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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:


Monday, June 29, 2015

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Video: watch a 57-story modular skyscraper go up in 19 days

A Chinese entrepreneur who took just 19 days to build a 57-story tower says he has triggered a construction revolution. And his dreams soar far, far higher.
Steel is delivered to one of Broad Group’s six huge hangar-like factories, where it is machine-cut and welded into one of a few basic modules – a column, crossbeam or floor section. These are then loaded on to lorries and driven to the site, where they are slotted into place like Tetris pieces, and finally bolted and welded together.
The company behind the construction, Broad Sustainable Building, previously built a 30-story building in Changsha in just 15 days.


Video: BBC's documentary "Bat-Crocodile War", if the bats had bombs and the crocs had light sabers

I'm not sure what weapon(s) the bats are using, actually: apparently they're from Halo (wiki) and I've never played it. If you know, please supply the information in the comments. Per youtube:
Many sounds from Halo 4 including Plasma Pistol, Bolt Shot Rifle, Fuel Rod Cannon, Carbine Rifle (zoom and shots), and Armour Abilities.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Today is Helen Keller's birthday. Here are quotes, links and a list of jokes

Helen Keller. in addition to being an inspiration for millions (is there a better example of the overcoming of adversity in recent history?) was also the inspiration for a lot of jokes, mostly one-liners. These are wildly non-PC today, but a few decades ago they were quite popular. The jokes are at the bottom of the post - first some quotes:

The mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew than that "w-a-t-e-r" meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, joy, set it free!

~ Helen Keller (The Story of My Life, Ch. 4)

The hands of those I meet are dumbly eloquent to me. The touch of some hands is an impertinence. I have met people so empty of joy, that when I clasped their frosty finger-tips, it seemed to me as if I were shaking hands with a northeast storm. Others there are whose hands have sunbeams in them, so that their grasp warms my heart.

~ Ibid., Ch. 23

Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.

~ Ibid., Ch. 22

I am charmed with your book - enchanted. You are a wonderful creature, the most wonderful in the world - you and your other half together - Miss Sullivan, I mean, for it took the pair of you to make a complete and perfect whole.

~ Mark Twain (letter to Helen Keller, 17 March 1903)

Of late our periodicals have been filled with depressing revelations of great social evils. Querulous critics have pointed to every flaw in our civic structure. We have listened long enough to the pessimists. You once told me you were a pessimist, Mr. Clemens, but great men are usually mistaken about themselves. You are an optimist.*
~ Helen Keller, (letter to Mark Twain - read the whole thing, via Autobiography of Mark Twain: Volume 1)

Today is the anniversary of the birth  in 1880 of American writer, lecturer, and humanitarian Helen Adams Keller (wiki) (1880-1968), who was blind and deaf from the age of 19 months. Born in Tuscumbia, Alabama, Keller was deprived of her sight and hearing by a childhood disease, but her private tutor, Anne Sullivan (1866-1936) - through a series of innovative teaching methods - gradually taught her to understand and communicate with others. 

Keller became a world-famous advocate for the blind and disabled, and in addition to The Story of My Life (1903), wrote Midstream, My Later Life in 1929 and lectured on the issues of blindness all over the world. Helen Keller seems to be fading from public memory, but the dramatization of her early teaching by Anne Sullivan in William Gibson's play, The Miracle Worker (1960), is still regularly performed. 

*Much more on the friendship between Helen Keller and Mark Twain at Open Culture.

Here's a video of Helen Keller visiting Martha Graham's dance studio - I'm not sure of the date on this:


Jokes after the jump. If you're offended by this kind of stuff, don't read it.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday links


Husband Gives Unfaithful Ex-Wife Literally Half of Everything They Owned. Literally.

Coke vs. Pepsi: The E. coli Test.

Happy Birthday Ambrose Bierce, author of The Devil's Dictionary.

A New Recreation Shows How Ancient Romans Lifted Wild Animals Into the Colosseum.

Using Lasers to Burn Away Mental Illness.

ICYMI, Wednesday's links are here, and include recreating Stonehenge with old refrigerators, the number of iPhones necessary to stop an AK-47 round, all you never wanted to know about the poop-filled mites on your face, and the death of the inventor of pick plastic flamingos, who dressed in matching outfits with his wife for 37 years. 

Vincent van Gogh Possibly Identified in Newly Discovered Group Photo of Famous Artists from 1887

Interesting (possible) photograph of Vincent Van Gogh (wiki) as an adult:

JULES ANTOINE (1863-1948) ATTR. – Vincent Van Gogh in conversation with friends, Paris, 96 rue Blanche, December 1887 Melanotype, direct positive and reversed image on blackboard (carton photographique), 86×112 mm, “Gautier Martin” stamp, recto. Vincent Van Gogh in conversation with Paul Gauguin, Emile Bernard, Félix Jobbé-Duval. André Antoine is standing between them.


Some experts believe this recently discovered 1887 tintype showing six men drinking around a table may include a rare sighting of painter Vincent van Gogh. He was known to abhor photography and supposedly never sat for a photo as an adult.
Only two rare photos of the artist as a child are known to exist, taken when he was 13 and 19 (see below). More from Colossal:
The photo went to auction just this weekend and was expected to fetch between $136,000 to $170,000, though a final sale price hasn’t been made public. Still, some experts aren’t convinced. The photo expert for the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam feels it can’t be the artist “because it simply does not look like him,” and also mentions the artist’s desire to never be photographed. Others note that Van Gogh didn’t mention the gathering in his meticulously written letters from the time period.

Van Gogh, Age 13:


And age 19:


More famous, of course, are his self-portraits:

Self Portrait 1889
Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, 1889