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From Astrophysics To Zebras, A World Tour Of Weird Livestreams

Unlimited hours of mindless entertainment ahead
Unlimited hours of mindless entertainment ahead

Remember when time was one of the most limited resources anybody could have? Juggling our agendas, we rushed between work meetings, weekend trips, shopping, dinners and countless other social obligations, as business gurus built an entire industry around time management.

Of course COVID-19 lockdowns and curfews have pushed us into a new, suspended period that Belgian philosopher Pascal Chabot calls "hypertime," where some have kept calm and carried on by baking bread as others sink deep inside the Netflix catalogue.

But with our collective cabin fever now over the one-year mark, the number of at-home pastimes to occupy us seems to be dwindling. That leaves us time (eternity?) for the internet's ultimate time suck and virtual link to the outside world: the livestream. From watching zebras gallop in South Africa to terrible driving in Salem, Massachusetts, here is a round-up of some of the most random real-time feeds from around the globe.

• Stop Sign Cam

WHERE: Salem, Massachusetts, USA

WHAT: A Twitch channel devoted to one camera hanging at a street intersection in Salem, Massachusetts, where viewers watch cars as they approach a stop sign. What makes the livestream enthralling to viewers is the astounding number of vehicles that roll right on down the street, blatantly disrespecting driving etiquette.

POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS: Road rage, an unexpected predilection for rules and order.

IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Las Vegas Cams, another outlet for watching people make scandalous decisions as the livestream includes a view of the famous Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel.

• Namibia Cam

WHERE: Gondwana Namib Park, Namibia.

WHAT: A camera located at a waterhole where the local fauna, from zebras to ostriches, refresh themselves.

POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS: The feeling your household pets are slightly subpar.

IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: The Brooks Falls Brown Bears webcam that records these Alaskan beasts in their native habitat.

Edit: This part originally featured the Naledi Dam Webcam, which is no longer live streamed.

• Bubble Cam

WHERE: Florida, USA

WHAT: A whimsical couple have installed a backyard bubble machine that is not only hooked up to a livecam, but can be turned on by viewers with the click of a button.

POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS: Giddiness, an exaggerated sense of control.

IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: The Watching Grass Grow Live Webcam, which provides more garden and demands less interaction.

• The Pitch Drop Experiment

WHERE: Queensland, Australia

WHAT: The University of Queensland's school of physics and mathematics holds the Guinness World Record for longest running experiment: the Pitch Drop experiment, started in 1927 by a professor seeking to prove that pitch, a derivative of tar, can act as a fluid at room temperature. Only six drops have fallen from his pitch funnel in 86 years — all while no one was watching. This livecam aims to change those odds.

POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS: Excruciating impatience.

IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Bulbcam, where you can watch a lightbulb that's been glowing for 120 years. Brilliant.

• Crystal Bay Yacht Club Livestream

WHERE: Koh Samui, Thailand

WHAT: A camera sitting on the small, serene private beach of the Crystal Bay Yacht Club. The soft white sands, mesmerizing ocean ripples and palm trees gently swaying in the light breeze make for some hypnotic viewing.

POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS: An overwhelming sense of tranquility. Or aggressive wanderlust.

IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: The famous Copacabana beach in Rio De Janeiro, where the city, mountains and water meet.

• Live webcam from Skarsvåg

WHERE: Norway

WHAT: A YouTube livestream set in Skarsvåg, North Cape. According to the channel, it is the northernmost fishing village in the world. The camera pans across the town, from evening scenes of the tranquil harbor to daytime panoramic views of where the mountains meet the sea.

POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS: An urge to slip into some fishing boots and book a flight to Norway.

IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: The livestream of the main street in downtown Telluride, a quaint historic town in Colorado.

• International Space Station on UStream

WHERE: Outer space

WHAT: Real-time footage of brave astronauts floating about their daily lives at the International Space Station.

POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS: The sudden realization that you are but a finite speck in a vast and senseless universe, and that astrophysics is much more fun in practice.

IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: The Northern Lights Webcam, which monitors the aurora borealis live from Churchill, Canada.

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In Northern Kenya, Where Climate Change Is Measured In Starving Children

The worst drought in 40 years, which has deepened from the effects of climate change, is hitting the young the hardest around the Horn of Africa. A close-up look at the victims, and attempts to save lives and limit lasting effects on an already fragile region in Kenya.

Photo of five mothers holding their malnourished children

At feeding time, nurses and aides encourage mothers to socialize their children and stimulate them to eat.

Georgina Gustin

KAKUMA — The words "Stabilization Ward" are painted in uneven black letters above the entrance, but everyone in this massive refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, calls it ya maziwa: The place of milk.

Rescue workers and doctors, mothers and fathers, have carried hundreds of starving children through the doors of this one-room hospital wing, which is sometimes so crowded that babies and toddlers have to share beds. A pediatric unit is only a few steps away, but malnourished children don’t go there. They need special care, and even that doesn’t always save them.

In an office of the International Rescue Committee nearby, Vincent Opinya sits behind a desk with figures on dry-erase boards and a map of the camp on the walls around him. “We’ve lost 45 children this year due to malnutrition,” he says, juggling emergencies, phone calls, and texts. “We’re seeing a significant increase in malnutrition cases as a result of the drought — the worst we’ve faced in 40 years.”

From January to June, the ward experienced an 800 percent rise in admissions of children under 5 who needed treatment for malnourishment — a surge that aid groups blame mostly on a climate change-fueled drought that has turned the region into a parched barren.

Opinya, the nutrition manager for the IRC here, has had to rattle off these statistics many times, but the reality of the numbers is starting to crack his professional armor. “It’s a very sad situation,” he says, wearily. And he believes it will only get worse. A third year of drought is likely on the way.

More children may die. But millions will survive malnutrition and hunger only to live through a compromised future, researchers say. The longer-term health effects of this drought — weakened immune systems, developmental problems — will persist for a generation or more, with consequences that will cascade into communities and societies for decades.

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