Drone-Racing VIDEO

Watch this dizzying first-person view of a pro drone race

By Nick Schwartz
Feb 22, 2016    source

Image result for drone racing photos


The Drone Racing League kicked off its season at Miami’s Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins and quickly proved why it sports a visual appeal no other sports league can possibly match.

Some of the world’s most talented pilots gathered in Miami in December for “Level 1,” a challenging course featuring multiple elevation changes and tight turns which served as the first event of the 2016 DRL season. DRL released a traditional broadcast of the heat races on Monday — the official broadcast launch of the season — and it has the usual: an announcer, pilot interviews and plenty of in-air action. But it’s clear that the best way to watch drone races is by riding aboard the machine itself, POV angles of drones zipping through tiny gates and darting around the concourses might leave you nauseous.
How does it all work? The pilots wear goggles that provide them with a video feed from their drone, and they navigate the course by looking for the neon lights placed along the route. Each pilot earns a certain number of points just for passing checkpoints during the race — as it’s difficult just to keep the drone in one piece.
The only way this could be better is if each drone was equipped with a weapon to use against the competition, Mario Kart-style.

Gorillas–Photos and Facts




Time Travel

Next month, Alice will fly to Melbourne, Australia, from Los Angeles, a 16-hour flight, leaving on Tuesday and landing on Thursday.  What happens to Wednesday?

Returning aboard ship, Alice will cross the International Date Line again and have two Fridays, one after the other.

It’s like her 4-hour flight, Chicago to Los Angeles,  which lands 2 hours after take-off.  She has crossed two time zones.

We have clocks, watches, calendars, sun, moon, and planets to organize ourselves and cooperate with other people.  But that’s just an artificial, agreed-upon system of dealing with time for practical purposes.

People didn’t used to have to be so precise.  There’s a movie in which two guys make a date this way:  I’ll meet you on the west side of the mountain next  spring.

Einstein showed in his thought experiments that people travelling at different speeds … measure different time separations between events … Wikipedia

We have a love song:  “today the minutes seem like hours, the hours pass so slowly”.  That’s another kind of time, isn’t it?

Related image

There was a young lady named Bright,
Whose speed was far faster than light;
She started one day
In a relative way,
And returned on the previous night.

A. H. Reginald Buller in Punch (Dec. 19, 1923): 591.
More on time travel.

Jesse’s Daughters



(D.W. Johnson)


In Chicago, the city where Owens raised his family, Parade magazine had the rare opportunity to talk with his daughters and the actor who portrays him in the film, Stephan James. It is a stunning coincidence that we are meeting at the Waldorf Astoria, the same hotel that forced Owens to take the freight elevator after his Olympic win, when he was invited to a dinner in his honor.

Read the article here.



Hitler’s 1936 Olympics, Movie and Exhibition

Swastika flag, German Underground Military hospital, Guernsey, Channel Islands, UK.

 Last week we enjoyed the new  movie  Race which tells the story of  Jesse Owens, a black man in the Depression era who not only has to confront racism at home, from other players in the locker rooms, and ill treatment in the wider society, but also his internalized racism, which prevents him from making eye contact with his coach when they are speaking.

Moreover, he carries a heavy burden for a young man in deciding whether to even play in the  1936 Berlin Olympic Games, which were designed to become a showcase for the Nazi ideal. Pressure was placed on Owens from every direction.  source  In a way this is a story of Jesse’s decisions.  rjn

‘Nazi Olympics’ exhibition explores 1936 spectacle in Berlin
By Steve Johnson Chicago Tribune  2.18.16
Exhibition runs through Aug. 28     Illinois Holocaust Museum, 9603 Woods Drive, Skokie Tickets: Included in general admission; 847-967-4800 or www.ilholocaustmuseum.org

JOSE M. OSORIO/CHICAGO TRIBUNE PHOTOS Glenn Wexler installs posters of U.S. Olympic runners Marty Glickman, from left, and Sam Stoller, Jews who were benched for the Berlin Games, and Mack Robinson, who won a silver.

   The first-level story about the 1936 Olympics in Berlin has Jesse Owens, the African-American track star, showing up Adolf Hitler, the racist German dictator, by winning four gold medals over competitors from Hitler’s supposed “master race.”   It’s a compelling tale of comeuppance.

