Every year, thousands of motorcyclists descend on Sturgis, South Dakota for days of camaraderie, fanfare and riding. Despite COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s rally is still happening. Here are 5 wacky sights you have to see to believe.
The human bowling ball named Short Sleeve Sampson is considered by some as a rite of passage at Buffalo Chip and the Sturgis Rally. With his assistants, Lady Victoria and Summer, the midget wrestling icon lines up to be hurled down the lane at a set of bowling pins. Seeing country-music star Zac Brown partake in the action is like an odd cherry on top of a wacky sundae. That said, Zac Brown is joined on the list of midget bowlers by other famous artists like Rob Zombie, John 5 and Eric Church.
(Rapid City Journal)
2. The kangaroo at the wedding
When Lady Victoria married Marco Webber at the 2009 Sturgis Rally, she was escorted down the aisle by Jack the Kangaroo of Roo Ranch. Lady Victoria noted that her previous marriage ceremonies were very traditional and wanted to change things up. For his services, Jack received a BreathSavers mint, a favorite treat of his.
(Rapid City Journal)
3. Rhett Rotten and the Wall of Death
Sure, you could argue that it’s simple physics: counteracting gravity with sufficient velocity and centrifugal force. But, there’s just something fantastic about a man riding his motorcycle around on a wall. Did we mention that the wall is 12 feet high, 30 feet wide and 81 years old? If only Humvees were as reliable as the Wall of Death.
(Rapid City Journal)
4. Riding through a beer wall
If you’re riding, it means you’re not drinking. So what’s the next best thing? How about riding through the drink? Bursting through a wall of cold ones results in a fantastic display of foam that we can only imagine must be supremely refreshing and satisfying.
(Rapid City Journal)
5. A man in a barrel
This one is pretty self-explanatory. We’ll just leave it here for you to enjoy.
When Lt. Kara Hultgreen died while trying to land on the USS Abraham Lincoln, the event touched off a national debate about women in combat roles and the military pushing women who weren’t ready into active service. Except Hultgreen was more than qualified to be a naval aviator – she was just a victim of a well-known deficiency in the F-14’s Pratt & Whitney engine.
“Top Gun” doesn’t mention engine deficiencies.
Hultgreen’s mom thought she would be the perfect debutante. Instead, her little Kara set out to be a Naval Aviator, flying the F-14 Tomcat. The goal didn’t stop at the F-14, Kara Hultgreen wanted to be an astronaut one day. But she didn’t start with the Tomcat, she started her career flying the less-pretty EA-6A. She made it to the Tomcat 18 months later.
“Yes, it’s a macho job in a number of ways,” she told Woman Pilot magazine before she died. “But that’s not why I wanted to do it. I did this to become a fighter pilot. It makes me feel no less feminine and it should not make men feel less masculine. The F-14 is a humbling jet and I’ve been humbled.”
Call Sign: “Revlon”
What she meant by being humbled is that Hultgreen narrowly failed her first attempt at F-14 carrier qualification. But she passed easily her second time around, ranking third in her class overall. Tragically, it was a similar event that would result in her death.
On Oct. 25, 1994, she was attempting to land her F-14 aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. She overshot the landing area’s centerline and attempted to correct the mistake. Her correction disrupted the airflow into her Tomcat’s left engine, which caused it to fail. This was a known deficiency in that particular engine. What she did next caused the plane to tilt over to the left. When her Radar Intercept Officer realized the plane was not recoverable, he initiated the plane’s ejection sequences. He was fired out, and .4 seconds later, Hultgreen was fired out of the plane.
But by then, the Tomcat had turned over by 90 degrees and Hultgreen was launched into the ocean, killing her instantly.
By the time she died, Lt. Hultgreen had more than 1,240 hours of flying time in the F-14 Tomcat and had landed on a carrier some 58 times, 17 times at night. She was ranked first in defending the fleet from simulated attacks by enemy aircraft and in air refueling, and second in tactics to evade enemy aircraft and in combined familiarization with tactics and aircraft. The Aerospace Engineer was a Distinguished Naval Graduate of Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola.
Yet, despite all of her achievements, training, and preparation, there were some who blamed the military for her death, alleging her superiors overlooked her mistakes in training in trying to beat the Air Force in training the first female fighter pilot. One group, the Center for Military Readiness, claimed to have obtained Hultgreen’s training records in 1995, records which they said would have disqualified her as an aviator.
These records are contradicted by records released from Hultgreen’s family the year prior, however. Her colleagues and fellow pilots praised her performance as a naval aviator and reminded people that 10 F-14 pilots were killed in accidents between the years of 1992 and 1994. Hultgreen once even brought an EA-6A Intruder to a safe landing, despite flying it with crippled landing gear.
