Loo leak

It’s bad enough having plumbing problems here on earth, but just imagine if you get a burst pipe in space. Well, that’s what has happened on the International Space Station. There’s been no official confirmation from NASA, but the Russian Space Agency… er… leaked information that a loo in the American bit of the spacecraft had malfunctioned:

“Our colleagues at the Tranquillity module had an incident on Friday. Astronauts separated the water supply line and the liquid leaked. Over 10 liters of water leaked before the problem was fixed. The crew had to collect the water using towels.”

I think that it’s cool that they used towels to collect the water. That’s exactly what I would have used down here on earth, and basically means that I have space age equipment in my bathroom. Amazing.

Relations between the US and Russia aren’t all that great on earth at the moment, and there are issues 420km up as well: remember the hole in the ISS window? Well, as was pointed out in the comments on that post, there’s a suspicion that it might have been sabotage, and Russia aren’t happy about it.

But Rusky or Yank: if your toilet leaks in a confined space all that way up, you know urine trouble. A genuine case of “Houston, wee have a problem”. It must be driving them potty, but I’m sure they’ll soon get to the bottom of it.

I wonder what Vladimir Poo-tin will have to say about all this?


There was a total solar eclipse yesterday. These things happen on a fairly regular basis, but this one was important because it was visible from the USA, so we all had to take a whole lot more notice of it than we did of the one in Indonesia last year, or the one in the Faroe Islands in 2015.

But for the rest of the world, the day (or night) went on as normal. So, I’ve collected together the best bits of eclipse ephemera so that you don’t feel that you have missed out.

Most exaggerated emotional response (written):

I was lucky enough to experience a total solar eclipse in the Britain in 1999. It’s a weird experience, sure, but it’s brief and it’s not something that I really dwelled upon after the event. So I think this description by Dr Francisco Diego of University College London is a bit lah-di-dah:

It steals your soul and it happens in complete silence.

Apart from whooping Americans. Lots of them.

Best photo

This much-shared image from NASA, featuring eclipse, sunspots and the ISS in transit.

Worst photo

Lots of competition for this one, but this cellphone pic from Trisha O’Farrell in Oregon is really appalling.
I’m not being rude; I’m being honest. I mean, she must know, right?

Most interesting phenomenon

We all knew what was going to happen. It was going to go dark for a couple of minutes and then it was going to get light again, so we’re actually after secondary phenomena here. This image of traffic congestion from Google Maps, perfectly matching the path of totality across the Southern US states, hits the spot:


Least interesting phenomenon:

Unaffected goats.


Best live reaction from a broom cupboard somewhere in a South American embassy in London:

Which is almost the same as this (satirical) article from last week. But real.

Next total solar eclipse

July 2nd, 2019 19:24:08 – visible across central Chile and Argentina.

Next total solar eclipses visible from South Africa

November 25th, 2030 06:51:37
August 2nd, 2046 10:21:13
July 24, 2055 09:57:50

See you there.


Literally every goat in the United States

Yes. You read right.
Literally every last one.


TIL: There are very few goats in Alaska.

America’s goat population is heavily concentrated in the Southwest, Texas in particular. Nearly 80 percent of America’s goats are raised for meat. Sixteen percent are raised for milk, with the remaining 6 percent is comprised of Angora goats raised for mohair.

Now we know (that there are 102% of goats in the USA).

More here.

Serious implications

Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich once said of France’s economic prowess: “When France sneezes, Europe catches a cold”. This was later adapted to reflect the USA’s global influence: “When America sneezes, the world catches a cold”. While that may no longer be as relevant as it once was (much like the USA, I suppose), the Federal Government shutdown over there may well have implications for the rest of the world.

I’m obviously not talking about the whole National Parks thing, or the fact that the zoos and museums aren’t open. I’m not even talking about the economic impact.

Oh no, I’m talking about a much bigger impact than that:


Wait the what now? While they might not have the funding to be scanning the skies for mankind’s impending doom, mankind’s impending doom has no such governmental squabbling to delay it. Mankind’s impending doom remains untroubled by the federal shutdown and it also remains (possibly, anyway) on a collision course with Earth.

We’re all going to die a horrible fiery death because of their silly playground politics.

“So, what’s it going to be?”

Bashar Al-Assad taunts US and allies in new web article.

With the world on tenterhooks over the situation in his country, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has written an open letter to the West taunting them over their seeming lack of options with regard to intervention (or not) in Syria:

Well, here we are. It’s been two years of fighting, over 100,000 people are dead, there are no signs of this war ending, and a week ago I used chemical weapons on my own people. If you don’t do anything about it, thousands of Syrians are going to die. If you do something about it, thousands of Syrians are going to die. Morally speaking, you’re on the hook for those deaths no matter how you look at it.

So, it’s your move, America. What’s it going to be?

I’ve looked at your options, and I’m going to be honest here, I feel for you. Not exactly an embarrassment of riches you’ve got to choose from, strategy-wise. I mean, my God, there are just so many variables to consider, so many possible paths to choose, each fraught with incredible peril, and each leading back to the very real, very likely possibility that no matter what you do it’s going to backfire in a big, big way. It’s a good old-fashioned mess, is what this is! And now, you have to make some sort of decision that you can live with.

And he’s right, of course. This a complete no win situation for the West. And with Russia and China strongly backing Al-Assad regime, there’s the danger of things going all sorts of Taylor Swift if the US and chums move in.
Here in SA, we’re tucked away from the military side of things, but we’re still economically involved (as a developing economy, we’re the first to get shafted by this sort of unrest) and, of course, politically. Basically, the SA government will side strongly against the US on anything it can. So that means that tacitly, we’re fully in support of Syria using chemical weapons on its own men, women and children.


It’s also interesting to note how politicians have dealt with the situation: UK opposition leader Ed Milliband, for example, has said this week that his party would back military action and also that his party would not back military action. So that’s fairly clear then.

Al-Assad leaves us with this chilling warning:

Long story short, I’m going to keep doing my best to hold on to my country no matter what the cost. If that means bombing entire towns, murdering small children, or shooting at UN weapons inspectors, so be it. I’m in this for the long haul. And you will do…whatever it is you’re going to do, which is totally up to you. Your call.

The man’s a cold, calm, calculated nutter.

No easy way out of this, and sadly there’ll be no good news coming out of Syria any time soon.

Oh, and for those of you who have been bothered to read this far down, yes, I’m completely aware that it’s a satirical article from a satirical website.