Archive for September 2016

Not your ordinary beds   Leave a comment


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Posted September 19, 2016 by markosun in Home

Da Bears   Leave a comment


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Bear size comparison graph at bottom.

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AMERICAN BROWN or GRIZZLY BEAR Ursus arctos horribilis snarling, July USA

AMERICAN BROWN or GRIZZLY BEAR Ursus arctos horribilis snarling, July USA

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Posted September 19, 2016 by markosun in Animals

A Canyon That Fighter Pilots Love To Scream Through   Leave a comment


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In Death Valley National Park, north of Barstow, California, is Rainbow Canyon. It’s not especially remarkable, just one canyon in an area full of them, all but indistinguishable from its neighbors in an area populated mainly by snakes. But stand on one of the canyon tops for long enough and a fighter jet will suddenly roar into the valley below you, flying fast and very, very low. It will be visible for only a few seconds before it turns hard and disappears behind the next hill. But during those few moments, anyone with a camera has a brief chance to take a spectacular picture. Rainbow Canyon (or Star Wars Canyon, as some call it) is part of the R-2508 restricted airspace complex, host to a busy, low-level training route for combat aircraft.

Military pilots train to fly low and fast, hiding behind hills to fool radar and going fast enough that they can’t be shot at. Since flying is a perishable skill, every fighter or attack pilot periodically has to practice such low-level flights. Rainbow Canyon is in the desert of eastern California, where the population is sparse and the airspace wide open. It’s also surrounded by military bases, bombing ranges, maneuvering grounds and radars—an ideal spot for military pilots to hone their skills. Among the nearby facilities are Edwards AFB, Naval Air Station China Lake, and Plant 42 (where Lockheed and Northrop build advanced aircraft).

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Photos are taken on a high ridge above the jets
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F-18 Hornet with brown camo.
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Posted September 19, 2016 by markosun in Aircraft, Aviation, Military

The birth of the Obama ‘birther’ conspiracy   Leave a comment


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Republican Donald Trump asserted that Democrat Hillary Clinton and her campaign team first raised questions about Barack Obama’s birthplace in 2008 – and that he was the man who settled the issue in 2011.

The truth, however, is markedly different.

As a preface to this latest turn in the Obama “birther” row, it should be noted that the location of Mr Obama’s birth is generally considered irrelevant to whether Mr Obama is eligible to serve as US president. As long as he has one parent who was a US citizen, as Mr Obama’s Kansas-born mother was, he is considered by the US government to be a “natural born citizen”. That – along with being at least 35 years of age and resident in the US for 14 years – is the only necessary constitutional requirement for the presidency.

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Now, according to fact-checkers and contemporary media reports, questions about Mr Obama’s birthplace began circulating among disgruntled Clinton supporters in the last months of her ill-fated campaign against the then-Senator Obama in 2008.

It was desperate times in the Clinton camp, and the candidate did not always acquit herself well, such as when she said that Mr Obama was not a Muslim “as far as I know”. But there is no evidence of ties between her and her campaign staff and the Obama birthplace allegations.

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In June 2008 the Obama campaign released a photocopy of his short-form “certificate of live birth” showing that he was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on 4 August, 1961. (Reporters also unearthed a contemporaneous birth announcement published in a Hawaiian newspaper.)

This was not enough for some conspiracy-minded Obama critics, however, who questioned the authenticity of the document and demanded the “long-form” certificate from the Democrat’s birth hospital.

During the general election campaign the rumours spread to the fringes of the right – evidenced most notably when a woman at a John McCain rally told the Republican candidate that Mr Obama was an “Arab”.

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Senator McCain took away her microphone and informed her she was wrong.

“Senator Obama is a decent person and a person you don’t have to be scared of as president of the United States,” he said.

From there, the conspiracy theories continued to simmer on the right in the early days of Mr Obama’s first term in office. Orly Taitz, a conservative activist, filed lawsuits challenging the president’s eligibility to serve – but all were quickly dismissed from US courts.

Enter Donald Trump.

In March 2011, he first began mentioning that he had “real doubts” about whether Mr Obama had a US birth certificate.

In the days that followed, he said he was sending a team of private investigators to Hawaii to learn the truth and promised to donate $5m to charity if anyone could convince him Mr Obama was born on US soil.

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On 27 April, 2011, the Obama White House released his original “long-form” birth certificate.

