All I want is education, and I am afraid of no one.
All I want is education, and I am afraid of no one.
The Soviet Flying Tank —- The Antonov KT-40
During World War II paratroopers were ideal for conducting harassing attacks behind enemy lines and capturing key positions at the beginning of a military campaign. However paratroopers can only bring into battle what they carry on their backs. Thus, paratroopers are typically short on heavy equipment, important things like heavy machine guns, artillery, vehicles, and tanks. To solve this problem, the Soviet Antonov Bureau designed the KT-40 in 1940.
The KT-40, nicknamed the “flying tank”, consisted of a T-60 light tank outfitted with a pair of wooden fabric wings. It was planned that the flying tanks would be towed into the air by larger aircraft, then release when they reached their drop zone. Once released the tank would glide to its destination, hopefully landing safely with its treads acting as landing gear. The wooden wings would then be removed so that the tank could roll on into battle.
Only one KT-40 prototype was produced in 1942 and tested. The KT-40 didn’t exactly fly gracefully as drag and weight cause the engines of the tow plane to quickly overheat. The KT-40 was released early but landed safely, being piloted by the Soviet tank driver Sergei Anokin. The KT-40 design was considered a failure and scrapped as there was no plane in the Soviet Union powerful enough tow the 6 ton tank. Attempts were made to lighten the tank by stripping it of armor and weapons, but this would have made it too vulnerable to German guns.
Webcomic artist Zach Weinersmith fuels ‘Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal’ with grad student humor and almost half of a physics degree.
Zach Weinersmith, creator of popular webcomic “Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal,” doesn’t know all the things you think he knows—but he’s working on it.
Reading certain SMBC comics, you could be forgiven for assuming Weinersmith (his married name) possesses a deep knowledge of math, biology, psychology, mythology, philosophy, economics or physics—even if that knowledge is used in service of a not-so-academic punch line.
In reality the artist behind the brainy comic simply loves to read. “I think I’m a very slow learner,” Weinersmith says. “I just work twice as hard.”
Around 2007, before SMBC took off, Weinersmith was working in Hollywood, producing closed captioning for television programs. He was taken with a sudden desire to understand how DNA works, so he bought a stack of textbooks and started researching in his spare time.
“Before that, my comic was straight comedy,” he says. He began to inject some of what he was learning into his writing. It was a relief, he found. “It’s much harder to make funny jokes than it is to talk about things.”
That year, SMBC was recognized at the Web Cartoonists’ Choice Awards and became popular enough for Weinersmith to quit his job and write full time. But he started to get bored.
“Imagine being 25 and self-employed,” he says.
What better way to cure boredom than to pursue a degree in physics? He took a few semesters of classes at San Jose State until he realized he was stretching himself too thin.
“I have three-eighths of a physics degree,” he says, which is probably perfect. “If you say three things about a topic, people assume you know the rest of it.
“I really think there’s this sweet spot. Right when I’m learning something, I have all these hilarious ideas. Once you’re a wizened gray-beard, nothing works.”
That hasn’t soured Weinersmith on scholarship. Last year he hosted his first live event, the Festival of Bad Ad Hoc Hypotheses, in which he invites speakers to compete to give the best serious argument for a completely ridiculous idea. It was inspired by a comic arguing the evolutionary benefits of aerodynamic babies.
Weinersmith runs the festival with a panel of judges and his wife, biologist Kelly Weinersmith, whose trials and tribulations in academia inspire much of his writing.
The appeal of BAHFest can be hard to explain, he says. “People see the video [of last year’s event] and say, ‘What the hell is the audience laughing about? That was barely a joke.’”
The key, he says, is to get rid of the jokes entirely. “It’s not stand-up; it’s play-acting,” he says. “Let this thing you’re doing be the joke.”
BAHFest will take place October 19 at MIT in Boston and October 25 at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco.
Photo by: Hamid Khatib
Design by: Samer Alkhoury
According to source: Bab al-Nairab.
Ultimate freak. I love Kathy -- I have several of her chapbooks and recordings. She was sucked in by woo and abandoned conventional treatment for her breast cancer and left us way too soon.
Speaking of icons being people … here’s an odd piece of memory to add to the mix. Way back in 1997, I was enlisted as the lighting person for a performance of the Kathy Acker-Mekons operetta Pussy, King of the Pirates, an adaptation of Acker’s novel Pussy, King of the Pirates, at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Then, just two months before her death, Acker was very frail. The Mekons were very rowdy. Throughout the weekend the whole thing teetered on the verge of implosion, held together only by wheatgrass juice (Acker) and whiskey (Mekons).
It was my first up-close encounter with either and I remember being so confused! The Mekons were a six?—eight? twelve?—person ball of howling chaos; Acker was thin and reserved, clearly gravely ill but silent on just with what, and saving her every energy for the moment when, perched on a stool onstage, she would did down deep into her abdomen and declaim: “THE WHOLE FUCKING WORLD COME DOWN AND BREAK, THE MOON EQUALS CRACKS IN MY CUNT.”
The show was a filthy, glorious mess of disco-dancing lesbian pirates and rickety plywood props, and I was totally besotted with it, and with her. To me, in that moment, in her wracked body, Kathy Acker became an icon off the page as well as on. After she died that November, I went through a ravenous stretch, revisiting work of hers I had barely understood on first reading, and somewhere in there came across the three-part essay “The Gift of Disease,” published earlier that year in the Guardian. I read it like a sacred text, in which Acker-the-icon offered up her humanity on a spit. This rare thing disappeared from the internet for years, but when I went looking for it recently, I was overjoyed to find it had been republished last year in both English and Spanish by the blog Outward from Nothingness:
The MCA show was—sadly? wisely?—not documented, but I did find this hilariously terrible video snippet from another performance online. And if you’re in Chicago, next month, by a strange coincidence, two Mekons are back at the MCA, this time doing David Bowie.
My celebrity brush with greatness -- Peter Falk once told me (us) to shut up... I was taking a sculpture class and Peter was taking a painting class across the hall -- we got a bit loud one day when our instructor was late.
I have been tempted to create something like this for one of our buildings... Currently, they have a red light that turns on when the lady's room is occupied on the second floor so that they don't have to walk over to check...
A recent company move has left [kigster] and his 35 coworkers in a frustrating situation. Their new building only has two single occupancy bathrooms. To make matters worse, the bathrooms are located on two different floors. Heading to one bathroom, finding it occupied, then running upstairs to find the second bathroom also occupied became an all to common and frustrating occurrence at the office.
It was obvious the office needed some sort of bathroom occupancy monitoring system – much like those available on commercial aircraft. [kigster] asked for a budget of about $200 to build such a system. His request was quickly granted it by office management. They must have been on their way to the bathroom at the time.
[kigster] began work on BORAT: Bathroom Occupancy Remote Awareness Technology. The initial problem was detecting bathroom occupancy. The easiest method would be to use door locks with embedded switches, much those used in aircraft. Unfortunately, modifying or changing the locks in a rented office space is a big no-no. Several other human detection systems were suggested and rejected. The final solution was a hybrid. Sonar, Passive Infrared (PIR), and light sensors work in concert to detect if a person is in the bathroom. While we think the final “observer unit” is rather cool looking, we’re sure unsuspecting visitors to the office may be wondering why a two eyed robot is staring at them on the throne.
The display side of the system was easy. The entire system communicates with the venerable nRF24L01+ radio modules, so the display just needed a radio module, an arduino, and a way of displaying bathroom status. Two LED matrices took care of that issue.
We really like this hack. Not only is it a great use of technology to solve a common problem, but it’s also an open source system. BORAT’s source code is available on [kigster's] github.
Want to know more about BORAT? Kigster is answering questions over on his thread in the Arduino subreddit.
Risks leading to death put in perspective.
1.) Practice saying your new name. Say it aloud to friends, family, and police officers. Ask yourself these questions: Can I pronounce it? Can I spell it? Can I remember it?
2.) If you are changing your name as part of getting married, proceed to step 2b.) If not, skip to step 3.
2b.) Go online and print out an application for your marriage license. On the application, there will be a question asking what you want your new name to be, followed by a large blank space. Whatever you write here will be your new name! Congratulations! Mazel tov!
2c.) The application will most likely have some rules attached stating that you can only change your surname during the marriage process, but apparently this is bullshit. If say, you are going from Kathleen Hale to Kathleen Rich, but want to change your middle name from Erin to Hale (sorry Ireland) you should do it here. Otherwise you will find yourself going through the usual name change channels at the courthouse, which, as you can see by the length of this guide, is a total nightmare. Not to mention: once you have gone through weeks of bureaucratic bullshit, and endured a lot of snark from government employees, you will find yourself face to face with a particularly snarky government employee, who will tell you, "haha, you could have just done this when you got your marriage license—yeah it says not to, but they have to honor whenever you put down" and you will understand in that moment why he is talking to you from behind bullet proof glass. If you were stupid enough to take these bullshit rules at face value, proceed to step 3.
3.) Your only option is to Google "how to change your name in [insert your city, state, country here]." There will be application forms available through a government website. Fill one out. Press print.
4.) The printed application will include a list of things to bring with you to the courthouse in order to change your name. Some of these things are hard to find and scary to lose (birth certificate, etc.) Also, the courthouse might not accept copies, depending on where you live, so put everything in a special folder.
4b) Duct tape shut the folder.
4c.) Wrap it in chains.
4d.) Padlock the chains around your waist.
5.) Proceed to the courthouse.
6.) Take a number.
7.) Wait for the rest of your life.
7b.) You are surrounded by women holding screaming babies. Many are frustrated, pleading with the government employees that their husbands left them and they just want to change their name back to the one before. "It's not like I'm The Talented Mr. Ripley or some shit," one of the women yells. The man who is supposed to be helping her is talking loudly to another employee about Lebron James.
7c.) "This place SUCKS," you mutter.
7d.) "It does," says the woman sitting next to you. The look in her eyes says she has been here a thousand years.
8.) Your number is called. You find yourself face-to-face with the Lebron hater. He says you brought all the wrong forms. "But I brought the ones it said to bring on the application," you say. "We get to ask for whatever forms we want," he screams. He is screaming! You want to scream back but you also want to change your name. "Okay," you say quietly. "So what do I do?" (If you want to change your name because you got divorced, and want your old name back, proceed to 8b. Otherwise, skip to 9.)
8b.) One of the things that you need, if you’re changing your name because of a divorce, is a note from your ex-husband granting permission to change your name! This isn't legally necessary, but the judge is allowed to dismiss your petition on these grounds. A lady standing next to me was apparently turned away because she didn't have a permission slip like this, or a form of her ex husband's ID. "But he won't talk to me," she yells. "I can't find him!" The people who might help her keep talking sports. Your heart aches for her.
8c.) CURSE THE PATRIARCHY!
9.) Exit the courthouse. Go to your bank to get a notarized proof of residency and a cashiers check for $65.
9b.) Look at your watch. Five hours of your life are missing.
10.) Return to the courthouse. Return to the man who hates Lebron and apparently everyone else. "You took too long," he says. "We're about to have our government lunch break." He shakes his head, stamping your forms so slowly that you wonder if he is taking quick naps in between. He passes the forms back to you and sends you downstairs to pay, and then upstairs to see the judge. He makes it sound like the judge is the last step. "But you'll never make it," he says.
11.) Pay a man. This is what your cashier check was for. Race to the elevator, cursing how slow it is. You want to go home!
12.) Run from the elevator to the courtroom just as the court officer is locking the door. "THIS IS OUR LUNCH HOUR," she screams, her face a mix of rage and terror, as if you might steal her lunch hour, as if everyone everywhere is always stealing her hours. She keeps screaming and part of you wants to scream back but you also want to change your name. "Okay," you say, putting up your hands. "When should I come back?"
12b.) ONE AND A HALF HOURS???? OUR TAXES COVER A ONE AND A HALF HOUR LUNCH BREAK???? HOW DO YOU EVEN MAKE A SANDWICH LAST THAT LONG—okay stay calm. These people have hard lives. Eat something. You could probably use a lunch break too.
12c.) Try to make this lunch last 1.5 hours. You can't. It's impossible. Reach for the book you forgot to bring.
12d.) Wonder how people with day jobs run these kinds of errands.
13.) Return to the courthouse 30 minutes early and wait for 60 minutes for the court officer to unlock the door. The lunch break can take up to two hours.
13b.) Sit on the wooden bench, stare at the empty judge's seat, wonder if this is where you live now. Reach for your phone. Maybe there's something fun on Twitter—
13c.) "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?" The court officer asks. "NO PHONES IN THE COURTROOM!"
13d.) Put away your phone. Go to a place in your head. Go to your castle on a cloud.
13e.) "STOP SINGING!" The officer shouts.
13f.) You are singing songs from Les Miserables.
14.) The judge approved your petition!!!!!!!! DAMN THE MAN BUT PRAISE THE EMPIRE!!
15.) Shit. You have to go back to that Lebron guy. You find out his name is Torres. "Hi, Mr. Torres," you say when he calls your number. You hope that being polite and respectful and using his human name will change his tone. "How do you know my name?" He snaps. He doesn't recognize you, but he does make a big performance about how creepy you are to his coworkers.
15b.) Torres stops sneering at you long enough to give you the certified name change thing and a list of local newspapers. He tells you that you have to get the name change published.
16.) Walk to the office of the nearest newspaper. Most neighborhoods have ones you've never heard of. Tell them you need to publish your name change. They will know what this means. They will be nicer than Torres but will charge you another forty dollars, and only accept cash or check.
17.) Wait two weeks for the paper to publish the name change. Receive a clipping from them in the mail.
18.) Grit your teeth and return to the courthouse. Torres will need to file this, the fucker.
18a.) Wait for your number to be called.
18b.) Get yelled at by Torres.
18c.) Find out the paper published the name change under the wrong five digit number.
19.) Return to the newspaper. Scoop handfuls of stale hard candy from the secretary's desk while explaining to her in a choked voice that they made a slight mistake. She will apologize so profusely that you will feel bad about how you're probably giving her dead bitch face. But when her back is turned you will steal more candy.
20.) Wait two more weeks for the paper to reprint the name change with the proper number.
21.) Return to Torres. Wait for him to call your number. Wait for him to stop talking about sports for a few minutes after he has called your number. Give him the published name change. "You have to send a copy of the name change to all these places," he says, pointing to a list of like, eight places, including the US prison system. You're pretty sure you can skip that one but you decide against discussing that with Torres, who seems particularly snippy today. "So…just to confirm," you say, "this isn't over?" He gives you a look that says it will never be over. He sends you to the basement for certified copies, 12 dollars each, and tells you that the name change won't be complete until you bring him certified mail receipts, which also cost extra, for each thing you mail out.
22.) Go to the basement. Meet a depressed-looking elderly man who seems to have been working there since the Great Depression. Hand him your official name change thing. Consult your list of places to mail to (the social security administration, the DMV, etc), and ask for six copies.
22b.) This will take the man 45 minutes to accomplish. Try to be patient with him because he is a million years old. Pay him $72 for the special copies.
23.) Mail off the copies. Tell the employee at the post office you need a certified mail receipt. He has you fill something out and says the receipts will arrive in a few weeks.
24b.) Receive the receipts.
24c.) Cry because this means facing Torres.
