Awkward questions

Awkward questions are going to be asked of the Indian Army, as it was revealed that they had been tracking over 320 unidentified flying objects over six months on the disputed Himalayan border between India and China. These were believed by the Indians to be Chinese Spy Drones and raised the tensions on the border. Worrying times:

Tensions have been high in the disputed Himalayan border area between the two nations in recent years, with India frequently accusing its neighbour of making incursions onto its territory. Things came to a head during a stand-off in April when Chinese troops were accused of erecting a camp on the Indian side of the de facto boundary known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC). By that stage, Indian troops had already documented 329 sightings of unidentified objects over a lake in the border region.

Except, it turns out that they weren’t actually Chinese Spy Drones at all. They were planets.

No, the Chinese hadn’t roped in Jupiter and Venus to assist in surveillance of the Indian troop movements; the planets were just doing their thing in the sky, as they do and the paranoid Indians erroneously identified them as spy planes.

I know. This sort of thing sounds implausible, but it happens, so here’s my quick guide to distinguishing between Chinese Spy Drones and Jupiter.

Firstly, there are some similarities: both are unmanned.

But that’s where it ends. A Chinese Spy Drone is, at most 5 m long. Jupiter has a radius of 69,911,000 m. It is a whole lot further away though, so it can look smaller.
A Chinese Spy Drone may weigh up to 2000 kg. Jupiter, at our best guess (no-one has found a bathroom scale large enough) weighs
1,898,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg. Again, it’s ever so slightly larger than what you thought you were looking at, Private Gupta.

To be honest, this should be enough for someone to reasonable tell the difference between a Chinese Spy Drone and Jupiter, but just in case it’s not, only one of them would be taking covert surveillance video of your military positions.

And it’s not Jupiter.

Slo-mo bang bang

This is great. And strangely relaxing.

Behold slo-mo footage of guns being fired underwater – at 27,000 frames per second.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t look away. Mesmerising.

More detail and other slo-mo vids here.

Foolish quota photo

It’s a grey day, and a grey photo seems apt, but even as I post this, I’m aware that it’s a silly thing to do. Flickr is down for planned maintenance later today and you won’t be able to see it during that time.

Still, there’s more to a quota photo than just a few hours, so I’ll stick it up anyway.


More kitesurfing photos from that day here, here and here.

Shrien coming back?

Self-confessed nutcase Shrien Dewani has lost his latest battle against extradition to South Africa to face charges over the murder of his wife in Cape Town in November 2010.

The 33-year-old, who has depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, strongly denies any involvement in his wife’s murder.

His risk of suicide is real but not immediate, and while he remains moderately depressed he is better than he was, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard.

Dewani was seeking to delay his extradition on account of his mental health.

He now has 14 days if he wants to appeal against the decision.

Again, I have been surprised by the aggression and vehemence of opinion amongst twitter users in South Africa with regard to this case, but I can completely understand it. The country was still on an all time high post the amazing 2010 World Cup and this was a harsh, stark, and unnecessary reality check.
As I commented here – before any of the allegations of a hitman being hired – the initial story we were given of the “hijacking” never sounded plausible:

Something isn’t quite right with this “detour into Gugulethu to see the nightlife” story in my mind.

We were brought down to earth with a bump, the country’s reputation was dragged (further) through the mud, and – if the case against Dewani is proven correct – with absolutely no good reason.

Perhaps because of this, South Africa public opinion has generally been that, rather than suffering from any sort of mental disorder, Dewani is merely seeking to avoid facing justice. Many have already made up their minds that he is guilty, which is no surprise, given that in the intervening period, Mziwamadoda Qwabe, Zola Tongo, Monde Mbolombo and Xolile Mngeni have all been tried, found guilty and sentenced for their parts in the crime. Indeed, Qwabe, Tongo and Mbolombo admitted their guilt  – and implicated Dewani – in return for lighter sentences.

It does seem that Dewani is slowly running out of options and if he does get extradited to SA, I don’t foresee a particularly friendly welcome. Because we’re fine with slagging off the country on a daily basis from within, but when someone from overseas makes us look bad, well, that’s different.

“What Happens Next?”

Flickr blog shares the work of Brad Hammonds, lots of which is very cool.


Here’s what he’s doing:

The subject in these photos is typically himself suspended Matrix-like in space, meanwhile his face and/or body language remains placid or subdued as if he has no idea or are completely unaware of the dangers that lie ahead.

And here’s why he’s doing it:

“The idea is that I’m really trying to go somewhere with great force, but as you can see in this photo, there’s nowhere for this figure to actually go. I think it’s very easy for the viewer to look at the photo and see and ask themselves ‘How is this possible?’ But I want to take it further than that, and I want the viewer also to also ask themselves,“What happens next?” And for them to come up with their own endings.”

I don’t think there’s much that needs to be asked about how the above scenario would end, save perhaps for how much the ensuing medical bills would be.

Click here for more.