Sunday, November 29, 2009

Strange Maps: China's Population In Perspective

Strange Maps is one of my favorite blogs. It has been turned into a book. Here is a short review by the NYT.

The above map is illustrative of the blog's posts. It compares the populations of China's provinces to the populations of nations. Xinjiang is the same as Madagascar. The city of Tianjin is equal to Cuba. The official population of Guandong is Germany. Plus, the migrant workers in Guandong make up one Uganda. That's a lot of people.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pan Am Innovator Bag: Perfect Stocking Stuffer for Traveler

In general, I am against all things retro. But I really dig this.

Tomica, Matchbox, And Hot Wheels Yellow Bees

Hot Wheels Dodge Mirada Stocker

Hot Wheels Olds Flat Out 442

Matchbox Superfast Datsun 128X

Matchbox Rolamatics Wild Life Truck

Hot Wheels Airport Rescue Fire Engine

Hot Wheels VW Hare Splitter

Tomica Lamborghini Countach LP500S

Tomica And Matchbox Silver Bullets

Matchbox Ford Sierra XR4i

Tomica Mercedes Benz 450SEL

Matchbox Superfast VW Bug Hi Ho Silver

Tomica DeTomaso Pantera GTS

Putin And Medvedev's Gait

Have you ever noticed how Putin and Medvedev walk funny? They both have this strut where their left arms move about freely while their right arms seem to be stapled to their hips. I looked into this.

In a 2005 article in The Atlantic, experts (a cardiac thoracic surgeon, two orthopedic surgeons, a physical therapist, and a neurodevelopmental therapist) looked at Putin's gait. Their theories on the cause of Putin's gait include:
  • he had a stroke in utero,
  • Erb's palsy from forceps squeezing his right shoulder during birth,
  • polio.
My hypotheses:
  • old judo injury,
  • Putin is a badass.

What is more fascinating is why Medvedev walks with the same gait. He was coached to walk like Putin.

This video shows their gaits perfectly. At first, Putin is self-conscious about his gait so he exaggerates the swing of his right arm. He also fidgets with his right arm and hand by playing with his coat, wiping his face, and waving. But after walking a bit (0:52), he returns to his normal gait. And you can see how Medvedev apes Putin's stride.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Contrasting Towers

Pioneer Mill Smokestack; Lahaina, Hawaii

Emin Minaret; Turpan, Xinjiang

Carspotting (22): Mercedes W108 280S

Taken in Makawao, a paniolo (cowboy) town on Maui.

Tomica's Inglourious Basterds

I had always assumed that these six Tomica cars are the oldest in my collection. For as long as I can remember, they suffered from catastrophic corrosion. The other trait they all shared-- they're all two door mid-70s Japanese coupes.

Nissan Sunny 1200GX

Nissan Skyline 2000GT-X

Toyota New Mark II-L

Nissan Laurel

Nissan Sunny Excellent 1400GX

Nissan Bluebird 2000GT-X

Friday, November 20, 2009

Human FAT Trafficking Ring In Peru

Note to self:

1. Hit the treadmill before I go on my overland journey through Peru.
2. NEVER drink Inca Kola again.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Diecast Collection Travels Around the World

All the backgrounds are from Lonely Planet's big, glossy, and wonderful The Travel Book.

Matchbox Air France Airbus A300B flying over Peru.

Matchbox Ferrari 308 GTB at Venice's Piazza San Marco.

Hot Wheels VW Sunagon at Yosemite.

Tomica VW Microbus in Botswana.

Matchbox Audi Quattro in Liechtenstein.

Humain, Trop Humain

I just watched an extraordinary movie about cars. It's Louis Malle's 1974 documentary Humain, Trop Humain. The 70+ minute movie was mostly shot at a Citroen GS factory in Brittany. At the factory, there is no dialogue. There is no monologue; there is not even narration. The film just shows the workers assembling the car from start to finish. It's mesmerizing and shows how man and woman have become an integral part of the assembly line machinery. It's not a good fit. The eyes of many of the workers are glazed over. You can literally see the soul being slowly sapped out of them.

There's also a nice snippet from a car show. Apparently, not all French people were impressed with French cars and their eccentricities.

What did I learn? It took a lot of cigarettes and hammers to build a Citroen.

(It's available on Netflix.)

The Play Between Cal & Stanfurd (Enhanced Video)

Well, it's been yet another disappointing season for Cal. At this point, I don't even care if Jahvid Best plays again. I just want that kid to be healthy and graduate. But what will salvage this season is if we win Saturday's Big Game. Leland Stanfurd JUNIOR University is favored by a touchdown.

Here is an enhanced version of 1982's The Play, undeniably the greatest single moment in college football history (with Joe Starkey making the call).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Matchbox Tow Trucks

In my make-belief town, cars broke down. Fortunately, everyone had AAA tow coverage and I had three tow trucks on-call.

My favorite of the three was this Matchbox Freightliner.

Here it is towing a temperamental Matchbox Citroen CX.

This Matchbox Foden tilt cab was an odd duck. As its name states, the blue cab tilts forward 90 degrees.

Foden carrying a Tomica Fix It Again Tony X 1/9.

This Matchbox Leyland truck was a mystery to me. I never knew what the two holes on the bed were for. I used to get those toothpicks from club sandwiches with the colorful plastic on one end and stick them in the holes. Kids.

Going back to the unreliable French theme, here is a Matchbox Renault 5 getting a ride to the shop. I understand the scales are way out of proportion, but hey, I was eight!