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This USA-Made Modular Bag Got A Rugged Weatherproof Upgrade

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Mission Workshop has unquestionably solidified themselves as one of the best purveyors of carry solutions around. Yet, even secure in their place at the top, the brand is always looking to improve their offerings. Not even their most popular everyday backpack, The Rhake, is safe — which is why they’ve just unveiled a handsome, ultra-rugged update.

Called The Rhake WX, everything we’ve come to love about this bag remains intact — including its 22L main compartment, rolltop closure, dedicated laptop and tablet pouches, hideaway water bottle pocket, Arkiv modular rails, and wealth of organizational compartments. The big difference, however, is that it’s now available in a two-layer, weatherproof, advanced wax canvas construction from Fairfield Textile — which will not only keep all your gear safe and sound no matter the conditions outside but will also age beautifully the more you use it. Of course, this pack is still made in the USA and comes with a lifetime guarantee. It’s available now for $455 and will ship this August.

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Underwater Wine Cellar

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If you’ve spent any amount of time touring vineyards, tasting wine or just talking about the best use for grapes, you’ve undoubtedly heard about how important terroir is. Turns out that “complete natural environment” that terroir refers to also extends to the way the wine is aged once it’s been bottled because the latest trend in European wine making involves aging the wine underwater. Yes, you read that correctly.

Edivo wine out of Croatia is bottling their wine, sealing it in clay amphoras and then letting it age for almost two years (over 700 days) under the Adriatic Sea at a depth of 18-25 meters. The end result is their wine Navis Mysterium–The Sea Mystery–that comes complete in the amphora exactly as it came out of the water complete with algae, seashells and all. According to an underwater aging experiment that Veuve Cliquot performed on some of their options, the conditions are more than a marketing gimmick because of the temperature controls, pressure, lack of oxygen and light.

 

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PATH OF PERSPECTIVES VIEWPOINT

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Placed throughout the Nordkette mountain range, the Path of Perspectives Viewpoint offers unique outlooks on the Austrian Alps.

The trail begins at the Seegrube cable car station 1,905 meters above sea level. Along the 1.7-mile walkway, a series of 10 architectural elements have been integrated into the terrain to accentuate views of the surrounding scenery. Each one is made from Corten steel, giving them a weathered finish that blends into the grassy hillsides and feature quotes from the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein engraved into the panels. Along with a perch highlighting Langer Sattel and Frau Hitt peaks and an amphitheater embedded into "Big Stone," the path features a cantilevered platform that suspends hikers over the hillside for surreal vistas of Inn Valley below.

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Dramatic Video Shows The Moment Hayabusa2 Made Its Second Touchdown On The Ryugu Asteroid

A newly released video from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) shows the critical moment when the Hayabusa2 spacecraft made contact with the surface of the Ryugu asteroid for an unprecedented second time.

On July 12, 2019, Japan’s Hayabusa2 made history by performing its second touchdown onto Ryugu, an 870-metre-wide asteroid located 300 million kilometres from Earth.

Hayabusa2 performed its first touchdown back in February, collecting material from the asteroid’s surface. This second touchdown was a bit different, involving the collection of deeper materials that were kicked up during a previous mission when the probe fired a projectile onto the asteroid, creating an artificial crater.

A stunning new composite video from JAXA shows Hayabusa2's July 12 touchdown. The video was stitched together from a series of still images captured by the publicly-funded CAM-H instrument. The video is shown at 10-times normal speed to improve watchability, as Hayabusa2's touchdown was conducted at slow speeds.

The video starts with Hayabusa2 around 8.5 metres above the surface. The spacecraft then descends, hitting the surface and kicking up a surprising amount of debris. By the end of the video, Hayabusa2 has retreated some 150 metres from the surface.

JAXA doesn’t know if debris successfully entered into Hayabusa2's sampling horn, but given the large amount of debris seen in the video, there’s reason for optimism. We won’t know for sure until Hayabusa2 returns to Earth with its samples in late 2020.

Asteroids like Ryugu are remnants of the solar system’s ancient past, making them important objects of scientific inquiry. By studying the stuff that makes up this asteroid, scientists could gain a deeper understanding of the processes that led to the formation of planets and other celestial objects.

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New image of Ryugu taken shortly before Hayabusa2 made its second touchdown.

JAXA also released a composite image of the asteroid taken just a few moments before touchdown (above). The image was taken by the spacecraft’s wide-angle optical navigation camera (ONC-W1 and ONC-W2), and it shows Ryugu’s rugged, rock-strewn surface.

Looking at the image, it’s clear that Hayabusa2 faced no shortage of hazards during its two touchdown attempts. With the hard work now over, the spacecraft will stay in orbit around the asteroid for a while longer to monitor the impact site, and then head back home to Earth with, hopefully, its precious cargo.

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“The Irishman” a Scorsese Mob Powder Keg Reunion for DeNiro, Pesci and Pacino 

Netflix released the latest trailer for Martin Scorsese‘s The Irishman reuniting frequent collaborators Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci. Based on the Charles Brandt novel “I Heard You Paint Houses” and adapted for the screen by Steven Zaillian, the film follows the life of World War II-veteran-turned mob hitman Frank Sheeran (DeNiro), who remembers his relationship to his close friend and labor union activist and Teamsters founder Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino).

The Irishman spans decades chronicling infamous moments from Sheeran’s history like the Robert Kennedy assassination, Hoffa’s disappearance in 1975, and his dealings with the Bufalino family. The project took 12 years to get off the ground. The film takes advantage from Industrial Light and Magic’s VFX use of de-aging on DeNiro.

The Irishman marks the ninth feature between DeNiro and Scorsese, fourth with Pesci who came out of retirement to play mob boss Russell Bufalino. The previous three films are Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990) and Casino (1995), the last was 24 years ago. This also marks the fourth film between DeNiro and Pacino, but Pacino’s first under Scorsese.

Frank Sheeran maintains ties with the Bufalino crime family and claims to have killed fellow Teamster Jimmy Hoffa.

Sheeran was born on October 25, 1920, in Camden, New Jersey. According to Brandt, he enlisted in the US Army in August 1941 where he served a total of 411 days in duty predominantly during World War II. Following his service, he started associating himself with the Bufalino family acting as muscle and became a trusted hitman before meeting Hoffa. He would also act as Hoffa’s muscle during his run as Teamsters’ president.

The film will premiere at the New York Film Festival on September 27th and is scheduled for a limited release in late 2019 before it streams on Netflix.

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CBS Announces Two “Star Trek: Picard” Themed Wines

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As part of the upcoming release of their next series Star Trek: Picard, CBS will be releasing two new specialty wines in the theme of the series. CBS Consumer Products have licensed the first of two new wines with Wines That Rock which will be released in conjunction with the show. They are a 2016 Chateau Picard Cru Bourgeois from Bordeaux, France, and a Special Reserve United Federation of Planets Old Vine Zinfandel.

As part of the release, the first 1701 two-bottle combo packs include a numbered, limited edition of the United Federation of Planets Special Reserve. Those first 1701 collectors will have priority notices on all future releases so they can get the next batches of wine ahead of time. As part of the promotion, the wines will be featured this week at Star Trek Las Vegas. You can read more about the wines below along with a quote from the announcement this week.

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Wines That Rock has teamed with the actual Chateau Picard vineyard to introduce the Star Trek Chateau Picard wine. The 2016 Chateau Picard Bordeaux is an 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot blend that is subtly smoky and spicy with a bright, fresh, clean-tasting style. The wine spends 14 months in oak, 70% seasoned and 30% new.

The United Federation of Planets wine is a 2017 Old Vine Zinfandel from across the Dry Creek & Russian River Valleys in Sonoma County, CA. It is a blend of 87% Zinfandel, 12% Petit Sirah and 1% Syrah. It has aromatics of concentrated strawberry, blackberry and plum preserves with a chewy-layered mid-palate filled with hints of white peppercorn, sweet red and black fruit. Elegant, stately and dignified are but a few words to describe the wine that Federation dignitaries might enjoy at their gatherings.

“Star Trek Wines has brought out the true passions of our entire team. It was a unique opportunity to work with award-winning winemakers and the CBS Consumer Products team to create a collection with authentic stories,” said Wines That Rock’s President Howard Jackowitz. “Our goal has been to produce small batch, limited-edition, collectible wines that we as fans want to own. This is what we are all about – creating a product that is genuine with a great story behind it. Live long and prosper!”

 

 

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First trailer for The Lighthouse evokes early films from a bygone age

A24 just keeps churning out smart, intriguing, thought-provoking films, and today the studio dropped the first trailer for its latest offering in the horror genre, The Lighthouse. At first glance, what sets this apart is the choice to shoot entirely on 35mm black-and-white film—better to evoke a bygone age.

Set in 1890, Director Robert Eggers' vision was inspired by a real-life 1801 tragedy involving two Welsh lighthouse keepers trapped in a storm. It was inspired as well by classic tales by Herman Melville, H.P. Lovecraft, and Algernon Blackwood. It's kind of a ghost story, featuring two lighthouse keepers (Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson) on a remote and mysterious New England island, and both gradually go mad from the isolation.

The Lighthouse made its debut at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year to rave reviews, earning a best movie honor from the International Federation of Film Critics—a first for A24. Eggers described the film to Deadline Hollywood as “something a little weirder” than his 2015 breakout film, The Witch, calling it “more dreadful than horror.”

It was shot entirely on black-and-white 35mm film, with the same square frame and aspect ratio (1.19:1) favored by early pioneering filmmakers like Fritz Lang and G.W. Pabst. Per IMDB, "To enhance the image, making it resemble early photography, a custom cyan filter made by Schneider Filters that emulated the look and feel of orthochromatic film from the late 19th century was used." Eggers has said he did this because "the spaces in this movie are meant to feel confined... The idea of widescreen only came about in the 1950s. We wanted to take people back further than that."

The trailer wisely keeps most of the plot details very vague, letting us instead savor the technical achievement of the haunting black-and-white cinematography. It's period horror that looks like an old-time Hollywood Golden Age film. In fact, it's the kind of film Alfred Hitchcock might have made, in the vein of Rope or Rear Window, both of which feature equally constrained settings. And audiences who have had the chance to see the film so far have responded positively. The Lighthouse has a 98% favorability rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The consensus? It's "a gripping story brilliantly filmed and led by a pair of powerhouse performances."

“How long have we been on this rock? Five weeks? Two days?” Dafoe's Thomas Wake wonders aloud. We see the two men going about their daily chores and bonding over drinks at night. But the isolation begins to take its toll on the men's psychological states, and they struggle to distinguish between reality and hallucination. There's a massive storm, what looks like a flood, and an attack by some kind of sea monster (or maybe just an octopus), plus a shot of Winslow lovingly holding a small mermaid sculpture. And throughout, we hear Wake's incessant question: "Why'd ya spill yer beans?" What does it all mean? Who knows? Like The Witch, it's probably best to know as little as possible about the plot going in.

The Lighthouse will screen at the upcoming Toronto Film Festival in September. It is slated for theatrical release on October 18, 2019.

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Japan Said Its Kamikaze Pilots Volunteered To Kill Themselves For Their Country. Their Diaries Tell A Different Story

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At 10:50 a.m. this morning, General Quarters sounded," James Fahey, Seaman First Class aboard the USS Montpelier, wrote on Nov. 27, 1944. "All hands went to their battle stations."

The sky above the Montpelier, stationed in the Philippines, was filled with Japanese planes. American pilots had already scrambled into the air to try to fight them off, and at least one seemed to already be going down. Fahey saw one barreling toward them — except there was no smoke. It didn't seem to have been damaged at all.

The plane crashed into the water, just missing the hull of the Montpelier. Fahey couldn't make sense of it. One of the American aces, he figured, must have hit the pilot.

But within seconds, another Japanese plane came diving down, again without the slightest hint of damage. This one crashed into the stern of a nearby ship, the USS St. Louis. A fireball erupted. The cruiser's hangar exploded into a blazing hell. The men, enveloped in flames, ran frantically for help in the few moments before they burned to death.

Chaos During Kamikaze Attack

This was a new type of war.

Fahey was caught in the middle of a kamikaze assault — an attack by an enemy who didn't intend to make it out alive. Japan's kamikaze pilots were its most brutal and most desperate measure against the American military of World War II. And for a while, it worked.

Birth Of The Kamikaze Of WWII

A 1945 newsreel with authentic footage of a kamikaze plane attack.

Fahey thought he was the first person to see a kamikaze plane in action — but he wasn't. By the time he was attacked, the Japanese had been using kamikaze strategies for a little more than a month.

The first official kamikaze plane had hit its target on Oct. 25, 1944, in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, but the idea had been marinating in Japan's military minds for even longer.

In a sense, there had even been a kamikaze attack in Japan's very first battle against American troops. During Pearl Harbor, a pilot named Lt. Fusata Iida had deliberately crashed his plane into a naval air station, making good on a promise to his friends that, if hit, he'd direct his plane into a "worthy enemy target."

But it wasn't until Germany surrendered and America's victory over Japan became all but inevitable that the Japanese military started to consider sending their own men to their death as a military strategy.

Even in Japan, few believed there was a way to win the war. Instead, they were fighting out of a fear of America's demands for "unconditional surrender." If they could make the battle painful enough for the Allies, the Japanese believed, they might be able to negotiate better terms.

It was Capt. Motoharu Okamura who first proposed the idea on June 15, 1944.

"In our present situation," Okamura told Vice Adm. Takijirō Ōnishi, the commander of Japan's 1st Air Fleet, "I firmly believe that the only way to swing the war in our favor is to resort to crash-dive attacks with our planes."

Okamura was adamant. The men of Japan, he assured his commander, would be willing to lay down their lives for the chance to save their country.

"Provide me with 300 planes and I will turn the tide of war," he promised. "There is no other way."

The Kamikaze 'Volunteers'

Kamikaze Receiving Gifts

Kamikaze suicide pilots being given headbands during a pre-flight ceremony. June. Circa 1945.

Okamura and Ōnishi's suicide squadron wasn't like the lone suicidal men who'd crashed their planes into enemies in the past. Theirs made sure they made an impact.

They flew in planes fitted with a 250-kilogram bomb on the nose. When they crashed into their targets, there would be more than just the impact of a plane to worry about. There would be an explosion so terrible that, if properly placed, it could disable an aircraft carrier - or even sink it.

But for the pilots inside, there would be no chance of survival. Some of the kamikaze planes would even discard their landing gear after taking off, a useless weight for a pilot who had no intention of ever coming home again (though the war would end before any of these models would be used in combat).

The force would be dubbed kamikaze, which in Japanese translates to "divine wind." The phrase had been used since the reign of Kublai Khan in the 13th century, when typhoons dispersed the Mongols that tried to invade Japan. Like those seemingly supernatural forces, the Japanese pilots would save their people from destruction.

Still, men signed up to give their lives in a kamikaze plane, just as Okamura predicted. It is said that when Vice Adm. Ōnishi first asked for pilots, every single man present volunteered.

Fear Of Death

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Kamikaze pilots share a ceremonial cup of sake before flying a suicide mission. Japan. Circa 1944-1945.

In Japanese propaganda, this was proof that the men of Japan were willing to die for their country; but the picture painted in the diaries and letters of the kamikazes themselves is much less steadfast.

The military reported with pride that, when flying ace Lt. Yukio Seki was asked to lead the kamikaze unit, he simply closed his eyes and went still for a moment, then smoothed back his hair and said: "Please do appoint me to the post."

But Seki's comments in private suggest that he had only volunteered because he felt that he had no choice.

"Japan's future is bleak if it is forced to kill one of its best pilots," Seki bitterly told a war correspondent. "I am not going on this mission for the Emperor or for the Empire...I am going because I was ordered to."

Many kamikaze pilots shared Seki's bitterness at the prospect of their inevitable deaths, even if they had, on paper, volunteered. Another wrote home to his mother:

"I cannot help crying when I think of you, Mum. When I reflect on the hopes you had for my future...I feel so sad that I am going to die without doing anything to bring you joy."

Torturous Conditions

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A Japanese kamikaze pilot. Japan. Circa 1944-1945.

Later volunteers would go through even harsher conditions to push them into accepting their suicide missions.

One kamikaze pilot, Irokawa Daikichi, wrote in his diary that, during his training, he was routinely starved and beaten. His superiors would deny him any type of food and, if they even suspected he'd eaten, they would beat him bloody.

"I was hit so hard that I could no longer see and feel on the floor," he wrote. "The minute I got up, I was hit again....[He] hit my face 20 times and the inside of my mouth was cut in many places by my teeth."

Kamikaze pilots would be beaten for any type of disloyalty. Others described being ordered to memorize poems in archaic forms of Japanese, then being knocked to the ground every time they made a mistake.

By the time the day came, any sense of free will they had or any desire to disobey orders would be erased.

Before climbing into their planes, they'd be given a sash with 1,000 stitches, called a senninbari — each stitch made by a different woman — as thanks for giving their lives in war. Like the samurai before them, they would recite a death poem. And then they would share a final cup of sake with those men who, like them, were about to die.

The First Kamikaze Attack

On the morning of Oct. 25, 1944, a squadron of five Japanese kamikaze pilots in Zero planes led by Yukio Seki soared over the Leyte Gulf in the Philippines.

The Americans were totally unprepared for what was about to happen. They manned their guns and fired, but were still used to an enemy that, once disabled, would try to turn back home. These planes just kept coming, no matter how many hits they took.

The first kamikaze dove toward the USS Kitkun Bay, aiming right for the carrier's command center. But instead, the plane exploded on the port catwalk and fell into the sea, leaving the ship damaged but still afloat.

The next two pilots fared even worse. They dove down toward the USS Fanshaw Bay, but both were blown out of the air by anti-aircraft fire before they could do any harm.

The last two kamikazes made their wild dive toward a third ship, the USS White Plains, under heavy fire. Riddled with bullets, the mission seemed like it was going to be a total failure.

One of the planes, however — legend has it, the one piloted by Seki himself — took a sudden sharp turn and rammed into the flight deck of a different ship, the USS St. Lo.

USS St Lo

The USS St. Lo, the massive aircraft carrier sunk by a single plane in the first kamikaze attack. Circa 1944.

