Mondo Bizarro Feb 24 2012
UNFRIENDLY SKIES
Nobody knows what it was, but they tried like hell to kill it.

This photo appeared in the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers this month in 1942 after West Coast anti-aircraft batteries opened up on a mysterious aerial object supposedly seen hovering in the skies above L.A. The object was sighted in the early morning of February 25 and fired upon for about two hours. The next day Army spokesmen said the barrage had been the result of a false alarm caused by war hysteria, which leaves you to wonder what sort of non-existent object could be pinned by multiple searchlights as it moved across the sky.

Another official explanation was that the object was a weather balloon, which of course raises a completely different question, namely, how did more than 2,000 exploding artillery shells fail to bring down something so flimsy? These shells caused three deaths on the ground, and they weren’t even aimed there. UFO aficionados, of course, say it was an alien craft. That’s debatable, not for any scientific reason, but based on simple logic. Consider: we puny humans have already made major advances in stealth tech, yet we think we’d be able to detect an alien craft that came from the gulfs of space to observe us? That’s called pure hubris, and we don’t subscribe.

So that leaves one other explanation. It was a deliberate Army drill involving a weather balloon, an exercise designed to test anti-aircraft capabilities, shock Los Angeles residents and thus gauge the potential for mass panic, and ram home the idea to the masses that the Japanese were lurking out there somewhere. In order to believe this scenario one has to assume the anti-aircraft gunners had the shittiest aim in the historyof hurled projectiles, however the three obvious benefits we’ve listed for conducting such a drill make this by far the most logical scenario. Of course in the end, we weren’t there, so we’re only speculating about this obscure historical event. Others have different theories, and some even have eyewitness accounts. If you’re inclined, you can read one of those here. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
August 23
1942—Battle of Stalingrad Begins
The Battle of Stalingrad, perhaps the most pivotal event of World War II, begins. It lasts for more than six months, spread across the brutal Russian winter, and ends with two million casualties. The Russian sacrifice reduces the powerful German army to a shell of its former self, and as a result Nazi defeat in the war becomes a simple matter of time.
1979—Alexander Gudonov Defects
Russian ballet dancer and actor Alexander Borisovich Godunov defects to the U.S. The event causes an international diplomatic crisis, but Gudonov manages to win asylum. He joins the famous American Ballet Theater, where he becomes a colleague of fellow-defector Mikhail Baryshnikov, and later earns roles in such Hollywood films as Witness and Die Hard.
August 22
1950—Althea Gibson Breaks the Color Barrier
Althea Gibson becomes the first African-American woman to compete on the World Tennis Tour, and the first to earn a Grand Slam title when she wins the French Open in 1956. Later she becomes the first African-American woman to compete in the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
1952—Devil's Island Closed
Devil's Island, the penal colony located off the coast of French Guiana, is permanently closed. The prison is later made world famous by Henri Charrière's bestselling novel Papillon, and the subsequent film starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman.
1962—De Gaulle Survives Assassination Attempt
Jean Bastien-Thiry, a French air weaponry engineer, attempts to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle to prevent Algerian independence. Bastien-Thiry and others attack de Gaulle's armored limousine with machine guns, but after expending hundreds of rounds, they succeed only in puncturing two tires.
August 21
1911—Mona Lisa Disappears
Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, aka La Gioconda, is stolen from the Louvre. After many wild theories and false leads, it turns out the painting was snatched by museum employee Vincenzo Peruggia.
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