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The Thread About Interesting Facts For Interested Individuals

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    GvzbgulGvzbgul Registered User regular
    MadEddy wrote: »
    They all look so grouchy about the situation.

    Homeslice at 11 o'clock is pretty much about to peck some eyes out.

    Dat frown.

    Nah, he's pretty happy about the situation. After all, he did turn that frown upside down.

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    NaphtaliNaphtali Hazy + Flow SeaRegistered User regular
    Botznoy wrote: »
    Mayabird wrote: »
    Winter is, very often, depending on where you live and such, really freaking cold. Humans cope by building homes and fires and other elaborate heating mechanisms. What's a little songbird to do? Maaaaaybe they're lucky and some human left a little nesting box out all winter, but otherwise when the blizzard winds are blowing, all they can do is try to find as cozy a spot out of the wind as they can and try to stay warm.

    Many birds do this solitary, hiding alone. Others, like bluebirds, have figured out that if they snuggle up together, they can share body heat, so long as they can endure being in a warm heap touching each other all night (which is probably a big psychological barrier, if you've ever noticed birds keeping that tiny distance between each other, crammed together but never quite touching, when they're on power lines and the like).

    Anyway, if they can pull it off, it looks like this:

    bluebirds_MichaelLSmith_550x550.ashx?w=550&h=550&as=1

    it's like a bowl of birdies I want it

    I think I can see Wirt in there...

    Steam | Nintendo ID: Naphtali | Wish List
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    chromdomchromdom Who? Where?Registered User regular
    Saw that birdies in a bowl picture and my first thought was "Mrow!"

    I might be a little off-kilter

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    tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    Reading an article about network influences in tobacco control programs and came across this neat little factoid
    The resulting evaluation assessed tobacco control networks in eight states: Oregon, Texas, Florida, Indiana, Colorado, Arkansas, Wyoming and Washington, D.C. In addition to providing regional diversity, these states varied in funding (Wyoming was funded at 53% of the CDCrecommended level while Texas was funded at 4%)

    Oh, Texas.

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    Darth WaiterDarth Waiter Elrond Hubbard Mordor XenuRegistered User regular
    tynic wrote: »
    Oh, Texas.

    Yes?

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    tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    tynic wrote: »
    Oh, Texas.

    Yes?

    I hear you're broad, hot, and like to smoke.
    ...Wanna get a drink?

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    Darth WaiterDarth Waiter Elrond Hubbard Mordor XenuRegistered User regular
    tynic wrote: »
    tynic wrote: »
    Oh, Texas.

    Yes?

    I hear you're broad, hot, and like to smoke.
    ...Wanna get a drink?

    Sure, but try to keep up, we're mostly rough trade down here.

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    MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
    20140503_Jay1_zpsac339b00.jpg

    You may be thinking, 'oh no, poor blue jay' (or maybe something mean because you don't like blue jays).

    20140503_Jay2_zpsf94b9c58.jpg

    Nope! The jay was fine. Once a mild breeze pushed the jay onto its side it just flew away.

    Because here's a useless fact for today: blue jays get hypnotized...or something, we're not quite sure what...when they are put on their backs. It doesn't hurt them, and they still turn their heads, look around and at things, blink, but until they're not on their backs they just don't think to fly away. One time the bander I work with accidentally forgot about a blue jay that he put on its back as a demonstration (a lot of bird banding we do is educational programs for the public) and 45 minutes later came back and the jay was still there, just chilling. He pushed it slightly and the jay flew away, no harm done.

    Most other birds just right themselves and fly away immediately. Some chickadees will also get hypnotized but not all. We have no idea what the deal with this is; it's just one of our Stupid Bird Tricks.


    On a side note, see that metal band on the jay's leg? When I talk about bird banding, I mean catching birds to put those bands on their legs. It has serial numbers so that if/when we catch it again, we'll know where it's been and how long it's been. One blue jay we caught in central Iowa was caught again a little more than a year later in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

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    DaMoonRulzDaMoonRulz Mare ImbriumRegistered User regular
    The elite group of men and women who are referred to as ‘aces’ is selective at best; nations originally disagreed on not only the exact number of kills required but also the best term used to describe the elite pilots who met the standard. Even more elite is the fraternity made up of those who achieved the coveted title ‘Ace in a Day’ – those who shot down five or more aircraft within a 24 hour period. French flying virtuoso Pierre Le Gloan was one of these few men. Not only did Le Gloan achieve the title of Ace in a Day, he was perhaps the only man who combined this remarkable feat with becoming an ace for the allies and the axis forces.

    pierrelegloan1.jpg
    Pierre Le Gloan

    Born in Kergrist-Moëlou in Brittany in the northwest of France in January 1913, Pierre Le Gloan was only five years old when the first major air war the world had ever seen came to a halt in the skies above his own country. Le Gloan was not from a particularly affluent family; for a young boy growing up with a growing interest in aviation, a career as a pilot seemed at times like an unrealistic dream. However, hard work as an adolescent paid off and the teenaged Le Gloan won a civil aviation scholarship, funded by the French government, which gave him his first real taste of flying.

