Intl. Notebook Jul 16 2020
VISION OF THE FUTURE
What a hypnotic sight. Maybe one day we'll have a Space Force and threaten to rain fire down upon the planet.


In this photo made today in 1969, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, Lady Bird Johnson, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and a crowd of others watch Apollo 11 lift off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Back then it must have seemed almost miraculous. A bunch of theoretical scientists in the U.S. and Soviet Union said manned spaceflight would work, the politicians went, “Great—here's some billions of dollars or rubles to make it happen.” And years later it did when Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. But Apollo 11 was the big one, in our opinion. It's one thing to toss a person into space in a hollow cannonball like Sputnik, and another bowl of pancake batter altogether to send people to another world and bring them back alive. Opinions vary, of course, but we think this flight was and remains the most important rung on humanity's celestial ladder. As things are developing, with countries reneging on their promises not to exploit space for monetary or military gain, it would be better for both the cosmos and Earth if there are no more rungs for a while. Neil Armstrong's quote, when he set foot on the moon, was, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” We've taken a giant leap backwards since then.

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Vintage Pulp | Politique Diabolique Aug 19 2013
POLICE REWIND
The National Police Gazette claims Nasser said yessir to fugitive Nazis.


This month in 1961 The National Police Gazette put Adolf Hitler on its cover yet again. We don’t know how many times he appeared there, but this makes the twentieth issue we’ve found and posted. When last we left der Führer he was hiding out in either Argentina or Antarctica, but according to Gazette scribe Harvey Wilson, Hitler was directing his minions as they launched a new Nazi empire in Egypt. Wilson tells readers that Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser’s government was populated by ex-SS officers, that the secret police was being run by Joachim Damling, former head of the Gestapo in Düsseldorf, that there were Egyptian versions of the Hitler Youth, that the economy was being reorganized to a Nazi model, and a vast military machine was being built.

So, is any of this true? Well, many Nazis fled to Egypt at the end of World War II, probably many hundreds, including Aribert Heim, who was known as Dr. Death, and Nazi propagandist Johann Von Leers, who converted to Islam and took a high post at Egypt’s foreign ministry. However, fleeing Nazis ended up settling in many countries, including the U.S. Among those were Otto Von Bolschwing, who in Germany had helped develop a blueprint to purge the country of Jews and later worked for the CIA, and Arthur L. Rudolph, who helped the Nazis build the V-2 rocket and other weapons and eventually ended up being honored by NASA—twice.

In any case, this is an example of what makes tabloids so interesting to us. Some stories—like the one about Hitler living in Antarctica—are patently ridiculous, while others have at least a kernel of truth. The thrust of this story is largely true—Nazis did flee to Egypt, and manywere welcomed by the government. As for the rest of the story—Nasser did indeed reorganize Egypt’s economy and reshape its military sector, but we can’t confirm that it was due to Nazi influence. And we also can’t confirm the claims about Egyptian Hitler Youth and Joachim Damling, but even if parts of the story were wrong, a tabloid doesn’t need many victories to establish credibility in the eyes of its readership—it just needs a few big ones. On that score you have to give the Gazette credit—it said there were Nazis in Egypt and it was right.

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The Naked City Nov 11 2009
ASTRONAUT HARMER
Former NASA mission specialist gets probation.

Haven’t had a mugshot on the site for a while, so here’s a doozy from astronaut/stalker Lisa Nowak, who was sentenced yesterday to a year’s probation for burglary and misdemeanor battery. Nowak, 46, a mission specialist on the space shuttle Discovery in July 2006, ambushed and pepper-sprayed a woman who was dating a space shuttle pilot for whom Nowak had the hots. When arrested, Nowak had in her possession a steel mallet, a knife, rubber tubing, and several large garbage bags, all of which police suspected she planned to put to sinister use. We disagree. We suspect she was going to put them to awesome use. Wait—that came out wrong. We’re 100% glad Nowak’s intended victim survived. That’s a given. Goes without saying. Obviously. But there’s also a teeeeeny pulp-influenced part of us that’s curious what sort of mischief a NASA specialist had in mind with those items. On our smartest day we could, like, maybe improvise a hickory smoker with that stuff. But a NASA specialist? The possibilities are endless. Guess we’ll never know unless she left behind diagrams like da Vinci, another homicidal scientist. Yeah, we know—you haven’t heard about his many killings. Read a book people.     

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Intl. Notebook Jul 18 2009
OFF THE WALL
Walter Cronkite always looked at things from a news perspective.

Walter Cronkite testing out a Reduced Gravity Walking Simulator at the Lunar Landing Research Facility in Langley, Virginia, circa 1968. The photo is from a NASA history site here.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 22
1912—Pravda Is Founded
The newspaper Pravda, or Truth, known as the voice of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, begins publication in Saint Petersburg. It is one of the country's leading newspapers until 1991, when it is closed down by decree of then-President Boris Yeltsin. A number of other Pravdas appear afterward, including an internet site and a tabloid.
1983—Hitler's Diaries Found
The German magazine Der Stern claims that Adolf Hitler's diaries had been found in wreckage in East Germany. The magazine had paid 10 million German marks for the sixty small books, plus a volume about Rudolf Hess's flight to the United Kingdom, covering the period from 1932 to 1945. But the diaries are subsequently revealed to be fakes written by Konrad Kujau, a notorious Stuttgart forger. Both he and Stern journalist Gerd Heidemann go to trial in 1985 and are each sentenced to 42 months in prison.
April 21
1918—The Red Baron Is Shot Down
German WWI fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, better known as The Red Baron, sustains a fatal wound while flying over Vaux sur Somme in France. Von Richthofen, shot through the heart, manages a hasty emergency landing before dying in the cockpit of his plane. His last word, according to one witness, is "Kaputt." The Red Baron was the most successful flying ace during the war, having shot down at least 80 enemy airplanes.
1964—Satellite Spreads Radioactivity
An American-made Transit satellite, which had been designed to track submarines, fails to reach orbit after launch and disperses its highly radioactive two pound plutonium power source over a wide area as it breaks up re-entering the atmosphere.
April 20
1939—Holiday Records Strange Fruit
American blues and jazz singer Billie Holiday records "Strange Fruit", which is considered to be the first civil rights song. It began as a poem written by Abel Meeropol, which he later set to music and performed live with his wife Laura Duncan. The song became a Holiday standard immediately after she recorded it, and it remains one of the most highly regarded pieces of music in American history.
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