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"The Long Way Round: The Plane that Accidentally Circumnavigated the World"

Posted May 11 into Awesome by John Birmingham

This is a three part story by John Bull (seriously) at Medum that is defnitely worth half an hour's quiet time and maybe a glass or two in memory of some ordinary guys who pulled off an extra-ordinary feat. An accidental circumnavigation of the globe in a flying boat during the first days of the Second World War. I couldn't help but wonder why Stephen Spielberg hadn't bought the rights yet.

By morning they had been airborne for almost 19 hours, flying on Swede’s careful balance of 90 octane and on Brown’s ‘guestimated’ route. They knew they should be nearing land, but the layer of low-lying cloud beneath them was a problem.

“We’d better start heading down.” Said Ford. “I don’t much relish the idea of missing the island and having to backtrack while our fuel reserve gets used up.”

Swede eased back on the mixture and they slowly felt their way down. Soon they were flying a mere 300 feet above the waves. They began to look for land.

A little later, as they neared the coast, Johnny Mack yawned. It had been a long flight and he was looking forward to both sleep and a breakfast. Ahead, out of the cockpit, the sea was calm and unbroken. Unbroken, he noticed, apart from…

“Hey Skipper.” He remarked with a frown. “What do you suppose that is, there, dead ahead? A whale maybe?”

Ford squinted, following his First Officer’s gaze to the object on which they were closing fast. Suddenly his eyes flew wide.

“Submarine!” He shouted.

By now the conning tower was visible, a Rising Sun painted on its side, men running towards the large gun on its foredeck.

“Swede!” Ford bellowed, “Full rich! Full power!”

“They’re aiming that thing at us!” Mack warned.

“Max climb! Let’s get the hell out of here!” Ford cried.

With the sluggish Boeing 314 resisting the change, Ford and Mack hauled back on the yoke desperately seeking the cloud cover above. They blazed directly over the submarine mid-climb, the deck gun below swinging round as it began to track them through the sky. After what seemed to the crew like an eternity, they finally broke through into the clouds. It was just in time. A bright flash from below illuminating the clouds around them. The men braced for impact.

It runs over three installments. The first is here.

6 Responses to ‘"The Long Way Round: The Plane that Accidentally Circumnavigated the World"’

WA n'ker reckons...

Posted May 11
Sweet

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jl swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 11
This story is simply amazing. It deserves to be read. Imagine flying around the globe on bad gas using a library atlas to navigate with unknown support infrastructure on the ground. And oh yes, you are doing this amidst the Second World War. Astounding. Thanks for sharing this, JB.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted May 12
I think I got the link on Twitter from Greybeard. It is an amazing tale.

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insomniac mutters...

Posted May 11
Reminds me of the time we turned left instead of right after leaving Heathrow and ended up going the wrong way around the M25. By the time we figured it out, it was simpler to carry on.

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Bondiboy66 asserts...

Posted May 14
Cracker of a story!

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Halwes mumbles...

Posted May 14
That was so interesting. Thanks John. There is a book called an intruders guide to East Arnhem land by the late Andrew Macmillan that describes the old flying boat base at Groote Eylandt really well. It was a major stopover on the way from Sydney to London.

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Viewmaster reborn as VR

Posted February 6, 2016 into Awesome by John Birmingham

I used to love these things as a kid and find myself unable to resist the lure of an undoubtedly craptacular reboot as a cheap child-friendly Virtual Reality toy. A young lad of my aquaintance is not far off a birthday and I suspect he'll be getting one, even though he'll probably respond with, "What the hell is this piece of crap? Where's my CoD5 disk?"

"That crap is my history, son. And you'll enjoy it or you'll get the back o' me hand."

Apple has just started offering these things in its online store, which is why there's suddenly a rash of stories about them, but Amazon has the last, somewhat dinkier model for half the price. I'm going with dink.

12 Responses to ‘Viewmaster reborn as VR’

Murphy_of_Missouri has opinions thus...

Posted February 7, 2016
Hmm. If it had some shots of ancient ruins across the world I might find it worth my time to buy one and pass it around to my students. Much to their everlasting aggravation.

