An amateur rocket-maker finally launched himself off Earth. Now to prove it’s flat …

Washington Post

Mike Hughes, a California man who is most known for his belief that the Earth is shaped like a Frisbee, finally blasted off into the sky in a steam-powered rocket he had built himself.

The 61-year-old limo driver and daredevil-turned-rocket-maker soared about 1,875 feet above the Mojave Desert on Saturday afternoon, the Associated Press reported. Hughes’s white-and-green rocket, bearing the words “FLAT EARTH,” propelled vertically about 3 p.m. Pacific time and reached a speed of about 350 mph, Waldo Stakes, who has been helping Hughes, told the AP. Hughes deployed two parachutes while landing, the second one just moments before he plopped down not far from his launching point.

A video shows that the whole endeavor, from the moment his rocket went up to the moment he landed, lasted about a minute.


The vertical launch, which happened without a countdown more than 200 miles east of Los Angeles, came amid growing skepticism that Hughes would ever lift himself off. The launch had been postponed multiple times, partly because Hughes said he couldn’t get permission from a federal agency to conduct it on public land.

After he landed Saturday, Hughes told the AP that he was “relieved” but that he expected to feel the physical toll of it all the next day.

“Am I glad I did it? Yeah. I guess. I’ll feel it in the morning. I won’t be able to get out of bed,” he said. “At least I can go home and have dinner and see my cats tonight.”

He also said he’d been frustrated with assumptions that he “chickened out,” so he “manned up and did it.”

Hughes had been on a mission to prove that the Earth is flat and that NASA astronauts such as John Glenn and Neil Armstrong were merely paid actors performing in front of a computer-generated image of a round globe. His previous failed attempts, as well as the successful one on Saturday, are all part of his ultimate goal to propel himself at least 52 miles above Earth by the end of the year — and to prove once and for all that the planet is flat.


According to the AP, Hughes’s hard landing on Saturday left him injured, though it is unclear what type of injuries he suffered. Photos show paramedics carrying Hughes on a stretcher and into an ambulance.

Also among Hughes’s plans — aside from trying to get to space — is to run for governor.

“This is no joke,” he told the AP. “I want to do it.”


Got to admit, the guy’s got balls.


Russian Diplomats Get Booted Out

The United States and its European allies are expelling dozens of Russian diplomats in a co-ordinated response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the UK.

It is said to be the largest collective expulsion of Russian intelligence officers in history.

More than 20 countries have aligned with the UK, expelling more than 100 diplomats.

Russia vowed to retaliate to the “provocative gesture”.

Russia denies any role in the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury, southern England. The pair remain in a critical but stable condition in hospital.

EU leaders agreed last week it was highly likely Russia was behind the nerve-agent poisoning.

Mrs May said: “President Putin’s regime is carrying out acts of aggression against our shared values and interests within our continent and beyond.

“And as a sovereign European democracy, the United Kingdom will stand shoulder to shoulder with the EU and with Nato to face down these threats together.”

Maybe Putin will think twice about using chemical weapons on foreign soil to eliminate his enemies.  It was so traceable back to Russia.  Why not just use a handgun with a silencer?

Expelled Russian diplomats arriving back in Moscow.


The Holden Hurricane

april holden_hurricane_tony_stolfo_bernie_walsh_rmit_s

The Holden Hurricane is a two-seat concept car built by Holden in 1969. The Hurricane was one of the most advanced vehicles for its time, with Holden describing it as a research vehicle, allowing them “to study design trends, propulsion systems and other long range developments”.


The Hurricane stood at just 990 millimetres (39 in) tall and was powered by a mid-mounted high-compression 4.2 litre Holden V8 engine, producing 193 kilowatts (259 hp). The Hurricane did not feature conventional doors; instead, a hydraulically powered canopy swung forwards over the front wheels and the seats rose up and titled forward. Other features included Pathfinder, which used magnetic signals built into the road to guide the driver. It also contained digital instrument displays, automatic temperature control air conditioning called Comfortron, an auto-seek radio function and a rear-view camera, which consisted of a wide angle camera in the rear bumper connected to a closed-circuit television (CCTV) screen in the centre console.

1969 Holden Hurricane Concept

The car was found by Corey Egan in 1988 in the Holden training centre. He was originally going to restore it. Instead, the managers decided to restore it after they got it out and cleaned it up. Forty-two years after the Holden Hurricane’s debut in 1969, the car has now been fully rebuilt and restored following the original design by Holden Design. Restoration began in 2006 and was finished in 2011, with the newly restored Hurricane first displayed in October 2011 at the Motorclassica classic car show in Melbourne.


Holden, formally known as General Motors Holden, is an Australian automobile importer and a former automobile manufacturer with its headquarters in Port Melbourne, Victoria. The company was founded in 1856 as a saddlery manufacturer in South Australia. In 1908 it moved into the automotive field, becoming a subsidiary of the United States-based General Motors (GM) in 1931, when the company was renamed General Motors-Holden’s Ltd. It was renamed Holden Ltd in 1998, and General Motors Holden in 2005.




Walking into Glass Walls

By Adam Killick

And now it’s time for another edition of our occasional, semi-regular, periodically occurring segment, “seems like a bad idea….”

If there is one thing that Apple fans and critics can likely agree on, it’s that the company’s products have really good design. Apple’s designers really know how to make metal and glass look pretty.

So it was only fitting that when the company built its new headquarters, the architectural design matched the company’s industrial design ethic.

And that resulted in a spectacular building in Cupertino, California, dubbed the “spaceship.”


The ring-shaped building feature lots and lots of glass. Glass walls, glass floors, glass ceilings… you get the idea. And you can bet all that glass is kept sparking clean, so it looks all but invisible, as it was designed to.

Apple’s new “spaceship” campus in Silicon Valley (The Associated Press/Apple Inc.)

But there is one obvious — or perhaps not-so-obvious — issue with the design.

And that is that people have a habit of walking into things they can’t see.

A freedom-of-information request by the San Francisco Chronicle revealed that there have been quite a lot of 9-1-1 calls made from the Apple campus.

What is clear, if you pardon the pun, is that Apple was warned by building inspectors about the dangers of the glass design when the campus was being built. And the company has removed numerous Post-it notes placed by employees that showed where the doors were,

That’s because the designers apparently wanted nothing that might distract engineers and coders from thinking about their work. So those same distracted engineers and coders have been walking into the glass.

Which really seems like a bad idea.



The Ignorant Do Crazy Things


Lawsuit after Malaysian flag reported as ‘IS symbol’ in US


A US employee association is being sued after restricting a Muslim man’s membership over a row about a flag.

Munir Zanial let a property at a lake owned by the organisation for a Malaysian Independence Day party.

The FBI was alerted when an employee reported Muslim guests were displaying what was described as a US flag defaced with Islamic State group symbols.

The investigation ended when it emerged the flag was Malaysia’s, but Mr Zanial was banned from hosting events.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kansas has now filed a law suit accusing the Spirit Boeing Employees Association of “racial profiling and blatant religious discrimination”.

‘Blatant discrimination’

Mr Zanial, a Muslim Malaysian aerospace engineer, was a paying member of the employee association when he rented the property to celebrate both Malaysian Independence Day and the end of Ramadan in September 2017.

According to the complaint, the party included guests of Indian-Malaysian ancestry with several women wearing hijabs.

The FBI closed its investigation the following month, but the law suit alleges that the employee association then hired a private investigator to look into the incident, and ended Mr Zanial’s rental privileges without informing him.

The executive director of the ACLU of Kansas said: “To label someone a terrorist due to their appearance and their celebration of their heritage is shameful, but to continue to use that mislabel as grounds for blatant discrimination – even after it had been discredited by the FBI – is downright reprehensible.”

The Spirit Boeing Employees Association has made no comment.