Archive for category History

You Can’t Win The Gun Control Debate

While watching an episode of Penn & Teller’s Bullshit about American gun laws I realized that it is impossible to win the debate on gun control. For those of you who don’t know about the gun control debate there are two sides. The people who want guns removed from the stores and streets of america and the people who say it is their constitutional right to bear arms so there should be no laws on guns.

It is impossible to prove either side right.

The people who want to keep guns say that the founding fathers wrote the “Right to bear arms”, also known as the second amendment, in to the constitution and therefore Americans should always be allowed to walk into K-mart, or wherever you buy guns, and purchase a gun. The main reason for this is self defense. The way of thinking is “if someone points a gun at me then I’m going to need something to defend myself with” and then to people who say guns are dangerous they say “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. Yeah, that may be true but if the person doesn’t have a gun then it makes it harder for them to kill you doesn’t it?

The people against guns say that if guns were banned then the amount of gun crime would go down. And then the people who want guns say “but how am I going to defend myself from those people who still have guns?’ the thing is guns are dangerous no matter who has them. Hundreds of people are killed every year because they got hold of a gun that should have been locked up and accidentally shot themselves. Many of these are kids. It doesn’t matter if you ban guns or keep them legal, people are always going to find ways to get guns and shoot other people. Everywhere in the world where guns are illegal there are still gun crimes they are just less frequent because it is nearly impossible to get them.

I’m not going to take sides on this debate because I’m not American and not directly exposed to guns and I hope I never have to be. I just want to leave you with this one thought. What kind of fathers give their children guns?

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Abandoned Beauty

[Insert joke about the title here]. Here are some amazing photos I found by… someone. It didn’t really say. If you don’t believe me look for yourself here. They are of some amazing abandoned sights around the world.

Abandoned Submarine base, Ukraine

City Hall Subway Station, New York

Abandoned Water Park, Russia

Abandoned British Sea forts, North Sea

This last picture is very interesting. Here is the information given about it,

During the Second World War, the British Royal Navy constructed a series of sea forts for an advanced line of defense against inbound air raids and potential sea invasions from the Axis powers.  The Maunsell Sea Forts still stand today, silent and abandoned a few meters above the North Sea.  One, however, remains inhabited, now a nation of its own referred to as the Principality of Sealand.  These sea forts are a favorite of maritime explorers, a lonely collection of stilted fortresses not far off the coast of eastern England.

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Proof of Time Travel (?)

This is a picture from a Canadian Museum that just might prove time travel is possible.

An article from Gizmodo explains

When you look at most of the two dozen or so people in this photograph, which belongs to a Canadian museum, there’s no doubt that they’re from 1940, the year in which it was taken. But what about that guy?

Those funky sunglasses? That stamped t-shirt and hippie shawl? The doofy, disinterested expression? He sure as hell doesn’t look like any Roosevelt-era bro I have ever seen. Maybe that’s just it—he looks like a “bro,” which we all know didn’t come into existence until the 1970s, at the earliest.

[…] an extensive analysis of the photo and the mystery man, and, with some help from members of ATS, points out that no single item of his wardrobe is technically out of period.

But his entire essence, especially in contrast to the sea of fedoras and 1940s enthusiasm around him, screams that he’s from another era entirely. Sorry, time travel bro, you’ve been spotted.

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The “Baghdad Battery”

This is a battery that is 2000 years old. No one is actually sure what it was for (they didn’t have electricity like we do) but they believe it WAS in fact a battery.

The jar was found in Khujut Rabu just outside Baghdad and is composed of a clay jar with a stopper made of asphalt. Sticking through the asphalt is an iron rod surrounded by a copper cylinder. When filled with vinegar – orany other electrolytic solution – the jar produces about 1.1 volts.

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Nazi’s Fooled by Bags of Fake Mail

I’m not sure how many people know about Operation Cornflakes but whoever came up with the idea was a genius (and hungry judging by the name)

Operation Cornflakes was a World War II Office of Strategic Services PSYOP (Psychological Operations) mission in 1944 and 1945 which involved tricking the German postal service Deutsche Reichspost into inadvertently delivering anti-Nazi propaganda to German citizens through mail.

The operation involved special planes that were instructed to airdrop bags of false, but properly addressed, mail in the vicinity of bombed mail trains. When recovering the mail during clean-up of the wreck, the postal service would hopefully confuse the false mail for the real thing and deliver it to the various addresses.

The content of the mail often included copies of Das Neue Deutschland, the Allies’ German languagepropaganda news sheet. The postage stamps used on the envelopes were forged 6-pf and 12-pf Hitler-head stamps intended to look identical to genuine German stamps of the era, though these forgeries were printed by the OSS. In addition to these two forgeries, the OSS printed another design of the 12-pf stamp not-too-subtly redrawn so that Adolf Hitler’s face shows his partially exposedskull. Also, the country identifier ‘Deutsches Reich’ (German Empire) read ‘Futsches Reich’ (lost, destroyed, or collapsed empire). Copies of this ‘death head’ stamp were inserted in the envelopes along with other propaganda materials.

The first mission of Operation Cornflakes took place on 5 February 1945, when a mail train to Linzwas bombed. Bags containing a total of about 3800 propaganda letters were then dropped at the site of the wreck, which were subsequently picked up and delivered to Germans by the postal service

Here is a picture of the stamps that wew included in the mail.

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Twitter Bringing History to Life

This is a great use of twitter. The Imperial War Museum in England is turning the Operations Record Book of RAF(Royal Air Force) base Duxford (thats in England also) into a twitter stream to mark the 70th anniversary of the battle of Britain.

The museum will tweet on what was happening in 1940 at the fighter base at RAF Duxford, Cambridgeshire, at the exact time and date seven decades on.

The material will be drawn from its Operations Record Book, which was a daily record of events at the station.

The museum said the social networking initiative would give a “direct insight” into the World War II battle.


Every squadron, station and certain other units in the Royal Air Force had to complete an Operations Record Book, known as a Form 540.

Those for RAF Duxford and No 19 Squadron from 1940 show events such as patrols over Dunkirk, the problems encountered with early cannon-armed Spitfires, and the arrival of Czech pilots to form 310 Squadron.

They describe the sorties carried out by No 19 Squadron and pilots’ experiences during dogfights over south-east England.

I think this is a great way to turn a mind numbingly addictive piece of social networking technology into a historical learning tool.

Wow that made me sound too much like a teacher or parent. Weird.

Follow @RAFDuxford to read the tweets.

Thanks to Nicholas Russon at quotulatiousness for making me aware of this.

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