Shared posts

18 Aug 12:30

Parliament Hill by Shawn KentOttawa, Ontario, Canada

Parliament Hill by Shawn Kent

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

15 Aug 12:30

trashhand: Chicago, IL Chicago, Illinois, USA


Chicago, IL

Chicago, Illinois, USA

28 Jul 06:52

Three Exclusive Clubs

by Greg Ross

The Caterpillar Club is an international association of people who have saved their lives by using a parachute to bail out of a disabled aircraft. It was founded in 1922 by Leslie Irvin, inventor of the first free-fall parachute. The name pays tribute to the silkworm, whose contribution made the canopies possible; the club’s motto is “Life depends on a silken thread.” Famous members include Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and John Glenn.

The Goldfish Club accepts people who have escaped an aircraft by parachuting into water, or who have crashed into water and survived by using a life jacket or other device. The club’s stated goal is “to keep alive the spirit of comradeship arising from the mutual experience of members surviving ‘coming down in the drink’.” It was founded in November 1942 by a British manufacturer of air-sea rescue equipment. Gold reflects the value of life, and fish represent water. “Money, position or power cannot gain a man or woman entry to the exclusive circles of the Goldfish Club,” noted the Australian newspaper Burra Record in 1945. “To become a member one has to float about upon the sea for a considerable period with nothing but a Carley Rubber Float between one and a watery death.”

The Guinea Pig Club, above, was a social club for patients who had undergone experimental reconstructive plastic surgery, generally after receiving burns injuries in aircraft during World War II. It was founded in 1941 by New Zealand plastic surgeon Archibald McIndoe and included patients and their surgeons and anaesthetists at Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, Sussex. The surgical treatment of burns was in its infancy, and McIndoe wanted to make the patients’ lives as normal as he could. The club continued to meet for 60 years after the war; annual reunions continued until 2007. They had their own theme song, known as “The Guinea Pig Anthem”:

We are McIndoe’s army,
We are his Guinea Pigs.
With dermatomes and pedicles,
Glass eyes, false teeth and wigs.
And when we get our discharge
We’ll shout with all our might:
“Per ardua ad astra”
We’d rather drink than fight.

John Hunter runs the gas works,
Ross Tilley wields the knife.
And if they are not careful
They’ll have your flaming life.
So, Guinea Pigs, stand ready
For all your surgeon’s calls:
And if their hands aren’t steady
They’ll whip off both your ears.

We’ve had some mad Australians,
Some French, some Czechs, some Poles.
We’ve even had some Yankees,
God bless their precious souls.
While as for the Canadians –
Ah! That’s a different thing.
They couldn’t stand our accent
And built a separate Wing.

We are McIndoe’s army …

10 Aug 14:15

30 Years After The Disaster: Ukraine Plans Huge Solar Farm In Chernobyl

by Tyler Durden

Submitted by Irina Slav via,

Energy independence, especially if you don’t particularly like the country you currently depend on, is a very strong motivator for the adoption of renewable energy. Ukraine has recently become a great case in point, after the announcement that it planned to turn part of the uninhabitable zone around the Chernobyl power plant into a large-scale solar farm.

Chernobyl, the site of one of the worst nuclear disasters in the history of the world, cannot be used for much: farming is impossible, as are most other productive human activities. But there is a lot of sunshine in the area, which can be harvested and marketed using already existent power transmission infrastructure, according to Ukraine’s environment minister Ostap Semerak.

Initial plans envisage the installation of 4 MW in solar capacity in Chernobyl by the end of this year. Semerak said that two investment firms from the U.S. and four energy companies from Canada have already expressed interest in the project.

Solar power is a major part of Ukraine’s renewable ambitions. Last year, the government announced that over US$3 billion will be invested in the development of solar power farms by 2020, as part of efforts to achieve a portion of the 11% for renewables in the country’s energy mix. By the end of this year alone, Ukraine aims to have installed solar capacity of more than 570 MW. As of July 1 the total installed solar capacity in the country was 453 MW. Further plans are to have solar installed capacity of 1 GW, which will cost around $1.1 billion, according to preliminary estimates.

At the moment, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is Ukraine’s largest source of financing in general and is particularly willing to spend on renewable energy, but businesses are also interested in taking part in what can be safely called an energy overhaul.

Tensions between Ukraine and Russia are continuing despite the ceasefire that followed the long months of violence in the eastern part of the country, and there are still outbreaks on both sides. These tensions have made it clear once and for all that the two neighbors have a very long way to go to restore their good relations.

In such a context, energy security is a really essential priority for Kiyv, which has over the years proved unable or unwilling to pay for Russian gas deliveries in a manner as timely as Gazprom would have liked. This led to a couple of “gas crises” that put under threat gas deliveries, not just to Ukraine, but to Europe as well.