In a press release on Thursday night and on stage in Washington, DC, on Friday morning, this is the moment Mr Trump pointed to as the “great service” he performed in laying to rest questions about Mr Obama’s birthplace.

The truth here, however, is also markedly different.

Over the following years, Mr Trump continued to raise questions and express doubts.

In 2012 he tweeted that he had an “extremely credible source” who told him the birth certificate was a fraud.

In 2013 he raised suspicion about the death of a Hawaiian health official who verified copies of Mr Obama’s “birth certificate”.

In 2014 he asked hackers to access Mr Obama’s college records and check his “place of birth”.

As recently as this month, Mr Trump did not back away from his past support of the “birther” cause.

“I don’t talk about it because if I talk about that, your whole thing will be about that,”Trump said. “So I don’t talk about it.”

Mr Trump did talk about it on Friday – and he’s right, it’s all anyone is going to write about.

 

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Posted September 18, 2016 by markosun in Politics

Amazing 42-story University Building   Leave a comment


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The above photo appears to be of a European city, but no, it’s Pennsylvania, USA.

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The Cathedral of Learning, a Pittsburgh landmark listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is the centerpiece of the University of Pittsburgh’s main campus in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. Standing at 535 feet (163 m), the 42-story Late Gothic Revival Cathedral is the tallest educational building in the Western hemisphere and the second tallest university building (fourth tallest educationally-purposed building) in the world. It is also the second tallest gothic-styled building in the world. The Cathedral of Learning was commissioned in 1921 and ground was broken in 1926. The first class was held in the building in 1931 and its exterior finished in October 1934, prior to its formal dedication in June 1937.

Colloquially referred to as “Cathy” by Pitt students, the Cathedral of Learning is a steel frame structure overlaid with Indiana limestone and contains more than 2,000 rooms and windows. It functions as a primary classroom and administrative center of the university, and is home to the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and many of its departments, as well as the University Honors College. It served as home of the university’s College of General Studies until its relocation to Posvar Hall in 2014. It houses many specialty spaces, including a studio theater, food court, study lounges, offices, computer and language labs, 30 Nationality Rooms, and a 12-acre (2,000 m2), 4-story-high, vaulted, gothic study and event hall. The building contains noted examples of stained glass, stone, wood, and iron work and is often used by the university in photographs, postcards, and other advertisements.

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Commons room on the main floor

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The basement and floors up to (and including) floor 40 are used for educational purposes, although most floors above 36 house the building’s mechanical equipment. These floors include theaters, computer laboratories, language laboratories, classrooms, and departmental offices. The basement contains a black box theater and the ground floor contains computer labs, language labs, classrooms, and the Cathedral Café food court. The “lobby”, comprising the first through third floors, contains a massive gothic “Commons Room” that is used as a general study area and for special events and is ringed by three floors of classrooms, including, on the first and third floors, the 30 Nationality Rooms designed by members of the Pittsburgh community in the styles of different nations and ethnic groups. Twenty-eight of these serve as functional classrooms while more conventional classrooms are located on the second floor and elsewhere throughout the building. The first floor also serves as the home to the offices of the Chancellor, Executive Vice Chancellor, and other administration offices, as well as the Nationality Rooms Gift Shop. The fourth floor, which used to be home to the main stacks of the university’s library, is now occupied by the McCarl Center for Nontraditional Student Success. The fifth floor originally housed the main borrowing, reference, and reading rooms of the university library, and now houses the Department of English. The Pitt Humanities Center is housed on the sixth floor. Additionally, the University Honors College is located on the 35th and 36th floors.

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The Cathedral of Learning houses the Department of Philosophy, considered one of the top five in the United States, and the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, consistently ranked at the top of the field. Other departments in the Cathedral include English, Religious Studies, Statistics, Theatre Arts, and the School of Social Work which maintains the highest classrooms in the building located on the 23rd floor. Floors 37–40 are closed to the general public, as they contain electrical wiring for the building, as well as the Babcock Room, a large conference room on the 40th floor used for meetings, seminars, and special events and which provides a panoramic view of downtown Pittsburgh and the rest of the university. The 40th floor balcony also houses a nesting pair of Peregrine falcons. A view from the top is available via a webcam. Golden lights, dubbed “victory lights,” surround the outside of the highest floors and are lit following Pitt football wins and other notable victories, giving the upper part of the Cathedral an amber glow.