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pedrogb would have you know...

Posted February 7, 2016
Sadly, I remember the viewmaster. A couple of siblings had different versions, and the second version had the sound discs attached. Those were the days. Can't remember what was on them.

Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted February 8, 2016

I had a Star Trek one disk with mine


Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted February 8, 2016
I hated kids like you. My Viewmaster displayed Native Americans
pointing at geological formations. Or at trees. Or at each other. Undoubtedly the disks my parents bought me cost less
than the disks depicting Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock shooting phasers at the Horta in Devil in the Dark.

GhostSwirv asserts...

Posted February 8, 2016
A much maligned and misunderstood subterranean race the Horta ... but I'm sure if the native Americans saw them through a view master they'd shoot phasers at them as well.

insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted February 8, 2016
Some of us never even had their own ViewMaster.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted February 9, 2016
Consider yourself lucky. To this day I have an irrational loathing when I see photos of Native Americans pointing at geological formations or trees, and I shall never experience the majesty and natural beauty of the Grand Canyon or Sequoia National Park.

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Bondiboy66 is gonna tell you...

Posted February 9, 2016
Didn't have one myself - but a friend had one with the usual landscape/national parks etc.. He didn't have the Star Trek disk either - he had the ones with UFO (the old Gerry Anderson show) complete with great machines, explosions, and space chicks with purple hair!

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 9, 2016
Purple hair and silver cat suits.

That future never arrived.

Bondiboy66 ducks in to say...

Posted February 10, 2016
We are poorer for that I'm afraid...

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Invested Ivana reckons...

Posted February 9, 2016
Oh, man. I remember these. I loved them!

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iMac Hamster Wheel

Posted August 3, 2015 into Awesome by John Birmingham

Must. Have. One.

All it takes is 36 empty iMac boxes.

5 Responses to ‘iMac Hamster Wheel’

Murphy_of_Missouri mutters...

Posted August 3, 2015
I just realized something.

It is a cult thing, isn't it? Do they serve kool-aid at the chapter meetings?

Dave W reckons...

Posted August 3, 2015
And all it takes to induce that response is an i at the beginning of any normal word. Genius.
I'm iBaffled.

Shifty Tourist has opinions thus...

Posted August 4, 2015
Don't give them ideas, they'll drop the façade that it is not a cult and release the iGod.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon is gonna tell you...

Posted August 4, 2015
the whole thing is iingenious . . . i didn't get this right did i?

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Aaron asserts...

Posted August 4, 2015
It's an iStargate! Used to travel to other apple using worlds created by Steve jobs

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The Sea Shepherds hunt down a pirate trawler

Posted July 30, 2015 into Awesome by John Birmingham

I enjoyed this long piece from The New York Times about the Sea Sherpherds hunting a rogue fishing trawler through some of the worst seas in the world. They chased this thing over thousands of nautical miles in the Southern Oceans, eventually driving it under the waves.

From the Times:

On its second day of prowling for the Thunder last December, the Barker spotted its prey. Appearing first as a red blip on an otherwise barren radar monitor, the vessel was moving slowly, at 6 knots, and heading against the tide of floating icebergs, some the size of tall buildings.

Captain Hammarstedt sailed within 400 feet of the Thunder before reaching for a reference binder — an Interpol “mug shots” guide featuring silhouettes of illegal fishing vessels. He radioed the Thunder’s officers, most of them Spaniards or Chileans. Speaking through a translator, he warned that the Thunder was banned from fishing in those waters and would be stopped.

The Thunder responded: “No, no, no. Negative, negative. You have no authority to arrest this vessel. You have no authority to arrest this vessel. We are going to continue sailing, we are going to continue sailing but you have no authority to arrest this ship, over.”

“We do have authority,” the Bob Barker said. “We have reported your location to Interpol and to the Australian police.”

The poachers replied, “O.K., O.K., you can send our location, but you can’t board this ship, you can’t come in or arrest us.”