Ukraine has the best motivation for turning to renewable energy and is working on incentives for the industry to make that happen sooner. It’s offering feed-in tariff premiums to local renewable energy suppliers, which has, according to industry insiders, led to a “new renaissance” in the local renewable energy sector.

As for Chernobyl, it’s always smart to make the best of what you have, and that’s especially true when what you have is a wasteland that cannot be used for literally anything else than harvesting solar energy at least in the next few hundred years.

12 Aug 10:56

DrawMyData lets you plot points manually and then download the data

by Nathan Yau


When you have graphs to draw or statistical concepts to teach, you need your data and you need it now. You can look for a suitable dataset, or you can simulate a result, but that can be annoyingly tedious. DrawMyData by Robert Grant is a simple tool that lets you click an x-y plot to draw points, and then you can just download the the x-y coordinates as a CSV file.

Tools like this always seem kind of frivolous at first, but then you use it a few times and becomes indispensable. [via @albertocairo]

Tags: teaching

12 Aug 18:22

barcarole: Detail from The Triumph of Death, Pieter Bruegel the...


Detail from The Triumph of Death, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, ca. 1562.

13 Aug 06:55

Desargues’ Theorem

by Greg Ross

If two triangles ABC and abc are oriented so that lines Aa, Bb, and Cc meet at a point, then the pairs of corresponding sides (AB and ab; BC and bc; and AC and ac) will meet in three collinear points.

The converse is also true: If the pairs of corresponding sides intersect in three collinear points, then the lines joining corresponding vertices will meet in a point.

09 Aug 02:00

ghasedakk: Herat, Afghanistan  Herat dates back to the...


Herat, Afghanistan 

Herat dates back to the Avestan times and was traditionally known for its wine. The city has a number of historic sites. During the Middle Ages Herat became one of the important cities of Khorasan, as it was known as the Pearl of Khorasan.

Herat, Afghanistan

03 Aug 16:44

ISIS Oil Revenues Down By Up To 90%

by Tyler Durden

Submitted by Zainab Calcuttawala via,

Recent Iraqi military gains over the Islamic State have dried up oil revenues for the terrorist organization by up to 90 percent, according to a report by Iraqi News on Tuesday.

Security sources from the ministry of oil said ISIS had been smuggling at least 50 vehicles full of oil everyday from oilfields in Qayyarah and Najma. The two sites stand south of Mosul—the largest ISIS stronghold and the third largest city in Iraq by population.

But new offensives against the terrorist organization have reduced the smuggling rate to five vehicles a day. ISIS’ prices for the smuggled oil, which once stood above $6,000 a vehicle, have now been reduced to $2,000.

After ISIS lost control of the Alas and Hamrin oilfields near Tikrit last April, the group’s income declined by an additional $1 million every day.

Yesterday, news broke that ISIS fighters may have been responsible for the deaths of five people in an oilfield located in the Kurdish city of Kirkuk, though the organization has not yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

The attackers attempted to take down a gas compression station nearby as well, where they planted bombs after killing four guards. The fifth victim was an engineer working at Bas Hassan, a media report read, citing Iraqi and Kurdish sources.

Sources from the Kurdish military forces, the Peshmerga, said that the attack on the gas station was neutralized and that three of the four ISIS terrorists involved in the double hit were killed, one of them managing to blow himself up, causing explosions in oil storage tanks at Bas Hassan. The fourth terrorist escaped.

There have been suggestions that the attackers belonged to a sleeper cell based in the oil-rich region of Kirkuk in northern Iraq.

ISIS attacks on Kurdish territory have been more rare than elsewhere in Iraq. Yet, the terrorist group is now being driven out of some important strongholds by the Iraqi army (and by the Syrian forces in Syria), cutting its access to oil, on which it is no less dependent than both Baghdad and Erbil.

Just earlier this month, ISIS set five oilfields on fire near Mosul, one of the first major cities that fell to the terrorists back in 2014.

* * *

While on the face of it this is great news, we wonder what ISIS fighters will have to lose from increasing blowback as their cash-strapped leaders blame the infidel for their poverty?

04 Aug 07:00

Class 8 Truck Orders Plunge To Lowest Level Since February 2010

by Tyler Durden

For those investors that have relentlessly defended equity valuations, shunning hard data in favor of the Fed narrative that lower borrowing costs should move discount rates ever closer to 0% and equity valuations therefore ever closer to infinity, might we suggest you turn your heads now because Class 8 truck orders just dropped a huge dose of economic reality that you might want to promptly ignore

For everyone else, July Class 8 trucks orders were, in a word, abysmal.  According to ACT research, Class 8 truck orders for July came in at 10,500 which is down 57% YoY and 19% sequentially compared to June.  July marked the 17th consecutive month of YoY declines and the lowest reading since February 2010. Perhaps even more shocking is the fact that July orders were 77% lower than the peak shipping month recorded in October 2014.