24d.) Hang your head.
24e.) Lift dat chin.
25.) Return to the courthouse. Wait for your number to be called.
26.) after yelling at a non-English speaker to "learn the language," and imitating "the Chinglish" for his coworkers, Torres waves you over. You hand him the receipts, hoping to get out of here without speaking. "These aren't the right ones," he says, sliding them back to you. "Looks like you messed up. Go back and get me the right ones."
"But I already got confirmation from the social security administration, and the DMV,” you explain, trying to control your mounting rage, “and the passport agency – can't I just show you those since it's all basically done as far as they are concerned?"
26b.) Torres laughs in your face. He needs the right receipts, he says. You will have to send new certified copies to every place you've already sent them, even though those places have already done your paperwork, simply so that the courthouse can have the receipt they like.
27.) Return to the basement man.
27b.) Pay him $72 again.
28.) Go to the post office. Show them a photo on your phone of the receipt you need. Mail the forms. Again.
29.) Wait a day. Regroup. You have been doing this for two months at this point and you need to meditate or eat some fried food or find a drug dealer with Valium before you can face Torres.
30.) Return to the courthouse, out of your mind on French fries and Valium, with some nice lady telling you nice stuff about chakras through your earbuds. Wait for your number to be called.
31.) It's not Torres!!!!!! It's some lady!!!!! PRAISE BE!
32.) Hand her the receipts.
33.) They have lost your file.
34.) "But it's somewhere," she says, waving her mouse around its pad. She is consulting your digital copy. Thank god they have digital copies, you think, you wouldn't have pegged them for people who do that sort of thing.
35.) She is making a face at her computer screen. "Says here that you were all set with your name change once the judge said so," she says. "So I don't know why you thought you had to do the mailings. That's just for certain folks. WHOA!" She's staring at you. "What's wrong with your face? Are you crying?!"
36.) Slink away to the elevators. Jab the buttons. When it finally arrives, it is empty except for one man.
37.) "Torres," you hiss, joining him inside the elevator.
38.) "How did you know my name?" He says.
39.) “We’ve spent a million years together,” you say.
40) “Who are you?” he says.
41) Look at him with defiance. “I was Kathleen Hale. But now I’m Kathleen Fucking Rich. And there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Kathleen Hale is the author of two novels, No One Else Can Have You and Nothing Bad is Going to Happen (the latter will be published by HarperTeen in 2015). Her essays and reporting have appeared in Vice, Elle, and Hazlitt, among other places.10 Comments
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Thought that they were toy dinos...
Amazing shot. I recall reading about one hunting technique for bison was to run them off of a cliff, but didn't imagine that photos existed of the practice.
I think that I recall that at our little county fair when I was a kid.
Photo by John Margolies
Two years ago, I was performing at The Punchline in San Francisco, and Robin came to the show with our mutual friend, Dan Spencer.
This particular batch of material was the first time I had touched upon my then still-fresh divorce wounds, and big chunks of it were pretty dark. The next day, I got a text from a number I didn’t recognize. Whoever it was had obviously been to the show and knew my number, so I figured they would reveal themselves at some point and save me the embarrassment of asking who they were.
The Mystery Texter asked how I was REALLY doing. “You can’t fool me. Some of those ‘jokes’ aren’t ‘jokes.” By now I knew that whoever this was had been through what I was enduring, as no one else would know to ask, “What time of day is the hardest?”
He wanted to know how my kids were handling it, all the while assuring me that the storm, as bleak as it was, would one day pass and that I was not, as I was then convinced, a terrible father for visiting a broken home upon my children.
I am not rewriting this story in retrospect to make it dramatic. I did not know who I was texting with. Finally, my phone blipped, and I saw, in a little green square, “Okay, pal. You got my number. Call me. I’ve been there. You’re going to be okay. - Robin.”
That is what you call a human being.
I go barefoot as much as possible... Is there a land version of these?
Next time you go walking around barefoot in the water…