Amazon Deals

New at Amazon

Monday, July 6, 2015

From 6 years ago, a trailer for The P.C. Dukes of Hazzard, replacing the Confederate flag with a rainbow flag

This Dukes of Hazzard parody is from 2009. We are, of course, well beyond parody at this point:


Cartoon of the day: Greek Mythology

Greek Mythology, and unfortunately also an American myth:


via @AriDavidUSA

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Pro Skateboarder Goes to Skate Park Disguised as Old Man

This is in Spanish, which I don't speak, but you can definitely get the idea. Per Tastefully Offensive:
In this funny segment from the Spanish comedy TV show El Hormiguero, Madrid, Spain-based professional skateboarder Danny Leon pranked a group of young skaters at a skate park by pretending to attempt skateboarding for the first time while disguised as an 80-year-old man.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Independence Day links

Want some inspiration? Read Lincoln's 1858 speech on the meaning of Independence Day: "Let us stick to it then. Let us stand firmly by it then." More excellent speeches from Coolidge (1926) and Reagan (1986). Video of the Reagan speech is here.


Journal of the American Revolutions' 10 Myths for the Fourth of July and Breaking News From 1776: First News Reports of Independence.

All about the Statue of Liberty.


Videos: The Science of Fireworks and of Barbecue.

PBS's description of various fireworks effects, and a quiz.

America The Beautiful: the story of the song.


When in the course of human events... here's the full text of the Declaration of Independence.


Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Video: excellent shark avoidance advice: Don't go in the ocean - that's the shark's house

Veronica-Pooh Nash Poleate, a Tennessee school counselor, made a video on shark safety tips: 
That's the shark's house. The shark has a right to eat you up when you in his house. When chickens come in my house, guess what. They get ate.

Thursday links

One for you New Yorkers: extraordinary collection of footage of NYC taken between 1896 and 1905, with maps.

The First Car Accident.


Communist Dollhouses: Stasi Chic in Miniature.

Winner of The 2015 World’s Ugliest Dog Contest, plus some previous winners.

Python Realized (Too Late) That Eating a Whole Porcupine Is Actually a Very, Very Bad Idea.

Discussion of the legal implications of using velociraptors in war.

ICYMI, Tuesday's links are here, and include the anniversary of the Night of the Long Knives, an extremely weird Norwegian potato chip video, funny clothing tags, the winners of NOAA's weather photo contest, and North Korean propaganda videos.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Extraordinary collection of footage of NYC taken between 1896 and 1905, with maps

This collection of footage was taken between 1896 and 1905 and shows various places around New York City, all identifiable by location on a map.



Via youtube, in order they are:

1. Panorama from Times Building, New York - W. 42nd Street and 7th Avenue, up 6th Ave ending at Times Square

2. Interior N.Y. Subway, 14th St. to 42nd St. ending at the Old Grand Central Station

3. Opening of New East River Bridge, New York - Williamsburg Bridge, on the East River

4. 'Move On' - A fruit market somewhere on the lower East Side

5. At the Foot of The Flatiron, or Fuller Building on Broadway and 23rd Street, on the Broadway side near the narrow north corner.

6. Parade of "Exempt" Firemen - Washington Square Park (Greenwich Village) showing Washington Square Arch

7. Panorama of Blackwell's Island, N.Y. - Heading along the eastern shore of Blackwell's Island, known today as Roosevelt Island. Shows Lighthouse Park and the construction of the Queensboro Bridge over Roosevelt Island, with Manhattan in the far background.

8. Skyscrapers of New York City, from the North River - On the Hudson River, looking toward the piers of Lower Manhattan. Shows approximately where the World Trade Center would be located many years later. 

9. Old site of the New York Aquarium (which moved to Coney Island in 1957) and Battery Park.

10. Panorama of Flatiron Building - Looking south from Madison Square across Broadway, Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street

11. Parade of Horses on Speedway - on the West Bank of the Harlem River, Highbridge in North Manhattan. Taken from Harlem River Drive, the footage shows the old High Bridge at 175th Street and the Washington Bridge at 181st Street

12. Lower Broadway - Looking north up Lower Broadway from Wall Street, at the Trinity Churchyard Cemetery

13. Looking along the length of 23rd Street, with the elevated EI in the background.

14. Time-lapse demolition of the Star Theatre on 13th Street and Broadway.

15. Buffalo Bill's Wild West Parade on Fifth Avenue

16. Skating on the Lake - Ice skating in Central Park

17. Dewey Arch stood at Madison Square over 5th Avenue between 25th and 24th Streets. It was demolished in 1900.

18. Automobile Parade - Downtown Manhattan on the corner of E. 27th Street and Madison Avenue, with the old Madison Square Garden in the background (now the New York Life Building). Stanford White, the building's architect, was murdered in the rooftop restaurant.