The fuller truth, of course, is darker and more complex, as a new exhibition at the Illinois Holocaust Museum demonstrates. Maybe the villain got embarrassed a little on the world stage, but he also got to temporarily calm international anxiety about his supremacist policies and military ambitions with the smokescreen of a five-ringed propaganda spectacle.   Among the revelations in “The Nazi Olympics: Berlin 1936”: Hitler’s Games gave us the now-stirring traditions of the grand opening ceremony — big rallies were a Nazi specialty — and the relay run carrying the lighted torch from the site of the original Olympic Games, in Greece.   “A lot of what we think about when we think about the Olympics, the Nazis were the first to do them,” said Arielle Weininger, Illinois Holocaust Museum chief curator. “It very much diverted everyone’s eyes from the reality of what was happening.”   The exhibition, opening Sunday, comes at a propitious time for the continuingly resonant Skokie museum. It’s the 80th anniversary of the Berlin Games.

The movie “Race,” which tells some of the story of Owens and those Olympics, opens Friday. (You can read Tribune critic Michael Phillips’ less-than enthusiastic review at www.chicagotribune.com/   movies.)

And 2016 is an Olympic year, with the Summer Games being held in August in Brazil.   The traveling exhibition, created by the U.S. Holocaust Museum in 1996, coincident with the Nazi Olympics’ 60th anniversary and with the Atlanta Olympics that year in the United States, superbly explains the buildup to the ’36 Olympics, both in Germany and in the U.S.  

In Germany, we learn, Hitler did not at first like the “internationalism” of the Games, which had been awarded to Germany in 1931, two years before the Nazis took power. But his propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels convinced the dictator of their propaganda value. 

  Hitler had begun overt discrimination against German Jews just weeks after winning office. The September 1935 Nuremberg laws went further, stripping Jews of citizenship and forbidding them from having sex or intermarrying with “persons of German or related blood.” Jewish and Gypsy athletes were removed from German international sporting teams.  

In the meantime, the Nazis were rearming the country and sport was one of the key tools. “Really, they were building a nation of soldiers,” Weininger said.  

In the U.S., the German race laws stirred calls for a boycott of the Olympics. The Amateur Athletic Union and some leading newspapers, including The New York Times, favored a boycott.   But the American Olympic Committee, headed by Chicago engineer, builder and former Olympic athlete Avery Brundage, argued that politics should not be forced onto the Games.

He alleged a “Jewish-Communist conspiracy” in favor of a boycott, the exhibit tells us, and he wrote that American athletes should be spared involvement in “the present Jew-Nazi altercation.” 

  Complicating matters for potential African-American athletes was the fact that their own country had official policies of discrimination against them. Writers in the Chicago Defender, the leading black newspaper of the time, pointed out this hypocrisy and opposed the boycott because African-American wins would disprove Nazi racial theory.  

A torch from the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the first with a grand opening ceremony.

There is a great deal of text in the exhibition, but it is entirely on point and, because it illuminates a chapter in history that is incompletely understood, fascinating.   Surrounding the text blocks are photographs of the principals, political cartoons, such artifacts as a Nazi chart laying out the rules of Jewish intermarriage, and video that lets you see and hear Hitler, Goebbels and mass rallies in action.  

When it comes to the section on the Games themselves, the exhibition isn’t so concerned with the sports movie moment, the victories by Owens.   Instead it details how Germany’s lone (half-) Jewish Olympian gave the Nazi salute on the medal podium; how American Olympic authorities removed two Jewish runners from their relay squad while in Berlin; and how German authorities took down anti-Jewish signage before the Games.   After it was over, Germany, in spite of Owens, had won the most medals, and The New York Times, the exhibition says, reported that the Games had put Germany “back in the fold of nations” and made Germans “more human again.”  

The former Chicago Tribune correspondent William Shirer, according to exhibition text, was one of the few to regard the “Berlin glitter as merely hiding a racist, militaristic regime.”   History, of course, proved Shirer and his fellow doubters correct. The final images of the exhibition show a gallery of Olympic athletes, from Berlin and earlier Games, murdered in the Third Reich’s concentration camps. sajohnson@tribpub.com   


Note  At one point in the movie there is a mention of Metcalf and later of Ralph.  That’s Ralph Metcalfe who was called the World’s Fastest Man in 1934 and 1935 and who ran second to Jesse Owens in the 100 meters in the 1936 Olympics and whom I met once.

Metcalfe (center) with Jesse Owens and Frank Wykoff on the deck of the S. S. Manhattan as the team sailed for Germany in 1936

RalphHMetcalfe1977.jpgMetcalfe in 1977

As director of the Upward Bound program for high school students at Loyola U.  I called on aldermen of the wards where our students lived.  I was admitted to  Alderman Metcalfe[s  office at one end of a long, dim room and saw him behind his desk at the other end.  We could study each other as I travelled the distance between us.  I don’t remember our conversation.  I do remember Mr. Metcalfe.
He later was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and served the country in other ways as well.  The federal building at 77 W. Jackson, Chicago, is named for him,
Photo of Metcalfe Federal Building in Chicago, Illinois






Nether Wallop

I bought hearing aids on Amazon which were shipped from England with this quaint return address:

Hearing Direct Limited                                                                                Unit 4, Nine Mile Water                                                                             Nether Wallop                                                                                   Stockbridge                                                                                                    S 020 8DR                                                                                                 United Kingdom

Note thatched roofs–thatching is a well-respected trade in England.  I know a little about it because I heard interviewed on the radio a member of an English thatching team working in this country.  I’ve read a detective story in which thatchers and their work are significant.