The explosives in the nose of Seki's plane detonated, setting off the ship's bomb magazines. The massive 8,000-ton aircraft carrier erupted into flames. The Americans had to scramble to save as many of the 889 men on board as they could before the whole thing sank.

Five planes had gone down, and five pilots with them — but the first kamikaze squadron had taken down an aircraft carrier and killed more than 100 Americans.

Japan's first experiment with kamikaze fighters was a success.

The Growth Of The Kamikaze Program

Over the next 48 hours, another 50 kamikaze pilots were sent into the Leyte Gulf. All told, Ōnishi's first experiment hit seven carriers and 40 other ships, five of which sunk to the bottom of the sea.

The kamikaze program was born. Over the course of the war, thousands of men would sacrifice their own lives trying to hurtle themselves at their enemies (Japan pegged the number at 4,000, while the U.S. estimated 2,800 kamikaze pilots died). They would become one of Japan’s greatest attack forces, even when the Americans learned to adapt.

The final battle of the Pacific Theater, the Battle of Okinawa, saw even more kamikaze pilots sent to their deaths. Some 1,465 kamikaze planes would be sent out against enemy targets in that one battle alone.

It was a hugely effective program — even though only 14 percent of kamikaze pilots actually hit their targets. By some estimates, they were responsible for 80 percent of the U.S.'s losses in the final phase of the war.

And back in Tokyo, Japanese military leaders were stockpiling more suicide planes and even suicide boats in preparation for the Americans' invasion of their homeland. Had the war not ended before the U.S. Army had to storm the beaches of Japan, they would have met more a wave of suicide squadrons unlike any they'd ever seen.

The End Of The Kamikaze Program

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Matome Ugaki before flying the last kamikaze mission, shortly after Japan surrendered. 1945.

The kamikaze program ended with the war. In early August of 1945, after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Soviet Army began to roll through Manchuria, it became clear that there was nothing Japan could do to change its fate.

For many of the pilots who'd given their lives, it was the ending they'd expected. Many, before flying off to their deaths, had written letters home to their mothers bemoaning that were going to waste their lives in a futile war.

As one kamikaze wrote home:

"I have to accept the fate of my generation: to fight in the war and die."

Thousands of young men never came home to their mothers, and nothing changed.

But if the manual the Japanese government provided them before they went off on their last missions can be believed, before they died, they saw their mothers one final time.

"At that moment," it promised, when a kamikaze pilot crashes his plane into his target, "you see your mother's face."

"You are relaxed and a smile creases your face. The sweet atmosphere of your boyhood days returns," it claimed. "You may even hear a final sound like the breaking of crystal."

"Then you are no more."

 

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How The Smithsonian Prevents Neil Armstrong's Spacesuit From Slowly Destroying Itself With Harmful Gases

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Short of entombing it in a giant resin block like a prehistoric mosquito trapped in amber, the Smithsonian’s conservators can’t stop Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit from slowly breaking down over time. But, as Adam Savage discovered, they have come up with a clever way to slow down the degradation. It’s not obvious to museum visitors, but Armstrong’s spacesuit now actually breathes to help dispel gases that contribute to its slow decay.

First put on display at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, back in 1976, Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit wowed space enthusiasts for 30 years before curators made the decision to take it down in 2006 over concerns about the suit’s condition and its deterioration.

Manufactured in the ‘60s for Nasa’s Apollo program, the suit was really only designed to survive for about six months (which included a trip to the moon and back) so in order to survive another 30 years on display, and hopefully longer, some important steps had to be taken.

What followed was 13 years of painstaking restoration and conservation work, partially funded by over $US700,000 ($1,023,709) raised in a crowdfunded Kickstarter campaign. On July 16, 2019, it went back on display at the Air and Space Museum, and one of its first visitors was Adam Savage who’s spent years working on and perfecting an exact replica of Neil Armstrong’s A7-L pressure suit, which he wore for the occasion. Savage also got to chat with the museum’s Objects Conservator, Lisa Young, about the conservation process and she revealed some interesting secrets about the efforts to extend the suit’s lifespan.

There are quite a few things working against the conservation efforts, including moon dust still embedded in the spacesuit’s fibres which are microscopic, but still incredibly sharp and capable of tearing the suit as it’s simply being moved around. Even the fact that the suit is degrading serves to accelerate the degradation process.

Its inner pressure bladder is made from a mix of natural and synthetic rubbers which, over the past 50 years, have become stiff in some areas, and decomposed in others. As the rubber breaks down, it releases harmful gases that easily find their way into other parts of the suit, causing further damage.

There’s nothing the museum’s conservators can do to stop the pressure bladder from releasing those gases but built right into the spacesuit’s exhibit are some clever ways to dispel them. To hold the suit in a realistic pose so that it appears as if an astronaut is still inside, a custom mannequin was designed and built using various materials, including 3D-printed parts, and an integrated ventilation system.

Between the suit’s legs, visitors will notice a pair of tubes used to pump clean air into the mannequin. That air mixes with the unwanted gases and is slowly evacuated from the exhibit by pumps that send it through an adjoining scrubber to filter out the unwanted particles. It takes about three days for all the air in the exhibit to be completely exchanged, but it’s a process that’s constantly running.

Given the recent 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, you can expect some long lines at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum as visitors will undoubtedly be vying for a peek at Armstrong’s suit. But hopefully, these new conservation efforts mean you’ve got several decades if you want to wait for the crowds to thin before your next visit.

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Ray-Ban Resurrects Their 1968 Aviator Olympian Sunglasses

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In 1968, the legendary sunglass brand reworked the iconic shape of the classic Aviator silhouette to create a new model specifically for Olympians. Now the model is back in the form of the Ray-Ban Aviator Olympian Reloaded Sunglasses.

There are two exclusive color combinations to choose from: a light bronze frame with B15 brown lenses and a light gray frame with classic G15 lenses. The pilot lenses are wrapped in a pair of acetate frames and are joined via one golden metal brow bar that runs from ear to ear seamlessly. These rare shades are perfect for just about any event with its classic profile and a touch of luxury. Unfortunately, these stylish sunglasses are bound to fly off the shelves and are limited to 210 examples. Check out Ray-Ban’s site to see if you can grab a pair for $183.

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These Guys Who Built A Stretched Tank Limo Are After My Own Heart

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Hello, hello, hello, my darlings! What a year it has been so far. I heard you didn’t get that time off from work you put in for, poor thing. As for me, I have been gallivanting abroad, soaking up the sun and happily tuning out the wails of the downtrodden. It’s been rejuvenating, to say the least. And I’m in a particularly good mood today because I’ve just come across two men who’ve built a custom “tank limo,” which is good news for you.

As you are probably well aware, I’m a huge fan of tanks. They’re large, imposing and the people in the cheap seats (see also: personal cars) tend to get out of their way quickly. The only thing I could fault them for is they don’t typically come with a whole lot of creature comforts. There is a lot of exposed metal in there, you see.

At least in my personal armada, I outfit my tanks with plush velvets, goose-down pillows and silks. My tanks are up to spec, but most others aren’t. But these two gentlemen, who run a tank-limo-for-rent business, seem to have the whole comfort thing figured out. Their tank looks quite cosy, and completely appropriate for someone who wants to charade as me for a day.

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“[We’ve] done christenings, kids’ parties, stag parties, we’ve done hen parties, we’ve done proms, we’ve done everything. And right at the end, we can even do your funeral,” Nick Mead, owner of TankLimo.com, tells Barcroft Cars in a video interview. “We do everything from birth to death.”

Tod Chamberlain, the tank commander, calls the tank-limo, “Rolling thunder.” That’s the name of my Komodo dragon! How did he know??

Anyway, Mead says he got into tanks about 30 years ago and ended up with two. (It’s a lot easier than you think, if you’re the right kind of person.) His original plan was to sell one and keep the other, but just before that happened, a company asked if it could hire one and the business idea took flight from there.

The tank-limo was built by welding two “former British Army FV432 APC personnel carriers with an original two-man turret of the FV432 used in the Berlin Brigade,” according to the video’s caption. It can seat up to 10 people, or just you because if you’re going to be me for a day, you also need to know I don’t share. Sharing is for the birds and the losers.

The tank-limo is 6.71 metres long, about 2.4 metres wide and weighs about 17.5 tons. Mead’s gotten it up to 35 mph, which is more than enough to quell peasant uprisings and flatten pathetic roadblocks cobbled together from hopes and dreams.

Mead and Chamberlain charge £1,600 ($2,925) a day to rent their tank. It’s a small sum of money, but definitely well worth it if you’re looking to spend a few hours in the life of me.

Of course, you’ll never be able to pull off what I do with the same amount of class and taste, but they say imitation is the purest form of flattery.

 

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In The New Trailer For Little Monsters, The Zombie Apocalypse Is A Gory Game Of Tag

What happens when you put Lupita Nyong’o in the middle of a zombie apocalypse with a bunch of kids? A lot of swearing and a lot of blood on a bright yellow dress, apparently.