The Thunder’s crew, which had been working on its aft deck, abruptly disappeared inside. The ship (a trawler that had been converted to do other types of deep-sea fishing) soon doubled its speed and made a run for it, the Barker close behind. They were in a stretch of Antarctic sea called the Banzare Bank, known among mariners as “The Shadowlands” because it is among the planet’s most remote and inhospitable waters, nearly a two-week journey to the nearest major port.

On that first night of the chase, Dec. 17, Captain Hammarstedt made a note in his ship’s log: “Bob Barker will maintain hot pursuit and report on the F/V Thunder’s position to Interpol.”

The Barker’s Captain Hammarstedt, 30, a baby-faced Swede, was respected by his crew for his seafaring skills and calm under fire. A decade of antiwhaling work had exposed him to a fair share of angry storms and violent confrontations. Still, he worried as he prepared to follow the Thunder into a huge low-pressure zone.

As the wider, heavier Thunder held firm over the next two days in the storm, the Bob Barker swayed back and forth, listing 40 degrees as it was battered by 50-foot waves. Below deck, fuel sloshed in the Barker’s tanks, splashing through ceiling crevices and filling the ship with diesel fumes. In the galley, a plastic drum tethered to the wall broke free, coating the floor in vegetable oil that bled into the cabins below. Half the crew was seasick. “It was like working on an elevator that suddenly dropped and climbed six stories every 10 seconds,” Captain Hammarstedt recalled.

Emerging on the other side of the storm, the ships settled into several days of radio silence. As much a battle of wills, this endurance race was also a test of fuel capacities. While the Barker never left the Thunder’s trail, the Sam Simon split off several times to resupply. Each time the two vessels moved close enough to connect a refuel hose, the Thunder turned 180 degrees and sped toward them, wedging between them to disrupt the effort.

_____

It'll take a while to read. But if you like rip roaring sea tales, like I do, it's a good option for lunchtime, or the train ride home this arvo. The NYT's website has some cool embedded video too.

It's all here.

38 Responses to ‘The Sea Shepherds hunt down a pirate trawler’

NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted July 30, 2015
Hmm, conflicted. A: I'm glad Someone is out in the ugly Southern ocean chasing Toothfish Poachers. B: I'm disappointed it isn't deemed sufficiently important for National Governments to spend actual real $ to do it. C: Sea Sheopard are the biggest bunch of self-appointed amateur vigilante asshats south of the Tex/Mex border. They routinely over-simplify extremely complicated issues. They are driven by intuition not science. They are more interested in publicity than ecology. They are the Eco-equivalent of a wealthy wanker in his beamer cursing out the bus full of proles.

damian reckons...

Posted July 30, 2015
While I pretty much agree with your points about Sea Shepherd (other than the last one), I'd argue those are not unambiguously negative things and in fact are at the crux between being pure and being effective. Don't have time to do the topic justice right now though.
I've been a fan for years, in a sense I resemble those remarks :)

NBlob reckons...

Posted July 30, 2015
Anti sea-Shepard lit is very very interesting. X% Anti-Green Y% Pro-whaling Z% I didn't buy into the cult of Paul Watson. I have a different take. He's playing Big Boy's Games in very serious waters. Without due regard for the people & situation. He (allegedly) acts as an admiral, in the turtleneck of a volunteer, democratic, process. The loss of the Andy Gil was unacceptable & not entirely the Japanese fault. There's a very good reason one uses tugs when in proximity.

damian has opinions thus...

Posted July 30, 2015
I really agree. Still, they are out there doing stuff proper governments should be doing. The bad stuff isn't unambiguously bad, though I accept some things are serious, and there's some very good stuff.
Look any ship-to-ship dealing in the Southern Ocean is feakishly insane. But the whalers shouldn't be there. That doesn't justify everything you might try doing to stop them, but I'm prepared give the Sea Shepherds a lot of benefit of the doubt.

NBlob mumbles...

Posted July 30, 2015

Pick an issue that you feel Very strongly about. Whaling, deforestation, Coal Seam Gas, whatever. Just how much "unorthodox" action would you consider appropriate? Would you implement a Shoot-To-Kill policy to protect the last 4 Northern White Rhino from Ivory poachers?

