This 19th century Thomas Hartas-designed law library in city centre Manchester dates back to 1885. It is a well-preserved gem in a city centre that seems to be running out of such things. Offers over £975,000 if you want to take this on — via WowHaus
Like all the best cryptography, the Enigma machine is simple to describe, but infuriating to break.
Straddling the border between mechanical and electrical, Enigma looked from the outside like an oversize typewriter. Enter the first letter of your message on the keyboard and a letter lights up showing what it has replaced within the encrypted message. At the other end, the process is the same: type in the
ciphertext and the letters which light are the decoded missive.
Inside the box, the system is built around three physical rotors. Each takes in a letter and outputs it as a different one. That letter passes through all three rotors, bounces off a
reflector at the end, and passes back through all three rotors in the other direction.
The board lights up to show the encrypted output, and the first of the three rotors clicks round one position — changing the output even if the second letter input is the same as the first one.
When the first rotor has turned through all 26 positions, the second rotor clicks round, and when that’s made it round all the way, the third does the same, leading to more than 17,000 different combinations before the encryption process repeats itself. Adding to the scrambling was a plugboard, sitting between the main rotors and the input and output, which swapped pairs of letters. In the earliest machines, up to six pairs could be swapped in that way; later models pushed it to 10, and added a fourth rotor — via redwolf.newsvine.com
Joan Clarke’s ingenious work as a codebreaker during WW2 saved countless lives, and her talents were formidable enough to command the respect of some of the greatest minds of the 20th Century, despite the sexism of the time.
But while Bletchley Park hero Alan Turing — who was punished by a post-war society where homosexuality was illegal and died at 41 — has been treated more kindly by history, the same cannot yet be said for Clarke.
The only woman to work in the nerve centre of the quest to crack German Enigma ciphers, Clarke rose to deputy head of Hut 8, and would be its longest-serving member.
She was also Turing’s lifelong friend and confidante and, briefly, his fiancee — via redwolf.newsvine.com
Pierre-Yves Petit dit Yvon
Watching Paris, Paris 1920s — via mimbeau
The East German lieutenant colonel who gave the fateful order to throw open the Berlin Wall 25 years ago said he wept in silence a few moments later as hordes of euphoric East Germans swept past him into West Berlin to get their first taste of freedom.
Harald Jaeger said in an interview with Reuters that he spent hours before his history-changing decision trying in vain to get guidance from superiors on what to do about the 20,000 protesters at his border crossing clamouring to get out.
When he had had enough of being laughed at, ridiculed and told by commanders to sort it out for himself, Jaeger ordered the 46 armed guards under his command to throw open the barrier.
He then stepped back and cried — tears of relief that the stand-off had ended without violence, tears of frustration that his superiors had left him in the lurch and tears of despair from a man who had so long believed in the Communist ideal.
He had joined the border guard unit in 1961. Over 28 years, he saw the barrier grow from an infancy of coiled barbed wire, to a brick wall and then to maturity as a towering 160 Km (100 mile) double white concrete screen that encircled West Berlin, cutting across streets, between families, through graveyards — via redwolf.newsvine.com
It is enough to make the neighbours green with envy and decline an invitation to tea. The vogue for a designer kitchen is set to be eclipsed with the sale of items unheralded in the competitive world of interior design: a fitted kitchen by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
In what is believed to be a world first, a selection of kitchen units designed by the celebrated architect and designer is set to go up for auction next month with an estimated price for the collection of £20,000. Lyon & Turnbull, the Edinburgh auction house, will be auctioning off three lots which previously made up the kitchen of The Moss, a house designed by the architect and built in Drumgoyne, near Killearn.
The three lots which make up the kitchen include a small pine kitchen dresser valued at £400 to £600, a large pine kitchen dresser valued at £3,000 to £4,000 and a substantial range of kitchen cupboards and work tops whose estimated value is between £3,000 and £5,000. The kitchen collection will be sold on 29 November at Lyon & Turnbull’s Decorative Arts Sale in Edinburgh.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh famously believed no detail was too trivial to be beyond the eye of a true architect and on one occasion even specified what colour of cut flowers was permitted on the living room table so as not to clash with the rest of the decor.
The kitchen he designed for Sir Archibald Campbell Lawrie, who died in 1914, is set to attract bids from all over the world. What makes the set unique is that the kitchen units were removable as opposed to build into the fabric of the home — via redwolf.newsvine.com
Forty-odd years on, my story probably seems like ancient history to most people, layered over with Hollywood legend. For me it’s not, since at the age of 78 I’m still deaf in one ear and I walk with a limp and I carry fragments of the bullet near my brain. I am also, all these years later, still persona non grata in the NYPD. Never mind that, thanks to Sidney Lumet’s direction and Al Pacino’s brilliant acting,
Serpico ranks No 40 on the American Film Institute’s list of all-time movie heroes, or that as I travel around the country and the world, police officers often tell me they were inspired to join the force after seeing the movie at an early age.
In the NYPD that means little next to my 40-year-old heresy, as they see it. I still get hate mail from active and retired police officers. A couple of years ago after the death of David Durk — the police officer who was one of my few allies inside the department in my efforts to expose graft — the Internet message board
NYPD Rant featured some choice messages directed at me.
Join your mentor, Rat scum! said one. An ex-con recently related to me that a precinct captain had once said to him,
If it wasn’t for that fuckin’ Serpico, I coulda been a millionaire today. My informer went on to say,
Frank, you don’t seem to understand, they had a well-oiled money making machine going and you came along and threw a handful of sand in the gears.
In 1971 I was awarded the Medal of Honor, the NYPD’s highest award for bravery in action, but it wasn’t for taking on an army of corrupt cops. It was most likely due to the insistence of Police Chief Sid Cooper, a rare good guy who was well aware of the murky side of the NYPD that I’d try to expose. But they handed the medal to me like an afterthought, like tossing me a pack of cigarettes. After all this time, I’ve never been given a proper certificate with my medal. And although living Medal of Honor winners are typically invited to yearly award ceremonies, I’ve only been invited once — and it was by Bernard Kerick, who ironically was the only NYPD commissioner to later serve time in prison. A few years ago, after the New York Police Museum refused my guns and other memorabilia, I loaned them to the Italian-American museum right down street from police headquarters, and they invited me to their annual dinner. I didn’t know it was planned, but the chief of police from Rome, Italy, was there, and he gave me a plaque. The New York City police officers who were there wouldn’t even look at me — via redwolf.newsvine.com
Photo credit: Antonino D’Ambrosio
A rare Jaguar XKE convertible stolen 46 years ago will be returned to its owner thanks to an eagle-eyed customs agent.
The Californian Highway Patrol are trying to figure out who might have stolen it from outside a New York apartment and why it was in a Californian garage for 40 years.
A man who had recently bought the car submitted paperwork to US Customs and Border Protection in June, and an analyst who checked the vehicle saw it had been reported stolen.
By that time, the 1967 Jaguar was en route to the Netherlands, a hot market for vintage cars, and authorities arranged to have the ship operator bring the car back to California.
According to US Customs, the 82-year-old original owner of the car, retired attorney Ivan Schneider, has called the find a
miracle and said he planned to restore it.
It’s a wonderful car, Mr Schneider said — via redwolf.newsvine.com
In the 1960s, the United States Rubber Company (Uniroyal) introduced the world to their discovery of a supple synthetic leather substitute called Naugahyde, primarily for use as an auto seating leatherette material. It made its debut on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Their brilliant
Mad Men advertising idea was to create a fictional creature called the NAUGA from which the Nauga
hyde was harvested. Needless to say, it was a huge hit — via Arcane Images
The Sowden House, built by Lloyd Wright, the son of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This beautiful, unique structure, sometimes referred to as the
Jaws house for its windows that resemble a shark’s open mouth, was built in 1926. The 5,600 square foot home in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles is currently for sale, listed at $4,875,000.
The house also has the dubious distinction of formerly belonging to a suspect in one of the most notorious unsolved murder cases in American history, the Black Dahlia (Elizabeth Short) murder. From 1945 to 1951, the Sowden house was owned by Dr George Hodel, who at one time was the prime suspect of the LA District Attorney in the Short murder. Hodel’s son, former LAPD homicide detective Steve Hodel, even wrote a book claiming that his father killed Elizabeth Short somewhere in the Sowden House — via Neatorama
Quick, what does the word
Vespa bring to mind? If you say
cute lil’ scooter, you probably haven’t seen this image above of the Vespa 150 TAP (for Troupes Aéro Portées), a Vespa scooter modified for use with the French paratroopers in 1956. It’s probably safe to say that this is the deadliest Vespa in the world. The military scooter is powered by a single-cylinder 146 cc two-stroke engine. It sports a M20 75 mm recoilless rifle, US-made light anti-armour cannon, and storage for some ammos. The scooter would be parachute-dropped from airplanes, accompanied by a two-man team who’d scoot along in absolutely menacing style — via Neatorama
Photo: C Galliani/Wikimedia
The photo was taken at Blue’s Point, North Sydney 10 August 1972. The car is a 351cu V8 Falcon and the motorcycle is a 4 cylinder 750cc Honda.
Senior Constable Barry Dening is the cyclist. He retired some years later as Chief Inspector in charge of Hornsby Police Station.
The officer in the car is Constable Dennis McKellar.
Matthew Simmonds, an art historian and architectural stone carver based in Italy, has created a collection of exceptionally beautiful miniature spaces carved from stone. Having worked on a number of restoration projects in the UK — from Westminster Abbey to Ely Cathedral — his skills have been transferred into work of a much smaller, if not more intricate, scale. Hewn from large stone blocks (some of marble), the level of intricacy Simmonds has achieved in the architectural detailing is almost incredible. Capitals, vaults and surfaces all distort and reflect light in a very beguiling way — via ArchDaily
This is the Tower of Hercules near La Coruña, Spain — the northwestern tip of the Iberian peninsula. It may be the only ancient lighthouse still in use. It’s possible that a Phoenician work preceded it, but we can be sure that a Roman structure lies at the core of this tower. The Romans built it sometime during the reign of Emperor Trajan (r. 98-117 AD), who was himself from an area that forms modern Spain. The Romans referred to it in classical writings as
Photo: Bernt Rostad
The Stanley R Mickelsen Safeguard Complex in Cavalier County, North Dakota, is the focus of an amazing set of images hosted by the US Library of Congress, showing this squat and evocative megastructure in various states of construction and completion. It’s a huge pyramid in the middle of nowhere tracking the end of the world on radar, an abstract geometric shape beneath the sky without a human being in sight, or it could even be the opening scene of an apocalyptic science fiction film—but it’s just the US military going about its business, building vast and other-worldly architectural structures that the civilian world only rarely sees — via BLDGBLOG
Photo: Benjamin Halpern, courtesy of the US Library of Congress
Strange but true, this is the story of the world’s smallest nation — via Youtube
— via Youtube
Whisper it quietly, rather than shout it from the rooftops, but Dracula’s Castle, in Transylvania, is on the market.
Not in the conventional fashion, with estate agents staking their For Sale signs in the ground, but in a quiet, offers-are-invited-from-the-right-people sort of way.
If someone comes in with a reasonable offer, we will look at who they are, what they are proposing, and will seriously entertain the idea, says Mark Meyer, of Herzfeld and Rubin. The New York law firm is handling the sale (he’s also the honorary American consul for Moldova)
The property comes with a long list of previous owners: everyone from Saxons to Hungarians to Teutonic knights. And although the facilities may not be exactly state-of-the-art (the plumbing is reported to require some work), there’s no questioning the detachedness of the property. It stands on top of a hill, and is most definitely not overlooked by neighbours — via Telegraph
One of Scotland’s most cherished cultural icons is partly in smouldering ruins today after fire raged through Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s architectural masterpiece, the Glasgow School of Art, writes Tristan Stewart-Robertson.
In what was last night described as a national tragedy, flames consumed around a third of the interior of building, with some reports suggesting the famous Mackintosh library had been lost.
Widespread emotion and dismay was demonstrated on the streets of Glasgow, and echoed around the world as the news spread.
Hundreds of students, lecturers and shoppers gathered in Renfrew Street and Sauchiehall Street as flames were seen bursting out of windows on the upper floors shortly after noon.
Many wept at the sight of fire engulfing the A-listed school, completed in 1909 and recognisable across the globe as an Art Nouveau gem — via redwolf.newsvine.com
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has been arrested by Northern Ireland police in connection with the 1972 murder of Jean McConville.
He presented himself to police on Wednesday evening and was arrested.
Speaking before his arrest, Mr Adams said he was
innocent of any part in the murder.
Mrs McConville, a 37-year-old widow and mother of 10, was abducted from her flat in the Divis area of west Belfast and shot by the IRA.
Her body was recovered from a beach in County Louth in 2003 — via redwolf.newsvine.com
Norman Bel Geddes (1893-1958) was an industrial designer who focused on aerodynamics. His designs extended to unrealised futuristic concepts: a teardrop-shaped automobile, and an Art Deco House of Tomorrow.
By popularising streamlining when only a few engineers were considering its functional use, he made possible the design style of the thirties — via Retronaut
On 19 April, Southern Illinois University will begin to restore the world’s first geodesic dome home, built by Buckminster Fuller. Originally assembled in just seven hours from 60 wooden triangle panels, the dome was occupied by Fuller and his wife, Lady Anne, in the 1960s during his residency at SIU. After Fuller’s death, the dome was used as student housing before falling into disrepair. In 2001, the home was donated to a non-profit that had it listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. It will now be restored and preserved as a museum in Carbondale — via ArchDaily
Brooklyn-based designer Jake Wright was surrounded by military-related objects from the time he was a child. Born to an Air Force Pilot and a military defence contractor, Wright was naturally drawn toward these materials in his design work. Known collectively as Stockpile Designs, Wright’s line of furniture and home objects is based on obsolete and decommissioned military equipment — via Dornob
When American soldiers pulled out of Europe after World War II, they left hundreds of automobiles behind. Many were consigned to a scrapyard in the woods near Bastnas, Sweden. The brothers who ran the scrapyard abandoned it over twenty years ago, and since then moss has grown inside the cars and trees have grown up through them. Cleaning up the scrapyard is proving to be a difficult task, as birds and animals use the classic autos for nests. Photographer Svein Nordrum took a set of gorgeous and haunting pictures of the cars — via Neatorama
Photo: Svein Nordrum/Medavia.co.uk
You can choose whether you want her displayed before or after the decapitation. Her head holds in place with two invisible magnets if you rather see her before this unfortunate ending. She’s made of soft alpaca wool and a high quality acrylic yarn and stuffed with a synthetic non allergenic filling. It’s approximately 14 cm tall — via Etsy
The perfect crime is far easier to pull off when nobody is watching.
So on a night nearly 43 years ago, while Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier bludgeoned each other over 15 rounds in a televised title bout viewed by millions around the world, burglars took a lock pick and a crowbar and broke into a Federal Bureau of Investigation office in a suburb of Philadelphia, making off with nearly every document inside.
They were never caught, and the stolen documents that they mailed anonymously to newspaper reporters were the first trickle of what would become a flood of revelations about extensive spying and dirty-tricks operations by the FBI against dissident groups.
The burglary in Media, Pennsylvania, on 8 March 1971, is a historical echo today, as disclosures by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J Snowden have cast another unflattering light on government spying and opened a national debate about the proper limits of government surveillance. The burglars had, until now, maintained a vow of silence about their roles in the operation. They were content in knowing that their actions had dealt the first significant blow to an institution that had amassed enormous power and prestige during J Edgar Hoover’s lengthy tenure as director.
When you talked to people outside the movement about what the FBI was doing, nobody wanted to believe it, said one of the burglars, Keith Forsyth, who is finally going public about his involvement.
There was only one way to convince people that it was true, and that was to get it in their handwriting — via redwolf.newsvine.com
The Abbey Mills pumping station is a sewage plant designed so elaborately it looks like an authentic Byzantine monastery. It was thus named the Cathedral of Sewage. Located in the Thames estuary, this one-of-a-kind pumping station was built between 1865 and 1868 to siphon London’s sewage from the low level sewers up to the high level plant which processes the waste waters. Designed by architect Charles Driver and engineers Joseph Bazalgette and Edmund Cooper, the Cathedral of Sewage has a cruciform layout with intricate Byzantine architecture, a special touch that earned it a place in the United Kingdom’s Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. Not to mention, the fascinating building got a starring role in Batman Begins (2003) as the Arkham Asylum Laboratory with the Scarecrow and Rachel Dawes — via When On Earth
Computer pioneer and codebreaker Alan Turing has been given a posthumous royal pardon.
It overturns his 1952 conviction for homosexuality for which he was punished by being chemically castrated.
The conviction meant he lost his security clearance and had to stop the code-cracking work that proved critical to the Allies in World War II.
The pardon was granted under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy after a request by Justice Minister Chris Grayling — via redwolf.newsvine.com
The first book printed in what is today the USA has sold for more than $15 million at auction in New York, becoming the world’s most expensive printed book.
A translation of Biblical psalms, The Bay Psalm Book was printed by Puritan settlers in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1640.
One of only 11 surviving copies from the original 1,700, it was sold at a one-lot auction in just minutes by Sotheby’s.
Bidding opened at $US6 million and closed swiftly at a hammer price of $US12.5 million, rising to $US14.165 million (around $15.5 million) once the buyer’s premium was incorporated.
The book, with its browning pages and gilt edges, was displayed in a glass case behind the auctioneer to the small crowd who attended the auction.
The bidding lasted less than five minutes, and was won buy David Rubenstein, a billionaire American financier and philanthropist — via redwolf.newsvine.com
Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral of a Bomber Command veteran they had never met, following a newspaper and internet appeal to honour him.
Harold Jellicoe Percival died aged 99 at a nursing home on the Lancashire coast with
few friends and little family, and staff feared no-one would be there to pay their respects.
He was part of the ground team which supported the legendary Dambusters squadron, whose daring raids in May 1943 smashed three dams serving the industrial heartland of the Ruhr valley.
But after a public appeal for the Second World War veteran, an estimated 300 people attended the service at Lytham St Annes, with traffic blocking roads in the area and space running out in the crematorium. He was laid to rest yesterday at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month — via redwolf.newsvine.com
It was a week in which the future of the monarchy looked even more secure, thanks to the Royal christening.
But unbeknownst to members of the Royal family cooing over Prince George, another event has shaken the foundations of the British monarchy to their very core.
An urban fox attacked and killed two ravens in the Tower of London where, according to superstition, there must be six of the birds or else the monarchy, the kingdom and the Tower itself will fall.
The unfortunate ravens, Jubilee and Grip, were snatched and eaten just before they were due to be locked up in their cages overnight — via redwolf.newsvine.com
Running into battle armed with a broadsword, bow, and quiver of arrows was perfectly acceptable if you were fighting in the Hundred Years’ War or fending off some orcs on Middle Earth. But when it comes to World War II, such medieval weaponry looks like child’s play next to the technology of the time. A sword isn’t the most likely of defences against rifles and tanks. However, for John Malcolm Thorpe Fleming Churchill, nicknamed
Mad Jack, there was nothing he’d rather arm himself with than a trusty sword and bow.
Born into an old Oxfordshire family, he graduated from the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in 1926. Before his World War II fame, Mad Jack worked as an editor of a Nairobi newspaper, a model, and a movie extra, appearing in The Thief of Bagdad due to his expertise with a bow. That same talent with archery took him to Oslo, Norway where he shot for Britain during the world championships in 1939.
By this time, of course, Europe was fast approaching World War II. Mad Jack had left the army after ten years of service, but happily returned to it because of the
country having gotten into a jam in my absence.
By May 1940, Mad Jack was the second in command of an infantry company. He always marched into battle with a bow and arrows and his trusty basket-hilted claymore by his side. Despite these weapons being wildly outdated, Churchill defended them, saying,
In my opinion… any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed — via redwolf.newsvine.com
The United States and allies are preparing for a possibly imminent series of limited military strikes against Syria, the first direct US intervention in the two-year civil war, in retaliation for President Bashar al-Assad’s suspected use of chemical weapons against civilians.
If you found the above sentence kind of confusing, or aren’t exactly sure why Syria is fighting a civil war, or even where Syria is located, then this is the article for you. What’s happening in Syria is really important, but it can also be confusing and difficult to follow even for those of us glued to it.
Here, then, are the most basic answers to your most basic questions. First, a disclaimer: Syria and its history are really complicated; this is not an exhaustive or definitive account of that entire story, just some background, written so that anyone can understand it — via redwolf.newsvine.com
At long last the Los Angeles Conservancy‘s effort to get a set of homes in the region included on the National Register of Historic Places has paid off, with the announcement that 11 of the Case Study Homes are deemed historically significant.
Ten of the homes have been placed on the list, according to the Conservancy. The 11th home did not get put on the list despite eligibility because of
owner objection. All of them
will enjoy equal preservation protections under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), says the Conservancy.
The Case Study program grew out of a post-WWII discussion of the future of architecture as a new era of building dawned. The idea was to create affordable, well-designed Mid-Century Modern homes for American families (of course, putting many in fancy neighbourhoods ensured the average Angeleno wasn’t likely to ever call one home, alas).
Not all the planned homes were built, and the program didn’t spring forth a gush of mass-produced affordable houses from the prototypes, but it did give architecture wonks and admirers much to love over the years. Most iconic is probably Case Study House #22, the Stahl house, designed by Pierre Koenig, which is oft-photographed — via redwolf.newsvine.com
The Einstein Tower in Potsdam, Germany, designed by the German architect Erich Mendelsohn, is one of the best-known examples of German expressionist architecture. Designed as an amorphic structure of reinforced concrete, Mendelsohn wanted the tower to represent as well as facilitate the study of Einstein’s radical theory of relativity — a groundbreaking theorem of motion, light and space — via ArchDaily
Alan Turing, the Enigma codebreaker who took his own life after being convicted of gross indecency under anti-homosexuality legislation, is to be given a posthumous pardon.
The government signalled on Friday that it is prepared to support a backbench bill that would pardon Turing, who died from cyanide poisoning at the age of 41 in 1954 after he was subjected to
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, a government whip, told peers that the government would table the third reading of the Alan Turing (statutory pardon) bill at the end of October if no amendments are made.
If nobody tables an amendment to this bill, its supporters can be assured that it will have speedy passage to the House of Commons, Ahmad said.
The announcement marks a change of heart by the government, which declined last year to grant pardons to the 49,000 gay men, now dead, who were convicted under the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act. They include Oscar Wilde — via redwolf.newsvine.com
Archaeologists believe they have discovered the world’s oldest lunar
calendar in an Aberdeenshire field.
Excavations of a field at Crathes Castle found a series of 12 pits which appear to mimic the phases of the moon and track lunar months.
A team led by the University of Birmingham suggests the ancient monument was created by hunter-gatherers about 10,000 years ago.
The pit alignment, at Warren Field, was first excavated in 2004.
The experts who analysed the pits said they may have contained a wooden post.
calendar is thousands of years older than previous known formal time-measuring monuments created in Mesopotamia.
The analysis has been published in the journal, Internet Archaeology — via redwolf.newsvine.com
To summarise, Thor’s hammer represents heroism, nobility, self-reliance, and honour. It’s a symbol with a history that extends back a thousand years to pre-Christian Europe. And adherents of Odinism, the religion that Thor’s hammer represents, tend to make natural soldiers. Oh, and it also shares a pretty strong cultural heritage with a superhero who is, in his own weird, Technicolor, space viking way, as American as apple pie. How strange would it be, then, if the US Department of Veterans Affairs — the organisation that oversees cemeteries dedicated to US veterans and ultimately says which symbols can be used therein to represent your religious faith — had a problem with Thor’s hammer?
But for decades, the VA did have a problem with Thor’s hammer. Not so much for what Mjölnir stood for but because it was a pagan symbol, and pagan symbols were verboten.
If you look at all the symbols the Department of Veterans Affairs have approved for use on headstones over the years, pagan symbols were really the final frontier, Pitzl-Waters says.
Hinduism, Humanists, Atheists, all these other symbols had been approved. But there wasn’t a single pagan symbol on the approved list — via redwolf.newsvine.com