    The scholarship led on to Le Gloan’s entry into the French Air Force in 1931. During flying training he discovered he had an aptitude for formation flying; a keen marksmen, he also quickly took to air-to-air gunnery. A natural pilot and a fine shot, Le Gloan was selected for training as a fighter pilot. By 1935 he had been certified as a Flight Leader with the 6th Fighter Wing. By September 1939, with the outbreak of World War II, Le Gloan was an experienced and respected Sergent with the 5th Escadron of Group de Chasse 3/6, equipped with the Morane-Saulnier MS.406 fighter.

    When compared to the vicious, swirling dogfights of hundreds of aircraft which ravaged the skies of Western Europe later in the war, the air war over France in late 1939 began slowly. On November 23rd, their unit charged with defending the skies over Paris, Le Gloan and Lieutenant Martin shot down the Group’s first confirmed victory – a Dornier Do17. With the pace of fighting slowly picking up, Le Gloan and his Flight were involved in more aerial combat and in February 1940 he was awarded the Croix de Guerre for his leadership. On March 2nd he shot down another Do17.

    MauraneSaulnier406.jpg
    Morane-Saulnier M.S.406

    In May 1940, the ‘Phoney War’ for France came to a crashing halt as the forces of the Wehrmacht swept across the border; Le Gloan and his countrymen were thrust into bitter and violent fighting. As the fighting raged and Le Gloan’s squadron took to the skies time and time again, he shot down two Heinkel He111s but by early June the entire Group had been reduced to only four operational fighters. With Le Gloan now promoted to Adjudant, The unit was withdrawn to re-equip with the more capable Dewoitine D.520 fighter. Shortly after this the situation for France deteriorated further when Italy declared war.

    With Le Gloan’s squadron already at Le Luc airfield in the south of France for their conversion to the D.520, they were ideally placed to face this new threat as the first bombing raids swept across the border with Italy. On June 13th, Le Gloan shot down two Italian Fiat BR.20 twin engine bombers. Two days later, Le Gloan would achieve nation-wide fame: flying in company with Capitaine Assolent, the pair engaged a formation of twelve CR.42 fighters. Although heavily outnumbered, the speed and punch of the D.520 was used to good effect against the comparatively archaic Italian biplanes – Le Gloan shot down three fighters whilst Assolent claimed a fourth. But Le Gloan was not finished – on route home he encountered another group of Italian aircraft and shot down another CR.42 and a BR.20.

    Dewoitine_D_520.JPG
    Dewoitine D.520 fighter.

    His feat of shooting down five enemy aircraft in a single flight – achieving Ace in a Day – had not been achieved by a French fighter pilot since Rene Fonck had shot down six aircraft in a single day in May 1918. Fonck himself travelled down to congratulate Le Gloan and announce his field commission to sous-lieutenant. As an 11-kill ace, Le Gloan was now a national hero.

    However, despite the aggression of French servicemen both in the air and on the ground, France capitulated to the Germans. The country’s military was torn in two as thousands fled to allied nations to carry on the fight against the German invaders, whilst the newly established Vichy government was forced to work alongside their German conquerors. Le Gloan found suddenly himself on route to Syria as part of the now axis Vichy French forces. During the summer of 1941, Le Gloan became an axis ace when he shot down six RAF fighters.

    The situation for the Vichy French forces became even more complicated in November 1942 with the allied invasion of North Africa – loyalties to the Vichy regime were becoming more strained and many French units refused to oppose the allied landings. Le Gloan found himself again on the allied side of the conflict. In May 1943 his Group converted to the P-39 Airacobra.

    On September 11th 1943 whilst flying a two aircraft patrol off the coast of Algeria, Capitaine Le Gloan ‘s P-39 developed engine problems and he turned for home, his engine trailing smoke. His engine failed and he attempted to carry out a forced landing in the vicinity of Ouillis. With fuel still present in the belly tank of his fighter, the aircraft exploded on contact with the ground and Le Gloan was killed instantly.

    Remembered as a brilliant pilot and natural aviator, Pierre Le Gloan’s successes for both sides of the largest air conflict of all time make him unique in the annals of aviation history.

    Custom Skin of Le Gloan's D.520
    d520.jpg

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    MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
    edited February 2015
    Black-capped chickadees are freaking adorable.

    black-capped-chickadee.jpg

    Even the Cornell Lab of Ornithology itself officially states that almost everybody thinks chickadees are cute, which makes it a scientific fact.

    769aede910e3cd28c657697b17bcb44a.jpg

    And I could go on for days about how smart and tough and generally awesome these little guys are (they are my favorite birds, despite having been bitten by several hundred of them, including the one in the avatar pic) but in the interest of going to bed eventually tonight, I'm going to stick just with the topic of their calls.

    il_570xN.308516974.jpg

    Chickadees sing a lot. They sing all the time, even in the dead of winter. Snow on the ground, hushing all the sounds, leaving nothing but wind whistling through bare tree branches, and chickadees still gurgling and dee-ing away. The link to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology page goes straight to the sounds if anyone wants to listen.

    The most iconic of course is their chick-a-dee-dee-dee call, which is where their name comes from. It's not just vocalizations - it's communication. By varying the speed and number of dees, they can communicate to fellow chickadees and other birds the size and threat posed by a nearby predator - so that they can more quickly and vigorously mob it until it goes away. "Look, there's something really dangerous! Everybody get here now so we can attack it!" It's complex enough that it almost could be considered to identify different species by their own chickadee names.

    at-my-windowsill-trudy-wilkerson.jpg

    I've actually eavesdropped on chickadees while on walks before. If I hear a group that sounds particularly agitated (faster dees, more dees) and look for the source, I've seen hawks and owls that otherwise I would've missed, if they hadn't been surrounded by a mixed flock of other, smaller harassing birds led by chickadees.

    Handfeeding-a-Chickadee.jpg

    I don't know what's crazier - the fact that despite chickadees having been a constant presence near human habitation for centuries, being fed from feeders and even out of people's hands, having absolutely no shyness towards humans to the point that they'll tap on windows to let people know that the feeders are empty and they want sunflower NOW, we didn't know about what their eponymous call meant until 2005 - or that we haven't decoded all their other calls yet either. There's an even more complex vocalization they make that's called their gurgle or gargle, which while usually called quickly carry a lot of information. They can contain many more and varied sounds in patterns that some have stated may even carry elements of grammar, though it's debated right now.

    You can hear a slowed-down snippet on this video, starting at around the 1:35 mark.

    They are tiny, clever, spirited, and so delightfully adorable. I love chickadees.

    4409540441_166e891a62.jpg


    EDIT: I can never get these Youtube embeds to work. Sorry.

    Mayabird on
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    GvzbgulGvzbgul Registered User regular
    I have no interesting facts about this bird sorry.

    But House Martins are cool.
    tumblr_m2yiyxjZLl1r4t9h1o1_500.jpg
    tumblr_m2yiyxjZLl1r4t9h1o2_500.jpg

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    Blake TBlake T Do you have enemies then? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.Registered User regular
    Mayabird wrote: »
    Have you ever heard of shrikes, aka butcherbirds?

    They're medium-sized grey, white, black, and sometimes a little brown carnivorous songbirds who range across North America, Eurasia, and Africa. Here's a picture of one:

    Lanius_excubitor_1_%28Marek_Szczepanek%29.jpg

    If you're staring at that picture and thinking, 'Holy crap did that bird impale that mouse on that thorn?' the answer is yes. This is what they are known for and where they get their nickname. Whatever they catch and don't eat immediately they impale on thorns, barbed wire, or whatever happens to be nearby and pointy. Insects, smaller birds, rodents, amphibians, lizards, whatever: if it's got meat, the shrikes will eat it after spiking it.

    sand%20crabSSC%20-%20-2573-M.jpg

    It serves multiple purposes. One, it's a larder for storing food. If they catch a goldfinch now but they're not really hungry, they can save it and have goldfinch jerky on another day when hunting isn't as good. Second, it helps break down toxins in some species. Some insects like monarch butterflies and a species of grasshopper in Africa have toxins in their bodies that make them unpalatable, but a few days of drying in the sun breaks the toxins down so they are edible, opening new food sources to shrikes. Third, it can help attract mates. Sure, this male can sing and dance (yes, the males also sing and dance for females) but so can the next guy and he has a whole snake on display, flanked by locusts and a mole.


    Here's one I helped catch and record at bird banding recently (spoiled for huge):
    20141108-shrike_zpse51aec03.jpg

    The local news did a little fluff segment on that day too. I'm in that video but not speaking.

    A lot of kids in the UK learnt about the butcher bird because of The Animals of Farthing Wood, a TV show that ran from 92 to 95. A forest is being destroyed for a housing development, and the animals put aside their predator/prey relationship to find a new home.

    A multi-episode arc involves the mouse family having babies, and the dilemma of keeping them in the group and slowing everyone down, or leaving them to an uncertain fate. Luckily, the problem is solved by the arrival of a friendly butcher bird, who adopts the babies!
    Hah, no. He kills the kids leaving the parents free to continue their odyssey. Here's what six-year-old me saw on TV one afternoon:
    tumblr_mruor1iBG31qjnh8qo1_500.png

    The animals of farthing wood was brutal.

    It was some weird children's "friendly" version of Alive or something.

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    DaMoonRulzDaMoonRulz Mare ImbriumRegistered User regular
    The origins of the 1st Polish Armored Division in the West started even before the Second World War. In 1937 the 10th Cavalry Brigade of the Polish Army began transforming into a motorised brigade. At first this process was not received well by the Polish High Command as most officers believed tanks to be "mobile pillboxes", too dependant of fuel supply and favourable terrain. Also, the acquisition of armored vehicles was fairly expensive for a country such as Poland which was hit hard by the Great Depression. Still, the transformation was underway regardless of the feelings of many officers. In 1938 the unit, nicknamed "The Black Brigade" (for the colour of the unit trench coats), was transferred to the Samodzielna Grupa Operacyjna "Śląsk" (Independent Operations Group "Silesia"). The command of the unit was given to Colonel Stanisław Maczek. The unit was equipped with Vickers Type E light tanks, as well as TKS tankettes and towed Bofors 37 mm AT guns.

    Stanislaw_Maczek_2.jpg
    Stanislaw Maczek

    The outbreak of the Second World War was a shock to many; however, the Brigade fought bravely throughout the campaign. It managed to hold the advance of the German 22nd Corps near Chabówka on the 2nd of September, destroying up to 50 German tanks. Up until the 17th of September it was involved in the fight, slowing down the German advance as the Poles retreated towards the East. It was then that it was ordered to fall back into Hungary. Colonel Maczek and nearly 1500 men completed the crossing and were then interned.

