R.I.P. Nicky Hayden

22 05 2017

With great sadness, Racing to the Red Light salutes American MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden.  Rest in peace, Nicky.  We are very sad to hear of your bicycle accident and passing.

We saw Nicky in person twice (saw, not met).  Once at the Laguna Seca MotoGP round back in 2008 or so (memories are hazy …) on the Saturday practice and qualifying day:

Nicky Hayden enters the infamous Corkscrew turn at Laguna Seca, in front of a Red Bull ad in the background featuring his likeness.

Nicky Hayden enters the infamous Corkscrew turn at Laguna Seca, in front of a Red Bull ad in the background featuring his likeness.

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We also saw him once a year or two later down in Fontana at an A.M.A. race where his brother (can’t recall which) was racing.  Both times he seemed friendly and easygoing, as he did on camera on TV.

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Hayden was a world-class motorcycle roadracer and dirt tracker.  He won the MotoGP World Championship title in 2006.  Nicky was the first American to win the title since Kenny Roberts Jr. won in 2000, who was himself the first in seven years, when an American dominance last reigned in the premier class.

Our hearts go out to Nicky’s fiancee, family and friends.  What a terrible loss.  He seemed like a great guy, and it is especially sad as the world seems to be lacking in great people these days.

RIP Nick – far too young. 1981 – 2017

Nicky Hayden with American flag riding helmetless, after clinching the 2008 MotoGP World Championship aboard his Repsol Honda grand prix motorcycle

2006 MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden

Superbike Planet

Another from SBP with some nice remembrances





Note to Self

24 03 2017

Hint: do it quietly or go to the restroom; do not honk full-force at your cubicle

Note to self:

The incredibly annoying nose-blower in the office, who blows her nose mightily and loudly clears her throat incessantly through the day, all day/every day, with no regard for our open office layout and 30 coworkers nearby, is not specifically trying to annoy you in particular. She’s just oblivious. 

– You





The Incredible Korla Pandit

23 02 2017

Do you know about Korla Pandit?  Have you even heard of him?

Yeah, neither had we, until we recently caught the better part of a PBS World documentary about this fellow.  A real enigma, but one that was eventually figured out (to a certain extent) by a journalist, shortly after his death.

 

Being as we are nearly at the end of Black History Month in the U.S., I thought it germane to share this incredible story.  Korla, of mixed African-American and French heritage, assumed the identity of an Indian musician in order to be accepted during his time. The documentary suggests that racism and Jim Crow policies would have made it difficult, if not impossible altogether, to perform and pursue a career otherwise.  A contemporary of Liberace’s, he was one of the earliest musicians to be featured on a television broadcast in the U.S.

PBS SoCal has some additional info and links here.  We highly recommend this excellent and entertaining documentary about a very interesting man and persona.  He was an incredible musician as well – play the video above, of Korla performing Miserlou on an electric organ and a piano simultaneously!

By the way, in the documentary, I happened to pause it to refresh my cocktail, and noticed that the frame it froze on included an address on Los Feliz Blvd (an address where he was performing).  I looked it up on Google Maps and looked at the street view, curious as to what was there these days.  It appears to be an apartment building, but next-door to it (or perhaps the correct address?) is a curious institution that seemed to fit right into the allure and mystery of Korla Pandit:

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That website takes you to the University for Philosophical Research. Some interesting info about that institution can be found on Wiki.

More music from Korla Pandit (a solid 35-minute chunk):

 





Reports of the Death of the Republic Are Greatly Exaggerated

7 12 2016

The crack Editorial Team at RttRL has emerged from our post-election bender just long enough to compose the following message.  Please try to enjoy it both in the spirit in which it was written, as well as in the spirits it was written with.

As our legions of dedicated, longtime readers know, there are two things that this esteemed institution focuses on:  Cold War stories/technology/aircraft, and (generally)  non sequiturs found on the Internet.

(And yes, drink beer.  We do a lot of that here too.)

We feel compelled to offer up our few-weeks-hence postmortem on the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the campaigns waged by the major parties, and the results overall.

We’ve read a lot of national newspapers in the past 15 years – regular readers know of our affinity for the usual dregs (L.A. Times, New York Times), as well as our love for long-form journalism (The Atlantic, Salon, Foreign Policy), newer business-focused sites like BusinessInsider, and public media outlets (NPR and PBS).  We even go international at times, reading (these days) sites for The Times of IsraelThe Guardian, and BBC. We’re confident in the discerning, professional, fact-checked journalism that emanates from these publications, on the whole.  On top of everything, we apply a liberal dosage of our own Internet research, critical reasoning, and drugs to ensure we cover all the bases, from as many perspectives as possible with such a small staff.