Even if the volunteers are more than willing to lay down their lives for the whales, (I believe) the leaders of that organisation bear a responsibility to not put them into a situation where that is an option.

Rumours circulate that the Andy Gil was short fuelled and provisioned, as if she was never expected to make it back. Other rumours suggest she had significant cracking in 2 bulkheads documented before her last voyage. She wasn't built to last, she was built for fast. Would it be unreasonable to conclude she was always meant to be run down by the Nishan Maru? Remarkable coincidence they had 3 camera coverage of the incident. If it ever comes out that this was the plan Cap'n Paul should be fkn keelhauled for putting crew in that position.

Just my humble opinion.


damian reckons...

Posted July 30, 2015
Knowing something of Watson's history, you certainly can't put that past him. I'd doubt it was a concrete plan from the outset, but certainly a possible tactical contingency or something. The captain blamed Watson (and the namesake owner sued him) for not salvaging it (he'd have had to break off the chase, after all).

Look we're all on a roller coaster maintained by madmen. It's extraordinary we've avoided fiery oblivion for so long. The changes to ocean temperature and acidity in coming decades will most likely be a greater challenge to all marine life than mechanised predation. I don't have kids, and sometimes feel sorry for those who do for much these reasons.

I'm often struck by the contrast between the whaling crew on the ship that held a couple of Sea Shepherd boarders in detention for several weeks a few years back now - who thought they could show the protesters how they were normal, gentle people just doing their work and that this would change their minds - with an old bugger at the Taiji dolphin drive who was bothered enough by some westerner filming to spend hours just shouting incomprehensibly at him, taking photos of the cameraman himself. There are multiple collisions of world views, nothing is homogenous, everyone's perspective has to be evaluated on its own merits.

So while I think of Watson as morally disconnected and chaotic, I still like the organisation he started and many of the people making it work. That Hammerstedt chap seems pretty grounded (not the first time the name has come up in a pretty darn impressive context). He's still pretty young... what kind of leader do you think he'll make when he's Watson's age?

Rhino swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 31, 2015
NBob, " Would you implement a Shoot-To-Kill policy to protect the last 4 Northern White Rhino from Ivory poachers?"

Now you are talking. All Rhino lives matter.

Sweet Jane Says mutters...

Posted July 31, 2015
It should be shoot to kill any hunter in order to protect a species that drops below a healthy population for its natural environment. We have 7 billion people on this planet. Nature has grown weary of humanity.

J.

damian has opinions thus...

Posted July 31, 2015
Missed responding to this bit:

"Would you implement a Shoot-To-Kill policy to protect the last 4 Northern White Rhino from Ivory poachers?"

<font color="#333333">I would probably prefer more nuanced ROE than that, but ultimately sure, maybe, if it helps. I know this is probably supposed to be an in-principle thing, with the principle being that any human life should outweigh any animal life. I'm not sure about that one. I know if some bugger hurt my dog I'd be pretty keen to make sure he doesn't think about doing it again, right up to eye-for-an-eye-tooth-for-a-tooth stuff. I don't think our legal system should let me, and certainly I agree objectively that I shouldn't, but that has nothing to do with any putative relative value of their lives. Ultimately I don't think an in-principle categorical works for this, in either direction (I'm not a vegetarian for instance). I don't think humans are intrinsically "better" than other animals or that they have some sort of natural right to do whatever they like, but I don't really believe in any kind of "natural" rights, so it just means that whatever actions humans take is among a large set of messy, ethically complex issues that mostly are situationally dependent. </font><font color="#333333">
</font>
Happy to consider calm and reasoned arguments either way, but ultimately it's not that I'm a fence-sitter and I really am not simply indecisive here, I just really don't think the categoricals represent truth. Truth isn't abstract enough to be a categorical.

NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 31, 2015

"Truth isn't abstract enough to be categorical." Going to need time to digest that.

My analogy (which SJS happily bumbled into) is; if you are prepared to commit the Most anti-social act IE killing someone to achieve your ends then you are on are morally equal to Daich, Shining Path, Red September, MILF, FARC et al.

Non-state entities are fascinating to me. As flawed as it may be the spectrum of governmental action from Mugabe & Qadaffi to the most "enlightened" democratically elected government, reach decisions through A Process. Tax this, invade them, each Governmental decision is made and acted upon with at least the fig leaf of In The National Interest. I fully admit all of the many flaws of the government process, one of my favourite memes is the curse of the bright young thing. However compare that to Non State Actors; Corporations, Not For Profits, Insurgencies, Havocs Cricket club etc they all make decisions based on a gestalt of a different type.

Hyper-global-mega-corp.PLC return on investment to share holders.

Medicine Sans Frontier wants to end suffering.

Daish wants to establish a right & proper nation state.

Havoc's Cricket club wants to cultivate more financial members & win silverware.

Some of these aims are legitimate, some less so, but How they make decisions fascinates me.

Paul Watson uses, or at least used, the iChing. Fkn.

damian puts forth...

Posted July 31, 2015
I'm not happy with the word "truth" there, I just couldn't think of a better one earlier (still can't really). I guess my point is that I think abstract principles will let you down, perhaps not always or even most of the time; but they will let you down. Check the Wikipedia page for the Trolley Problem and the "fat man" variant.
To be clear I think the philosophy problem around can be solved, it's all in the details. My point is that this stuff follows; it doesn't lead - it is descriptive rather than prescriptive. Practical ethics are complex, messy and driven more bt empirical (a posteriori) observation than rational (a priori) principle.

NBlob mumbles...

Posted July 31, 2015

To my mind you've just described a key difference between professionals & yahoos.

Professionals look ahead, consider consequences, plan contingencies and weigh ethical considerations before engaging.

Yahoos set a broad mission statement & charge, making it up as they go along.

The latter is acceptable for a fishing weekend with your mates on the Pine River, not so flash when in the southern ocean.

insomniac asserts...

Posted July 31, 2015
Rhino flesh tastes just like bacon, only better

damian is gonna tell you...

Posted July 31, 2015
That distinction is appealing, but it falls down a bit for me exactly because science comes into your yahoo category.

Rhino asserts...

Posted July 31, 2015
Insomniac - I got yer bacon right here. Come get some.

NBlob reckons...

Posted August 1, 2015
@ Mr D. Science? Which branch? My understanding of scientific method involved; construct a hypothesis that meet known facts, design experiment to test hypothesis with as few variables as possible, conduct experiment, peer- reviewed publish, others redo experiment to confirm / knockdown hypothesis. Rinse & repeat.

damian puts forth...

Posted August 1, 2015
Just a placeholder - IOU a coherent response to this thread, had too busy a week and in fact too busy a Saturday, to do so now. I've had a couple of goes, but the cognac is fighting against the coherence thing. On the plus side, I seem to be winning at community building and I'm pretty happy about that (cue champagne AND cognac).

NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted August 1, 2015
No huhu comrade I aapear to have been waylaid by Miss Margarita and her jolly fried cider in pints.

NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted August 2, 2015
Hmm, sobriety fail.

damian mutters...

Posted August 2, 2015
Doug's Seafood Cafe in Sandgate does a lovely bacon and egg sandwich, which is my personal favorite next day cure. Must have been all the Stellas between the champagne and cognac.

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Barnesm mumbles...

Posted July 30, 2015

The story is a great example of long form journalism which I feared was disappearing, glad to see it in the NYT and not some blog. (no offence JB). Really gripping read. Makes me missrecall the Mencken quote "Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag and begin hunting pirates". (sic)

I wonder about some of the details "In March, the Thunder was stripped of its registration by Nigeria and became officially stateless, which meant that marine authorities from any country could board and arrest its crew" is this true? or is it more a its the law since who ever can enforce it makes the law.

Have to ask why anyone would pay money for Chilean sea bass when it is possibly sourced by the likes of ships like the Thunder.

NBlob reckons...

Posted July 30, 2015
A: because people don't care. They still believe the ocean is some magic puddin of bottomless resource. B: because it is often labelled as other than CSB.

Barnesm reckons...

Posted July 30, 2015
Surely the $$$ price tag must prompt questions about its origin?

