Monday, November 30, 2015

Quote for the Day

"You know, a long time ago being crazy meant something. Nowadays everybody's crazy."

-  Charles Manson (1934 - )

Manson was the leader of a group who became known as The Family. He and his followers were responsible for a series of nine murders at four locations over a period of five weeks in the summer of 1969. In 1971 he was found guilty of conspiracy to commit the murders of seven people: actress Sharon Tate and four other people at Tate's home; and the next day, a married couple, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca; all carried out by members of the group at his instruction. His followers also murdered several other people at other times and locations, and Manson was also convicted for two of these other murders (of Gary Hinman and Donald "Shorty" Shea). 

He is currently serving 9 concurrent life sentences and was denied parole for the 12th time on April 11, 2012. Manson did not attend the hearing where prison officials argued that Manson had a history of controlling behaviour and mental health issues including schizophrenia and paranoid delusional disorder, and was too great a danger to be released. It was determined that Manson would not be reconsidered for parole for another 15 years, at which time he will be 92 years old.

Manson at age 76 in June 2011

Monday Miscellany

Aria is a German backpacker staying in Byron Bay. For the least 3 months he has been waiting for his work permit to be renewed so he has been living off his savings and occasional help from his mum in Germany.

According to one local, the schoolies had attracted a veritable sea of blue to the area: "I've never seen anything like it before here. On Friday, there were cops on bikes, cops on horses, cops in vans, cops in normal cop cars, cops on the beach, cops in riot squad Land Cruisers."

Last Monday Aria was pulled over for a random breath test, found to not have his licence with him and copped a $106 fine. 

So that he would not be booked again by the constabulary, Aria parked his car and walked home, 10 minutes away, to get his licence. As with many locals in the relaxed Byron Bay environment, he didn’t lock his car. He had done the same many times before. He retrieved his licence and walked back, retrieving his car.

To his surprise and dismay, he received another Penalty Notice in the mail for not locking the doors and securing the windows whilst leaving the car unattended. Another $106 fine.

Scheisse happens.


For those unaware, Queensland, NSW and Victoria have laws along the above lines.

In New South Wales, Road Rules 2014, Regulation 213, Section 5 provides

“If the driver will be over 3 metres from the closest part of the vehicle and there is no-one left in the vehicle, the driver must:
(a) if the windows of the vehicle can be secured, secure the windows immediately before leaving the vehicle, and
(b) if the doors of the vehicle can be locked, lock the doors immediately after leaving the vehicle."

Some quick points:
  • At first glance it may sound a bit silly or an unreasonable law about something that is, after all, your property.
  • The rationale is to prevent theft. Vehicles left unlocked can easily be stolen, or stolen from, when left unlocked while you spend 10 minutes in the shop.
  • Vehicle theft might be by car rebirthers or just joyriders. In Australia, it has been found that opportunistic thieves are ‎responsible for about three out of every four stolen cars. ‎
  • Older cars with little security account for the majority of thefts. All it takes is a few simple ‎tools and some basic knowledge, and most thieves can just hotwire a car and drive away.‎
  • Vehicles stolen by professional car thieves are much less likely to be recovered, but joyriders ‎will usually dump a stolen car once they are finished with it. While these vehicles are usually ‎recovered within a day or two, they are often the worse for wear with substantial collision ‎and/or mechanical damage. ‎
  • Furthermore, in a bid to remove DNA, fingerprints or other evidence that could help Police in ‎their investigations, opportunistic thieves often vandalise or burn out a car’s interior.‎
  • The theft affects not only you. It also results in insurance claims and ties up police resources.
  • Car insurance companies usually require that policy holders take reasonable steps to ‎safeguard and protect their vehicle. This means that if your car is stolen because you left it ‎unlocked, your car insurance claim might be declined. Furthermore, the theft of personal ‎items will usually only be covered if they were taken from a locked vehicle.‎
There appear to be no good reasons for leaving your car unlocked and plenty of good ones to secure it.  Your choice.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Quote for the Day

Dorothea Lange (1895 – 1965) was an influential American documentary photographer and photojournalist, best known for her Depression-era work for the Farm Security Administration. Lange's photographs humanised the consequences of the Great Depression and influenced the development of documentary photography.

