This sculpture, shape like a tree, was made to celebrate a 50-year birthday, it incorporates, as the trunk, a beer bottle with the recipient’s identity on it, this was actually the invitation to the birthday party, postponed due to Covid-19, as is proper.
Using the bottle as the core, the sculpture is then fortified with several branches and 50 sub-branches or leaves, representing the fifty years of the recipient’s life, the branches and leaves are use silver and gold as primary colours, symbolizing the nobility of recipient’s life. The bottle itself is partially enveloped in silver and gold thread, symbolizing strengthening relations.
Under the branches, well hidden, are four spirals, representing the continued growth of the four children the recipient continues to be, in various degrees thanks to the modern family structures, a father figure or outright a father. One in gold, to represent the firstborn, three in silver.
The base, shaped in clay, both to act as a base for stability and to represent the roots of the tree, embedded in the front, beneath the label carrying the name, is a 1971 Hudson Bay Company commemorative coin, celebrating the 1670 establishment of said company.
To cap of the tree, there is a Red Star recovered from a 1974 Soviet commemorative medal’s bar, the remained of the medal remains hanging from the branches within, this cap represents relationships, copper is added beneath, representing the appropriate alchemical symbology.
Scattered around the branches, hangs coins, badges and medals, all from around 1971, this includes a full Danish coin set, several additional Danish low denomination coins from the period, a 5-cent US piece, a commemorative badge from the Russian Ivanovo celebrating its centenary of receiving city status (1871) and several other items, all themed from either 1971 or 50. Two Goteborg commemorative coins also hang from the branches.
The tree is specifically named as “a tree of life” and not “The Tree of Life”, this tree is specifically designed, built, shaped and assembled to the life of a single person, however, every single person could have a tree like this produced, the concept itself is not unique, the person who celebrated their birthday shaped in the contents and the symbols.
The sculpture remains in the hands of the recipient.
Built in 1997 by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (Full disclosure, I am presently employee as part of a time study student job at MHI Vestas, a joint venture), the Elyros is presently owned by the Greek shipping line ANEK Lines, nothing unusual so far.
Like a lot of ferries, the Elyros have changed name several times, owners several times, again, nothing to odd so far, just another standard RORO ferry that sail the Mediterranean, so what’s odd?
The odd thing, is that Elyros have the distinction of being a seat of government for a brief period in 2014, from the 2nd of September to the 25th, one of the civil war factions leased the ferry to house their legislative assembly, which means that at least for a while, using standard international protocol, the legislative capital of Libya was the Elyros itself.
Of course total failure of the Libya post-Gadaffi is a big chunky failure, so frankly it should never have been allowed to happen in the first time.
Join me as we go back, way back, all the way back to 342 Before the Common Era, when Nectanebo II, after many years of struggle, finally lost Memphis to the Persians and had to flee south to Nubia, he would ultimately be the last native Egyptian ruler to rule Egypt, all the way up to 1922 CE, when Egypt would gain a semblance of freedom from their overlords of the time, the British Empire.
After Nectanebo II Egypt would be ruled by in order chronological: The Persians, the Greeks (Alexander the Great, then the dynasty of Ptolemy), the Romans, the Persians again, the Romans one more time, then the Arabs under the Abbasid, then de jure the Fatimids and de facto the Mamluks (The Mamluk Sultans were so many nationalities that most Historians just group them as Mamluks, otherwise we’d be here all day), the Ottoman Turks were next, then it becomes a bit tricky.
Enter Napoleon Bonaparte, his Egyptian expedition in 1798 basically threw a giant wrench into the already fairly unstable political system, oh yeah, the French conquered Egypt too, briefly at least. Napoleon’s supporting fleet was blasted into pieces during the Battle of the Nile, one of Nelson’s battles, causing him to flee back to France, leaving his army behind.
This left a three-way struggle behind, the Ottoman Turks, the nominally Egyptian Mamluks and of all things, Albanian Mercenaries, that’s right, Albanians, the Ottoman Empire was a fun part of history, it basically spread nationalities everywhere.