All of that is apropos of nothing except to say, that we feel we have a decent grasp on reality all things considered, and are a thoughtful and discerning institution.  At least when it comes to foreign policy, domestic politics, and pork rinds. We do our own research and apply rational, critical scrutiny to situations.

Over the past eight years we watched the previously unprecedented obstructionism undertaken by most Republican congressmen and senators, with respect to any and all policies, speeches and yes, executive actions undertaken (or attempted) by the now-outgoing President Obama.

We watched and listened to the crazy right-wing hate factory assholes like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly spew their crazy shit, as assholes do.  They called him un-American, accused him of being a closet Muslim, accused him of being born outside of the U.S., that he collaborated with ISIS, all of this. This all really happened!

We think that it boils down not only to partisanship, which is petty and unnecessary (the old saying “to disagree without being  disagreeable”, meaning that passionate but respectful debate is possible, comes to mind), but also to simple racism.  Some people can’t / couldn’t believe nor accept that a black guy was president. They call him a socialist and cast all kinds of falsehoods to stir dissent against him to a certain segment of our population.    When people like Sarah Palin say, in reference to Obama or anyone, that they are “shuckin’ and jivin'”, they are using racist code to refer to African Americans in a derogatory way.  There is no other explanation.

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It is sad that this sort of racism still exists, and is acceptable enough to people like Sarah Palin to blatantly state it as such. It’s an even sadder commentary that she wasn’t taken to task for it. Indeed, in light of all the hatred spewed forth over the part year or so, this incident has been largely forgotten.

We feel that President Obama’s legacy will probably be judged, eventually, as a fairly respectable one on the whole.  His tenure was not without controversy and there are many things we disagree with in terms of foreign policy and military strategy.

That said, God only knows what is in store for us with President Trump; all indications are bad at this point.  Very dark times may lie ahead unfortunately.  Hopefully the damage will be minimized to the extent that it is possible.

The really tragic part of all of this is that people knew who Donald Trump was, how rich, self-entitled and spoiled he’s been his whole life, and what a general trainwreck he seems to be, from his three wives to his failed and bankrupted companies, to his many buildings with his name on them, to his outlandish looks and to his reality television show, people know this guy well.

They knew this and despite all of this they “couldn’t stand voting for HILARY” and they voted against their own self-interest, economic and otherwise, because they fell for the race-baiting, and fed into the cult of fear that seems to dominate and permeate modern American society.  The anti-Clinton rhetoric and overall mean-spirited tone emanating from the popular right in this country has been unbecoming of polite society for at least a couple of decades now.  It all fits together so perfectly: the racism; religious totalitarianism; obsession with firearms; hatred of the other including gays.  It permeates everyday life in subtle ways that influence people’s lives.  People become jaded.

And so the sad truth is that this is what America chose for itself.  People who voted for Trump feel that this is what our great and proud nation deserves, a loudmouthed, filthy rich, spoiled, asshole of a man who speaks without thinking and has a mean temper.  That he should be President, and we should all have this man as our shared President.

This is the true injustice, and the guilt for electing him falls not only to those who voted for him, but also to all of those people who are eligible voters in their state and failed to vote, because their inaction caused us to all inherit this awful destiny.  Whatever people thought about Hilary Clinton personally, she was at least qualified for the job.

In the final assessment, it is the opinion of Racing to the Red Light that the election was ultimately the result of an inconceivable confluence of events including:

  • the circus that was the Republican primary season, and all the embarrassing infighting that ensued
  • Russian government hacking and interference in the election
  • Clinton’s awful decision to use her own email server, and her even worse handling of the controversy generated from the same
  • the Republican leadership’s inability to get their house in order
  • Clinton’s inability (as a campaign) to control the message or news cycle, or to drive the discussion on her own terms
  • the Democratic leadership’s unfair and unethical treatment of Bernie Sanders
  • Democrats’ hubris, and careless and presumptuous attitude toward the Republican opposition generally and Trump particularly
  • the relentless vilification of Hilary Clinton by the neoconservatives, and their proxies and prodigies since her husband was President
  • a total lack of get-out-the-vote efforts on the left, by the Democratic party specifically
  • a lack of voter participation especially on the left (although it is now clear that the popular vote went to Clinton by the largest margin ever)
  • the “celebrity factor” which is equal measures of mass recognition and infatuation with those perceived to be “rich and famous” – similar to the phenomenon that swept Arnold Schwarzenegger into the California governorship after “Give-away” Grey Davis was recalled

We would add an additional factor or note, which is the increased media focus on the situation facing black America these days vis-a-vis police treatment and the highly publicized shootings over the past two years or so.  This has created a racially charged backdrop, without which this election cycle and outcome could not be properly or wholly understood.

In terms of the president-elect, a woman named “Danielle Muscato just said what half of America has been thinking for months now.”  We must concur with Danielle.