    This would not stop them from fighting the Germans again. Maczek and his troops managed to leave Hungary and, through Romania, sailed into France where the Polish Government in Exile set up in Angers. The reorganised Brigade was stationed at the Coëtquidan camp; however the French were reluctant and slow with supplying the new unit with vehicles and other equipment. This changed in May 1940, after the German attack against the Low Countries and France. In just a few days the Brigade was finally equipped with vehicles and sent to the front in Champagne. There, it took part in the clashes near Sant Bond and also lead the counterattack on Montbard, where it succeeded in recapturing the city. However, the lack of fuel and ammunition forced the Brigade to abandon their vehicles. On the 18th of May Maczek decided to break up the Brigade and ordered his troops to march to the South. Most of them managed to evacuate to Great Britain.

    In the UK the Polish units were quickly formed into the 1st Polish Corps and moved into Scotland to guard the shore from the expected German invasion. The 10th Armored Cavalry Brigade was again reorganised with Maczek as the commander. After the threat of the invasion had passed with the end of the Battle of Britain the Poles began lobbying for a creation of an entire Polish Armored Division. This was accomplished on the 25th of February 1942 when the 1st Polish Armored Division was created by the order of General Władysław Sikorski. It consisted of the 10th Motorised Cavalry Brigade, a reconnaissance regiment, the 16th Tank Brigade, as well as its own artillery, sapper and logistics units. At first it was equipped with Covenanter and Valentine tanks for training purposes. The command of the unit was given to the now Brigadier General Maczek.

    Before the invasion of Normandy two major things happened to the Division. First, the Division was attached to the 1st Canadian Army of the 21st Army Group of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. Secondly, the Division was equipped with new tanks – mainly with Cromwell cruiser tanks, M5A1 Stuart light tanks and different variants of the M4 Sherman – predominantly the M4A4 and the Sherman”Firefly”. The unit did not participate in the first wave of Normandy landings; however it was transported to France in July and August.


    The_1st_Polish_Armoured_Division_in_the_Normandy_Campaign_1944_B8826.jpg
    Sherman tanks of 1st Polish Armoured Division at the start of Operation 'Totalise'. Normandy Campaign 1944.

    The Division went into battle on the 8th of August 1944, as a part of the 2nd Canadian Corps during Operation ”Totalize”. Its objective was to advance towards Falaise to close the encirclement of the German 7th Army. The objective, however, was not met. The Allies attacked again on the 14th of August during Operation ”Tractable”. This time, after 4 days of fighting along the river Dives, Maczek spotted a gap in the German defense. It was then that he divided the unit into two groups and pushed them into the gap. The first group captured a strategic crossroad near the town of Chambois while the second group moved into a defensive position of the Mont Ormel hills, known as the “Club”. The Germans quickly began the counterattack, hoping to break through. At a critical point the Poles were being attacked from three sides, not only by the 7th Army, but also by the 2nd SS Panzer Corps. The encircled Poles fought bravely and thanks to allied supply airdrops did not falter. Finally, on the 21st of August the 4th Canadian Armored Division moved in and relieved the pressure. The Battle of Falaise ended with an Allied victory.

    After Falaise the Division participated in the allied offensive toward the Low Countries. On the 6th of September 1944 the Division set foot in Belgium, liberating the town of Ypres after vicious street fighting. The unit then pushed north, liberating the town of Ghent and moving towards the southern Netherlands. There, the assault was being slowed down by heavy German defences. Regardless the Poles, the British and the Canadians moved on. The Division took part in the fights near Terneuzen and also liberated the towns of Breda and Moerdijk before the end of the year. In April 1945, the Division participated in the final assault on Germany. There, it liberated a prisoner camp near Oberlagen where the captured female Home Army fighters who took part in the Warsaw Uprising were being interned. The war trail of the Division ended in the Kriegsmarine naval base of Wilhelmshaven which was captured with its whole garrison on the 5th of May 1945. After the war’s end the Division fulfilled occupational duties in northwest Germany until 1947. It was then that the unit was transported back to the United Kingdom and demobilised.

    uk_1st_polish_armored_division.png

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    DaMoonRulzDaMoonRulz Mare ImbriumRegistered User regular
    @Fishman .

    Born in Westport on the South Island of New Zealand in December 1917, Alan Christopher Deere was the the third of six sons of postal worker Terrence Deere. The family soon moved to Wanganui on New Zealand’s North Island, and it was here that the young Deere first had the opportunity to sit in an aircraft and made the decision to be a pilot when he was older. More of a physical than an academic youth, Deere represented his school at several sports before finishing education and finding employment briefly as a shepherd and then as a law clerk. However, at the age of 19 he followed his childhood dream and joined the Royal Air Force, setting sail for Britain in September 1937.


    800px-Alan_Deere_by_Cuthbert_Orde.jpg
    Alan Deere portrait by Cuthbert Orde, 1941

    Whilst carrying out his initial training, the first in a series of death defying incidents occurred which gave Deere a reputation for leading a blessed life. Deere was selected for the RAF boxing team, but with war approaching he was told that his flying training took priority. The RAF boxing team departed for a tour of South Africa; their aircraft crashed en route in Bulawayo (modern day Zimbabwe) killing all on board. After completion of training, Flying Officer Deere was posted very briefly to No.74 Squadron in September 1938, equipped with Gloster Gauntlets, before then moving across the airfield to fly Gladiators with No.54 Squadron, also based at RAF Hornchurch.


    In March 1939 the squadron began their conversion to Supermarine Spitfires, and Deere had another lucky escape when his oxygen system failed at altitude and he lost consciousness, coming to just in time when his Spitfire was only seconds away from smashing into the ground. With Britain declaring war on Germany in September 1939, No.54 Squadron’s opening months of conflict were far from eventful. Tasked with home defence, Deere and his comrades flew seemingly endless defensive patrols. However, after the BEF’s defeat in France, No.54 Squadron became involved with flying cover over British forces during the retreat across France. On May 23rd, the Commanding Officer of No.74 Squadron was shot down and managed to make a force landing at an airfield at Calais-Marck. A daring rescue attempt was planned with Flight Lieutenant Leathart of No.54 volunteering to fly a Miles Magister basic training aircraft to go and recover the downed CO; Deere flew one of the two Spitfire escort.


    With the Magister on the ground and the pick up being made, six Bf109s dived down to attack. Deere turned to engage, shooting down two German fighters and firing at a third before running out of ammunition – a third 109 was also shot down by the second escorting Spitfire, and the rescue was a success: all three pilots were later awarded a DFC by King George VI. Deere’s participation in the cover of the BEF was not over; he shot down a third 109 on the same day, and a further three German fighters in the next three days. On May 28th he was shot down by the gunner of a Dornier Do17, and evacuated with the soldiers he was trying to defend from the beaches of Dunkirk.


    Involved in the thick of the fighting during the Battle of Britain, Deere shot down a further seven enemy fighters and a bomber. However, Deere’s reputation for phenomenal luck and invincibility began to cement itself; he survived a mid air collision with a Bf109, being shot down twice (once by a Spitfire) and being bombed whilst attempting to take off. By the end of the battle, Deere had been promoted to Flight Lieutenant and had been awarded a bar to his DFC.


    1280px-Dowding_and_The_Few.jpg
    Deere with fellow Battle of Britain pilots at a reunion in London in September 1942. Deere is shown to Dowding's immediate left

    After being removed from the front line for a period of rest, Deere was employed as an instructor for pilots converting to the Spitfire. In January 1941 he was involved in a mid air collision with another Spitfire and his parachute failed to fully open. Deere’s guardian angel stepped in yet again, and the New Zealander survived the fall by landing in raw sewage at a treatment plant. After a posting as Operations Controller at RAF Catterick, Deere returned to the front line as a Flight Commander with No.602 Squadron at Ayr, Scotland – here he survived another forced landing after an engine failure. Deere was promoted to Squadron Leader in July 1941 and took command of No.602, before moving to RAF Kenley and shooting down a Bf109 on the first day of operations back in England.


    1942 was an eventful year for Deere, with a lecturing tour of the United States to teach US pilots about air combat tactics, several months as CO of No.403 Squadron RCAF, completion of a staff course at RAF Staff College and a posting to HQ of No.13 Group. Soon tiring of staff work, Deere pushed for a return to combat and flew briefly with No.611 Squadron at RAF Biggin Hill before taking command of the Biggin Hill Wing. Leading over 100 sorties as Wing Leader, Deere was awarded the DSO for his inspiring leadership.


    In September 1943 Deere was made Commanding Officer of the Central Gunnery School at Sutton Bridge. This almost spelled an end to his front line career; he took command of the Free French Fighter Wing for D-Day and the subsequent air campaign over Normandy, but after the allies gained a foothold in continental Europe, Deere was soon given another staff appointment before being made station commander of RAF Biggin Hill. It was here he ended the war, being awarded an OBE shortly before the end of hostilities. His combat career ended with 22 victories.


    After the war, Deere married and became a father, was given a permanent commission in the RAF and settled in Britain. A varied career of flying appointments, staff jobs and even a period as Aide-de-camp to the Queen punctuated a highly successful career before his retirement in 1967. Following this he played an active part in the development of sport in the RAF, and joined Adolf Galland and Robert Stanford-Tuck as advisors during the filming of the movie ‘Battle of Britain.’ Al Deere, one of New Zealand’s greatest fighter leaders, succumbed to cancer in September 1995. His ashes were scattered over the Thames by a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfire.


    Spitfire MkI, KL.B, Ser.No. N3183, No. 54 Sqn RAF, flown by PltOff A. Deere, Hornchurch, May 1940, created by Bineos_si |
    Deere.jpg

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    DaMoonRulzDaMoonRulz Mare ImbriumRegistered User regular
    @Usagi :
    Mariya Vasilyevna Oktyabrskaya

    Maria3.jpg

    She was born to a peasant family in 1905, in the Crimean Peninsula of the old Russian Empire. As one of ten children in the family, her future prospects did not seem high. After completing her secondary education, she worked in a cannery for a while, and then as a telephone operator. In 1925 she married a Soviet army officer, and they both changed their last name in honour of the October Revolution. She took a great interest in military affairs after meeting him, and eventually she even decided to join the army as a military nurse, as well as joining the Military Wives’ Council.



    When the Eastern Front of WWII opened (Called The Great Patriotic War in Russia), she was sent to Tomsk, in Siberia, far away from the fighting. Whilst there, she received news that her husband had died in the war in August of 1941, near Kiev. It took 2 years for the message to reach her. Absolutely infuriated, she vowed to kill all the Nazis that she could lay her hands upon, in order to avenge her husband’s death.


    She did good on her vow by selling all of her possessions in order to buy a T-34 tank, which she then donated to the Red Army, under one condition: that she be allowed to drive it, and it should be called “Fighting Girlfriend” ("Боевая подруга")(Also translated as "War Bride"). She even sent a personal letter to Stalin himself. Upon receiving it, he consented, and she was sent on a 5-month training course, after which she was appointed to the 26th Guards Tank Brigade.

    Maria2.jpg


    Upon seeing a woman driving a tank, with the name “Fighting Girlfriend” on the side of its turret, the other soldiers regarded her as a joke, a publicity stunt set up by the higher-ups. However, this proved far from true. In her first tank battle near Smolensk, on the 21. October 1943, she was the first amongst the tankers to charge into the enemy positions, and managed to destroy several machine-gun and artillery nests. When her tank was hit by enemy gunfire and damaged, she leaped out of it and began conducting repairs while her crewman gave supporting fire, despite strict orders never to do such a thing. After the repairs had been successfully completed, they returned to their unit two days later.


    On 17. January 1944, during a night operation, she continued showing extreme prowess, taking out several artillery nests and a self-propelled gun. However, an anti-tank gunner managed to score a hit into the tank’s tracks. Defying orders yet again, she jumped out of the tank and started making repairs right in the middle of enemy territory. This time, unfortunately, another shell hit the tank, exploding into fragments. One of them hit Mariya in the head, and she fell into a coma.


    She was in an unconscious state for nearly two months, and died on 15. March 1944. She was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union for her deeds and contribution during the war posthumously.

    3basnids3lf9.jpg




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    Rhesus PositiveRhesus Positive GNU Terry Pratchett Registered User regular
    Charles Babbage is mainly known today as the "father of computing", although his analytical engine and difference engine ended up not being completed in his lifetime (the difference engine was completed in 1991, and it worked).

    He did, however, invent the cow-catcher for going on the front of trains and clearing the tracks.

    [Muffled sounds of gorilla violence]
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    FaranguFarangu I am a beardy man With a beardy planRegistered User regular
    Of course he was blessed his whole life, look at that chin

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    Donovan PuppyfuckerDonovan Puppyfucker A dagger in the dark is worth a thousand swords in the morningRegistered User regular
    Farangu wrote: »
    Of course he was blessed his whole life, look at that chin

    I think he might have been Charles Babbage's inspiration for the cow-catcher...

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    darleysamdarleysam On my way to UKRegistered User regular
    I'd only be pasting over from Wikipedia and Cracked if I put more here, but on impossibly badass women from WWII, I nominate Lyudmila Pavlichenko as someone worth reading up on.

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    MadEddyMadEddy Creepy house watching youRegistered User regular
    It turns out that the Cornell Ornithology website drives my cat absolutely nuts, but apparently only if the sound playing is from a bird whose range includes South Carolina (where she used to be an outdoor cat, once upon a time).

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    TankHammerTankHammer Atlanta Ghostbuster Atlanta, GARegistered User regular
    edited February 2015
    Ultrafacts.Tumblr.com is a great source of interesting facts and mostly true stories.

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    Powerball lottery officials suspected fraud: how could 110 players in the March 30 drawing get five of the six numbers right?
    From state after state they came in, the one-in-three-million combination of 22, 28, 32, 33, 39.
    It took some time before they had their answer: the players got their numbers inside fortune cookies, and all the cookies came from the same factory in Long Island City, Queens.
    Story: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/11/nyregion/11fortune.html?_r=2&

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    Food Habits: Coyotes sometimes form “hunting partnerships” with badgers. Because coyotes aren’t very effective at digging rodents out of their burrows, they chase the animals while they’re above ground. Badgers do not run quickly, but are well-adapted to digging rodents out of burrows. When both hunt together they effectively leave no escape for prey in the area. The average distance covered in a night’s hunting is about 4 km.
    http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Canis_latrans.html

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    “I said, ‘When do you practice?’ He said, ‘I drive 14 hours a day.’ ” Murray then asked him, “Well, where’s your sax?” The driver replied, “In the trunk.” Murray told the cabbie, “Pull over and get in the back, I know how to drive a car.”
    http://pagesix.com/2014/09/05/bill-murray-drove-a-taxi-while-the-cabbie-played-his-sax-in-the-back/?_ga=1.245274565.1156324577.1348938752

    TankHammer on
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    darleysamdarleysam On my way to UKRegistered User regular
    TankHammer wrote: »
    0rx5VgS.png
    Food Habits: Coyotes sometimes form “hunting partnerships” with badgers. Because coyotes aren’t very effective at digging rodents out of their burrows, they chase the animals while they’re above ground. Badgers do not run quickly, but are well-adapted to digging rodents out of burrows. When both hunt together they effectively leave no escape for prey in the area. The average distance covered in a night’s hunting is about 4 km.
    http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Canis_latrans.html

    More amazing than that, coyotes can drive.

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    TrippyJingTrippyJing Moses supposes his toeses are roses. But Moses supposes erroneously.Registered User regular
    tumblr_n2t5ejO8BS1qjnhqgo1_1280.jpg

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    cabsycabsy the fattest rainbow unicorn Registered User regular
    My parents brush with fame is that Bill Murray approached them in a bar in NYC in the early 80s and asked them if they could spare any change because he didn't have any to use a payphone to call a cab

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    chromdomchromdom Who? Where?Registered User regular
    ...how was he gonna pay the cabbie?