Godzilla’s roar has long been considered one of cinema’s most iconic and recognizable sounds. Oft-copied or otherwise homaged, the original and rather unique roar terrified audience goers in the 1950s and has been built upon to dramatic effect in the numerous sequels and remakes since. So how did they actually make the original sound and where did the idea for Godzilla come from in the first place?
As for the idea behind the monster, producer Tomoyuki Tanaka was looking for a project to work on after another film he was involved with got scrapped. Given the popularity of such films as King Kong among Japanese audiences, he decided to create a similarly themed movie. Except in this case, the monster would function as a not so subtle metaphor for the devastation of nuclear destruction and its radioactive aftermath ‚ hence Godzilla being a prehistoric creature awakened and energized by atomic explosions, and who in turn shoots a radioactive heat beam out of its mouth, leaving a wake of death and destruction, with many survivors in turn suffering from radiation sickness.
As for the final version of the creature itself (and, yes, while in Western versions Godzilla is generally referred to as a “he”, in the Japanese versions the creature is an “it”), before the iconic design we know today was settled on there were differing ideas on how to best realise the monster. An idea that was proposed early on before being eventually rejected was to make Godzilla resemble a large gorilla/whale hybrid, more or less mimicking the whole King Kong thing, but making the animal somewhat amphibious too. (Note here, the name Godzilla ultimately derives from the Japanese name “Gojira”, which is in turn a portmanteau of “whale” and “gorilla”.)
Behind the scenes photograph from the set of Godzilla Raids Again.
This whale/gorilla hybrid idea was initially proposed by Tanaka. However, when an artist was brought in to create a design for the creature based on this general idea, it was quickly rejected because the results ended up looking too human-like; they wanted something much more unique and ancient looking.
Switching it up, sculptor Teizo Toshimitsu and art director Akira Watanabe decided to base the design of Godzilla on that of dinosaur, specifically the T-Rex, with elements of other dinosaurs such as the Iguanodon and modern reptiles like the alligators thrown in. On top of that, to double down on the atomic radiation association, they put keloid scars all over its body, which would have been familiar to Japanese audiences, with these scars commonly showing up on survivors of the nuclear blasts.
As for Godzilla’s exaggerated dorsal fins, these originally were not meant to serve any purpose in the 1954 film, and were simply added to give the creature a more distinctive silhouette. However, it would ultimately be established that they can be used by Godzilla to absorb nearby radiation or even as a weapon.
After creating the monster, Godzilla needed a voice. As it was designed to be an unnatural combination of various creatures both alive and dead, the sound crew found it especially difficult to come up with something that worked for its roar. According to famed composer Akira Ifukube, who created both Godzilla’s roar, the sound of its footsteps, and composed the film’s soundtrack, sound engineers went to a local zoo and recorded the roars and cries of virtually every animal there to try to come up with something usable.
They then tried a number of combinations of these sounds to create something distinct, failing each time because the resulting roar always sounded too familiar. Ikufube notes that the engineers eventually got so desperate they even tried distorting the cries of random animals like herons to the point that they were unrecognisable, but nothing was satisfactory.
The problem, at least in Ikufube’s eyes, was that the roars of other animals, even when heavily distorted, still sounded too natural. What they really wanted was a unique sound like nothing ever heard from an animal before, but still animal-like, and a little terrifying. Thus, scrapping all the previous sounds, despite working under an incredibly tight deadline, Ikufube decided to look at other potential means to make the roar. For the solution, he states, “For the roar of Godzilla, I took out the lowest string of a contrabass and then ran a glove that had resin on it across the string…. The different kinds of roars were created by playing the recording of the sound that I’d made at different speeds.”
And just as a brief aside here when talking about the tight deadline in scoring movies in Japan at the time, when asked about whether his now iconic music for Godzilla was among his favorite compositions, Ikufube stated,
Unlike American film score composers, Japanese film score composers are given only three or four days in which to write the music for a movie. Because of this, I have almost always been very frustrated while writing a score. I therefore can’t select any of my scores as favorites.
Going back to the roar, the resin on the glove helped create the added friction needed while being dragged across the string to make a noticeably grating sound that would hopefully cause a feeling of unease in those who heard it— akin to nails on a chalkboard, but with a lot more depth.
Attempting to recreate some version of Ikufube’s sounds for the 2014 version, Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn, who created the new roar, stated, “We dissected that original roar and figured out exactly which key musically it was in, which is a C to D on the piano, and the finishing bellow that has the same notes on a lower octave. We figured out the timing, cadence and musical pitch of that original roar, and then started to experiment with different ways to re-create it.”
After a whopping six months of experimenting, they settled on a combination of sounds, though as to how they came up with them, they’ve promised to take that secret with them to the grave. Said Aadahl, “I think more so than any other sound effect we’ve designed, we have a certain protectiveness over that sound. It’s when you’re giving voice to something, you’re giving it its soul. And if we tell everybody exactly how we did it, people will think of that when they hear the roar, and we want them to think of Godzilla.”
Scene from Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
That said, what little they have revealed is that the sound, much like Ikufube’s, was the product of friction using something man-made, rather than modifying an animal sound. They also note that over the course of their experiments they played with things like car doors with rusty hinges, as well as rubbing the heads of drums, among other things. They further state they found that using the plastic sole from a hiking boot on the strings of a double bass produced the closest they could get to the original roar in their experiments.
During the course of all of this, to get an even more unique sound, Van der Ryn states, “We bought a microphone that was able to record above the range of human hearing. We started experimenting will all different types of sounds — sounds that we couldn’t actually hear when we were recording. But when we slowed them down into the human range of perception, we had an incredible palette of normally invisible sounds that people normally don’t get to hear.”
Finally, to get proper echo sounds, as well as what it would sound like from within a building or a car, etc. (basically different ways it might be heard in the final film), they managed to convince the band Rolling Stones to let them use their tour speakers. They then set everything up outside at various locations at Warner Brothers studios, and simply blared the roars at high volume and recorded the result from various other locations nearby.
Naturally, they got some complaints about this, with Aadahl stating, “The neighbors started tweeting, like, ‘Godzilla’s at my apartment door! And we were getting phone calls from Universal Studios across town, because tour groups were asking, ‘What’s all that commotion going on down in the valley?’ The sound that we were playing actually traveled over 3 miles… 100,000 watts of pure power.”
Going back to the original Godzilla, if you’re wondering about the aforementioned footstep sounds, according to Ikufube, the story behind those was,
One of Toho’s electrical engineers made a simplistic amplifying device some time before production on GODZILLA – KING OF THE MONSTERS got underway. It was just a box that had several coils connected to an amplifier and a speaker in it. When you struck it, the coils would vibrate, and a loud, shocking sound would be created. I accidentally stepped on the device while I was conducting the score for a movie that was produced shortly before GODZILLA – KING OF THE MONSTERS was made. I said, “What the heck is that?” when I heard the noise that was produced. When I was asked to create Godzilla’s footfalls, I decided to use the device.
Ever wonder how they made the sound effect for the lightsaber? Well, wonder no more, sound engineer Ben Burtt states, “In the booth where we projected the films… Those projectors would make a hum. They weren’t running, they were idling, the motors would just sit there with this kind of magical, mysterious humming sound that I thought was musical in a way and I thought that’s probably what a lightsaber would sound like… And I was searching for some other element, and I had a tape recorder with a broken mic cable that the shielding had come off of and when I walked passed a television set in my apartment it picked up the hum from the picture tube directly into the broken wire, and that made a buzz, and I thought, that’s a great buzz, that sounds dangerous… normally a sound person doesn’t want a buzz or a hum, but in this case a buzz and a hum was the answer.”
Moving on to the famous “Star Wars scream”, more properly known as the “Wilhelm Scream”, heard in hundreds of movies, this was created via the vocal talents of Sheb Wooley, perhaps better known for his hit 1958 song “Purple People Eater”. The genesis of the scream was that Wooley had an uncredited part in the first film the scream was heard in, a 1951 film called Distant Drums. At one point during the film, Captain Quincy is leading his soldiers through a swamp when one of them gets attacked and dragged under by an alligator, screaming in the process. During post-production recordings, Wooley recorded various vocal sound effects for the film, including a batch of screams.
So why was it dubbed the “Wilhelm Scream” if the man who did the scream was named Sheb Wooley? After being plucked from the Warner Brothers stock sound library, the scream was used in the 1953 film The Charge at Feather River, starring Guy Madison as Private Wilhelm. The sound effect is used when Private Wilhelm is shot in the thigh with an arrow. The scream was nicknamed “Wilhelm” from then on.
The Hollywood tradition / inside joke of purposefully using the Wilhelm scream in a variety of films began with aforementioned sound effects designer Ben Burtt, who worked on numerous films, including Star Wars as noted. He noticed the scream being used in certain Warner Brother’s films, such as Them in 1954, Helen of Troy in 1956, and The Green Berets in 1968. Burtt then began slipping the Wilhelm Scream into every movie he worked on, beginning with George Lucas’s Star Wars: A New Hope. And it just sort of caught on from there.
This year Troy didn’t focus on a firearm at the Big 3 East Media Shoot, instead they featured some pretty rad accessories. Of course, they had plenty of firearms on hand for us to enjoy, but the enhancements were the highlight of Troy’s lineup this year.
