lundi 19 février 2018

Spielberg aime les contre-jours

A voir cette compilation de scènes de ses films, il apparaît que Steven Spielberg utilise souvent les contre-jours, ou bien les silhouettes se détachant devant une source lumineuse.

samedi 10 février 2018

Game Changer

This is interesting as we learned today that Israel carried out a ‘large-scale attack’ in Syria after an Israeli jet crashes under antiaircraft fire and that an Iranian drone was shot down by an Israeli attack helicopter. The shot down Israeli aircraft was a F16.

Why Israel's New F-35 Stealth Fighters Are a Game-Changer (National Interest)

Something changed in the region last December, when Israel declared its first squadron of F-35s operational. Numerically, the change seemed minor. The Israeli Air Force's (IAF) 140 ("Golden Eagle") Squadron has just nine F-35I Adir aircraft, scheduled to grow to fifty over the next three years. That's a small number compared to the roughly 300 F-15s, F-15Es and F-16s currently operated by the IAF.

But the significance of Israel's F-35s is more than numbers. First, there is the simple qualitative advantage. Nationalists and propagandists can argue the merits of the F-35 versus the latest Russian MiG and Sukhoi fighters. What matters here is that neither Iran nor Syria are likely to get the most advanced Russian fighters or antiaircraft missiles (it took Iran ten years before it received Russian S-300 long-range anti-aircraft missiles in 2017). The F-35 is superior to Iran's collection of F-14, MiG-29s, and F-4 Phantoms, Syria's MiG-29s and Egypt's F-16s. There is a remote possibility that Israeli F-35s could confront Russian Su-35s (which Russia claims scared off U.S. F-22s) over Syria. But otherwise, Israel has and will continue to have the most advanced combat aircraft in the region.

vendredi 9 février 2018

Pilgrimage at the Kumano Kodo

The Kumano Kodo is a trail winding through a forest south of Osaka and Kyoto.
One of the reasons the trek feels otherworldly—you might walk through the woods for an entire day without seeing another person. It is a stark contrast from the crowds of tourists hiking Mount Fuji, nearly 300 miles away.

It’s impossible to forget the Shinto origins of this route when every couple hundred yards is another crumbling stone deity or Oji shrine. From moss-covered stones forming makeshift stairs on the mountainside to wooden bridges smooth with decades of use, not much has changed on the trail. There are early recorded visits to this region by Emperor Uda (907) and Emperor Kazan (986 and 987) but the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage became more broadly popular in the 11th century.

The pilgrimage centers around the Three Grand Shrines: Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Nachi Taisha, and Kumano Hayatama Taisha. The Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine epitomizes Kumano’s distinct synthesis of nature and temple. Long before the shrine was constructed, this area was already considered holy because pilgrims came to worship at Nachi Falls, one of Japan’s most famous waterfalls. The Grand Shrine and Seiganto-ji, a three-story red pagoda, were subsequently built to give these pilgrims houses of worship.

The Seigantoji Pagoda, with the Nachi-no-taki waterfall as a backdrop.
The Seigantoji Pagoda, with the Nachi-no-taki waterfall as a backdrop.

The White Darkness

David Grann has a new story in The New Yorker, absolutely awesome, about Henry Worsley on his path to retrace Ernest Shackleton's footsteps in the Antarctic.

By the middle of January, 2016, he had travelled more than eight hundred miles, and virtually every part of him was in agony. His arms and legs throbbed. His back ached. His feet were blistered and his toenails were discolored. His fingers had started to become numb with frostbite. In his diary, he wrote, “Am worried about my fingers—one tip of little finger already gone and all others very sore.” One of his front teeth had broken off, and the wind whistled through the gap. He had lost some forty pounds, and he became fixated on his favorite foods, listing them for his broadcast listeners: “Fish pie, brown bread, double cream, steaks and chips, more chips, smoked salmon, baked potato, eggs, rice pudding, Dairy Milk chocolate, tomatoes, bananas, apples, anchovies, Shredded Wheat, Weetabix, brown sugar, peanut butter, honey, toast, pasta, pizza and pizza. Ahhhhh!”

He was on the verge of collapse. Yet he was never one to give up, and adhered to the S.A.S.’s unofficial motto, “Always a little further”—a line from James Elroy Flecker’s 1913 poem “The Golden Journey to Samarkand.” The motto was painted on the front of Worsley’s sled, and he murmured it to himself like a mantra: “Always a little further . . . a little further.”

He had just reached the summit of the Titan Dome and was beginning to descend, the force of gravity propelling him toward his destination, which was only about a hundred miles away. He was so close to what he liked to call a “rendezvous with history.” Yet how much farther could he press on before the cold consumed him? He had studied with devotion the decision-making of Shackleton, whose ability to escape mortal danger was legendary, and who had famously saved the life of his entire crew when an expedition went awry. Whenever Worsley faced a perilous situation—and he was now in more peril than he’d ever been—he asked himself one question: What would Shacks do?

Unfortunately Worsley never made it. He was forced, by exhaustion and ill health, to call for help 30 miles from his journey's intended end. Rescued and flown to a hospital in Punta Arenas, in the Patagonia region of southern Chile, he was given a diagnosis of peritonitis, and died. He was 55.

He had previously led two expeditions in the Antarctic (in 2008 and 2011) on the footsteps of his hero Ernest Shackleton.

Falcon Heavy

Yesterday, Elon Musk's SpaceX launched Falcon Heavy test flight. It was very impressive.

Launching a Tesla roadster into space was a stunt but a good one. You'll have to get the allusion to the opening scene of Heavy Metal, a movie from 1981.

The boosters reentry was pretty impressive too and very very cool.