I’ve wondered about creatures who might want to live in the thatch.  That question and many others are answered here.


Why Don’t We Eradicate Mosquitoes?

We thought DDT was a miracle–it killed a lot of mosquitoes for us–also birds and fish.  I remember a period when there were no songbirds at all in our neighborhood.! Then came Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring.  Listen Link below goes to an excellent radio piece.  rjn


LISTEN       26 minutes  BBC World Service       source

Why Don’t We Eradicate Mosquitoes?

Mosquitoes are the most dangerous animals on the planet. They spread diseases – malaria, dengue and zika (and many more) – that kill huge numbers of people and cause suffering to many more.

So why not eradicate them?

It wouldn’t be easy. Scientists in Mali have found the mosquito is a surprisingly formidable foe, able to hide for months and evade capture. Other scientists are working on genetically-modifying mosquito populations so that they can’t breed.

But could releasing these re-modelled mosquitoes have unintended consequences? And might we accidentally destroy ecosystems by removing mosquitoes altogether? It turns out this tiny creature presents us with huge practical and ethical problems.

Presenter: Michael Blastland

Milwaukee Janitor ?


Years ago, I was strolling through the Milwaukee Art Museum with a friend who cracked up when I walked through  a doorway and said, “Excuse me.”

I had apologized to this guy:
  He is an artwork made of fiberglass and other materials by Duane Hanson.  Fooled me! 
For an article about how the Janitor is made and how it was restored, click here.

Dogs and Dementia


New Dog IQ Test May Offer Clues for Dementia Research

A dog’s intelligence is structurally comparable to that of humans.

Scientists have developed a dog IQ test which could pave the way for breakthroughs in understanding the link between intelligence and health.

It turns out, according to experts, that dog intelligence works in the same way as human intelligence.  Dogs who perform well in one task also tend to do well in others — just like humans.

Recent studies have shown that brighter people often live longer, so scientists believe that if they can prove that the same is true for dogs, they can use them to study long-term health problems like dementia.  Since dogs experience some key features of dementia, understanding their cognitive abilities may help us understand what causes the disease in humans and potentially lead to new treatments for it.

SEE ALSO: Science Confirms What Pet Owners Already Know: Dogs are Self Aware

“You’ll find a dog that changes its social habits, it doesn’t want to be petted any more, it becomes introverted and alone. They reproduce lots of the disturbances found in human dementia,” said Dr. Rosalind Arden, a research associate at the London School of Economics and Political Science in the UK to BBC.

The discovery could have “far reaching implications for understanding human health and disease and canine health and disease,” said Arden.  “We asked the question, if a dog is good at one test does it tend to be better than average at the other test? And we found that yes that’s true.”

Scientists decided to put 68 working border collies to the test by having them perform a series of cognitive tasks.  One involved having the dogs find their way to a food reward that they could see but was located behind a barrier.  A second task involved offering two plates of food to see if the dogs would choose the one with the bigger portion.

It took just under one hour to test each dog, which the researchers say is how long it normally takes a person to complete an IQ test.  Just like humans, dogs that performed well in one of the tasks also tended to do better than average in the others too.  Additionally, they found that dogs that completed the tasks quicker also performed them more accurately.

Scientists have known for some time that brighter people tend to live longer.  However, it is also very dependent on the lifestyle choices we make — smoking, eating, drinking and exercise — which have a huge impact on our health.

“So if, as our research suggests, dog intelligence is structured similarly to ours, studying a species that doesn’t smoke, drink, use recreational drugs and does not have large differences in education and income, may help us understand this link between intelligence and health better,” said Dr. Arden.

The research is definitely in the early stages, however, the team hopes to create a faster and more accurate IQ test for dogs.

“Such a test could rapidly improve our understanding of the connection between dog intelligence, health, even lifespan, and be the foundation of ‘dognitive epidemiology,’” said study coauthor Dr. Mark Adams, of the UK’s University of Edinburgh.  “Dogs are excellent for this kind of work because they are willing to participate and seem to enjoy taking part.”

This gives a whole new meaning to “man’s best friend!”