In 1805, Muhammad Ali Pasha won, using the oldest trick in the book, he massacred everyone else, he’d manage to gain independence for his Egypt, now ruled by an Albanian dynasty, so technically speaking, the Albanians were next.
In 1822 the British basically became the next and ultimately the final colonial overlord of Egypt, using a nationalist uprising as pretext, they’d maintain effective control of Egypt from that point forward, the French being allowed to retain their share of the Suez Canal, the single most important strategic overseas position of the British Empire, thanks to the Jewel that always will be India.
This would finally end in 1952, when the last of Pasha’s successors would be overthrown in a Nationalist and Republican Revolution, the last British soldiers withdrew two years later.
Which brings us to the Suez Crisis, the last final gasp of the diminishing Superpowers that were the French and British Empires, the Suez canal was at the time of the Crisis in 1956, carrying over half of the oil needed for the British economy, so when Nasser decided to nationalize the Canal company, the British and the French lost their fucking minds.
Literally, Anthony Eden was prime minster of the UK at the time, and was described as a man of “weakened nerves”, poor bugger had been Foreign Minister under Churchill during the Second World War, not something everyone makes it out of intact, he wasn’t the man he used to be, being terrified of a second Hitler.
Now Gamal Abdel Nasser had a simply reason for nationalizing the Suez, the West wouldn’t sell him the weapons he needed to “defend” himself from the Israeli, this was the time when the Egyptians actually wanted to drive the Israeli into the sea, these days they probably would be happy to have them visit as tourists.
The Western Powers couldn’t sell him any cool stuff, mostly because only the Americans could afford cool stuff and I’d remind everyone that this is a time where the largest Jewish population could be found in New York City, no way Eisenhower was going to sell Nasser anything.
So he turned to the Soviets, bought cool shit from the Czechoslovakians and told the west to go suck it, which caused them to retract an offer to build the Aswan Dam, so he nationalized the Canal so he could afford to built it.
The British, French and the Israeli then attacked and absolutely wiped the floor with the Egyptians, which probably shouldn’t surprise anyone at all, the British and French armies still had a lot of experienced Officers from World War Two, their navies were immensely superior to anything the Egyptians could vaguely assemble, the Israeli had access to all the cool military equipment from the west and a significant chunk of their Officers were also World War Two veterans and the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.
However, Nasser knew what he was doing, he understood something that the British and the French refused to grasp, their time was over, the rise of the United States of America and the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics was already a reality and that they’d have to accept their new roles as big powers, rather than Superpowers.
After both of the two new powers threaten to essentially nuke the shit out of both the French and the British, they both retreated and accepted the new order of the world, the Israeli withdrew shortly afterwards, Nasser got to keep his new canal, had to give a few minor concessions to keep everyone happy, Lester B. Pearson got a Nobel Peace Prize for hashing out a treaty, the Soviets got a big prestige win and Nasser got to throw out a bunch of Jews.
The failure here was the old Powers not realizing just how old they were.
So, for those of you who don’t know how bonds work, they basically come in different grades, AAA being the Bonds with the lowest risks, also those with the lowest interest, you get more they more risk you take, pretty standard mode of operation in the amazing world of finance.
So for instance bonds from for instance the Kingdom of Denmark are AAA bonds, corporate bonds from IBM or General Electric would usually be AAA, none of these instances are likely to go down in flames.
On the other end of the scale, you’ve got junk bonds, extremely high risk loans from companies that are basically a few steps away from being pornography studios and old school pawn shops, the interest rates are high, so obviously so are the profit, if the loaner can pay of course, which they couldn’t always do.
Now, Junk Bonds still exist to this day, but they true Golden Age was the age of Michael Milken of Drexel Burnham Lamber, the company itself was a shadow of former glories, a mid-range player in a world of giants, consigned to a slow but steady existence on the borders of the world of wealth.
Michael Milken knew people, people with money, and managed to literally network his way to starting an insane bonanza of Junk Bonds, backing the Leveraged Buyouts of the 80’s.
