Travel

747

The Boeing 747
The iconic plane that made it’s debut at the Paris Air Show in 1969 is still the favorite of intercontinental travelers. The unique-looking jumbo jet revolutionized air travel as the first airliner to carry more than 500 passengers – almost double the capacity of the DC-8 and 707. Even with the increased number of travelers, flying was still glamorous and fun on the jumbo jets.

The new 747 is reminiscent of those days when you stepped on board and it felt like you were walking onto a small cruise ship. To the left was first class, to the right was economy and in the middle was the curved staircase leading up to a first class seating area. That was the best! Oh dear, I’m dating myself.

Although it still looks almost the same with its famous 1st class hump, the plane is lighter, more fuel-efficient and has all the electronic bells and whistles on the interior that we all expect.

Lufthansa, is already flying 6 of the planes out of Frankfurt to several U.S cities as well as the lucrative Frankfurt/Hong Kong route.

In fact, the White House is considering replacing the current Air Force 1 with a new 747-8. The only problem I see with the current Apple-loving administration is that the software used on the plane is Microsoft. Maybe there will be an iPlane in the future. Ya’ never know.

In the meantime enjoy Sugar Ray – Fly:

Big Data

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Yottabytes
Since Edward Snowden revealed details of the massive surveillance program the NSA uses to spy on pretty much everyone in the world who uses a computer or phone, the NSA data centers has been in the news.

Much of the information attributed to leaks by Snowden were already public knowledge. In fact, prior to its recent opening, the Pentagon proudly released information on the Utah data center. The agency boasted the fastest Cray computers in the world that could handle mind-boggling amounts of data, and a facility that covers a million square feet of space. As any tech will tell you, you can never have enough storage, and the NSA has more storage than anyone in the world. We’re talking yottabytes – a number so large that no one has yet coined a term for the next higher magnitude.

The 5 Eyes
A lot of storage is needed to handle the staggering amounts of data being funneled into the NSA from their data centers all over the world.

The Five Eyes, comprised of five English-speaking countries, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US, all share information on defense, science, technology, and national security. Originally set up as The Technical Cooperation Program to share signal intelligence during the cold war, the dark government agencies working together no longer have to ask for your personal information, they just take it.

Enjoy Rockwell from 1984 – Somebody’s Watching Me:

Syria

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Who Controls the Terrorists
“If you tell me… that we misused or got corrupted with $50 billion, I’ll tell you, “Yes.” … But, more important, more important — who are you to tell me this? … What I’m trying to tell you is, so what? We did not invent corruption, nor did those dissidents, who are so genius, discover it. This happened since Adam and Eve. … I mean, this is human nature.”
– Bandar bin Sultan

Presidents, Prime Ministers and Royalty all seem to kowtow and bow to the Saudi Royal family. Less than a century ago the Arabian Peninsula was populated by nomadic tribes controlled by families. What changed things? World Wars I and II and the discovery of oil.

Prior to the petroleum business, the main source of income on the Arabian Peninsula came from tolls paid by pilgrims traveling between holy cities. During WWI Britain was fighting the Ottomans and with the help of the Sharif of Mecca, created a united Arab state. In 1926 the head of one of the Arab families,  Ibn Saud, declared himself the King. The rest, as they say, is history.

With untold oil-wealth the Saud family has become very corrupt. Today we have Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, bon vivante, man about town, ewok look-a-like and bestie to the Bush clan threatening heads of state who do what Saudi Arabia wants.

In 2008 Bandar threatened PM Tony Blair and the British government with a UK terrorist attack if they didn’t shut down an investigation into alleged multi-billion dollar illegal arms deals made between  British Aerospace Systems and Saudi Arabia. Read more here.

Now Bandar has made President Putin an offer he thought couldn’t be refused. Saudi Arabia wants the Syrian government toppled so it can run its gas pipeline through the country and  Russia’s support of Syria puts a damper on those plans. Just like Al Capone, Bandar offered Putin a deal he thought couldn’t be refused – if Russia will back down on its support of Syria the Saudis will “allow” Russia to control its own oil and gas pipeline and Putin can be guaranteed that Chechen terrorists won’t threaten the security of the Olympic games in Sochi. Whoa! Read more here.

