The Sunken Nazi Submarine Off the Coast of Texas

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[A] German U-boat has been visited by marine archaeologists working off the shores of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico.

[I]n addition to marauding merchant shipping in the North Atlantic, Nazi naval commanders dispatched 22 U-boats to the Gulf of Mexico.

Historians claim that U-boats sank at least 50 American ships in the Gulf — including one in the very mouth of the Mississippi River. The U.S. Navy was only able to sink one U-boat in the Gulf.

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Via io9 for the full article and additional photos.

The Oldest Known Illustration of Circumcision in 2400 B.C.

M0005235 Egypt, wall carving showing a circumcision scene, Sakkara

The origins of circumcision remain unclear, [but by] 4,000 B.C.E., exhumed Egyptian bodies show signs of circumcision.

[T]hen come the artistic depictions.

The Sakkara depiction comes with the perhaps helpful written warning, “Hold him and do not allow him to faint”.

The original bas-relief above has been recreated and colorized below:


Via Open Culture.

The Ancient Greek Military Technology of the Linothorax

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[I]n ancient Greece, they thought they were cutting edge when they had developed the linothorax. [The] shirt-skirt is a linothorax. But the linothorax wasn’t a fashion statement — it was a suit of armor.

Few remains have been found at historic sites. But they are mentioned in texts — and we can see them on vases and paintings.

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University of Wisconsin Green Bay Professor Gregory Aldrete and a group of his students used these drawings and ancient texts to make versions of the linothorax, and research why they were effective.

Aldrete and his team discovered that linothoraxes are made using several layers of linen and rabbit glue. They had to get their hands on linen that was hand-woven and hand-sewn but also grown and harvested by traditional methods. That meant they had to grow their own linen. Which they did.

linothorax const

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Aldrete says the idea of using layers of linen (or any material) and gluing them together to create a tough, resistant material has been used for centuries.

And it’s still used today. Some of the bullet-proof vests used by armies and police forces around the world have been created using similar concept.



The verdict?

They were light-weight, flexible…and pretty much safe from any kind of arrows in use at the time.

The UWGB Linothorax Project via



[P]hotographer Arthur Tress, who, in the late 1960s and early ’70s, asked children to describe their fantasies and nightmares, then immortalizing them in staged photographs.

Tress was recruited to do a workshop with child educator Richard Lewis. “Every year he has a different theme,” Tress explained to Gothamist, “and one year he did children’s dreams, to get kids to write poems and paintings from their dreams. So he called me in to photograph his class. I was looking for mythological, archetypical, kind of nightmarish images.”






Artist Arthur Tress via Huffington Post.

The Odd Convergence of Prophetic Science-Fiction and Civil War in the Ukraine


A pro-Western, NATO-backed Ukrainian government faces a stubborn insurgency in the pro-Russian East. Fighting rages around Donetsk, with civilians dying in artillery fire and airstrikes, while Russian troops mass on the Ukrainian border.

[Fedor] Berezin, a 54-year-old former Soviet Army officer and Donetsk native, is now living inside a real-life version of his own story: He is deputy defense minister of the embattled “Donetsk People’s Republic”.

The plot twist? Berezin is also the author of Science Fiction duology, War 2010: The Ukrainian Front and War 2011: Against NATO.


But Berezin’s novels are hardly a unique phenomenon.

In 2005, not long after Ukraine’s pro-Western Orange Revolution came Omega by Andrei Valentinov, describing three alternate history versions of the conflict. Then there’s The Age of the Stillborn by Gleb Bobrov, and Grigory Savitsky’s Battlefield Ukraine: The Broken Trident.

This is why Russian novelist Dmitry Bykov to call the Ukraine conflict “the writers’ war”.

Berezin’s own LiveJournal update about his new appointment began with the words, “I have found myself in an alternate reality”.

At a rally in Donetsk in late June, Berezin told the crowd that the obvious goal of the Kiev government was to drive all the Russians out of Eastern Ukraine – “to blatantly steal our land and give it to the Americans and the Europeans”. It sounds like a page from Berezin’s own novels.

By early July, Berezin’s tone had changed slightly, acknowledging to the Rossiyskaya Gazata that the civil war had turned out to be more terrifying than his fiction. Funny how that works.

Quoted text by Cathy Young from an article via Slate for the full fascinating article.

The Turin Erotic Papyrus


Painted sometime in the Ramesside Period (1292-1075 B.C.E.), the fragments above—called the “Turin Erotic Papyrus” because of their “discovery” in the Egyptian Museum of Turin, Italy—only hint at the frank versions of ancient sex they depict (see a graphic partial reconstruction at the bottom of the post).

The number of sexual positions the papyrus illustrates—twelve in all – “fall somewhere between impressively acrobatic and unnervingly ambitious”, one even involving a chariot.



Adding this one to the Best of Pretty Awful category – just because of the part about chariots.

Via Open Culture.

This Land Is Mine: The Israel-Palestine Conflict in One Musical Number

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This Land Is Mine is a parody of “The Exodus Song”.

That music was sort of the soundtrack of American zionism in the 1960’s and 70’s. It was supposed to express Jewish entitlement to Israel.

By putting the song in the mouth of every warring party, I’m critiquing the original song.

Lyrics by Pat Boone, sung by Andy Williams
This land is mine
God gave this land to me

This brave and ancient land to me
And when the morning sun
Reveals her hills and plains
Then I see a land
Where children can run free.

So take my hand
And walk this land with me
And walk this lovely land with me
Tho’ I am just a man

When you are by my side

With the help of God
I know I can be strong.

Tho’ I am just a man

When you are by my side

With the help of God
I know I can be strong.

To make this land our home

If I must fight

I’ll fight to make this land our own.
Until I die this land is mine!

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Kinda puts it all in perspective…

Quoted text via Nina Paley via Films For Action.
Audio is a parody of The Exodus Song sung by Andy Williams, lyrics by Pat Boone.
Check out Nina Paley‘s site, which has an explanation of the historical identity of each of the characters, or Wikipedia for personal information on American animator Nina Paley herself.