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May 24, 2010
[people] The Reporter Who Time Forgot … Remembering Cornelius Ryan the author of The Longest Day and A Bridge To Far

He had sold, he believed, between 25 and 35 million copies of The Longest Day and 400,000 hardcover copies of The Last Battle in the United States alone. Yet each book had cost him some $150,000 to research. “I have no less than 7,000 books on every aspect of World War II. My files contain some 16,000 different interviews with Germans, British, French, etc,” he wrote. “Then there is the chronology of each battle, 5×7 cards, detailing each movement by hour for the particular work I’m engaged in. You may think this is all a kind of madness, an obsession. I suppose it is.”

May 17, 2010
[history] Scott and Scurvy … a long wonderfully written look at the history behind the treatment of scurvy and how the was cure was misunderstood and forgotten at the start of the 20th Century … ‘They had a theory of the disease that made sense, fit the evidence, but was utterly wrong.’
April 7, 2010
[wired] Wired Reread … a blog looking back at the adverts in the early 1990’s issues of Wired Magazine – plenty of oddities like the Sony Malvica Floppy Disk Digital Camera [via Waxy]
February 23, 2010
[war] Lost Nazi nuke-project uranium found in Dutch scrapyard‘Forensic nuke scientists at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) traced two pieces of metal – described as a cube and a plate – back to their exact origins and dates. Apparently both came from ores extracted at the “Joachimsthal” mine in what is now the Czech Republic, though the two are from different production batches.The cube, according to specialists at the JRC’s Institute for Transuranium Elements (ITU), was produced in 1943 for the Nazi nuclear programme and was used in the lab of famous boffin Werner Heisenberg (of uncertainty principle fame).’
December 15, 2009
[history] The Magnet … a mostly-complete archive (scroll to the botton of the page) of the famous weekly boys story paper that featured Billy Bunter along with many other similar papers. [via Metafilter]
November 10, 2009
[internet] Richard Nixon’s Outrageous Plan That Didn’t Happen — The Internet … (spotted in The Book Of Lists #2 from 1980) …

the wired nation

October 31, 2009
[war] Secrets Hope As Hitler Aide Dies … [via Warren Ellis]

He also told the German newspaper how he was dismissed by Hitler over a bizarre incident involving a fly.

The fly had been buzzing around the room during a strategy conference in July 1944, irritating the Nazi leader.

Hitler ordered Mr Darges to get rid of it, but the SS adjutant suggested that as it was an “airborne pest” the job should go to Luftwaffe adjutant, Nicolaus von Below.

He said Hitler then flew into a rage and dismissed him, saying: “You’re for the eastern front.”

October 23, 2009
[history] Nick Griffin’s Bad Science‘Furthermore, Britain has never had an indigenous population, in the sense of people who evolved here. Every member of Homo sapiens who has ever lived in Britain has been either an immigrant, or the descendent of immigrants. The very first ones, the genetic evidence suggests, came here from an ancestral home in northern Spain or the Basque country.’
September 18, 2009
[999] History by numbers … a brief history of of the UK’s emergency number 999 … ‘On June 30, 1937 the Assistant Postmaster General, Sir Walter Womersley, told the House of Commons that the new emergency service would be trialled in London. For reasons now lost to history, MPs burst out laughing at the announcement that the number would be 999 (perhaps because, amid the gathering storm of war, it sounded like a German saying “no” three times).’
August 28, 2009
[watergate] Deep Throat: An Institutional Analysis … a smart investigative essay from 1992 which correctly guesses the identity of Watergate’s Deep Throat‘There has been considerable speculation that Deep Throat never existed, that he must have been either a complete fiction or a composite of several people. My memory of those early months of Watergate is otherwise: that there was a specific individual, from the FBI, and Woodward had special access to him. What seems important, with two decades of hindsight, is that in our national preoccupation with personality and celebrity in the nation’s capital, we have concentrated too much on Deep Throat as an individual and not enough on the underlying bureaucratic forces.’
August 21, 2009
[books] Unearthed Again – Golden Hare That Obsessed A Nation … what happened to Kit Williams author of Masquerade and his Golden Hare?‘The hare was later bought by a mystery buyer for £31,900 at a Sotheby’s auction in 1988. Williams had tried to buy it but was outbid, and it has remained unseen in private hands for more than 20 years.’
August 20, 2009
[war] The Wandering Soul Psyop Tape Of Vietnam‘Listen to the eerie sounds of “The Wandering Soul” – also known as “Ghost Tape Number 10” – that was broadcast by loudspeakers installed on Swifts and other units during “Chieu Hoi” and Psychological Warfare missions to “taunt” the enemy.’
August 18, 2009
[petition] Alan Turing Downing Street E-Petition: ‘We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to apologize for the prosecution of Alan Turing that led to his untimely death.’ [Click on this Link to sign the petition]
June 10, 2009
[comics] Chemical Salvation … the history of LSD as a Jack Chick Tract.

This History of LSD as a Jack Chick Tract
June 8, 2009
[tankman] Behind the Scenes: A New Angle on History … a stunning photo of the Tiananmen Square Tank Man shot from a different angle in 1989.
May 21, 2009
[war] MI6 urged Churchill to nuke Berlin‘The proposal was discussed in August 1944, when British agents were reporting that Hitler was poised to launch the supersonic V2 rockets, armed with 2,000lb warheads, at London. Britain had no effective counter-measures against the 46ft-long rocket-propelled V2s and because they travelled faster than the speed of sound, they detonated without warning. An alarmed Liddell asked Sir Stewart Menzies, the head of MI6, if a nuclear threat could be used against Hitler…’ [via Warren Ellis]
May 11, 2009
[history] Samuel Pepys on Twitter‘This day come our new cook maid Mary, commended by Mrs. Batters.’ [link]
April 4, 2009
[history] The Torture Colony … the disturbing story of how the the Pinochet Regime outsourced some of it’s murder and torture to a cult of religious Germans living in Chile … ‘…Colonia Dignidad was founded on fear, and it is fear that still binds it together. Investigations by Amnesty International and the governments of Chile, Germany, and France, as well as the testimony of former colonos who, over the years, managed to escape the colony, have revealed evidence of terrible crimes: child molestation, forced labor, weapons trafficking, money laundering, kidnapping, torture, and murder. Orchestrated by Paul Schaefer and his inner circle of trusted lieutenants, much of the abuse was initially directed inward as a means of conditioning the colonos to obey Schaefer’s commands. Later, after General Augusto Pinochet’s military junta seized power in Chile, the violence spilled onto the national stage…’ [thanks Phil]
February 18, 2009
[history] The greatest motivational poster ever? … BBC News on the Keep Calm and Carry On Poster … ‘One company has given it a twist, replacing the original slogan with “Now Panic and Freak Out”.’
January 26, 2009
[war] Atomic John … New Yorker article on one man’s obssesive search to find the secrets behind the first Atomic Bombs … [via qwghlm]

‘Human beings are proud of what they create—no matter how controversial or deadly. Edward Teller revealed the essential secrets of the hydrogen bomb in a popular encyclopedia article. In 1995, Robert Henderson, the chief engineer for the Manhattan Project, sent back to Coster-Mullen an early version of the “Atom Bombs” manuscript, with comments such as “shit” and “pure shit,” and then went on to explain the exact (and still classified) process by which engineers made the lens molds that cast the explosives that squeezed the core of Fat Man until it achieved critical mass. Reading through President Truman’s diaries, at the Truman Library, in Independence, Missouri, Coster-Mullen found an entry dated July 25, 1945, in which the President marvelled that “13 pounds of the explosive” had made the shot tower at Alamogordo, New Mexico, disappear—a pretty accurate estimate of the amount of nuclear material contained in Fat Man.’

January 22, 2009
[war] Rocket Strikes I Am Near … type in a London postcode and get a list of V2 rockets strikes in that area. Londonist: ‘V-2 explosions devastated Selfridges, Speakers’ Corner and Holborn. That isolated Caffe Nero near the mural on Tottenham Court Road stands on the still-undeveloped site of a blast that killed nine.’
December 19, 2008
[lists] Wikipedia’s List of Common Misconceptions‘Thomas Crapper did not invent the flush toilet…’
September 23, 2008
[internet] Sept. 19, 1982: Can’t You Take a Joke? … Wired on the origins of the emoticon‘The modern emoticon does trace its lineage directly to Fahlman, who says he came up with the idea after reading “lengthy diatribes” from people on the message board who failed to get the joke or the sarcasm in a particular post.’
July 6, 2008
[history] German Bunker in my Garden … the blog of a guy who digs up an abandoned Nazi War Bunker in his back garden … ‘Unfortunately… the boulder was too big for the digger to move (we estimated about 8 tonnes) and we needed to get behind it to keep digging. So we had to call a halt to proceedings while I source a rock-breaker attachment for the digger! Oh, and I hadn’t warned my wife either… so I had this to explain when she came home…’ [via Metafilter]
June 2, 2008
[bbc] The BBC’s “Green Book” … amusing historic BBC Production Guidelines from the 1940’s and 50’s … ‘Jokes like ‘enough to make a Maltese Cross’ are of doubtful value.’ [thanks Phil]
March 5, 2008
[funny] The Onion on Kennedy’s Assassination‘Kennedy slain by CIA, Mafia, Castro, LBJ, Teamsters, Freemasons – President Shot 129 Times…’
January 17, 2008
[comics] Horror in the Nursery — fascinating scans of an article with Frederick Wertham attacking crime comics from Colliers magazine in 1948…