Although we saw — and moderately enjoyed, mainly thanks to Nyong’o’s excellent performance — Little Monsters when it screened at SXSW 2019 a few months ago, the new red band trailer (so be warned, be careful where you watch!) for Abe Forsythe’s zombie comedy gives you a pretty clear picture that the movie isn’t going to be much more than a fun zombie romp.

Which is fine, because it mostly means getting to see Nyong’o’s Miss Caroline attempt in vain to navigate a spectacularly gory outbreak of the living dead while keeping up the prim and proper facade of the perfect schoolteacher for her young students caught up in the gore alongside her. Zombies? Just... very dangerous participants in a game of tag. Viscera smeared everywhere? Strawberry jam accident!

The trailer makes it pretty clear that Caroline can’t keep the pretense up for too long, but still, it’s a fun excuse to watch Nyong’o fight zombies, slap Josh Gad, and clearly have a whale of a time while doing so.

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Little Monsters heads to U.S. cinemas in November 15, but there's not currently an Australian release date.

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AUSTRO DAIMLER BERGMEISTER ADR 630 SHOOTING GRAND

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Austro Daimler began as a subsidiary of the company that would go on to become Mercedes-Benz in 1899, and made its last car in 1934. Now the company has been reborn with a hybrid-powertrain, all-wheel-drive shooting brake with eyebrow-raising specs. The Bergmeister ADR 630 Shooting Grand uses an inline-six appropriately sourced from Mercedes-Benz, coupled with three electric motors that each make 271 horsepower and a and a 55 kWh battery pack. The combined output of 1,181 horsepower with a total weight of 3,638 pounds means a claimed 0-60 time of 2.5 seconds and a top speed of 205 MPH. The electric-only mode will take you 155 miles, while a total range of 620 miles can be done in the most economical modes — and there are 30 to choose from. The exterior is as impressive as the numbers, with a double-bubble roof, gullwing doors, and front-hinged clip.

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Paris’ Most Scandalous Restaurant Reopens

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“Lapérouse is thus one of those addresses of libertinism that makes Paris the ‘capital of gastronomy’ as much as ‘the brothel of Europe.’”

I never really thought about savoring haute cuisine with a side of sex until I discovered Lapérouse.

A Paris institution, the legendary three-story eatery with the cobalt-blue façade has stood at 51 Quai des Grands Augustins near the banks of the Seine since 1766, and became a hotspot over the decades for the city’s literary (Victor Hugo and Charles Baudelaire were regulars) and political luminaries. And thanks to its salons privés (private dining rooms), the restaurant also served as a discreet setting for risqué romps between affluent gentlemen and their mistresses. At one point, there was even a secret tunnel connecting the decadent joint with the French Senate, allowing philandering politicians to slip in and out undetected.  

“The most widespread view of Paris is that of a city that blends epicurean, romantic and sexual pleasures,” French historian Adrien Lecoursonnais writes in Lapérouse, a slim biography of the restaurant’s 250-year history. “Lapérouse is thus one of those addresses of libertinism that makes Paris the ‘capital of gastronomy’ as much as ‘the brothel of Europe.’”

Said libertine address has recently reopened following a four-month renovation, and although its new owner christened it Maison de Plaisirs (House of Pleasures), the eatery’s origins were more practical than scandalous. Built as a private mansion, Lapérouse was founded in 1766 by King Louis XVI’s personal beverage maker and functioned as a wine market. The second-floor servants’ quarters were transformed into salons privés, and were used by wealthy merchants, not for debauched dalliances, but as spaces where they could discreetly count their money and balance the books without the fear of being robbed by street bandits.

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The restaurant became Lapérouse in the mid-1800s when Jules Lapérouse took over, and its popularity boomed in the decades that followed. Literary lions like Baudelaire, Hugo, Marcel Proust, and George Sand flocked to the elegant haunt with the Rococo interior and gourmet cuisine, and it was at Lapérouse that Colette reportedly penned her 1933 novel, La Chatte.

It was also during this century that the tiny rooms hosted illicit dinners à deux between rich gentlemen and women they weren’t married to. Often gifted with jewelry, the mistresses would scratch the bling against the restaurant’s mirrors to confirm that the gems were authentic. If the diamond left behind a scratch, it was the real deal. The scratched mirrors have since become emblematic of Lapérouse and of the numerous clandestine liaisons held in its petits salons.

The 20th century brought new fame to 51 Quai des Grands Augustins. In 1933, it became one of the first restaurants in Paris to be awarded three Michelin stars—an accolade that lasted for around three decades. A new generation of political heavyweights and bright young things frequented the restaurant, including Ernest Hemingway and other members of the famed Lost Generation that converged on Paris in the 1920s. In a letter to his sister, Hemingway remarked that one could “eat better at Lapérouse,” than at other renowned addresses in the city such as La Tour d'Argent. Serge Gainsbourg is rumored to have met Jane Birkin there, and former French president François Mitterrand reportedly lunched at Lapérouse with his illegitimate daughter Mazarine (in a salon privé, of course).

Lapérouse was also a hangout for members of the ‘90s-era fashion crowd, including supermodel Kate Moss, who scratched "It's 2 late 2 go 2 bed" on one of the mirrors during an after-hours party. It also stood in for the iconic Jazz Age-era hangout, Chez Bricktop, in Woody Allen’s 2011 Midnight in Paris. More recent celebrity visitors have included George Clooney, Natalie Portman, and Nicole Kidman.

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Over the past decade, however, Laperouse’s sumptuous sheen began to give way to shabbiness. The carpets were slightly worn-looking, as were the plush, wine-red loveseats in the salons privés. The food was decent, but a far cry from what the kitchen turned out during the restaurant’s triple Michelin-starred heyday. Many patrons, myself included, only came for the novelty. A slightly bland, overpriced cut of meat somehow tastes juicier if you’re eating it in the same room that Charles Baudelaire may have once smoked opium and jotted down morose stanzas about aging prostitutes and dusty chandeliers.

Because of this, I was able to overlook the lackluster menu and the tourists in stodgy pullovers that populated the main dining room during my first visit a couple of years ago. As the witness to so many deliciously decadent moments throughout history, the restaurant’s intrigue lay in the vestiges of thousands of torrid evenings past, like the Senate passage’s boarded up entrance and the tangle of graffiti-like etches on the Venetian mirrors.

For others, however, the restaurant was no longer even on the radar. Several of my Paris-based friends hadn’t heard of it, and neither had a well-traveled couple I recently bumped into who were visiting from London. It was as though Lapérouse, home to so many ghosts of Paris’s past, had itself become a ghost of its former more vivacious incarnations.

“It resembles more a museum than a restaurant," one diner complained in a disgruntled Trip Advisor review posted in January. “It’s too bad, it would be worth it to renovate everything a bit…The food is not very good.”

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Enter Benjamin Patou. The head of the city’s restaurant and nightlife group, Moma, Patou first set his sights on Lapérouse some 20 years ago during a PR gig. Describing the first time he entered the restaurant as “love at first sight,” Patou was determined to purchase Lapérouse one day. After two failed attempts, he finally succeeded with the help of Antoine Arnault of the luxury goods empire LVMH.

Patou told The Daily Beast that the biggest challenge in the restaurant’s revamp was to completely refurbish the space without removing its soul.

“I wanted the clientele to have the impression that it hadn’t changed, that it had always looked like this,” he explained.

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To celebrate the restaurant’s rebirth, Patou held a masked ball in late-June during men’s fashion week. Some 500 sartorially savvy revelers filled the eatery’s maze of narrow corridors and salons privés. Russian supermodel Natalia Vodianova dropped by, as did French chanteuse Arielle Dombasle. Adding to the 19th-century-style glamour were costumed performers and burlesque dancers, mounds of caviar, and many cases of champagne. French director Claude Lelouch even filmed the fête in action, explaining that the images would be used for his upcoming flick, Les Fantômes de Lapérouse.

Chic soirées are all well and good, but the real question was whether the new Lapérouse could hold its own sans the presence of supermodels or sultry dancers. Determined to find out, I booked a reservation with my French partner, henceforth known as Monsieur. Although I reserved a week in advance, there was only one salon privé available. A good sign. Our two previous bookings were last-minute ones—further proof of the place’s diminished popularity. I slipped on a little black dress and headed for the Left Bank.

Monsieur was late, so I took the opportunity to take a good look around the revamped bar area. Patou recruited both interior design and restoration firms for the project, and the result is striking, but subtle. The red and slate-blue color scheme has been replaced with dusty rose and forest-green hues, and heavy velvet upholstery on the chairs and couches has been traded in for damask silk. Better yet, there was air-conditioning—a much-needed upgrade, especially on a sticky July evening.

After Monsieur arrived, our server Nicolas led us upstairs to a jewel box-sized room on the second floor called La Belle Otéro. Named for Belle Époque-era Spanish courtesan Carolina Otéro, whose roster of lovers included the likes of Albert I of Monaco and King Edward VII, the snug space has just enough room for a table for two and a loveseat. A restored fresco depicting monkeys and lilies adorned one wall, and the table was decorated with crystal glassware and a single candle.

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Nicolas gestured to the vintage-style wall button on the left side of the table—a remnant of the restaurant’s earlier age—explaining that pressing the buzzer gives servers the go ahead to enter. Otherwise, the wooden door with its etched glass window would remain shut throughout the duration of the meal. I winked at Monsieur from across the table, and then we dove into the vast wine list. Lapérouse is renowned for the thousands of bottles in its cellar, many of them rare vintages.

“How about a 2002 Petrus?” he joked. The prized red would have set us back €9000, ($10,100) so we passed it over for a Bordeaux that cost significantly less than a weeklong getaway.

The new menu is small and is rooted in French classics, including duck foie gras, pigeon, and pig’s foot. Patou tapped Michelin-starred chef Jean-Pierre Vigato to create Lapérouse’s dishes, despite the latter’s initial resistance.

“I told Benjamin Patou, not the Left Bank and definitely not Lapérouse!” Vigato said, as quoted in a news release. “What changed my mind was this unique, magical, legendary Parisian venue. We have decided to draw inspiration for our menu from its history, with classic service in the traditional manner.”

The new dessert menu is in the hands of pastry chef Christophe Michalak, who previously worked at the prestigious Hôtel Plaza Athénée and heads up several pastry shops in the city.

We started with foie gras (hard to mess up) and champagne, and for the main I went for the rouget barbet (striped red mullet) with a yellow curry sauce. The small filet was buttery and tender, and while the sauce was a shade too salty for my liking, it was served on the side and didn’t overwhelm the flavor of the mullet. Net yet at Michelin-star levels, but definitely an improvement over previous encounters with Lapérouse’s menu. The tableware—heavy silver plates and plain white china—of yore has been swapped for more whimsical designs by Dior Maison creative director Cordelia de Castellane, and includes monogrammed plates with floral borders.

As the evening wore on, I was relieved to discover that the changes at Lapérouse comprised more of a restoration than a renovation. Its candlelit rooms are still heavy with history and the ambiance still seductive, but subtle flourishes of 21st-century luxury have given the interior a fresh sparkle. Plus there’s the air conditioning, which, as anyone who lives here knows, is a true luxury in France. I was happy to report that Patou had succeeded in his quest to add a newfound polish to the place while still honoring its past.

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After finishing our mains, we moved to the loveseat. The sage-green upholstery printed with images of cranes in mid-flight matched the dining chairs, and seemed an oddly Zen backdrop for a tawdry horizontal tryst. More perplexing was the loveseat’s squat size, which immediately ruled out any possibility of a languorous lovemaking session. If memory serves, the previous red velvet couches, though well-worn, were significantly longer. How would a modern-era Belle Otéro manage? Would she have to be exceptionally short? Keen on quickies? Game to go at it on the floor? Monsieur leaned in for a kiss anyway.

Before long we were making out on the too-small “Zen couch.” Strains of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s 1957 rendition of “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” filtered out of the speaker in the corner, and I nearly fell off the loveseat. Calling it off actually seemed like a wise suggestion. Monsieur, however, didn’t seem bothered. I shot a wary glance at the door’s frosted window. Silhouettes flickered across the glass, but no one opened the door. Nicolas had been (thankfully) telling the truth about the buzzer.

So what happened next? Did we pay homage to the revived Parisian legend and its bevy of courtesans past in a way that would have made Carolina Otéro blush? Or did we acknowledge that a loveseat romp was better suited for a couple of lascivious munchkins, opting instead to cap off the evening with caramel-drizzled dark chocolate, soft, spongy madeleines and the last of the wine?

I’ll leave it to your imagination. Lapérouse may be a Maison de Plaisir, but more than two-and-a-half centuries later it remains, above all, the City of Light’s most discreet address. 

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Another Study Finds Our Galaxy Is 'Warped And Twisted'

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A team of Polish astronomers has created the most accurate three-dimensional map of the Milky Way to date, revealing surprising distortions and irregularities along the galactic disk.

Building an accurate map of the Milky Way is not easy. Our location deep inside the gigantic structure means we can’t observe our galaxy externally, forcing us to envision its form from within. Dense expanses of stars, gas, and dust complicate our view even further. Despite these limitations, we know that the Milky Way is a spiral galaxy measuring around 120,000 light-years across, and that we’re located around 27,000 light-years from the galactic core.

Over the years, astronomers have employed various attempts to map our galaxy, including star counts, radio observations of gas molecules, and even extrapolations of similar spiral galaxies nearby. These efforts have resulted in maps that are decent but not great. A better way to map the Milky Way would be to directly measure our distance to a large sample of stars strewn across the galactic disk. Better yet, the stars used in this sample would belong to a specific, well-studied type to ensure observational accuracy.

Using this strategy, a team of scientists from the Astronomical Observatory at the University of Warsaw has compiled the most accurate 3D map of the Milky Way to date. Astronomer Dorota Skowron led the study, which was published Friday in Science.

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Animation showing the twisted shape of our galaxy.

Among several other new findings, the updated 3D map shows the S-shaped structure of our galaxy’s distorted stellar disk. The Milky Way is not flat like a pancake, and is instead “warped and twisted,” in the words of co-author Przemek Mroz, who described his team’s work in a related video. That our galaxy is warped was already known, but the new research further characterises the surprising extent of these distortions. As the new research shows, this warp starts at ranges greater than 25,000 light-years from the galactic core, and it gets more severe with distance.

“If we could see our galaxy from the side, we would clearly see its warp,” Skowron told Gizmodo. “Stars that are 60,000 light-years away from the Milky Way’s center are as far as 5,000 light-years above or below the Galactic plane,” she said. “This is a big percentage.”

In terms of a cause, the researchers attributed interactions with neighbouring galaxies, intergalactic gas, and possibly even dark matter.

The new research also showed that the thickness of the Milky Way is variable throughout. Our galaxy gets thicker with distance from the core. At our location, for example, the galactic disk is about 500 light-years thick, but at the outer edges it’s as much as 3000 light-years thick.

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Milky Way Cepheids on the Milky Way map.

To create the 3D map, Skowron and her colleagues charted the location of Cepheid variable stars. These young, pulsating supergiants are ideal for this research because their brightness changes in a very regular pattern. Ultimately, the location of Cepheid stars within the Milky Way can be more accurately pinned down than other kinds of stars, which is precisely what was needed for this mapping project.

A sample of over 2400 Cepheids was used to create the new map, the majority of which were identified with the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) survey, which monitors the brightness of nearly 2 billion stars. In total, the researchers observed the galactic disk for six years, taking 206,726 images of the sky.

The 1.3 metre Warsaw telescope in the Chilean Andes is used for the OGLE survey, and it can monitor the brightness of stars and measure their properties for years. This makes the map more spatially complete than maps produced by data from the Gaia satellite, for example, in which distances are reliable only to 10,000 to 15,000 light-years, said Skowron. Also, the new map is more accurate than previous efforts because of the greater number of stars and the “very high purity” of the Cepheids samples, she said.

“So this is the most ‘real’ map of the Milky Way,” Skowron told Gizmodo.

If this work sounds familiar, it’s because research published earlier this year in Nature Astronomy employed a similar technique, in which scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences reached similar conclusions, using a different group of Cepheids for their map. One of the scientists behind the previous research, Xiaodian Chen from the National Astronomical Observatories at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, took issue with the fact that the authors of the new paper did not cite his team’s work. Nonetheless, he still liked the new science.

“They essentially confirmed our earlier conclusions regarding the 3D shape of the Milky Way’s disk, including its flaring in the outer regions,” Chen said. “A good thing about their confirmation of our work is that they used a different data set, covering 2,431 Cepheids compared to [our] 2,330, observed with a different telescope and through different filters. Yet they found pretty much the same result, which is comforting!”

In addition to illustrating the warped and twisted nature of our galaxy, the new map showed that the Cepheids are surprisingly packed together closely in space, and are of similar ages.

“This is a clear indication that they were created together, in the same star-forming region in the narrow Milky Way arms,” said Skowron. “We can see with our own eyes, and inside our own galaxy, that star formation is not a constant process, but indeed is happening in bursts.”

The new map will also help to further clarify the physical structure of the Milky Way, the number of spiral arms (which is still debated), and the severity of the arms’ spiral twist, among other aspects. To improve the current map, Skowron said observations made from the Northern Hemisphere would add further clarity, along with the use of observatories capable of peering through to the other side of the galactic core and at super-dusty regions very close to the galactic plane. Infrared telescopes, she said, could do the trick.

Looking ahead, Skowron is hoping to chart older stars, which would allow them to visualise the evolution of the Milky Way over time.

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Greenland Lost 12.5 Billion Tons Of Ice In Record-Breaking, Single-Day Meltdown

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After Greenland spent a good portion of July on fire, last week’s northern hemisphere heatwave similarly scorched the country’s ice sheet, triggering a meltdown affecting roughly 60 per cent of its surface. On Thursday alone, new data shows the ice shelf lost 12.5 billion tons to surface melting, its largest single-day loss in recorded history, the Washington Post reported.

It’s not exactly the kind of record you’re happy to see broken. More like terrified. The last time Greenland had a meltdown this massive was in 2012, when its ice sheet sent more than 10 billion tons of runoff into the ocean, according to data from the Polar Portal.