A Leveraged Buyout is a version of the Management Buyout, just with a lot more loans, a lot less secured, and sadly, the party of Leveraged Buyouts ended and Drexel ended up with a nice big pile of toxic junk bonds, you can probably guess the rest of that story.
Turns out that Milken had been “milking” the company for millions of dollars, taking kickbacks, the whole package of illegal shit you shouldn’t do. Drexel died, Milken got send to jail.
The story ends, with Michael Milken doing lectures on the dangers of Junk Bonds while enjoying all the money he somehow managed to keep.
Let me paint you a lovely picture, not one with pretty clouds and lovely bushes, not one with a romantic and silly national pride imagery, not one of haystacks viewed through the impressions of the artist, the picture I paint is one of the last gasps of imperialism of a dying empire and the early whispers of the Cold War.
It’s a picture of unrelenting stubbornness and sheer bleeding national pride, a picture propelled into being by the American cutting off their British allies from that sweet pipeline of nuclear mysteries, a picture of rapid and unrelenting development of plutonium manufacturing capabilities, barreling through all opposition, all logic and all problems.
In 1949 the American closed the door completely and totally on all nuclear cooperation, for some awful nationalistic nonsense reason, or possibly because the UK was full of Soviet infiltrators and their entire administration was leaking like a fucking sieve.
Either way, this meant that the British had to go and build their very own plutonium manufacturing nuclear pile, without all the experimentation the Americans had done in their own nuclear madness, the British only knew a few bits and pieces and for some reason decided to go with an air-cooled Nuclear Reactor.
I’ll give you a few seconds to get that one through you thick old sculls, a Nuclear Reactor with the same cooling system as a standard laptop, the difference being a simply matter of scale, now I’m no nuclear physicist, but this doesn’t seem that particular safe, letting open free air just flow past your active fissile core of radioactive delight.
The reason for this apparent madness, was obvious one of convenience and speed, they British Empire needed it’s precious nukes at any cost necessary, sanity be damned, unfortunate that this probably resulted in the release of small amounts of radioactive material over the years.
Then there was the location, the British government in its usual way of utter madness, went with a location right next to a failing vacation spot alongside the coast, in an area whose agricultural sector was dedicated to the dairy production, milk being especially susceptible to Iodine pollution, Iodine-131 being something of a villainous isotope, that will be important very, very soon.
Basically, this whole Air-cooled monstrosity was designed to Enrich Uranium from the harmless variations into for example, mother Plutonium, this is basically done inside the reactor, through manipulation of the neutron exposure.
This pile, caught on fire and that’s why the Windscale Fire is a a Level Five on the International Nuclear Event Scale, there’s just seven levels in total. Around 200 people died because of the fire, a fire caused by the damn thing being basically a giant pile of Uranium, graphite and a bit of boron, about as safe as Chemical factory in Texas, cooled by fucking air.
Still, the British got their nuclear bomb and a 100 billion £ sterling cleanup of what is now called Sellafield, hey, jobs for ten thousand people, and it’s not like anyone wants to live along the English coastline anyways.
Camp Century was yet another insane nuclear powered idea of the 1950’s US, “hey, let’s built a base under the ice of Greenland, so we can spy on the Soviets!”.
Awful idea in concept, really awful once they actually got started, sure, you can build a base inside of the ice sheet, that part worked flawlessly, it’s basically just a giant fucking igloo, nothing to spectacular there, just a matter of scale.
However, the heat and the power, now normally in Polar conditions, those would be provided by the magic of diesel generators, small, flexible and very reliable, they’ve been powering polar bases for just about a century by now, however, again, this is a REALLY big base.
Estimates from the US Army, showed that it would take a full MILLION barrels of diesel a year to keep Camp Century online, which even the US Army found a wee bit impractical.
So they asked the AEC (Atomic Energy Comission) to design and build a small, ultra simple, boiling water only, reliable and so foolproof even a US Army Private could operate Nuclear Reactor.
Which they did and then installed it in a giant underice base in the middle of the Greenlandic ice-sheet, without really asking the Danish Government, let alone the native Greenlanders, for permission.