Thank God they finally legalized marijuana in California and several other states.  It couldn’t have happened at a better time – God knows we’ll need it.





The F-104 Flies Again (in Norway)

7 10 2016

This week The Aviationist ran a cool article documenting the first flight of a newly restored CF-104 Starfighter, in RNoAF livery.  It was the culmination of a 13-year-long restoration project – talk about heart!

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For those unfamiliar, the F-104 Starfighter was a Cold War-era interceptor designed to fly at high speeds from air bases in the Arctic, to intercept Soviet nuclear bombers.  It could reach 48,000 feet in altitude within one minute after takeoff.  Compare that to the usual 30 minutes or so that it generally takes a modern commercial airliner to reach 30,000 feet (granted, they could do so quicker if they wanted to).

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The flight took place in Bodø, Norway.  The videos linked from the Aviationist article have some stunning shots, from which we took some still screen-grabs.  Enjoy.

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Check out the smoke trail it leaves behind, especially compared to the F-16 chase plane!

 

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Evidently more is in store for the F-104, overall. In August of 2016, the BBC ran an article stating that a cubist company, CubeCab, is teaming up with Starfighters, Inc. to launch microsatellites into orbit!  What a cool concept!  We will be watching for updates on this topic.

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Here are the extraordinary videos that were in the Aviationist article:

 

This one is for the hardcore aviation buffs (long video taken from the ground, with some great sounds as the planes fly overhead):

 





Speaking of Hot Air …

26 09 2016

sa-winds-1

Since a whole lot of hot air is about to be spewed forth across our fine nation [in the form of the first presidential candidate debate for the 2016 election cycle], and since it’s 106 degrees Fahrenheit at RttRL‘s editorial offices at the moment, we thought we’d share a cleverly written article from The LAist on the topic (our emphasis):

The Santa Anas are part of our invented origin stories and our common language; they are one of the very few things that all Angelenos experience in our sprawling, fragmented city. In fact, we have only three true civic icons, unbound to a specific location, and the mythic winds are one of them (palm trees and the searing promise/disappointment of the California dream are civic icons two and three, respectively).

There are a few quotes from Raymond Chandler and Joan Didion, which we can’t personally comment on.  But it seems that this article was missing a better quote, one from John Fante’s Ask the Dust.  But since we’re too lazy and unable to quickly locate it, we’ll be more scientific about it and simply substitute some images from the Web instead.

We like this one because it depicts little sailboats taking advantage of the strong offshore winds:

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santaana_circ

wind

But, you should still read Ask the Dust.

 

 





A Few Presidential Endorsements

25 09 2016

It’s a sad commentary on the state of affairs in the United States these days – whether from a cultural, political, economic, foreign/military policy perspective, or really by any other measure – when the mainstream daily periodicals of record are making statements and writing headlines like:

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(L.A. Times)

Or to take another example, from the N.Y. Times’ endorsement of Hilary Clinton for president:

In any normal election year, we’d compare the two presidential candidates side by side on the issues. But this is not a normal election year. A comparison like that would be an empty exercise in a race where one candidate — our choice, Hillary Clinton — has a record of service and a raft of pragmatic ideas, and the other, Donald Trump, discloses nothing concrete about himself or his plans while promising the moon and offering the stars on layaway. (We will explain in a subsequent editorial why we believe Mr. Trump to be the worst nominee put forward by a major party in modern American history.)

As so often happens during times of uncertainty, the bigots and racists come out of the woodwork to spew their toilet bowl thoughts on how one race or religion is inferior to their own, and seek to capitalize on this Fear to draw others to their way of looking at the world.

And what public discourse does the American voter get?  Discussions about Clinton’s use of email, casting doubt on her “credibility” and honor.  While this author still believes that Clinton, like all career politicians, is self-serving and bent on obtaining power, it is no exaggeration to say that there really is no alternative for any rational, responsible American voter.  Donald Trump is not qualified (in any sense) to be elected as chief executive.

So instead of talking about the real problems facing our country:

  1. Income inequality, the rise of the “corporation as an individual with all the legal rights therein”, and the disappearing middle class
  2. Human-caused climate change and other environmental destruction
  3. The knife in the heart of American democracy that is the Citizens United Supreme Court decision
  4. The looming funding crisis that Social Security still faces
  5. The growing homeless population
  6. Yes, the very real specter of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism
  7. U.S. policing problems stemming from “he was reaching for his waistband”, “I was in fear for my life” and other license-to-kill justifications for law enforcement

… The conversation revolves around the subject of Clinton’s affinity for Hotmail vs. the State department email system.

Choose wisely, America.  We have a lot to lose – maybe not as much as the ultra-rich billionares like Trump, but in some ways more.  We would lose whatever credibility we have as a nation and a people, if Trump is elected in November.