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Friday, May 30, 2014

Beer - is there anything it can't do? Here's ‘Billie Jean’ played on beer bottles

These guys call themselves The Bottle Boys, for obvious reasons.



via Laughing Squid.

Sharknado vs Godzilla: 40 Movies Made Better by Adding Godzilla

Cracked has 40 of these, although I found a lot of them pretty unimpressive. Here are a few favorites:






via Geekpress.

Friday links

Harpo Marx Naked (OK for work).

Kurt Vonnegut's May 29, 1945 letter home after imprisonment in an underground slaughterhouse during the Dresden bombing.

Squirrel Tissue in Buttock: until now "gross contamination of an open wound with squirrel flesh [was] an unreported event."

How to make your own wrist-mounted X-Men Pyro flamethrowers, Wolverine claws, and Magneto magnetic shoes.

5 Reasons Why Everyone is Suddenly Putting Butter In Their Coffee. In other news, apparently people are putting butter in their coffee.

33 Graphs That Reveal Painfully True Facts About Everyday Life.

ICYMI, Wednesday's links are here, including a 3 minute time-lapse animated map of World War I, the history of tug-of-war fatalities, and an answer to the age old question: could you get drunk from drinking a drunk person's blood?

Kurt Vonnegut's May 29, 1945 letter home after imprisonment in an underground slaughterhouse during the Dresden bombing

On December 19, 1944, twenty-two year old Kurt Vonnegut (wiki) was captured by Wehrmacht troops. Below is the letter he wrote to his family after the end of the war informing them of his capture and survival. Describing the capture and move to Dresden:

Well, the supermen marched us, without food, water or sleep to Limberg, a distance of about sixty miles, I think, where we were loaded and locked up, sixty men to each small, unventilated, unheated box car. There were no sanitary accommodations -- the floors were covered with fresh cow dung. There wasn't room for all of us to lie down. Half slept while the other half stood. We spent several days, including Christmas, on that Limberg siding. On Christmas eve the Royal Air Force bombed and strafed our unmarked train. They killed about one-hundred-and-fifty of us. We got a little water Christmas Day and moved slowly across Germany to a large P.O.W. Camp in Muhlburg, South of Berlin. We were released from the box cars on New Year's Day. The Germans herded us through scalding delousing showers. Many men died from shock in the showers after ten days of starvation, thirst and exposure. But I didn't.
Under the Geneva Convention, Officers and Non-commissioned Officers are not obliged to work when taken prisoner. I am, as you know, a Private. One-hundred-and-fifty such minor beings were shipped to a Dresden work camp on January 10th.
In Dresden they were imprisoned in an underground slaughterhouse known by German soldiers as "Schlachthof Fünf" (Slaughterhouse Five (wiki)), which, of course, he used 25 years later as the title and organizing principle of his best-known book. During the bombing of Dresden (wiki), which took place in four raids between February 13th and 15th, the subterranean nature of the prison saved their lives: 
On about February 14th the Americans came over, followed by the R.A.F. their combined labors killed 250,000 people in twenty-four hours and destroyed all of Dresden -- possibly the world's most beautiful city. But not me. 
After that we were put to work carrying corpses from Air-Raid shelters; women, children, old men; dead from concussion, fire or suffocation. Civilians cursed us and threw rocks as we carried bodies to huge funeral pyres in the city. 
Transcript below the scan - read the whole thing.




Transcript

FROM:

Pfc. K. Vonnegut, Jr.,
12102964 U. S. Army.

TO:

Kurt Vonnegut,
Williams Creek,
Indianapolis, Indiana.

Dear people:

I'm told that you were probably never informed that I was anything other than "missing in action." Chances are that you also failed to receive any of the letters I wrote from Germany. That leaves me a lot of explaining to do -- in precis:

I've been a prisoner of war since December 19th, 1944, when our division was cut to ribbons by Hitler's last desperate thrust through Luxemburg and Belgium. Seven Fanatical Panzer Divisions hit us and cut us off from the rest of Hodges' First Army. The other American Divisions on our flanks managed to pull out: We were obliged to stay and fight. Bayonets aren't much good against tanks: Our ammunition, food and medical supplies gave out and our casualties out-numbered those who could still fight - so we gave up. The 106th got a Presidential Citation and some British Decoration from Montgomery for it, I'm told, but I'll be damned if it was worth it. I was one of the few who weren't wounded. For that much thank God.

Well, the supermen marched us, without food, water or sleep to Limberg, a distance of about sixty miles, I think, where we were loaded and locked up, sixty men to each small, unventilated, unheated box car. There were no sanitary accommodations -- the floors were covered with fresh cow dung. There wasn't room for all of us to lie down. Half slept while the other half stood. We spent several days, including Christmas, on that Limberg siding. On Christmas eve the Royal Air Force bombed and strafed our unmarked train. They killed about one-hundred-and-fifty of us. We got a little water Christmas Day and moved slowly across Germany to a large P.O.W. Camp in Muhlburg, South of Berlin. We were released from the box cars on New Year's Day. The Germans herded us through scalding delousing showers. Many men died from shock in the showers after ten days of starvation, thirst and exposure. But I didn't.