Now all of this might have been forgivable, if better radars had rendered the spy part of the base utterly redundant by the time it was actually built.
Add the fact that the ice sheet is a basically a massive glacier, which moves and warps the tunnels, it didn’t take that many years until even the US Army realized just how stupid the whole concept was.
They buried a whole bunch of: Chemical waste (nasty shit) and radioactive waste (really nasty shit) and biological waste ( actual shit) and just left it there forever.
Until Global Climate changed started causing the ice-sheet to melt. That’s going to be fun to explain to the next generations: “Why is that fucking glacier bleeding radioactive literal human waste?”, “It was the fifties kid, what did you expect?”.
Camp Century failed in it’s primary objectives thoroughly and utterly, however, again and again, an unexpected benefit happened, ICE CORES, the scientist bored out an absolutely staggering amount of ice cores, giving us nice meteorological record stretching back millennia.
So, for those who wonder what WeWork is, it’s someone who did a “I’m going to disrupt some old silly business practice and try something new!” business plan, not a bad idea out of the box mind you, if done properly and with a fair amount of luck.
Now, WeWork target was Office Renting, aiming to create fluid short-term rental agreement with smaller businesses and startups, meaning that small companies wouldn’t have to sign long-term rental contracts tieing them down to specific locations and spaces.
WeWork would essentially be a Serviced Office with Millennial nonsense* and short term agreements bolted onto it.
*By this I mean public “shared” spaces were the renters can easily network and what have you not, Google-style, with Pinball machines and ball-pits and dumb shit like that.
This does ignore the single most valuable reason to own real estate: “Long-term fixed rental income”, which is one of the reasons why renting is such good business, solid income for long terms, with nice deposits in case something goes bad.
WeWork also rents out meeting spaces and all that nonsense, but if you just need a meeting space, there are almost certainly a church, a local clubhouse, a school or some such operations that can offer you the same deal, probably at lovely low prices, sure, it doesn’t look fancy and there’s no Pinball machines, but still, frugality is a good thing.
The real issue here, is the fact that WeWork signs long-term renting agreements on their properties and then rents them out short-term, essentially assuming the brunt of the risk themselves.
Combine that with a whole bunch of rental shenanigans, where the now ex-founder and CEO Adam Neumann would buy buildings and then rent them to his own company, have a bunch of his family on the Board, change the companies name and then pay a company he owned for the rights to use the new name.
Also, massive overvaluation of the company have basically caused the whole company to be owned by Softbank of Japan and the founder and his ilk thrown out of the company.
The problem? Greed basically, hell, Neumann sold his stake just before he announced an IPO, so he almost certainly got his payoff, except to see him in a few years with some other “disruption”.
Oh yeah, and the usual sexual harassment accusations, made even more damning when the company changed it’s policy from “Unlimited Beer” to “Four Beers per day Max”, apparently nobody have told them to just not fucking harass people about their tits and/or lack thereof.
Softbank will either keep the company alive in a massively restructured way or liquidated the shit out of it.
Today we cover a great deal many of the hilarious failures of Bethesda Game Studios’ absolutely terrible Fallout 76.
First among it’s many sins, is the fact that is a “Games as a Service” concept, a online multiplayer game that drip feeds content in order to keep players buying severely useless micro-transactions junk in an online store bolted on the game, like some horribly cancerous malignant growth.
A significant chunk of the assets are recycled from Fallout 4, using the same engine, and engine that could be very reasonable described as “hideously outdated” or more accurately as “pre-historic”, except that parts that were reused from Skyrim, the Scorchbeast of Fallout 76 uses the same code as the dragons from Skyrim, including the famous “the dragon is flying backwards” bug.
This game was released as a full price 60 US$, even through it’s just a half-baked multiplayer mod for Fallout 4, mind you, the price started cratering like you wouldn’t believe within days of launch, there was a 12% sale after SIX days on Green Man Gaming, hell, 22 days after the release, you could get Fallout 76 for 40 US$, if that isn’t an indicator for failure, then fuck off you muppet.
