Tag Archives | Travel

NASA’s Travel Posters for Their “Exoplanet Travel Series”

via PlanetQuest:

Via NASA NASA/JPL-Caltech

Via NASA/JPL-Caltech

Relax on Kepler-16b – Where your shadow always has company

December 15, 2014

Like Luke Skywalker’s planet “Tatooine” in Star Wars, Kepler-16b orbits a pair of stars. Depicted here as a terrestrial planet, Kepler-16b might also be a gas giant like Saturn. Prospects for life on this unusual world aren’t good, as it has a temperature similar to that of dry ice. But the discovery indicates that the movie’s iconic double-sunset is anything but science fiction.

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Leaked CIA documents show how to beat airport security like a spy

Anne Worner (CC BY 2.0)

Anne Worner (CC BY 2.0)

Via The Verge

WikiLeaks has published a pair of internal CIA documents briefing undercover agents on how to dupe security at airports. The two documents — both classified as “Secret/NOFORN” meaning not to be shared with allied security agencies — give spies advice on how to maintain their cover. They also provide a detailed overview of the covert tactics airports use to vet travelers.

Although some of the information in the documents is public knowledge, advice on how to avoid being singled out for secondary screening could be useful to a variety of people. These include tourists and travelers trying to get home for the holidays, but also terrorists, drug traffickers, and common criminals. The first of the documents — titled Surviving Secondary — covers everything from common sense advice about not looking shifty to warnings about more nuanced pitfalls that might turn a random baggage check into a full-blow investigation.

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WikiLeaks Publishes CIA Tips for Traveling Spies

CIAJust in time for spies traveling home for the holidays Yahoo News/AFP reports on a new disclosure from WikiLeaks showing how CIA does it:

WikiLeaks on Sunday released two CIA documents that offered tips to help spies maintain their cover while using false documents as they crossed international borders.

The two documents, dating from 2011 and 2012, are marked classified and “NOFORN,” which means they were not meant to be shared with allied intelligence agencies, WikiLeaks said.

The documents outline a number of strategies for agents to avoid secondary screening at airports and borders.

Some are obvious: don’t buy a one-way ticket with cash the day before flying. Others perhaps less so: don’t look scruffy while traveling on a diplomatic passport.

“In one incident during transit of a European airport in the early morning, security officials selected a CIA officer for secondary screening,” one of the documents reads.

“Although the officials gave no reason, overly casual dress inconsistent with being a diplomatic-passport holder may have prompted the referral.”…

[continues at Yahoo News/AFP]

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Recliner Rage

Virgin America airplane interiorHey disinfonauts, have you experienced “Recliner Rage”? Would you use a Knee Defender? And what would you do if the person sitting behind you used one on your seat? For those of you who are scratching your heads as to just what this is, here’s Politico:

Forget road rage — “recliner rage” is the hot new trend among frustrated travelers.
On Monday night, a Delta Air Lines flight from New York to Florida made an emergency landing after a dispute between passengers over reclining seats in crowded airplane cabins. It was the third flight diversion for a reclining-related altercation in nine days.

The flight, from New York City’s LaGuardia Airport to Florida’s Palm Beach International Airport, diverted to Jacksonville after a passenger who was trying to sleep on her tray table became upset when the person in front of her reclined her seat, according to Jacksonville’s WJXT.

“This woman sitting next to me knitting tried reclining her seat back, the woman behind her started screaming and swearing,” passenger Aaron Klipin told the station.

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Terence McKenna: Butterfly Hunter

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PIC: Klea McKenna (C) -click to see more images and learn about the book.

This month we remember the late, great Terence McKenna. The author, lecturer, scientist and philosopher was the heir apparent to Timothy Leary, bringing more lucidity, humor and insight to spreading the gospel of the psychedelic experience than anyone has been able to muster since we lost McKenna to brain cancer in April, 2000.

While it’s always nice to recall our heroes in an online post, I mention McKenna to point to the remembrance created by his daughter. Klea McKenna’s The Butterfly Hunter is a gorgeous photography volume that documents her dad’s butterfly collection as she explains in the introduction of her book:

For four years, beginning in 1969, my father lived out an unlikely fantasy: he became a butterfly collector. (We use the term collector but that is just a euphemism for hunter.) Butterfly hunting is a conflicted activity, a desire for beauty and a small act of violence, both justified by science.