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Posted September 18, 2016 by markosun in Buildings

Getting Closer to God   Leave a comment


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The Katskhi pillar is a natural limestone monolith located at the village of Katskhi in western Georgian region of Imereti, near the town of Chiatura. It is approximately 40 metres (130 ft) high, and overlooks the small river valley of Katskhura, a right affluent of the Q’virila.

The rock, with visible church ruins on a top surface measuring c. 150 m2, has been venerated by locals as the Pillar of Life and a symbol of the True Cross, and has become surrounded by legends. It remained unclimbed by researchers and unsurveyed until 1944 and was more systematically studied from 1999 to 2009. These studies determined the ruins were of an early medieval hermitage dating from the 9th or 10th century. A Georgian inscription paleographically dated to the 13th century suggests that the hermitage was still extant at that time. Religious activity associated with the pillar was revived in the 1990s and the monastery building had been restored within the framework of a state-funded program by 2009.

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The Katskhi pillar complex currently consists of a church dedicated to Maximus the Confessor, a crypt (burial vault), three hermit cells, a wine cellar, and a curtain wall on the uneven top surface of the column. At the base of the pillar are the newly built church of Simeon Stylites and ruins of an old wall and belfry.

The church of St. Maximus the Confessor is located at the south-easternmost corner of the top surface of the Katskhi pillar. A small simple hall church design with the dimensions of 4.5 × 3.5 m., it is a modern restoration of the ruined medieval church built of stone. Beneath and south of the church is an elongated rectangular crypt with the dimensions of 2.0 × 1.0 m., which had served as a burial vault. Digs at the ruined wine cellar revealed eight large vessels known in Georgia as k’vevri. Also of note is a rectangular cellar grotto with the entrance and two skylights—on the vertical surface of the rock, some 10-metre (33 ft) below the top. At the very base of the pillar there is a cross in relief, exhibiting parallels with similar early medieval depictions found elsewhere in Georgia, particularly at Bolnisi.

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In July 1944 a group led by the mountaineer Alexander Japaridze and the writer Levan Gotua made the first documented ascent of the Katskhi pillar. Vakhtang Tsintsadze, an architecture specialist with the group, reported in his 1946 paper that the ruins found on top of the rock were remains of two churches, dating from the 5th and 6th centuries and associated with a stylite practice, a form of Christian asceticism. Since 1999, the Katskhi pillar has become the subject of more systematic research. Based on further studies and archaeological digs conducted in 2006, Giorgi Gagoshidze, an art historian with the Georgian National Museum, re-dated the structures to the 9th–10th century. He concluded that this complex was composed of a monastery church and cells for hermits. Discovery of the remnants of a wine cellar also undermined the idea of extreme ascetism flourishing on the pillar. In 2007, a small limestone plate with the asomtavruli Georgian inscriptions was found, paleographically dated to the 13th century and revealing the name of a certain “Giorgi”, responsible for the construction of three hermit cells. The inscription also makes mention of the Pillar of Life, echoing the popular tradition of veneration of the rock as a symbol of the True Cross.[1]

Religious activity started to revive in 1995, with the arrival of the monk Maxim Qavtaradze, a native of Chiatura. Between 2005 and 2009, the monastery building on the top of the pillar was restored with the support of the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia. The rock was once accessible to male visitors through an iron ladder running from its base to the top, but has recently been deemed inaccessible to the public.

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The ladder

 

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Rope pulley to bring up supplies

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A church is seen on top of the Katskhi Pillar, a rock mass about 40 meters high, in the village of Katskhi, Georgia, November 27, 2015. (Photo by David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters)


Posted September 16, 2016 by markosun in Buildings

Google Street View Protects Cows Privacy by Blurring its Face   Leave a comment


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At least Google’s face-blurring technology takes privacy seriously — even for non-humans.

The photo was captured in Cambridge, England and shows a cow grazing by a river with a blurred-out face — something Google usually only does for the humans it captures as it drives about photographing cities for its Street View service.

In a statement to the BBC, Google said, “we thought you were pulling the udder one when we herd the moos, but it’s clear that our automatic face-blurring technology has been a little overzealous. Of course, we don’t begrudge this cow milking its five minutes of fame.”

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Here is the real intention. North End Winnipeggers partying on the street.

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Posted September 16, 2016 by markosun in Bizarre