Playlist TED Conferences

The best animals at TED

Posted by: Jessica Gross

War-HorseHorses, parrots and mosquitos: oh my!

TED2013 will commence in just nine days, and the TED Blog is gearing up for our live, minute-by-minute, coverage. One thing we can’t wait to see: which speaker will bring an animal onstage with them? (Our money is on ornithologist Kees Moeliker.) Sometimes, speakers arrive with a live animal, other times they have a very convincing imitation. Either way, it’s always a fun moment when a member of the animal kingdom makes an appearance in the auditorium, as this playlist reveals.

Handspring Puppet Co.: The genius puppetry behind War HorseHandspring Puppet Co.: The genius puppetry behind War Horse
Handspring Puppet Co.: The genius puppetry behind War Horse
Puppeteers Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones, who created the horses featured in War Horse, explain the mechanics and artistry of making and manipulating their puppets. “An actor struggles to die on stage, but a puppet has to struggle to live,” Kohler says. When they bring a horse, three puppeteers, and a rider on stage, it’s almost impossible to remember that it’s not an animal breathing, strutting, prancing and whinnying right before our eyes.
Einstein the Parrot: A talking, squawking parrotEinstein the Parrot: A talking, squawking parrot
Einstein the Parrot talks and squawks
On stage, Einstein, an African grey parrot, oinks like a pig, makes laser noises, yells “OH MY GOD!,” dances, and even sings “Happy Birthday” to Al Gore. Hilarious, charming and truly uncanny.
Amy Tan: Where does creativity hide?Amy Tan: Where does creativity hide?
Amy Tan: Where does creativity hide?
In a talk about how she creates whole people and worlds from her imagination, Amy Tan credits not only her beliefs and thought processes, but also her “muse”—her sweet, tiny dog, who emerges from her handbag to strut across the stage.
Robert Full: Learning from the gecko's tailRobert Full: Learning from the gecko's tail
Robert Full: Learning from the gecko’s tail
Biologist Robert Full brings to the stage a gecko robot that mimics the animal’s incredible foot structure and movement, which allows it to climb—only, though, with the added (and quite surprising) functionality of its tail.
Bill Gates: Mosquitos, malaria and educationBill Gates: Mosquitos, malaria and education
Bill Gates: Mosquitos, malaria and education
In a talk in part about malaria, Bill Gates releases live mosquitoes into the audience. “There’s no reason only poor people should have the experience,” he says, to laughter. (These mosquitoes are not, of course, infected.)
Nellie McKay: "The Dog Song"Nellie McKay: "The Dog Song"
Nellie McKay sings “The Dog Song”
Is that a dog pitter-pattering and panting? In a tribute to her own dog, singer and pianist Nellie McKay does a fairly convincing (and pretty adorable) impression.

Tune in to the TED Blog for live coverage of TED2013 beginning on February 25. And read much more about “The Young. The Wise. The Undiscovered” »

Comments (5)

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  • Piotr Powtruczin commented on Feb 22 2013

    A firm called Legit Script ( claims to be protecting people by labeling legitimate Canadian and other non-U.S. pharmacies as “Unapproved” or “Rogue.” This serves the big pharmaceutical interests but not the American consumer. More than that, its founder, John Horton, appears to have exploited his former government position to establish for his own gain.

    The Set Up:

    In 2007, John Horton worked in the Bush White House as Deputy Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). As Horton’s LinkedIn page (accessed 3/3/2010) states:

    “I served as the primary staff person responsible for advising the “Drug Czar” and coordinating federal policy on several issues, including prescription drug-related issues (including Internet pharmacy policy) and several chemical control issues. I authored the Administration’s National Synthetic Drug Control Strategy and co-authored the President’s National Drug Control Strategy in the years from 2002 until 2007.”

    Congress had called for a report from ONDCP to propose a “strategy to stop advertisements that provide information about obtaining over the Internet drugs…without the use of a lawful prescription” (Our emphasis). Moreover, Congress’ request was limited in scope to controlled substances. Horton, as the chief staff person on this assignment, apparently switched the focus of the report from preventing access to controlled medicines without prescriptions (with which PharmacyChecker fully agrees) to denying Americans access to any type of medicine, even with a valid prescription, if coming from a Canadian pharmacy. The absurdity of this switch is that reputable licensed Canadian pharmacies require prescriptions and won’t even sell controlled substances to Americans. We believe this switch was encouraged by big pharmaceutical interests, who make less money when drugs are purchased at lower cost outside the U.S. To achieve their purpose, the report took aim at search engines as well as The ONDCP’s paper stated:

    “Both Google and Yahoo use a third-party system called (located at Compare prescription drug prices and online pharmacy ratings.) to verify whether websites seeking to advertise an online pharmacy are legitimate. However, PharmacyChecker has approved several websites from Canada that may be operating lawfully in Canada, but offer prescription drugs to United States consumers…”

    The paper noted that “not all VIPPS pharmacies appear to be recognized in the PharmacyChecker system.” [VIPPS is the verification program of the National Boards of Pharmacy in the U.S. and excludes Canadian pharmacies from membership.] The paper goes onto to draw the baseless conclusion that, “For all these reasons, PharmacyChecker is not an adequate, reliable verification system…”

    Approving safe, lawful Canadian pharmacies which require prescriptions certainly does not make “inadequate” or “unreliable.” Quite the contrary. Nevertheless, the paper lays out the plan that we believe Horton hatched, promoted and attempted to execute for the past three years:

    “The DEA, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and/or ONDCP will meet with the major Internet advertising services (Google, Yahoo and others) to encourage voluntary action such that only online pharmacies in compliance with Federal and State laws are advertised through the major Internet advertising services. Search engines will be requested to voluntarily adopt standards that comply and encourage consumer compliance with Federal and State laws and regulations, and Boards of Pharmacy standards. This will be done in consultation with the State Boards of Pharmacy through the NABP.”

    As we see it, Horton was setting the stage for his company,, to use this “U.S. only” standard to displace as the leading certifier of online pharmacies and to pressure the search engines into blocking advertising of lower cost pharmacies in Canada and elsewhere. While Horton was a government employee, on March 20, 2007 his company’s domain name was registered: WHOIS domain registration information from Network Solutions. On April 16, 2007, Horton’s government office submitted the paper quoted above to Congress and, having planted the seed, Horton immediately left office and registered LegitScript as a for-profit company in Virginia and, later, as a not-for-profit entity in his home state of Oregon.

    This chronology indicates, at least to us, that Horton manipulated and exploited his position as Deputy Director of a White House office for his personal gain. This raises a question in our view of whether his conduct violated The US Office of Government Ethics’ Misuse of Position policy which states that “Executive branch employees must not use their public office for their own or another’s private gain.”

    Misleading Reports:

    Horton apparently approached the search engines and others to promote the use of LegitScript and/or VIPPS in place of (and it’s not surprising that VIPPS now endorses LegitScript as a reputable verification service). Perhaps rebuffed by these companies, Horton issued two reports, each focused on a different search engine, and each claiming that over 80% of pharmacy advertisers found were “illegal” or “rogue” when, in fact, most of these were licensed foreign pharmacies selling real medicine and requiring prescriptions.

    From his trumped up research, Horton went on to make the outrageous accusation that search engines were “sponsors” of rogue Internet pharmacies tied to “foreign (mainly Russian, Eastern Europe, and Chinese) organized criminal networks that are thought to fund other illicit activities including, in some cases, terrorism.” There is little doubt that’s intention was to embarrass the search engines and cast doubt on the Verification Program.

    Horton’s Real Business:

    Despite LegitScript’s efforts, traffic to its site has been scant — less than 900 unique visitors per month in January 2010, compared to 104,000 per month to (’s (rank #217,488) Site Profile | Compete). However, as we see it, Horton’s purpose was not to help consumers find safe and affordable pharmacies, but to help deny Americans, especially the uninsured, access to lower priced medications. He has revealed his purpose in several ways: He dissolved LegitScript as a non-profit organization in Oregon on April 8th, 2009 and then registered LegitScript as a for-profit LLC on August 17th, 2009. At the same time, records at the Oregon Secretary of State Corporation Division show that Horton registered a firm called Evergreen Government Relations, giving the same address as LegitScript, apparently expecting to cash in on his government connections and influence on the behalf of corporate clients. A week earlier, on August 10th 2009, he abandoned his registration at the U.S. Trademark Office to use “LegitScript Certified” as a certification mark for Internet pharmacies. Working for companies to get government agencies to pressure search engines and domain registers is where the action is for John Horton.

    Making Money: adamantly denies that it is a “front for big PhRMA” and claims that it is funded by its employees. But unlike pharmacy verification groups like VIPPS and, it does not charge pharmacies a fee for its verification service. So where does its revenue come from, or where does Horton get the money to fund it? The website says it offers “market research reports” regarding the Internet pharmacy and online pharmaceuticals markets. And who might be the customers of such “research”? We think it’s fair to assume that its big pharma, including big US pharmacies. may not expect to make money from its verification program, and it doesn’t care because its money may come from elsewhere.

    Be On the Look Out:

    If releases other “research reports,” keep in mind John Horton’s real agenda. And if search engines exclude safe, low cost pharmacies from advertising (and one recently did) or, worse yet, block them from appearing at all, we believe that and John Horton, serving his masters, may have had a hand in it.

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  • Helmy Elsaid commented on Feb 15 2013

    Best horse(Legal case at USA court against Obamna,USA government,UN,vodafone company-AS my documents at :

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