Powerful Iwo Jima WWII footage shot by marines in combat and never seen publicly

Today is the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Iwo Jima, when the US Marines and Navy invaded and captured the island from the Imperial Japan Army. Almost 7,000 Allied troops and 18,000 Japanese soldiers were killed. The University of South Carolina's Moving Image Research Collections is now helping the History Division of the Marine Corps digitize and make public mostly unseen film footage shot by marines in combat during the battle. There are 14,000 cans of film undergoing the digitization and preservation process. The videos above and below are barely a teaser of what's to come. From the University of South Carolina:

From the beginning, Marine Corps leaders knew they wanted a comprehensive visual account of the battle — not only for a historical record but also to assist in planning and training for the invasion of the Japanese main islands. Some Marine cameramen were assigned to the front lines of individual units, and others to specific activities, such as engineering and medical units. Films from these units show the daily toll of the battle such as Marines being treated in the medical units or being evacuated off the island to hospital ships as well as essential behind-the-lines tasks of building command posts or unloading and sorting equipment on beaches....

Another goal of the Marine Corps film project is to identify and label as much of the historical information in the films as possible, such as Marine Corps units and equipment. In addition to manually scanning the films for this information, Moving Images Research Collections has partnered with Research Computing and the university’s Computer Vision Lab, a research group within the College of Engineering and Computing, to use artificial intelligence to recognize text in the films to help identify units as well as individual Marines, airplanes and ships.

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Man performs CPR on gecko floating in his beer

A fellow named Brett, aka "Slab," was having a beer with his buddies at the the Amble Inn in Corindi Beach, New South Wales, Australia, when he noticed a gecko in his mug. The gecko wasn't moving so Slab sprang into action, as seen in the video above.

Yes, geckos do sometimes play dead as a defense mechanism. But either way, good on ya, Slab!

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Gentleman on EasyJet flight began eating his phone, forced landing

A gentleman on an easyJet flight from Manchester to Iceland apparently began disassembling and chewing up parts of his mobile phone, causing the battery to smoke and alarming passengers. Prior to this snack, Matthew Flaherty, 44, was simply acting like a drunk asshole violently threatening passengers and crew. The pilot diverted the plane to Edinburgh Aiport. Upon Flaherty's arrest, he screamed racist remarks to the police. The incident happened last year and Flaherty was just in court to face the music. From The Scotsman:

Solicitor Richard Souter, defending, said his client was “aghast at his behaviour” on the flight and had little recollection of the events due to mixing alcohol with painkillers he had taken for a trapped nerve.

Mr Souter said the combination of medication and alcohol had “an adverse effect on his behaviour”.

Sheriff Thomas Welsh QC said Flaherty had carried out an “extremely serious offence” and deferred sentence to next month for the preparation of reports.

The sheriff added: “This is an extremely serious case and you should prepare yourself for custody.”

image credit: Adrian Pingstone (public domain) Read the rest

Someone has been dumping bundles of live snakes in pillowcases outside this UK firestation

Someone has been depositing pillowcases filled with live snakes outside of a fire station in Sunderland, northeast England. Last week, 13 pythons turned up and one has since died. The latest collection included 15 corn snakes and a carpet python. Fortunately, those snakes seem to be in decent health, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). From CNN:

"We were in the midst of Storm Dennis at the weekend when these snakes, who need heat and light in order to survive, were left outside in the cold with just a pillowcase to contain them," said (RSPCA inspector Heidi) Cleaver. "It would have been very stressful for the snakes to be in such close proximity to each other as well..."

The RSPCA has appealed for information about the mystery surrounding the snakes being repeatedly dumped in the area.

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SpaceX and Space Adventures offer tourist trips to orbit

SpaceX and Space Adventures have partnered to offer space tourists a trip to orbit on the SpaceX Crew Dragon space capsule. They expect the first flight to launch in late 2021 or early 2022. Around $50 million will get you a seat. From Spaceflight Now:

The mission would not dock with the space station, but would instead fly into an orbit above the station’s altitude of about 260 miles (420 kilometers) above Earth, according to Space Adventures, the Virginia-based company that arranged flights of seven wealthy space tourists on Russian Soyuz capsules between 2001 and 2009...

Responding to a question on Twitter about a possible price tag of $52 million per seat, (Space Adventures chairman Eric) Anderson tweeted: “Per seat price for a full group of four not quite that much (not dramatically less, but significant enough to note). Definitive pricing confidential, and dependent on client specific requests, etc.”

Anderson tweeted that the training regimen for the Crew Dragon flight will be “significantly less than the few months required for previous missions or ISS missions.”

“Dragon in this profile allows up to 5 days,” Anderson tweeted. “3 days is probably ideal, 40-50 orbits or so.”

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Florida man stored jars of preserved human tongues in his crawlspace

In Gainseville, Florida, a routine crawlspace inspection turned up jars of preserved human tongues that date back to the 1960s. Police are currently investigating whether the tongues were related to research conducted by the home's previous owner, Ronald A. Baughman, a University of Florida professor emeritus whose work focused on oral medicine and surgery. (WCJB)

More in this Reddit post by RandoSurfer77: "I found human remains today in a crawlspace under a home."

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State of Kentucky must pay $150,000 to man with "IM GOD" license plate following First Amendment suit

Remember Ben Hart who sued the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (and won) after he was denied a vanity license plate that said "IM GOD?" Hart had the plate for more than a decade while living in Ohio (image above) and wanted to keep the message when he moved to Kenton County a few years ago. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet denied his application citing rules against personalized plates that are “vulgar or obscene.” Last year, American Civil Liberties Union and Freedom From Religion Foundation argued that the state had violated the First Amendment and won Hart the right to get the plate. Last week, a United States District Judge ordered the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to pay Hart $151,206 in attorneys’ fees and litigation costs. From Fox19:

Hart, who identifies as an atheist, says his personalized plate is his way of spreading a political and philosophical message that faith is susceptible to individualized interpretation.

“I can prove I’m God. You can’t prove I’m not. Now, how can I prove I’m God? Well, there are six definitions for God in the American Heritage Dictionary, and number five is a very handsome man, and my wife says I’m a very handsome man, and nobody argues with my wife,” Hart told FOX19 NOW.

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Robbers in Hong Kong steal 600 rolls of toilet paper, a hot commodity due to coronavirus

In Hong Kong, knife-wielding robbers stole 600 rolls of toilet paper from a delivery worker outside Wellcome Supermarket. Police reportedly nabbed two suspects and recovered some of the toilet paper, a hot commodity as people stock up in fear of the coronavirus. From the BBC News:

Other household products have also seen panic-buying including rice, pasta and cleaning items.

Face masks and hand sanitisers are almost impossible to get as people try to protect themselves from the coronavirus, which has already claimed more than 1,700 lives...

Authorities blame false online rumours for the panic buying and say supplies of food and household goods remain stable.

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San Francisco Bay Area tonight and 2/21: David J (Bauhaus and Love and Rockets) solo shows

The great David J, bassist for Bauhaus and Love and Rockets, is playing two intimate concerts in the San Francisco Bay Area, tonight (2/18) at Santa Rosa's Lost Church and 2/21 at San Francisco's Lost Church. Buy tickets here. I've seen David play solo several times and it's always a lovely, witty, and rousing evening of current and classic songs and stories. David is celebrating his latest record, "Missive To An Angel From The Halls Of Infamy And Allure," that he has said may very well be his last. Above, "I Only Hear Silence Now," the new video from that album.

Meanwhile, the reformed Bauhaus has also announced a handful of life dates for 2020.

image credit: Mila Reynaud (CC BY 3.0) Read the rest

Yet again, police arrest gentleman with "Crime Pays" tattoo on his forehead

Yet again, Donald Murray, 38, was arrested following a police chase. Apparently he escaped the cops but they nabbed him later. I wonder how they managed to identify him. From Fox4:

According to the Terre Haute Police Department, Donald Murray was charged with resisting law enforcement, reckless driving, possession of methamphetamine, maintaining a common nuisance and auto theft after the short pursuit Monday morning.

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DIY electromechanical sequin clock inspired by the popular kids t-shirts

My daughter loves the flip sequin shirts that are all the rage for kids these days. Ekaggrat Singh Kalsi's daughter digs them too and she inspired his fantastic Sequino clock that "writes and rewrites" the time by flipping the sequins. Kalsi posted his build notes over at Hackaday.

Sequino: A Clock Which Rewrites Time Again and Again

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Mysterious "demonic sounds" heard inside McDonald's

In Pueblo, Colorado at 3:330am Friday morning, terrified McDonald's employees called police after hearing "'demonic sounds' from a screaming woman" inside the restaurant.

According to Pueblo Police captain Tom Rummel, the employees also reported sounds of a "strange language and barking."

"They were so unnerved by the sounds that they said they wouldn’t be going back outside their building until after the sun came up," Rummel tweeted. "Three officers searched the area, but didn’t come up with the source of the disturbance."

(Pueblo Chieftain)

image: transformation of photo by Towinn (CC BY-SA 3.0) Read the rest

Watch this impressive c.1929 footage of construction workers atop NYC's Chrysler Building

No, they aren't wearing any harnesses. But some of them are sporting rather dashing chapeaus. From Speed Graphic Film and Video:

New York's Chrysler Building, one of the city's most iconic skyscrapers, was built in a remarkably short time--foundation work began in November 1928, and the building officially opened in May 1930. Even more remarkably, the steelwork went up in just six months in the summer of 1929 at an average rate of four floors a week.

Fox Movietone's sound cameras visited the construction site several times in 1929 and 1930, staging a number of shots to maximize viewers' sense of the spectacular heights. Movietone almost never put somebody in front of a camera without giving them something to say, so a number of scenes include some staged dialogue.

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Ski resort uses helicopter to bring in more snow

Over the weekend, the Luchon-Superbagnères ski resort in the French Pyrenees used a helicopter to bring in fresh snow to the slopes from higher elevations. The chopper dumped 50 tonnes of snow on the beginner and ski school slopes. From The Guardian:

Hervé Pounau, the director of the local department council, said the cost of the operation would be recouped many times over by the business that would have been lost to a lack of snow.

“It will cost us between €5,000 and €6,000, in the knowledge that over the long term we will get at least 10 times’ return on that investment,” Pounau said in a statement...

The operation has angered French ecologists. Bastien Ho, the secretary of Europe Écologie Les Verts party, said the snow transfer operation was evidence of an “upside-down world”.

“Instead of adapting to global warming we’re going to end up with a double problem: something that costs a lot of energy, that contributes heavily to global warming and that in addition is only for an elite group of people who can afford it. It is the world upside down,” he told French television.

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Andrew Weatherall, Primal Scream producer, acid house legend, RIP

Legendary musical force Andrew Weatherhall -- who produced Primal Scream's seminal album Screamadelica, famously remixed the likes of My Bloody Valentine and Meat Beat Manifesto, and as a DJ helped turn the world on to acid house -- has died. He was 56 and suffered a pulmonary embolism. From The Guardian:

Following a young adulthood in the post-punk scene, Weatherall became a key figure in countercultural – and occasionally mainstream – British music after becoming one of the key DJs in the acid house movement of the late 1980s. He was recruited by Danny Rampling to play at London nightclub Shoom, and soon founded the record label Boy’s Own Recordings and the production outfit Bocca Juniors.

Further musical projects included the group the Sabres of Paradise, which splintered into the duo Two Lone Swordsmen with Keith Tenniswood, though perhaps his most famous musical work was with Primal Scream on their breakthrough 1991 album Screamadelica. By taking the band’s anthemic songwriting and adding samples, loops and the euphoric energy of Ibiza, Weatherall’s production made the album one of the most celebrated of the 1990s....

He spoke of the eternal appeal of DJing in a 2016 Guardian interview: “It’s quite vampyric, DJing. You’re never going to have that feeling of hearing that record for the first time again, but if you look into the eyes of someone who’s hearing it for the first time, it’s a nice vicarious feeling. But it’s not selfish. I think I’ve never lost that thing I had when I was 12 years old and inviting my mates round to my house.

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MIT's "Smart Diaper" alerts caregiver when it's wet

MIT researchers outfitted a baby diaper with an RFID tag that emits a wireless signal when the surrounding material gets wet. The wetness "sensor" is actually a type of hydrogel that's commonly found in diapers to absorb liquid. As the hydrogel gets wet, it swells and its conductivity increases, triggering the RFID tag. The RFID tags are printed as stickers for around 2 cents each compared to other Internet-connected diapers in development with reusable sensors that cost as much as $40/each. From MIT News:

Over time, smart diapers may help record and identify certain health problems, such as signs of constipation or incontinence. The new sensor may be especially useful for nurses working in neonatal units and caring for multiple babies at a time...

(MIT AutoID Lab researcher Pankhuri Sen) envisions that an RFID reader connected to the internet could be placed in a baby’s room to detect wet diapers, at which point it could send a notification to a caregiver’s phone or computer that a change is needed. For geriatric patients who might also benefit from smart diapers, she says small RFID readers may even be attached to assistive devices, such as canes and wheelchairs to pick up a tag’s signals.

image: MIT News (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) Read the rest

Man hacks his prosthetic arm to control music synthesizer with his thoughts

Bertolt Meyer wears a myoelectric prosthetic arm and hand controlled by electrodes attached to his residual limb that pick up impulses generated when he consciously contracts that muscle. Those impulses are then translated into control signals for the prosthetic hand. An electronic musician, Meyer had the idea to swap out the prosthetic hand for a DIY controller for his modular synthesizers so he can play music just by thinking about it. This is the SynLimb. Meyer writes:

Together with Chrisi from KOMA Elektronik and my husband Daniel, I am in the process of building a device (the "SynLimb") that attaches to my arm prosthesis instead of the prosthetic hand. The SynLimb converts the electrode signals that my prosthesis picks up from my residual limb into control voltages (CV) for controlling my modular synthesizer. The SynLimb thus allows me to plug my prosthesis directly into my snythesizer so that I can control its parameters with the signals from my body that normally control the hand. For me, this feels like controlling the synth with my thoughts.

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