NBlob mumbles...

Posted July 30, 2015
Deep long lining is actually a pretty cheap way to fish, the product is a firm white flesh, low in oil, high recovery rate. Exactly what people want. It's unfortunate for the poor old Patagonian tooth fish that they are slow growing, late maturing and live in (relatively) easily found & targeted shoals. If they were from the North Atlantic they'd have been fished to extinction 40 years ago.

NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted July 31, 2015
1st sentence should have included Deep Water fish trawl & Danish seine netting.

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GhostSwirv reckons...

Posted July 30, 2015

Gripping read JB, just with your grab from the article - no time right now to get into the full story, will do later, but I was struck by the visceral feel of the environment the ships were in ... Shadowlands with icebergs as big as tall buildings.

Would make a great film ... like a cross between

GhostSwirv has opinions thus...

Posted July 30, 2015

Ummm, don't know what happened there ... however the story of the two ships stalking each other reads like a cross between The Perfect Storm and The Bedford Incident.

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Sweet Jane Says ducks in to say...

Posted July 30, 2015
The Sea Shepherds broke from Greenpeace to take a more active and involved approach to environmentalism. The Shepherds are what Green Peace once was. I cheer for them during each of their dangerous voyages. They are true rainbow warriors and I'm glad their efforts are made public on the nature channels and in print. It would strengthen the group if more people were like Bob Barker and donated to the cause of conservation. Their names would truly live-on for the causes that these mostly young crews undertake.

J.

NBlob would have you know...

Posted July 31, 2015

True Rainbow Warriors?

Self aggrandising Media whores.

Greenpeace, an organisation I have other difficulties with, at least has a No Harm, passive resistance policy. Watson & crew have no such policy. They charge about, with no clue, only being seen to be protecting the cutsey Disney-eyed critters. "Whale Wars" was not a documentary, it was as confected as any prime time sitcom.

Heyzeus Christos this chaps my butt.

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Halwes mumbles...

Posted July 30, 2015
I've spent many years on the water in many locations around Australia and I reckon the ocean might be nearly ratshit. The fish volumes due to factory ships and trawling are way down where I am. You can get a feed still but it's much harder than 20 years ago. An analysis of the beach sand in this country must surely show high levels of plastic. The gulf flow brings us tonnes of plastic and ghost nets from Asia every year. The beaches at Cape Arnhem are covered with plastic bottles with Asian writing on them, millions of old thongs and medical waste. If you then take into account the acidification projections I think we've stuffed it.

Bangar has opinions thus...

Posted July 30, 2015
I think you'll find Sea Sick paints grim picture. Good news everybody, we are alright and kids probably as well after us. At some point soon there after there will be no recovery.
http://alannamitchell.com/books/

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yankeedog mutters...

Posted July 30, 2015
Am liking the dazzle camo on the Barker. Shades of WWII corvette there.

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Rhino mumbles...

Posted July 31, 2015
I'm surprised someone hasn't "disappeared" them at sea yet.

Sweet Jane Says would have you know...

Posted July 31, 2015
Wiki-up The Rainbow Warrior in New Zealand. It caused a global backlash against France and mourning around the world for the sleeping victims. When people disappear they sometimes continue to exist as martyrs. Environmentalists will quickly need to choose the path of the revolutionary or insurgent in the next two decades.

NBlob puts forth...

Posted July 31, 2015

Pfft Global Backlash. nuthin nowhere. Nice histerical revisionism. Show me where France suffered anything more serious that a stern Tutt tutting ? exports-unaffected, no sanctions, not even a UN condemnation.

The hero of that story was the NZ beat cop. Not the lentil-munchers who didn't even post a watch. Poor seamanship will always result in "terrible & unforseen tragedies."

Rhino ducks in to say...

Posted July 31, 2015
Jane - is that before or after the population bomb apocalypse postulated in the 60's? Or maybe the global cooling apocalypse postulated in the 70's?
Why is it always "20 years out"?
Oh, wait, I know. It's the BOOGEMAN!

NBlob would have you know...

