Archive for January 2012

1930’s U.S. Nazi Movement   4 comments


The history of the United States is complex and very diverse.  Many movements and associations came into being.  Some stayed and became prominent institutions, others faded away.  One that faded away, thankfully, was the German American Bund.

The German American Bund or German American Federation (German: Amerikadeutscher Bund) was an American Nazi organization established in the 1930s. Its main goal was to promote a favorable view of Nazi Germany.


Bund march Manhattan 1939


In December 1935 Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess ordered all German citizens leave the Friends of New Germany (FOTNG), while also recalling all the group’s leaders to Germany.  In March 1936, the German American Bund (AV) was established as a follow-up organisation for the FOTNG in Buffalo, New York.  It elected a German-born American citizen Fritz Julius Kuhn, a veteran of the Bavarian infantry during World War I.


Fritz Kuhn on left


 The Bund was one of several German-American heritage groups; however, it was one of the few to express National Socialist ideals. As a result, many considered the group anti-American. In the last week of December 1942, led by journalist Dorothy Thompson, fifty leading German-Americans including Babe Ruth signed a “Christmas Declaration by men and women of German ancestry” condemning Nazism, which appeared in ten major American daily newspapers. In 1939, a New York tax investigation determined Kuhn had embezzled money from the Bund. The Bund operated on the theory that the leader’s powers were absolute, and therefore did not seek prosecution. However, in an attempt to cripple the Bund, the New York district attorney prosecuted Kuhn. New Bund leaders would replace Kuhn, most notably with Wilhelm Kunze, but these were only brief stints. Martin Dies and the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) were very active in denying any Nazi-sympathetic organization the ability to freely operate during World War II.


No, this is not Berlin. Rally in Madison Square Garden 1939.




 No, this is not Nuremberg.  This is Chicago 1936.  A Nazi youth rally.


Posted January 31, 2012 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Winnipeg Skating Trail has greater than average distance   4 comments


The 2012 Winnipeg river skating trail has been shifted to the Red River from the Assiniboine River this year.  The unusually mild temperatures have caused thin ice on the Assiniboine.  The river levels are also very low.  In the middle of January there is open water on both rivers, unheard of!

Open water under the Main street bridge on the Assiniboine.



The skating rinks at the Forks by the train bridge.  Those boxcars must have been built-in the 1950’s.



The start of the skating trail on the northeast side of the Norwood Bridge.  More open water in the distance.



The view of the trail on the other side of the bridge.  It appears to go on forever.  A person could go for a never-ending skate. A guy would have to take a taxi back as exhaustion could kick in.



Posted January 30, 2012 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Only in Texas   2 comments


Wow, 34′, 80 mph, 900hp, 6 machine guns, $600,000. Texas knows how to make a proper police boat.







Posted January 29, 2012 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Lego Space Man   Leave a comment

Two Canadian students, Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad, used a weather balloon and a Styrofoam ‘spacecraft’ to send a Lego toy 15 miles into the stratosphere. The plastic astronaut’s journey to the edge of space took 97 minutes, and was captured with four cameras and a GPS-enabled cell phone. More info, including video, at The Telegraph.




Posted January 29, 2012 by markosun in Uncategorized

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The Pogues finally realized as excellent   1 comment


The Pogues are a great band.



Posted January 26, 2012 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Pentagon Denies Downing Russian Mars Probe   Leave a comment


Danger Room


The Russians are pretty sure they know why their Mars moon probe fritzed out. It must have been U.S. radar waves, emanating from a facility named after the hated Ronald Reagan all the way out into the depths of space. And wouldn’t that be just likeReagan?

Alas, that’s “utterly impossible,” says Brian Weeden, a Danger Room pal and a former officer with the U.S. Air Force Space Command. Radar just doesn’t work like that. And the Pentagon denies the whole thing, of course. Problem is, Weeden says, “it’s going to be almost impossible to disprove to the believers.” Welcome to another edition of Tinfoil Tuesday, our exploration of the planet’s least likely conspiracy theories.

Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, recently sought to unravel the mystery of why Russia’s expensive Phobos-Grunt space probe fell to Earth last week. The probe, launched in November, was supposed to take soil samples from the Martian moon Phobos. Yet it never got out of Earth’s orbit. And the Russians have a culprit: American radar stations.

And not just any Russians, the deputy prime minister, Dmitry Rogozin. “There is evidence indicating that frequent disruptions in the operation of our space technologies occur in that part of the flight path that is not visible to Roscosmos and is beyond its control,” Rogozin said, citing none of that evidence. He added, a little defensively, that his version of the truth “has the right to exist.”

