Archive for August, 2010

UK UFO Cover Up

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

Did you see this: “Churchill ordered UFO cover-up, National Archives show?”

Key quote:

Prime minister Winston Churchill ordered a UFO sighting be kept secret to prevent “mass panic”.

It got me thinking about that Keep Calm and Carry On poster, so I made this:

Insect Food

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

I know this idea makes sense on a rational level, but still, yuk: “Insects could be the key to meeting food needs of growing global population.”

Key quote:

“We’re looking at ways of grinding the meat into some sort of patty, which would be more recognisable to western palates.”

Recognizable, but I’ll take a burger, thanks!

One Last Thing on Hiroshima

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

Some articles about Hiroshima point out that a number of Japanese citizens feel that we should apologize for the atomic attacks: “At Hiroshima Ceremony, a First for a U.S. Envoy.”

I think that it’s impossible to apologize for Hiroshima, Pearl Harbor, or any other act of war, especially six and a half decades later. That’s why wars end and treaties are signed.


Using the events as a means to discuss nuclear disarmament isn’t a bad idea. Let’s just not place any blame, okay?

That’s my final thought – well, at least until Monday’s anniversary of Nagasaki.


More on Hiroshima

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

I’m up at an earlier hour than normal (the cat from Arabia was cold and unhappy, and wanted to share with someone) so I’m reading a little more about Hiroshima this morning.

Two other things that amaze me about the attack are the Japanese reaction immediately before and after.

An hour before the bombing Japanese radar picked up the planes approaching and set off an air raid alert, but fifteen minutes before the drop they estimated that there were only a handful of planes, so the alert was lifted. Plus it wasn’t Japanese policy to intercept such a small formation, so no planes were scrambled.

Afterwards nobody knew that anything was out of the ordinary for quite some time. The radio station in Tokyo noticed that the Hiroshima station was off the air, but couldn’t contact the station by phone. The telegraph operators realized that the main telegraph line was not working just north of Hiroshima. Railroad stations 10 miles away reported a huge explosion, but the Imperial Japanese Army couldn’t get through to their station in Hiroshima.

The army was baffled by the silence – they knew that no large enemy raid had occurred and that no sizeable store of explosives was in Hiroshima at that time – so they sent an officer by plane to survey the damage.

It wasn’t until they had flown for three hours – when the plane was still 100 miles out – that they saw the smoke from Hiroshima.


Friday, August 6th, 2010

Holy cow – I didn’t realize it was August 6 until listening to NPR on the way home. Today’s the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

I love recent history because generally it’s easier to imagine what someone of my parents or grandparents generation was going through than Ancient history; Rome, Greece, or any other Empire might as well be an alien planet.

That being said, the way that the second world war ended still baffles me.

  • 130 pounds of uranium-235 created a blast equivalent to about 13 kilotons of TNT
  • A one mile radius of total destruction
  • A third of Hiroshima’s population was killed immediately
  • Within several months the death toll was over 150,000

    While this sounds beyond barbaric you have to put this in context; it had been almost 3 months since VE Day, the allied forces had been firebombing the hell out of 67 Japanese cities over the previous six months, without effect. The Japanese Emperor rejected the Potsdam Declaration in July. The ultimatum clearly stated that without a surrender, the Allies would attack Japan, resulting in “the inevitable and complete destruction of the Japanese armed forces and just as inevitably the utter devastation of the Japanese homeland”.

    Of course, it didn’t mention the atomic bomb – but that would be tipping our hand a little too much.

  • Return of the PeopleMover

    Friday, August 6th, 2010


    So in 1975 Walt Disney World revamped their Tomorrowland, adding some attraction named “Space Mountain” along with with the a people mover named, well, the “WEDWay PeopleMover”. After the fancy refurbishment of Tomorrowland in 1994 it was renamed the “Tomorrowland Transit Authority” but little changed otherwise.

    Apparently now it’s going to be re-renamed to the “Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover” – “‘PeopleMover’ is Coming Back at Walt Disney World.”

    Also, to be a nitpick, this article is incorrect when it says the pollution-free linear induction motors were introduced at Disneyland in California in 1967. Disneyland’s PeopleMover (which closed in 1995) used the propulsion system of rotating Goodyear tires.

    Its sponsor?

    Why Goodyear, of course.

    A-Rod Deserves a Star

    Thursday, August 5th, 2010


    So this finally happened yesterday: “Rodriguez Hits 600th Career Home Run.”

    Yep, give that guy a star!

    Bloomberg on the Mosque

    Thursday, August 5th, 2010

    So by now you’ve heard of the mosque planned for two blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center in New York – you know, the one Sarah Palin wanted “peaceful Muslims” to “refudiate”.

    The whole story here: “Planned Sign of Tolerance Bringing Division Instead.”

    Anyway, on Tuesday New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave a pretty fantastic speech about immigration and freedom of religion, and how New York works.

    Here’s a little bit of it, the complete text can be found here:

    This morning, the City’s Landmark Preservation Commission unanimously voted not to extend landmark status to the building on Park Place where the mosque and community center are planned. The decision was based solely on the fact that there was little architectural significance to the building. But with or without landmark designation, there is nothing in the law that would prevent the owners from opening a mosque within the existing building. The simple fact is this building is private property, and the owners have a right to use the building as a house of worship.

    The government has no right whatsoever to deny that right – and if it were tried, the courts would almost certainly strike it down as a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Whatever you may think of the proposed mosque and community center, lost in the heat of the debate has been a basic question – should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion? That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here. This nation was founded on the principle that the government must never choose between religions, or favor one over another.

    The World Trade Center Site will forever hold a special place in our City, in our hearts. But we would be untrue to the best part of ourselves – and who we are as New Yorkers and Americans – if we said ‘no’ to a mosque in Lower Manhattan.

    Let us not forget that Muslims were among those murdered on 9/11 and that our Muslim neighbors grieved with us as New Yorkers and as Americans. We would betray our values – and play into our enemies’ hands – if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else. In fact, to cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists – and we should not stand for that.

    Good stuff.


    Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

    I just saw online that the United States and Canadian dollars are virtually equal right now:

        1 US dollar = 1.0167 Canadian dollars


    Inception Ripped-Off Scrooge McDuck

    Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

    In case you haven’t seen this yet: “Inception Ripped-Off Scrooge McDuck & The Beagle Boys!

    The work in question is a from Uncle Scrooge #329 by Don Rosa titled “Uncle Scrooge in the Dream of a Lifetime”:

    Wikipedia (which we all know never is wrong) has this to say about “The Dream of a Lifetime”:

    The Beagle Boys steal a dream making invention from Gyro Gearloose and use it to invade Scrooge’s dreams. Donald has to go into Scrooge’s dreams to get them out of there and they chase each other through different chapters of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.

    I’m not sold on this, as the comic book never mentions the kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun or the chick from Juno.

    Kodachrome Story

    Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

    Interesting AP story about the last roll of Kodak Kodachrome film: “De Niro, Brooklyn, India on last Kodachrome roll.”

    Steve McCurry, the photographer who took the picture of the Afghani woman for National Geographic – you know the one – made a world tour taking photos on the final roll.

    As much as I like slide film, for some reason I never really shot Kodachrome. Pretty much I think it came down to the fact that it was more difficult (and costly) to develop. But still, the stuff I shot was fantastic.

    Here’s a Flickr gallery of my Kodachrome work.