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Aokigahara Forest, The Suicide Woods Of Japan

AokigaharaInformational signs scattered throughout warn passersby, “Your life is precious”. Tofugu on one of the spookiest spots in Japan:

Located at the base of Mt. Fuji, Aokigahara is perhaps the most infamous forest in Japan. Also known as the Sea of Trees, Suicide Forest, and Japan’s Demon Forest, Aokigahara has been home to over 500 confirmed suicides since the 1950s.

Wataru Tsurumui’s controversial 1993 bestseller The Complete Suicide Manual is a book that describes various modes of suicide and even recommends Aokigahara as the perfect place to die. Undoubtedly, the most common method of suicide in the forest is hanging.

Japanese spiritualists believe that the suicides committed in the forest have permeated Aokigahara’s soil and trees, generating paranormal activity and preventing many who enter from escaping the gnarled depths of the forest.

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Into Haiti’s Zombie Underground

Screen Shot 2013-11-03 at 9.52.03 AMWriter Mischa Berlinski traveled to Haiti in search of zombies. Epic Magazine has the story.

Via Epic:

About a month after I arrived in Jérémie, a rumor swept through town that a deadly zombie was on the loose. This zombie, it was said, could kill by touch alone. The story had enough authority that schools closed. The head of the local secret society responsible for the management of the zombie population was asked to investigate. Later that week, Monsieur Roswald Val, having conducted a presumably thorough inquiry, made an announcement on Radio Lambi: There was nothing to fear; all his zombies were accounted for.

Shortly after that incident, I started taking Creole lessons from a motorcycle-taxi driver named Lucner Delzor. Delzor was married with four children, but he kept a mistress on the other side of town. He told me that he had never so much as drunk a glass of water at his mistress’s house for fear she might lace his food with love powder.

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Embark On A Themed North Korea Christmas Tour

christmas tourPresenting the most dangerous and surreal holiday-themed overseas travel itinerary ever? Gawker reports:

A tipster forwarded us a promotional email from the Chinese travel agency Taedong Travel hawking “the first Christmas tour of North Korea,” costing approximately $1,000 (€740) for five days in Pyongyang.

“You can now join local North Koreans for a Christmas and New Year to remember!” the pitch promises. “Will you be visited by Santa Claus, enjoy Ginseng flavoured Turkey or listen to familiar Christmas carols?”

Taedong Travel’s founder Stuart Leighton, writing from Taiwan, assured Gawker that the trip was real. “The Christmas tour is particularly special as it has not been done before, and we were the first to arrange it with KITC about a month or so ago,” Leighton told us.

He added: “There is no problem for those practicing religion to enter the DPRK, but we stress to all our tourists that they should in no way try and force their views and ‘convert’ the guides or any North Koreans that they meet during a tour.”In North Korea, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ—indeed, practicing Christianity in any way—places you at risk of imprisonment, torture, and death.

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Elon Musk’s Hyperloop

The remarkable thing, to me anyway, is that Mr. Musk has really thought the Hyperloop concept through and come up with a plan that while seemingly fanciful, could actually work. The only snag is, now that he's announced it we'll probably see it copied and linking Shanghai and Beijing rather than Los Angeles and San Francisco. Elon outlines his ideas at his SpaceX site:
When the California “high speed” rail was approved, I was quite disappointed, as I know many others were too. How could it be that the home of Silicon Valley and JPL – doing incredible things like indexing all the world’s knowledge and putting rovers on Mars – would build a bullet train that is both one of the most expensive per mile and one of the slowest in the world? Note, I am hedging my statement slightly by saying “one of”. The head of the California high speed rail project called me to complain that it wasn’t the very slowest bullet train nor the very most expensive per mile. hyperloop The underlying motive for a statewide mass transit system is a good one. It would be great to have an alternative to flying or driving, but obviously only if it is actually better than flying or driving...
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Lost Between the Cushions: CouchSurfing’s Identity Crisis

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The culture of sharing your house and goodwill in hopes of getting a social return may be at risk due to growth and rude people.

Via The Connectivist:

Is trusting a stranger’s Internet profile still a safe and meaningful way to travel?

Florian, a 44-year old German man, felt used and taken advantage of by the stranger in his house. For a week, the stranger came and went as if he owned the place, returning late at night and making no time at all for the distraught Florian. Hardly any dialogue or intimacy was shared between the two. Florian, deeply distressed, complained that he and the stranger had “almost no opportunity to eat together or really get to know each other.”

Such are not the ways of CouchSurfing.

The Internet has a history of providing safe havens for new social, economical, and scientific experiments, like Bitcoin or downloadable vaccines. But what happens when they get too big for their boots?

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