Travel service timelapse

September 18th, 2012

A week in the life of an airline pilot.

I get that at one level it's little different than driving a bus. Except for all the many ways in which it just isn't.

[Via MetaFilter]

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The Pigeon Gap

April 17th, 2012

This Past Imperfect post about Closing the Pigeon Gap is a fascinating look at how 19th century continental powers made use of networks of carrier pigeons in wartime, and how the British responded to the perceived threat of a Pigeon Gap developing. All good stuff.

And then there's this one passage that reads like a scene from a discarded Blackadder Goes Forth script, recounting a description by Lieutenant Alan Goring of a sticky moment during the Passchendaele offensive of 1917:

[…] I was left with just a handful of men, all that was left out of those three platoons…. We had two pigeons in a basket, but the trouble was that the wretched birds had got soaked when the platoon floundered into the flooded ground. We tried to dry one of them off as best we could, and I wrote a message, attached it to its leg, and sent it off.

To our absolute horror, the bird was so wet that it just flapped into the air and then came straight down again, and started actually walking towards the German line. Well, if that message had got into the Germans' hands, they would have known that we were on our own and we'd have been in real trouble. So we had to try to shoot the pigeon before he got there. A revolver was no good. We had to use rifles, and there we were, all of us, rifles trained over the edge of this muddy breastwork trying to shoot this bird scrambling about in the mud. It hardly presented a target at all.

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'Echo station 3-T-8, we have spotted Imperial walkers.'

July 4th, 2011

It would appear that an Imperial probe droid has located Greenpeace's secret base on Hoth:

Greenpeace spokeswoman Leila Dean says in a statement: "Almost two million people have already watched our campaign ad, which is a light hearted way of telling the truth about Volkswagen and their opposition to climate change laws. The film has been hugely successful having been shared more than any other advert in the last 24 hours. We're disappointed that it has been taken down and we're hoping it's just a case of some rogue droids and that many more people will be able to watch the film soon."

(Previously.)

[Via @flminiblog]

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The Dark Side

June 29th, 2011

Greenpeace want us to know that Volkswagen has gone over to the Dark Side.1

[Via Pop Loser]

  1. In case you missed it, the advert being parodied can be found here.

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The Destruction of Economic Facts

June 3rd, 2011

Economist Hernando de Soto lays the blame for the global financial crisis squarely on The Destruction of Economic Facts:

Over the past 20 years, Americans and Europeans have quietly gone about destroying [the systems of public records that made it possible for market participants to know who owned what and who owed what, and thus to make an informed judgement about how risky a proposed investment might be.] The very systems that could have provided markets and governments with the means to understand the global financial crisis – and to prevent another one – are being eroded. Governments have allowed shadow markets to develop and reach a size beyond comprehension. Mortgages have been granted and recorded with such inattention that homeowners and banks often don't know and can't prove who owns their homes. In a few short decades the West undercut 150 years of legal reforms that made the global economy possible.

[Via Qwghlm Delicious feed]

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United Diagrams of Europe

March 8th, 2011

The latest entry at Strange Maps isn't, technically speaking, a map. Hoewver, what it lacks in map-like qualities it more than makes up in strangeness.

It's a valiant attempt at illustrating what the term "Europe" means, in the form of a Venn diagram. It turns out that it's … complicated.12

  1. And fascinating. I'd forgotten that EFTA still existed.
  2. For the sake of educating clueless/cynical tabloid journalists and eurosceptic MPs it would have been nice if the diagram could have incorporated an indication of which countries are signed up to the European Court of Human Rights, just to make the point that the ECHR has nothing to do with the European Union. In practical terms the circle for the Council of Europe serves that purpose as all CoE members have ratified the European Convention on Human Rights which established the court, but a label to that effect would have been good.

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Taking Eurovision a little too seriously

August 15th, 2009

There's caring about the Eurovision Song Contest, and then there's this:

Rovshan Nasirli, a young Eurovision fan living in the Azerbaijani capital Baku, says he was summoned this week to the country's National Security Ministry — to explain why he had voted for Armenia during this year's competition in May.

"They wanted an explanation for why I voted for Armenia. They said it was a matter of national security," Nasirli said. "They were trying to put psychological pressure on me, saying things like, 'You have no sense of ethnic pride. How come you voted for Armenia?' They made me write out an explanation, and then they let me go."

Don't anyone go giving Andrew Lloyd Webber ideas…

[Via A Fistful Of Euros, via No Rock and Roll Fun]

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Copyright and camouflage

November 28th, 2008

I do hope the history books fifty years hence won't record that the trigger for the Third World War was infringement of intellectual property rights:

HELSINKI, Finland, Nov. 21 (UPI) — In an odd post-battle inquiry, Finland wants to know whether Russia, in its August conflict with Georgia, used Finnish camouflage, military officials say.

Studying pictures taken in Georgia, Finnish authorities are trying to determine whether Russian armed forces were wearing M/05, a pattern that is based on digital photographs of Finnish forests and legally protected in the European Union.

[Via Certain Ideas of Europe]

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Nuclear … Fucking … Weapons

May 16th, 2008

Responding to Michael Medved's idiotic ideas about 'American DNA', Martin Wisse reminds us of a great Usenet post from Ken MacLeod:

Hey, this is Europe. We took it from nobody; we won it from the bare soil that the ice left. The bones of our ancestors, and the stones of their works, are everywhere. Our liberties were won in wars and revolutions so terrible that we do not fear our governors: they fear us. Our children giggle and eat ice-cream in the palaces of past rulers. We snap our fingers at kings. We laugh at popes. When we have built up tyrants, we have brought them down.

And we have nuclear – fucking – weapons.

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Easier said than done

May 16th, 2008

Luxembourg's Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, is credited with the following aphorism about the politics of the European Union:

We all know what we need to do, Mr Juncker is supposed to have said of EU leaders. We just don't know how to get re-elected afterwards.

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