According to comments made by Dan Ake, VP of Commercial Sales at research firm FTR, to the Wall Street Journal the industry was hit with “several significant order cancellations” which was described as “uncharacteristic” for this time of year.  Dan added that the “high cancellations are likely the result of fleets placing large orders at the end of 2015, for delivery a year out.” 

Steve Tam, VP at ACT Research, added that:

Too many trucks [are] chasing too little freight.  I think the trucking community had an expectation that [growth] was going to continue.  But with 20/20 hindsight, that did not happen.  Freight has been very flat for basically the last year.  There is anecdotal signs that freight is improving very modestly, but I would liken it to treading water but still below surface at this point.”

July Class 8 Truck Orders


Class 8 YoY Change

As we noted last month in our post entitled, "Domestic Trade Is Disintegrating: Heavy Truck Orders Plunge To Lowest Since 2010," it's hard to fathom how the equity market can continue to shake off hard evidence of deteriorating domestic freight shipments.  As can be seen below, data published by the Department of Transportation clearly shows that freight shipments in the United States peaked in December 2014 and have been on the decline since.  Given the significant truck order cancellations in July clearly Class 8 truck OEMs don't foresee traffic improving at any point in the near future.  That said, data doesn't really matter...until it does, of course.

Freight Index

25 Jul 22:20

A battle against Islamic State fighters

“When everyone shouts ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is Great) I know that a tank or a cannon will fire,” says Reuters photographer Goran Tomasevic. He has been travelling to Libya since the 2011 revolution, seeking to capture the pain and politics of a country at war with itself. Since early May, Libyan fighters have been waging a stop-start battle to recapture Sirte from Islamic State. After advancing rapidly to the edge of the town, for the past few weeks they have been struggling to break down the resistance of militants encircled in the city center. “I am constantly following the Libya story and I am in touch with few friends in Misrata since 2011 - they keep me updated,” Tomasevic says. “My goal is to cover the final battle for Sirte.” -- By Reuters

Libyan forces allied with the U.N.-backed government fire weapons during a battle with Islamic State fighters in Sirte, Libya, July 21. The force is mainly composed of brigades from Misrata, a port city about 250 km (155 miles) north west of Sirte. (Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)

26 Jul 06:18


by Greg Ross

“Every honest researcher I know admits he’s just a professional amateur. He’s doing whatever he’s doing for the first time. That makes him an amateur. He has enough sense to know that he’s going to have a lot of trouble, so that makes him a professional.” — Charles F. Kettering

26 Jul 04:00

An Aging WWII Refugee: ‘We Can’t Turn Our Backs on the Refugees of Today’

by Milan J. Kubic
Photos: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-2003-0703-500 / CC-BY-SA 3.0; Rebecca Harms / CC BY-SA 2.0 [Photos: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-2003-0703-500 / CC-BY-SA 3.0; Rebecca Harms / CC BY-SA 2.0]

European officials who are at a loss for what to do with the Middle Eastern and African refugees pouring into Germany and Austria should recall Ecclesiastes 1:9: “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Startling as it has been, the tidal wave of desperate and impoverished asylum-seekers who have been arriving in Western Europe is far from unprecedented. Millions of similar victims of violence who were made homeless by World War II paid the same compliment to the free part of the Old World in the 1940s and early 1950s.

This story was created in partnership between The Wilson Quarterly and Narratively.
This story is republished from The Wilson Quarterly, which explores our world by examining ideas, culture, news, and the real lives they affect.

Yet within a decade after World War II ended, this great humanitarian upheaval was over, the old continent was rapidly recovering from the catastrophe, and the great majority of the refugees were repatriated or resettled – myself included. The solution to the humanitarian crisis was a historic achievement that is largely attributable to President Harry S. Truman.

While war still raged in Europe and the Pacific, America got ready to help the displaced persons (or DPs, as they came to be known). In November 1943, at President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s invitation, representatives of 44 nations met at the White House and established the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), an international agency to plan and coordinate “measures for the relief of victims of war.”

By the time the war ended in 1945, there were an estimated 20 million DPs roaming the European continent. They were a chaotic mix: Jewish survivors of concentration camps; German civilians fleeing their destroyed cities; freed Soviet Red Army prisoners of war; remnants of Ukrainian, Italian, and Hungarian troops who had fought alongside the Wehrmacht; and the countless slave laborers that the Nazis had rounded up in occupied countries and forced to work in armament factories and on huge fortifications along the French coast.

