Posts tagged as: history

language

Monday, January 28, 2008

 

Honour sought for ‘Soldier Bear’

‘A campaign has been launched to build a permanent memorial to a bear which spent much of its life in Scotland – after fighting in World War II.

The bear – named Voytek – was adopted in the Middle East by Polish troops in 1943, becoming much more than a mascot. [..]

He saw action at Monte Cassino before being billeted – along with about 3,000 other Polish troops – at the army camp in the Scottish Borders.

The soldiers who were stationed with him say that he was easy to get along with.

“He was just like a dog – nobody was scared of him,” said Polish veteran Augustyn Karolewski, who still lives near the site of the camp.

“He liked a cigarette, he liked a bottle of beer – he drank a bottle of beer like any man.”‘


Sunday, January 27, 2008

 

Top Gear PLP50 Review

A large man in a small car is always amusing. :)

(22meg Flash video)

see it here »


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Thursday, January 24, 2008

 

The Secret Museum of Mankind

‘Published in 1935, the Secret Museum is a mystery book. It has no author or credits, no copyright, no date, no page numbers, no index. Published by “Manhattan House” and sold by “Metro Publications”, both of New York, its “Five Volumes in One” was pure hype: it had never been released in any other form.

Advertised as “World’s Greatest Collection of Strange & Secret Photographs” and marketed mainly to overheated adolescents (see the 1942 ad in Keen, left), it consists of nothing but photos and captions with no further exposition. This was not a book published to educate (despite appearing on some public library’s shelves), but to titillate (literally)– it’s emphasis was on the female form (“Female Beauty Round the World”) and fashion, and it featured as many National-Geographic-style native breasts as possible. But anything lurid, weird, or just plain unusual is fair game. This was a book to gawk at by flashlight under the bedcovers.’


Thursday, January 17, 2008

 

Christopher Columbus’ Real Discovery: Syphilis

‘Diseases carried to North America by Spanish explorers killed millions of the continent’s original inhabitants, but the trip cut both ways: scientists say Christopher Columbus took syphilis back to Europe.

In a study published in the January 14 issue of the journal Public Library of Science Neglected Tropical Diseases, Emory University geneticists studied 26 strains of treponema, the bacterial genus to which the infamous venereal disease belongs. After comparing their differences and evolutionary history, they decided that modern syphilis-causing strains most closely resembled those found in South America.

The findings give ammunition to adherents of the so-called Columbian theory of syphilis, which holds that the disease arrived in Europe with Columbus. Their opponents point to earlier European evidence, especially syphilitic lesions in skeletons from a 14th century English monastery, as absolving the notorious explorer of this particular scourge.’


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Antique Medical and Surgical Instruments

There’s a lot of strange and cool stuff to look at.

When I build my time machine I’m gonna go be a doctor in the past for a while. Medicine was classy back then. They don’t make urethral dilators out of ivory in this day and age, that’s for sure. :)


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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

 

Top 10 Hunter S. Thompson Quotes

‘The Sixties were an era of extreme reality. I miss the smell of tear gas. I miss the fear of getting beaten.’


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Report reveals Vietnam War hoaxes, faked attacks

‘North Vietnamese made hoax calls to get the US military to bomb its own units during the Vietnam War, according to declassified information that also confirmed US officials faked an incident to escalate the war. [..]

During the war, North Vietnamese intelligence units sometimes succeeded in penetrating US communications systems, and they could monitor American message traffic from within, according to the report “Spartans in Darkness.”

On several occasions “the communists were able, by communicating on Allied radio nets, to call in Allied artillery or air strikes on American units,” it said. [..]

But he said that probably the “most historically significant feature” of the declassified report was the retelling of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident. [..]

The author of the report “demonstrates that not only is it not true, as (then US) secretary of defense Robert McNamara told Congress, that the evidence of an attack was ‘unimpeachable,’ but that to the contrary, a review of the classified signals intelligence proves that ‘no attack happened that night,’” FAS said in a statement.’


Sunday, January 13, 2008

 

White dwarf

‘[..] when Ernst Öpik estimated the density of a number of visual binary stars in 1916, he found that 40 Eridani B had a density of over 25,000 times the Sun’s, which was so high that he called it “impossible”. As Arthur Stanley Eddington put it later in 1927:

“We learn about the stars by receiving and interpreting the messages which their light brings to us. The message of the Companion of Sirius when it was decoded ran: ‘I am composed of material 3,000 times denser than anything you have ever come across; a ton of my material would be a little nugget that you could put in a matchbox.’ What reply can one make to such a message? The reply which most of us made in 1914 was — ‘Shut up. Don’t talk nonsense.’”‘


Thursday, January 10, 2008

 

the forgotten sound mirrors

‘from 1915 onwards these huge eerie concrete structures started popping up along the uk coast, all built with one purpose: to provide the military with an early warning system in relation to incoming aircraft. their construction was pretty much limited to the uk and arrived just before radar technology as we know it became widespread.’


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Saturday, January 5, 2008

 

Soviet icon surprises polar scientists

‘Scientists trekking across a little visited part of Antarctica have discovered a bizarre relic of the Soviet Union is dominating the South Pole of Inaccessibility.

In the middle of no-where — literally the point on Antarctica furthest from the sea — an imposing bust of revolutionary Bolshevik Vladimir Lenin peers out onto the polar emptiness. [..]

The Inaccessibility Pole marks the point on Antarctica that is furthest from the ocean. At 3718 metres above sea-level it is in the Australian zone and seldom visited.

The Scientific Traverse this week made it to the Inaccessibility Pole for New Year’s Day and found a one time Soviet Union base buried under the ice.

The group’s website says Soviet scientists first visited the Pole in December 1958 and built a small cabin there.

After several weeks they left, putting the bust of Lenin on top of the chimney facing Moscow.’


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wanted pre 1965 paper money for time travel

‘i have come into the possession of my great grandfathers life work, among being a decorated aeronautical engineer it would appear he dabbled in the lesser accepted sciences. i have almost finished building his masterpiece a 1952 nash rambler time machine. unfortunately my grandfather didn’t live long enough to find an energy source with high enough density to fuel his machine, but i believe i have the problem solved.

serious offers only, i would like to exchange paper money for paper money printed before 1965 (for OBVIOUS reasons!). i will pay 5% of the total currency exchanged, unfortunately i cannot offer transfers of coinage as i am already pushing the weight limit as it is!’


language

Friday, January 4, 2008

 

Hunt revived for legendary skydiving hijacker

‘One of the most perplexing crimes in US history – in which an unassuming airline passenger hijacked a plane in 1971 and skydived out of the aircraft with $US200,000 in ransom money – has been revived by the FBI.

The bureau has, for the first time, released pictures and information from the case on its website in the hope of resolving the identity and the fate of the passenger known as Dan Cooper.

On November 24, 1971, a man in his mid-40s bought a ticket in the name of D. B. Cooper for a Northwest Orient flight from Portland to Seattle. After take-off, he handed a flight attendant a note saying he had a bomb in his suitcase.

In Seattle, he exchanged all 36 passengers for the ransom money and four parachutes, but kept several crew members on board as he ordered the plane to take off for Mexico City. Over a rural part of Washington state, “Cooper” jumped from the plane with a parachute. Dead or alive, he has never been seen since.’


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

 

Very Complicated Request, Please Kindly Read!!!

‘If you are groggy or stoned please do not read this, I need your complete and sober attention, for my request is uniquely detailed. I am a man, 35, white, black hair with brown eyes. Okay, first what I am looking for is a woman primary, but secondary it could be a woman and her man, but the man will have to remain behind the black curtain and only watch through the cut out eyeholes. The black curtain is inside the apartment that I reside in. This apartment is a fashionable studio in the hot part of town, and all my neighbors are graphic artists. So now please kindly listen to my request: what I require foremost in a woman with bushy eyebrows. And they must be TWO eyebrows, because one eyebrow is an abonination against Gaia. [..]‘


Saturday, December 22, 2007

 

Katzenklavier

‘A cat piano or Katzenklavier (German) is a hypothetical musical instrument consisting of a line of cats fixed in place with their tails stretched out underneath a keyboard. Nails would be placed under the keys, causing the cats to cry out in pain when a key was pressed. The cats would be arranged according to the natural tone of their voices.

The instrument was described by German physician Johann Christian Reil (1759-1813) for the purpose of treating patients who had lost the ability to focus their attention. Reil believed that if they were forced to see and listen to this instrument, it would inevitably capture their attention and they would be cured (Richards, 1998).’


forum

Friday, December 21, 2007

 

Dangerous Science

Children’s chemistry sets suck these days.

(24.1meg Flash video)

see it here »


Monday, December 17, 2007

 

Alchemical Symbols

From when chemistry was more like some sort of crazy magic. Let’s all eat mercury! Hooray.

[sigh] :)


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Sunday, December 16, 2007

 

The First McDonald’s Commercial

(2.6meg Flash video)

see it here »


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Sunday, December 2, 2007

 

The Gimli Glider

‘”Holy shit.”

Inside the cockpit of the cruising airliner, Captain Bob Pearson was understandably alarmed at the out-of-the-ordinary beeps that were chiming from his flight computer. On the control panel, an amber low fuel pressure warning lamp lit up to punctuate the audio alarm.

First Officer Maurice Quintal, copilot of Air Canada Flight 143, checked the indicator light to determine the cause of the computer’s complaints. “Something’s wrong with the fuel pump,” he reported.

The mustachioed Captain Pearson pulled out the trusty Boeing handbook, his fingers dashing through the pages to find the specifics of the warning. To his relief, the troubleshooting chart indicated that the situation was not as perilous as it might seem: the fuel pump in the left wing tank was signaling a problem, a minor issue considering that gravity would continue to feed the engines even if the pump failed. [..]‘


news

Monday, November 26, 2007

 

Gropecunt Lane

‘Gropecunt Lane was a name used in English-speaking towns and cities in the Middle Ages for streets where prostitutes conducted their business. In most cases, the name would appear to derive directly from the words grope (sexual touching), and cunt (female genitalia). At one point there were streets of this name in many cities in Britain and Ireland, though in most cases later sensibilities changed the name to some more polite variation.

In London, the street that was Gropecunt Lane was near the present-day site of the Barbican Centre in the City of London. The street was called Grub Street in the 18th century, but renamed Milton Street in 1830. It is possible that the street known as Gropecunte Lane is now known as Threadneedle Street, however.’


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

 

Syphilis – Wikipedia

This is the wiki entry for Syphilis. Why, you ask? Because this small part of it amuses me greatly:

‘Until that time, as Fracastoro notes, syphilis had been called the “French disease” in Italy and Germany, and the “Italian disease” in France. In addition, the Dutch called it the “Spanish disease”, the Russians called it the “Polish disease”, the Turks called it the “Christian disease” or “Frank disease” (frengi) and the Tahitians called it the “British disease”.’

Also, the spiral shape of the organism is cool. That’s all. :)


Man-sized sea scorpion claw found

‘The immense fossilised claw of a 2.5m-long (8ft) sea scorpion has been described by European researchers.

The 390-million-year-old specimen was found in a Germany quarry, the journal Biology Letters reports.

The creature, which has been named Jaekelopterus rhenaniae, would have paddled in a river or swamp.

The size of the beast suggests that spiders, insects, crabs and similar creatures were much larger in the past than previously thought, the team says.

The claw itself measures 46cm – indicating its owner would have been longer even than the average-sized human.’


home

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

 

7 unusual propeller-driven vehicles

‘back in the 1920s george bennie designed and built the railplane, a propeller-driven monorail initially intended to travel between glasgow and edinburgh.

the design was way ahead of its time, the railplane capsule home to a 4-blade propeller at each end, each of these powered by its own electric motor – the result a cruising speed of 120mph.’


copyright

Thursday, November 8, 2007

 

Nautical Pompeii Found in Pisa

‘The San Rossore train station on the edge of Pisa, Italy, is a lonely stop. Tourists who visit this city to see its famous leaning tower generally use the central station across town. But San Rossore is about to be recognized as one of the country’s most significant archeological digs. For nearly a decade archeologists have been working near and under the tracks to unearth what is nothing short of a maritime Pompeii.

So far the excavation has turned up 39 ancient shipwrecks buried under nine centuries of silt, which preserved extraordinary artifacts. The copper nails and ancient wood are still intact, and in many cases cargo is still sealed in the original terra cotta amphorae, the jars used for shipment in the ancient world. They have also found a cask of the ancient Roman fish condiment known as garum and many mariners’ skeletons—one crushed under the weight of a capsized ship. One ship carried scores of pork shoulder hams; another carried a live lion, likely en route from Africa to the gladiator fights in Rome.’


language

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

 

Marx’s erupting skin may have influenced writings

‘Karl Marx, who complained of excruciating boils, actually suffered from a chronic skin disease with known psychological effects that may well have influenced his writings, a British expert said on Tuesday.

Sam Shuster, professor of dermatology at the University of East Anglia, believes the revolutionary thinker had hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) in which the apocrine sweat glands — found mainly in the armpits and groin — become blocked and inflamed.

“In addition to reducing his ability to work, which contributed to his depressing poverty, hidradenitis greatly reduced his self-esteem,” said Shuster, who published his findings in the British Journal of Dermatology.

“This explains his self-loathing and alienation, a response reflected by the alienation Marx developed in his writing.”‘


Axe wielding killer on advent calendar

‘Tourism officials have been slammed for featuring an axe wielding serial killer on a children’s Christmas advent calendar.

They defended the move by saying mass murderer Fritz Haarmann was part of the German city of Hanover’s history.

The calendar is already on sale at tourism offices and shows children singing Xmas carols and laughing as Santa hands out Xmas gifts – and the Star of Bethlehem twinkles over the rooftops.

But over the first door of the calendar, a trilby wearing man peaks out from behind a tree with a meat cleaver in his left hand.’

see it here »


iconic moments of the twentieth century

A series of photographs, recreating some of the most famous images from the last century.

Although, approximating might be a better word than recreating. :)


forum

Strange Tanks

‘When the military decides to get weird, it’s gets REALLY weird

It all started in the Fourteenth Century. We have a record of a “pre-tank” machine, called “Fighting Unicorn”.’

Also, Strange Tanks, Part 2.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

 

Scent of a Führer

‘Guests at the Berghof, Hitler’s private chalet in the Bavarian Alps, must have endured some unpleasant odors in the otherwise healthful mountain air.

It may sound like a Woody Allen scenario, but medical historians are unanimous that Adolf was the victim of uncontrollable flatulence. Spasmodic stomach cramps, constipation and diarrhea, possibly the result of nervous tension, had been Hitler’s curse since childhood and only grew more severe as he aged. As a stressed-out dictator, the agonizing digestive attacks would occur after most meals: Albert Speer recalled that the Führer, ashen-faced, would leap up from the dinner table and disappear to his room.

[..] Strangely, Hitler was unfazed by the fact that this high-fiber diet was having the opposite effect on his digestion than what he had intended: His private physician, Dr. Theo Morell, recorded in his diary that after Hitler downed a typical vegetable platter, “constipation and colossal flatulence occurred on a scale I have seldom encountered before.”‘


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Thursday, October 18, 2007

 

The Vela Incident

‘On 22 September 1979, sometime around 3:00am local time, a US Atomic Energy Detection System satellite recorded a pattern of intense flashes in a remote portion of the Indian Ocean. Moments later an unusual, fast-moving ionospheric disturbance was detected by the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, and at about the same time a distant, muffled thud was overheard by the US Navy’s undersea Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS). Evidently something violent and explosive had transpired in the ocean off the southern tip of Africa.

Examination of the data gathered by satellite Vela 6911 strongly suggested that the cause of these disturbances was a nuclear device. The pattern of flashes exactly matched that of prior nuclear detections, and no other phenomenon was known to produce the same millisecond-scale signature. Unfortunately, US intelligence agencies were uncertain who was responsible for the detonation, and the US government was conspicuously reluctant to acknowledge it at all.’


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Researchers discover the dawn of animal vision

‘”Not only are we the first to analyze these vision genes (opsins) in these early animals, but because we don’t find them in earlier evolving animals like sponges, we can put a date on the evolution of light sensitivity in animals,” said David C. Plachetzki, first author and a graduate student at UC Santa Barbara. The research was conducted with a National Science Foundation dissertation improvement grant.

“We now have a time frame for the evolution of animal light sensitivity. We know its precursors existed roughly 600 million years ago,” said Plachetzki.

Senior author Todd H. Oakley, assistant professor of biology at UCSB, explained that there are only a handful of cases where scientists have documented the very specific mutational events that have given rise to new features during evolution.’


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