Self portrait


Patricia O’Keefe, 64 pound bodybuilder gives a piggyback ride to a 200 pound man. [1940]

The winners of the Miss Perfect Posture contest at a chiropractors convention. [1956]

Moody Jacobs reveals a massive bruise on Ann Hodges – the only person in history to have been struck by a meteorite. [1954]

Police in New South Wales, Australia turn their motorcycles into chariots. [1936]

A boy and his riding boar. [c. 1930s]

A US Marine poses somewhere in the Pacific Islands. [c. 1941 – 1945]

Children learning to swim in a schoolyard without access to water. [c. 1920s]

The Telefontornet connected 5,000 phone lines in Stockholm. [1890]

By way of comparison, some pics of electrical wiring:

New York, 1880’s

Thailand, today

Baghdad, today

Delhi, India today

Delhi, today

British Soldiers with captured German Goliath tank busters, which drove under tanks and exploded. [c. 1939-1945]

12,500 soldiers, nurses and officers from Camp Gordon form a human eagle. [1918]

Meanwhile 30,000 men from Camp Custer follow suit with this human US Shield.

Four horsemen ride the streets during Amsterdam’s ‘motor-less day’, where cars were prohibited due to the oil crisis. [1973]

After learning that many poverty-stricken women were using sacks to make clothing for their kids, some flower mills began using flowered fabric for their sacks. [1939]

A woman rides an early electric scooter. [1916]

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Quote for the Day

Symbols: Part 2

The lightning bolts symbol of the dreaded SS in Nazi Germany dates back to a 9th century Scandanavian runic alphabet known as Young Futharck, where a symbol similar to a lightning flash stood for the letter S:

In 1906 an Austrian mysticist and Germanic revivalist, Guido von List, claimed that whilst recovering from a cataract operation, the “secrets of the runes” had been revealed to him. His list of runes, the Armanen Futharkh, is a reinterpretation of the Scandanavian runes:

Symbol 11 above was reclassified by him as meaning “victory”.

His symbols were adopted by völkisch supporters.

The German völkisch movement (meaning people’s movement) were people dabbling in mysticism and extreme nationalism.  According to historian James Webb, the word also has "overtones of 'nation', 'race' and 'tribe'. Völkisch ideology rejected liberalism, democracy, socialism and industrial capitalism as being un-German”, all features of the political system of Weimar Germany. They characterised such features as the result of subversive Jewish influences. By the end of WW1 there were about seventy-five völkisch groups in Germany, promoting a variety of pseudo-historical, mystical, racial and anti-semitic views. This had a major influence on the embryonic Nazi Party; Hitler wrote in his 1925 book Mein Kampf that "the basic ideas of the National Socialist movement are völkisch and the völkisch ideas are National Socialist." 

The völkisch movement adopted the use of List’s Armanen Runes, including the swastika, and the Nazi’s in turn adopted the use from that movement. Heinrich Himmler, who led the SS from 1929 to 1945, was one of many leading Nazi figures associated with völkisch groups, and his interest in Germanic mysticism led him to adopt a variety of List's runes for the SS. Some had already been adopted by members of the SS and its predecessor organisations but Himmler systemised their use throughout the SS. By 1945 the SS used twelve Listian runes, in addition to the swastika.

The SS was the abbreviated name of the Schutzstaffel, meaning "Protection Squadron", a Nazi paramilitary organisation. It had begun as a small guard unit known as the Saal-Schutz ("Hall-Protection") made up of National Socialist Party volunteers to provide security for Nazi Party meetings in Munich. In 1925, Heinrich Himmler joined the unit, which had by then been reformed and given its final name. Under Himmler's direction (1929–45), it grew from a small paramilitary formation to one of the most powerful organisations in the Third Reich. From 1929 until Nazi Germany's collapse in 1945, the SS was the foremost agency of surveillance and terror within Germany itself and the occupied territories in Europe.

The SS's runes insignia was introduced in 1933 for Hitler’s protection unit but eventually it became the insignia for the entire SS. 

A graphic designer, Walter Heck, came up with the SS lightning bolts insignia. Heck was an SS Sturmhauptführer who worked as a graphic designer for Ferdinand Hoffstatter, a producer of emblems and insignia in Bonn. For his efforts and design concept, Heck received a token payment of 2.5 Reichsmarks for his work. The device had a double meaning; as well as standing for the initials of the SS, it could be read as a rallying cry of "Victory, Victory!" During the Nazi period, an extra key was added to German typewriters to enable them to type the SS logo with a single keystroke. 

The various divisions of the military arm of the SS, the Waffen-SS (German for "Armed SS", literally "Weapons SS"), also had their own insignia in addition to the SS. These insignia were also based on the List runes:

The Waffen-SS was formed in 1940 and was a crack front line combat organisation. An elite military formation of nearly 600,000 men by the time WWII was over, its units spearheaded some of the most crucial battles of WWII.

The image of an all-German Waffen-SS is, however, misleading.

My father in law, Noel, a history buff, pointed out to me recently that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was a Hitler supporter and that there was an SS Division composed of Bosniak recruits.

As WW2 dragged on, the Waffen-SS competed with the Wehrmacht (the Nazi combined military forces of the army, navy and air force) for new recruits. Himmler solved the problem by creating Waffen-SS units composed of other nationalities and Germanic people in other countries. By the end of 1943 approximately 25% of the SS (310,000 men) consisted of SS “Foreign Legions”, including French, Dutch, Belgian, Ukrainian Albanian, Serbian, Croatian and Turkish recruits. In many cases the recruits joined the Nazis because of hostility to Germany’s enemies, including opposition to Russia and Stalin. Hostility to the British was so high in India that there was even an Indian Waffen-SS unit composed mainly of disaffected Indian prisoners who had served in the British Indian Army.

The exiled Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husayni, was made an SS-Gruppenführer by Himmler in May 1943. The Mufti subsequently used anti-Semitism and anti-Serb racism to recruit an entire Waffen-SS division of Bosnian Muslims, the SS-Handschar

Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini greeting Bosniak SS volunteers before their departure to the Eastern Front, 1943

Haj Amin al-Husseini meeting with Adolf Hitler (December 1941).

By 1944 Himmler’s need for further Waffen-SS recruits was so desperate that he was seeking release of Muslim prisoners from the concentration camps to supplement his SS troops.

One final comment:

The SS uniforms were designed and manufactured by Hugo Boss, who had started his own clothing company in Stuttgart in 1924. Boss joined the Nazi Party in 1931, two years before Hitler came to power. The Hugo Boss company produced the black SS uniforms along with the brown SA shirts and the black-and-brown uniforms of the Hitler Youth. In 1999, US lawyers acting on behalf of Holocaust survivors started legal proceedings against the Hugo Boss company over the use of slave labour during the war. The misuse of 140 Polish and 40 French forced workers led to an apology by the company.

It has led to the following comment:

Friday, November 27, 2015

Quote for the Day

Funny Friday

It’s Funny Friday again.

Events in the world have been far from funny of late, perhaps they always have been, maybe we just report the bad stuff more (and more sensationally) now. That makes it all the more important to pause momentarily and have a laugh.


(Caution: there is some risque content.)

Two sisters, one blond and one brunette, inherit the family ranch. Unfortunately, after just a few years, they are in financial trouble….

In order to keep the bank from repossessing the ranch, they need to purchase a bull so that they can breed their own stock.

Upon leaving, the brunette tells her sister, ‘When I get there, if I decide to buy the bull, I’ll contact you to drive out after me and haul it home.’

The brunette arrives at the man’s ranch, inspects the bull, and decides she wants to buy it.

The man tells her that he will sell it for $599, no less. After paying him, she drives to the nearest town to send her sister a telegram to tell her the news.

She walks into the telegraph office, and says, ‘I want to send a telegram to my sister telling her that I’ve bought a bull for our ranch and I need her to hitch the trailer to our pickup truck and drive out here so we can haul it home.’

The telegraph operator explains that he’ll be glad to help her, then adds, it will cost 99 cents a word.

Well, after paying for the bull, the brunette realises that she’ll only be able to send her sister one word.

After a few minutes of thinking, she nods and says, ‘I want you to send her the word ‘comfortable.’

The operator shakes his head. ‘How is she ever going to know that you want her to hitch the trailer to your pickup truck and drive out here to haul that bull back to your ranch if you send her just the word ‘comfortable?’

The brunette explains, ‘My sister’s blonde. The word is big. She’ll read it very slowly… ‘com-for-da-bul.’

A hooded armed robber bursts into the Bank of Italy and forces the tellers to load a sack full of cash. On his way out the door with the loot, one brave customer grabs the robber’s hood and pulls it off, revealing the robber’s face. The robber shoots the guy dead without hesitation! 

He then looks around the bank to see if anyone else has seen him. He sees one of the tellers looking straight at him. The robber walks over and calmly shoots him dead. Everyone by now is very scared and looking down at the floor. 

“Did anyone elsa seea my face?” calls the robber.

There follows a tense minute of silence. An elderly Italian gentleman, tentatively raises his hand and says, “I thinka my wife caught a glimpse.”

Boss to Blonde: “If I gave you $5 Million minus 10%, how much will you take off?”

Blonde: “Everything Sir … shoes, dress, bra, panties … absolutely flippin’ everything!”

An Emergency Call Centre worker in London, England, has been sacked, much to the dismay of her colleagues who are reportedly unhappy with her dismissal.

It seems a male caller dialled 999 from a mobile phone stating, “I am depressed and lying here on a railway line. I am waiting for the train to come so that I can finally meet Allah.” 

“Remain calm and stay on the line,” was not considered to be an appropriate response.


Corn Corner: