When Alan Bean retired from NASA and decided to become a full-time professional fine-art artist, he had to shed his aeronautical engineering and astronaut self to allow his inner artistic vision come through to the canvas. Not an easy task for the former Apollo 12 astronaut, one of only 12 men to have walked on the surface of the moon, a person who spent his entire adult life in the very un-artistic no-BS world of naval aviation and astronaut training, where attention to detail and doing things "by the book" was essential.
For the past few months, I've been doing less in terms of writing pieces for SilverMedals.net and more stuff on the administrative back end of the site. That is, the boring codey stuff that makes this site operate. Not to get too technical but I'm in the midst of a platform change — well, I can't really say "midst" since I don't have a concrete end date for when this is supposed to happen, so I guess it would be more true to say that I'm about waste deep in a platform change that I realized I should have made about a year ago. More on that later.
The world got a little smaller over the weekend, especially for those who live in the greater London and Perth areas. Qantas, the Australian airline once made popular by the character Raymond Babbitt1 in the movie Rain Man, just added a new nonstop route to its commercial route offerings.
The list of weekly items has gotten a bit longer this week as I added some military spending statistics to the mix. I'm always fascinated by those numbers, mostly because of how much more the U.S. spends over everyone else. As things stand according to the latest data, of the top 10 countries in military spending, the U.S. spends more than the next 8. Number-2 China, spends more than the next 3.
Next week we'll try adding some sports ranks to the ever-growing list.
Editor's Note: When I first started thinking about SilverMedals.net, along with feature stories and shorter blog posts about second-ranked superlatives, I envisioned there being a digest of current "second-ranked" events, lists, and stories on the site that would be updated periodically — somewhat of an anti-Harpers Index, which is about as high as I could aspire to in this case. A weekly digest seemed a good thing not only for editorial reasons, but it's also easier to compile on a weekly basis than, say, a daily one.
Second feats and events can come to me from anywhere here at SilverMedals.net, where I've taken the collection of "seconds" in history to new and obsessive levels. This one comes from an interesting book review in the The New Yorker by Adam Gopnik who wrote about composer Andrew Lloyd Weber's new memoir, Unmasked.
The table below lists the silver medal winners for each event from the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. The bobsleigh events threw a few curveballs this year.
The 2-man bobsleigh competition resulted in a tie for gold between Canada and Germany, therefore there were only two gold medalists, one bronze medalist and no silver medalists, which for we enthusiasts at SilverMedals.net is a result just short of tragedy.
If you're a rich person looking for a place to hide your money from the evil tax-collecting hoards in your home country, or maybe you're a super rich drug dealer who doesn't want your local government asking questions about that Bentley parked in your quarter-mile driveway when on your last return you reported earnings of only $28,000, then look no further than the United States of America, the world's second-largest tax haven, just behind Switzerland and just ahead of the Cayman Islands.
It's February 2 — favorite day for SilverMedals.net enthusiasts! Not only is it the second day of the second month and the anniversary of the launch of SilverMedals.net, it is also Groundhog Day! Yes, it's the day where fancy men in top hats stand outside in the freezing cold staring at the furry little rodents and their shadows. As a reminder for groundhog enthusiasts, if the groundhog "sees" his shadow, it means we're in for 6 more weeks of winter; if he does not, then the warmer weather should blow in sooner.