Scientists came to this frankly alarming number based on computer model estimates referencing satellite and other data. Per the Washington Post, a senior researcher at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Ted Scambos, explains the process below:

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“This model, which uses weather data and observations to build a record of ice and snowfall, and net change in mass of the ice sheet, is remarkably accurate. I would accept the result as fact. 12.5 billion tons [lost] in one day, and the highest single-day total since 1950.”

That’s as far back as data about the ice sheet’s daily mass loss has been recorded. Satellite images earlier last week show how widespread the melting had become with snowmelt clearly visible at the ice sheet’s edges.

Video shared on Twitter also revealed that at one point melted runoff became so severe it transformed into sediment-laden rivers of rushing water. The Washington Post reports that in total the ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of runoff during July.

As the warm weather subsides in the coming months, parts of Greenland’s ice sheet will slowly begin to solidify once more, but we’ll be seeing the effects of that 12.5 billion tons of ice it lost to the ocean for much, much longer in mounting sea level rise.

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Treasure Trove Discovered at Egypt’s Atlantis, Where Cleopatra Was Crowned

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Fingers crossed that one of the temples unearthed was the one that refused Paris and Helen refuge which led them on to Troy.

In Plato’s Critias the fictional city of Atlantis—a rival to ancient Athens—was cursed by the gods, besieged by earthquakes and floods, and disappeared into the ocean. For centuries, people wrote pseudo-histories about the ancient city and its supposed location. According to Stanford professor Dan Edelstein, some of the theories about Atlantis even provided fodder for Nazi mythology. But for all of the interest it generated, Atlantis never actually existed. There were, however, places that suffered its fate.

In 1933 British RAF Group-Captain Cull was flying his plane over Aboukir, a Royal Air Force base east of Alexandria in Egypt, when he glimpsed something in the water below him. From his vantage point, Cull could make out the outlines of structures beneath the water. Unbeknownst to him, Cull had located Heracleion, an important ancient Egyptian city that had lain hidden beneath the water for nearly 1500 years.

According to legend, this lost metropolis had hosted its namesake, Heracles, and lovers Paris and Helen before they fled to Troy. Cleopatra, Egypt’s most famous queen, had even been crowned in one of the temples there.  

Before its discovery, Heracleion (which was also known in the ancient world by its Egyptian name, Thonis) was almost the stuff of mythology. Though it is now buried several miles off the coast, Thonis-Heracleion was once a thriving port city. If you were bringing goods into Egypt, this is where your items would be taxed and inspected. The focal point of the city was a huge temple dedicated to the god Amun-Gereb, around which a network of canals snaked and flowed. In between them small islands housed residences, religious sites, and commercial buildings, almost like an ancient Venice. 

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By the fifth century, Heracleion was no more, its role as Egypt’s main port having been assumed by Alexandria in the second century. According to written records, a steady succession of earthquakes, perhaps as many as 23, struck North Africa between A.D. 323-1303. The most severe occurred in A.D. 365. The coastline fell and the cluster of cities that lay in the Canopic branch of the Nile vanished into the Mediterranean.

Even before Cull flew over Heracleion, there had been rumors of underwater ruins for over a century. In 1866 Mahmoud Bey El-Falaki, the official astronomer to the Viceroy of Egypt, had published a map that located the nearby ancient town of the Canopus on the edge of the coastline. But it took nearly 70 years to identify and excavate the area. It was only in 1996, when a team of Egyptian and European archaeologists, working under the leadership of Franck Goddio, founder of the Institut Européen d’Archéologie Sous-Marine, began to truly explore the uncharted waters of the ancient port. It took years to locate Heracleion itself: the team had to start from scratch surveying the seabed, taking soil samples, and collecting geophysical information in an effort to locate archaeological remains. 

The time and effort paid off. During an underwater expedition in 2000, divers saw a large stone head emerge from the murky dark waters. It was the head of the god Hapi, the personification of the Nile’s annual flood. Speaking to Archaeology.org in 2000, Goddio described the city of Heracleion as “an intact city, frozen in time.” It was almost like a sub-marine Pompeii. 

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In the past few months divers at Heracleion have discovered what can only be described as a treasure trove of artifacts from the site. Among the recent discoveries are gold jewelry, coins, and a missing piece of a large ceremonial boat that, when complete, measured 43 feet in length and 16 feet across. According to Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities, they also discovered two previously unearthed temples: the first was large and included stone columns while the second, smaller temple was crumbling and buried beneath 3 feet of sediment. Goddio and his team discovered the artifacts by using sophisticated underwater scanning tools that can locate and produce images of items buried under the seabed. 

To date the excavation has also uncovered 700 anchors, 64 ships, numerous other gold coins, tiny sarcophagi used for the animals that were sacrificed to Amun-Gereb, a number of colossal statues like that of Hapi, and the temple of Amun-Gereb itself. 

Many of the coins found at Heracleion date to the time of King Ptolemy II, who ruled Egypt from 283 to 246 B.C.. Ptolemy II’s father had been a companion and bodyguard of Alexander the Great and he participated in Alexander’s military campaigns in Afghanistan and India. Some have even claimed that Ptolemy I was Alexander’s half-brother. After Alexander’s death in 323 B.C., Ptolemy became the governor of Egypt and he and his successors styled themselves as the new pharaohs in Egypt. When Heracleion was first discovered it was the huge statues of Ptolemy II and his queen (and sister), Arsinoe, that helped draw attention to the site. The statues were so large that the ceiling of the British Museum had to be dismantled before they could be exhibited.

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It is not known exactly which temples were unearthed in this season’s excavation but there are some important candidates that have yet to be discovered. The fifth-century B.C. historian Herodotus writes that the Temple of Heracles was a refuge for runaway slaves. Herodotus notes that if a slave took refuge there and had the “sacred marks” set on them it would not be lawful for the slave’s original owner to claim them. 

According to legend, this practice was instrumental in the history of the Trojan war. Herodotus says that when Paris and Helen arrived in Heracleion, Paris’s attendants became supplicants at the temple. They revealed the whole story about Paris’s deceit of Menelaus and the abduction of Helen. As a result the warden of the city, Thonis, refused Paris and Helen refuge. They would continue their journey to Paris’s hometown of Troy and the rest, as they say, is history. 

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PAGANI HUAYRA ROADSTER BC

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Pagani debuted latest hypercar in an interesting place — the mobile drag racing game CSR Racing 2. While thousands of people will get a taste of what the Huayra is capable of, real-world access will be far more limited. with only 40 being made. The open-air Huayra packs a twin-turbo Mercedes-AMG V12 making 791 horsepower and weighs in at just over 2,700 pounds — specs that beat its coupe sibling. Even if you wanted to get your hands on one, it's already too late — Pagani has already sold out the entire production run ahead of Huayra Roadster BC's public debut at this year's Monterey Car Week.

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Gloriously Gruesome Sci-Fi Cult Classic Event Horizon Might Become An Amazon Series

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I have often proclaimed my love for Paul W.S. Anderson’s 1997 sci-fi horror film Event Horizon, about a deep-space vessel that goes to a very bad dimension and returns with mind-warping powers, and features Laurence Fishburne barking the immortal line “F**k this ship!” A TV series might happen, you say? 

Amazon and Paramount Television are working on developing the potential series, https://variety.com/2019/tv/news/event-horizon-series-amazon-1203291883/according to Variety, which reports that Adam Wingard is aboard as executive producer and director. Wingard is kind of the perfect choice, since his filmography includes sci-fi (Godzilla vs. Kong, coming next March) but skews heavily toward horror (he also made The Guest, You’re Next, Death Note, and the Blair Witch reboot).

Event Horizon

As Hollywood legend tells it, the 1997 Event Horizon (which also stars Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan, Jason Isaacs, and Joely Richardson. It was scripted by Philip Eisner) fell victim to some brutal editing-room cuts that made the end result lack a certain coherence — a quality that’s helped make the film a cult classic today.

A TV series could certainly fill in some of the plot holes... black holes, if you will... while also digging deeper into the story’s extensive horror elements. And if Event Horizon gets put to series, Amazon will be one step closer to becoming a sci-fi powerhouse, especially considering its commitment to The Expanse.

Just, if an Event Horizon series gets made, please let it be better than Nightflyers. We’ll bring you more on this one as we know it.

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He Went Down the Manson Rabbit Hole and Barely Escaped

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In 1999, author Tom O’Neill accepted a magazine request to write about the Manson murders. Twenty years later, he’s still on the case.

The assignment, Tom O’Neill says, “was kind of open-ended.” In March 1999, an editor at Premiere magazine asked him to write a few thousand words about the murders committed by the Manson Family, the 30th anniversaries of which were drawing near. A seasoned entertainment reporter, O’Neill talked to retired cops, prosecutors, and Hollywood hangers-on. He began sifting through old court records. O’Neill was looking for a new angle, and he was determined to go wherever his reporting took him.

Where it took him was far past his deadline, into a kind of journalistic purgatory; this in turn morphed into “full-blown mania,” ensnared him in a lawsuit, and nearly led to financial ruin. The anniversary piece never materialized, and for a long time, neither did anything else. O’Neill kept at it, though, interviewing people linked to the case and uncovering police reports that nobody had looked at in decades. He gradually transformed his Southern California bungalow into “a hoarder’s nest of Manson ephemera,” filled with files, books and binders. When new leads emerged, he jotted them down on a whiteboard, and on scraps of paper connected by arrows. “One door opened another,” he told me recently. “It never was anything I thought would last as long as it lasted.”

This summer, 20 years after he began his reporting—and nine years since the magazine that commissioned his work went out of business—O’Neill, 60, is finally sharing the results of his obsession. His book, Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties, is a sprawling, fascinating document, a 500-page testament to his enthusiasm for following every lead, even those that sound a little nutty (though the reporting is O’Neill’s, Dan Piepenbring is credited as his co-writer). Throughout, he comes across as diligent and modest, willing to admit that, with the crimes now a half-century in the past, many of his findings are tantalizing but inconclusive. “My goal isn’t to say what did happen—it’s to prove that the official story didn’t,” he writes.

The official story is the one laid out in Vincent Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders, the 1974 book often cited as the top-selling true crime title of all time. Bugliosi, who died in 2015, was the prosecutor who secured the convictions of Charles Manson and four of his followers for the August 1969 murders of seven people at the Tate and LaBianca houses in Los Angeles. He maintained that Manson, full of drugs and ludicrous ideas—his apocalyptic worldview was informed by his misinterpretations of “Helter Skelter” and other Beatles songs—orchestrated the killings as a means of setting in motion a war between the races.

O’Neill doesn’t dispute that Manson ordered the murders—“I think he was every bit as evil as the media made him out to be,” he writes—but his reporting made him increasingly skeptical of some of Bugliosi’s claims. “Over the years,” he says, “many people in law enforcement have told me that they never believed the ‘Helter Skelter’ motive. Their theories were always more mundane—they would’ve made thinner material for Bugliosi’s book.”

As he searched for alternative motives, O’Neill began to understand what a writer who covered the Manson trial in 1971 once told him—that the case “will take over your life if you let it.” He cultivated a growing list of sources and made frequent trips to courthouses and sheriffs’ offices. One of his signal discoveries was a set of notes penned by Bugliosi; these, O’Neill writes, suggest that the prosecutor omitted key details that should’ve been shared with the defense team, shielding a well-connected witness—Terry Melcher, a music producer and Doris Day’s son, who died in 2004—from having to answer tough questions about his friendship with members of the Manson Family, and effectively streamlining Bugliosi’s “Helter Skelter” narrative. When shown the notes, Stephen Kay, a prosecutor who worked on the case with Bugliosi, declared himself “shocked,” adding, “This throws a different light on everything… I just don’t know what to believe now.”

Things didn’t go smoothly when O’Neill told Bugliosi what he’d found. “This was the case that made him famous,” O’Neill says, and the notion that his book’s thesis was being called into question enraged Bugliosi. O’Neill interviewed the onetime prosecutor several times, and their relationship was contentious enough that both men recorded their conversations. One day, O’Neill says, Bugliosi threatened a lawsuit, telling him that “the only thing you’re going to be accomplishing is jeopardizing your financial future and that of your publisher.”    

Bugliosi never did sue O’Neill, but in a sense, he was prophetic. In 2012, after more than a decade of reporting, O’Neill learned that his publisher, Penguin, was canceling his book contract; soon thereafter, he “became one of a dozen authors Penguin sued for failing to deliver manuscripts.” (He eventually landed a deal with Little, Brown.) At one point in the project, O’Neill had debts totaling $500,000; at another, he “sheepishly” accepted when his father offered a loan.

All the while, O’Neill kept working his sources. He interviewed “way, way more than” 500 different people, he told me, but refused to elaborate for fear that the total would make him “look insane.” His reporting, as his book’s subtitle makes clear, took him to some weird places. Although he’s aware that he might be “criticized for introducing conspiracy elements,” O’Neill examines the closer-than-you’d-think links between government-funded drug researchers and members of Manson’s inner circle of deranged hippies. Likewise, he doesn’t entirely dismiss the theory that some law-enforcement and intelligence operatives realized Manson’s group was dangerous yet did little about it, confident that any crime his followers committed would undermine the broader countercultural movement that opposed the Vietnam War.

O’Neill’s work has armed him with a host of findings, theories, questions and distressing anecdotes. Among them:

* A retired district attorney who didn’t prosecute Manson but “worked in the same office as the DAs who had,” suggested that Manson might’ve been some kind of informant. “It wasn’t the first time I’d heard the theory,” O’Neill writes. In conversation with O’Neill, the onetime prosecutor discussed the search warrant that was served at Manson’s ranch in mid-August, a week after the murders: “They had this massive raid and everybody’s released two days later!” Manson wasn’t charged with the murders until October. The retired prosecutor suggested that someone in law enforcement might’ve wanted Manson and his followers freed that August “because they’d get more out of him by having him released.”

* An alternative theory, embraced by some of O’Neill’s sources, holds that the infamous murders were copycat crimes intended to absolve a Manson Family member of another recent killing. On Aug. 7, 1969, Manson follower Bobby Beausoleil was charged with the ritualistic murder, in July, of a man named Gary Hinman. Beausoleil’s accomplices, also Manson groupies, had yet to be arrested. According to one of O’Neill’s police sources, Beausoleil called the Manson ranch from jail and asked the Family to “leave a sign.” “That night,” O’Neill writes, “Sharon Tate and her friends were killed, and Susan Atkins scrawled the word ‘Pig’ in blood on the front door… just as she’d done on the wall at Hinman’s.” This, some of O’Neill’s sources believe, may have been an attempt to exonerate Beausoleil: if he was locked up for the first murder when the eerily similar second set of murders were committed, maybe he wasn’t guilty after all.  

* O’Neill wants to know why, 50 years after the crimes, prosecutors still refuse to share some of the material from their investigations. For instance, the Los Angeles County District Attorney has refused to release tapes of a November 1969 police interview with Manson associate and convicted killer Charles “Tex” Watson. For reasons that aren’t altogether clear, “the DA’s office is guarding them with more fervor than ever,” O’Neill writes.

* Though these were among the most widely covered murders in American history, key details may still be guarded by—or perhaps have gone to the grave with—small-time criminals or entertainment industry types, O’Neill writes. The murders “may have had something to do with a drug burn, or an unknown middleman with connections to Hollywood.”

 * O’Neill knows what it’s like to talk to Manson himself. After engaging in talks with, among others, a Manson acolyte dubbed Pin Cushion—“nicknamed for the frequency with which he’d been stabbed”—O’Neill tried to interview Manson. The conversation wasn’t mystifying: “Whenever [Manson] didn’t feel like answering, he’d say something like…‘I got five red wheels on that truck.’” 

Chaos, to O’Neill’s credit, isn’t a book that makes claims it can’t support. He raises a series of intriguing questions and admits when he’s stumped. When he botches an interview, he tells us about it. In one chapter, he writes about interviewing Paul Tate, the father of actress Sharon Tate, who was one of the Manson murderers’ victims. When Paul, who died in 2005, didn’t want to answer a question, O’Neill suggested that he should be more forthcoming, “just out of respect to the victims.” O’Neill quickly recognized his own callousness and apologized. As he tries, earnestly and not always successfully, to understand an utterly senseless crime, it’s small moments like these that make this book work.

I told O’Neill that I admired his refusal to speculate when the evidence just isn’t there. He chuckled and said, “That’s why it took 20 years!”

After so much time, O’Neill is understandably thrilled to have his book out there in the world. But when we spoke, he was reluctant to let go of the material. “There’s still a lot to do,” he says, “a lot of loose ends in the research.” He’s thinking he might follow up with a magazine piece—and this time, he’s confident he’ll meet his deadline.

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Whoa! The Matrix Will Celebrate 20 Years With Special Anniversary Screenings

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It’s hard to believe The Matrix is 20 years old—aside from some late-1990s stylistic choices and its reliance on the ready availability of landlines, it somehow still feels futuristic. Soon, you’ll be able to revisit it on the big screen when the Wachowskis’ visually inventive cyber-thriller returns to theaters.

Aside from the fact that The Matrix genuinely holds up, the timing couldn’t be more serendipitous, what with the current Keanu Reeves renaissance (although, did he ever really leave us?) and the persistent but totally unconfirmed (and totally fun to think about) rumors that the Wachowskis might bring the series back one of these days.

Whatever comes of that, what we do know for certain is that the 20th anniversary will see The Matrix looking and sounding better than ever before; as Entertainment Weekly reports, the special engagement “can be experienced in Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos at more than 135 Dolby Cinema AMC locations” for a week starting August 30.

Warner Bros. also released a special poster and teaser, via Entertainment Weekly, hyping The Matrix’s 20th anniversary. (Please join me in wondering why Carrie-Anne Moss’ face is prominently featured on the poster alongside Reeves and Laurence Fishburne, but her name is completely missing.)

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Get out your shiny trench coat, take the red pill, limber up for bullet time, and definitely answer that ringing pay phone when The Matrix makes its week-long return starting August 30

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Venom 2 Officially Sets Andy Serkis To Direct

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Andy Serkis is officially directing Venom 2. Last year, the first Venom movie proved to be a massive box office hit despite earning mostly negative reviews from critics. With Tom Hardy in the starring role as Eddie Brock, Venom earned a whopping $856 million worldwide against a production budget of only $100 million, ensuring that followups would be made. Sony was extremely confident in what they had even before Venom premiered, as they included a post-credits stinger featuring blatant sequel setup with Woody Harrelson's Cletus Kasady.

