Another Banking Crisis?

A few days ago the New York Times reported that people were starting to get nervous over the stability of the world’s biggest banks:

An unsettling trend has emerged from the heavy selling that sent global markets tumbling this year: Investors are getting nervous about the world’s biggest banks.

On February 10, 2016, however, European banking stocks had dramatic rises.  As of now, however, they have given back most of those gains as fears continue to simmer over the stability of the world’s biggest banks:

The banking sector staged a strong comeback on Wednesday,following sharp declines in recent sessions. Germany’s Deutsche Banksaw shares jump, closing up 10.2 percent, after a Financial Times report said the lender was considering buying back several billion euros of its debt, to soothe concerns about its funds.

Some experts say that the fears over the stability of global banks are overblown, and contend that banks are in far better shape than they were in 2008:

Analysts caution against doomsday scenarios, arguing banks are in much better shape than in

But today, February 11, 2016, stocks continue on their downward trajectory while investors look for a safe place to wait out the plunge:

Stock indexes worldwide tumbled on Thursday on fears over the health of the global economy, with banking shares slumping on both sides of the Atlantic, while safe-haven 10-year Treasury yields hit their lowest since 2012.


It does not seem like investors are buying the argument that the “fundamentals” are “strong.”  Full me twice, I suppose.

Meanwhile, concerns over just how bad the Chinese slowdown might get continue to grow:

A Chinese credit crisis would see the country’s banks rack up losses 400 percent larger than the hit U.S. banks took during the subprime mortgage crisis, storied hedge fund manager Kyle Bass has warned in a letter to investors.


Unusual Airplane Designs



Sukhoi SU-47 (1997, 2 produced): Russian experimental fighter aircraft featuring an unconventional forward swept wing/canard configuration. Forward swept wings provide greater maneuverability over conventional wing shapes. A similar American aircraft is the earlier Grumman X-29, which was also experimental.



Antonov An-72 (1977): Soviet transport aircraft. The unconventional placement of the engines benefits from the Coandă effect (which I won’t pretend to fully understand) – the exhaust air flowing over the top of the wings increases lift, resulting in less runway distance required to take off.



Aero Spacelines Super Guppy (1965, 5 produced under both variants): Cargo aircraft made from a modified C-97J, designed to carry large payloads, such as other planes (NASA T-38’s shown).



Blohm and Voss BV-141 (1938, 13-28 produced): German WWII era reconnaissance aircraft, most striking for its asymmetric shape. The position of the cockpit allows for greater downwards visibility, which would be beneficial for the aircraft’s role. The much more conventional approach would be simply to use two engines, such as on the much more widely produced Focke-Wulf Fw-189.



NASA AD-1 (1979, 1 produced): Experimental aircraft built by NASA to test the viability of an oblique wing. The wing would start off normally, but could rotate once in flight.. The oblique wing reduces drag in a similar manner as variable sweep wings (F-111 shown), but the oblique wing has the benefit of reduced complexity (since there is only one moving joint as opposed to two), as well as reducing the shift in the centre of gravity and lift of the aircraft as the wing moves compared to a more typical variable sweep wing.



North American F-82 Twin Mustang (1945, 272 produced): The American military piston powered fighter aircraft, designed as a long range escort fighter. The F-82 was designed to escort B-29 bombers on missions ranging over 3200km as part of the planned invasion of Japan. Japan surrendered before any F-82’s entered service, although F-82’s did see active service during the Korean war.



Beriev Be-200 (1998, 9 produced): Russian amphibious firefighting, search and rescue, and maritime patrol aircraft. Mounting the engines above the wings greatly reduces the amount of water spraying into the engines. You can see this approach used on many other amphibious aircraft such as the Consolidated PBY Catalina.



Scaled Composites Proteus (1998, 1 produced): A one-off high-altitude high-efficiency aircraft designed by the legendary Burt Rutan (who could easily fill up a post of his own). The aircraft has an all composite air frame, greatly reducing its weight. The Proteus has set several altitude records, topping out at over 63,000 feet (double the typical cruising altitude of commercial airliners) and can fly at that altitude for ~18 hours.