Under the Geneva Convention, Officers and Non-commissioned Officers are not obliged to work when taken prisoner. I am, as you know, a Private. One-hundred-and-fifty such minor beings were shipped to a Dresden work camp on January 10th. I was their leader by virtue of the little German I spoke. It was our misfortune to have sadistic and fanatical guards. We were refused medical attention and clothing: We were given long hours at extremely hard labor. Our food ration was two-hundred-and-fifty grams of black bread and one pint of unseasoned potato soup each day. After desperately trying to improve our situation for two months and having been met with bland smiles I told the guards just what I was going to do to them when the Russians came. They beat me up a little. I was fired as group leader. Beatings were very small time: -- one boy starved to death and the SS Troops shot two for stealing food.

On about February 14th the Americans came over, followed by the R.A.F. their combined labors killed 250,000 people in twenty-four hours and destroyed all of Dresden -- possibly the world's most beautiful city. But not me.

After that we were put to work carrying corpses from Air-Raid shelters; women, children, old men; dead from concussion, fire or suffocation. Civilians cursed us and threw rocks as we carried bodies to huge funeral pyres in the city.

When General Patton took Leipzig we were evacuated on foot to ('the Saxony-Czechoslovakian border'?). There we remained until the war ended. Our guards deserted us. On that happy day the Russians were intent on mopping up isolated outlaw resistance in our sector. Their planes (P-39's) strafed and bombed us, killing fourteen, but not me.

Eight of us stole a team and wagon. We traveled and looted our way through Sudetenland and Saxony for eight days, living like kings. The Russians are crazy about Americans. The Russians picked us up in Dresden. We rode from there to the American lines at Halle in Lend-Lease Ford trucks. We've since been flown to Le Havre.

I'm writing from a Red Cross Club in the Le Havre P.O.W. Repatriation Camp. I'm being wonderfully well feed and entertained. The state-bound ships are jammed, naturally, so I'll have to be patient. I hope to be home in a month. Once home I'll be given twenty-one days recuperation at Atterbury, about $600 back pay and -- get this -- sixty (60) days furlough.

I've too damned much to say, the rest will have to wait, I can't receive mail here so don't write.

May 29, 1945

Love,

Kurt - Jr.

Via the always interesting but not frequently-enough updated (that was a hint, you guys) blog of Letters of Note.

Previous posts: In 2006, Kurt Vonnegut sent this excellent letter to a high school class, and here's his 1944 letter from a German prison camp.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

How to make your own wrist-mounted X-Men Pyro flamethrowers, Wolverine claws, and Magneto shoes

For hard-core X-Men fans:

First of all, here's the inventor (Colin Furze), who had previously made a set of homemade Wolverine claws and a pair of magnetic Magneto shoes (see below), demonstrating the flamethrowers:



and the tutorial:



Here's a demo of the Wolverine claws:



and the tutorial:



And here he is walking on the ceiling with his homemade Magneto magnetic shoes:



And two tutorials - one for building the shoes and one for walking on the ceiling.  First, making the shoes:



and the ceiling walk:



Check out Colin's youtube channel - he seems to have a penchant for adding jet engines to things like bicycles and strollers.

via Laughing Squid.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wednesday links

Anoint the gums with the brains of a hare: advice from c. 1450 on soothing a teething baby. Apparently dog milk works, too.

Gallery of vintage toy robots.

3 Minute Time-Lapse Animated Map of World War I (WW II takes 7 minutes), bonus Horrible History explanation.

How To Tell If You've Been Abducted By Aliens.

Could you get drunk from drinking a drunk person's blood?

The Science of Laziness: Is There a Couch-Potato Gene?

A History of Tug-of-War Fatalities.

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include the science of Game of Thrones and of Bruce Lee's one inch punch, the 1940's plan to replace jockeys with robots, and ridiculous state fair foods.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

3 Minute Time-Lapse Animated Map of World War I (WW II takes 7 minutes), bonus Horrible History explanation

There seem to be a lot of World War I articles appearing recently, presumably as a lead-up to the centennial of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria on June 28, 1914, the proximate cause of the beginning of the war. If you're interested in further information on the subject there are hundreds of books and films - the best books I know of (and I'm no expert) are Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August (this won a Pulitzer back when they meant something) and John Keegan's The First World War.

This animated map reflects the daily changes over the course of the war. I'd previously seen the WWII version (embedded below) but not this one.



Here's the The BBC’s Horrible Histories explanation of how the Brits got involved in WWI:



The Atlantic has a series of photoessays entitled World War I in Photos on various WWI topics - there will be ten of these, but they're not all available yet. Of those posted so far, I found technology and animals of particular interest.