UNRRA was overwhelmed by the deluge of destitute refugees left behind by the advancing Allied armies and the collapsing German Wehrmacht. Though it had distributed $3.7 billion worth of clothing, food, medicine, and tools to the homeless victims of the war, the young organization was not well suited for the scale of need. From 1947 on, care for the DPs was turned over to the International Refugee Organization (IRO), a United Nations agency that was better financed and organized for the task, which grew to a monstrous size.

Though separated by 70 years, the struggles of refugee life are much the same. On the left, refugees and displaced persons arrive in Schleswig-Holstein in Germany, 1945. On the right, Middle Eastern refugees wait in a Vienna train station en route to Germany, 2015. (Photos: Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-2004-0128 / CC-BY-SA 3.0; Bwag, CC BY-SA 4.0)
Though separated by 70 years, the struggles of refugee life are much the same. On the left, refugees and displaced persons arrive in Schleswig-Holstein in Germany, 1945. On the right, Middle Eastern refugees wait in a Vienna train station en route to Germany, 2015.
(Photos: Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-2004-0128 / CC-BY-SA 3.0; Bwag, CC BY-SA 4.0)

In the years after the war ended in Europe, UNRRA and IRO helped repatriate about 11 million uprooted people. Millions of refugees managed to return to their homes on their own. Others had no home – at least none that they could return to.

More than 600,000 liberated Jews were brought (legally and illegally) to Palestine by Zionist organizations, where in time they helped establish the state of Israel. Another 250,000 displaced Jews did not wish to go to Palestine. In 1945, they and roughly 600,000 other DPs – mostly Poles and other eastern Europeans who refused to return to their home countries, which had come under communist rule – lived in camps scattered throughout the U.S., British, and French occupation zones in Germany and Austria.

At an UNRRA camp, displaced persons watch a Mother's Day ceremony in 1946. (Photo by Abraham Pisarek via Deutsche Fotothek, CC BY-SA 3.0)
At an UNRRA camp, displaced persons watch a Mother’s Day ceremony in 1946.
(Photo by Abraham Pisarek via Deutsche Fotothek, CC BY-SA 3.0)

The great majority of these “non-repatriables” wanted to emigrate to the United States. In that, they faced a formidable obstacle: the U.S. Congress, which was dominated by arch-conservatives who considered Jews and Slavs a threat to the Anglo-Saxon character of the United States. “We could solve this ‘DP’ problem all right if we could work out some bill that would keep out the Jews,” Senator William Revercomb of West Virginia told his colleagues in 1948. Senator Alexander Wiley, the Wisconsin Republican who chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, took a similar position, calling on the United States to admit only those people with “good blood”: “We don’t want any rats. We’ve got enough of them already.”

Sen. Revercomb (left) lost reelection in 1948, but later returned to the senate. Sen. Wiley (right, via Library of Congress) served in the senate from 1939–1963.
Sen. Revercomb (left) lost reelection in 1948, but later returned to the senate. Sen. Wiley (right, via Library of Congress) served in the senate from 1939–1963.

Asked to enact “adequate and decent laws” to let refugees in, the 80th U.S. Congress instead produced a bill designed to do the opposite. President Truman would declare the proposal unacceptable, denouncing it as “anti-Semitic” and “anti-Catholic.” It was an early salvo of a political battle that the combative president launched against what he called the “do-nothing” 80th Congress, and would become an issue of Truman’s 1948 reelection campaign.

President Truman began preparing for the showdown in 1945, just two months after taking office. His first step was to ask Earl G. Harrison, the dean of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, to investigate the conditions of the DPs and help design “plans … to meet their needs.” Harrison left for Europe in June, and a month later delivered Truman the data he needed.

Harrison found that the “non-repatriables” were living in wooden barracks that the Nazi regime had built for the slave laborers and prisoners of war. “One must raise the question as to how much longer many of these people, particularly those who have over such a long period felt persecution and near starvation, can survive on a diet composed principally of bread and coffee,” Harrison reported. “In many camps, the 2,000 calories [in refugees’ diets] included 1,250 calories of a black, wet and extremely unappetizing bread.” The DPs were demoralized and lacked medicine, clothing, and fuel for the coming winter. “UNRRA,” in Harrison’s opinion, “being neither sufficiently organized or equipped … has not been in position to make any substantial contribution to the situation.”

President Truman promptly wrote to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the commander of the Allied armies in Europe, and asked him to do what he could to improve the conditions in the camps. On December 23, 1945, two days before the first postwar Christmas, the president directed U.S. consulates worldwide to give preference to DPs when filling U.S. immigration quotas. The directive, which specified that the “visas should be distributed fairly among persons of all faiths, creeds, and nationalities,” brought to America 40,000 refugees that Congress tried to keep out.