19. New York Police Parade - Parade turning into 14th Street from Broadway. In the background is Morton Hose, today the Union Square Theatre.

20. A month earlier from almost the same spot, footage shows the great blizzard that year. In the background is the statue of Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, who designed the Statue of Liberty. The statue still stands today.

21. Union Square - a fight between two newspaper sellers, likely young boys.

22. Panorama from the Tower of Brooklyn Bridge

23. Liberty Island - the island which holds the Statue of Liberty was called Bedloe's Island until 1956. The statue was erected 12 years before this footage was taken.

24. Racing At Sheepshead Bay, Coney Island. Old maps indicate that the race track was east of Ocean Avenue, between avenues X and Y.

25. Union Square, looking north-east from the corner of E 16th Street, with 33 E.17th Street Center Publishing Company in the background.

26. Mounted Police in Central Park

27. Bergen Beach near Coney Island. Shooting the Chutes was one of the first amusement rides.

28. The oldest footage of New York City ever - 11 May 1896 - Herald Square, at the intersection of Broadway, 6th Avenue and 34th Street.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tuesday links

June 30, 1934 was the Night of the Long Knives, Hitler's purge of those standing in his way.

Pee, not chlorine, causes red eyes from swimming pools.


The Frightening Yet Fascinating World Of North Korean Propaganda Videos.

The weirdest thing you'll see all day: this Norwegian potato chip video.

Here are the winners of NOAA's 'Weather in Focus' photo contest.

Funniest Clothing Tags Ever: this is an open list, so you can add your own.

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include the battleship built in Union Square (NYC) in 1917, video of a 57-story modular skyscraper being constructed in 19 days, and a gallery of terrifying prehistoric sea monsters.

June 30, 1934 was the Night of the Long Knives, Hitler's purge of those standing in his way

Herr Adolf Hitler, the German Chancellor, has saved his country. Swiftly and with exorable severity, he has delivered Germany from men who had become a danger to the unity of the German people and to the order of the state. With lightening rapidity he has caused them to be removed from high office, to be arrested, and put to death.
The names of the men who have been shot by his orders are already known. Hitler's love of Germany has triumphed over private friendships and fidelity to comrades who had stood shoulder to shoulder with him in the fight for Germany's future.
~Daily Mail, July 2nd 1934.
Hitler posing with SA members in the late 1920s. 
Hermann Göring stands bedecked 
with medals beneath Hitler.
The Night of the Long Knives (wiki)(sometimes called Operation Hummingbird or, in Germany, the Röhm-Putsch), was a purge that took place in Nazi Germany from June 30 to July 2, 1934, when the Nazi regime carried out a series of political murders.

When Hitler rose to power in early 1933, he owed much of his success to the muscle of his Nazi Storm Troopers, the SA (Sturmabteilung), a violent, ruthless army headed by Ernst Röhm, Hitler’s long-time friend and devotee. Röhm and his Storm Troopers brought Germany into submission by gaining control of the streets gangster-style and violently eliminating any of Hitler’s political enemies.

By the summer of 1934, the SA's numbers had swollen to 2 million men. The SA had given the Nazis an iron fist with which to disrupt other political parties' meetings before Hitler became Chancellor in January 1933, and was also used to enforce law afterwards: essentially, they were the enforcers of the Nazi Party.

Hitler and Rohm, 1933
However, a threatening, revolutionary force such as the SA was no longer useful now that Hitler was firmly in power. Hitler wanted to “go legit” and win over the regular army generals, the leaders of industry, as well as the German people. Most everyone in Germany disliked the SA, who were seen as the arrogant, bullying, murderous thugs that they were, and Hitler knew he needed to curtail their power to increase and solidify his own.