So many bugs, many of the bugs would be patched out and then somehow back in, for reasons that are explained by the chosen engine: “Creation Engine”, that was shat out from the Gamebryo engine about seven years ago, The Gamebryo engine died back in 2015 by the way and nobody cares about it, the Creation Engine is a freakshow that really doesn’t work anymore.
And then there was the Collector’s Edition, now as a sensible person, I find most Collector’s Editions tremendously silly and very much stupid, so frankly, it was fitting for the idiots to get punished for their total lack of self-control, but on the other hand, customer rights.
The Edition came with the usual dumb shit nobody sane ought to ever care about and that Canvas bag up in the corner, I don’t mind that one at all, at least it’s a bag, it can always be used as a bag.
Holy shit, did the fans who bought this massive failure of a game go absoluetly apeshit and with good reasons, this kind of deceptive practices are banned in most civilized countries and even the US, so Bethesda went on DAMAGE Control! Offering no less than FIVE HUNDRED Super-Premium-Cash-Shop-Microtransactions Atoms, which is around five bucks, of imaginary money, for a digital artifact, that doesn’t cost them anything, an ironically wasn’t enough to actually buy the in-game canvas bag, a part of the postman set, cost 550 Atoms, the irony.
And of course, the precious Influencers got their little special bag, because we all need more reasons to hate them with a burning passion.
In the end, Bethesda finally gave up and actually shipped out bags made of canvas, even after they claimed that sourcing CANVAS was very difficult.
Then on the 23rd of April this very year, they went all out Pay2Win on our arses, releasing “Basic Repair Kits”, that you can only buy for REAL money in the Atom Shop (No, the tiny amounts of free Atom Premium currency you get isn’t enough for anything sane, it’s just used to encourage you to spend, you feeble-minded troglodyte), sure, a drop of “Improved Repair Kits” could fall out of the Random Number Generator, but the odds are stacked against you.
Then the start of September, they released two little extra things on the Atom Shop, a bunch of robots that automatically scavenge the local area for you, giving you a massive advantage in that you can concentrate on other activities rather than scavenging for parts, pretty big in a game about Survival, and a Refrigerator that reduce spoilage of you food with 50%, essentially reducing gathering/hunting for food with, guess what, 50%, again, big advantage in a sodding survival game.
And then on the 25th of September 2019, the T-51b Power Armor collectible helmets, that you can buy in shops if you’re an idiot, are now being recalled, I also wonder why a “collectible” that has a production number of 20.000 can really be called a “collectible”, but no matter, some of the fabric inserts apparently “may” contain mold, well done.
So before I relentless mock another stupid tank, I’ll just have to briefly explain how the Nazis handle military contracts, which always makes me feel ever so delightful, nothing like explain the contractual competition of the Third Reich to make one feel ever so snugly.
But I digress, the Nazis being giant horrible fans of Social Darwinism, a failed ideology only the mad, deranged and awful still believe in, actually did something that pretty much everyone else also did, put up a couple of companies, give them an objective, let’s say “A super-heavy tank that could kill Metal Gear”, wait, wrong franchise, “A REALLY BIG FUCKING TANK”, and then let them vomit out some prototypes.
The prototypes would compete against each other, Porsche would lose due to their drive train and transmission being goddamn stupid as fuck, and everyone else would generally win.
Porsche had this thing about gasoline-electric drive, which is essentially what modern hybrid cars have today, a gasoline engine driving an electric generator, which then drives electric motors, just without anything even vaguely looking like modern batteries.
Henschel & Son was the company who actually got the orders for the Tiger and the Tiger II, because their transmission wasn’t idiotic as fuck in the 1940’s, even if both of those tanks were notoriously under-powered and had reliability issues out the nose, those problems could be easily placed on the shoulders of Adolf “I like big tanks and I can’t lie” Hitler.
So the Ferdinand, which was it’s initial common name, the official name was Panzerjäger Tiger (P) and the ordnance designation was Sd.Kfz. 184, was basically the leftovers from Porsche’s failed big for the Tiger I.
For some hilariously optimistic reason, Porsche had produced a hundred chassis for their version of the Tiger, both proposals used a Krupp turret you see, which with the vastly superior Henschel design being selected, were now just redundant junk.
But Hitler really like Ferdinand Porsche, so somebody decided to use the chassis for a really big Tank Destroyer instead, mounting the Tiger II’s nice big 88 gun (8.8 cm Pak 43 for you massive nerds).
In a remarkable stroke of luck, the hybrid drive system was actually really easy to relocated the front of the chassis, seeing as it’s just a bunch of electrical cables, not a great big stonking drive shaft that needs moving, so the chassis could fairly easily be used for the Tank Destroyer Role.
Ninety-One were made, with an additional three being converted into recovery vehicles, and eighty-nine of them were baptized in fire and failure at the Battle of Kursk, the biggest tank battle of World War Two.
Now, to be fair, the Ferdinand’s gun was really amazing, at range, with support, however, the Ferdinand was slow as piss and kept breaking down and the repairs could only really be done from outside of the tank itself, it also had no machine gun for close defense.
So Soviet Infantry could take them out from the side, it also didn’t help that the Soviets had so many tank it didn’t really matter what the Ferdinand’s Kill/Death Ratio was.
Especially seeing as the massive weight (65 tonnes) required FIVE recovery tanks to pull it and the Germans never had enough of those.
Kurst was a failure and the fifty surviving Ferdinand would be recalled for reworks a few months later, 43 of them being refitted with a better commanders Cupola, a machine gun in a ball mount, improved grates on the exhaust and Zimmerit anti-mine paste (More than a few Ferdinand’s were lost to mines).
The now renamed Elephant would continue to serve poorly to the end of the war, for some awful reason several were shipped off to the Italian theater, nobody bothering to check the freaking bridges and roads if they could handle a 65 tonnes heavy monster of a tank, surprise, they couldn’t, so the Elephants mostly just got stuck somewhere and were used as static defenses for a while.
The Elephant Tank Destroyer, great gun, shit everything else. The story of Nazi Germany in a nutshell. The Elephant I’d argue was an even worse tank than the Maus, mostly because more of them existed.
The Panzerkampfwagen VIII Maus, Mouse on English, was an abomination of a tank, a Super-Heavy tank and one of the few who ever left the drawing table.
Super-Heavy tanks tend to share something in common, they really weren’t that terribly viable as weapons of true mass warfare, expensive and inflexible, most of them were cancelled before they ever reached anything that even vaguely resemble a prototype, most only ever appear on paper.
The Maus was basically a project assembled by piece of technological marvel that Ferdinand Porsche had developed for his proposed version of what would later become the Tiger II heavy tank.
The Tiger II was fairly silly on the grander scale, the Maus was outright fucking stupid on even a smaller scale, 188 tons of massive monstrous weight, ten meters long, three point seven wide and three point six high.
Designed as a breakthrough tank, for a period when Nazi Germany had long ago stopped doing any sort of breakthroughs beyond pointless wonder weapons.
The thing is, the Maus was by no means the biggest tank ever planned by the Nazi, the Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte (Rat) was so large it would have required a shipyard to build, the Ratte would have clocked in at well over a thousand tons, utterly beyond dumb, however, if it had been build, the sheer amount of resources spent on it, would probably had ended World War Two much earlier.
The Maus’ true failure lies in the fact that it actually reached the Prototyping stages, two prototype hulls were constructed, the second of the two were destroyed in the final stages of the war, with it’s turret intact.
The first hull had been dispatched as a support vehicle, but never reach anything important, the Soviet’s mated the intact turret and the first hull together, using 18 cranes to achieve it, mostly for test purposes.
After testing, the only surviving Maus was transferred to the Kubinka Tank Museum, were it remains to this very day.
Don’t stick to your ideas, when it becomes painfully obvious how dumb they are, also when Adolf Hitler think’s it’s a good idea, run the fuck away.