NASA M2-F1 (1963, 1 produced): The M2-F1 was one of NASA’s many experimental unpowered aircraft built in the 60’s and 70’s to test the concept of lifting body aircraft, which typically lack wings and generate most or all of their lift from the airframe itself. These tests were mostly geared spacecraft re-entry. Being unpowered gliders, these test vehicles had to be towed into the air, including by a Cadillac convertible on at least one occasion. The SNC Dream Chaser is a modern example of such a lifting body, which is currently in competition for NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract.


San Bernardino: Another Saudi Arabia Terrorist Attack

15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia.  28 pages of the 9/11 commission report regarding Saudi Arabia’s links to the attack were redacted and have never been made public.  This is probably because the Saudis likely financed most of the attack–a fact that would not look good for American leaders who enjoy a cozy relationship with the House of Saud.  After all, Osama Bin Ladin was a wealthy Saudi man who decided to murder innocent Americans.

20150119tu-Diplomacy-US-President-George-W-Bush-holds-hand-with-king-saudi-arabia-6446422Saudi Arabia, of course, was never held responsible for their terrorist activity in connection with 9/11.  I am sure their cozy relationship with the Bush family has nothing to do with any of it.

With the recent attacks in San Bernardino, we learn that terrorist Tashfeen Malik was radicalized in–you guessed it–Saudi Arabia.  This time around, some are calling for the Saudis to be held accountable for their documented funding of terrorists who are obsessed with killing Americans.  With Obama being nearly as cozy with the Saudis as Bush, however, I will not hold my breath.

Perhaps we can ask the UN human rights council, headed by human rights leaders in Saudi Arabia, to investigate.

The Chicago Police Officer Charged with the Murder of Laquan McDonald

10 p.m. Oct. 20, 2014.

At about 10 p.m. on October 20, 2014, Officer Jason Van Dyke of the Chicago Police Department responded to a call regarding a man with a knife acting erratically.

When Officer Van Dyke arrived at the scene, he saw the suspect, Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old boy walking in the middle of the street with a small knife.  Other officers had reported that while McDonald had slashed the tires of their patrol car and otherwise had done some property damage, he had not attacked any of the officers.

Officer Van Dyke and an unnamed partner exited their patrol car in front of McDonald.  McDonald continued to walk in their general direction.  Officer Van Dyke drew his firearm and aimed it at McDonald.  McDonald continued to walk but did not take any action indicating he was about to attack Officer Van Dyke.  When McDonald was approximately ten feet away from Officer Van Dyke, the officer took a step towards McDonald and then shot at McDonald sixteen times.

McDonald was shot several times, fell to the ground, and in dash cam footage, it appears that Officer Van Dyke continued to fire when McDonald was on the ground.  McDonald died soon after.  Despite multiple officers being present at the scene, Officer Van Dyke was the only one who opened fire.

The nearby Burger King had several cameras pointed in the area.  Shortly after the shooting, several officers entered the restaurant, locked themselves into the security room and then deleted video footage of the incident from security tapes.

Over the next 13 months, Chicago residents protested and only begrudgingly, the Police Department released the dash cam video which appears to depict Officer Van Dyke shooting McDonald to death without McDonald taking any action to threaten Officer Van Dyke’s safety.

Officer Van Dyke was charged with murder and posted bail.  Shortly thereafter, the head of the Chicago Police Department was fired by the mayor.

Related article:

Dash Cam footage:


How Tall was Goliath?


We’ve seen the fight between David and Goliath depicted many times by Hollywood, but what do the bible and other sources say about Goliath’s real height?

According to Jewish scripture, Goliath was about twelve feet tall.  The Jewish organization Chabad interprets the Hebrew scriptures this way:

The sight of the fierce giant, six cubits and a span tall (about twelve feet), towering over the hill, clad in armor and iron and brass from head to foot, filled the Jews with great terror. There was not a single man in the Jewish camp who dared accept the challenge.

shaquille-onealIn Reconsidering the Height of Goliath, author J. Daniel Hays posits that Goliath was instead about “4 cubits” tall, or just under 6′.

Hays’ conclusion seems to be supported by the Dead Sea Scrolls, which in the Book of Samuel puts Goliath’s height at 6’9″, making the giant three inches taller than Michael Jordan, but four inches shorter than Shaq.

