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Saturday, May 6, 2017

It's V.E. Day: on May 8, 1945, World War 2 ended in Europe

May 8th is the anniversary of V.E. Day (for "Victory in Europe") (wikiBBC) in 1945, which saw the German surrender and the end of World War II in the European theater
The beaten foe emerged.
Winston Churchill waves to crowds London on V-E Day.
All over the broad Atlantic, wherever they had been working or lying hid, the U-boats surfaced, confessing the war's end. A few of them, prompted by determination or struck by guilt, scuttled or destroyed themselves, or ran for shelter, not knowing that there was none; but mostly they did what they had been told to do, mostly they hoisted their black surrender flags, and stayed where they were, and waited for orders. 
They rose, dripping and silent, in the Irish Sea, and at the mouth of the Clyde, and off the Lizard in the English Channel, at the top of the Minches where the tides raced; they rose near Iceland, where Compass Rose was sunk and off the north-west tip of Ireland, and close to the Faeroes, and on the Gibraltar run where the sunk ships lay so thick, and near St. Johns and Halifax and in the deep of the Atlantic, with three thousand fathoms of water beneath their keel. 
They surfaced in secret places, betraying themselves and their frustrated plans: they rose within sight of land, they rose far away in mortal waters, where on the map of the battle, the crosses that were the sunken ships were etched so many and so close that the ink ran together. They surfaced above their handiwork, in hatred or in fear, sometimes snarling their continued rage, sometimes accepting thankfully a truce they had never offered to other ships, other sailors.
They rose, and lay wherever they were on the battlefield, waiting for the victors to claim their victory. 
~Nicolas Monsarrat ("V.E. Day," from The Cruel Sea)

Today, May 8th, is the anniversary of V.E. Day (for "Victory in Europe") (wiki, BBC) in 1945, which saw the German surrender and the end of World War II in the European theater.* Lest we forget. English novelist Nicolas Monsarrat (1910-1979) was born in Liverpool and earned a law degree at Cambridge. With the outbreak of World War II, he joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and served on the North Atlantic convoys for several years. This experience led to his crafting perhaps the most highly regarded novel about modern naval warfare yet written - The Cruel Sea - which appeared in 1951 while its author was serving as a British diplomat in South Africa. An equally esteemed motion picture, starring Jack Hawkins, was made of the book two years later, and it remains a classic today. Several other Monsarrat novels followed, but none ever gained the stature of The Cruel Sea.

* N.B. V.E. Day is called "Victory Day" in Russia and is celebrated tomorrow, May 9th, with elaborate ceremony. 

Below is a generous theatrical trailer for The Cruel Sea, which actually shows some of the best bits.

Here's the Youtube description:
The novel The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monserrat was an unflinching portrayal of life at sea during WWII on a boat tasked with protecting convoys and seeking and destroying U-boats. A runaway success, the novel had already sold over 4 million copies in just 2 years when Ealing decided to make the film version. Filmed aboard an actual Royal Navy corvette, The Cruel Sea tells the story of the sailors aboard the HMS Compass Rose: the bonds that form between them, the daily pressures they face and their epic struggle to overcome the enemy. Nominated for a BAFTA for Best British Film, The Cruel Sea stars Jack Hawkins, Sir Donald Sinden and Stanley Clarke, and is a gripping insight into the lives of unsung heroes at sea during the war, and the agonizing decisions and incredible peril they faced on a daily basis.


And a brief documentary:



Related posts:

It's V-J Day, the anniversary of the date of Japan's surrender in 1945 and the end of WWII.

Churchill's "We shall fight on the beaches...we shall never surrender" speech: the evacuation of Dunkirk by a flotilla of small boats.

June 6 is D-Day: quotes, videos (footage, FDR's and Reagan's speeches), lots of links.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Friday links

Happy Cinco de Mayo. And here's an illustrated history of Tex-Mex food.

Europe’s Bog Bodies Are Starting to Reveal Their Secrets.

Nazi Board Games of World War II.


McDonald’s introduces fry-fork utensil with new sandwiches

Take Me Out to the Ball Game: The story of Baseball's National Anthem.

ICYMI, Thursday's links are here, and include International Respect for Chickens Day and Star Wars Day, how to develop Jason Bourne-level situational awareness, the legend of Ludgar the War Wolf, King of the Trebuchets. and a 16th century warning about herb-caused brain scorpions: Take heede therefore ye smellers of Basil.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Social Security Cards Explained


Happy Cinco de Mayo

Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges!

~Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Alfonso Bedoya bandit character)*

Mexico: where life is cheap, death is rich, and the buzzards are never unhappy. 

