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Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday links

Tomorrow, April 25th, is ANZAC Day - the Battle of Gallipoli was 100 years ago: history, quotes, film and the inevitable Lego re-enactment.

Country music star Willie Nelson has announced plans to roll out his own brand of marijuana.

ICYMI, Wednesday's links are here, and include the Earth Day co-founder who killed (then composted) his girlfriend, a gallery of great mullets (including Peter Dinklage in a mullet, with a laser cannon), the strange bitter battle of where Toledo was located, and the design history of the zip-lock bag.

They shall not grow old... Lawrence Binyon's "For The Fallen"

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.***

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

- Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

("For the Fallen")

April 25th is ANZAC Day - the Battle of Gallipoli was 100 years ago

Ship after ship, crammed with soldiers, moved slowly out of the harbour, in the lovely day, and felt again the heave of the sea. No such gathering of fine ships has ever been seen upon the earth, and the beauty and the exaltation of the youth upon them made them like sacred things as they moved away... 

These men had come from all parts of the British world... They had said good-bye to home that they might offer their lives in the cause we stand for. In a few hours at most, as they well knew, perhaps a tenth of them would have looked their last upon the sun, and be a part of the foreign earth or the dumb things that tides push. Many of them would have disappeared forever from the knowledge of man, blotted from the book of life none would ever know how, by a fall, a chance shot in the darkness, or alone, like a hurt beast, in some scrub or gulley, far from comrades and the English speech and the English singing.

~John Masefield (wiki) (Gallipoli)*

Damn the Dardanelles. They will be our grave.

~Admiral Sir John Fisher (to the Dardanelles Committee, 1915)

Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives... You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours... you, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well.

~Mustafa Kemal - Atatürk (wiki) (tribute to the ANZAC dead, 1934)

Map of the battle - larger version here
April 25th is celebrated in Australia and New Zealand as ANZAC Day, commemorating the key participation of the Australia-New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) in the ill-fated Allied assault on the Turkish-held Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915 during World War I. This was one of the first large-scale amphibious invasion of modern times and the first major military operation in which Australia and New Zealand participated on behalf of the British Empire. As a result, the Gallipoli campaign was perhaps the key  defining event for Australia's nationhood, as it was in a sense for Turkey's also. Turkish Lieutenant-Colonel Mustafa Kemal, the hero of Gallipoli's successful defense, later became the founder of modern Turkey, adopting the name "Atatürk" - father of the Turks.

Today much of the Gallipoli Peninsula is a Turkish national park with over 20 cemeteries lovingly tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. We visited there several years ago on ANZAC Day, taking a bus with a dozen or so others, mostly Aussies, from the nearby town of Canakkale to tour the cemeteries and battlefields. The tour guide read the Ataturk quotation above, along with, as is typical, the fourth stanza of Lawrence Binyon's For The Fallen:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Followed, as is also typical, by "Lest we forget..."
The Making of a Legend, The Landing at Anzac Cove by Lambert
The visitor can not help but be struck by the stark, natural beauty of its steep, scrubby, deeply-gullied terrain and sadly moved by the remembrance of the tens of thousands of men on both sides who lost their lives there in a futile clash of empires - only a few miles across the "wine-dark sea" from the ruins of ancient Troy. Of that earlier struggle, Homer wrote in book XIII of the Iliad,

"It is not possible to fight beyond your strength, even if you strive."

* N.B. John Masefield was the Poet Laureate of England from 1930 until his death in 1967. He served as a medical orderly on the Western Front in World War I and later wrote Gallipoli to counter German propaganda seeking to exploit the British defeat there.

The most readable account of the Gallipoli campaign remains Alan Moorehead's venerable history, Gallipoli, from the late 1950s. Also, the 1981 Australian movie of that same name, starring the young Mel Gibson, is an excellent evocation of both the horror and exhilaration of those times. There's a more recent movie, apparently, but I'm not familiar with it, and Mel Gibson.

Several years ago, Peter Jackson restored and aggregated quite a bit of contemporaneous Gallipoli film:

Here's a 9 minute documentary:

And, as seems inevitable these days, there's a Lego reenactment of the events:

There's a good article on the centennial at The Guardian, and much more at the Australian government's site.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Start your day with a palate-cleanser: 102-year-old dancer watches, for the first time, film of herself performing

"How did it feel seeing yourself?" one woman asks Barker. "Making me wish I could get out of this bed and do it all over again," Barker responds.
Great story via Mashable - watch the video below:

When 102-year-old Alice Barker strutted in the chorus line during the '30s and '40s, personal video was something only found in people's dreams. 