Goliath must have been an intimidating man for the Jews who faced him in biblical battle, especially since the average height of a man at the time was about 5’3″.  But whatever Goliath’s height, he was of course defeated by David, who supposedly went on to be one of the most famous monarchs in human history.



The Titanic Today

The RMS Titanic was built by the White Star Lines and was billed as the “unsinkable” passenger ship.  The Titanic, however, met its fate on April 15, 1915 when it sank to the bottom of the sea.

01 - We all know the infamous tale of the White Star Line vessel

The crew was headed by Captain Edward Smith.  At the time Smith’s monthly salary was today’s equivalent of about $15,00 a month.

02 - Titanic was commanded by these men

The Titanic struck an Iceburg at about 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1915.  The crew estimated she would sink in an hour.

03 - On April 14th at 1140 PM Titanic struck an iceberg

The Titanic instead stayed afloat for almost three hours before she finally broke up and sank to the bottom of the ocean.

04 - Around 220 AM Titanic lost her fight against the North Atlantic and broke up and sank with over 1500 people aboard her

About 1,500 people died, going down with the ship to the bottom of the ocean or drowning.  About 700 managed to make it to lifeboats to survive the ordeal.

Before the ship was discovered in 1985, many believed that the ship did not break up.  In fact, the official investigation into the sinking “disbelieved” the eye witness accounts of survivors who claimed the ship broke up before it sank.  Here is what we thought the ship looked like before it was located in 1985:

05 - Today she rests two and a half miles below the surface of the North Atlantic 06 - This is what we thought she039d look like before she was discovered in 1985 by Robert Ballard

After the Titanic was discovered in 1985 on the ocean floor, researchers learned that she was being eaten alive by microbes hungry for the iron in her hull.  Here is her hull today:

07 - Today she sadly rusts away due to microbes eating the iron in her hull These things cover the ship and are known as 039rusticles039

The Titanic’s stern today:08 - Titanic039s stern today

09 - 925aScE

Here is a picture of one of the Titanic’s lifeboat davits (where the lifeboats hung):

10 - A lifeboat davit beginning to fall off the ship

One of her large anchors:

11 - One of Titanic039s large anchors on her side

Her propeller jammed into the mud upon impact with the ocean floor.

12 - One of Titanic039s propellers forced up out of the mud on impact with the bottom

A boiler that fell out of the ship when it broke up:

13 - One of Titanic039s boilers that fell out when the ship broke up

The head of a porcelain doll:

14 - The head of a porcelain doll

The Captain’s bathtub:

15 - Captain039s Smith039s bathtub seen through a collapsing wall in his cabin

Shoes are strewn about all over the wreck site.  These are unofficial tombstones.  When the bodies of victims sank to the bottom of the sea, they were eventually eaten up by sea life.  But nothing would eat their leather shoes, so the shoes stay in the same position where the bodies fell marking the site where hundreds met their fate.

16 - A pair of shoes

Tianjin Explosion a Day of Infamy for Firefighters Everywhere

New video of the MASSIVE explosion is emerging today.  It is reported that the original fire concerned a container of calcium carbide.  In what can only be a grave misunderstanding by firefighters, they began to douse the calcium carbide with water triggering the massive explosion that likely incinerated dozens of firefighters at the scene.

When calcium carbide is mixed with water it creates acetylene gas.  When that is mixed with air and ignited, a massive explosion will ensue.  For some reason nobody communicated what the chemicals were with the fire crews both ahead of time and during the accident, leading to the devastating catastrophe.  In other words, the firefighters sealed their own fate.

A text exchange between firefighters captures the heartbreaking moments after the explosions (translated):

Fireman: Are you there, bro?

Friend: I’m here. What’s wrong?

Fireman: I can’t get any calls out.

… Gang Zhi… he’s gone. He sacrificed himself. He’s dead.

Friend: What the cow are you talking about.

Where are you.

Fireman: I’m in the truck, on my way to soup cry (autocorrect). Tanggu District.

Friend: You call me right now. You hear me.

Fireman: I’m already in my suit, no one else has a phone.

Friend: Then you’ll call me first thing in the morning. Got it?

Fireman: … if I don’t come back, you’ll take care of my dad, won’t you?

… and tell my mom deceased I loved her.

Friend: … I got your dad, bro. Don’t worry about him.

You worry about yourself.

A text exchange between