Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Heaven-o! We're retarded!

My recent postings seem even more eclectic than usual; and so, to Kleberg County, Texas, where in 1997, the following happened:
...Kleberg County Commissioners unanimously voted to adopt "heaven-o" as the official greeting of the county instead of "hello". Kleberg County residents are now encouraged to use "heaven-o" to acknowledge one another. The reason cited for the change was the fact that hello contains the word hell, even though there is no etymological connection.
And here I was explaining to people from Ireland, the U.K., Europe, (though mostly to myself) that really, only the silliest of U.S.-of-Ass-news-o'-the-weird reaches the wider Earth, and that Americans are not really that religious...

Utterly unrelated to this is Marlon Brando, above, as Mark Anthony in Julius Caesar.

Ministry of External Relations, Brasilia

This vast, open, curvacious space with the alluring staircase is the main entrance hall of Brazil's Ministry for External Relations, designed by Oscar Niemeyer and built in 1962. Monocle magazine, for which I have a growing respect, says Brazil and its foreign policy are sexier than ever, with this tease for the May 2010 issue:
A fast-expanding embassy network and a clever use of its culture mean Brazil is making friends all around the world. Is this just an attempt to secure a seat on the UN Security Council or an emerging nation trying to change the world order?
That certainly is a sexy set of stairs!

(Photo credit: weyerdk).

Beth Greenfield

I met Beth Greenfield through a mutual friend some years ago, and though our paths crossed only briefly, I know that she is the LGBT editor for Time Out New York. And she has now written a memoir, Ten Minutes From Home, though (at the risk of sounding unkind) I wondered to myself, "Can Beth be old enough to write a memoir?" An excerpt is here; and congratulations, Beth.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

July 28th, 1945

CAPTION: 1945 (07-23) Hole torn btwn. 78th & 79th floors when B-25 bomber, flying in fog, crashed into Empire State Building.

UPDATE: this from a New Yorker article:
Ask a vertical-transportation-industry professional to recall an episode of an elevator in free fall—the cab plummeting in the shaftway, frayed rope ends trailing in the dark—and he will say that he can think of only one. That would be the Empire State Building incident of 1945, in which a B-25 bomber pilot made a wrong turn in the fog and crashed into the seventy-ninth floor, snapping the hoist and safety cables of two elevators. Both of them plunged to the bottom of the shaft. One of them fell from the seventy-fifth floor with a woman aboard—an elevator operator. (The operator of the other one had stepped out for a cigarette.) By the time the car crashed into the buffer in the pit (a hydraulic truncheon designed to be a cushion of last resort), a thousand feet of cable had piled up beneath it, serving as a kind of spring. A pillow of air pressure, as the speeding car compressed the air in the shaft, may have helped ease the impact as well. Still, the landing was not soft. The car’s walls buckled, and steel debris tore up through the floor. It was the woman’s good fortune to be cowering in a corner when the car hit. She was severely injured but alive.
FURTHER UPDATE: from the Empire State Building web site and Elevator World (the industry magazine of record*), we learn that the woman was called Betty Lou Oliver, and she was more desperately unlucky than the New Yorker states above, because she was injured by the plane crash, then put in an elevator by rescuers. Then the weakened cables snapped!
As the plane hit, Oliver, an elevator operator, was blown out of her post on the 80th floor and badly burned. After receiving first aid, she was put in another car to go down to an ambulance. As the elevator doors closed, rescue workers heard what sounded like a gunshot but what was, in fact, the snapping of elevator cables weakened by the crash. The car with Oliver inside, now at the 75th floor, plunged to the sub-basement, a fall of over 1,000 feet. Rescuers had to cut a hole in the car to get to the badly injured elevator operator.
Despite a harrowing experience, Oliver survived, due in large part to the elevator safety devices which served their function, though perhaps not as envisioned. The elevator car safety could not set because the governor cable had been severed by the plane's impact. Therefore, other factors contributed to slowing the elevator and 'cushioning' its fall. As the elevator fell, the compensating cables, hanging from beneath the car, piled up in the pit and acted as a coiled spring, slowing the elevator. Also, the hatchway was of a 'high-pressure' design, with minimum clearance around the car. In such a small space, the air was compressed under the falling elevator. With such a tight fit of the car in the hatchway, the trapped air created an air cushion in the lower portion of the shaft -- thereby further slowing the elevator car and allowing its occupant to survive.
[*Accept no other substitute.]

Monday, April 26, 2010

That Bloody Volcano... astonishing to look at in these photographs, showing the Northern Lights also.

(Apologies for providing a link to the Daily Fascist, folks).

Sunday, April 25, 2010

It's Called Goldman Sex...

Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, and Gary Cohn, president

...because they fucked you all.
In late 2007, as the mortgage crisis gained momentum and many banks were suffering losses, Goldman Sachs executives traded e-mail messages saying that they would make “some serious money” betting against the housing markets...

The messages appear to connect some of the dots at a crucial moment of Goldman history. They show that in 2007, as most other banks hemorrhaged money from plummeting mortgage holdings, Goldman prospered.