Short answer: no, it doesn’t. “I’ve heard of full-mooner theories,” says George Little, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, “and this is one of them.”

Longer answer: This couldn’t be true.

But give this to the Russians. The most likely U.S. radar site to mess with a Russian spacecraft is in an Army installation at the obscure Pacific Ocean location known as the Kwajalein Atoll, where powerful radars provide the U.S. early warning on “deep space and synchronous satellites, particularly those in low inclination orbits.”

That radar site just happens to be named after Ronald Reagan. You can see how the Russians might get the wrong idea.

Still, the idea is indeed wrong. As it happens, some amateur sleuths and conspiracy-debunkers did the math on the Phobos’ positions when it passed over the Kwajalein radar. During each of the probe’s two passes, it was below the radar’s horizon.

But even if it got a full blast of Reagan, the radar waves wouldn’t have destroyed the probe’s electronic systems. “It’s just nuts to claim that even a full-power blast from the radar could disrupt a satellite in this way,” Weeden says.

And it seems that the Russians actually know it. Roscosmos chief Vladimir Popovkin ultimately concluded that the probe malfunctioned because of boring old “errors during production and test works, as well as the engineering flaws.” Someone just needs to tell the deputy prime minister. This isn’t something that can be blamed on Ronald Reagan.


Posted January 25, 2012 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Astana, new capital of Kazakhstan has grandiose architecture   1 comment




Politics and government are the main economic activities in Astana the capital, which also forms a Special Economic Zone.  Astana has seen one of the world’s greatest building projects, as oil money has been spent on government buildings, a massive home for the president, a mosque, and numerous parks and monuments. The project is designed to make the town the centre of not only Kazakhstan, but all of Central Asia.

After Kazakhstan gained its independence in 1991, the city and the region were renamed “Aqmola”, literally meaning “White Shrine”.

In 1995, the city was designated as the future capital of the newly-independent country, and the capital was officially moved from Almaty on December 10, 1997.  The new name, Astana, was bestowed in 1998.

Government officials cited several problems with keeping the capital in Almaty, such as the city’s risk of seismic activity, insufficient room for expansion, and proximity to international borders.  Additionally, parts of northern Kazakhstan are populated primarily by ethnic Russians, which raised fears of possible irredentist activity. Moving the capital to this area may have been an attempt to anchor it more closely with the rest of the country.

To some Kazakhs, the move remains controversial. Critics cite the city’s isolated location in the center of the Kazakh steppe and the forbidding climate in winter.  Financially, some resent the massive expenditure of public funds to build the new government complexes, as well as the continuing cost of airfare and hotel expenses for the many government workers who still live in Almaty.


Floral flourishes decorate Nurzhol Boulevard, or “Radiant Path.”


The Baiterek, towering over Astana’s central promenade, flares green against a dappled evening sky. Intended as a symbol of the new capital, the 318-foot monument evokes a giant tree with a golden egg in its branches. In the Kazakh myth of Samruk, a sacred bird lays a golden egg in the branches of a poplar each year.



A flock of giant doves flutters on a stained-glass conference room ceiling at the Palace of Peace and Harmony. The 203-foot-high pyramid designed by Norman Foster provides spaces for worshippers of all religions.



Kazakhstan’s new capital is the opposite of understated. After dark, government buildings change hues as the night progresses, creating a theme park atmosphere. The presidential palace suggests a gaudy version of the White House. Prize-winning British architect Norman Foster is one of many foreigners who helped shape the city. His purple Khan Shatyr shopping mall has an indoor sand beach and wave pool on the top floor.



Flanked by traditional Kazakh dancers, a bride awaits her formal unveiling at an opulent wedding palace, where she has just been married in a ceremony capped by the release of two white doves. The revelry begins when the veil is lifted.



McMansions that could have been airlifted from any American suburb are among the more incongruous sights in Astana, whose architectural style is nothing if not eclectic.




Like thousands of educated young professionals in Astana, these cardplayers at a riverside park grew up in other parts of Kazakhstan and moved to the new capital for the opportunities it promised. A baby boom has accompanied the influx.

Posted January 20, 2012 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Costa Concordia: A Voyage To Remember   Leave a comment

A Dutch salvage company may be hired to try to save the Costa Concordia.  There are two options: Patch up the 50-meter (160-foot) gash in the Concordia’s hull and attempt to refloat it, or carve up the liner where it lies into chunks small enough to be carried away on barges.

Refloating the ship would be the cleanest of the two options, but is extremely difficult because of the luxury liner’s size, the ship had about 45,000 tons of steel alone.

To refloat the stricken liner, salvage crews would likely use pulling barges strongly anchored to the sea bed and cables secured to the ship. They would likely also put cables on the land side of the ship to prevent its huge bulk from sliding toward the pulling barges as the vessel is righted.

Forces involved in attempting to pull upright a ship built of tens of thousands of tons of steel make refloating the Concordia unlikely.

That means salvagers are more likely to cut up the ship where it lies, a process that risks releasing pollutants into the waters off picturesque Tuscan coast near a maritime sanctuary for dolphins, porpoises and whales.










Posted January 19, 2012 by markosun in Uncategorized

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Successor to the B-2 Stealth Bomber   Leave a comment



The youngest active stealth bomber in the U.S. turns 15 this year, and the other 19 B-2s in the Air Force fleet are nearly five years older. Meanwhile, the integrated defense systems they face have become much more sophisticated. Multi-static radar, which is now relatively common, is so sensitive that it can detect certain stealth craft. To stay ahead of such defense systems, the Air Force has budgeted $3.7 billion over the next five years to develop a successor to the B-2 that could be active by 2020. Actual designs of the new bomber are classified, but some secrets are already out.

Patents and bid proposals from Northrop Grumman, maker of the B-2, suggest that the new bomber will be narrower than the B-2 but maintain the familiar flying wing design, which reduces radar reflection by minimizing hard edges. Engineers are also testing new types of radar-absorbing coatings that could be customized to individual defense systems. And so a picture of the next generation of stealth bombers is beginning to emerge.


Most stealth coatings consist of a radar-absorbing material, typically a form of iron, suspended in paint. But they are heavy (which lowers fuel efficiency), need to be reapplied frequently, and don’t absorb all radar frequencies. Ceno Technologies, a particles-science company in Sanborn, New York, has developed a lighter, more durable coating that uses hollow ceramic spheres, called cenospheres. Because the spheres can be covered in carbon, silver or other metals that absorb slightly different wavelengths of radar, the coating can be customized to deceive specific radar systems.


The B-2 has two semi-flush air-intake vents, the hard edges of which can reflect radar. In one design seen in a patent from Northrop Grumman, the new bomber has four small vents rather than two large ones. The smaller vents can be buried more deeply in the wing, reducing the possibility of radar returns.


To confuse radar defense systems, the new bomber will probably carry something like the Miniature Air Launched Decoy made by Raytheon. The modified drones use radar reflectors to create bomber-like signatures that divert attention from the actual bomber. The decoys fly on a preprogrammed course for up to 575 miles and may carry radar jammers to further confuse air defenses.


In one design from Northrop Grumman, engineers included a canard wing on the plane’s nose, which would provide extra lift during takeoff and flight, allowing a smaller bomber to carry a heavier weapons payload. Because its straight lines and hard angles would reflect radar, the canard wing will most likely be designed to fold flush with the bomber’s body as the craft comes within range of defense systems.


The new bomber will most likely have a single weapons bay, as opposed to the twin bays on the B-2. It will still be able to carry conventional GPS-guided JDAM missiles, nuclear warheads and even the new 30,000-pound, bunker-busting Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), but a single bay would reduce the cost of manufacturing—a major concern for designers on a relatively tight budget.

Posted January 19, 2012 by markosun in Uncategorized

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The Raw Allure of Deserts   Leave a comment


I have travelled through a few deserts in my limited travels.  And I have always experienced a feeling of space and openness in these dry and sunny landscapes.  Deserts are usually flat and therefore one can see for miles.  And there are not a lot of people to get in your way.  The flora is so distinct and odd that if you look closely at it the colours are striking.  The critters in the desert are not spotted easily, and this is good because many are poisonous and overall outright dastardly creatures.

When I travelled in the deserts of the southwest U.S. I scanned the ground like a city vagrant when I left the car.  Never know where a rattler or scorpion could be lurking.  But I was always amazed at the feeling I felt of freedom and space.  While passing through the Utah salt flats the level feature of the terrain was astounding.  It looked like a giant parking lot as far as the eye could see.  I guess that is why they race for the world land speed records there.

Many people find deserts to be desolate and bland.  But I think deserts are a great land feature that add tremendous diversity to the geography of the world.




Painted Desert Utah


 Oasis in Libya


Mojave desert California


Namibian desert




White Sands New Mexico




Nazca Desert Peru


Judaean Desert and the Dead Sea


Utah Salt Flats


Giant sand dunes of the Namibian Desert

Posted January 19, 2012 by markosun in Uncategorized

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