Friday Funny

10 02 2012


I am told this is from some Japanese film … go figure. Hey, nobody likes to stand in the rain without an umbrella!

Racers and Rental Cars

7 02 2012


Superbike Planet is one of the very few websites that I read on an everyday basis.  It is a motorcycle roadracing focused website, and I really admire several things about their style, attitude and philosophy on reporting. 

They aren’t afraid to pepper their articles with a little bit of opinion, which in the straight-forward, general journalism sense would usually be a no-no.  Partly because I generally share their views on many racing matters (such as the disasterous takeover of AMA Pro Roadracing series by the DMG), and partly because the stakes are frankly lower in reporting on racing news, I think it’s OK that they spice things up a bit.

The other thing I really love about the site, and Dean Adams, its editor in chief as far as I know, is the massive historical perspective they bring to the table. For people like me who haven’t grown up with racing in the family, even in a spectator sense, the stories and anecdotes are very informative and entertaining.

Here is a great example of what I’m talking about. Evidently there is some truth to the myth that racers are tough on things like rental cars. In this story, they talk about how one AMA superbike team went to a racetrack in Texas for an off-season test of the equipment.

Arriving at the track, they found that “a thick layer of Texas dust” had settled on the track surface after months of disuse, making it dangerous to ride the motorcycles because the dust reduces the traction that the motorcycles’ tires are able to get.

Usually when this happens, there are specialized blower trucks that they drive around the track, that help blow debris (and sometimes water) off the track. Evidently they didn’t have those trucks at the facility that day, so they began driving their rental cars on-track, to help remove the dust.

Being racers as they were, things soon got competitive and then spiraled out of control from there. As Soup puts it:

“The automobiles, which were newer sports cars and luxury vehicles (other than the mini-van) when they were rented (with the full and optional insurance, mind you) simply and quickly began to disintegrate. Designed to haul Joe America from his house to his job each day on a sedate expressway,the machines were way out of their element traveling at 130mph, with severe G forces pushing against them.

In this test [that] one the editors from Consumer Reports could only dream about, parts failure skyrocketed. One nearly brand new machine became a creaking, frame bent, tires rubbing against the fenders, seat belts sacked out from trying to hold the driver (and his passenger) in the seat against the G forces, doors won’t open, now the dash is loose too, machine, ready for the scrap yard, in less than thirty minutes, without ever touching the wall or another automobile.”


4 02 2012

Cold War History: The Kuril Incident – Seaboard Flight 253

3 02 2012

This morning I received the always-interesting weekly post from FlightAware, which had an article about an American military charter airliner full of U.S. military personnel flying to Vietnam in 1968, which strayed into Russian airspace and was forced to land on a small island near Japan by two Soviet MiGs.

Seaboard World Airlines Flight 253A left McChord Air Force Base near Seattle on July 1, 1968 to fly to an American air base in Japan, and then on to South Vietnam (Cam Ranh Bay).  It was a Douglas DC-8 that had been chartered as “a proving run on the ability of the new DC8-63CF to fly nonstop from the U.S. West Coast to Japan” as well as serving the practical logistical purpose of troop transportation.

However, along the way they unknowingly drifted off course – to the north, and into the forbidden Russian airspace.  In the atmosphere that existed at that moment in time, in July of ’68, things were still heating up in Vietnam (and going badly).  As Captain Bill Eastwood puts it in this fine account he wrote about it:

“We were at the midpoint of the Vietnam War when this incident occurred in 1968. The Tet Offensive had begun in January. The intelligence ship Pueblo had been captured by North Korea six months earlier and was still being held.”

At the same time, the two adversaries were making progress in the form of a nuclear nonproliferation treaty.

According to Eastwood, the MiGs fired their cannons as a warning and final instruction to the airliner to immediately follow them to a landing strip on one of the Russian-held Kuril Islands northwest of Japan.

The Kurils are an interesting part of the world, with indigenous populations of Eurasian ancestry.  They stretch from the northern end of Japan to the Kamchatka Peninsula of eastern Russia.  The map below shows how the islands transferred ownership between Japan and Russia over the modern era based on treaties and wars.

The Russians had (and still have, by the looks of it) a small air base on one of the islands closest to Japan, called Iturup.

Here’s some fun with Google maps:

I believe this is the old Soviet interceptor airfield where they landed:

You can see the parking apron referred to in Capt. Eastwood’s account in the upper middle here:

WTF Advertising Image of the Day

2 02 2012

It almost stands on its own, no description or introduction necessary … ALMOST.

Who is this advertisement geared towards?

Is this supposed to represent an actual (well-known) person?

Is she a superhero?  With a flashing light on her head?



Kenny Powers Is (almost) Back

1 02 2012


Here at RttRL, we are big fans of HBO’s Eastbound and Down.  And we don’t even like baseball at all!  Nonetheless, Danny McBride can do no wrong in his role as washed-up Major League pitcher Kenny Powers.

Thanks to the DTLA bureau for submitting this video today: