Monday, July 22, 2019

NASA's space tourism posters

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The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has posted Visions of the Future, which contains a number of hypothetical posters for space tourism. To those of us of a certain age it is just a reminder of the sorry follow-up to Apollo. Ah, what might have been.

Anyway, this is their blurb for the posters:
Imagination is our window into the future. At NASA/JPL we strive to be bold in advancing the edge of possibility so that someday, with the help of new generations of innovators and explorers, these visions of the future can become a reality. As you look through these images of imaginative travel destinations, remember that you can be an architect of the future.
There are more posters after the jump, and a few more. as well as more information and larger size downloads, at the JPL link.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Homemade wheat beer and crayfish

The above video is from Li ZiQi, an extremely popular Chinese 'Oriental Lifestyle Foodie', making wheat beer and eventually cooking a meal of crayfish and enjoying the beer. Her videos are very beautifully filmed and well edited.

She has a carefully curated image as a young Chines girl living a simple rural life and demonstrating traditional cooking and crafts. From her About page on her online store:
[Li ZiQi is] a girl who lives in the mountains and forests in the village of northwestern Pingwu, Mianyang City, Sichuan Province, China.

Li Ziqi didn't own happy childhood. When she was a child, her parents got divorced and her father died early. She started living with her grandparents. Their life was poor but affordable. Li Ziqi's grandfather was a cook in the village. When there was a ceremony going on, such as a wedding or a funeral, her grandfather would be in charge.

In her videos, she shows how to cook various dishes, which she had learned from her grandfather. Besides cooking, she also learned how to make bamboo baskets, grow vegetables, and make carpenter handiworks.


Li Ziqi's works convey a positive attitude toward life. Ziqi's videos can help people fulfill the "dreams of the countryside."

These are the dreams of many people at home and abroad, especially Chinese people. Many people show great interest in Li Ziqi clothing. In front of the camera, she always appears in a set of Chinese Han clothing which is made in rough fabric.

Also, her videos help more people learn and understand Chinese traditions and culture. The spirit of struggling for independence and self-reliance conveyed by her life experience has attracted great attention at home and abroad.
Additional information, including biographical information and a brief interview of Li ZiQi, can be found at Li ZiQi - A Modern Chinese Fairy.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Colorized pictures from a 1903 Russian costume ball

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In 1903 Tsar Nicholas II, to celebrate the 290 anniversary of the Romanov dynasty, hosted a costume dress ball in the Winter place in St Petersburg. These pictures from that ball were colorized by Olga Shirnina and they certainly are beautiful. Of course the ball occurred in the sunset of an Age, in 15 years it would be swept away.

These pictures, and those after the jump, are from the vintage News post Dazzling Color Photos of the Legendary Romanov Costume Ball of 1903 which has more of the colorized photos, as well as a number of black and white ones. Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

"What did you do at work today?" "I pulled over a submarine."

Above is a video of the Coast Guard cutter Munro boarding and seizing a semi-submersible drug carrying submarine in the Pacific. I originally saw the video at Borderland Beat.

The title of the post is from plixplop in the comments to the video.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Hornsby Chain Track Tractor and new links

Click to enlarge
This is a post that adds a couple of new links to Flares. When looking for a graphic to illustrate it I searched on 'chain links' (I guess if nothing else I'm hopelessly cliché). Anyway, I found the above image of a fellow riding his Hornsby Chain Track Tractor.  If you're interested, The Old Motor has a post with information about them -- The 1908 Hornsby Chain Track Tractor.

As for the new links, under 'Recommended' in the far right column I've added:
  • The Volokh Conspiracy is a go to site for me, a non-lawyer, when it comes to current legal matters. The discussion in their comments sections are particularly enlightening as multiple views and opinions are hashed out in them. 
  • Victory Girls is a blog I frequently followed links to, so I added it to Flares' link list so I didn't have to rely on stumbling across a link to find my way there.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Say Something

Get ready to throw in the towel this weekend with A Great Big World featuring Veronica Ballestrini.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Preparing to restore a Rembrandt

Viewing Rembrandt's The Night Watch
(click image to enlarge)
The Rijksmuseum has started Operation Night Watch, a project  to evaluate and eventually restore Rembrandt's painting The Night Watch. Rather than remove the painting to a lab for the process, a glass enclosure has been built around the painting and the process will the viewable by the public. The Operation Night Watch website also has numerous videos detailing the work.