Hitler knew that the army hierarchy held him in disdain as he was 'only ' a corporal in their eyes, and the regular army hierarchy also saw the SA as a threat to their authority. The SA outnumbered the army by 1934 and Röhm had openly spoken about taking over the regular army by absorbing it into the SA. Such talk alarmed the army's leaders, and in April of that year, Hitler and the head of the German army, Werner von Blomberg, signed a secret agreement in which Hitler promised Blomberg’s army absolute control of the military (with precedence over the SA); and von Blomberg pledged the army’s backing when Germany’s 86-year-old president Paul von Hindenburg inevitably shuffled off the mortal coil and Hitler claimed the presidency.

Ernst Rohm
Röhm had made powerful enemies in the Nazi party, among them Heinrich Himmler and Hermann Goering, who were part of the SS (Shutzstaffel), an organization that acted as Hitler’s personal body guards. They began putting the bug in Hitler’s ear that Röhm was planning a coup, and even gathered false evidence to back up their bogus claim - there is no actual evidence that Röhm was ever planning anything against Hitler.

When Hitler met with German President Paul von Hindenburg on June 21, 1934, the old man was in very poor health and was confined to a wheelchair, but his mind was sharp as ever. He brusquely informed Hitler and Defense Minister Blomberg that the SA must be brought to heel ASAP, or he would declare martial law in Germany and let the army run the show, which would pretty much mean the end of the Nazi party.

On the evening of June 30, 1934, which became known as the Night of the Long Knives (wiki), Hitler made his move. In the village of Bad Wiesse, the SS raided a hotel where Röhm and his buddies were hanging out for the weekend. Members of the SA were dragged from their beds and executed on the spot.
Just before Wiessee, Hitler suddenly breaks his silence: "Kempka", he says, "drive carefully when we come to the Hotel Hanselbauer. You must drive up without making any noise. If you see a SA guard in front of the hotel, don't wait for them to report to me; drive on and stop at the hotel entrance." Then after a moment of deathly silence: "Röhm wants to carry out a coup." An icy shiver ran down my back. I could have believed anything, but not a coup by Röhm.
Units of the SS arrested more of the leaders of the SA and other political opponents. Seventy-seven men were executed on charges of treason though historians tend to think the figure is higher. Hitler also took the opportunity to assassinate anyone that he didn’t like, or had crossed him, or looked at him the wrong way.

Röhm was arrested by Hitler himself, brought to Munich, and given a revolver to kill himself instead of being executed by someone else. Röhm refused, saying if Adolf wanted him dead so badly, he’d have to do the deed himself. Since Hitler couldn’t bring himself to kill his old friend, he sent in a minion to shoot Röhm in the stomach at point-blank range. 

The SA was brought to heel and placed under the command of the army. The Night of the Long Knives not only removed the SA leaders but also got Hitler the army's oath that he so needed.

The first the public officially knew about the event was on July 13th 1934, when Hitler told the Reichstag that met in the Kroll Opera House, Berlin, that for the duration of the arrests that he and he alone was the judge in Germany and that the SS carried out his orders. 
“If anyone reproaches me and asks why I did not resort to the regular courts of justice, then all I can say is this: In this hour I was responsible for the fate of the German people, and thereby I became the supreme judge of the German people.” 
~Adolf Hitler, July 13, 1934
From that time on the SS became a feared force in Nazi Germany, lead by Heinrich Himmler. The efficiency with which the SS had carried out its orders greatly impressed Hitler and Himmler went on to acquire huge power within Nazi Germany.

Here's a brief Khan Academy video describing the event:



History channel 4 minute video:


Based on a post at the excellent Today I Found Out (their Wise Book of Whys went to several family members as Christmas presents last year), with input from here, here, and here.

Previous posts:



Nazi sex dolls, intended to protect soldiers from French prostitutes.

Further reading:

The definitive source: Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich.

Stormtroop Tactics: Innovation in the German Army, 1914-1918

Winner of The 2015 World’s Ugliest Dog Contest, plus some previous winners

PETALUMA, Calif. (AP) — A 10-year-old mutt named Quasi Modo, whose spinal birth defects left her a bit hunchbacked, is the winner of this year's World's Ugliest Dog contest.

The pit bull-Dutch shepherd mix and her owner took the $1,500 prize Friday night, besting 25 other dogs competing in the contest that applauds imperfection, organizers said.


I dunno - choosing a deformed dog who wouldn't be ugly if it weren't for the deformation seems wrong to me. This runner-up looks like a better bet:


And last year's winner was much uglier:


2013 winner:


I don't see it - this dog is not that ugly.

2012: