Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Thirty Seconds of Fury


The above video is of the first 30 seconds, from the ignition of the engines to the rocket clearing the tower, of the launch of Apollo 11 on July 16, 1969.  Slowed down it takes 8 minutes to watch (the video is narrated).

was the mission that landed men on the moon for the first time. The film was shot at 500 frames per second and focuses on the base of the launch pad. As such, it is not so much a film of the launch as film of the tremendous punishment the launch pad took when the rocket's engines were lit.

There were assemblies called Hold Down Arms that held the rocket in place until its engines had fully fired up. The Hold Down Arms had to unlatch and retract to allow the rocket to leave the pad. Needless to say, the heat the engines put out punished the launch pad and those assemblies. They had to pour huge amounts of water on the pad to try to cool it down and minimize damage. 

It is an interesting view of a small piece of the engineering that went into putting men on the moon.   

From PetaPixel.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Will the insults ever cease?

As soon as I read the title of the article, The World's Ugliest Statues, I knew it was coming. Sure enough, weighing in at Number III was Saparmurat Niyazov, a.k.a. The Turkmenbashi (apparently now also known as Turkmenbashy the Great), who's golden visage is forever twirling about in search of the sun.

To add insult to injury, his beloved vassals seem to have moved the monstrosity to the suburbs as soon as he was six feet under.  Geez, next thing you know they'll unplug the electric motor that spins him around.

And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Twenty strokes of the bamboo

Once again Obama bows.

"So it is you!" said Xi-feng with a chilling smile. "I suppose you thought that because you have a somewhat more lady-like job than the rest, that you could afford to disobey my orders!"

"Oh no, madam, indeed not!" said the woman. "I've been coming extra early every day. It's only today, because I overslept, that I'm a bit late. Please let me off this once, madam! It really is the first time."

(Xi-feng is interrupted by other business for a minute, and then returns her attention to the woman)

"Tomorrow another one will be late and the day after that it will be somebody else," said Xi-feng turning to the still waiting offender, "and before we know where we are we shall have no one turning up at all. I should have liked to have left you off, but if I'm lenient with you the first time, it will be that much harder for me to deal with somebody else the second time; so I am obliged to make an example of you." Her face hardened as she pronounced sentence: "Take her out and give her twenty strokes of the bamboo!"

Seeing X-feng was really angry, the servants dared not show themselves slack in executing her command. The wretched woman was half-dragged from the room and the flogging administered in full view of the waiting throng, after which they came in again, the executioners to report that they had discharged their duty and their victim to thank Xi-feng for her punishment.

From that day onwards the staff of the Ning-guo mansion realized just how formidable Xi-feng could be and went about their duties in fear and trembling, not daring to idle or delay.

That scene is from the Chinese literary masterpiece, The Story of the Stone. The novel covers the affairs of two entwined high caste families, living in adjoining mansions, and their numerous servants (who are actually slaves of the families). 

One of the young wives of one of the families has died. Her mother-in-law is too ill to attend to the pomp and ceremony of her funeral, so Xi-feng, a cousin from the other household, is assigned the task of managing her household during the funeral. Xi-feng considers the household she's been tasked to manage as being lax in their discipline. She thinks the servants are allowed too much latitude and she is determined to enforce order. This leads to the caning of the old servant woman who overslept. 

Xi-feng's rationalization of what she has to do, the caning, and the requirement that the beaten woman 'thank' Xi-feng for her punishment is the ugly face of aristocracy, the ruling class, and status bought through bloodline. Through out history it was the condition of the common man. Even today it is still the condition of the common man in many places. There are betters and there are underlings, and that is just the way it is and will always be. Forget that and there is a bamboo staff, or worse, to remind one of the proper order of things.

We forget at our peril how revolutionary and subversive to the old order the United States is by
simply being.

"All men are created equal" is a direct slap in the face of Divine Right and the attitude of To the Manor Born. It is beyond all else what we as Americans are all about. We are not a bloodline, or a clan, or an ethnicity; we are believers in the idea that all people are sacred. All people are born equal. We are all entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness without the fear of our betters caning us on a whim and expecting our gratitude for the act.

It is that which makes Obama's bow and scraping so teeth gritting. He may consider it politeness, or civility, or whatever; but free men do not bow and scrape to potentates and dictators. If only he had a bit of Alice Frazier in him. She understood what seems to be a mystery to him -- she understood her and a Queen's place in the order of things. 

This man is vapid and an embarrassment to the office. 

Monday, April 12, 2010


A real Turing machine.

All by themselves, words can cause pain.

iPad lockin.

Chinese quality strikes again.

The newest Gulf war.

Are we living inside a black hole?

Why we hold onto things.

A tale of two health cares.

The art of the steal.

Neither a bull nor a bear be.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Cigarettes and coffee

At first I thought that was a can of beer bundled with the two packs of cigarettes, but it turns out to be a can of coffee. Regardless, forty cigarettes to go along with a single can of coffee seems a bit much to me. Are Japanese really such dedicated chain smokers? 

Anyways... as long as they're pushing retail tobacco product partnerships, why not go all the way? A pack of cigarettes, a six pack of beer and a package of Trojans is another combination that springs to mind.

As an aside, of course Marlboro is an American brand and it turns out that Georgia Black Emblem Coffee is a leading brand of Coca-Cola Japan. Can you imagine the ruckus such a promotion would cause in the United States? I wonder if they have a Hollywood celebrity pushing this in Japanese TV ads?

From the post Taboo Product Partnerships at Trendhunter Magazine.

Hellooooo visitors from Maggie's Farm.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Ghana Movie Posters

In the 1980s the appearance of VCRs lead to the growth of Mobile Cinemas. These were small operations which would travel from one small village to the next and set up temporary cinemas. They would set up televisions, often powering them with mobile generators, and screen films.

To advertise their show they hired artists to paint posters for their films. You can see more of them, as well as buy one if you want to, at The book Extreme Canvas: Movie Poster Paintings from Ghana is also available which has many more examples.