Week 869: I really do think we just got the Mayan date system wrong

2017firehurricane GOES R

NOAA’s GOES-R looks at a bruised continent yesterday. Smoke from fires in the west. 3 hurricanes in the east. Not shown: earthquake in Mexico. DPRK missiles.

“Questa piedra maladetta — this cursed rock”

I usually repost my MetaFilter threads over here, but I missed this one about the opening of St. Helena Airport in May 2016. Turns out that all the big spending and hand wringing was a waste of time because the real story is that the £285m airport is too windy to land on. Guess what happened next. Not until July of this year did anyone announce a scheduled flight. Only there’s no schedule.

It’s natural to go for the hubris of big failure angle. A quarter billion pounds spent and no one bothered to check the wind. How many examples of institutional clusterfucking do you need? The airport code might be HLE, but being “the world’s most useless” is permanent. Perhaps Gaia herself is messing with us – shouting “THOU SHALL NOT LAND” in a big wind sheary exhale.


originally posted 22 May 2016

The remote south Atlantic island of St. Helena has largely lived apart from the world. For decades travel to the tiny (roughly 10 x 5 miles) island and British territory of 4000 has been entirely dependent upon a monthly visit from the Royal Mail Ship – a week-long voyage from Cape Town that has kept the island on the margins of the global travel market. You have to be a very determined traveller to see where Napoleon died and have a visit with a the oldest living land animal – a 184 year old giant tortoise named Jonathan.

That is until last week when the first commerical airplane flight landed at the island’s brand new airport. After five years of construction, hundreds of millions of pounds, and 450,000 truckloads of dirt and rock, Saint Helena Airport (airport code: HLE) is open for business, but how will St. Helena (now branded “The Secret Of The South Atlantic“) adjust to the end of its isolation? Will the island’s culture itself survive?

More: (two part BBC Radio 4 series “St. Helena – Joining The Rest Of Us“)

Week 868: I assumed the ratings would be far higher

Checking in with Philip K. Dick

He’s buried with his twin sister at Riverside Cemetery in Fort Morgan, CO. The story is that Phil & Jane were born prematurely as their parents were on their way west from Chicago to California. Jane never made it. The loss underpins much of his creative work and the subsequent anger, blame, and self-analysis hangs over his background like an oily fog.

The town has a PKD festival now.

Philip K. Dick's grave

Someone left a robot button on top.

Robot Button

On the road: Arizona

Grand Canyon

*takes a deep breath and then in my best R. Lee Ermey voice*

As an American and more importantly as a goddamn human being I COMMAND you to visit your National Park System and experience things that are bigger and more important than you are.

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We don’t know much except that they were from Japan, they were deaf, and instantly struck a pose.

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Elmo questions his life choices in the 90+ sun at the South Rim.

Visitor Center

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I’m serious about that command. The NPS sells an annual “America the Beautiful” pass that gets you and all of your passengers into all the national parks, monuments, everywhere. And the $80 is cheaper than whatever bullshit festival you’re going to burn it on.

*R. Lee out*

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