Archive for December 2015

Air India flight turns back after rat spotted on board   Leave a comment



A plane travelling from Mumbai to London was forced to turn back mid-flight after a rat was spotted on board, local media report.

Flight AI 131 travelling to London on Wednesday was flying over Iran when someone on board said they spotted the rodent, reports said.  Passengers continued their journey on a replacement aircraft some time later.

Air India has said that the plane will be fumigated and the presence of a rodent was being investigated. Rats occasionally get on board aircraft along with catering and other supplies but can pose a serious technical as well as a health hazard if they chew through wires.

The airline said that “though the presence of the rodent was not confirmed,” the decision to abort the flight was precautionary and in the interests of passenger safety.

It is not the first time a rat sighting has been reported on an Air India jet this year, with one of their aircraft forced to return to New Delhi during a flight to Milan in July because of a rodent.

It is the latest setback to hit the state-owned airline, which has had to cut costs to improve its financial health.  Earlier in December, an Air India technician was sucked into an aircraft engine and killed at Mumbai airport.


Posted December 31, 2015 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Japanese Crowd Control   Leave a comment

Time Lapse of Crowd Control in Tokyo Japan for Comic Market.

Images are created by Moconago and taken at Comiket which is the world’s largest self publishing comic book fair that is held twice a year in Tokyo.

Posted December 31, 2015 by markosun in Uncategorized

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The rise and fall of the Boombox   Leave a comment

Boombox is a common term for a portable cassette or CD player with two or more loudspeakers and a carrying handle. Other commonly used terms are ghetto blaster, stereo, jambox, boomblaster, Brixton briefcase, and radio-cassette. A boombox is a device typically capable of receiving radio stations and playing recorded music (usually cassettes or CDs, usually at a high volume).


The first boombox was developed by the inventor of the audio compact cassette, Philips of the Netherlands. Their first ‘Radiorecorder’ was released in 1966. The Philips innovation was the first time that radio broadcasts could be recorded onto cassette tapes without the cables or microphones that previous stand-alone cassette tape recorders required. Although sound quality of early tape recordings was poor, improvements in technology and the introduction of stereo recording, chromium tapes, and noise reduction made hifi quality devices possible. Several European electronics brands, such as Grundig, also introduced similar devices.

Boomboxes were soon also developed in Japan in the early 1970s and became popular there due to their compact size and impressive sound quality. The Japanese brands soon took over a large portion of the European boombox market and were often the first Japanese consumer electronics brands that a European household might purchase. The Japanese innovated by creating different sizes, form factors, and technology, introducing such advances as stereo boomboxes, removable speakers, in-built TV receivers, and inbuilt CD players.

The boombox was introduced to the American market during the mid-1970s, with the bulk of production being carried out by Panasonic, Sony, Marantz, and General Electric. It was immediately noticed by the urban adolescent community and soon had a large market, especially in metropolitan centers such as New York, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C.

The earlier models were a hybrid that combined the booming sound of large in-home stereo systems and the portability of small portable cassette players; they were typically small, black or silver, heavy, and capable of producing high volumes. The effective AM/FM tuner the coupling of devices such as microphones and turntables.

The development of audio jacks brought the boombox to the height of its popularity, and as its popularity rose, so did the level of innovation in the features included in the box. Consumers enjoyed the portability and sound quality of boomboxes, but one of the most important features, especially to the youth market, was the bass. The desire for louder and heavier bass led to bigger and heavier boxes.

Regardless of the increasing weight and size, the devices continued to become larger to accommodate the increased bass output; newer boombox models were affixed with heavy metal casings to handle the vibrations from the bass.



The 1990s were a turning point for the boombox in popular culture. The rise of the Walkman and other advanced electronics eliminated the need to carry around such large and heavy audio equipment, and boomboxes quickly disappeared from the streets. As boombox enthusiast Lyle Owerko puts it, “Towards the end of any culture, you have the second or third generation that steps into the culture, which is so far from the origination, it’s the impression of what’s real, but it’s not the full definition of what’s real. It’s just cheesy.” The Consumer Electronics Association reported that only 329,000 boombox units without CD players were shipped in the United States in 2003, compared to 20.4 million in 1986.

Although many boomboxes had dual cassette decks and included dubbing, line, and radio recording capabilities, the rise of recordable CDs, the decline of audio cassette technology, and the popularity of high-density MP3 players and smart phones have reduced the popularity of high-quality boomboxes to such an extent that it is difficult to find a new dual-decked stereo. Dubbing remains popular among audiophiles, bootleggers, and pirates, though most tasks are now accomplished through digital means or analog-to-digital conversion technology.

Starting in mid-2010, there are new lines of boomboxes that use Bluetooth technology known as Stereo Bluetooth, or A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile). They use the wireless Bluetooth technology to “stream” audio to the boombox from a compatible Bluetooth device, such as a mobile phone or Bluetooth MP3 player. An example of this is the JAMBOX, which is marketed as a “Smart Speaker” as it can also function as a speakerphone for voice calls in addition to being an audio playback device.

Are they coming back?


Posted December 31, 2015 by markosun in Uncategorized

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World’s Largest Prison Ship: Where else? New York City!   Leave a comment

A prison ship, often more precisely termed prison hulk, is a vessel (usually unseaworthy) salvaged as a prison, often to hold convicts or with the British, often civilian internees, awaiting transportation to a penal colony. This practice was popular with the British government in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Today there is one prison ship left in the world. The Vernon C. Bain Correctional Center is a prison barge operated by the New York City Department of Corrections as an adjunct to Rikers Island, opened in 1992. However, it was built for this purpose rather than repurposed.

It is an 800-bed jail barge used to hold inmates for the New York City Department of Corrections. It was built in New Orleans along the Mississippi River for $161 million in Avondale Shipyard, and brought to New York in 1992 to reduce overcrowding in the island’s land-bound buildings for a lower price. Nicknamed “The Boat” by prison staff and inmates, it is designed to handle inmates from medium- to maximum-security in 16 dormitories and 100 cells.



Aerial photo of Rikers Island, seen from the North. Bain Correctional Center is seen in the bottom left corner as the docked blue and white ship.

The 625-foot long by 125-foot wide flatbed barge is equipped with 14 dormitories and 100 cells for inmates. For recreation, there is a full-size gym with basketball court, weight lifting rooms and an outdoor recreation facility on the roof. There are three worship chapels, a modern medical facility and a library open to inmate use. The 47,326-ton facility was on the water, so when it opened, a minimum of three maritime crew was maintained under Coast Guard regulations. According to John Klumpp, the barge’s first captain, in 2002, “the Coast Guard, after years of monitoring the prison barge, finally accepted the reality that that it was, de facto, a jail and not a boat.” The prison ship is located approximately one mile away from SUNY Maritime college.




Posted December 30, 2015 by markosun in Uncategorized

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If it wasn’t for Lucille Ball, there wouldn’t be any Trekkies   Leave a comment

The ultimate decision to put the original Star Trek series on the air back in 1966 fell into the hands of Lucille Ball. She was a studio executive (Desilu) who wielded power over decisions like which shows will move forward and which shouldn’t. She took the Star Trek plunge, the rest is mega science fiction franchise history.

Lucille Désirée Ball (August 6, 1911 – April 26, 1989) was an American actress, comedienne, model, film studio executive, and TV producer. She was the star of the sitcoms I Love Lucy, The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour, The Lucy Show, Here’s Lucy, and Life with Lucy.

How Star Trek was launched:

In April 1964, Roddenberry presented the Star Trek draft to Desilu Productions, a leading independent television production company. He met with Herb Solow, Desilu’s Director of Production. Solow saw promise in the idea and signed a three-year program-development contract with Roddenberry.

The idea was extensively revised and fleshed out during this time – ‘The Cage’ pilot filmed in late 1964 differs in many respects from the March 1964 treatment. Solow, for example, added the Star Date concept.

Desilu Productions had a first-look deal with CBS. Oscar Katz, Desilu’s Vice President of Production, went with Roddenberry to pitch the series to the network. They refused to purchase the show, as they already had a similar show in development, the 1965 Irwin Allen series Lost in Space.

In May 1964, Solow, who previously worked at NBC, met with Grant Tinker, then head of the network’s West Coast programming department. Tinker commissioned the first pilot – which became ‘The Cage’. NBC turned down the resulting pilot, stating that it was ‘too cerebral.’ However, the NBC executives were still impressed with the concept, and they understood that its perceived faults had been partly because of the script that they had selected themselves.

NBC made the unusual decision to pay for a second pilot, using the script called “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. Only the character of Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy, was retained from the first pilot, and only two cast members, Majel Barrett and Nimoy, were carried forward into the series. This second pilot proved to be satisfactory to NBC, and the network selected Star Trek to be in its upcoming television schedule for the fall of 1966.

The second pilot introduced most of the other main characters: Captain Kirk (William Shatner), chief engineer Lt. Commander Scott (James Doohan) and Lt. Sulu (George Takei), who served as a physicist on the ship in the second pilot but subsequently became a helmsman throughout the rest of the series. Paul Fix played Dr. Mark Piper in the second pilot; ship’s doctor Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley) joined the cast when filming began for the first season, and he remained for the rest of the series, achieving billing as the third star of the series. Also joining the ship’s permanent crew during the first season were the communications officer, Lt. Nyota Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), the first African-American woman to hold such an important role in an American television series; the captain’s yeoman, Janice Rand (Grace Lee Whitney), who departed midway through the first season; and Christine Chapel (Majel Barrett), head nurse and assistant to McCoy. Walter Koenig joined the cast as Ensign Pavel Chekov in the series’ second season.

In February 1966, Star Trek was nearly killed by Desilu Productions, before airing the first episode. Desilu had gone from making just one half-hour show (The Lucy Show), to deficit financing a portion of two expensive hour-long shows, Mission: Impossible and Star Trek. Solow was able to convince LUCILLE BALL that both shows should continue.




Imagine the world without Trekkies.





Posted December 28, 2015 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Great Tides of the UK   Leave a comment



Posted December 27, 2015 by markosun in Uncategorized

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United States Army Vehicles: Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’.   Leave a comment


The U.S. Army must have tens of thousands of vehicle mechanics and technicians, because this military branch has an extensive and immense armada of tracked and wheeled vehicles. Second to none in the world in terms of vehicles, as well as aircraft. Over 350,000 vehicles. A list below with numbers.


US Army strength

546,057 Active personnel (2012)
559,244 Reserve and National Guard personnel (2012)
1,105,301 total (2012)
4,948 aircraft


Humvee: 160,000 (all services)


Joint Light Tactical Vehicle: 53,582 (procurement objective), a muscled-up Humvee, to replace that vehicle.


M939 Truck is a 5-ton 6×6 U.S. military heavy truck: 25,000


The Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) is a series of vehicles, based on a common chassis, that vary by payload and mission requirements. The FMTV is derived from the Austrian militarySteyr 12 M 18 truck, but substantially modified to meet U.S. Army requirements. 108,800 delivered.


Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT): >27,000 (new build and remanufactured), figures include Air Force and National Guard.


 Oshkosh M1070, in A0 and A1 configurations, is the U.S. Army’s current tank transporter tractor: 4,079 (delivered; not all remain in service).


M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank: 4,393 M1A1 and 2,385 M1 in storage,1,174 M1A2 and M1A2SEP variants, 8,308 total.


IAV (Interim Armored Vehicle) Stryker: 4,466


M113 fully tracked armored personnel carrier: 6,000 active duty.


M1117 Guardian Armored Security Vehicle: 2,777 in service. The vehicle is used by base and convoy security forces.


M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle: 6,230 active service


Oshkosh M-ATV is an Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle: 8,722 (delivered; all services)


The Cougar is an MRAP and infantry mobility vehicle structured to be resistant to landmines and improvised munitions: 4,400 (est.)


International MaxxPro MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected): 8,780 (all services)


M109 155 mm self-propelled howitzer: 950




Posted December 27, 2015 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Photos from the 2015 Miss Camel Beauty Contest   Leave a comment


Miss Universe wasn’t the only beauty pageant to take place this week. In the hinterlands of the UAE, Bedouin tribes from Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the Emirates are currently gathering at Al Dhafra Festival—an annual meeting best known for its Camel Mazayna, or “beauty contest.”

Men parade their finest dromedaries at auctions, races, and best-in-show events, and prizes are given for the fastest, “milkiest,” and most beautiful creatures. Less fortunate camels are served for dinner at a nightly majlis.

The festival, which runs through December 30, is a celebration of the Empty Quarter’s traditional heritage and way of life—a far cry from the contemporary turbo-Gulf culture seen nearby in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. That said, there’s still big bucks to be made: Prizes totaling Dh55 million (around $14.9 million) are up for grabs.

Despite a last-minute hairspray of humps seen here and there, judges are on the lookout for natural beauties this year. “Camels that are found with drugs in the lips, shaved, dyed in any parts of the body, or with changes from natural form are not allowed [sic],” states the entrants’ handbook.
















This guy had enough of the camels and decided to take a selfie and upload it to Facebook.


And the Winner is:

From the Oblivion Desert, Miss Abu Omani, Two Hump Gazelda!




Posted December 26, 2015 by markosun in Uncategorized

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This is how to fly, if you have the big money.   Leave a comment


In the compendium of complaints about air travel, we have not yet encountered “I do not have an unencumbered, horizon-to-horizon view of the entire planet.” At some point, we surmise, someone must have shared that frustration, because Windspeed Technologies has come up with a solution.

The company’s SkyDeck is a clear bubble that pokes up out of the top of an airplane. One or two passengers access this viewing dome via a staircase, or (rather showily) in an elevator. Once they are head and shoulders above the fuselage, they may rotate their seats to view some particular object — the sunset, or a constellation, or a cloud that looks a lot like a bunny. The bubble is made of the same material as the canopies of a supersonic fighter jet, and it’s a teardrop shape mounted just before the tail to have the smallest possible effect on aerodynamics. Its feasibility has been studied a thousand different ways, patents and trademarks have been applied for, and an aircraft manufacturer has begun offering it as an option on its custom builds — though there are not yet reports of orders taken.






Does the SkyDeck seem a bit… erm… over the top? Yes, but certainly that is the point. Windspeed identifies business and VIP aircraft as their primary market, where amenities like the SkyDeck make sense because airplanes made of solid gold are too heavy to fly. But the company also sees a commercial application, where, they say, “Current in-flight entertainment offerings have not changed much over the decades” (as if SkyDeck were the logical successor to seatback entertainment systems). In this bright future, airlines would charge passengers for a trip up to the SkyDeck, providing an additional revenue stream for beleaguered airlines that have not yet found enough things to charge for.

Still, it’s awesome. To merely propose cutting a hole in the top of a jet — and then actually figuring out how to make it happen — is an admirable engineering feat. And who hasn’t imagined what the view might be like the outside of a plane, rather than through the tiny windows we’re now supposed to keep shuttered so as not to interfere with the seatback entertainment systems? Given the chance, we’d certainly spend a few minutes enjoying a 360° at 36,000 feet — though we admit to having some concerns about the availability of beverage service up there.





Posted December 26, 2015 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Two-Sentence Horror Stories that are Very Scary!   Leave a comment




Posted December 26, 2015 by markosun in Uncategorized

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