In an August 31, 1945, letter from President Truman to General Eisenhower, Truman orders “prompt remedy” to the problems in displaced persons camps. (Images via U.S. National Archives)
In an August 31, 1945, letter from President Truman to General Eisenhower, Truman orders “prompt remedy” to the problems in displaced persons camps. (Images via U.S. National Archives)

Even with Truman’s fairness directive, immigration quotas still effectively prevented most refugees from entering the United States; to admit more of them, the law needed to be changed. To generate public pressure behind his campaign, Truman asked his liberal allies to join the Citizens Committee on Displaced Persons, a nonsectarian organization founded in 1946. The group – which was chaired by Harrison and included such prominent Americans as Eleanor Roosevelt, labor leader David Dubinsky, department store owner and Chicago Sun publisher Marshall Field III, and civil rights organizer A. Philip Randolph – lobbied for a temporary suspension of restrictive U.S. immigration quotas.

To keep the issue high on the country’s conscience and agenda, Truman unleashed what his biographer, David McCullough, would later describe as the president’s favorite strategy: “attack, attack, attack.” In his 1947 State of the Union Message, Truman informed Congress that he did not “feel that the United States had done its part in the admission of displaced persons,” and called for new immigration bill. Six months later, he sent the legislators a special message reminding them that “we are dealing with a human problem, a world tragedy,” and urging Congress “to pass suitable legislation as speedily as possible.” When Congress adjourned without responding, Truman returned to the subject in another address to Congress in January 1948. In the course of the year, with his reelection campaign in full swing, he denounced the congressional bigotry in rallies from coast to coast.

The duel culminated on June 25, 1948, when Congress, on the last day of its session before recess, presented Truman with an immigration bill that he again considered grossly inadequate. The president responded with one of his most furious salvos against his political opponents. He called the bill “flagrantly discriminatory,” and said that he had signed it “with very great reluctance” and only because otherwise “there would be no legislation on behalf of displaced persons until the next session of the Congress. It was “a close question,” he said, whether the measure was “better or worse than no bill at all.” He went on to acknowledge the proposal’s “good points” – mainly, the recognition of “the principle … that displaced persons should be admitted to the United States,” and a provision for the admission of 200,000 displaced persons, 3,000 orphans, and 2,000 refugees who had fled after the communist coup d’état in Czechoslovakia.

Left: After working as a forced laborer, a liberated Polish refugee sits with his possessions as he waits to be repatriated, 1945. Right: Near a bus station in Budapest, Hungary, Syrian refugees cover up under blankets, 2015. (Photos via Imperial War Museums; Mstyslav Chernov/CC BY-SA 4.0)
Left: After working as a forced laborer, a liberated Polish refugee sits with his possessions as he waits to be repatriated, 1945. Right: Near a bus station in Budapest, Hungary, Syrian refugees cover up under blankets, 2015. (Photos via Imperial War Museums; Mstyslav Chernov/CC BY-SA 4.0)

But “the bad points,” Truman thundered in his June 1948 statement, “are numerous [and they] … form a pattern of discrimination and intolerance wholly inconsistent with the American sense of justice.” Specifically, he charged that “the bill discriminates in callous fashion against displaced persons of the Jewish faith” by “exclud[ing] Jewish displaced persons, rather than accepting a fair proportion of them along with other faiths.” Further, the bill “excludes many displaced persons of the Catholic faith who deserve admission,” and “contains many restrictive requirements, such as prior assurances of suitable employment and ‘safe and sanitary housing,’ unnecessarily complicated investigation of each applicant, and burdensome reports from individual immigrants.” Drawing to a close, Truman expressed regret “that the Congress saw fit to impose such niggardly conditions,” and put lawmakers on notice that he had signed the bill with the expectation that Congress would take the necessary remedial actions when it reconvened.

That November, Truman, against all expectations, won a victory that not only kept him in office but also put the Democrats in charge of both the House and the Senate. The astonishing victory in part reflected voters’ growing recognition that Truman was right on the immigration issue. One of the convinced Americans was Truman’s general election opponent, Republican New York governor Thomas E. Dewey, who less than a month after the Republican Congress had passed its Displaced Persons Act expressed some reservations about it and called for a “liberalized DP law.”

Left: Young refugees arrive from the Polish occupied territories to repatriate West Germany; 1948. Right: At a Budapest railway station, two refugees, possible a mother and her young son, wait for an adequate and open-hearted response to the refugee crisis in Europe; 2015. (Photos: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-2003-0703-500 / CC-BY-SA 3.0; Rebecca Harms / CC BY-SA 2.0)
Left: Young refugees arrive from the Polish occupied territories to repatriate West Germany; 1948. Right: At a Budapest railway station, two refugees, possible a mother and her young son, wait for an adequate and open-hearted response to the refugee crisis in Europe; 2015. (Photos: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-2003-0703-500 / CC-BY-SA 3.0; Rebecca Harms / CC BY-SA 2.0)

For all its faults, the Displaced Persons Act of 1948 marked the beginning of the end of the non-repatriables’ odyssey. Even before the law was passed, UNRRA and IRO had begun grouping us by nationality and moving us from the drafty shacks to more solid quarters. The transfers, which took place while Europe was still mired in chaos and suffered severe food shortages, did not ease our hunger and discomfort. Winter clothing for the refugees was made so small that Iat five-foot-ten and 125 pounds, could not get into the pants. In 1949, the mess sergeant in our large IRO camp in Ludwigsburg, in southern Germany, reported that one-third of the 2,000-calorie daily rations he was slated to receive for the DPs had been stolen before reaching his kitchen. For many of us, finding Americans to sponsor our emigration to the United States presented a hurdle that, just as Truman predicted, was hard to clear.

But the availability of more than 200,000 U.S. visas encouraged American religious and civic relief organizations to open offices in the DP camps and step up their efforts to help the refugees. In a surprisingly short time, we would be called to new processing centers for interviews. By the fall of 1948, refugees who qualified under the Displaced Persons Act of 1948 began boarding U.S. Army transport ships that had brought GIs to Europe to man the new NATO bases.

The first 813 of these refugees left the German port of Bremenhaven on October 21, 1948. The trip to New York was free, the food on board was ample, and the American Red Cross gave each immigrant a welcome-to-the-U.S. gift of six dollars.

My own crossing aboard the USAT General A. W. Greeley was in keeping with the rest of my DP experience. We left in the middle of February 1950, and the sea was so rough that the ship’s propeller spent seemingly one-third of its time out of the water, winds pushed the ship off course, and the normally week-long crossing took eighteen days. Since we had no drugs against sea sickness, most of us ate little or nothing until we reached terra firma. Otherwise, except for a glancing collision with another army transport in the foggy English Channel, the trip was uneventful.

When I was not too seasick, I worked behind the counter of the ship’s commissary, or PX, and helped put out the souvenir edition of the ship’s journal. It may be of some historic interest that the six-dollar gift each refugee received from the Red Cross translated into about 120 candy bars, Cokes, or packs of chewing gum. In the PX, the bestsellers were Hershey bars, Oh Henry! bars, V8 juice, Coca-Cola, and – wonder of wonders – nylon stockings for women. Every time the crazy sea calmed down enough for the PX to open, the store was mobbed by eager customers. By the time we pulled into the New York harbor on the freezing cold morning of March 3, 1950, the commissary’s wares were practically all sold out.

Left: Harry Weinsaft of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee gives food to three-year-old Renati Rulhater, a Jewish DP child in Vienna, Austria; 1945–46. Right: At a train station in Linz, Austria, a young refugee is given a chocolate bar by local volunteers with Train of Hope, a nonprofit humanitarian organization. (Photos via National Archives and Records Administration; G. Kraftschik/CC BY 2.0)
Left: Harry Weinsaft of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee gives food to three-year-old Renati Rulhater, a Jewish DP child in Vienna, Austria; 1945–46. Right: At a train station in Linz, Austria, a young refugee is given a chocolate bar by local volunteers with Train of Hope, a nonprofit humanitarian organization. (Photos via National Archives and Records Administration; G. Kraftschik/CC BY 2.0)

On July 16, 1950, the 81st Congress passed an amendment of 1948 Displaced Persons Act, which, the president said, he signed “with very great pleasure.” The new law authorized a total of 400,744 visas, more than 172,000 of which had been already issued.

With hundreds of refugee-filled U.S. Army transports crossing the Atlantic, the DP camps rapidly emptied, and the last “non-repatriable” displaced persons – a former Polish slave laborer, his wife, and their two children – arrived at New York’s Pier 61 on Sunday, April 13, 1952.

Including the additional immigration authorized in 1953, the United States admitted a total of 600,000-plus World War II displaced persons and refugees whose homes were behind the Iron Curtain. An additional 400,000-plus displaced persons were resettled by Great Britain, Australia, Canada, and other Western countries. By the end of 1955, Europe’s World War II migration crisis was over.

In his memoir, Years of Trial and Hope, President Harry S. Truman wrote, “All my life, I have fought against prejudice and intolerance.” The fight may have to be waged and won again to resolve the plight of the Middle Eastern migrants in Europe.

14 Jul 11:40

Gun deaths

by Nathan Yau

Gun deaths

As an introduction to a series on gun deaths in America, FiveThirtyEight uses a straightforward grid view to show the breakdowns. Each square represents a single gun death, and as you click through, the squares are colored to show various groups. For example, the above represents gun deaths from homicide in blue, about half of which are young men and two-thirds of that subgroup are black.