Previous posts: Wilfred Owen, the best of the WWI "War Poets", was born 121 years ago today

Anoint the gums with the brains of a hare: advice from c. 1450 on soothing a teething baby

Andrea Mantegna, The Circumcision of Jesus 
(detail, c. 1461)
Old ways are always the best, right?

"Sometimes babies have trouble with teething. In that case you should squeeze the gums with your fingers, and gently massage them, and the palate as well. And you should anoint the gums with the brains of a hare (which are very suitable for this purpose), or with fat or butter or good-quality olive oil; and you should do this twice a day. The milk of a dog is suitable, too. It is also very helpful to use hen's fat for both anointing and massaging the gums." 

~Michele Savonarola, Ad mulieres ferrarienses (c. 1450)

From Ask The Past.


Previous posts: 

Advice from c. 530: How To Use Bacon, including for medicinal purposes such as "thick bacon, placed for a long time on all wounds, be they external or internal or caused by a blow, both cleanses any putrefaction and aids healing".

How to Stop Bleeding, 1664:
“To Stench a Bleeding Wound: Lay hogs Dung, hot from the Hog, to the Bleeding Wound.”
~Samuel Strangehopes, A Book of Knowledge in Three Parts (166[4])
Dubious medical device du jour - the prostate warmer.

Advice from 1380: How to Tell if Someone Is or Is Not Dead, with bonus Monty Python.

How to Slim Down in Fourteen Days: Advice from 1595.

Urine-drinking Hindu cult believes a warm cup before sunrise straight from virgin cow cures cancer, baldness.

The parabolic curve of caring what other people think, by age (NSFW)

 From The Oatmeal:

Is this advertising campaign intentionally or unintentionally gross?

I have to think intentionally on the part of the people who put it together, but unintentionally on the part of the clueless people who bought it for their business. 

I find myself wondering whether I'll ever be able to look at chili again and not think of it as lube.


via I am bored.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Monday links

Happy Memorial Day! Here's How To Make An American Flag Out Of Bacon.

Smoked Lizard on a Stick, Python Kebabs, Spam Curds, Hot Beef Sundaes and Pork Parfaits: ridiculous State Fair foods.

The Science of Bruce Lee's One-Inch Punch. Also in the science department: Valyrian steel, length of the seasons, dragon biology: The Science of Game of Thrones, bonus geological map.

Why Did Women Start Wearing Makeup?

For fans of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: don't panic - yesterday was Towel Day, but since you should always carry one, it's not to late to remember why.

The 1940s Plan to Replace Jockeys with Robots.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include the tactical order of dressing (in case you need to jump out of bed and fight), the Pentagon's zombie apocalypse plan, and a guide to all of the Godzilla kaiju and X-men.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

For fans of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: don't panic - today is Towel Day!

It's Towel Day, a day to honor the late Douglas Adams (wiki) and the first book of his 5-book "trilogy", The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (trailer for the movie version is below). The quote regarding the importance of always carrying a towel (I keep one in the trunk of my car):
A towel, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you)*; you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.
More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: nonhitchhiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, washcloth, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet-weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might have accidentally "lost.". What the strag will think is that any man that can hitch the length and breadth of the Galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through and still know where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.
Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in "Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There's a frood who really knows where his towel is." (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)
*Here's an animated version of "wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you):



Here's the trailer for the 2005 movie:



BT.com has a a non-hitchhiker’s guide to Towel Day.

Via Lemonly.com:


If you're a real Adams fan, check out this Kinja post on adaptations of some of his other works.

Valyrian steel, length of the seasons, dragon biology: The Science of Game of Thrones, bonus geological map

For Game of Thrones fans, Joe Hanson of It's OK To Be Smart (youtube channel) put together this excellent video about the science of Westeros. By the way, he refers to the name of the planet as Hodor - is that true?




Referred to in the video is this excellent map by Generation Anthropocene describing the geology of Game of Thrones - go there for a larger version and links to explanations of the geological events discussed:


Previous posts:

If Game Of Thrones Characters Were Drawn By Disney


Game of Thrones infographic chronology: 4 seasons of the 4 main families and the Night’s Watch.


Super Mario Game of Thrones.

Video: Hodor (Kristian Nairn) Describes His Awkward Game of Thrones Nude Scene.

Game of Goats, A Yelling Goats Version of the Game of Thrones Theme Song.

Game of Thrones Wine Map: The Wines of Westeros.

Supercut of pithy quotes from Game of Thrones, Seasons 1-3.

Fallen behind on Game of Thrones, or want a refresher before Season 4? All 3 seasons recapped in 9 minutes.

Game of Thronesnew trailer and an interview with the actors on who should end up on the iron throne.

Deleted And Extended Scenes From Game Of Thrones Season 3 (NSFW - language)

The Game of Thrones Travel Guide.

The Science of Laziness: Is There a Couch-Potato Gene?

Interesting that there really does seem to be some something of a genetic component that predisposes one (and I'm one!) to laziness; the opposite may be true, as well - per the video much of the information contained therein comes from The Sports Gene



via Geeks are Sexy.