Opera House Concert Serenades Thousands of Potted Plants

On Monday, the El Liceu opera house in Barcelona hosted a special concert for 2,292 house plants. The event, organized by Spanish conceptual artist Eugenio Ampudia, took place just as Spain lifted its three-month state of emergency. Reaffirming the value of art and music, the theatre kicked off its re-opening with this performance as a kind of roadmap for returning to normalcy.

Ampudia said the inspiration for the idea came from his getting back in touch with nature during the quietude of the pandemic. The plants will be donated to local health care workers as a token of appreciation for their hard work.

Kung Flu

Donald Trump may not be qualified or competent enough to be President of the United States, but one thing he is very competent at, is name calling.  From “Sleepycreepy” Joe Biden, “Crooked Hillary” Clinton, “Mini Mike” Michael Bloomberg, “Slimeball” James Comey, ‘Al Frankenstein” Al Franken, “Basically braindead Bernie” Bernie Sanders and many many more.

Such bizarre presidential behaviour. But the strange thing is Trump’s base and supporters like the name calling. They like the way he ‘tells it like it is’. Where has social decorum gone?

But now Trump has come up with a nickname for covid-19. Kung Flu!

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Monday defended President Donald Trump’s use of the term “Kung Flu” in referring to COVID-19 at a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

McEnany said Trump’s rhetoric Saturday was an indictment of China rather than Asian Americans. Experts, however, said that besides being offensive to both groups, the excuse doesn’t hold up because Asians and Asian Americans are often viewed as a monolith because of implicit bias, the history of the racial group in the U.S. and the current political climate.

Asian American advocacy groups responded to Trump’s use of the racist phrase, which he used after joking that the coronavirus “has more names than any disease in history.”

“I can name ‘kung flu,'” Trump told the crowd. “I can name 19 different versions of names.”

“It’s not a discussion about Asian Americans, who the president values and prizes as citizens of this great country,” McEnany said. “It is an indictment of China for letting the virus get here.”

But Andy Kang, executive director of the civil rights nonprofit Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago, told NBC News that given the political and racial environment of the U.S., Trump’s words could have harmful consequences.

“We’re currently in the middle of a global pandemic that has caused a tremendous amount of suffering, both in economic terms and, more importantly, lives lost. On top of that, it’s a presidential election year,” he said. “With such an emotionally charged political atmosphere, it’s irresponsible and reckless for our political leaders and candidates for our nation’s highest office to engage in rhetoric that incites xenophobic scapegoating and violence.”

Stunning Views of the Solar Eclipse

On Sunday, across a pathway that included parts of Africa and Asia, viewers were treated to a stunning “ring of fire” solar eclipse. In this “annular” eclipse which coincided with the Summer Solstice, the Moon passed between the Earth and the sun, revealing a thin outer ring of the fiery solar disc. Skywatchers were not bathed in total darkness, but astronomers have said it was like switching from a 500W bulb to a 30W one.

In the above combination photo, the eclipse is seen in various locations in India: (top L to R) Kurukshetra, Allahabad, Bangalore and (bottom L to R) Kolkata, New Delhi, Bangalore.

 

 

Literal Heavy Metal: Brass Band plays Motorhead, Maiden, Sabbath and AC/DC

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Over the weekend, my Facebook feed—and a fair few others’ as well—blew up with a years-old video of a Dutch brass band called Heavy Hoempa busking Motörhead’s “Ace of Spades” at the prog/metal festival ProgPower in 2013. Despite its age, the video went viral seemingly out of nowhere, racking up 50,000 shares in just a few days. If you weren’t one of its three million viewers, check it out now, it’s quite wonderful.

Super Secure Secret Shield Entrance

Maxwell Smart entering the headquarters of CONTROL.

Get Smart is an American comedy television series parodying the secret agent genre that became widely popular in the first half of the 1960s with the release of James Bond films. The program was created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry and had its television premiere on NBC on September 18, 1965. The show stars Don Adams (who also worked as a director on the series) as agent Maxwell Smart (Agent 86), Barbara Feldon as Agent 99, and Edward Platt as Thaddeus the Chief. Henry said that they created the show at the request of Daniel Melnick to capitalize on James Bond and Inspector Clouseau, “the two biggest things in the entertainment world today”. Brooks described it as “an insane combination of James Bond and Mel Brooks comedy.”

Company plans space tourism flights in high-altitude balloon

Researchers, armchair astronauts and even brides and grooms looking for an out-of-this-world wedding experience will be able to celebrate, collect data or simply enjoy the view from an altitude of 100,000 feet in a balloon-borne pressurized cabin, complete with a bar and a restroom, a space startup announced Thursday.

“Spaceship Neptune,” operated by a company called Space Perspective from leased facilities at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, will carry eight passengers at a time on six-hour flights. The passenger cabin, lifted by a huge hydrogen-filled balloon, will climb at a sedate 12 mph to an altitude of about 30 miles high. That will be followed by a slow descent to splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean where a recovery ship will be standing by to secure the cabin and crew.

Test flights carrying scientific research payloads are expected to begin in 2021. The first flights carrying passengers are expected within the next three-and-a-half years or so, with piloted test flights before that.

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Space tourists enjoy the view from 100,000 feet in this artist’s impression of a ride aloft in Space Perspective’s balloon-borne “Neptune” crew cabin.SPACE PERSPECTIVE

While the company initially will operate out of the Florida spaceport, the system could be launched from multiple sites around the world, with Hawaii and Alaska near-term possibilities.

Ticket prices for crewed flights have not yet been set, but company officials said Thursday the initial cost will probably be in the neighborhood of $125,000 per passenger. That’s about half what space tourists can expect to pay for sub-orbital flights aboard rocket-powered spaceplanes like those being developed by Virgin Galactic, which are designed to reach altitudes of more than 50 miles.

Spaceship Neptune will fly well under that altitude and passengers will not experience weightlessness, but they will still be above 99% of Earth’s atmosphere, nearly twice as high as the supersonic Concorde once flew. And unlike shorter sub-orbital rocket flights that only spend a few minutes at the top of their trajectory, Neptune passengers will enjoy two hours at peak altitude, taking in the view through large, wrap-around windows.

“One of the amazing things about the design we’e been able to work up is the ability to have events, things like weddings, corporate events. I can’t wait to see spiritual leaders flying with political leaders,” said Space Perspective founder and co-CEO Taber MacCallum.

“I think we’re going to see a wide variety of flights. Science flights are going to be really interesting, mixing tourism and science. The imagination runs wild. We’re getting lots of interest in all types of great ideas.”

Space Perspective has signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA and the company has arranged to lease a facility at the 3-mile-long runway once used by returning space shuttles. Neptune flights will be regulated by the FAA’s Office of Commercial Spaceflight.

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An artist’s impression of a Space Perspective balloon and crew module high above Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. The company plans to begin test flights from the Kennedy Space Center next year.SPACE PERSPECTIVE

“Space Perspective is bringing a fundamentally new capability to the Cape, which will enhance the offering we have in Florida for space-related research and tourism,” Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello said in a statement. “Its presence here in Florida creates not just job and supply chain opportunities, but opportunities for civilian astronauts to experience this planet Earth from the edge of space, a privilege previously available to only a few.”

MacCallum and co-CEO Jane Poynter said extensive market research showed untapped interest in such flights across a broad spectrum of users.

“When we take all the people that we want to take to the edge of space, we want them to really be able to experience what astronauts talk about, seeing the Earth in space (and) doing it comfortably, gently and accessibly,” Poynter said during a teleconference.

“There’ll be eight people at a time, with a crew member in the capsule. And of course, you’ll be able to connect with your friends on the ground. And we’ll have some really great communication systems so that we can have all kinds of live events up there as well. The whole capsule has been designed to be really flexible to allow for all kinds of things to go on and up in the space environment.”

As for weddings, she said Neptune will provide “the best place to get married, ever.”

cbsnews.com

Animated Art GIFs

 

 

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The Graphics Interchange Format (better known by its acronym GIF) is a bitmap image format that was introduced by CompuServe in 1987 and has since come into widespread usage on the World Wide Web due to its wide support and portability.

The format supports up to 8 bits per pixel for each image, allowing a single image to reference its own palette of up to 256 different colors chosen from the 24-bit RGB color space. It also supports animations and allows a separate palette of up to 256 colors for each frame. These palette limitations make the GIF format less suitable for reproducing color photographs and other images with continuous color, but it is well-suited for simpler images such as graphics or logos with solid areas of color.

 

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