Sunday, January 25, 2015

Japanese culture and ISIS kidnappings

Here is an eye-opening look into how the Japanese public perceives the kidnappings in the Middle East. One social worker even opined that the shame the kidnapped aid workers experienced once they returned to Japan was orders of magnitude worse than the trauma they experienced while being held in Iraq (back in 2004).

Boeing 747SP

The Oman post from yesterday led m4ff3w and rchen to school me on the 747SP.

From Wikipedia:
The Boeing 747SP is a modified version of the Boeing 747 jet airliner which was designed for ultra-long-range flights. The SP stands for "Special Performance". Compared with its predecessor, the 747-100, the 747SP retains its wide-body, four-engine layout, along with its double-deck design, but has a shortened fuselage, larger tailplane, and simplified trailing edge flaps. The weight saved by the shortened fuselage permits longer range and increased speed relative to other 747 configurations.
Known during development as the short-body 747SB, the 747SP was designed to meet a 1973 joint request from Pan American World Airways and Iran Air, who were looking for a high-capacity airliner with sufficient range to cover Pan Am's New York–Middle Eastern routes and Iran Air's planned Tehran–New York route. The aircraft also was intended to provide Boeing with a mid-size wide-body airliner to compete with existing trijet airliners.
The 747SP first entered service with Pan Am in 1976. The aircraft was later acquired by VIP and government customers. While in service, the 747SP set several aeronautical performance records, but sales did not meet the expected 200 units, and production ultimately totaled 45 aircraft.

It reminds me of a short wheelbased Phaeton.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

List of 50 most violent cities in the world (2014)

This is from a Mexican think tank. I don't know the methodology, but how can Middle Eastern and North African countries/cities in civil war not be listed?

I've added commentary in (parens).

Position City Country Homicides Population Rate
1 San Pedro Sula Honduras 1,317 769,025 171.20 (Poor Honduras)
2 Caracas Venezuela 3,797 3,273,863 115.98 (Is anyone surprised that Maduro is still in power?)
3 Acapulco Mexico 883 847,735 104.16
4 João Pessoa Brazil 620 780,738 79.41 (Where?)
5 Distrito Central Honduras 928 1,195,456 77.65 (43 out of the 50 cities are in Latin America)
6 Maceió Brazil 733 1,005,319 72.91
7 Valencia Venezuela 1086 1,527,920 71.08
8 Fortaleza Brazil 2,541 3,818,380 66.55
9 Cali Colombia 1,530 2,344,734 65.25
10 São Luís Brazil 908 1,403,111 64.71
11 Natal Brazil 931 1,462,045 63.68
12 Ciudad Guayana Venezuela 536 862,720 62.13
13 San Salvador El Salvador 1,067 1,743,315 61.21
14 Cape Town South Africa 2,244 3,740,026 60.00 (South Africa, represent!)
15 Vitoria Brazil 1074 1,884,096 57.00
16 Cuiabá Brazil 467 827,104 56.46
17 Salvador (y RMS) Brazil 2,129 3,919,864 54.31
18 Belém Brazil 1,130 2,129,515 53.06
19 ST. Louis USA 159 318,416 49.93 (First of 4 US cities on the list)
20 Teresina Brazil 416 840,600 49.49
21 Barquisimeto Venezuela 601 1,293,693 46.46
22 Detroit USA 309 688,701 44.87
23 Goiânia Brazil 633 1,412,364 44.82
24 Culiacán Mexico 384 910,564 42.17
25 Guatemala Guatemala 1,288 3,074,054 41.90
26 Kingston Jamaica 495 1,219,366 40.59 (So the list is 43 L.A., 4 US, 2 South Africa cities, and Kingston)
27 Juárez Mexico 538 1,347,165 39.94
28 New Orleans USA 150 378,715 39.61
29 Recife Brazil 1518 3,887,261 39.05
30 Campina Grande Brazil 153 402,912 37.97
31 Obregón Mexico 120 318,184 37.71
32 Palmira Colombia 114 302,727 37.66
33 Manaus Brazil 749 2,020,301 37.07
34 Nuevo Laredo Mexico 142 406,598 34.92
35 Nelson Mandela Bay South Africa 402 1,152,115 34.89
36 Pereira Colombia 162 467,185 34.68
37 Porto Alegre Brazil 1,442 4,161,237 34.65
38 Durban South Africa 1187 3,442,361 34.48
39 Aracaju Brazil 312 912,647 34.19
40 Baltimore USA 211 622,104 33.92
41 Victoria Mexico 117 345,080 33.91
42 Belo Horizonte Brazil 1,926 5,767,414 33.39
43 Chihuahua Mexico 289 868,145 33.29
44 Curitiba Brazil 587 1,864,416 31.48
45 Tijuana Mexico 502 1,678,880 29.90
46 Macapá Brazil 129 446,757 28.87
47 Cúcuta Colombia 183 643,666 28.43
48 Torreón Mexico 330 1,186,637 27.81
49 Medellín Colombia 657 2,441,123 26.91
50 Cuernavaca Mexico 168 660,215 25.45


Oman's pending power vacuum

On the same day this week, Saudi Arabia's king died and the president of Yemen resigned. Neighboring Oman is also going to lose its leaders soon. Its sultan has been laid up in a German hospital for months. The benevolent dictator has no children so there is no clear successor. The process for picking the next leader is wild. His family has three days to pick a replacement. If they can't come to a decision, an envelope containing the current sultan's choice is opened. That person becomes the next sultan.

I recently read a book on the countries of the Indian Ocean and was surprised to learn that Oman had colonies from Zanzibar to Gwadar in Pakistan.

One question: What's that bubble on top of his plane for?

Here are a couple of articles about the sultan:

Citroen DS trunk mystery solved

Thanks to Ed (Belgium). He says:

I know what is in the DS trunk, I had read it somewhere: it is the weekly pay envelopes. The DS with a safe in the trunk was used to deliver the worker's pay in cash directly at their workplace. You can see the wooden cases are marked "Nanterre", "Asnières", ... different Citroën premises in the Paris region. 

Volvo V50 v. Alfa 159 wagon

I've put on around 8,000 miles in the six months that I've owned the V50. I have really enjoyed it. It's quick, utilitarian, and solid. And I got such a good deal on it, I think I can put on another 20,000 miles and still break even if I were to sell it.

I only have a few quibbles. For some reason, there is a slight brake dust build-up on the rear wheels but none up front. I also wish my car had iPhone/iPod integration and Bluetooth. Ed (US) once posted a DIY solution, but it looks daunting, considering it took me over an hour just to replace a headlamp bulb.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Amazing archer

Holy shit, this guy is good.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Conservatoire Citroen photos

I am so excited. I'll be there in less than three weeks. I found this album on Flickr and here are my favorites. There are over 300 Citroens there.

Crushed XM.

Gift shop.

Original 2CVs.

2CV from my favorite Bond film For Your Eyes Only.

No idea what this is.

What's in the trunk?

I should know what this is, but I don't.

I've always wanted to see one of these Wankel-powered M35s.


So many variations.

This SM is probably the greatest car ever made.

They even have Chinese Citroens.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Drone operator interview

Here is a 9 minute podcast about a disillusioned US Air Force drone pilot who killed over 1,000 people in the Middle East and North Africa.

Back in 2010, I was feeling blue and so I took a solo road trip up Highway 395 from the Mojave Desert up to Reno. I celebrated in Reno by having lunch at a Basque restaurant. It was famous for its picon punch. I had one, and another, and another,... By the time I walked out of there, it was 10 p.m., I had made two friends, joined their NASCAR fantasy league, and learned a bit about drones. You see, one of the two guys I met was a contractor and built the control center just outside Reno for the drones used in the War of Terror.

ISIS and Japanese hostages

I guess it was inevitable. East Asian ISIS hostages. The poor man on the left is apparently a journalist who went to Syria last year to look for the poor man on the right. Just look at their facial expressions.

Japan gave $200m to fight ISIS. In turn, ISIS wants $200m from Japan in exchange for these two hostages. It will be interesting to see if Japan will pay and whether ISIS will execute the men regardless.

And it may be inevitable that at some point, there will be Mainland Han Chinese hostages. Just imagine what ISIS would do to them for the government's treatment of Uyghurs. How will China react? Would it retaliate? How would it retaliate?