Fortunately, with the help of David Shuff and Mark Cantor of Jazz on Film, Barker was finally able to see her younger self dance for the first time.

After a watching a few videos, Barker got right back into the swing of things.

"How did it feel seeing yourself?" one woman asks Barker. "Making me wish I could get out of this bed and do it all over again," Barker responds.

Read the whole thing at Mashable - they also have address information for Ms. Barker, should you wish to write to her.

Wednesday links

Happy Earth Day! Here's the story of the co-founder who killed, then composted, his girlfriend.

Scythe Versus Weedwhacker.

The Strange, Bitter 19th Century Debate Over Where Toledo Was.

Here's Peter Dinklage in a mullet with a laser cannon, plus a gallery of great mullets.

The West Virginia town that's radio silent - the Quiet Zone.

The Surprisingly Complex Design of the Ziploc Bag.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include photos from the 1950 gutting/re-building of the White House, the part-time jobs of superheroes, the 92 year old who rammed a mugger with her mobility scooter, and a gallery of animals licking windows.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Remains of Nazi officer discovered inside 100 year old giant catfish (UPDATE - fake)

UPDATE: Unfortunately, this is a (quite well done!) fake, as pointed out by @kjyost. Had me fooled!

A pair of Polish fisherman made an amazing discovery when they opened the belly of the 410 pound catfish they had just caught in the Oder river. The stomach of the monstrous fish contained fragments of human bones, as well as German military artifacts dating back to the Second World War.

Alfons Brzozowski and Marek Zdanowicz were fishing near the Oder’s confluence with the Bóbr river on April 6, when they made an astonishing catch: a gigantic Wels catfish, measuring 12 feet (3.68 meters) and weighting 413 pounds (187.5 kg).

Their celebration was rapidly transformed into interrogation, and then disgust, when they opened the animal’s belly. Among a large quantity of half-digested fish, they discovered an old metal insignia dating back to Nazi Germany, as well as dozens of human bone fragments.

The two fishermen rapidly contacted the police, who opened an investigation to determine the origin of the remains.

The examination of the bones enabled the authorities to determine that they belonged to a Caucasian man in his early twenties, who died many decades ago. The biologists who examined the fish, for their part, confirmed that the enormous specimen was probably aged between 90 and 110 years old, making it one of the oldest catfish specimen ever found.

Further analysis of the artefacts and the bones have revealed that they had indeed been ingested by the fish during the 1940s, and were very likely the remains of a German SS officer, killed during the occupation of Poland. The team of forensic experts who proceeded to the tests, could not determine, however, if the man was actually killed by the catfish or if he was already dead when he was eaten by the animal.

Supercut of Animated Disney Villains Falling

Presumably because they don't want to show the bad guys actually dying, Disney tends to have their villains, once they're defeated, take a long fall. Here's a supercut - watch full screen:

More info at youtube, via Laughing Squid

Here's Peter Dinklage in a mullet with a laser cannon, plus a gallery of great mullets

First of all, can anything beat Peter Dinklage (wiki) in a mullet with a laser cannon? This is from the set of Pixels, an action/comedy that will be out this summer:
Pixels” is an adaptation of writer-director Patrick Jean’s buzzed-about short film, which depicted popular 1980s video game characters attacking New York City. The movie’s heroes are a group of video game experts who are recruited by the government to help deal with the threat.

Anyway, more mullets - there are approximately a billion mullet images available, but these stood out:


Celebrity mullets:

This is Michael Bolton. I think he was a singer:

This math teacher has done a whole set of mullet-related lessons on ratios:

Lots more here, here and here.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday links

Great-grandmother, 92, rams mugger with mobility scooter. Bonus: Hell's Grannies sketch from Monty Python.

In 1950, the White House was gutted and re-built from the inside. Here's a set of photos.

Yesterday was National High Five Day: a brief history of the high five.

Better than it sounds: David Hasselhoff stars in a new epic '80s style music video for a song from the Kickstarted film 'Kung Fury' (in which a martial-arts expert cop goes back in time to fight Hitler (AKA Kung Furher), dinosaurs and Norse gods). Kind of related (as in also from Kickstarter): here's a trailer for Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre (because fracking!)

Superheroes’ Part-Time Jobs: Because No One Pays Them For Saving The World.

ICYMI, Wednesday's links are here, and include lots of tax stuff, Leonardo da Vinci's handwritten resume (from before he was famous), the anniversary of the Titanic sinking, and an answer to the age-old question: if I dug straight down, at a speed of 1 foot per second, what would kill me first?