Sometimes it’s more useful to break the data down to its elements.

Tags: FiveThirtyEight, guns, mortality

16 Apr 07:24

Really slow speed of light

by Nathan Yau

The "speed of light" typically means "really fast" but when it's relative to the scale of the universe, maybe not so much. Animator Alphonse Swinehart shows what it might look like to follow a photon from the sun to Jupiter, where the speed of light can sometimes feel really slow.

Watch the 45-minute video below, or you know, set it aside for later and let it run in the background.

In our terrestrial view of things, the speed of light seems incredibly fast. But as soon as you view it against the vast distances of the universe, it's unfortunately very slow. This animation illustrates, in realtime, the journey of a photon of light emitted from the surface of the sun and traveling across a portion of the solar system, from a human perspective.

[via @revodavid]

Tags: scale, space

03 Mar 06:09

Young Riders

by Greg Ross

Sons of Jack “Catch-‘Em-Alive” Abernathy, the youngest U.S. Marshal in history, Louis and Temple Abernathy inherited their father’s self-reliance: In 1910, when they were 10 and 6 years old, they rode on horseback from their Oklahoma ranch to Manhattan to greet Theodore Roosevelt as he returned from Africa. After riding behind Roosevelt’s car in a ticker-tape parade, they drove home in a new car.

The following year, apparently bored, they accepted a $10,000 challenge to ride on horseback from New York to San Francisco in 60 days or less, never eating or sleeping indoors. They missed the deadline by two days but still established a speed record. And in 1913 they rode by motorcycle from Oklahoma to New York City.

The two went on to successful careers in law and oil. “Teach a boy self-reliance from the moment he tumbles out of the cradle, make him keep his traces taut and work well forward in his collar, and 99 times out of a hundred his independence will assert itself before he is 2 years old,” their father told a newspaper after their first trip. “That’s my rule, and if you don’t think I’ve taken the right tack talk to my boys for five minutes and they’ll convince you that they are men in principles even if they are babies in years. God bless ‘em.”

02 Dec 08:27

as-warm-as-choco: Tekkon Kinkreet (鉄コン筋クリート) Background Art by...


Tekkon Kinkreet (鉄コン筋クリート) Background Art by Shinji Kimura

Art Director : Blue Exorcist (movie), Tekkonkinkreet, Steamboy
Background Art : My Neighbor Totoro, AKIRA, Urusei Yatsura
04 Dec 16:06

luzfosca: Josef Sudek The Noblewomen’s Residence seen from the...


Josef Sudek

The Noblewomen’s Residence seen from the Cathedral Roof, Undated

From Poet of Prague: A Photographer’s Life

08 Dec 16:23

warped-vision: Makoto Aida

09 Dec 02:27


09 Dec 21:07


18 Oct 18:05

fabforgottennobility: "He remembers the Japanese passing...


"He remembers the Japanese passing through during WWII. He was spear fisherman then, and still today at around 80 years old (he does not know how old he is), he remains a spear fisherman. He earns little from his catch maybe 2-3 dollars a day for spending hours in the water. This time in the water however,is keeping him young. A boxers physique of a young 20 something, and able to hold is breathe for at least 2 minutes while chasing fish with no fins. I could barely keep up with him and I had fins on.”

Location: Hoga Island, Indonesia

Photo and caption by Caine Delacy

don’t remove the credit, please

05 Oct 08:21


26 Sep 06:37


by Greg Ross

Herbert Hoover weighed 200 pounds when he entered the White House in 1929. He couldn’t spare time for golf or tennis, so physician Joel Boone invented a game called Hooverball that could give him a strenuous workout in the minimum time.

On a tennis-like court, two teams of three players throw a 6-pound medicine ball back and forth over an 8-foot net. Sports Illustrated noted, “This cannot be accomplished graciously.” Rules:

  1. The ball is served from the back line.
  2. The ball must be caught in the air and immediately thrown back from the point where it was caught. It cannot be carried or passed.
  3. Points are scored when a team fails to catch the ball, fails to throw it across the net, or throws the ball out of bounds.
  4. A ball caught in the front half of one team’s court must be thrown to the back half of the opponents’ court. If it doesn’t reach the back court, the opponents score a point.
  5. Scoring is exactly like tennis. The serve rotates among one team’s members until a game is won, then passes to the other team.
  6. A ball that hits the line is good.
  7. A player who catches the ball out of bounds can return to the court before throwing it back.
  8. A ball that hits the net but passes over is a live ball.
  9. Teams can make substitutions when the ball is dead.

Hoover played with his friends at 7 a.m. every day, even in snow. The regulars included the president, Boone, Supreme Court justices, Cabinet members, and journalists such as Mark Sullivan and William Hard. Talking shop was forbidden, and after the game they gathered on the White House lawn for juice and coffee.

“The regimen worked well for the president,” writes biographer Glen Jeansonn. “By the end of the term he had firmed up and slimmed down to 179 pounds. … Hoover looked forward to the games and the camaradarie, although he did not like rising quite so early. But the games were energizing and he began each day refreshed and relaxed.”

The Hoover Presidential Foundation, which co-hosts a national championship each year, has a complete set of rules.

20 Nov 19:11

Self-Portraits: True Identity vs. Reflective Identity

by RCardoso
The eighth grade classes discussed the concept of identity and the difference between their true identity versus the identity that is reflected upon them. "Does the image that I have of myself match the image that others see?" While contemplating this question, students wrote out two lists, one for "reflective" and one for "true". They found the reflective identity list much more difficult to write because it involved putting themselves in others' shoes. Naturally, the true identity list included words that described their personalities and life stories while the reflective identity list focused mostly on physical appearance.
Before beginning their self-portraits students had the opportunity to see work by artists who use various styles and media. After being introduced to the concepts of proportion and value, students began their portraits using mirrors. Some students decided to include both identity lists in their final drawing while others chose just one. The following are examples of the amazing work.

25 Dec 21:19

"5000 friends on Facebook, 1500 on twitter, 1000 on Tumblr, 1000 on Instagram, 500 at your wedding, 5..."

“5000 friends on Facebook, 1500 on twitter, 1000 on Tumblr, 1000 on Instagram, 500 at your wedding, 5 during hard times, 2 at your burial, and alone in your grave. Reality.””

- moeyhashy (via perfect)
26 Dec 23:33

akio: BEAUTY OF MATHEMATICS - Video clip By Yann Pineill &...


BEAUTY OF MATHEMATICS - Video clip By Yann Pineill & Nicolas Lefaucheux


07 Dec 23:54

"And it has been one hell of a year. I have worn the seasons under my sleeves, on my..."

“And it has been
one hell
of a year.
I have worn
the seasons
under my sleeves,
on my thighs,
running down my cheeks.
This is what
looks like, my dear.”

- Michelle K., It Has Been One Hell of a Year (via awelltraveledwoman)
20 Nov 10:05

Global forest change

by Nathan Yau

Global forest change

Hansen, Potapov, Moore, Hancher et al. produced high-resolution maps of global forestry to estimate change between 2000 and 2012.

Quantification of global forest change has been lacking despite the recognized importance of forest ecosystem services. In this study, Earth observation satellite data were used to map global forest loss (2.3 million square kilometers) and gain (0.8 million square kilometers) from 2000 to 2012 at a spatial resolution of 30 meters. The tropics were the only climate domain to exhibit a trend, with forest loss increasing by 2101 square kilometers per year. Brazil’s well-documented reduction in deforestation was offset by increasing forest loss in Indonesia, Malaysia, Paraguay, Bolivia, Zambia, Angola, and elsewhere. Intensive forestry practiced within subtropical forests resulted in the highest rates of forest change globally. Boreal forest loss due largely to fire and forestry was second to that in the tropics in absolute and proportional terms. These results depict a globally consistent and locally relevant record of forest change.

Be sure to select the various data products and zoom in on example locations via the dropdown menus on the right of the map.

21 Nov 14:31

Going Down

by Greg Ross

One last, almost unbelievable, anecdote from the San Francisco earthquake:

When the quake struck at 5:12 a.m., William Stehr was in his room on the top floor of the Nevada House at 132 Sixth Street. At first he considered jumping from his window onto a roof below, but “as I was waiting to make up my mind the house I was looking at collapsed with a deafening roar.” He was dressing himself hurriedly when he heard another crash and saw that the Brunswick House had also collapsed “and was tumbling into a heap of ruins in a smother of dust.” He leapt to his door but found that the quake had jammed it shut.

As I was tugging at it I felt the floor tilting and sinking under me, and I knew that the house was going down like the others. So I hung on instinctively to the door handle while the whole floor dropped. As it sank I felt three distinct bumps as the lower floors collapsed in turn under the weight of the roof and the top story. With each bump came a frightful crash and cracking of timbers and glass and the cries of other people in the house who were being destroyed. …

The cries of these people who were being killed, especially the women, were dreadful to hear; even to me, in my own peril, thinking every instant that I would be crushed, they were the most dreadful part of the experience.

Then came another bump, very sudden and very severe. The place fell in on top of me, the breath seemed to be knocked out of my body and I went unconscious.

He had survived. Of the 50 people in the Nevada, only seven had escaped. “On all sides, where the Nevada, the Ohio, the Brunswick and other lodging houses had been, there was nothing but a big pile of debris.”

(From Malcolm E. Barker’s Three Fearful Days, 1998.)