Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Red sprite above a thunderstorm, from the ISS

Hey, another rare milestone.

The US will finish with 20 space rocket launches. China will finish in second with 19 and Russia in third with 18. 2016 is the first time Russia has ever trailed the Chinese in annual launches.
“We have fewer space launches this year than America and China,” said Alexander Ivanov to the first deputy head of the space rocket corporation Roscosmos during the conference “Cosmonautics of the 21st century.”
Since the late 1960s Russia has been an undisputed leader in annual launch rates – launching about 100 rockets per year at its prime. The U.S. briefly overtook Russia in the 1990s, after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Since 1957, Russia has launched over 3,000 rockets – roughly twice as many as the U.S.
But today, Russia’s launch rate is drastically declining due to the Russian economy in crisis, space budgets cuts, rapid commercialization in the space flight sector and catastrophic Russian engine failures.

A U.S. Marine CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter shot down by anti-aircraft fire on October 25, 1983 during the American invasion of Grenada, aka Operation Urgent Fury.

Shot down in paradise.

His name is "Take a Look."

A couple of nice videos from Japan

Summer in Japan from Brian Maranan Pineda on Vimeo.

Letters from the Gods from augment5 Inc. on Vimeo.

Elfwick, you glorious basterd.

Troll level: Master.

Godfrey has a full-length article in the Guardian titled: ‘Alt-right’ online poison nearly turned me into a racist. 
It's a classic, and the Guardian bought it hook, line and sinker, as they were meant to.

An example of the Master's tweets, to illustrate the skill, the wordsmithery, and the shame richly deserved by the Guardian for being so easily fooled.

"Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to him, 'All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.'"

Well done, Mother Jones, my good and faithful servant.  You have entertained us!  Via Althouse.

"I had a wonderful evening with president-elect Trump," Romney said in remarks to reporters after the dinner. "We had another discussion about affairs throughout the world and these discussions I've had with him have been enlightening, and interesting, and engaging. I've enjoyed them very, very much."

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Everything in this is what's good about the Fall: color, chill air, a cob, and some of old Tobold Hornblower's favorite weed from the Southfarthing, Old Toby.

Love it! Matching noggins.

Bitcoin helps Venezuelans survive the dog's breakfast their socialist government has made of their economy.

Bitcoin mining is a process that provides the computational power and security required to run this decentralized currency network. To start mining, anyone can purchase a special type of internet-connected computer that runs difficult computations at high speeds. Though it has almost nothing in common with mining for gold, the end result is the same: Participants are awarded with currency—in this case, newly minted bitcoins.
It's become a popular vocation in Venezuela in part because the country's economy is in such dire shape. Even computer scientists and skilled technical professionals can't reliably find work. Next year, the unemployment rate is expected to climb above 20 percent.
But the main factor driving Venezuelans to take up bitcoin mining is a price control put in place by the socialist government: Electricity is virtually free.
Bitcoin mining requires a lot of computer processing power, which in turn requires a lot of electricity. In most of the world, utility bills eat into the cost of mining. In places where energy prices are high, it can even be a losing proposition. But in Venezuela, the government has turned bitcoin mining into something akin to owning a home mint.
Price controls, of course, invariably lead to shortages, and the country's frequent electricity outages create constant headaches for bitcoin miners. But they've also come up with workarounds, such as locating their operations in industrial zones, where electricity service is generally uninterrupted.
Since bitcoin mining is a process, in effect, of converting the value of electricity into currency, Venezuelan miners are engaging in a form of arbitrage: They're buying an underpriced commodity and turning it into bitcoin to make a profit. The miners have turned socialism against itself.
In the process, they've gained access to a currency with far more purchasing power abroad than the government-issued bolivar, which trades for about one thirtieth of a penny on the black market. As the local saying goes, Venezuelan money is "no good for buying toilet paper or even wiping your ass."
Bitcoin's potential as an alternative to government-issued currency is still hotly debated outside of Venezuela. But in a country lacking food and basic health care, there's nothing theoretical about it. Bitcoin is helping to keep pantry shelves full and medicine cabinets stocked, making life tolerable—if not always easy—in the midst of a socialist hell.
Like many bitcoin users, Alberto, a bitcoin miner who makes $1,200 daily, imports food from the U.S. through Amazon's Prime Pantry service. This would be impossible with bolivars because almost no one outside of Venezuela accepts them as payment, and the growing scarcity of U.S. currency has made purchasing foreign goods with dollars increasingly difficult. Though the Seattle-based retail giant doesn't accept bitcoins itself, plenty of intermediary companies do. Alberto purchases Amazon gift cards through the cryptocurrency-friendly website eGifter, using software to mask the location of his computer, and then routes his orders through a Miami-based courier service.
Alejandro, a 25-year-old miner who lives in the state of Táchira, is helping to feed his family with groceries purchased from using a Neteller card, which is a prepaid credit card that allows users to deposit bitcoins and spend dollars. Every three weeks, he also loads up his card with bitcoins and crosses into Colombia to stock up on provisions.
Jesús, a 26-year-old living in the city of Barquisimeto, credits bitcoin with saving his business. He's the proprietor of a small cellphone and computer repair shop located in a mall. When his suppliers ran out of inventory because of trade restrictions, his store was on the verge of going under. Then a friend introduced him to bitcoin. Now, he orders $400 in supplies from Amazon in a good month, and his business has recovered. "I have access to tools and inventory," he says, "that are difficult to find or extremely expensive in Venezuela."
Ricardo, a 30-year-old photography teacher, is earning about $500 in monthly revenue with a rack of five mining computers hidden in a soundproofed room of his family's two-story house. His mother has chronic liver disease, and the medication she needs to stay alive is no longer sold in Venezuela. With bitcoins, he's able to purchase the drug from foreign suppliers. "Bitcoin," he says, "is our only hope nowadays to survive."
So, socialists prostrate an entire country with their idiot ideology, while capitalists save the agile through innovation and grit.  Sounds good to me.  Coinbase, anyone?

There's snowpacks, and then there is a well and true, honest to goodness, bad ass snowpack

This morning's view from Sentinel Dome in Yosemite.  Snow is looking much better, but is that a pack?  The kind that can water up a thirsty aquifer?

Nope, because as good as it looks, this is what a manly, testosterone filled, in your face, snowpack looks like.

From March of this year, same view.  Boom!

Via the always good History Blog, we see this adventurous tale.

Brian Morton was scanning a field near Newcastle, Northern Ireland, last May when he found two silver pennies half an inch apart under four inches of mud. It turns out the that gleaming silver mini hoard came from the Isle of Mann, set in the middle of the Irish Sea, and currently famous for it's mad dash of a motorcycle race.  Brian didn’t know he’d found an extremely rare historical treasure. That was formally confirmed last week when a coroner’s inquest in Belfast declared the coins official treasure trove.

            Our treasure finding lucky Irishman, Brian "Boru" Morton, with his two Manx silver coins.

Made of 93% silver, the coins are of a rare type known as Hiberno-Manx coins. The rulers of Mann in the first half of the 11th century were Vikings from Scandinavia and from Dublin. Olaf Sigtryggsson, King of Mann in the early 1030s, was the son of Sigtrygg Silkbeard, King of Dublin, and his wife Sláine, daughter of Irish king and national hero Brian Boru. Viking Dublin had its own mint and issued coins which copied English designs. The Hiberno-Manx coins were very rough versions of the Dublin designs.

Wow, what a bunch.  Just the names are impressive: Olaf Sigtryggsson, son of Sigtrygg Silkbeard and Slaine, daughter of Brian Boru.  I mean, imagine a red headed and freckled (she just had to be) Irish royal princess named Slaine as your mom.  I'm sure she was more level headed than her sisters, Slice, Slaughter and Slapyouintheface.

One of the Manx coins.  Crudely stamped, but still better quality money ( 93% silver ) than current coinage in the US ( absolutely zero % silver ).

What a great find and what a backstory!  Congratulations to our modern Brian for his Irish luck!

Saudi Arabians get some very rare snow in their parched and dry desert nation

Naturally, the goons in their church there are displeased with the natural human reaction to the white stuff.

But while the building of snowmen may seem innocent enough, Saudis who took part in the activity during a freak snowfall in January 2015 were condemned by a cleric who called it sinful and "anti-Islamic." He issued a fatwa (religious ruling) forbidding the activity - though clearly his opinion is not shared by everyone in the country.

As the Ayatollah once said, "There is no fun in Islam!"  It's amazing anyone at all follows this crazy religion.
The snowfall came as temperatures reached -3 ° C (26.6 ° F) in the Al-Jawf region and -1 ° C (30.2 ° F) in the northern province of Al-Quryat, the Saudi Gazette reported.

Queenstown, New Zealand

Monday, November 28, 2016

Freckles, they are good.

Retro Babe - Rita Hayworth in You Were Never Lovelier (1942)

The Art of Speed

I just find it hard to accept that the entire Siberian Orchestra is trans.

Justin’s Trudeau's father was 5′8 and insecure about it. Justin’s mother was only 5′6. Yet Justin is 6′2. Castro was 6′3.


Cabin Porn

It's either an ice racer or Ducati's new motorized lawn aerator.

The Art of Speed

Cargill and Morton's Salt ponds in the South Bay

I used to have some business with Cargill, and got a tour of their facilities below.  They had some buildings from the early 1900's, but also a state of the art facility for removing salt from brine.  They pumped the bay water into those pools, and if I recall correctly, it took six years for the water to evaporate correctly, and leave a proper layer of salt behind.  Then, when the salt was ready to harvest, they ran big harvester machines out that peeled the salt right off the bottom.  Great fun, but it always ooghed me out that the nice clear white salt we put on our food started as sea water in the South Bay.  I believe Cargill has cut a deal with all the local governments to return the pools to wetlands.

Spain, Portugal, a distant bit of France, and the top of Morocco, from the ISS.

Mondays, they're like that

Heh. Joining Chelsea "Web's my Daddy" Clinton in the eyebrow raising department.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Restoring a B-29 - God's work for sure.

When I heard that Hillary was reneging on her concession, I thought...

Actually, this decision to recount confuses me.  I hold that it is politically stupid, as no one really believes it will change the result, and most Americans want this election in particular to be over, not to be drawn out painfully.

Even if it changes the result, many people wouldn't accept it, believing, perhaps correctly, that the Clinton's had once again engineered a recount scam to snatch the presidency back from Trump.
 That's a great way to, at the very least, seriously enflame the political divide in the country, and at worst set off a civil war.  Consider that the leftists are threatening electors with violence if they don't vote for Clinton, and the Democrats are doing nothing at all to discourage this behavior.

If they will do that, why wouldn't they cheat to steal the election through a fixed recount?

Also, it's clear that Jill Stein has no hope of success in any recount, so unless she is doing this to scam money out of folks to fund her future political career (very possible), she can only be seen as a likely stooge for the Democrats and Hillary to pursue another shot at stealing the election.  Not smart, not cool.

At this point, Trump has to believe that the Clintons have a plan that they have put in place and are activating, and which requires a vigorous response from him to protect the election's results.  We'll see what, if anything, he does.  

From a larger perspective, virtually no one wants to drag this out, and no one except the true ideologues wants the trouble that a change in result will cause.  Not a good image to project for the Democrats.  Not a constructive message to send.  

I believe they are further damaging their brand with these actions.  I guess that's a silver lining of sorts.  

Horizontal Falls in the Kimberley region of Australia

This alone might be worth the epic flight to Australia.

Money no object?  See it this way.

Some good film of a classic aircraft, an F-104, and a bit of poetry as well.

A Babs Bush Literature Classic


Moral Clarity vs. Relativism - Why Am I Not Surprised?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

High camp

Pounding down snow over the mountain passes here in California right now.

 Snow coming down hard at Kingvale on Highway 80.  Temperatures dropping through the night.  Furry creatures shivering in their burrows, while nervous winter travelers hope to make it safely to lower elevations without disastrous mishap.

A dark and lonely road as the snow muffles any but the harshest sound, on Highway 50 at Echo Summit.  Only the purr of the occasional car, or the horrific scream of a hungry Sasquatch breaks the silence of centuries.

Ok, no more alcohol for me tonight....

Faroe Islands chasm

The Art of Speed - Renault 2016 Trezor Concept

Fidel is in Hell

Where he belongs.  Raoul next.

The Miami Herald has a comprehensive obit that is a great read.

One of my room mates in college was born in Cuba, and had to leave as a baby when his parents fled Castro.  He enjoyed teaching me naughty Spanish words that I would then repeat in front of his mother, who would then explode at Ralph, demanding furiously that he stop teaching me such language.

When the two of us rode my beat up Toyota hatchback into Mexico for adventure, he would inevitably bring the Mexicans to a halt by speaking his Cuban Spanish to them.  They could tell he was a native speaker, but they could not for the life of them place his accent.  We liked watching the wheels spinning as they tried to figure him out.

Years later, he and his family returned to Cuba on vacation, and found the house they had lived in before Castro.  It was sadly run down, but of course, when the government owns everything, nothing gets maintained.

Naturally, Ralph's parents had made a good life for themselves in the states, and could enjoy the fruits of their labor and send their kids to college.  They were a loss for Cuba, and a gain for us, but then again, isn't that the story of the rise of America?  Castro was a fool, and it's too tragic by far that he had to drag his island nation down along with him.   It's a lesson we here should learn well when we assess our own politicians and their lust to power.

The Art of Speed

F-117 stealth fighter, with a wide angle lens. Very pointy.

Old School Cowgirl

I like the red eyes.

Freckles, they are good.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Putting it down on the spot in heavy seas

More Democrats abandon their sinking party

Hopefully, they will end up like the Socialists, fragmented and bickering with each other over ideology no one in the real world cares about.

Hey, let's elect Keith Ellison to lead the DNC!  A brilliant choice if you want an even more radical party, that advocates more extreme positions, which will in turn turn off and alienate even more voters. Do it, Democrats, do it!

Arkansas Online reports:

State Rep. David Hillman of Almyra announced his switch to the Republican Party on Tuesday weeks after being re-elected to his third term as a Democrat, solidifying the GOP's "supermajority" control of Arkansas' lower house.
Republicans picked up nine seats in the 100-member House on Election Day and then padded their lead the next day when then-Democratic Rep. Jeff Wardlaw of Hermitage announced his party switch.
With Hillman's announcement, Republicans now control 75 seats in the House and have the three-fourths majority needed to pass appropriations bills without any support from Democrats. 

This is the time of day when the temperatures drop like a rock to biting cold. Gives me the chills just looking at that.

Nikki Van Dijk Shredding a Curl

Natalie Wood - Retro Beauty


Before computer games, kids did badassery like this.

Caballero Magnifico

Freckles, they are good - especially cowgirl freckles!

Cabin Porn, interior edition.

Hey, it's Black Friday

Who needs brick and mortar when you can buy it all from your chair, coffee cup at hand?

Deals in tools and home improvement, for the guys.

Shop Amazon - Black Friday Deals in Tools & Home Improvement