Posted August 1, 2015
Forgive Mr Rhino sir, but your politics may be veiling your knowledge. The Club of Rome remarkably accurately forecast population growth & more importantly shifts in consumption, what they didn't forecast was the rapid uptake of synthetic nitrogenous fertilisers, broad scale (& problematic) use of fungicides & herbicides, which resulted in a (one time only) many-fold increase in Agri-production, which to date has semi kept up with pop growth. Ditto oil production, the conclusion to the report said " We're screwed unless remarkable new fields are located & radical developments in extraction technology are made." In the following 20 years due to advances in geoscience we/they detected considerable new resources & they doubled the depth & horizontal drilling techniques which accessed previously unobtainable oil + refining technology increased yield, or more accurately decreased waste. Saying they got it wrong is a bit like criticising a coach for playing the wrong quarterback, on Monday morning after the game results are in.n

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Rhino puts forth...

Posted July 31, 2015
Oh, and I always love it when there is a call to action to be "rebels and insurgents" by people that don't/won't own guns.
You could do what my football line coach would say after an ineffectual block, "Whattya gonna do, hit em wit your purse?"
About as effective.

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X-Wing Down

Posted July 23, 2015 into Awesome by John Birmingham

What if the great battles between the Rebellion and the Empire were fought out over Earth? Someone like Nicolas Amiard would get some great shots of the wreckage that's what.

A Star Destroyer squashes a whole bunch of luckless arrondisements.

And this doesn't look like the Degoba System.

The collection is here, under 'Photomontages'.

7 Responses to ‘X-Wing Down’

NBlob asserts...

Posted July 23, 2015
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=P6bgqm6FEE4

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Chaz ducks in to say...

Posted July 24, 2015
looks like that star destroyer managed to miss the Arrondisements that matter 8th,& 16th so that's good :)

Lulu mumbles...

Posted July 24, 2015
It also missed my favourite bakery in the 12th, so I don't need to panic.

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Shifty Tourist reckons...

Posted July 24, 2015
Yeah, look how big the flight deck is.... you could fit several office floors in there. Although, technically they are from a Galaxy far far away, and from olden times.... perhaps people are much, much bigger where and when they come from.

MickH mutters...

Posted July 25, 2015
yeah, the falcon is out of scale. All the others are good but

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Soviet military mapping project

Posted July 20, 2015 into Awesome by John Birmingham

Wired has a cool piece on the Soviet Military’s detailed maps of western cities. Wish I’d known about this when I we were designed the cover art for Stalin’s Hammer. How cool would it have been to put a Soviet map on the cover of each instalment, which after all, are based on cities. (Almost as cool as it would be if I could get my publishers to sort out their geographic rights differences, so I could actually publish the rest of the series.)

[Image from Wired: A 1980 Soviet map of San Diego naval facilities (left) compared with a US Geological Survey map of the same area, from 1978 (revised from 1967). KENT LEE/EAST VIEW GEOSPATIAL; USGS]

The Sovs weren’t just translating street names, either. They had detailed tactical information right down to street level. Stuff like whether you could drive your tank down that back alley.

They had mapped nearly the entire world at three scales. The most detailed of these three sets of maps, at a scale of 1:200,000, consisted of regional maps. A single sheet might cover the New York metropolitan area, for example.

But they didn’t stop there. The Soviets made far more detailed maps of some parts of the world. They mapped all of Europe, nearly all of Asia, as well as large parts of North America and northern Africa at 1:100,000 and 1:50,000 scales, which show even more features and fine-grained topography. Another series of still more zoomed-in maps, at 1:25,000 scale, covers all of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, as well as hundreds or perhaps thousands of foreign cities. At this scale, city streets and individual buildings are visible.

And even that wasn’t the end of it. The Soviets produced hundreds of remarkably detailed 1:10,000 maps of foreign cities, mostly in Europe, and they may have mapped the entire USSR at this scale, which Watt estimated would take 440,000 sheets.

All in all, Watt estimated that the Soviet military produced more than 1.1 million different maps.

23 Responses to ‘Soviet military mapping project’

Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted July 20, 2015
My childhood best friend, Alex, would have loved this stuff.