Thank goodness there is one hard-assed leader that will stand up to this thug’s threats. Putin told him to pound sand. Way to go Vlad!

As for Obama, he is still using George Orwell’s language of “newspeak” on the American people. Yesterday when he addressed the country (and the world) on Syria he called our nation a Constitutional “Democracy”. The U.S. is a Constitutional “Republic”. Unlike a democracy, in a constitutional republic, citizens are not governed by the majority of the people but by the rule of law. We’re listening, Obama.

Enjoy David Bowie – This is Not America:

Spy Rocks

spyrock

A New DIY Project
The NSA, CIA, FBI and all the other alphabet agencies have spent billions of dollars spying on all of our correspondence, online searches, who we talk to, what we eat, when we sleep, what medical conditions we have, etc. Is all that necessary to prevent a terrorist attack? No. What really works is the good old-fashioned spy stuff – like rocks with cameras.

All countries have them, but we were reminded they exist when one exploded near a nuclear enrichment plant in Iran. That one had a built-in self-destruct mechanism.

Someone has put a “spy rock” up for sale on eBay for $10 million dollars. Ten million dollars, really? With all the off-the-shelf technology available, I bet I could build one of these things for around $500. I’ll add it to my “to-do” list. In the meantime enjoy

Daryl Hall and friends – Private Eyes:

A Great Idea From the Ancient Greeks

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When All Else Fails, Ostracize
Ancient Greece, specifically Athens, is considered to be the birthplace of democracy. The early Athenians passed down many great gifts to western civilization, including philosophy, science, sculpture, architecture, and the theater. But their most enduring contribution has to be the form of government known as democracy: rule by the people. It took one revolution after another to get rid of the small groups of the rich and powerful families, but eventually the people prevailed – if only for a couple of hundred years.

“It is called a government of the people (demokratia) because we live in consideration of not the few, but of the majority.” –  Thucydides on Pericles’ view of democracy, 450 BCE

Back then the citizens of Athens took their politics seriously and if a politician became overly ambitious or tyrannical they could be voted out in the famous unpopularity contest called ostracism. It was a simple procedure. Once a year there was a vote to determine if a politician was becoming too powerful and might threaten the democracy. If at least 6,000 votes were cast the man with the most votes lost and was sent into exile for 10 years. It’s time to ostracize San Diego’s disgusting mayor, Bob “who looks like the devil” Filner. Don’t dramatize, ostracize!

Enjoy the Rolling Stones ‪performing Sympathy For The Devil at Glastonbury, May 2013:‬

Super Moon

moonLA

Close Encounter of the Lunar Kind
Tomorrow night the full moon will be the biggest of the year because it will only be 221,824 miles away! Scientists call it a perigree-syzgy moon. Perigee is the point at which the Moon is closest in its orbit to the Earth, and syzgy is a full or new moon when the Earth, the Moon and the Sun are aligned.

Because of the alignment we will have higher than normal tides tonight and tomorrow. The higher than normal tides associated with the super moon have been blamed for ships being grounded and even certain natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis. Although we know coronal holes on the sun contribute far more to earthquakes than the moon, the moon theory is much sexier. Go figure.

One thing we all know for certain though, the full moon is the reason for more than the usual number of crazy drivers on the road.

Enjoy the Doors performing Moonlight Drive at the Hollywood Bowl in 1968:

Make a Difference

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Ben Affleck on $1.50 Per Day
Ben Affleck is a good guy. Three years ago he founded the Eastern Congo Initiative which helps provide economic and social development opportunities for the people of Eastern Congo.

For the past two decades the people of Congo have been caught up in a perpetual civil war brought about by power struggles, corruption and fights over land and resources.

In spite of billions of dollars in foreign aid pouring into the country each year, the U.S. alone provided $700 million for the DRC in 2012, thousands are still starving.

In order to bring attention to the severe conditions in East Congo, Ben and some of his friends have a challenge for you. The Live Below the Line Challenge is a five-day event where participants agree to spend a maximum of $1.50 a day on food and hydration. In addition, they also encourage you to make a donation to one of a handful of poverty-focused charities shown on the website.

If you would like to join the challenge which begins on April 29, go to: Live Below the Line campaign.

After the challenge join Jimmy Buffett  with a Cheeseburgers in Paradise: