Blog about things I find interesting, or incredibly stupid.
Mostly its to make fun of other people, post links I find funny and lower the amount of crap I post elsewhere - email me, feel free to comment and please click an ad from time to time!
Dakar is one of my favorite races (can't really call it a series) to watch each January. Basically it started out as a race from a European city (Lisbon, Paris, Barcelona were former places it began) down through the western Africa, ending in Dakar, Senegal. The problem was in recent years was how big/famous it got, attracting both positive and negative attention. People were killed, racers were killed, entire sections of the race were canceled due to terrorist threats, so something needed to be done. The race was moved in 2009 to the South American continent.
The race originated in 1978, a year after racer Thierry Sabine got lost in the desert and decided that it would be a good location for a regular rally. Originally, the rally was from Paris, France, to Dakar, Senegal, interrupted by a transfer across the Mediterranean. However, due to politics and other factors, the course, including origin and destination, has varied over the years. Dakar has been the destination city on all but four occasions during the period the rally was held in Africa (i.e., prior to 2009). The event started from Paris every year from 1979 to 1994, and also in 1998 and 2001. In 1994 the rally both began and ended in Paris but, due to complaints by the mayor, the finish had to be moved from the Champs-Élysées to Disneyland Paris. This also caused the organisation to lay out the rally through different locations in following years.
There are 3 main classes of vehicles that compete in this grueling race.
Motorcycle class: includes offroad motorcycles, quads and other similar non-car vehicles
Car class: including buggies, cars based on production vehicles and hybrids
Truck class: think the most badass garbage trucks you've ever seen
Vehicles are sponsored by both private parties and manufacturers. Spectators come from all over the world to watch on the sidelines. The race is broadcasted worldwide* as well.
Who wouldn't melt if they saw this while scuba diving. A Dolphin caught in fishing line (with a hook through one of its fins) saw a diver in Hawaii that he (she?) thought could help them. He (she?) was right. From the Daily Mail:
The group were enjoying the aquatic sights
when suddenly they heard a dolphin cry and the bottlenose dolphin swam in their
direction. Mr Laros (the diver in question, who I'm calling Scuba Steve)told
KITVhow he soon noticed that the
dolphin's movements were inhibited because it was entangled in fishing line and
a hook was lodged in its pectoral fin.
The mammal allowed the human to work to help
the dolphin break free. 'I was trying to unwrap it, I got the line
fishing hook out of the pectoral fin. There was a line coming out of his mouth.
But, the line wrapped around his pectoral fin was so tight and he had cuts both
front and aft,' said Laros. 'I was worried if I tugged on it, it might
hurt him more. I was able to cut the fishing line and unwrap
This is really cool. Back in 1917, American photographer pastor John Wells Rahill took these shots during the Russian Revolution*. The problem was soon after (in the '20s) anybody who had been to Russia were seen as Socialist sympathizers. To avoid this, he packed the photos (now on glass plates) away where they sat until 2005...
From the Mental Floss synopsis: The slides capture everything from soldiers wearing gas masks near bunkers to ruined buildings in Moscow. Orlov told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that the slides "were hand-colored by what must have been one of the very best photo-finishing businesses in the U.S. I am still hoping to find out who did such a wonderful job with them." [In addition] the collection also features images that Rahill snapped as he was evacuated from Russia through China and Japan.
Check out the source link(s) below.
*Short version: The Russian Revolution was when the Bolshevicks (later more commonly referred to as Communists) took over the country from the former Imperialist Royals/government, ending the reign (and lives**) of the Romanov family led by Nicholas II.
From BBC: Last year, a team of researchers found that some ancient cedar trees in Japan had an unusual level of a radioactive type of carbon known as carbon-14.
In Antarctica, too, there was a spike in levels of a form of beryllium - beryllium-10 - in the ice.
These isotopes are created when intense radiation hits the atoms in the upper atmosphere, suggesting that a blast of energy had once hit our planet from space.
Using tree rings and ice-core data, researchers were able to pinpoint that this would have occurred between the years AD 774 and AD 775, but the cause of the event was a puzzle.
German researchers have offered up a [possible] explanation: a massive explosion that took place within the Milky Way. One of the authors of the paper, Professor Ralph Neuhauser, from the Institute of Astrophysics at the University of Jena, said: "We looked in the spectra of short gamma-ray bursts to estimate whether this would be consistent with the production rate of carbon-14 and beryllium-10 that we observed - and [we found] that is fully consistent." These enormous emissions of energy occur when black holes, neutron stars or white dwarfs collide - the galactic mergers take just seconds, but they send out a vast wave of radiation. Prof Neuhauser said: "Gamma-ray bursts are very, very explosive and energetic events, and so we considered from the energy what would be the distance given the energy observed. A solar flare has also been put forward as the cause of the radiation "Our conclusion was it was 3,000 to 12,000 light-years away - and this is within our galaxy." Although the event sounds dramatic, our medieval ancestors might not have noticed much.
At the end of World War II (coincidentally during the height of production) surplus items were destroyed in BULK (I'm literally crying typing this thinking of all the ArmyJeeps not in my driveway) in order to control [black] market pricing...
Soon after WW2, much of the material was written off at the time it
was accepted; if too much of it got into the hands of traders (the
Chinese excelled at this), it could depress the market for new goods.
And in fact, the West did experience several challenging years until
their manufacturing capacity was reconverted to the manufacture of
peacetime goods. To cope with this, many Allied countries had to
get rid of their surplus equipment. It got so bad that, in some cases,
the excess equipment was disposed of by burning, including aircraft. In
one account, an entire pier was constructed entirely of new jeeps still
in their packing cases.
But according to the recollections of some U.S. veterans, an entire
squadron's worth of Mark XIV Spitfires were buried in various parts of
Burma — about 140 fighters to be exact. And according to one source,
there may be as many as 36 buried close to the runway at the Rangoon
airport. Unfortunately, the initial search has turned up short. A team of 21 archaeologists had spent the last few days digging up
various holes around the Rangoon airport looking for the giant crates.
But all they found were bundles of electric cables and water pipes. According
to the archaeologists, they haven't stopped searching, and "cannot
stop" now. They consider it a setback and a delay in their work.
Travelers will continue to go through one of two types of scanners already deployed, but images of naked bodies will no longer be produced. Instead, software will instead show a generic outline of a person.
What the TSA sees using millimeter wave technology without Automated Target Recognition software
First tested in 2007, the advanced imaging technology scanners became the object of intense media and public scrutiny around Thanksgiving in 2010. In addition toprivacy concerns, some experts maintained the scanners’ safety was unproven, and that the technology was ineffective in detecting smuggled weapons and explosives. Travelers are permitted to opt-out of the scan, but are then subjected to an aggressive pat-down procedure.
The government said Friday it is abandoning its deployment of so-called backscatter technology machines produced by Rapiscan because the company could not meet deadlines to switch to generic imaging with so-called Automated Target Recognition software, the TSA said. Instead, the TSA will continue to use and deploy more millimeter wave technology scanners produced by L-3 Communications, which has adopted the generic-outline standard.
“Due to its inability to deploy non-imaging Automated Target Recognition (ATR) software by the Congressionally-mandated June 2013 deadline, TSA has terminated part of its contract with Rapiscan,” the TSA said in a statement to Wired. “By June 2013 travelers will only see machines which have ATR that allow for faster throughput.”
From sometime in the 10th century to sometime in the 15th century Vikings had a permanent settlement on the coast of Greenland. Then they left...
This wasn't a Roanoke situation, we know they went back to Europe (and Iceland), but until now they weren't sure why...
Aus Der Spiegel:
The scientists suspect that a combination of causes made life there unbearable for the Scandinavian immigrants. For instance, there was hardly any demand anymore for walrus tusks and seal pelts, the colony's most important export items. What's more, by the mid-14th century, regular ship traffic with Norway and Iceland had ceased.
As a result, Greenland's residents were increasingly isolated from their mother countries. Although they urgently needed building lumber and iron tools, they could now only get their hands on them sporadically. "It became more and more difficult for the Greenlanders to attract merchants from Europe to the island," speculates Jette Arneborg, an archeologist at the National Museum of Denmark, in Copenhagen. "But, without trade, they couldn't survive in the long run."
So in no particular order they missed Volvos, Aquavit and Ikea. I'm a master of Anthropology and cultural subtitles.
What a great story. Short version: 4 days before Christmas in 1943, a German fighter pilot safely escorted a heavily damaged American bomber to safety during WWII because "He was a veteran pilot with an iron sense of right and wrong; a man who would never kick another while he's down."
Longer version (quoted from Jalopnik's post): (click the link below for the full story): 2nd Lieutenant Charlie Brown's B17 bomber, [named] Ye Old Pub, approached Bremen, Germany. As German anti-aircraft batteries opened up on the formation, one of the anti-aircraft rounds exploded right in front of their plane, destroying the number two engine and damaging number four. Missing one engine and with another throttled back due to damage, Ye Olde Pub could no longer keep up with the formation. Things went from bad to worse for Brown and his crew. Falling behind the formation, Ye Olde Pub weathered merciless attacks from 15 German fighters. The bomber's machine guns got one of them, but the damage they sustained was immense. The tail gunner was killed and four were injured, including Brown, who caught a bullet fragment in his right shoulder. The only defensive guns left in service were the top turret and the nose gun, and the bomber's hydraulics and oxygen systems had also been knocked out. As Ye Olde Pub attempted to leave German airspace, Lt. Franz Stigler, a Luftwaffe fighter pilot just in from shooting down two B-17s, saw Ye Olde Pub limp by and gave chase. I saw his gunner lying in the back profusely bleeding….. so, I couldn't shoot. I tried to get him to land in Germany and he didn't react at all. So, I figured, well, turn him to Sweden, because his airplane was so shot up; 'I never saw anything flying so shot up'.
He tried to contact Brown with hand signals. His message was simple: Land your plane in Germany and surrender or fly to Sweden. That heap will never make it back to England.
A bewildered Brown stared back through his side window, not believing what he was seeing. He had already counted himself as a casualty numerous times. But this strange German pilot kept gesturing at him. There was no way he was going to land the plane, but the pilot stayed with him, keeping other attackers off until they reached the North Sea.
[Their story was buried in their memories (and archives in the case of Brown) due to the mission's sensitive nature and the fact that Sigler would've been court marshaled for not attacking.]
[Years later,]in 1986, then retired Colonel Charlie Brown was asked to speak at a big combat pilot reunion event called Gathering of the Eagles. Someone asked him if he had any memorable missions during World War II. Brown thought a minute, then dredged up the story of Stigler's salute which had been buried somewhere in the dirty corners of his mind for decades. Jaws dropped. Brown knew he would have to try to find the man who had spared his life.
[Brown searched for 4 years to find the pilot that had spared his life without much luck.] So he wrote a letter in a combat pilot association newsletter.A few months later, Brown received a letter from Canada. It was from Stigler. "I was the one," it said. When they spoke on the phone, Stigler described his plane, the salute; everything Brown needed to hear to know it wasn't a hoax.
From 1990 to 2008, Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler became like brothers. Introduced by the bond of that first powerful meeting, their friendship was cemented over the years. The two men remained close throughout the rest of their lives, dying within several months of each other in 2008.
What if Stigler had been executed for his disloyalty? What if Brown had landed in Germanyor hadn't made it across the North Sea? What if Stigler had stayed in Germany and never learned how to speak English? Yes, things could have been different, but that chance encounter in 1943 was destined to become a chance encounter again in 1990. But more importantly, it's proof to the rest of us that something great done now can change your life much, much later.