From their press release:
On 8 July 2019 the Rijksmuseum starts Operation Night Watch. It will be the biggest and most wide-ranging research and conservation project in the history of Rembrandt’s masterpiece. The goal of Operation Night Watch is the long-term preservation of the painting. The entire operation will take place in a specially designed glass chamber so the visiting public can watch.

Never before has such a wide-ranging and thorough investigation been made of the condition of The Night Watch. The latest and most advanced research techniques will be used, ranging from digital imaging and scientific and technical research, to computer science and artificial intelligence. The research will lead to a better understanding of the painting’s original appearance and current state, and provide insight into the many changes that The Night Watch has undergone over the course of the last four centuries. The outcome of the research will be a treatment plan that will form the basis for the restoration of the painting.

Monday, July 08, 2019

1939 in Sheridan County, Kansas

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These pictures are from the site Photogrammar which is an archive of photos taken between 1935 to 1945 by the United States Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information.

The site has an interactive map. I randomly clicked on a box inside of the map and got pictures from 1939 which were taken in Sheridan County, Kansas. It looks like it was a hardscrabble life, but I've read that, during the Great Depression things were generally better on farms than in the city, so maybe they considered themselves lucky.

Enjoy these pictures, and those after the jump. Of course there are many, many more at the link.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Cambodian grilled chicken with dipping sauce

This video is from the YouTube channel Rural Life. She's grilling chicken in this video, in her other videos the young lady demonstrated a variety of Cambodian recipes and dishes.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Happy 4th of July

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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
As always, may our self-proclaimed betters choke on those words. Happy 4th of July my fellow citizens. Enjoy the BBQs, festivities and fireworks.

Monday, July 01, 2019

The mighty Grillbot

The 4th of July brings BBQ grilling to mind. The above video is a review of a robot that cleans the grate of a BBQ grill. The brushes that keep falling off adds a bit of humor to it all. Even on sale these Grillbots cost $90 to $100. Seems like a mighty steep price to do away with your gill brush, but to each his own. You can follow the link if you have a hankering to buy one.

Speaking about robots, I wonder whatever became of The Robotolizer?

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Images from old Japanese fireworks catalogs

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The 4th of July is nearly upon us and of course that means fireworks. These images are from CR Brock and Company's early 20th Century catalog of Japanese fireworks. They are from the City of Yokohama library's digital collection and I found them via La boite verte's article De riches catalogues de feux d’artifices japonais en haute resolution.

You can download PDFs of the catalogs from the Yokohama library site. Run the URL though Google Translate Web to be able to find the links to the PDFs.

As an aside my wife, son and I watched a Tokyo fireworks display from our hotel room a few years back. I have no idea what the occasion for the fireworks was, but it was a very impressive show.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Mixing dreams and memories

Two Poor Men Sleeping by Isidre-Nonell  
Monna Innominata [I dream of you, to wake] - Christina Rossetti

I dream of you, to wake: would that I might
Dream of you and not wake but slumber on;
Nor find with dreams the dear companion gone,
As, Summer ended, Summer birds take flight.
In happy dreams I hold you full in night.
I blush again who waking look so wan;
Brighter than sunniest day that ever shone,
In happy dreams your smile makes day of night.
Thus only in a dream we are at one,
Thus only in a dream we give and take
The faith that maketh rich who take or give;
If thus to sleep is sweeter than to wake,
To die were surely sweeter than to live,
Though there be nothing new beneath the sun.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Here there is a bit of money

This is a nicely done video showing the underbelly of Lagos, Nigeria. It has snippets from a variety of people showing a small slice of their lives. It is produced by Al Jazeera if that matters to you.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Meenakshi Amman Temple

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From Atlas Obscura's post Meenakshi Amman Temple:
[T]he temple was built by Tamil Hindus native to southeastern India, and it first appeared in recorded history in the 600s AD. In the 1300s, the sacred structure was ransacked and destroyed by the Muslim general Malik Kafur in a successful attempt to spread Islam to Madurai. It wasn’t until nearly 250 years later, in 1559, that the structure was rebuilt by the first Nayak king of Madurai.