excerpt from colliers magazine in 1948 on crime comics


January 3, 2008
[war] Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg? [Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3] — a wonderful long series of blog posts from Errol Morris as he obsessively examines two early war photos taken during the Crimean War to decide if they were staged or not … [via Metafilter]

‘Much of the problem comes from our collective need to endow photographs with intentions – even though there are no people in the frame, including Fenton himself, who is conspicuously absent. The minute we start to conjecture about Fenton’s reasons, his intent – his psychological state – we are walking on unhallowed ground. Can we read Fenton’s intentions off of a photographic plate? Is there anything in the letters that tells us what he was really thinking and what really happened?’

January 2, 2008
[blogs] WW1: Experiences of an English Soldier — a blog posting letters in real-time (ninety years after they were written) from a English Soldier in World War I to his family … ‘Three days after, we were called up the line again of course I went this time. We had to go to the front line were it was on the Menin Road no doubt you have heard about it. We were there for three days it was awful the shelling day and night.’
September 21, 2007
[news] Gems from the archive of the New York Times — Kottke finds some interesting articles in the recently opened archives of the New York Times including a report on the Sinking of the Titanic and the first mention of the Internet in the paper during February 1993.
September 11, 2007
[comics] Learn how to caricature… Hitler, Stalin, Churchill, Mussolini and other war-time leaders. [via Forbidden Planet’s Blog]
September 1, 2007
[comics] Edgar Allan Poe — Allergic to alcohol? — nicely done short comic biography posted on Scans Daily

biographical cartoon about edgar allan poe

August 15, 2007
[change] Chaos Theory — The Guardian on the changeover to Digital TV and our attitudes to large cultural changes like Decimalisation …

The world’s first seven-sided coins started appearing in Britain’s purses and cash registers on October 14 1969 – strange, alien lumps of cupro-nickel alloy that were greeted with instant suspicion. Bus conductors and Tory MPs fretted that the new 50 pence piece would be mistaken for the old half-crown, causing chaos. Secret documents released years later showed that the Decimal Currency Board – the body charged with decimalising the country by February 1971 – was terrified that the Queen might die before the changeover was complete, forcing it to introduce a whole new set of coins. And according to the BBC, a retired army colonel named Essex Moorcroft founded an organisation called the Anti-Heptagonists, dedicated to eradicating the new 50p on the grounds that it was “ugly” and “an insult to our sovereign, whose image it bears.”

March 26, 2007
[twitter] Qwghlm wonders: What would it be like if The Hindenberg Disaster was Twittered?


March 15, 2007
[lists] 30 Strangest Deaths in History.‘Jerome Irving Rodale was a proponent of healthy eating. He was an early advocate for organic farming and sustainable agriculture, founder of Organic Farming and Gardening magazine and Rodale Press. After bragging that he would “live to 100, unless I’m run down by a a sugar-crazy taxi driver”, Rodale died of a heart attack while being interviewed on the Dick Cavett Show in 1971. Appearing fast asleep, Dick Cavett joked “Are we boring you, Mr. Rodale?” before discovering that his 72-year-old guest had indeed died.’ [via linkbunnies.org]
March 13, 2007
[history] Mrs Darwin’s Diaries Go Online‘The 6,000-plus pages contain brief comments about the weather, family life and Darwin’s health. The couple regularly held dinner parties for the great and the good of Victorian science. But alongside this Emma recorded his blackouts, retching and flatulence that were features of his mystery illness. Her matter-of-fact style is perhaps most movingly evident in her entry on April 18 1882, the day of his death. She wrote simply: “Fatal attack at 12.”‘
February 28, 2007
[funny] Vita Radium Suppositories (for restoring Sex Power) … ‘Recommended for sexually weak men who, however, should use the NU-MAN Tablets in connection for best results. Also splendid for piles and rectal sores.’
January 20, 2007
[religion] History of Religion — nicely done map / timeline of 3000 years of Religious Expansion. [via As Above]
June 28, 2006
[wikipedia] My Wikipedia Contrail: Alfred Henry Hook — I took a look at this because I wondered what happed to Hooky from Zulu after the Battle of Rourke’s Drift … ‘In the film Zulu, Hook is portrayed as an insubordinate malingerer and drunkard who only comes good during the battle. In fact he had been awarded Good Conduct pay shortly prior to the battle, and reports also suggest he was a teetotaller.’
June 8, 2006
[history] Britain celebrates the Queen’s Silver Jubilee — on this day in 1977 … ‘All things considered, it was not a good day for the anti-monarchists. “We were going to have a proper meeting and then march to Buckingham Palace to proclaim the republic,” the organiser of one stuff-the-jubilee rally, Terry Liddle, observed. “But unfortunately it was too cold and only five people turned up.”‘
May 31, 2006
[oil] Rob Newman’s History of Oil — 45 minutes long but well worth it … ‘Rob Newman gets to grips with the wars and politics of the last hundred years – but rather than adhering to the history we were fed at school, he places oil centre stage.’ (Also mentions Peak Oil and gaylord tennis).
May 24, 2006
[empire] Ben Hammersley: ‘Rome did not create a great Empire by organising committees and holding meetings…’
April 27, 2006
[history] Bronte and Dickens Caught Napping in 1841 Census — one night in 1841 caught in the data from a census of the UK … ‘Up in Yorkshire in the parish of Guiseley, 20-year-old Charlotte Brontë was living in Upper Road as a governess. At Parsonage House, Newton-by-Daresbury near Warrington, nine-year-old Charles Dodgson – later to find fame as Lewis Carroll – was living with his parents, four sisters, two brothers, one gentleman, three private pupils and five servants.’ [via Robot Wisdom]
March 17, 2006
[history] Boy’s Pancake Breakfast Delayed the End of WWII — Proving that the path of human history does not run smoothly when teenagers are involved in the process… ‘On Aug. 14, 1945, [Thomas] Jones, a 16-year-old messenger in Washington, D.C., was entrusted to deliver to the White House the cable announcing Japan’s surrender to the United States to end World War II. Unaware of his cargo’s import, the boy, in cavalier teenage fashion, put work on hold to eat pancakes at a diner, hang out with his friends and flirt with waitresses. Later, he left his pancakes to complete the job only to be pulled over en route to the White House by a police officer, who berated the boy for making an illegal U-turn…’
March 12, 2006
[books] The Man Who Hated Pooh‘The biggest regret in EH Shepard’s life was agreeing to illustrate Winnie the Pooh for AA Milne, as it resulted in the bulk of his work, even during his lifetime, being completely overshadowed. In his later years, Shepard was heard to describe Pooh as “that silly old bear” and resented his close identification with Milne’s books…’
February 28, 2006
[ww2] Distributed computing cracks Enigma code — wartime German code cracked after 60 years … ‘Forced to submerge during attack. Depth charges. […] I am following the enemy.’ [via Metafilter]
February 1, 2006
[comics] Are you a Red Dupe? — An important announcement from Haunt of Fear #26… [via Pete’s Linklog]


December 18, 2005
[art] The Cat Pictures of Louis Wain — some examples of the Cat pictures of Louis Wain – a famous Victorian artist and schizophrenic. ‘…a foundation was set up for him by his peers (including the famous H.G. Wells) which enabled Wain to spend the last years of his life in comfort in private asylums in Southwark and Napsbury, where he continued to paint and draw his cats. Wain allows us a unique insight into the delusions and course of illness in a late onset schizophrenic.’
October 6, 2005
[history] Heroic Relics — The Guardian on Nelson: ‘What kind of strange nation would revere, two centuries after his death, a 5ft 4in, one-eyed, one-armed reprobate who shamelessly abandoned his family and lived in a bizarre ménage? Good question. England, naturally.’
July 31, 2005
[history] Ancient Graffiti on the walls of Pompeii‘Watch it, you that shits in this place! May you have Jove’s anger if you ignore this.’ [via linkbunnies.org]

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