Thoughts for a Sunday Afternoon

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Besides being mentioned in the feature film and political documentary “Wag the Dog” (1997), not much leaks into the mainstream consciousness when it comes to Albania.

In Albania there are 3 levels of the territory: the Republic of Albania, the territory in which the Albanians settle and Greater Albania.

I worked in and around Albania beginning in mid-2007 and found that the area was best known for flourishing organized crime. That’s not to say that ALL Albanians were members of organized crime, in the same way as we say that ALL Mexicans are not members of a drug cartel. However, I do think that there are more (by ratio) Albanian thugs than Mexican thugs. Come to think of it, Albanian thugs featured prominently in the feature film, “Taken” (2008).


A Sign on a Wall

“Welcome to Hell”. First Chechen War, 1994-1996

Writing on a wall in Chechnya that awaits the Russian military, reads as “Welcome to Hell”. First Chechen War, 1994-1996


Artificial Sky Brightness Map

Some people call it “light pollution”.


A View or Two (of an elegant universe)

17 meter-diameter MAGIC telescopes reflect this starry night sky from the Roque de los Muchachos European Northern Observatory on the Canary Island of La Palma. MAGIC stands for Major Atmospheric Gamma Imaging Cherenkov and the telescopes can see the brief flashes of optical light produced in particle air showers as high-energy gamma rays impact the Earth’s upper atmosphere. On July 20, two of the three telescopes in view were looking for gamma rays from the center of our Milky Way galaxy. In reflection they show the bright stars of Sagittarius and Scorpius near the galactic center to the southeast. Beyond the segmented-mirror arrays, above the northwest horizon and below the Big Dipper is Comet NEOWISE. NEOWISE stands for Near Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer. That’s the Earth-orbiting satellite used to discover the comet designated C/2020 F3.

What is creating the structure in Comet NEOWISE’s tails? Of the two tails evident, the blue ion tail on the left points directly away from the Sun and is pushed out by the flowing and charged solar wind. Structure in the ion tail comes from different rates of expelled blue-glowing ions from the comet’s nucleus, as well as the always complex and continually changing structure of our Sun’s wind. Most unusual for Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE), though, is the wavy structure of its dust tail. This dust tail is pushed out by sunlight, but curves as heavier dust particles are better able to resist this light pressure and continue along a solar orbit. Comet NEOWISE‘s impressive dust-tail striations are not fully understood, as yet, but likely related to rotating streams of sun-reflecting grit liberated by ice melting on its 5-kilometer wide nucleus.

26 thoughts on “Thoughts for a Sunday Afternoon

  1. I have a son who married an Albanian gal. Her dad was a member of their version of the FBI, and found a bomb attached under his car after he retired – and is now living in the US.
    My son once said that Albania’s main export is Albanians.

    1. I found Albanian women (on the whole) to be quite pretty. I worked with Greeks who thought that Greek women were prettier. Every time I pointed out a pretty woman on the street, the Greeks would show disgust with my taste and pronounce her “Albanian”.

      1. But the Albanians own what everyone around here think are Greek diner’s.
        I know a couple. Hard working patriotic Americans that hate commies.

        1. That was true where I used to live. The restaurant was billed as “Mediterranean” but it wasn’t Greek, and turns out they were Albanians. Nice folks, brought the profits of the family business to America and served really good food.

        2. When my son & wife were visiting my sister in the Midwest, the restaurant my sister took them to had an Albanian cooking the food there. When DIL mentioned to the waitress that she was from Albania, the cook had to come out and compare notes about where they were both from and who they both knew.
          Small world.

          1. It’s a very small place. Family relationships go back a thousand years, as do family recipes. I got along well enough there.

      2. There are a fair number of gals from Albania working in the US as models, performers in music videos, and extras in movies.

        1. There’s a fair number of Albanian gangs running pleasure girls, too.

          Sometimes the girls actually survive.

          A number of Albanian gang members came over here after the fall of the Iron Curtain and entered into running girls. The movies mostly get it wrong by making them into Russians because Hollywood is too stupid to know there’s more than one country in Eastern Europe that’s exporting crime.

          Seems like, with ex-Cubans, you get either really great people or farking criminals.

          1. YAKS – Yugoslavs, Albanians (K)Croats and Serbs: Police tend to group them and with some justification. I never worked the YAKS, per se on a regular basis but I did that in the police biz. And when I retired, I worked in Italy, Albania/Serbia/Macedonia and Greece for a tour.

  2. “That’s not to say that ALL Albanians were members of organized crime”

    Indeed. It’s almost never the case that “all X are bad people”, but sometime it is definitely the case that an astonishing proportion of the bad people are of group X.
    Noticing that such a phenomenon is true is the next thing to a “Hate Crime.”

    Great comet photos. My own have not nearly been so impressive. To put it mildly. That said, I had fun traipsing in the wildlife refuge (illegal after sunset) and was glad to see at least thirty fellow criminals out, including a pair of truly tiny little old ladies. Even a mob of teenagers was well behaved. (But it was hatefully monochromatic; all whites, except possibly an East Asian or two. Are comets racist?)

    1. I’m sure that my observations would be considered to be “hate crimes” – but of course, having those same observations toward me would not… That’s how it goes.

      But it was hatefully monochromatic

      Comets (historically) bring riots, pestilence, famine, floods, and possibly monochromatic hatred. Haley’s Comet, which isn’t due to return for 41 years, on its 76 year cycle was said to bring plague. So you can blame Trump or the comet. Or both.

      1. Stereotyping and prejudice are most often based on real reasons. Unfortunately, but true.

    1. No, I didn’t find them to be polite, but we did hire them from time to time to do things in certain countries in the Middle East and they were, in a word, ‘effective’.

      1. The Romans understood that they needed to act civilized around other civilized people, but act more barbaric than the barbarians they were dealing with. That concept works well in the Middle East, something our nation just doesn’t quite get (though, fortunately, some people working for our nation do understand and know how to do it properly.)

        1. You end up breaking more than a few eggs, to make an omelet in the Middle East, Beans.

  3. Hoping our monsoon clouds clear soon. Two meteoroid showers (27th & 29th) in the offing. Good viewing out in the Pawnee Grasslands if the sky is clear.

    1. In Arizona, the monsoon is supposed to come and go for a few weeks. I’m sure that it will pick the worst times to butt into star gazing opportunities. (glass half empty)

  4. Albanians run an “Italian” restaurant/lounge here. It’s not so bad, though I hardly ever go. But when I do, I enjoy playing Magic Train of Remove Kebab, just to see what they say.

    1. I used to go to the Russian mafia (and Albanian) bars in Los Angeles from time to time. They were colorful

      1. Reading y’alls comments reaffirms my belief that I’ve led a very vanilla life.

        I kind of like that. Seen enough weirdness from the sidelines to not want to get involved.

        1. Beans, with what you did for a living, I can’t believe that you didn’t see some ‘local color’…and not in a racist sense at all.

          1. Big difference between sitting in an office reading reports or whacking people with sticks for fun and the stuff you all have seen and done.

            Big difference.

            But I’ve, even in my vanilla life, have seen some weird shite.

  5. Albania at least used to have the highest per-capita count of bunkers in the world.

    We went out to look for the comet the other night, but there has been way too much water haze in the air around here, this month.


  6. I remember sitting for a NAVEUR staff briefing concerning the incredible rise and fall of the MLM Amway in Albania, 1996. Apparently someone brought the idea from America to the freshly free Albanians and they gobbled it up as the best way to riches. The downside was the violence that resulted when the Albanians realized there was no way to grow their business when every home had an Amway dealer in it. It was pretty ugly…

    Barco Sin Vela II

    1. HAHAHAHAHAHA. Now that is something that I never heard. Not being a fan of Amway, it’s all the more entertaining. I could see that happening. Thanks for sharing!

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