a wheelchair. They’ve done more than 200 triathlons, and grueling 15-hour Iron-man competitions in Hawaii. Some have asked Dick to try and see how well he’d do if he was on his own, but he refused. He does it purely for the awesome energy and feeling that he gets with Rick.

Dick and Rick continue to give motivational speeches around the country, and take to competing in races every weekend. “No question about it, my father is the Father of the Century,” Rick says.

“The thing I’d most like, is that my dad sit in the chair and I push him once”.

The videos are below:

A truly inspirational example of great love and self-belief. Wow.

[Story: Rick Reilly]

Dove – Distorted Perception of Beauty


Click on the picture to see the transformation.


Of course, we intellectually know that models that appears on our magazines and billboards have been enhanced. But quite often we still assume that a celebrity/model looks just like how they appear on these flashy pages too.  Dove, in its Campaign for Real Beauty, hit a gem in this commercial spot that illustrates just exactly how the whole mechanism works – the lighting, the make-up, and the digital touch ups.

And yes, no wonder our perception of beauty is distorted.

Anousheh Ansari Space Blog

Anousheh Ansari on the International Space Station.

Anousheh Ansari on the International Space Station.

The first woman to travel into space as a tourist is Anousheh Ansari. She was the 4th space tourist. She kept a blog that is unlike the others where she documented her thoughts and emotions before, during and after the space travel. Her blog that is written in a honest and simple manner brings home the human and personal thoughts and reflections as humans travel off our small planet. She was not the first tourist to go up into space, however, she is the first one to give us an intimate view of the adventure.

While reading her blog, I can imagine myself peering out the small window and floating weightless far away from home. It puts many of our petty daily issues in a different perspective. In some ways it is similar to my post about Earth being a small pale blue dot.

The cities are easily distinguishable because they look like someone took a shovel and messed up the ground in that area. The agricultural lands have specific geometric shapes and demonstrate different colors based on the crop and the type of soil. You cannot see any borders… you cannot tell where one country ends and another one starts… the only border you see is the border between land and water.

Anousheh’s Space Blog