Monthly Archives: August 2006

New York to LA in Just Over Two Hours

Air Kazakstan Timetable

Wired:

A new generation of supersonic private jets could trigger a boom in luxury high-speed flight — without the sonic boom normally associated with breaking the sound barrier.

Lockheed Martin’s advanced Skunk Works unit is designing a small, 12-seat passenger jet that would travel at 1,200 mph (Mach 1.8) but which would produce only a whisper of the annoying crack once emitted by the retired Concorde.

The sleek, 130-foot-long QSST (for “quiet supersonic travel”) aircraft is being designed for a Nevada consortium called Supersonic Aerospace International, or SAI, at an estimated cost of $2.5 billion.

Aimed at business executives and diplomats, the QSST will fly at nearly twice the speed of conventional business jets and have a range of 4,600 miles nonstop — Los Angeles to New York in just over two hours.

It could be ready for boarding by 2013, according to the company.

Meh.

How about New York to London in less than an hour? Now that’s more like it.

And hell, while we’re on the topic of outlandishly silly-ass engineering feats, can we get a fricking space elevator up and running already?

(First link via.)

Bikes of Burden

Bikes of Burden is a coffee table book featuring images of Vietnamese motorbike drivers hauling around enormous amounts of various and sundry items. I saw a copy in a bookstore here in Bangkok recently; it’s fantastic. The author is Hans Kemp, a Dutch photographer. Here’s a gallery of some pics from from the book. This one might be my favorite. Bikes of Burden is available from Amazon here.

I Heart Pluto

Tim Kreider had an amusing op-ed in yesterday’s NY Times regarding the recent controversy surrounding Pluto’s classification as a planet.

Pluto is what my old astronomy textbook rather judgmentally called a “deviant,” and I’ve always felt a little defensive on its behalf.

I’ve long regarded Saturn’s misty tantalizing moon Titan as the Homecoming Queen of the solar system, courted and fawned over, stringing us along with teasing glimpses under her atmosphere, while Pluto was more like the chubby Goth chick who wrote weird poems about dead birds and never talked to anybody. Still, I just can’t stand by and watch as the solar system’s Fat Girl gets pushed down into ever-more ignominious substrata of social ostracism.

All I really wanted was a little velvet-rope treatment for Pluto. I didn’t expect them to throw open the doors to all this Kuiper Belt riffraff.

It’s like that point when your party’s grown out of control and you look around and ask: Who are these people? Sedna? Xena? Ceres? Ceres is an asteroid, for God’s sake. Why not just make 1997 XF11 or Greenland or Harriet Meiers a planet?

Thanks to A for the link.

Google Quechua

Thanks to Google Quechua, Indigenous people in the Andes can now search the Web in their native tongue.

Economist:

Estimates of the prevalence of Quechua vary widely. In Peru, there are thought to be 3m to 4.5m speakers, with others in Bolivia and Ecuador. The language has long been in slow decline, chiefly because the children of migrants to the cities rarely speak it. But it is now getting a lot more attention.

In recent months, Google has launched a version of its search engine in Quechua while Microsoft unveiled Quechua translations of Windows and Office. Demetrio Túpac Yupanqui, who last year translated “Don Quijote” into Quechua, recalls that a nationalist military government in the 1960s ordered that the language be taught in all public schools. It didn’t happen, because of lack of money to train teachers. By law its official use—and bilingual education—is now limited to highland areas where it is predominant.

After spending a year in Ecuador, I can tell you this: I know precisely two words of Quechua, both of which have made their way into everyday Ecuadorian parlance (at least in the sierra): 1) “chuchaqi” (which means hungover), and 2) “cha-chai” (which means cold).

Related oldie-but-goodie: Ecuadorian slang.

Armor of God PJs and a Hybrid Mutant

Two reader submissions to share:

Armor of God PJs:

The whole Armor of God Pajama set will help your children to depend on God to protect them from their fears, doubts, and uncertainties at night so their sleep can be restful and peaceful.

Thanks for the link, Dave T.

And from Benny C:

AP:

TURNER, Maine –Residents are wondering if an animal found dead over the weekend may be the mysterious creature that has mauled dogs, frightened residents and been the subject of local legend for half a generation.

The animal was found near power lines along Route 4 on Saturday, apparently struck by a car while chasing a cat. The carcass was photographed and inspected by several people who live in the area, but nobody is sure exactly what it is.

Could it be a strain of chupacabra?