The Meenakshi Amman Temple remains standing today, the tallest tower reaching 170 feet high.
It is amazing how intricate and colorful the statues and decorations are. Actually, a lot of buildings in antiquity were similarly colorful, their pigments have just been lost over time due to neglect.

These pictures, and those after the jump, are gather from here and there on the web. Enjoy.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Between my real life and my dreams

A space cowboy eats ice cream on the Moon
(picture via Shorpy)
Make Believe by John Foster

When I wake up in the morning
Not all is what it seems
I drift through a world of make believe
Between my real life and my dreams.

Strange Adventures from the space book
That I read the night before
Crowd in upon on my drowsiness
Through imagination's door.

Between sleeping and waking
The alarm clock's jangalang cry
Becomes the roaring fire-railed rocket
That hurls me through the sky.

My bed's a silver spacecraft
Which I pilot all alone
Whisp'ring through endless stratospheres
Towards planets still unknown.

Outside through the mists of morning
The spinning lights of cars
In my make-believe space voyage
Become eternities of stars.

Is that my mother calling something
That my dreams can't understand?
Or can it be crackling instructions
From far off Mission Command?

Monday, June 17, 2019

Sparta -- yet another visit to Russian TV Land

Regular readers will know that I frequently act like a monkey when a shiny object is dangled in front of my eyes. That is, I tend to get fixated and head off on tangents from time to time. So, it should be no surprise that after watching and reviewing the Russian TV show Vyzhit Posle, there would be more Russian TV in my future.

Above is an opening scene from the Russian TV series Sparta (available on Netflix). In the foreground is Barkovsky, a new student who is observing his fellow students as they eat lunch in a cafeteria. In the background we see Irina Shorina, a rather frumpily dressed Russian super model, errr… I mean student, who is carrying her tray. Just then a young fellow jumps up, walks over to her, says something snotty and then tears her blouse open.

Wait -- this is high school?

Anyway, he points at her flat chest and makes jokes about it and all the male students, being red blooded Russian boys who wouldn't get caught dead trying to date a flat chested Russian super model, all guffaw in laughter. The girls are also all laughing, strangely unperturbed by a guy ripping open a girl's blouse in the middle of the crowded cafeteria.

Meanwhile Barkovsky seems unamused by it all as he pours salt into his hand, walks up to the bodice tearing hooligan, tosses the salt in his face and then knocks the cad over as he pulls his pants down and then ends it all by throwing a plate full of food into the bounder's face. A scuffle ensues, but it is soon broken up by the Russian lunch lady who runs in and scolds the lot of them. Entertainingly, she completely ignores the Russian super model student with the torn open blouse. Ah, a day in the life of a Russian lunch lady.

The cafeteria scene was a flashback, the show now moves to the present where the bulk of the story takes place. It starts with a young woman teacher apparently committing suicide by jumping out of a 3rd story window at the school.

Enter our hero, Igor Andreevich Kryuko (pictured above), who is a rather odd Russian version of a down on his luck, hard-boiled detective. He also has a suicide in his past -- his wife caught him kanoodling a blonde in his car, went home and promptly jumped to her death. Ironic, aint it? Oh yea, the blonde is now his boss in the precinct they work at.

To complete his character, Igor lives on a house boat, has heart problems, eats a lot of tomatoes, bends paperclips into little figurines and is about the most unobservant detective to ever walk the Earth.

While everybody else concludes the teacher's death is a suicide he decides that a crime was committed so he launches a murder investigation. Hilariously from that point on he spends all -- and I mean all -- of his time lurking around the high school looking for clues. Good thing there are apparently no other crimes in this city.

As he bumbles around conducting his inept investigation we discover that, with the exception of the lunch lady from the above video, virtually all the teachers, staff and students of the school are degenerates in some way, shape or form. We have a parade of liars, petty criminals, sluts, pedophiles and neo-Nazis along with beatings, peepholes in the boy's lockers room, teachers getting roofied, students getting squashed by trucks, Russian mafia goobers, abandoned children, students filmed doing strip teases and more!

Yeeesh, even Mario Cart has better graphics than this clunker
The 'more' being S'Parta, the video game this TV show is named after. The game is presented with the same sort of moral panic Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto generated at one time. The game allows you do whatever you want to, so if the kids play it they are bound to all turn into homicidal maniacs. A corporation, presumably an Eeeeevil corporation, has bribed the school with free computers to install S'Parta in its computer lab. Naturally, all the kids started playing it non-stop and they're turning into homicidal maniacs and worse as a result.

What's funny is the game as shown is a wheezing bore with nothing to do in it and, as you can see from the screen cap above, it has amazingly crappy graphics for this day and age. If I paid $60 on Steam for this monstrosity I would be pretty livid, but the kids all seem to love it.

If I say much more I will be getting too deep into spoiler territory, so I'll leave it at that. Also, the show only had one season so I won't be revisiting it like I did with Vyzhit Posle. Would I recommend it? Well, the filming is gorgeous, but the characters are somewhat flat -- it depends on how curious you are to see what a modern Russian police show looks like.

Finally, in light of the flat chested super model student in the video that started this post, I'll end it with Leningrad's song Tits. It features infidelity, discusses the benefits of breast augmentation surgery, has wise advice from Vladimir Putin, mixes in mention of the Magnitsky Act and reenacts Da Vinci's Last Supper. Be sure to turn on captions if you view it. It is probably NSFW.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

The design and manufacture of beer cans

A detailed look at the making of aluminum cans for drinks. The logic of the design choices are explained well, and the manufacturing process is clearly illustrated. An interesting look at a mundane topic.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Thursday, June 13, 2019

30 days at sea

This is a time lapse of a cargo ship traveling from the Red Sea to Hong Kong. Many years ago I sailed much the same waters, but I was on a warship and I remember the trip as being from east to west.

We had left Hong Kong and were in the Gulf of Tonkin when the Yom Kippur War started. The carrier group I was with pulled out and sailed through the Straits of Malacca and headed first to the Gulf of Oman off the Straits of Hormuz, and eventually south to the Gulf of Aden where my ship, and another destroyer, ran a blockade of the Bab el-Mendab Straits into the Red Sea.

It was hotter than hell and the sky was yellow with wind-blown sand. The Indian Ocean was beautiful.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Ardent in one way or another

Flattery in courtship is the highest insolence, for whilst it pretends to bestow on you more than you deserve, it is watching an opportunity to take from you what you really have. - Sarah Fielding

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Vintage color Scientific American magazine covers

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These covers, and those after the jump, are from the Internet Archive's collection: Scientific American (1845-1909). As well as the covers, the collection allows you to browse the internal pages of the magazines.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

An RC amphibious assualt

I first posted this video in 2013. It is a ferocious storming of a beach by RC amphibious landing craft carrying RC tanks. It seems appropriate, in an odd sort of a way, to run it again on this 75th anniversary of the D-day landings.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Walking through La Recoleta Cemetery

This is a video of a walk through La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is an amazing place full of elaborate above ground vaults and mausoleums. The architecture of them is breath taking, nary a modern looking monstrosity among them. Many well known Argentinians, including Eva Peron, are buried there and it is still in use by notable families.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Courtroom sketches.

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When cameras don't exist in the courtroom, either because they've yet to be invented or they are not permitted, the courtroom sketch artist is the only one to record the trial's scenes. Sometimes the sketch is less an immediate record, and more a recreation of trials long completed. These, and those after the jump, are a few examples of courtroom sketches. They run the gamut from the old-timey witch trials to more current litigation.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Inner workings of an AR-15

For whatever reason machinery always fascinates me. The above video is a detailed animation of the mechanics of loading, firing and ejecting a shell in an AR-15.

The video was found via Knuckledraggin My Life Away's post: The best AR animation video I’ve ever seen. Knuckledraggin' has a lot of interesting posts. I've added a link to the site in the Recommended link list. Give them a visit.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Just in case WWIII breaks out

Radiation induced  mutation
These days we prefer to terrorize ourselves with Ebola, Marburg virus, zombie outbreaks and other pandemics (and don't even get me started on EMP and asteroid collisions), but back in the good old days we mainly worried about A and H bombs.

It seems -- and this is not to minimize the dangers of bacteria and virii -- like we are allowing such fears to side-track us from preparations for nuclear war. So, as a public service, I bring you the above educational video to prepare you for the mushroom clouds in your future.

As a bonus, below is a video of an old air raid siren being fired up. Fairly creepy sounding all in all. Well, with that I'm off on a test run of my 'below a workbench' fallout shelter. Laugh if you must, but I won't be the one turning into a radiation mutant because I was unprepared. Then again, the mutants do get the pretty girls in the end, don't they?

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Happier memories

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Yesterday was Memorial Day, where we remember those who sacrificed all in combat. There were happier times as well. These are a small sampling of WWII brides and grooms from Vintage Everday's Wartime Marriage: Lovely Photos of WWII Soldiers With Their Brides. Many more photos can be found at the link.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Making tater chips in India

Jaymukh, the father of the Village Food Factory YouTuber, makes a batch of potato chips. After frying them, he seasons them with chile powder and salt. Then they package them and they hand them out for the villagers to enjoy. At the link are many other videos of Jaymukh cooking various dishes.

You can read more about the father and son pair making the videos at the New Yorker article, The Indian Filmmaker Who Made His Dad’s Village Cooking a YouTube Sensation. From the article:
Like the other addictive food videos ... the videos on Village Food Factory have their own formula for viral appeal, built on Jaymukh’s quiet, matter-of-fact way of preparing large quantities of food with the scantest equipment. Jaymukh hacks down shrubs with a machete to make space for himself to cook, and lugs huge branches from nearby trees to build his fires. He makes homemade coconut oil by methodically cracking open a hundred coconuts, and scrambles hundreds of eggs in a kiddie-pool-size pot. In the channel’s most popular video, he drops two hundred pieces of chicken into a deep vat of oil for a K.F.C.-style preparation.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

In the eye of the beholder

Top: Beauty and the Beast
Bottom: Ulysses and the Sirens
Contradictions - Jordan Malik

Our eyes show us what is in front of us
But they don’t show us what is there
The sun gives us our light
Yet it brings with it the shadows
Our hearts are meant to love
But hate lingers here
Opposites with the same home
You cannot hate without having loved
Yes, this world
It is a beating, living heart
Filled with love, Full of hate
It is broken and scarred
Yet it is fresh and beautiful
Hate cannot take over this heart
But love cannot win
Life in itself is just one contradiction after the next

Friday, May 24, 2019

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

From civilian to soldier

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This is a 1942 series of photos of George Camblair being inducted into the army and undergoing training. I tried to find out what happened to him, but had no luck in my search. I did quite like the touch that he got the pretty girl in the end. I wonder if he used the ol' "I don't want to die a virgin" line on her?

I found the pictures at Flashbak's The Making Of A GI: One Man’s Journey From Working Stiff To Man Of War (1942). There are more after the jump, and of course more at the Flashbak link.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Homemade gypsy pegs

Gypsy pegs are another name this English fellow uses for clothes pins. He's showing how to DIY make them in the video. I dunno, for as cheap as a package of them are this seems like an awful labor intensive way to save a buck or two. I suppose there is some satisfaction to it all, if only in drinking the beers needed to use the cans for metal strips in their manufacture.

The fellow's name is Harry Rogers, and his YouTube channel is full of all sorts of other odd and interesting DIY projects.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

There’s always an end to the glory

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I've noticed that frequently Oriental artwork is not bound by the golden proportion. Rather, the division is one side full of detail and the other a void. Our human reality balanced against something else altogether. These oil paintings, and the text below, is from the website of the Japanese artist Arisa Kumagai.
Leisure Class

I grew up in the red light district.

My family ran a business selling glitzy Italian clothes to mafia, and to the ladies working in the brothel located just behind our fancy shop.

Surrounded by decadent luxury, I was literally pounded in to acquire the taste of leisurely class.

Defined by T. Veblen, people from this class spent until they drop on themselves to attain social dignity.

I was born in 1991,so the history of socio-economic decline synchronized with mine.

I grew to believe that vanity was the only salvation.

In the absence of God, I saw beauty in excessive decoration.

There was swirl of desire, poor and rich. The more prosperous meant more ornamental.

There was gush of beasty energy, life and death. The more vibrant meant more embellishing.

But I found in that whirl a gleam, a residue or a kind of mutant, in the form of a human body.

Now my religion is to worship the surplus, something magnificent and yet something non-functional, like art.

But I also know from my up bringing that there’s always an end to the glory; that it all sinks into the dark, death-like void.