Despite the overwhelming success of Venom, the sequel was poised to change up the creative team. Director Ruben Fleischer is not returning, as evidenced by reports in late July that Sony was searching for his replacement. One of those names, interestingly enough, was Andy Serkis. Hardy even went as far as to tease Serkis' hiring on social media, and now it's official. Serkis is directing Venom 2.

The news comes courtesy of THR, who say Serkis met with Sony on July 22 to discuss the film. Venom 2 will be the third directorial outing of Serkis' career, following Breathe and Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle. Serkis confirmed the news on his official Twitter account:

Serkis, of course, his renowned for his various motion-capture performance roles in massive blockbusters like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the rebooted Planet of the Apes series, and the first two installments of the Star Wars sequel trilogy. While he continues to add to his acting résumé (including an in-the-flesh appearance in Black Panther), Serkis is also expanding his horizons by trying his hand at directing. While neither of his previous directorial offerings became critical darlings, Serkis demonstrated a lot of promise behind the camera, whether it be getting fine performances out of his actors or handling big-scale visual effects. Hopefully he'll be able to hit a home run with Venom 2, which reads as a natural evolution of his developing career as a helmsman. Someone with Serkis' penchant for special effects will likely be a strong fit for Venom 2. It should be fun to see what he can do with the Eddie/Venom dynamic and how he stages scenes of Eddie "Golluming."

Venom was the massive hit Sony desperately needed, breaking box office records during its run and launching a full franchise for other films based on various Spider-Man villains. The sequel is clearly a priority for the studio, eager to strike while the iron is burning hot and fan interest is high. From the sound of it, Sony isn't keen to simply rests on their laurels because they know there's a built-in audience. Serkis is an inspired choice for director, and he clearly impressed executives with his vision for Venom 2. It'll be fascinating to see what he brings to the table and if he can improve the series' critical standing.

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Dustin Johnson Helped Design This Opulent Golf-Tracking Watch

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Just over two years ago, Hublot enamored the golf industry with the release of the company’s Big Bang Unico Golf — a tailor-made timekeeper that was built for the green’s most committed athletes. Now, the company is teaming up with the world’s number one golfer, Dustin Johnson, to bring the industry yet another fashionable watch dubbed the Unico Blue Carbon.

Don’t worry, the Hublot Unico Golf Blue Carbon still features everything we used to love about the first iteration, including its 45mm case, lightweight silhouette, and dependable MHUB158 movement; but this time, it’s making its debut with a dazzling new palette. To create the timekeeper’s exceptional facade, the company has implemented its very own proprietary material, Taxalium, alongside fiberglass, aluminum, and a thin layer of carbon, bringing it to a total weight of just under 100 grams. Aside from being one of the lightest variants on the market, the Unico Golf also features three trade-oriented pushers that help sportsmen to track the most important aspects of their game, including shot count, hole number, and total score. To keep things in perspective, the watch’s skeletal MHUB158 movement is visible throughout. If you’re looking to take your play to the next level, you can pick up the Unico Golf Blue Carbon on Hublot’s website for $32,500.

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CLOVER GIN

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Produced by three sisters in Belgium, this light, fruity gin is an excellent upgrade for any bar. The recipe took ten months to develop, starting with a base of coriander seed, cardamom, juniper, before adding pear for an uptick in sweetness. Fourteen botanicals were used in total, including the namesake clover leaves to symbolize the three sisters and their native landscape. Clover Gin is packaged in small, round glass bottles with a sage green clover on the side and make for a sweet, approachable G&T. $42

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Whiskey, Fraud & Murder: The Bootleg King of Prohibition

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Karen Abbott writes about the rise and fall of bootlegger George Remus in her new book, “The Ghosts of Eden Park.

Once settled in Cincinnati, George Remus hustled to establish himself. With financing from the Lincoln National Bank, where he kept an account under the name “John P. Alexander,” he purchased a retail drugstore downtown and converted it into a wholesale drug company, a transformation that required an additional investment and an intricate sleight of hand. After stocking the shelves with $50,000 worth of drugs and toiletries, he secured a basic permit to withdraw and sell whiskey. As soon as that company had withdrawn as much liquor as it could without attracting suspicion, he closed that drug company, organized another one, and shipped over the initial supply of drugs and toiletries.

He repeated this process and also bought existing wholesale drug companies: two in New York, a few more in Cincinnati, and the Kentucky Drug Company, just across the river in Covington. He also purchased his own distillery, H. E. Pogue in Maysville, Kentucky, and entered negotiations for several others. He observed that Cincinnati bootleggers conducted business brazenly, without interference from either city police or federal agents—even though Ohio was the headquarters of the Anti-Saloon League (the state conformed to the country-wide tendency for cities to be “wet” and rural counties “dry”). Discreet inquiries revealed the names and prices of local Prohibition officers willing to be “fixed,” an expenditure of ten dollars for every case of whiskey withdrawn.

He assembled a diverse group of associates to fulfill specific roles in his organization: “confidential men” to bait law enforcement into accepting bribes; a “traffic man” to assist with transportation; secretaries to falsify paperwork; a personal chauffeur; and a personal cook. George Conners, whom Remus called “the man, Friday,” would act as his fearless and savvy lieutenant. Remus met Conners, a lifelong resident of Cincinnati and a local real estate broker, while negotiating for distilleries, and the bootlegger liked him instantly. Finally, there were the “all-around man,” Harry Brown, who happened to be his wife Imogene’s brother, and Imogene herself, upon whom Remus bestowed the unofficial title of “Prime Minister.”

Remus promised she would be his “partner in everything.” She would oversee business records and plans that he could not share with anyone else. He would seek her input on potential deals. He would invite her to invest personal funds—meaning her allowance—in his enterprises. There was nobody in the world whom he trusted so fully, and he felt confident in placing both his livelihood and his heart in her lovely and clever hands.

The Circle began to spin. Within the year, Remus would own 35 percent of all the liquor in the United States.

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Remus feared neither the police nor Prohibition officials but whiskey pirates, those bands of roving thieves who targeted bootleggers across the country, swooping down on warehouses, binding and gagging the watchmen, cutting telephone wires, and stealing every last barrel inside.

As word of the Circle spread, Remus knew that he would be a target. His fear was realized one night when he and his driver were returning to Cincinnati from Covington, Kentucky, with cases of whiskey piled high in the back of the truck. They were halfway across the bridge when a touring car veered from its lane to block their path. Remus’s driver abandoned the truck and fled frantically in the direction of Cincinnati, leaving Remus to fend for himself. Four men leapt onto the running board of Remus’s truck, brandishing automatics and shouting a single command: “Stick ’em up high!” Each of them aimed his gun directly at Remus’s head.

Remus’s driver carried a revolver, but he’d taken it with him when he ran. Remus himself was unarmed. His mind clicked into action, assessing the situation: The location of the holdup was to his advantage, since policemen were typically stationed at either end of the bridge. At the sound of gunfire, they would move to block the pirates’ escape. 

“Pull your triggers!” Remus dared them. “Shoot, you cowards, and if you do you’ll never live to tell the tale!” 

He knew he had just a fraction of a second to make a move. He catapulted himself forward with the force and form of a diver. He caught the men by surprise, windmilling his thick arms until he connected with a set of ribs, sending their owner tumbling backward. Then something crashed brutally against the top of his head, as if dropped from several stories above, an impact that folded his body in half and brought him to his knees. He righted himself and swung again, catching another pirate with his boulder of a fist. The butt of an automatic carved a second hole in his scalp, sending him back to the ground. Again he staggered to his feet, blood veiling his eyes. Whirling around, Remus trapped his assailant in his arms, hoisted him above his head, and stumbled to the side of the bridge, intending to heave the pirate into the water below. Instead he collided with the railing and crashed to the ground, stunned. 

An uninjured pirate slid behind the wheel of Remus’s truck and exhorted his comrades to hurry and join him. One retrieved the dazed pirate, dragging him away from the bridge and into the touring car. Remus battled with the last, swinging his arms wildly, his target barely visible through a sheen of blood. The pirate disengaged and climbed into Remus’s truck. Both vehicles started their engines. 

But Remus was not ready to yield the fight. He hauled himself up to the running board of his truck and tried to pry his rival from the driver’s seat. One last bash on the head hurled him back to the ground, and this time he knew he had lost. 

The truck pulled away, the touring car following close behind. Remus swiped the blood from his eyes, crossed the bridge into Cincinnati, and hailed a taxicab to the hospital to get stitches for his wounds. Lesson learned: In the future, all liquor shipments would be accompanied by a convoy of armed guards. 

The following week, Remus tracked down the pirates’ leader, who surprised him with a compliment: “You have more guts than twenty men and deserved to keep your liquor.” Remus laughed and hired a few of the leader’s men to drive his trucks, insurance against future attacks. As an extra precaution, he asked his main lieutenant, George Conners, to find him a safer, more secluded storage facility, one that could serve him for years to come. 

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