I wish he were here to see it.

Lulu mutters...

Posted July 20, 2015
Security!

Bangar puts forth...

Posted July 20, 2015
Jared we have a policy if can't behave you're posts wont last. I'm leaving it for the moment but others may not.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted July 20, 2015
Jared has been dealt with.

Bangar swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 20, 2015
I'm reluctant to delete comments, but I will and I will highlight those that I think are worth scrutiny. In a way leaving them up for a bit gives people a heads up as too who keep an eye on.

Lulu ducks in to say...

Posted July 20, 2015
Thanks JB.

(Just like to make it clear to others that I was calling security on a troll, not Murphy)

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Aaron mumbles...

Posted July 20, 2015
I don't know if countries left out should feel lucky or crap for not being worthy of wasting

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Peter in the bleaches reckons...

Posted July 20, 2015
Aaron, I think we should feel lucky! Having said that fair chunks of 'stralia were mapped at 1:25,000. Makes calling in artillery a whole heap easier than larger scales. How you use the different scales is also determined by your transport. Armoured units need larger scales otherwise they keep driving off the edge of the map. Walking infantry find 1:25,000 just fine.

HAVOCK21 is gonna tell you...

Posted July 20, 2015
25 K works fine for mortars.

\ROUNDS COMPLETE!

Peter in the bleaches would have you know...

Posted July 21, 2015
Repeat, repeat

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Dave W ducks in to say...

Posted July 20, 2015
When did this project commence? My guess is that it would have been after their humiliation at the hands of the Czechs in 68, who took down street signs etc to derail the Soviet takeover after the prague spring.

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Murphy_of_Missouri mutters...

Posted July 20, 2015
On a more realistic level, how could this have been of any use to any part of the conventional Soviet Military? Any attempt to get across the Pacific would have been a disaster for them. Coming down through Alaska and Canada? Not much better results. For nuke strikes, why the detail? They didn't have smart weapons of any worth so that isn't the reason.

insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted July 20, 2015
It kept a lot of people employed and out of trouble even if for no good reason?

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted July 20, 2015
Ha, foolish American! They were using tunnels from Mexico.

Murphy_of_Missouri puts forth...

Posted July 20, 2015
And they say only the CIA was involved in running drugs.

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HAVOCK21 reckons...

Posted July 20, 2015
yeah, murph i'm not sure sure its as simple as "they couldn't do it"you have to look at it from their end, and thats having as much details as possible....and remember, they say do this and there people just went and did it...no questions asked. M9ght have been great for spies, great for special ops and if you are planning the op, in that time line, the last thing you want to do is wait for the fkn mapping department. Have them all done and up date the fkrs fanatically!

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted July 20, 2015
It doesn't seem practical. They couldn't possibly have ever used the vast majority of these maps.

I suspect it was a jobs creation program with a tangential military connection - the only way to secure government funding.

But it still magnificent.

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Therbs would have you know...

Posted July 20, 2015
Fkn commie bastards!

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Sparty puts forth...

Posted July 20, 2015
so the big news in that blog piece is that there are two FINISHED? follow up installments of Stalins hammer! (Cairo and?)

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted July 20, 2015
The Zone.

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HAVOCK21 reckons...

Posted July 20, 2015
CAP the fkn lot and let GOD or whomever fkn sort out the muppets!.
Collateral is all Im gunna sy...shit happen a dn so long as its to some other mthrfkr SO BE IT!

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HAVOCK21 reckons...

Posted July 20, 2015
CAP the fkn lot and let GOD or whomever fkn sort out the muppets!.
Collateral is all Im gunna sy...shit happen a dn so long as its to some other mthrfkr SO BE IT!

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GhostSwirv ducks in to say...

Posted July 21, 2015

Perhaps the level of detail of the Soviet era maps underlines the existence of Fifth Columnists in the target countries/cities or at the least the intention to utilise such clandestine forces in the event of an actual conflict with the West.

It may have been a massive job-creation scheme - then again maybe McCarthy was right and there were a lot more REDs under the bed than previously believed.

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