Monthly Archives: February 2015

Mega yachts in the sky

Someone, and my guess is Vladimir Putin, bought 747 for personal use. Estimated cost for this sky vehicle is $600 million.

Continues Yahoo: A ridiculously tricked-out Boeing 747-8, whose interior was refurbished by Washington-based Greenpoint Technologies, has just been delivered to an unidentified private owner. According to the Robb Report, it’s the first Boeing 747-8 (which is Boeing’s largest passenger jet) to receive Greenpoint’s VIP treatment. And it is stunningly luxurious.

A master bedroom so large that allows you to scoff at the lie-flat first class seats in which “the paupers” are forced to recline:

giant 747 private jet

naptime because i’m so bored on my giant private jet

And here I am longing for the creature comforts of first-class on commercial!

6 things you didn’t know about daylight savings time

I’ve been giving this a lot of thought lately, precisely because no one else is.

1) The Standard Time Act established time zones. Then it took another 50 years for spring ahead/fall back.

2) Benjamin Franklin proposed the concept – ignored. What did he know anyhow? (Feel for you, Ben.)

3) China and Russia do not recognize Daylight Savings Time. Communists, ’nuff said.

4) Energy Crisis Act of 1974 extended Daylight Savings Time. For 3 years it went for 8 months. I think we’re back.

indiana flag

Late to the Daylight Savings game

5) Prior to 2007, Indiana allowed individual cities and towns to disregard Daylight Savings Time if they so wished.

6) Hawaii also does not recognize Daylight Savings Time. Must be the brilliant, bright sunlight that lasts well into late afternoon. And communists.

AP must be too, because this article on possibly eliminating this little appreciated institution is only 4 days old:

The ritual of springing forward and falling back – and spending days (or longer) catching up on adjusting every clock in the home – is being questioned by lawmakers who would like to see it come to an end.

Some are considering a renewed effort to put the state in line with Hawaii and Arizona, the only two states that have exercised their privilege to stay on standard time all year long.

“What I’m suggesting is that we save time by simplifying our lives,” state Rep. Elizabeth Scott, D-Monroe, told a House committee Tuesday.

She said the bill to drop daylight saving time would reduce heart attacks, car wrecks and work accidents found to increase with the sleep-schedule disruptions. Farmers she checked with already run their combines at night using aircraft-scale headlights, and dairy cattle care about the sun, not the time on the clock face.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to have the Independence Day fireworks start before 10 p.m.?” she said to the House State Government Committee.

Scott’s bill – like a companion bill in the Senate – would overturn a 1960 ballot initiative in which 51.7 percent of voters made Washington the 15th state with daylight saving time. The initiative promised “154 more hours of daylight each year” in the official state voters pamphlet published by the Secretary of State, and it gave Washington Pacific Daylight Time from April through September.

Before 1960, daylight time had been instituted nationally during each World War, only to be repealed in peacetime. Incremental changes since then, via Congress, have expanded daylight time to run from the second Sunday in March through the first Sunday in November.

Five other states have pending legislation to eliminate daylight saving time, including Oregon, where a bill would give voters a fall referendum this year on daylight time. If the Oregon voters were to decide against daylight time, it would be abandoned in 2021 – or earlier, if Washington or California also stopped changing the clocks twice a year. Globally, Asia, Australia and Africa mostly don’t have daylight time, and Europe largely uses it.

The bill to drop daylight time may face an uphill battle to get to a House floor vote. State Government Committee chair Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, is a man who enjoys late summer sunsets, as he said several times Tuesday, and he helped defeat a similar bill that never emerged from the same committee in 2011. Hunt said after Tuesday’s hearing he was still against leaving daylight time.

“With other states keeping it, it would create, I think, additional disruption,” he said.

Opposition to similar measures in other states has come from recreational business interests. The Golf Association for Utah told state officials there last year researching a possible change that unplayed rounds due to earlier nightfall would result in $24 million in losses. Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, who sponsored the 2011 bill against daylight time, said he had heard opposition from that sector.

“The idea that golf courses are determining when I get up for the day ticks me off,” Dunshee said.

A companion version of Scott’s bill in the Senate has not yet received a hearing. A different House bill, meanwhile, would have the state send a nonbinding request to the federal government for the authority to spend the entire year on daylight time; currently, any state can be all-standard time, but no state can go the other way. Rep. Joe Schmick, R-Colfax, said his constituents told him they’d like an extra hour of afternoon light in the winter, and he agreed.

Schmick, who is a farmer, noted that Washington’s winter sunrise comes so late that livestock already get their morning feeds before dawn, but herds could benefit from pushing winter sunsets an hour later.

“At least you’d be feeding them one time in the daylight,” Schmick said.

Fascinating.

A good documentary

It’s the middle of winter and there are times, like last week, when you just plop yourself down on the couch and watch ANYTHING. The funny thing is that every once in a while, you’ll catch something worthwhile – and that’s exactly what happened to me last night when I caught Ken Burns’ documentary on Prohibition.

Fortunately I’m a fan of the show Boardwalk Empire, so I was already interested – but what I didn’t know was how much that I didn’t know! It’s an amazing story.

The Purple Gang

The Purple Gang wanted no publicity

And guess who agrees with me? Ken Burns. Here’s what the filmmaker had to say about the HBO show (over now, sadly) that starred Steve Buscemi:

“I’ve really enjoyed watching it. It’s terrific. I think they have another huge hit on their hands in the mode of ‘The Sopranos,’ and they’re not that dissimilar. Americans always love to watch people who get to kill people (who) piss them off and women who take their clothes off at the drop of a hat.

“They’ve done their homework. It’s very complex and nuanced, and they’ve found many of not just the primary characters, but the secondary and tertiary ones.  We’re always amazed, when we’ve done films, that it seems to, for many of the films, fit into the zeitgeist of the moment. And while I’m sure we began work on this project well before it was even a gleam in their eye — we do not have the resources of HBO, so it takes us a little bit longer, and we like to do it right and dive deep down into the subject — it was nice to see it received so well. I don’t think I’ve missed an episode, and thrilled that they’ve got a second season.”

Ken burns filmmaker

This is as good as pictures of Ken Burns get.

Wow. Burns wasn’t finished. He went on to discus a major theme of the documentary, which covered the unintended consequences of prohibition – and how that led to the rise in power of organized crime.

Continues Burns: “If I told you that I had been working with Lynn for several years on a film about single issue political campaigns, wedge issue campaigns that metastasized with horrible unintended consequences, if the story was about the demonization of recent immigrants to the United States and, as always, African Americans, if I told you we’d been working on a film that involved smear campaigns during presidential elections or unfunded congressional mandates or, more importantly, a whole group of people who felt they’d lost control of their country and wanted to take it back, you would insist that we had abandoned our historical interests and were covering the contemporary political scene.”

Heavy.

“We don’t have a political axe to grind or to make some political points. All of those similarities that I pointed out to you have to be inferred in the course of this film. You know, at one point when German Americans are enemies, we changed the name of sauerkraut to liberty cabbage.
Yeah, but like the Germans in America sauerkraut stuck around. Liberty cabbage? Not so much.

“They resonate, and one begins to understand as Ecclesiastes does that human nature always is the same. We leave it up to our audiences to forge those connections, but I think towards the end of the film, we make a very strong point that Prohibition and its abject failure didn’t do anything about alcoholism. That’s a real problem, and it’s a bittersweet way to leave this film. The impulse at the beginning of the film to solve it remained at the end of this film, at the end of the Prohibition era, and we have not solved it. ”

Key difference between me and Ken Burns – he can work Ecclesiastes into conversation while I need spell check to find him on Wikipedia.
“But we are certainly suspicious of these single issue attempts to, with the stroke of a pen or the creation of an amendment, to somehow forever enshrine into our Constitution solutions that take a much more nuanced and, I would suggest, democratic solution.”

Well said, Mr. Burns, and thank you for your excellent filmmaking.

Six Nations: The English side gets ready for Wales

Not that you asked, but I’ve always thought that the Six Nations tournament is one of the best annual sporting events there is.

The six participating countries are traditional European powers in the sport, comprised of: England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales.

What makes the England/Wales match particularly interesting is that, if you go back in history, they are tied for having the most titles – at 26. You know for sure that both sides are looking to break that deadlock.

But what’s doubly interesting is that England seems to be taking some unusual training methods – can’t wait to see if they work. Here’s The Rugby Blog with more:

“England have been preparing in an unusual manner for their opening Six Nations game this Friday night against Wales. They have apparently been bringing loudspeakers to training and pumping them up to full volume, to allow the players to practice communicating when they can barely hear each other.

England visits Wales for opening Six Nations match

Team England readies for Wales for 2015 Six Nations tournament

If the move sounds a bit bizarre, it is apparently a reaction to what happened last time England played in Cardiff – the fateful 30-3 loss to Wales in 2013. Several players who featured that day have spoken of the difficulty they had in communicating against the backdrop of noise from Welsh fans.

“We’ve spoken about the noise already. I think they’ll be getting speakers in there and putting it as loud as it can go,” said fly-half George Ford in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph. “I think it’s important because communication in the game is vital. We’ve spoken about that already. I wasn’t there last time, but the noise was a big factor by accounts. If you can’t hear each other it could potentially have a big impact.

“So we need to make sure we cover everything off in terms of that aspect. We’re trying to come up with a game plan and a strategy which is crystal clear and that everyone understands and is on the same page. It’s pretty simple.”

Ford also revealed that England’s attacking gameplan won’t be a case of reinventing the wheel, likely to rely heavily on an intelligent kicking game and winning the territorial battle.

“If it is hard to hear each other, we have other ways of communicating which will hopefully help us make the right plays. Without giving too much away we are going to have a set way we are going to play in offence. It’s going to be pretty simple, I think. The communication and between the nine, 10 and full-back and wingers is going to be pretty important.

“We’re the guys as half-backs who are running the game. So if it is too loud and we can’t hear each other, we might have to go about things a different way – putting the hand out for example, just to say we want the ball.””

I think England might win here – they have history and innovation on their side.

That said, I’m rooting for Team Italy, the latest member of the Six Nations (joined in 2000). They haven’t won a title yet, it would be great to see them get off the schneid.