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.
February 22
1987—Andy Warhol Dies
American pop artist Andy Warhol, whose creations have sold for as much as 100 million dollars, dies of cardiac arrhythmia following gallbladder surgery in New York City. Warhol, who already suffered lingering physical problems from a 1968 shooting, requested in his will for all but a tiny fraction of his considerable estate to go toward the creation of a foundation dedicated to the advancement of the visual arts.
February 21
1947—Edwin Land Unveils His New Camera
In New York City, scientist and inventor Edwin Land demonstrates the first instant camera, the Polaroid Land Camera, at a meeting of the Optical Society of America. The camera, which contains a special film that self-develops prints in a minute, goes on sale the next year to the public and is an immediate sensation.
1965—Malcolm X Is Assassinated
American minister and human rights activist Malcolm X is assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City by members of the Nation of Islam, who shotgun him in the chest and then shoot him sixteen additional times with handguns. Though three men are eventually convicted of the killing, two have always maintained their innocence, and all have since been paroled.
February 20
1935—Caroline Mikkelsen Reaches Antarctica
Norwegian explorer Caroline Mikkelsen, accompanying her husband Captain Klarius Mikkelsen on a maritime expedition, makes landfall at Vestfold Hills and becomes the first woman to set foot in Antarctica. Today, a mountain overlooking the southern extremity of Prydz Bay is named for her.
1972—Walter Winchell Dies
American newspaper and radio commentator Walter Winchell, who invented the gossip column while working at the New York Evening Graphic, dies of cancer. In his heyday from 1930 to the 1950s, his newspaper column was syndicated in over 2,000 newspapers worldwide, he was read by 50 million people a day, and his Sunday night radio broadcast was heard by another 20 million people.
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