Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Making cricket tennis balls

Above is yet another video of a small business in India. This one is making tennis balls for cricket games. The place looks like an industrial accident, or rather several industrial accidents a day, in the offing. An OSHA inspector would slip into a catatonic trance from the shock of inspecting this place.

I did look up their Power Plus balls on the internet and found Fairo, a Pakistani online shop that sold them. One ball went for 75 Rupees, which is 97 cents. 

All I know about cricket is they pitch the ball oddly, their bats look like paddles and the word wicket has something to do with it, so I looked up a video to explain cricket which I posted below. Ehhh... I still need to do more research to make sense out of the sport. I end with a video of cricket highlights.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

The holocaust of memory

Old soldiers toast their glory years
(click image to enlarge)

Odysseus inclines his head. "True. But fame is a strange thing. Some men gain glory after they die, while others fade. What is admired in one generation is abhorred in another." He spread his broad hands. "We cannot say who will survive the holocaust of memory. Who knows?" He smiles. "Perhaps one day even I will be famous. Perhaps more famous than you.” ― Madeline Miller 


Friday, May 13, 2022

Wednesday, May 11, 2022


Click any image to enlarge

Blackboards, or chalkboards as they are sometimes called, used to ubiquitous in classrooms. They've since been largely replaced; first by whiteboards, and later by projectors and screens. They've been relegated to the realm of history now. Without reference, I wonder what a young person makes of the expression 'like fingernails on chalkboards'?

As an aside, when I started teaching my first classroom was one of the few on campus that still had blackboards. Eventually it got upgraded to a whiteboard. However, even though I would end up covered in chalk dust at the end of a lecture, I preferred the blackboard. It is hard to explain, but I felt I had much more granular control over how I wrote things on the blackboard.

Sunday, May 08, 2022

Happy Mother's Day

From Noble Works Cards

Every mother is like Moses. She does not enter the promised land.
She prepares a world she will not see. - Pope Paul VI


Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Walking in Quezon City and Matilao

Above is walk in the Quezon City which is part of metro Manila. It's a walk on side streets, alleys, and what can only be called footpaths between buildings. It is uncaptioned, with the conversations in Tagalog, but you can tell the people are friendly as they interact with our walker. 

What stood out to me was the enormous number of political campaign posters plastered everywhere, with a fair number of women candidates running for office. That got me thinking... is an Asian upper-middle-class Karen more, or less, terrifying than your average American cul-de-sac dwelling, wine swilling Karen? 

Aside from that the number of kids running around was striking. It looks like a lot of free-range parenting is taking place. Also, the haphazard way the powerlines were strung was more than a little alarming looking.

Below is a video by a different walker, this of Marilao. It appears to be a bit more upscale of a neighborhood, with many buildings painted so it not quite so relentlessly chromatically gray. The area is also looks generally better maintained. He starts in the side streets and alleys, but eventually comes to a large open-air market.

Sunday, May 01, 2022

Happy May Day Comrades

It is time to once again celebrate that most sacred of all days -- May Day! A day when us workers of the world can bask in the joys of marching towards a brighter socialist future! Sure, we have to wend our way past piles of wrecker, hoarder and kulak corpses, but, after all, that is a small price to pay for the birth of the New Soviet Man

Naturally, as I am sure it is with you, tops on my bucket list for a May Day celebration destination is the Rungra People's Pleasure Ground in Pyongyang, North Korea! As shown in the video above is features a world-class miniature golf course, water and amusement parks, as well as the splendid dolphanarium! Fun! Fun! Fun!!!  

Who would not dream of going there!? 


Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Climbing Chimborazo

Measured from sea level Mt. Everest is the tallest mountain on Earth. However, because the Earth has an equatorial bulge, measured from the center of the Earth Mt. Chimborazo in the Andes is the tallest. Two honeymooners set out to climb it. 


Sunday, April 24, 2022

True love

Kissing her goldfish (click image to enlarge)

True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen.
- Francois de La Rochefoucauld -


Friday, April 22, 2022

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

A day in a rice farmer's life

This video is from M'Lang which is on the island of Mindanao in southern Philippines. It shows the tedium of hard labor in the paddies, as well as bit in the middle that shows workers in a rice processing plant. I have to say, if i were born there, I would probably pack my bags and head for a factory job in the city and a shot at the sweet life like so many do.

Monday, April 18, 2022

The Dance of Death

Click any image to enlarge

These are Dance of Death pictures by the 19th century British artist Thomas Rowlandson. The Dance of Death genre, which first appeared in the 15th century as a reaction to the Black Death, featured the figure of Death coming to claim its victims. Sometimes they were a reminder that death comes to us all, but often they were little morality tales about the end waiting for the debauched.

These images, and those after the jump, art taken from Everything Old is New Again's post The English Dance of Death: Thomas Rowlandson’s Scathing Memento Mori 1814-1816. There are more examples there, as well was the captions that accompanied the illustrations.

Thomas Rowlandson

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Happy Easter

Click image to enlarge

I'm not sure what kind of Easter message is delivered by babies using hammers to smash open eggs with live chicks in them, but who am I to question the Victorian mind? Anyway, have a good Easter.


Friday, April 15, 2022

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

A flirtatious scammer

A while back a scam baiting video popped up in my YouTube feed. In the video the supposed victim just babbled nonsense and toyed with the scammer. After watching it, my YouTube feed was awash with scam baiter videos. The videos in this post are from Wisconsin's Better Business Bureau. They put them out to demonstrate and warn against common scams. They do it by having Juliette call the scammers and leave them walk through their spiels.

This set is of a lottery scammer. Juliette has won $96,000 and only needs to send a small fee of $950.88 to get a 'Federal Golden Eagle Stamp of Approval' so's she can demonstrate to the U.S. government that the money has nothing to do with drugs or terrorism. Sounds legit to me. What funny about it is that the scammer tries to flirt with Juliette to gain her trust. Let's just say his flirting tactics are bit odd. By the way, do you know how long the Cold War lasted?

If you're interested in watching more serious looks at this Jim Browning is probably the best of the scam baiters. He runs a virtual computer and when the scammers have him download remote desktop software to manipulate his files he has a method to reverse the connection so he can see their machines. He'll spend time on their machines mapping their business networks and gives a pretty good picture of the behind the scenes operation of Indian service desk tomfoolery. Good stuff.

Edited to add: great minds think alike. Today Borepatch posted If it looks too good to be true, it probably is discussing scammers.


Monday, April 11, 2022

Slinging hash

Click any image to enlarge

These are pictures of restaurants, diners and street vendors from the mid 20th century. They feature both servers and cooks. I like the picture immediately below of the two fellows eyeballing the waitress -- I imagine she got a good tip.

Friday, April 08, 2022

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

Overnight Ferry to Miyazaki

The person who runs the Solo Travel Japan YouTube channel takes an older overnight ferry from Kobe to Miyazaki in Japan. The sea portion of the trip done, he eventually ends up in an airport restaurant to taste a chicken specialty of Miyazaki. 

What's odd is you see very few people in the video, which isn't exactly the image of crowded Japan that usually comes to mind. There were a lot of trucks aboard it, perhaps it doesn't get a lot of passenger use. 

Edit to add: gah... sorry about that, you need to click on YouTube before you can view it. I guess the author is worried about it getting properly monetized. YouTube is getting increasingly annoying to use. 


Monday, April 04, 2022

Concrete arrows

Click any image to enlarge

Spread across the U.S. are a number of large concrete arrows. They are remanent of the early days of airmail. At the time pilots navigated by sight using landmarks to orient themselves. At night visual navigation was not practical. In order to facilitate nighttime flights a system of illuminated concrete arrows was implemented. From Sometimes Interesting's article Concrete Arrows and the U.S. Airmail Beacon System:

By 1924 the Postal Service developed a solution that was effective, if not elegant.

A system of ground-based navigation beacons extending from New York to San Francisco would help pilots fly across the country at night and ultimately be the world’s first such system.

The early iterations of the system used approximately 1,500 airmail beacons, each constructed roughly between 3 and 5 miles apart. The beacons featured a 50-foot tower with rotating lights placed on top of concrete foundations in the shape of giant arrows measuring between 50 and 70 feet long. To increase visibility of the concrete arrows, they were painted bright yellow.

Improvements to aerial navigation soon rendered the system obsolete and it fell into disrepair. There are still some of the concrete arrows existing, although they are often in remote locations and in bad shape. 

A restored beacon at the Grants-Milan airport
Aviation Heritage Museum

Friday, April 01, 2022

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Worth less than a parrot

My heart leaps up -- William Wordsworth

The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety …


Sunday, March 27, 2022

Cigars, breakfast and coffee

The above video is an old cowboy sitting in a field in the late afternoon, smoking a cigar and telling stories about smoking cigars. His stories are entertaining: as an out-of-place, young, poorly trained, sort of a police officer in a small Alaskan village, as a ranch hand later, and just visiting a cigar lounge. Well worth your time.

His name is Dewayne and he runs a YouTube channel (and a school by the same name) called Dry Creek Wrangler School. Most of his videos involve horse handling or ranching, but he does branch out from time to time. Me being me, below are a couple of his food related videos. The first is breakfast over a campfire and the second is percolated coffee. Man, I haven't had percolated coffee in decades.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Thursday, March 24, 2022

The staff of life revisited

Ancient Egyptian wall carving of stalks of wheat

Below is an excerpt from an old post of mine, The staff of life. It was discussing wheat rust, a disease that greatly reduced crop yields and how that might affect countries with poor food sufficiency. I ended it with the following: 

Which brings us to Jimmy Carter in a 'round about sort of a way. While touring North Korea he had the following to say about that country's growing famine:

"One of the most important human rights is to have food to eat, and for South Korea and the US and others to deliberately withhold food aid to the North Korean people is really a human rights violation."

That comment raised a lot of eyebrows, but it shouldn't have been that surprising. The UN, through its Human Rights Council and various Progressive NGOs, has long been banging the drum for Food Justice, sometimes framed as Food as a Human Right.

This is a movement that encompasses the usual bugaboos: climate change (so arability rather than farming practices becomes the culprit for food shortages), sustainable farming, organic farming, cultural diversity, GM food, corporations, exploitation, oppression and lately the much touted obesity epidemic.

They make no bones about the fact that they want to change, from seed to table, which foods are grown and how and to who they are distributed.

Make no mistake, if the Middle East does slide towards famine there will be loud voices, accompanied by pictures of big eyed children with empty food bowls, blaming it all on Western capitalism and demanding free food from the same Capitalists as payment of a fine for their guilt. How that will play with grocery prices going up is easy to imagine, but the agitation will be there none-the-less.

The impact of the Ukranian war on World food supplies will be significant. At best food prices will greatly increase, at worst some regions may slide into famine. All will be affected. This will lead to major food exporters having to take up the slack as best as possible. 

I expect that there will be many voices clamoring for a say in how food is to be distributed. Some will be arguing for a realpolitik approach, but I think there will be a loud contingent arguing for Food Justice. As I said in that earlier post, "They make no bones about the fact that they want to change, from seed to table, which foods are grown and how and to who they are distributed". 

Never leave a good crisis go to waste. It bears careful watching as to how this debate will unfold. There will be many motives in play and much mischief possible.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Boy Scout and Girl Guides cigarette cards

Click any image to enlarge

Cigarette companies used to include trading cards with their packages. These samples, and a few from a chocolate company, are of cards featuring the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides (present day Girl Scouts) of the day. 

The two organizations featured good citizenship rules and healthy outdoor living. Of course, to modern values a cigarette company being connected to scouting would be off limits. Aside from that, some of the Boy and Girl Scout activities -- boxing, marksmanship, girls doing laundry and so forth -- would also be frowned upon in certain circles.

Still, it was a different time, and these cards are an interesting look back at how Scouts were once viewed. These images and those after the jump are from the Flikr album Boy Scouts & Girl Guides which has many more examples of the cards.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Rounding the Cape in 1928

This is a long video, but a very good one. It is film from a 4 masted barque the Peking rounding Cape Horn in 1928. It was filmed by Irving Johnson who was a novice sailor on the trip. He eventually owned and was Master on three his own ships. 

His narrated film shows storms as well as life aboard the Peking. The shots up in the rigging are amazing. Definitely no soy boys on that vessel.


Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Jean-François Millet paintings

Click any image to enlarge

Jean-François Millet was a 19th century French artist. He was the son of farmers, but made it to Cherbourg and then Paris to study art. He started his career as a portrait painter, but eventually moved on to paint rural themed works. He deviated from the romantic rustic style that was popular and focused on the life of peasants, which he was familiar with from his youth on the farm. 

He was a member of the Barbizon school of landscape painting. He differed from most the others in that group by including people and their activities in many of his paintings. His representations of the common man led some to charge him with being a socialist sympathizer, but such controversy was minor and didn't affect his popularity and influence.     


Jean-François Millet self-portrait

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Operating a lock on an English canal

In my post On a fuel boat in an English canal I was interested in the rather simple means used to operate the locks in the canals. The above video gives a clear explanation as to how those locks are operated by boaters on the canal. 


Wednesday, March 09, 2022

This aged strangely

I forgot I even had this video bookmarked. I had been holding it in reserve in case I ever got desperate for a TGIF music video. I have no idea what to make of it, between dancing soldiers, rocket barrages and tanks tipping over it is a bit of a mixed message to say the least (or maybe it's not mixed at all if you're familiar with the milieu it came from). From the Wikipedia article that discussed XS Project, the folks who made this video:

In 2010, XS Project, a group of four music producers from Saint Petersburg, released yet another satirical movie on YouTube, together with radio presenters of Gop FM station, accompanying their Bochka, Bass, Kolbasyor (Kick drum, bass and kolbasyor) track, which was released in 2003. In a movie, several artists, DJs and radio presenters, disguised as gopniks, danced in gopnik style on a Saint Petersburg children playground. The movie was intended to mock the so-called subculture of rave gopniks - young people in tracksuits who would go to rave parties in Russia not to have good time, but to get trashed and cause trouble. The mockery was in lyrics, who called for sober and healthy lifestyle, contrary to way rave gopniks lived. However, street youth in Eastern Europe liked the video and preferred to eschew the irony, and, given the rise of sober right-wing lifestyle in Russia around that time, the dancing moves showcased in the movie became basis of a long-lasting series of flash mobs akin to Harlem Shake meme of the time, when young people in verious cities of Eastern Europe were starting to dance, all of sudden, in gopnik style in the middle of public areas outside.


Some commentators in Slavic countries of the European Union at first considered these flash mobs to be serious manifestation of the right-wing propaganda, especially given the lyrics in the song, saying "We bring hardbass to your home, 1 4 8 8", with "1 4 8 8" being a neo-Nazi lingo for "Fourteen words" and Hitler salute. However, experts quickly grasped that the usage was ironic, and that the hardbass crowds consisted mostly of football hooligans and bored teenagers, rather than of actual neo-Nazis. Neo-Nazis around that times also dismissed the connection to hardbass, blaming it on left-wing and anarchist circles instead. However, commentators still identified some right-wing sympatizers in the hardbass attacks, but, according to Miroslav Mares, an expert in far-right extremism from Brno Masaryk University, the influence of hardbass attacks on public opinion was negligible.


Monday, March 07, 2022

On a fuel boat in an English canal

I never knew about the narrowboats on the English channels. Interesting lifestyle. I also found the simplicity of the locks to be interesting -- some old technological solutions still being used. The video is narrated.


Saturday, March 05, 2022

The forsaken people

Ukrainian soldiers patrol the Yasynuvata district of Ukraine’s Donetsk region
(Andriy Andriyenko/Associated Press)

 A Snowy Morning - Shin Kyung-rim

“Good morning.
Today of all days, the flurries are cold.”
“How are you going to stand this winter?”
“Will you bloom again next year?”

The old trees say this to the old trees,
the forsaken people say this to the forsaken people,
coughing and shaking off the snow.


Friday, March 04, 2022

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

Making harmonicas in Korea

Today we tour a harmonica factory in South Korea. Harmonica building is more complex than you might first think. It's a precise process to get all of the reeds tuned properly. As tone deaf as I am, I would probably end up sweeping the floor if I got hired to work there.

In case you're fascinated by the humble harmonica, previously on Flares there have been three other posts with/about harmonicas: 

Finally, I'll end with a clip of Buddy Greene, a harmonica virtuosa, playing at Carnegie Hall. It is really quite amazing how good it can sound.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Death by hunger

Click any image to enlarge

From the Holodomor Monument and Museum, Mariyinsky Park, Kiev, Kiev Region, Ukraine, Eastern Europe.

"While we do not have enough bread, the peasants should give a natural tax in the form of bread to the Soviet economy for fear of a merciless massacre." Leon Trotsky 

The Holodomor (literal translation Death by hunger) was a man-made famine in the Ukrainian SSR, part of the Soviet famine of 1932–1933. During the famine, which is also known as the "terror-famine in Ukraine" and "famine-genocide in Ukraine", millions of Ukrainians died of starvation in a peacetime catastrophe unprecedented in the history of Ukraine. 

It is not often mentioned in the news of the Russian invasion, but memories of it almost certainly animates the resistance the Ukrainians are putting up to the attack. These are a few pieces of Ukrainian artwork remembering the Holodomor. 