Edward Abbey (attributed) 

Today is Cinco de Mayo, Mexico's great national holiday and the anniversary of the defeat of 6,000 French soldiers by 2,000 Mexicans at the battle of Puebla in 1862. After Mexico had defaulted on its bonds, Britain, France, and Spain made a joint naval demonstration to compel payment. (Embroiled in its own Civil War, the United States was too preoccupied to object.) When negotiations opened, the British and Spanish departed, but France decided to seize on the opportunity to conquer the country and impose Napoleon III's brother-in-law, Maximilian, as emperor.

Édouard Manet's The Execution of the Emperor Maximilian (1867)
is one of five versions of his representation
of the execution of the Mexican monarch
Despite the Mexican victory at Puebla, the French eventually prevailed, but by 1867, Maximilian had been overthrown and executed, his demise the subject of a memorable painting (1867-68) by Eduard Manet now in the National Gallery, London.** Some decades later, ruthless Mexican president cum dictator Porfirio Diaz (1830-1915) noted,

"Poor Mexico, so far from God - and so near to the United States."

* N.B. John Huston's classic movie, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), starred Humphrey Bogart and Tim Holt in a stark tale of greed in the southwestern desert. It won three Academy Awards, and the phrase quoted here has become something of a cult incantation, though most often in the form,

"We ain't got no stinkin' badges..."

** Maximilian's body was later repatriated to Austria, and his sarcophagus can be seen today in the Kapuzinergruft in downtown Vienna, along with those of many other famous Hapsburg monarchs.

Here's a brief History Channel explanation of the holiday:



The text above is adapted from Ed's Quotation of the Day, only available via email - leave your email address in the comments if you'd like to be added to his list. Ed is the author of Hunters and Killers: Volume 1: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1776 to 1943 and Hunters and Killers: Volume 2: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1943.

Thursday links

In addition to International Respect for Chickens Day, May the Fourth (be with you) is also Star Wars Day. Here's a nice collection of Star Wars propaganda posters

The Day Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis Teamed Up.


Pertinent to a discussion about planting herb gardens: Take heede therefore ye smellers of Basil.


The Origin of the Phrase "Jump on the Bandwagon".

ICTMI, Friday's links are here, and include an explanation of Italian hand gestures, the evolution of potty training, vintage animation lessons (including how to make things cute), and some Star Wars Math.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

May 4th is International Respect for Chickens day: some chicken-related links to help you celebrate

Whether you raise your own or not, you may be interested to know that May 4th is International Respect for Chickens Day.  In celebration, a few chicken related links:

Take a look at this, even if you don't read the whole thing: the famous (and definitive!) Chicken scientific study.

The KFC Prom Corsage:



Here's a "best of" FogHorn Leghorn video - "Any of this gettin' through to you, son?":


Glamour portraits of chickens from Chickens:


More at the artist's web site, and here's a mini documentary on the poultry portraiture project.

Chickens dressed as historical figures - here's Abe Lincoln, and there are more at the link:


Worried about your chickens crossing the road on dark winter evenings? This high visibility chicken jacket comes in yellow or pink:

I went looking for these chicken jackets on Amazon (they're not available) but they do have chicken saddles, which are, apparently, a real thing - I thought at first it was a a joke.  Here's the description:
Chicken saddles are made to protect your hen's back from a roosters nails and spurs. When a rooster overmates a hen this can lead to serious and sometimes life threatening damage. Backs can become bare in what seems like overnight. Often people think they need to trim the spurs or remove them entirely but that is not necessary with a chicken saddle. Why take away your rooster's best defense in protecting his flock when you can get a chicken saddle?
Plucking A Chicken In 14 Seconds With The Homemade Whizbang Chicken Plucker:


Epic Chick Fight: 2 women reenact Family Guy’s famed chicken fight:


And the original: 


Related posts and links:

Here's an excellent (and cheap!) chicken hat - I have one of these, and it actually quite warm!

This Chinese "Chick Chick" music video is the weirdest thing you'll watch all day.


A 500 lb chicken from hell: large feathered dinosaur species discovered in North America.

Scientists engineer flu-stopping superchicken.

The history of chickens and eggs: When and why did they get domesticated?

Got more?  Leave them in the comments, and I'll update later.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Thomas Sowell - The Greed Fallacy

Common sense from economist Thomas Sowell (wiki):



Here's Milton Friedman (wiki) on the same subject:



Plus this: Thomas Sowell Brilliantly Dismantles Obama's Presidency:



Related posts and links:

Milton Friedman's birthday - bio, quotes and brief videos on various economic subjects.

Thomas Sowell's website has links to much (maybe all?) of his writing.