The one accessory that caught our attention was surprisingly a new sling dubbed the Troy T-Sling. The T-Sling is made from what was described as ballistic nylon in both a padded and non-padded version in black, OD Green, MultiCam, and Coyote. While a padded sling is nice, the convenience of the non-padded version with the included elastic sling keeper makes a ton of sense if you aren’t going to be carrying the rifle all day and will be storing it in tight spaces like a cruiser, truck, or gun safe.
The new non-padded Troy T-Sling on a Troy SOCC pistol with a Law Tactical folder.
Troy also had their 45-degree offset Battle Sights on display mounted to just about every gun in the Troy booth. While Troy does offer the 45-degree sights in several variations, they thankfully had most of the rifles outfitted with the HK style variant. If that isn’t your thing Troy also offers them with an M4 style front and a diamond rear aperture or a variant with the Delta 1 system.
While the author doesn’t spend a ton of time shooting offset sights of any type, the 45-degree Battle Sights combined with the SOCC Carbine came together as an easy-to-shoot package. We were triple tapping a C zone-sized steel plate at 50 to 60 yards pretty damned fast several times with only one pulled shot out of the 20 round string.
We were able to track the sights during recoil with the HK style sights consistently and with ease.
Troy also showcased their Precision Rifle Mount mated to a Primary Arms LPVO. We are told that the mounts are machined from a single block of 7075 aluminum and then the rings and dovetail are cut using wire EDM. The mount is available in 30mm, 34mm, and 35mm ring sizes with either a zero MOA or 20 MOA of elevation built into the mount.
The Troy Precision Rifle Mount starts at an MSRP of 5, add another if you want the coyote color instead of the black shown here.
If you spend any time at all in the military after passing basic training, chances are good that you’re going to end up in a bar with members of your unit. Chances are very good that one of those evenings will involve karaoke.
Karaoke doesn’t care if you’re a good singer or a bad singer (although the people subjected to your voice might have an opinion). Karaoke just needs your active and (hopefully) positive participation. Remember, even if you suck, you still had the intestinal fortitude to get up on a stage before a crowd full of drunken strangers — and that’s a victory of its own.
What that crowd is most likely to judge you on is your choice of song. If you get up in front of your coworkers and sing “I Touch Myself” at the top of your lungs, you will never, ever live it down. In fact, you might as well change your name and go into hiding.
Your audience will forgive a lot, especially your coworkers and battle buddies, as long as you don’t make it too difficult to forgive. So, make sure you get up on that stage with energy and good humor. Have a good time and the audience will have one with you.
Before we begin, let’s go over a few ground rules. First, if you’re with your unit, remember that you’ll likely have to see these same people every day for the next four-to-six years — but never forget to read your audience. If you’re in a bar where everyone keeps rapping Dr. Dre and they’re really good at it, maybe save your rendition of “Friends In Low Places” for a more receptive crowd.
Nor should you just pick the obvious go-to karaoke songs. Yeah, everyone likes “Don’t Stop Believin’,” but you can do better than that at 10 p.m. Songs like “Wrecking Ball,” “Sweet Caroline,” and just about anything else by Journey that isn’t “Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin'” should probably be forgotten at this point.
“I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers
You can seriously just yell this song at the top of your lungs and the crowd will still sing along with you.
You’ll know just how into this song your crowd is by the time the “dah dah dah” part of the chorus comes. Use the following barometer to judge your success.
Level 1: The audience sings with you.
Level 2: The audience sings louder than you.
Level 3: You sing the call “Dah Dah Dah” and they sing “Dah Dah Dah” in response.
Level 4: They sing in Scottish accents.
Level 5: The crowd pretends to walk while singing.
“Love Shack” by the B-52s
Everybody knows the words to “Love Shack” but, for some reason, it’s not a karaoke song that’s so overplayed anymore. Also, it’s really fun to sing and opens you up to duet possibilities.
“The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World
I bet it could be proven that 85 percent of white males can sing just like the guy from Jimmy Eat World. Plus, this is another one of those songs that you don’t have to be a good singer to sing — if you are a good singer though, it’s more fun than mumbling Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”
“Build Me Up Buttercup” by The Foundations
This is another one of those songs that you can get away with singing like the tone-def airman we all know I am. But if you sing this right, you’ll not only get a huge reception, but you could also end up with a crowd of screaming fans singing along with you, back-up dancers, and (potentially) a few phone numbers.
“It Wasn’t Me” by Shaggy
Everyone secretly loves this song. It’s old but fun and will keep everyone in a decent mood. I labeled this as moderate difficulty because while everyone knows the pace and cadence with which Shaggy sings this song, I still can’t tell you what the actual words are.
“I’m The Only One” by Melissa Etheridge
Someone at the bar is going to be angry enough to thank you for singing this song. And while you may not draw a crowd of drunken revelers singing along with you, nailing this song will ensure everyone the crowd will love you all night.
“Purple Rain” by Prince
You have been warned. Attempting this song and failing will only do you more harm than good. No one will ever forget that time you murdered “Purple Rain.” Your nickname (and maybe even callsign) will become Purple Rain and you will be laughed at for making doves cry.
On the other hand, watching someone perfectly sing “Purple Rain” at karaoke is as unforgettable as the first time I had sex.
Believe it or not, the Germans were not surprised that the Allies were ready to invade Fortress Europe as a means of bringing World War II to an end. As a matter of fact, in much of Europe, the Nazis were ready for whatever the Allied troops were going to throw their way. The Nazis knew about the military build-up in England, and even the lowest-ranking Wehrmacht trooper knew the invasion would come at some point.
Luckily, the Allied powers still had a few tricks up their sleeves.
The Pas-de-Calais defenses in 1944.
They didn’t think Normandy would be the target.
The ideal point of an invasion of Europe from England, Nazi planners determined, would come at Calais. There were many reasons for this, but the simplest explanation is that Calais is the closest landing point from England. The English Channel is a tough, choppy sea with inclement weather – a more distant location could put a substantial invasion force at risk, so the troops manning the Atlantic Wall were reasonably sure Normandy was safe.
U.S. troops of Japanese descent fighting in the 442d Regimental Combat Team, one of the most storied units of the war.
No one expected it in June 1944.
Most experienced German troops and planners believed the Allies would not open a second invasion of Europe from the West until the Invasion of Italy was complete. Most thought another invasion of Allied forces would come only after the Italian Campaign reached the Alps or even crossed over them. This, coupled with the fact they thought the landings would come at Calais meant the Germans manning defenses at Normandy were not the best troops for the job. Those troops were hundreds of miles away.
American troops fighting in the hedgerows of the French countryside.
The advance was much faster than expected
German troops marveled at the speed with which American, British, and Canadian forces were able to move their men and materiel, not only in crossing the English Channel on D-Day and the days after, but in the weeks following June 6. The formation of a firm beachhead and the rapid advance through the French countryside astonished the Germans, who had made the same lightning advance across the territory just a few years prior.
German sailors of the Kriegsmarine.
How much the Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine failed them
During the D-Day landings, the presence of the German Air Force or Navy was minimal where it existed at all. The Wehrmacht was the only real resistance to the Allied landings. Were it not for the Channel’s infamous choppiness and bad weather, the landings would have made it across the water entirely unabated. With no air cover or protection from the water, the army was essentially left out to dry.
The coordination of the Maquis
The Germans largely despised the resistance movements in France and other occupied countries and looked down on them with disdain. In practice, however, the close coordination between French resistance cells and the Allied command created a situation where German troops, transports, and heavy weapons that might have thrown the Allies back into the English Channel were instead tied up and slowed down for hours, leaving only the defenses sitting on the Atlantic Wall to try and stem the tide.
There’s no shortage of heroic war stories — truth or fiction — with heavy amounts of glory and honor in them, which can cause young adults to crave certain adventures. Although serving in the infantry does bring a level of individual satisfaction, many facts tend to get left out regarding what it’s really like to be a ground pounder.
So before you run to your local recruiting office to sign on the dotted line and become a hero or whatever, here are a few things you might need to know:
1. It’s a dangerous job
Movies do a great job depicting how dangerous war can be as directors add in cinematic kills and awesome camera work.
In real life, there’s no pulse-pounding theme music or slow motion effects — the sh*t is real.
Once you make a friend in the infantry, you always have that special bond no matter what.
Hopefully, you’re the “Maverick” in the relationship. (Image via Giphy)
3. It can be really, really boring
You’ve probably heard the phrase “hurry up and wait.” In a grunt unit, everything takes more time than it should and you’re going to have plenty of down time. So make sure you have games downloaded on your smartphone to play and help you stay awake while you wait for the higher-ups to “pass the word.”
It’s called a “working party.” This sounds way more fun than it actually is. Instead of plenty of beer and drunken coeds, you’ll be outside in the heat “police calling” cigarette butts or mopping your boss’s office.
If this looks fun, being a boot in the infantry may be your calling(Image via Giphy)
“Let’s talk about peeing in space.” — Mary Robinette Kowal, Hugo-Award Winning Author
During the space race of the Cold War, NASA scientists were so excited to get a man into space, they failed to come up with elegant means for him to relieve himself. As a result, the first American in space, Alan Shepard, was forced to pee in his spacesuit.
At that point in time, NASA wasn’t even considering female astronauts. In fact, women weren’t admitted into the astronaut program until the late 1970s — and it wasn’t until 1983 that Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. “By this point,” observed Robinette Kowal, “the space program was built around male bodies.”
This exclusion wouldn’t be comical except for the fact that male astronauts literally lied about their penis sizes, causing failures in early pee-sheath engineering.
That’s right, our early heroes of space exploration refused to use “small” condoms and would instead pee all over themselves. I don’t blame men for this. I honestly blame toxic masculinity, penis shaming, and lazy men who refuse to learn how to give sexual pleasure to their female partners — but I digress.
The urine-condom technology developed enough to allow for a vacuum to suction the pee out into space, which apparently not only takes some timing skillz but looks pretty cool. The urine will boil violently, then the vapor passes immediately into the solid state and becomes a cloud of very fine crystals of frozen urine that might even catch the light of the sun…
NASA continued to try to contain men’s pee with condoms and bags. After the accident aboard Apollo 13, the astronauts couldn’t use the regular urine vent but the alternate system caused droplets to float around the ship. Mission Control told the crew to stop dumping pee. According to Robinette Kowal, “it wasn’t meant to be a permanent ban, but the crew didn’t understand that. So they were stashing pee in every bag or container possible.”
The fastest option was to store it in the collection bags they wore in their suits. Poor Fred Haise kept his suit on for hours and got a urinary tract infection and a kidney infection.
Male astronauts switched over to the Maximum Absorbency Garment as well because it was more comfortable and less prone to resulting in pee floating around the cabin. This is a great example of how diversity encourages innovation, folks.
Robinette Kowal’s Twitter thread doesn’t stop there. She goes on to cover modern malfunctions, farting in space, the effect of gravity on urination urges, official and unofficial erections in space, and menstrual periods.
(Apparently NASA engineers tied Sally Ride’s tampons together like a bandolier? Guys, if you have period questions, just ask women.)
Today, the International Space System efficiently collects urine and recycles 80-85% of it to astronaut drinking water. Peggy Whitson, an astronaut who hit her “radiation limit” after logging 665 days in space (an American record), suggests that engineers will find a way to create a closed-loop system and recycle all of their water.
So see some International Space Station innovation in action, check out this video of Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti demonstrating their toilet.
President Donald Trump has ordered the immediate withdrawal of more than 7,000 US troops from Afghanistan, according to multiple reports, citing defense officials.
In what appears to be the first major step toward ending America’s involvement in a war fought for nearly two decades, the president has decided to cut the US military presence in Afghanistan in half, The Wall Street Journal reported. There are currently roughly 14,000 American service members in the war-torn country.
News of the withdrawal comes just one day after Trump declared victory over ISIS and announced the withdrawal of US troops from Syria, a move that reportedly drove the president’s secretary of defense to resign from his position Dec. 20, 2018.
“I think it shows how serious the president is about wanting to come out of conflicts,” one senior U.S. official told TheWSJ. “I think he wants to see viable options about how to bring conflicts to a close.”
Another official told The New York Times that the Afghan forces, which have suffered unbelievably high casualties, need to learn to stand on their own, something senior military leaders have suggested they may not yet be ready to do.
Troops secure a landing zone in Afghanistan.
US military leaders, most recently Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, have characterized the war in Afghanistan as a “stalemate” with no end in sight. A total of 14 American service members have died in Afghanistan this year, six in the last two months alone.
US troops are both training, advising, and assisting Afghan forces and carrying out counterterrorism operations against regional terror groups, like ISIS and Al Qaeda. In September 2017, Trump ordered the deployment of an additional 3,000 troops to Afghanistan.
The decision to reduce the number of US troops in country to roughly half their current levels was reportedly made at the same time Trump decided to withdraw from Syria.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
As service members, we get the opportunity to travel the world, see some amazing places, and witness some over-the-top events. We love to visually document the areas we visit and the unique people we encounter.
While we’re out seeing the world, some of those photos we snap are so well-timed that we end up creating unique, optical illusions within our compositions.
Faulty welding in missile tubes bound for the Navy’s newest submarines could create additional problems for one of the Navy’s most expensive and highest-priority programs.
The USS Virginia returns to the General Dynamics Electric Boat shipyard after the successful completion of its first voyage in open seas, July 30, 2004.
Twelve missile tubes built by defense contractor BWXT are being reviewed for substandard welds that were uncovered after discrepancies were found in the equipment the firm was using to test the welds before sending them to General Dynamic Electric Boat, which is the prime contractor for the Columbia-class ballistic-missile sub program, according to a report by Defense News.
BWXT was one of three firms subcontracted to build tubes for Columbia-class subs and for the UK’s Dreadnought-class missiles subs. The firm was one of two subcontracted to build tubes for the US’s Virginia-class attack subs.
GDEB had already received seven of the tubes and five were still being built. The Navy and GDEB have launched an investigation, according to Defense News.
The issue comes to light at the start of fabrication for the Columbia class subs, which is meant to replace the Navy’s Ohio-class ballistic-missile subs and begin strategic patrols by 2031. The Navy has to start building the new boats by 2021 in order to stay on that timeline.
A spokesman for Naval Sea Systems Command told Defense News that the problem, which appears to be limited to tubes made by BWXT, shouldn’t put the Columbia-class program behind schedule.
The Columbia-class sub program is already one of the Defense Department’s most expensive, expected to cost 2.3 billion, roughly .9 billion a boat, to build 12 boats, which are to replace the Navy’s current 14 Ohio-class missile submarines.
The guided-missile submarine USS Ohio arrives at Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton to begin a major maintenance period at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, April 4, 2017.
(U.S. Navy photo by Jeremy Moore)
The aging Ohio-class boats entered service between 1981 and 1997 with a 30-year service life, which was extended to 42 years with a four-year midlife overhaul. The Columbia-class subs will replace the Ohios as a leg of the US’s nuclear triad, built with an improved nuclear reactor that will preclude the need for a midlife overhaul and give the 12 Columbia-class subs the same sea presence as the 14 Ohio-class boats, Navy officials have said.
Because of nuclear submarines’ ability to move undetected, experts view them as more survivable than the long-range bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles that make up the other arms of the US nuclear triad.
The ultimate impact of the problem with the BWXT-made tubes is not yet clear, according to Bryan Clark, a former submarine officer and now an analyst for the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
Problems with one component can compound, and that could be especially challenging for GDEB, which is supposed to start building two Virginia-class attack subs alongside a Columbia-class boat annually in the coming years.
The Navy wants to continue building two Virginia-class subs a year — rather than reduce it to one a year once production of Columbia-class subs starts in 2021 — in order to head off a shortfall in submarines that was expected to hit in the mid-2020s. The Navy also wants to shorten the Virginia-class construction timeline and keep five of its Los Angeles-class attack boats in service for 10 more years.
“The problem is that this causes challenges down the line,” Clark said of the faulty tube welds. “The missile tubes get delayed, what are the cascading effects of other components down the line?”
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
It’s got violence. It’s got magic. It’s got teen angst up the ying yang. We’re talking about Harry Potter. The seven-book series was a massive bestseller in the early 2000s, and the movies were just as popular.
Admittedly, the series could have ended in book one if any of the characters had owned a gun, but apparently, no one thought of that. (How do wizards have a superiority complex when a muggle sniper could have taken out Voldemort in one shot? Seriously?! I digress.) Whatever you think of the series or its now hotly-debated author, odds are you’ve wondered what Harry Potter house you would be in at some point or another. Are you cunning Slytherin? Clever Ravenclaw? Brave Gryffindor? Or Hufflepuff, whatever they do? Keep reading to find out which house you’d be in based on your military branch of choice.
Disclaimer: The Harry Potter series is fictional, and so is this list.
Before you protest, give Slytherin a chance. They might get a bad rap for being disloyal or even evil, but those are just stereotypes. After all, Marines don’t really eat crayons, do they? (If you do, no judgment. But please stop.) Slytherins are known for being ambitious, goal-oriented, adaptable and assertive. They’ve been called ruthless, but so are Marines when enemies get in their way. Just like Slytherins, they’re only mean if you deserve it. If you do, start running.
Alternatively, Marines might belong to another school of Wizardry altogether; Durmstrang. It’s pretty much the definition of masculinity, as far as dudes who believe in magic go. I mean, just look at them.
Gryffindor, much like the Army, is the default choice. Everyone wants to be in Gryffindor. It’s for the wizards who can’t decide exactly what to be, so they’re a little of everything; brave, practical, blunt and stubborn. They have a strong moral compass, and they never back down from a challenge. It’s the default choice, but that’s not a bad thing. Gryffindors tend to be a little reckless and idealistic, so they need strong leadership to reign them in– just like recruits in Army boot camp.
Navy and Coast Guard: Hufflepuff
This isn’t meant to be an insult. Really, it’s not. Hufflepuff is the house of those who are hard-working, good-hearted, practical and dependable. The movies make them out to be wimps, but that’s not what Hufflepuff was about at all. Hufflepuffs are loyal, accepting and genuinely want to help others. Considering most people who join the Coast Guard do it in hopes of saving people during search and rescue missions, Hufflepuff is the house for them. Sailors also have Hufflepuffish tendencies, with SEALs being a big exception. SEALs are not Hufflepuffs. If we had to guess, they’d be in Gryffindor or Slytherin. Or, again, Durmstrang.
Air Force: Ravenclaw
Ravenclaw is essentially the Harry Potter house of academics. Ravenclaws live for analytical thinking, logic and learning. In other words, they’re nerds. But don’t be deceived by their preference for reading rather than fighting. Their quick wits are exceptionally useful when you’re in a bind. The Air Force is no different. While they aren’t known for being the brawn of the U.S. military, every good military needs some brains to balance everything out. Make fun of the Air Force all you want, but you’ll be thankful for their quick thinking and technological aptitude when you need it.
Citizens of the United States of America tend go mildly wild when they celebrate the fourth of July. It was on that day, in 1776, when the Continental Congress adopted the Deceleration of Independence, severing our nation from the British Empire.
Most people commemorate this fateful moment with a nice, wholesome family gathering. Dads work the barbecue while telling awful puns and moms try to make sure the kids don’t hurt each other with sparklers. The evening’s merriment is capped off by watching the fireworks explode over the nearby lake.
Now, we’re not here to tell you that you’re doing things wrong — if you’re into that mundane, picturesque lifestyle, more power to you — but we are here to tell you that veterans like to go big. Real big.
Independence Day is what binds the veteran community. We may argue and bicker over little things, but each and every one of us loves this country and its people. In demonstrating that love, we tend to go a little overboard when partying on what is, essentially, America’s birthday.
Just like the good ol’ days!
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Miguel A. Rosales)
Going to the range
Veterans and firearms go together like alcohol and bad decisions. When veterans get a free day off work, they might visit the firing range. When they get a day off for the 4th, they’ll be there for sure — you know, for America.
In this case, “firing range” is a pretty vague term. It could mean a closed-off, handgun-only range, a range out in the middle of nowhere that allows you to legally fire off a fully automatic, or, if you happen to be in the middle of bumf*ck nowhere, your backyard. Regardless of how we do it, it’s our little way of supporting the Constitution — through celebrating the 2nd Amendment.
Who doesn’t love watching 50 cannons go off?
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kevin Coulter)
Visiting military installations for the “Salute to the Union”
Every year, on the fourth of July, military installations hold a ceremony at noon where they fire off one gun for every state in the Union. Some of the veterans who once participated in those ceremonies come back many years down the road to see it again.
“You can eat all of that, right?”
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Kelcey Seymour)
Hosting massive barbecues
Burgers sizzling on the grill is the unofficial smell of the holiday. You can’t go anywhere in America without sniffing out some hot dogs, steaks, and whatever else the veteran is cooking.
The only downside is that veterans tend to go a little overboard on what they think is the “right amount of food” for everyone. Veterans prepare for the event that everyone’s going to eat a dozen burgers. Deep down, we know that’s not going to happen, but what if…
There are no safety briefs in the civilian world, but there probably should be…
Sobriety is entirely optional on Independence Day. From the moment they wake up until they eventually pass out from taking too many shots in the hot summer sun, veterans spend the entire day drinking .
Of course, they should always err on the side of responsibility and remember all of the safety briefs they got when they were in. They’ve got the basics down, like “don’t drink and drive,” but they might forget some of the niche briefs, like “don’t get drunk and decide to shoot bottle rockets out of a metal pipe like a friggin’ rocket launcher” — so that’s probably still game.
But, you know, any of the veteran-owned t-shirt company shirts are open game!
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jack A. E. Rigsby)
Wearing unapologetically American clothes
It’s America’s birthday, so dress for the occasion. American flag hats, tank tops, underwear, you name it. Today, everything is red, white, and blue.
Technically, such articles of clothing are discouraged by the Flag Code, but it’s an expression of patriotism — and the First Amendment allows you to express yourself like that.
No 4th of July is complete without driving 110 down the freeway blasting “Free Bird.”
(Photo by Jon Callas)
Blasting American musicians
As much as Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, and Iron Maiden all kick ass, let’s reserve this day for America and American rock stars, baby!
Any party celebrating American independence should have a playlist featuring plenty of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Aerosmith.
If you’re doing it right, the neighbors should confuse your backyard for the show put on by the city.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Conroy)
So many fireworks…
Veterans refuse to be outdone by the neighbors down the road who think their puny little display of patriotism is the best way to celebrate America. If that veteran also happens to be an old-school artilleryman or mortarman, you’re about to see something special…
If you see one of our brothers or sisters with one of these signs, you can just ask them and let them know when you’re doing the fireworks. Just don’t be an asshole about it.
(WLKY News Louisville)
Chosing to avoid fireworks
Every year on social media, we see photos of signs placed in front of veterans’ homes politely asking neighbors to not set off fireworks get picked apart by the veteran community. You know what? A veteran choosing to spend America’s birthday exactly how they want to is veteran as f*ck, too.
Can’t stand large crowds of people and the traffic? Stay in. That’s veteran as f*ck.
Don’t want to be in a public place when loud explosions go off? You don’t have to be.
This is a day to celebrate America’s freedom. If you’ve raised your hand, there’s no way anyone can take your veteran status from you. Independence Day is about celebrating freedom. You celebrate it however you feel necessary.