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    cabsycabsy the fattest rainbow unicorn Registered User regular
    chromdom wrote: »
    ...how was he gonna pay the cabbie?

    he had bills, just not change, and payphones don't take bills. this doesn't explain why he didn't ask my parents if they could break a bill, but there it is

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    AnzekayAnzekay Registered User regular
    chromdom wrote: »
    ...how was he gonna pay the cabbie?

    Paper money I assume.

    Payphones would've have accepted notes, only coins, which I assume he lacked (no change, etc)

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    joshofalltradesjoshofalltrades Class Traitor Smoke-filled roomRegistered User regular

    True Detective spoilers
    Sorry but after that show hearing "Ledoux' House of Pleasure" gives me the jibblies something fierce

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    DouglasDangerDouglasDanger PennsylvaniaRegistered User regular
    This is a neat thread. I need to spend a few hours on Cracked to dig something up.

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    WeaverWeaver Who are you? What do you want?Registered User regular
    Anzekay wrote: »
    chromdom wrote: »
    ...how was he gonna pay the cabbie?

    Paper money I assume.

    Payphones would've have accepted notes, only coins, which I assume he lacked (no change, etc)

    I don't know why this is bugging me I usually give no care to grammar, but "would've" is not short for "would not have" you have to go with "wouldn't have"

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    KharnorKharnor Registered User regular
    w'ldn't've

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    Raijin QuickfootRaijin Quickfoot I'm your Huckleberry YOU'RE NO DAISYRegistered User, ClubPA regular
    W'o'u'l'd'n'o't'h'a'v'e'''''

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    UrielUriel Registered User regular
    woodentof

    (How I'd say it if I were three years old)

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    GvzbgulGvzbgul Registered User regular
    Wou'ld'n'tiv' is my RPG character.

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    Raijin QuickfootRaijin Quickfoot I'm your Huckleberry YOU'RE NO DAISYRegistered User, ClubPA regular
    Gvzbgul wrote: »
    Wou'ld'n'tiv' is my RPG character.

    Clearly an Elf.

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    EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    Wou'ld'n'tiv' the Sylvan Stutterer

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    MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
    Today I'll be talking about Dr. Irene Pepperberg's Avian Learning EXperiment,

    Alex_the_Parrot.jpg

    aka Alex the parrot.

    Starting in the 1960s, studies of animal cognition were coming out of a bit of a stupid age which saw non-humans mostly as automatons with pre-programmed instinctive responses that could be re-programmed slightly. Most initial studies of cognition were with the great apes, and primarily chimpanzees, being the closest evolutionary relatives with humans. Primates in general have large brain sizes in proportion to their bodies, and it was believed that total mass of brain was needed for higher cognition.

    It was starting to be hypothesized also though that intelligence evolved from social interaction, not just through environmental factors. Primates are social, not merely living in groups like, say, herds of bison, but having social structures and hierarchies that must be understood and which are constantly changing and changeable. It's more of a theory now, and one that has held up quite well, as most other highly intelligent non-humans are also highly social, such as cetaceans (whales and dolphins), elephants, crows, and parrots (with cephalopods being an exception, but octopuses and squids are just plain weird). When dealing with other individuals, all with their own wants and personalities, communication of some form is important. Early experiments with teaching chimps how to speak failed because chimpanzee vocal cords and lips simply cannot handle the complexities of producing human-speech sounds (later experiments with sign language were far more successful and still ongoing). Parrots, though, are perfectly capable of making human speech, as people had known for centuries of being cussed out. So in 1977, Pepperberg bought, at random, a one year old African grey parrot from a Chicago pet shop.

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    For the next thirty years, Alex trained under Dr. Pepperberg's tutelage and shook the primate-centric prejudices of intelligence to its core. Dr. Pepperberg stated that he had the cognition of about a human five year old (and emotional development of a human two year old). While Pepperberg did not believe Alex had learned 'language' so to speak, it was almost certainly two-way communication. Alex gained a vocabulary of about 150 words, not simply sounds that were 'parroted' but words that he used for purpose with understanding. He could answer questions about an object's identity, color, shape, material, and even to a small extent (up to about eight, including zero) quantity, including for items he had never seen before (and so hadn't been 'conditioned' to respond exactly for it), and understood "bigger", "smaller", "same", and "different." Alex once made up a word when he didn't know the word for apple - banerry (apparently a combination of banana and cherry, both of which he did already know and were the closest things to apple that he knew).

    He did not simply respond to stimulants, either, only responding to questions when asked. Alex had a reputation for getting very bossy, ordering around students helping with research. "Wanna shoulder" (wants to ride on someone's shoulder), or maybe "wanna banana." If he didn't get what he asked for (say, if he was given a nut instead of a banana chip), he might glare and ask again, or take it and hurl it back at the researcher. If he thought he had done something wrong, he would say "I'm sorry" and if people seemed irritated around him, he would say "calm down." One time when Pepperberg took him to the vet, as she left he cried out, "I'm sorry! I love you! Want to go back!" Alex even once asked an existential question, the only one ever asked by a non-human (as even chimpanzees communicating with sign language have not asked questions about themselves) - he asked what color he was, and in the process learned the color 'grey.'

    Dr. Pepperberg eventually added three more grey parrots to her experiment - Arthur, Athena, and Griffin - though none of them are Alex's equal. It's hard to say why - is it because Alex had so many years of exclusive training to himself, or did Pepperberg at random pick a genius among parrots? It's possible too that the other three were cowed by bossy, attention-loving Alex - if they made a mistake, he would often yell "you're wrong!" or "say better!"

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    Still, it was through attempts at working with Griffin that we came to learn about Alex's mathematical skills. Pepperberg was playing a series of two clicks and asking Griffin, "How many?"

    Griffin did not answer, so Alex said, "two."

    She tried again, two more clicks. "How many?"

    Griffin still didn't respond, so Alex chimed in, "four."

    One more time, and still Griffin wouldn't speak, and Alex responded, "six."

    He had not been trained on doing sums, but they decided to start testing the little smart-alec on his addition skills after that. He could add sums up to about eight, including adding three numbers together, and would answer 'none' if there were in fact, zero.

    Alex died the night of September 6, 2007 at the age of 31, found in his cage the next morning. It was sudden and unexpected, as African greys can live to be 60, blood tests just two weeks before had come back normal, and he had shown no signs of being ill or unhealthy. He had been actively learning new things up to the time of his death, including recognizing letter groupings standing for sounds, such as SH. One anecdote I found about the training:
    There are some things that the birds do that, colloquially speaking, “just blow us away.” We were training Alex to sound out phonemes, not because we want him to read as humans do, but we want to see if he understands that his labels are made up of sounds that can be combined in different ways to make up new words; that is, to demonstrate evidence for segmentation. He babbles at dusk, producing strings like “green, cheen, bean, keen”, so we have some evidence for this behavior, but we need more solid data.

    Thus we are trying to get him to sound out refrigerator letters, the same way one would train children on phonics. We were doing demos at the Media Lab for our corporate sponsors; we had a very small amount of time scheduled and the visitors wanted to see Alex work. So we put a number of differently colored letters on the tray that we use, put the tray in front of Alex, and asked, “Alex, what sound is blue?” He answers, “Ssss.” It was an “s”, so we say “Good birdie” and he replies, “Want a nut.”

    Well, I don’t want him sitting there using our limited amount of time to eat a nut, so I tell him to wait, and I ask, “What sound is green?” Alex answers, “Ssshh.” He’s right, it’s “sh,” and we go through the routine again: “Good parrot.” “Want a nut.” “Alex, wait. What sound is orange?” “ch.” “Good bird!” “Want a nut.” We’re going on and on and Alex is clearly getting more and more frustrated. He finally gets very slitty-eyed and he looks at me and states, “Want a nut. Nnn, uh, tuh.”

    african-grye-parrot-alex.jpg

    His last evening, as every evening when Alex was put into his cage for bed, Dr. Pepperberg spoke through a little ritual with Alex, where they would say goodnight with little variations. Alex's last words were, "You be good. See you tomorrow. I love you."

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    SolarSolar Registered User regular
    awwww!

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    LiiyaLiiya Registered User regular
    Mayabird wrote: »
    Have you ever heard of shrikes, aka butcherbirds?

    They're medium-sized grey, white, black, and sometimes a little brown carnivorous songbirds who range across North America, Eurasia, and Africa. Here's a picture of one:

    Lanius_excubitor_1_%28Marek_Szczepanek%29.jpg

    If you're staring at that picture and thinking, 'Holy crap did that bird impale that mouse on that thorn?' the answer is yes. This is what they are known for and where they get their nickname. Whatever they catch and don't eat immediately they impale on thorns, barbed wire, or whatever happens to be nearby and pointy. Insects, smaller birds, rodents, amphibians, lizards, whatever: if it's got meat, the shrikes will eat it after spiking it.

    sand%20crabSSC%20-%20-2573-M.jpg

    It serves multiple purposes. One, it's a larder for storing food. If they catch a goldfinch now but they're not really hungry, they can save it and have goldfinch jerky on another day when hunting isn't as good. Second, it helps break down toxins in some species. Some insects like monarch butterflies and a species of grasshopper in Africa have toxins in their bodies that make them unpalatable, but a few days of drying in the sun breaks the toxins down so they are edible, opening new food sources to shrikes. Third, it can help attract mates. Sure, this male can sing and dance (yes, the males also sing and dance for females) but so can the next guy and he has a whole snake on display, flanked by locusts and a mole.


    Here's one I helped catch and record at bird banding recently (spoiled for huge):
    20141108-shrike_zpse51aec03.jpg

    The local news did a little fluff segment on that day too. I'm in that video but not speaking.

    A lot of kids in the UK learnt about the butcher bird because of The Animals of Farthing Wood, a TV show that ran from 92 to 95. A forest is being destroyed for a housing development, and the animals put aside their predator/prey relationship to find a new home.

    A multi-episode arc involves the mouse family having babies, and the dilemma of keeping them in the group and slowing everyone down, or leaving them to an uncertain fate. Luckily, the problem is solved by the arrival of a friendly butcher bird, who adopts the babies!
    Hah, no. He kills the kids leaving the parents free to continue their odyssey. Here's what six-year-old me saw on TV one afternoon:
    tumblr_mruor1iBG31qjnh8qo1_500.png

    I REMEMBER THIS. I've had that image in my head since I was a child, I have never forgotten it because it was so harsh!

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    Al_watAl_wat Registered User regular
    the parrot story always makes me sad because of his sudden and unexpected death

This discussion has been closed.