Sunday, November 28, 2021

Overland trains

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Before cargo hauling helicopters became viable for the job, delivering freight to remote location was a problem. In the mid 20th century one attempted solution was overland trains (also called land or road trains). They featured powerful engines that pulled a string of trailers, which themselves were often motorized and had steering, and could operate on poor roads, snow and cross-country.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Return To Sender

Get ready for a recursive weekend with Goldsands.


The Black Friday stampede

Although Amazon and early sales events have cut into the Black Friday mania that caused wild frenzies when the doors opened, it used to be a thing. They were such an odd fixture for so long. 

Traditionally I've posted a stampede video on Black Friday and so this year, even though they're fading, in a sort of twisted nostalgia I'll keep with the stampede post. If nothing else, maybe the video's tips will come in handy if your ever in a Kmart and get caught in a rush for a particularly alluring Blue Light Special.


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Thanksgiving football

1876 Thanksgiving game, Yale vs Princeton
Click image to enlarge

Football is a Thanksgiving Day tradition. It started in 1876 when Yale bested Princeton 2-0. The score puzzled me. Reading the inter-collegiate rules from that era is baffling, but in digging around further football in that era was a sort of mix between rugby and soccer. Blocking (which they called interference) was not yet allowed; nor was the concept of having a set number of downs to advance the ball a certain distance before having to turn the ball over. 

I think points were scored, not by entering the end zone which only resulted in an attempt to kick the ball through the goal posts, but by kicking or slapping the ball through the goal posts at any time. Hence the low score. Teams, without the 4 downs to advance rule (which, when implemented was at first 3 downs to go 5 yards), would control the ball as long as they could as they ground their way down the field. Much of the later rules were instituted to increase scoring and reduce boring games. 


Monday, November 22, 2021

A Thanksgiving Day song

Christmas will be upon us soon and we'll be saturated, to the point of madness, with Xmas music. This Thanksgiving Day week I thought I would do traditional Thanksgiving songs instead. Then I realized there is no actual genre of Thanksgiving music so, trend setter that I am, I decided to create the genre.

This is the first, and so far only, entry into my new genre: Thanks for the Memory. 

This version features Ella Fitzgerald fronting the Marty Paich Orchestra. Older readers will remember that this used to be Bob Hope's theme song. As an aside, I saw Bob in one of his USO shows at Balboa Naval Hospital many years ago. It was a great show -- his standup stuff was a lot raunchier than his movies and TV shows. 


Sunday, November 21, 2021

The vacuum (We've Been Here Before II)

Rooftop Koreans defending their businesses
during the 1992 Los Angeles riots

I've mentioned that I don't often comment on events of the day because others say it better than me. Regarding the Rittenhouse situation Ginny at Chicago Boys says it better. Below is an excerpt from her post Rittenhouse Found (Appropriately) Not Guilty but Who Was?

We can say, at least I would say, that even a well-intentioned 17-year-old should avoid riots. (As our eyes could see, whatever the networks said.)  However, for most of our past 17-year-olds were considered adults – they married, fought, supported households; forbidding alcohol  recognizes strong bodies but maturing judgement. Nonetheless, Rittenhouse’s mission appears to have been felt honestly, the desire to establish order is response to chaos. When faced with one attacker, he remained, well, I’m not sure if calm is the word.  Still he didn’t shoot a man bearing in on him until that man lowered his gun, pointed it directly at his head as he lay on the ground. Someone older might have handled all of it with fewer deaths, someone trained to be a policeman, a soldier.  Someone like that might have been careful not to be alone, too.   But, then, we might ask – where were older men?   Who made decisions that led to that night, how could they have been so terribly irresponsible?  Where were all the grown men (and womn), mayors and governors, that long summer?  Watching the previous day, Rittenhouse  understood life would never be the same for his father and his grandmother when property was treated cavalierly, violence and arson  unchecked.  A vacuum pulled him in.

People of my age have been there before.  We remember the 60’s and 70’s, then the 80’s and 90’s, we remember the destruction and vigilantes.  The gun as “peacemaker” in a lawless town is a mainstay of our culture.  The frontier might not have been as we saw it portrayed in western after western, but the human tendencies portrayed are:  we were quite aware of what happens when order breaks down, when our property (of all kinds, personal and real, familial and intellectual, our bodies themselves) is not respected and protected by an ordered society.  In a vacuum, force and violence settle disputes, access property, force servility.

A rampaging mob in St. Louis chooses rooms in a man’s house, threatening death to pets, the rape of the man’s wife.  And he is arrested for protecting that house.  A hundred cars are torched in a single lot in Kenosha.  Chaos generally leaves the weak vulnerable, as the unprincipled, the untethered strong are unrestrained.  Pop culture, reacting, glorifies vigilantes.  Sure we don’t want a country run by vigilante justice.  It simply appears the only answer:  quick and simple.  It is satisfying entertainment at such a time.

In the fifties when many had seen how thin the veneer of Western order could be, Hollywood offered Shane.  Later cities became more ragged, harsh, disordered.  Vigilante plots responded to the chaos of riots and the years of crack.  Dirty Harry movies began in 1971, ended in 1987; The A Team ran  from 1983-87.  The Equalizer ads indicate its contemporary protagonist (Queen Latifah) is a strong, competent but violent defender of the weak – as was Edward Woodward, in the series that ran from 1985-1989.

