On the road again

Miss D. and I are headed for the Texas Panhandle, to spend time with our friend Alma Boykin and take in a little local culture at the Tri-State Fair and Rodeo.  (Yeeeeeee-haw!)  We’ll be back home tomorrow evening.  Please say a prayer for traveling mercies for us, if you’re so inclined. I’ve queued up a post for tomorrow morning.  For more reading matter, please visit the bloggers listed in my sidebar.  They do good work, too! Peter

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In the history of shopping, Amazon.com isn’t as new as it seems

Being an immigrant, I wasn’t as familiar with US economic history as I was with that of other countries and regions.  Therefore, I found this article, comparing Amazon.com with a much earlier vendor, very interesting. The history of US consumerism starts with the Sears Roebuck mail order catalog. Yes, the very same Sears that is struggling to emerge from bankruptcy today. But 125 years ago the company was every bit the disruptive innovator. A brief summary of how that happened: Mail order became viable in the late 1800s because of the expansion of the US rail system, post office regulations that allowed for

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How many of you remember this “two-faced” car?

I was amused to come across a photo essay about the Zundapp Janus, a German “bubble car” from the late 1950’s. The Roman legendary god Janus, for whom it was named, had two faces, one looking ahead to the future, and one behind to the past.  The car had two doors, one in front of the driver, the other behind the rear seat.  The two seats faced forward and aft, with the engine between them.  The car was terribly underpowered, able to reach only about 50 mph (probably downhill, with a following wind), and had very little interior space if filled with its maximum

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A century of scheduled international air travel

Last week saw a milestone:  the centenary of scheduled international air travel. In a year that marks so many important aviation anniversaries, the month of August has possibly the most significant of them all. For on 25 August 1919, a small British-built biplane took off from heathland close to where London Heathrow is today, beginning the first-ever daily international passenger air service. . . . While other passenger air services had been flown before, aviation historians point to the Aircraft Transport and Travel (AT&T) operation between Hounslow Heath and Le Bourget as the true beginning of international flights, as it marked

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Yet more proof that we have no privacy whatsoever in public

This article dates from 2016, but I’m sure things have only gotten worse since then. The NSA and the GCHQ are able to intercept data from passengers traveling on board commercial aircrafts. . . . At the end of 2012, in a presentation, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British equivalent of the NSA … disclosed a ‘top secret strap’, the term used for the highest level of classification, the content of the Southwinds programme, set up to gather all the activity, voices and data, metadata and content of the calls on board aircraft. The zone was still restricted to the regions

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So… how do they navigate?

I found this pair of photographs on Gab yesterday, showing a lighthouse on Lake Michigan near St. Joseph during and after a winter storm.  Clickit to biggit. I’ve seen similar photographs before, of course, as I’m sure have most of my readers.  However, I’d never thought about one obvious question.  If the lighthouse is required by ships on the lake for safe navigation, what happens when it’s shrouded in ice and its light can no longer be seen?  Is waterborne traffic suspended until it defrosts?  Is, there, in fact, any waterborne traffic on the Great Lakes during the winter months, or does everything come

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“Warning signs and how to spot a good restaurant in the wild”

That’s the title of an article by Australian journalist and “foodie” David Dale.  He’s been compiling lists of these signs and clues for over 30 years.  He writes: I was inspired to start this project by the American food writer Calvin Trillin. He lamented then that when you’re travelling and you ask hotel receptionists to recommend an interesting local restaurant, they send you to tourist traps – steel and glass boxes spinning around on the top of skyscrapers or fake wood cottages with names like “Maison de la Casa House Continental cuisine”. Trillin was particularly down on the word “continental”. His rules of thumb

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An old weed becomes a modern problem

The so-called “Sargasso Sea” in the North Atlantic Ocean is a time-honored name, dating back to well before Christopher Columbus’ day.  It may have been known as early as the sixth century BC, according to one ancient navigator‘s oral history.  The map below is courtesy of Wikipedia. Its name was derived from the sargassum seaweed that proliferates there.  In more recent times, the Sargasso Sea has become the heart of the so-called North Atlantic Garbage Patch. Now it looks as if sargassum is spreading south, into equatorial regions, and posing a new and highly unwelcome threat to the tourist industry in South America, the Caribbean,

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Putting Columbus’ achievement in seafaring perspective

The Old Salt Blog (an invaluable resource if you’re interested in ships and the sea, and their history) reports that a 500-year-old shipwreck has been discovered, almost intact, on the floor of the Baltic. Earlier this year, technicians operating a robotic camera surveying a route for a natural gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea, were surprised to find a 500-year-old shipwreck virtually intact on the seafloor. The ship was found at a depth of 141 meters. The lack of oxygen in the cold and brackish waters of the Baltic Sea help to slow the decay of the ship, which is sitting on

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That’s the strangest airliner I’ve ever seen

. . but I’m sure Klingon passengers would be happy!  It’s a conceptual aircraft in art and model form, presented by Airbus at this week’s Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) in England.  They’ve dubbed it the Airbus Bird Of Prey, although it’s not armed, unlike its fictional namesake.  (In fairness, Airbus specifically links the name to birds of prey here on earth, but given the number of Trekkies out there, it’s inevitable that the science fiction association will be made, too.) According to the company’s press release: Airbus has unveiled a bird-like conceptual airliner design with the goal of motivating the next generation of aeronautical engineers, underscoring

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