Idiotic or Inspired?

Panjandrums and Other Nonsense


So she went into the garden to cut a cabbage-leaf to make an apple-pie; and at the same time a great she-bear, coming up the street, pops its head into the shop. “What! No soap?” So he died, and she very imprudently married the barber; and there were present the Picninnies, and the Joblillies, and the Garyulies, and the grand Panjandrum himself, with the little round button at top, and they all fell to playing the game of catch-as-catch-can till the gunpowder ran out at the heels of their boots.

That quote from Samuel Foote was a test of his rival Charles Macklin’s assertion that he could memorize any text after hearing it only once. It also was the inspiration for the naming of a two-ton spinning wheel of Nazi death during WWII.

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Military-Grade Awesome

German V-2 Tests im Video!

Peenemünde, Start einer V2

As a weapon system, the V-2 was fairly ineffective. It’s real purpose was to terrorize and punish Germany’s enemies, hence it’s use on England and Antwerp. More people died producing the V-2 than were killed by it in military use. At the time the V-2 program went into high gear, Germany had bomber systems capable of delivering bombs and rockets to London with higher accuracy and at less cost to Germany in terms of both Reichsmarks and diversion of resources. Despite all this, Germany pressed on with the V-2 program. The Fuhrer wanted to terrorize London, and he wanted a propaganda win for his loyal subjects. It’s an absolutely horrible weapon system, and it’s failure as a weapon system should have relegated it to a historical footnote. It did inflict significant damage on its targets, though, and it laid the groundwork for all modern rocket systems. For that reason, it is quite important.

Hit the jump for some video of test failures of the V-2 rocket.

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Spy vs Spy Week

Cross; Double Cross

When you start reading some historical accounts of espionage and counter-espionage, you start to realize that Great Britain is a master of the craft. Going all the way back to Elizabeth I and probably before, the Brits had developed a large network of spies and perfected the art of running spies. This skill proved very useful during the dark days of World War 2.
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Computers You Should Know

The Enigma Machine

Enigma machine in use, 1943

No other computer has the cloak of intrigue and the dagger of war surrounding it quite like the Enigma machine.
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Military-Grade Awesome

A Lotta Gun

I’m slowly realizing I have a thing for Nordic weapons. The Krag-Jørgensen is atop my list of weapons to acquire for the upcoming zombie apocalypse my future gun collection. Last night while watching Sons of Guns on Discovery (horribly contrived, but a guilty pleasure nonetheless), I learned of another Nordic gun that would help repel hordes of the undead look good in my den. This one measures 88 inches long, hails from Finland, and was responsible for killing off Soviet tanks during the Winter and Continuation Wars.
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Stealth Week

A Bodyguard of Lies

Winston Churchill once said to Stalin, “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.” That attitude was the driving force behind one of the largest deception operations in the history of war, and lent its name of Operation Bodyguard. Continue reading A Bodyguard of Lies