Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.

Excuse My Beauty

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Joseph Stalin making a face at his bodyguard; ca. 1930

Photo by Lt. G. Nikolai Vlasik


The nine European Monarchs who attended the funeral of Edward VII, photographed at Windsor Castle; May 20, 1910

I always enjoy identifying where people are situated to identify who was perceived to be the most powerful. Obviously UK front and center, flanked by Spain and Denmark with Germany behind and Belgium relegated to the outside...

I always enjoy identifying where people are situated to identify who was perceived to be the most powerful. Obviously UK front and center, flanked by Spain and Denmark with Germany behind and Belgium relegated to the outside…


Philippe Petit on a cable between the WTC towers; ca. 1974

 

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Life should be lived on the edge of life; you have to exercise rebellion:

to refuse to taper yourself to rules, to refuse your own success,

to refuse to repeat yourself, to see every day, every year, every idea as a true challenge,

and then you are going to live your life on a tightrope.

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I really really enjoyed the documentary  Man on Wire from a historical aspect; but Petit was a bit of an ass. In the end, he seemed like he just sort of abandoned his friends once he got recognition. His one buddy got banned for life from the US and he didn’t seem to care, and as soon as he got released rather than go visit his girlfriend he shacked up in a hotel with some random girl for a couple of days. Ugh!

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*On 9/11/2003, Petit wrote the most poignant eulogy for the Twin Towers. It draws upon a lesson he learned in coping with the death of his young daughter in the 1990s.

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An early hair perming machine dating from 1923 .

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Catherine the Great’s Erotic Furniture; ca. 1930’s.

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The story goes:

During the second world war in one of the palaces of Tsarskoye Selo, a group of Soviet soldiers found a room decorated in a frank erotic style. According to witnesses , one of the walls was entirely hung with wooden phalluses of various shapes, a range of chairs, desks, and screens all decorated with pornographic images supplementing the whole appearance. Soldiers didn’t loot anything or destroy anything there, on the contrary, they made a dozen of documentary photos.

Most of the pictures were lost in the fire of war, but some of Hermitage personnel also confirm the existence of the parlor, noting that Catherine the Great even made a boudoir for Platon Zubov, but it’s unlikely that it could reached the 20th century. It is also known that the collection of erotic art belonged to the Romanov family was cataloged in 1930’s . The evidences indicate that the objects were only shown to a selection of visitors. But the catalog was lost. Like the whole entire collection, it was allegedly destroyed in 1950. However this small selection of photographs still exist.


Richard Nixon stands on a car during his 1968 presidential campaign.

For some reason I kind of think he looks like Bugs Bunny

For some reason I kind of think he looks like Bugs Bunny. 


Two ladies do high kicks while posing atop Overhanging Rock at Glacier Point in the Yosemite National Park; ca. 1900

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Kitty Tatch and Katherine Hazelston, were waitresses at Yosemite National Park hotels. They loved to pose for photographers on Overhanging Rock at Glacier Point, 3000 feet above the valley. The photographers then turned the pictures into best-selling postcards autographed by Tatch. Wearing a long wide skirt she danced and did high kicks, announcing by her clothes that it was a woman doing these feats. Tatch liked to get as close to the edge as possible. (Source)


Annual midnight swearing-in of Nazi SS troops, Feldherrnhalle, Munich, 1938.

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Most people give me dirty looks when I say this, but in WWII, Germany’s soldiers had the better looking uniforms. Just look how intimidating those trench coats and helmets are. They look like a formidable enemy.


Belle the hippo during the siege of Leningrad, 1943.

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“Belle survived the war thanks to her caretaker, Yevdokia Dashina. In 1941 water was turned off throughout the city and Belle’s pool was empty, so her skin began to dry out and crack. Every day, Dashina would drag a 40-liter barrel of water from the Neva river and rub the suffering hippo with camphor oil. Eventually, Belle’s skin healed and she was able to hide underwater through the air raids.” (Source)

*In this case, none of the zoo animals were eaten, but some, like Betty the elephant, died during the air strikes (sad picture warning!) Most of the cats and rats were indeed eaten, unfortunately.

*An adult hippo night should receive from 36 to 40 kg of feed. But during the blockade she ate 4-6 kg of a mixture of herbs, vegetables and press cake, adding there 30 kg filings, just to fill her stomach. (The zoo workers also shared their rations with the animals.) If you see this picture of Belle from 1935 you can tell that she lost a lot of weight. So she probably didn’t have “enough to eat”, but enough not to starve to death.


Mosaic image of the sail of the USS Thresher (SSN-593) on the seabed at 2,600m. The USS Thresher was the first nuclear submarine lost at sea. Photo taken between 1963 and 1966.

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The USS Thresher was undertaking dive trials when it encountered trouble. It’s not clear what exactly happened, but it is thought that either a pipe joint failed, flooding the engine room, or an electrical bus failed. Either way, it is thought that the reactor shut down and that ice blocked the air pipes while trying to blow the ballast tanks. The Thresher sank until water pressure caused it to implode, ripping it to pieces.

The picture is a mosaic made from smaller pictures which shows the sail, or “conning tower”. Not the dive plane is completely reversed.