Kyle Rittenhouse felt he needed to be there, not necessarily from a grandiose vision of himself, hardly for racist reasons,  impelled by many reasons, I assume, but underlying it was the knowledge that a vacuum existed in Kenosha where law and order should have been.


Friday, November 19, 2021

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Walk in a beach town in Equador

The above video is a walk through the beach town of Montañita in Ecuador. It is popular with European Lonely Planet backpackers and it is a weekend get-away for Ecuadorians. The video is of a stroll through the town, along the beach for a bit, and then back into the town. The video has sparse narration in both English and Spanish. Enjoy.


Sunday, November 14, 2021

Simple pleasures

Tatsuro Kiuchi

There are a thousand thousand reasons to live this life, every one of them sufficient.
— Marilynne Robinson


Thursday, November 11, 2021

Veterans Day - the love that remains

All veterans have felt the melancholy that underlies Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal's song 'I'll be seeing you'. I remember many a night in a ship rolling in an ocean with my thoughts far away.  There is a word that describes the feeling: saudade -- the nostalgic longing to be near again to something or someone that is distant, or that has been loved and then lost; "the love that remains".

Give a thought to our past and present veterans. They've thought of you, it is the lonely cost of a distant post. 


Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Making gypsum false ceiling boards

With this video we return to India to see one of its small enterprises. They're making gypsum ceiling boards. It is a very dirty and labor intensive process. I did like how the fellow color coordinated his t-shirt and pants -- one can be a fashionista anywhere.

As long as we're speaking about gypsum below is a video, Gypsum - The Miracle Mineral, put out by the Gypsum Association. It shows a more automated process of making gypsum board and discusses gypsum's unique properties.

Sunday, November 07, 2021

Taping windows against bombardment

Click any image to enlarge

During WWI Parisians were worried that their city might come under German bombardment or air attack. Shop owners and businesses, to minimize the danger of shattered glass, taped their windows. While the taping started our utilitarian, eventually the taping deigns became more elaborate and artistic.

These images are taken from the La boite verte post Les élégantes protections anti-bombardements des vitrines de Paris en 14-18. There are more examples at that link.  

Friday, November 05, 2021

El Manisero

Get ready for a rug-cutting weekend with Lazara Cachao Lopez,
Raúl Castillo, Reinier Ceruto, Humberto Zaldivar and Branko Arnsek.
Dancers: Aniedys Batista and Lambert Pujadad Sardiñas.


Wednesday, November 03, 2021

As long as we're talking about cephalopods...

My last post Angry squids and octopi was about artwork involving squids and octopi. Both are of the class cephalopoda which belong to the phylum Mollusca. Cephalopods are an ancient type of invertebrate that date back to the Cambrian period. In fact, they predate fish.

If you're interested in more information about them visit the website The Cephalopod Page maintained by James B. Wood Ph.D. Below is an excerpt from his introduction to the site.

Cephalopods, the class of mollusks which scientists classify octopuses, squid, cuttlefish and nautiluses, can change color faster than a chameleon. They can also change texture and body shape, and, and if those camouflage techniques don't work, they can still "disappear" in a cloud of ink, which they use as a smoke-screen or decoy. Cephalopods are also fascinating because they have three hearts that pump blue blood, they're jet powered, and they're found in all oceans of the world, from the tropics to the poles, the intertidal to the abyss. Cephalopods have inspired legends and stories throughout history and are thought to be the most intelligent of invertebrates. Some can squeeze through the tiniest of cracks. They have eyes and other senses that rival those of humans.

The class Cephalopoda, which means "head foot", are mollusks and therefore related to bivalves (scallops, oysters, clams), gastropods (snails and slugs), scaphopoda (tusk shells), and polyplacophorans (chitons). Some mollusks, such as bivalves, don't even have a head, much less something large enough to be called a brain! Yet cephalopods have well-developed senses and large brains. Most mollusks are protected by a hard external shell and many of them are not very mobile. Although nautilus has an external shell, the trend in cephalopods is to internalize and reduce the shell. The shell in cuttlefish, is internal and is called the cuttlebone, which is sold in many pet shops to supply calcium to birds. Squid also have a reduced internal shell called a pen. Octopuses lack a shell altogether.

Nautilus pompiliusOctopus cyaneaCephalopods are found in all of the world's oceans, from the warm water of the tropics to the near freezing water at the poles. They are found from the wave swept intertidal region to the dark, cold abyss. All species are marine, and with a few exceptions, they do not tolerate brackish water.

Cephalopods are an ancient group that appeared in the late Cambrian period several million years before the first primitive fish began swimming in the ocean. Scientists believe that the ancestors of modern cephalopods (Subclass Coleoidea: octopus, squid, and cuttlefish) diverged from the primitive externally-shelled Nautiloidea (Nautilus) very early - perhaps in the Ordovician, some 438 million years ago. How long ago was this? To put this into perspective, this is before the first mammals appeared, before vertebrates invaded land and even before there were fish in the ocean and upright plants on land!


Monday, November 01, 2021

Angry squids and octopi

Click any image to enlarge

Squids and octopi occupy a strange corner of our imagination. Huge tentacled monsters, they attack with their alien tentacles waving in the air. Of course these creatures have appeared in art. These images, and those after the jump, are a small sample of that work.