Friday, February 25, 2022

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Laying the trans-Atlantic telegraph cable

Click any image to enlarge

One of the great engineering achievements of the 19th Century was the laying of the tans-Atlantic telegraph cable which greatly reduced the time needed to communicate between the old world and the new. The first attempt was laid between 1854 and 1858 but failed after only three weeks. In the the late 1860s a second attempt was made and two cables were put into service.

These cables were laid by the SS Great Eastern. Abord that ship was the artist Robert Charles Dudley who painted a series of watercolors chronicling the effort. There are more images after the jump. 

Monday, February 21, 2022

Happy Lazy Government Workers Day

It used to be Washington's Birthday, but then it morphed into the amorphic President's Day. So, now we honor all Presidents, even the likes of the hapless James Buchanan (modern time isn't the only era of Presidential dunces) who said, regarding the slavery issue, that it was "happily, a matter of but little practical importance".

Feh, it's nothing but a holiday for government workers these days. I won't be popping any champaign corks to toast Buchanan and his like. Washington was a fine fellow though.


Sunday, February 20, 2022

A fish market on Lake Victoria

This is the Ggabba Landing fish market in Kampala, Uganda on the shores of Lake Victoria. The videographer orders a fish fried over an open fire with sides of fries and salad. It is all very tasty looking. Later in the video he talks discusses the economics of running the stall with the vendor. The accent can be a bit thick, so you might want to turn on the captioning.


Friday, February 18, 2022

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Gone fishing

Bad Fishing Day by Julianez

I have visitors and I am also going to travel a bit. My already erratic posting may get even more erratic for a week or two. 

As for the picture, I like to imagine the mermaid affixed the boot to his hook to protect her fish buddies. Then again, maybe mermaids eat fish, so she was just saving her dinner. It's hard to say who's the villain of this piece.


Friday, February 11, 2022

Wednesday, February 09, 2022

Eating dogs for fun and fame

A first-person view of a hotdog eating contest. It's unpleasant looking, but who am I to judge another's hobby? I was amused at the end when he kept saying, "it hurts, it hurts".


Sunday, February 06, 2022

Comets in art

Click any image to enlarge

In the olden days, since comets were such a visible anomaly in the sky of fixed stars, comets were taken as omens of momentous happenings. Eventually, as their nature began to be better understood, they became an object of scientific curiosity and study. They have been featured in art in both their guises. There are more images after the jump.

Friday, February 04, 2022

Don't watch the Beiijing Winter Olympics

Chinese police clash with protesting Uyghur women

Coca-Cola, Airbnb, Bridgestone, Intel, Panasonic, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, Visa, Comcast, Delta Air Lines, Salesforce, Deloitte, Nike, Jetset Sports, Oakley, Ralph Lauren, and Toyota are some of the major advertisers of the Beiijing Winter Olympics being put on by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party).

There is an ongoing cultural genocide against the Uyghurs of western China. Less reported, there are also attempts to stamp-out Mongolian culture in north-eastern China. Add to that the annexation of Tibet and Hong Kong, the attempts to seize the South China Sea as well as the persecution of religious minorities and the endless belligerence aimed at the country of Taiwan.

These boardrooms have placed profits over conscience. In whatever way you can, you don't have to do the same. One easy, albeit only a small step, is not to watch a minute of the Olympics. Let those advertising dollars go to waste.


Eye of the Tiger

Get ready for a surmounting weekend with Walk off the Earth. 


Wednesday, February 02, 2022

Eating in Mongolia

These clips are from the Artger YouTube channel. The site primarily focuses on Mongolian cooking and cuisine. The first clip, in honor of the opera singers in Penthouse: War in Life, features a real Mongolian opera singer who shares a meal with Nargie, the host of the video. They order meat and vegetables from a shop in the city which gets delivered to them, and then they cook it over an open fire. Their jovial conversation is either in English or subtitled. It is a cold day with winter approaching.

The next video is another delivery, this time to a fellow lazing next to a river. He gets the equipment and ingredients for a hot pot. In a hot pot soup is heated and you add whatever you want to stew in it. In a restaurant the soup will be at the table, and you go to a buffet to pick the ingredients you want. 

Finally, we have hamburgers and hot dogs. The meat is just shredded beef, and whether it is a hamburger or a hot dog depends on the type of bun you put it on. Still, the sandwiches are tasty looking.  

Monday, January 31, 2022

Luck of the draw

Fossilized dinosaur egg

Luck is blind, they say. It can’t see where it’s going and keeps running into people... and the people it knocks into we call lucky! Well, to hell with luck if it's like that, I say! ― Nikos Kazantzakis