Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.


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In other words, the post I was working on isn’t finished yet, so I’m going to wing it this morning. There’s always something to write about, old or new. I’m watching an old movie for example, ‘Dances with Wolves.’ I tried to watch it when it came out, and couldn’t plod through it all. Not enough explosions for my younger self maybe? Halfway through now, and plodding definitely covers it. Plus somehow Kevin Kostner makes my skin crawl now, that’s a new experience. I will finish and report on by Monday. Two other famous (in their time at least) movies I couldn’t get through were ‘Gandhi’ and ‘Amadeus.’ I don’t believe I will be reattempting them, unless I lose a bet I suppose.

In India four men were accused of raping and murdering a woman. Made the news big time. Then the police took them to the scene of the crime for some reason, where they attempted to escape and were all shot and killed by the police. Rejoicing and celebration in the streets. That’s at least the gist of it from what I can tell. Well, they won’t be raping anyone else. Not sure really what to think of it all. Sort of sounds like an extrajudicial execution, I mean really, all four? I hope they were guilty, sort of, what an odd thing to hope for. Violence against women does appear to be a major problem in India, although it’s pretty much a problem everywhere. My only cogent thought on this is that I simply don’t know enough about India to have cogent thoughts about this. Other than rape is one of the ultimate evils, and it’s often treated far too lightly in the west. The story just got me, and a lot of people I suppose.

In other unfinished business I really tried to get through the Longmire books. I really liked the show. I liked the characters in the books too, but every book introduced a new cast of secondary characters. Worse, each book, at least the last two, used a narrative style where the damn book was half flashback. Two stories intermingled into one, sometimes each with its own cast of secondary characters. I finally gave up, I couldn’t keep  track of who was who when and where and what now. And wasn’t that a tortured turn of phrase, but it expresses how I feel. The dent in the wall where I threw the last book also expresses it.

An anti-vaxxer has been arrested for mass murder in Samoa. I wish. No, but he was arrested for ‘incitement against a government order.’ Samoa is in the midst of a measles epidemic that has killed 63 so far. Samoa has a population of about 200,000, about the size of Salt Lake City, so 63 deaths is a big deal. And anti-vaxxers spreading lies about vaccines are playing a huge negative role. This guy was telling people that vaccines are dangerous, and measles can be cured with vitamin C and papaya leaf extract. Right.

Worse, the anti-vaccine movement is getting more militant and effective in their global campaign to bring back deadly diseases humanity vanquished long ago.  Here’s the whole Samoa story in great detail, it’s freaking infuriating. I’m starting to wonder if the anti-vax movement is secretly run by extraterrestrials seeking to quietly depopulate the Earth. Probably a science fiction B film in there somewhere. More likely though it’s what most human failings can be attributed to. We’re not really an intelligent species.

And since its Friday, I’ll end on a positive note. A cute animated story about a little girl who writes a letter to Santa. Aw. But misspelled it ‘Satan.’ Uhoh. It goes downhill from there. Enjoy it here.

As always, remarks, queries, and, well, couldn’t come up with a good synonym for shares. All still enjoyed and acknowledged. Enough lame thesaurus jokes.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A tweet. Credit: Tweeter or Tumblr thescalexwrites? Maybe this fellow? Used without permission, but since it’s floating around Facebook I hope I can be forgiven.)

Written by unitedcats

December 6, 2019 at 9:42 am


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This is a 2018 reprint from my Patreon site. Enjoy. ;)
Yes, the gentle reader read the title correctly, it’s not a typo. There’s been a lot of talk lately about nuclear war, and for good reason, it’s all too likely with the current crew in Washington. And a sentiment I have heard from a number of people in such discussions, is that if there is a nuclear war, they would prefer to be killed outright. I’m a “where there’s life there’s hope” kind of guy, but I guess I can understand. No fast food, no pizza delivery, empty Walmarts swarming with radioactive zombies. And of course, no cable TV. That alone would make life not worth living for some folks. So thinking on this, I realize there’s lots of books and websites about how to survive a nuclear war, I’ve even written some myself. These are of no help for people whose goal is non survival. So as a public service in these perilous times:



OK, the first step, as in real estate, is location location location. The nearer one lives and works to a nuclear target, the better one’s odds of being a casualty before one is even aware there is a war going on. This is especially true the closer one gets to a coast. The above map is a rough guide, but basically if one looks out one’s front window and sees a major military base, major transport hub, or major urban area … all good. And try to have the bedroom window facing the same direction, wars are often scheduled at night.

Of course, if a war starts or seems like it is about to start, great time to take a vacation near a target  if one isn’t fortunate enough to live near a target. As a bonus, the traffic jams will likely be going the other way, and the motel room will be cheap or even free! Room service may be limited or non-existent, so bring along food and booze. Might as well be comfortable while awaiting vaporization.

Still, if one isn’t close enough to ground zero, it gets trickier, but there’s still hope if one isn’t instantly turned into a shadow on a wall. One just needs to know how to recognize a nuclear attack, and react appropriately. The first sign will be an incredibly bright flash of light, it might even be blinding or cause severe burns. If so, all good, just stay where one is. Now if one is sheltered somehow from the blinding light, quick action is essential. There are moments, up to a minute, to get into the open and face the direction the flash came from. That’s because within a minute of the flash, the blast wave will hit. Standing in the open facing it, or even looking through a window in the right direction, will do the trick. In fact after watching this link, handy tip: If the blinds in a room suddenly burst into flame, quick, jump in front of the window!

OK, dammit, the war started, but unluckily one was in a basement or otherwise not close enough to ground zero. Don’t lose hope, with a bit of perseverance blessed relief can still be had. It may take a few days, and they may be unpleasant days, but think of the years of suffering avoided. Simply head towards the nearest mushroom cloud. Breath deep, keep the car windows open and the AC off. If it starts to rain, run around in it and drink as much as possible, roll around in the mud. With a little luck, more bombs will go off in the vicinity, increasing the odds of being a first strike casualty.

When one arrives at ground zero, and there’s a crater, booyaa, fallout city. Roll around in the dirt, swallow it, with any luck at all nausea, hair loss, and death will soon follow. If no crater, well, head downwind. And think of everything around as being covered in magic pixie fairy dust, and the goal is to get completely covered with the dust, inside and out. The more the merrier, and the faster relief will come. Turn down any misguided offers of medical care of course, unless it’s purely palliative care. Keep the goal in mind.

Lastly, worst case scenario, nuclear war has started. (And maybe even ended already.) There’s not a mushroom cloud in sight. None within driving distance even. In this case, yeah, it’s hopeless. You’re well and truly fucked … life goes on. Maybe you’ll get lucky.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Nuclear targets in the united States. Credit: FEMA. legal to use under US copyright law as long as one does not claim FEMA is endorsing the content. I think it’s safe to say this is not a FEMA approved guide.)

Written by unitedcats

December 5, 2019 at 8:46 am

Posted in nuclear weapons, War, WMDs


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On this date in history, 4 December 1872, the sailing ship Mary Celeste (often mistakenly referred to as the Marie Celeste) was discovered in the mid Atlantic, sailing along in good shape, but minus her crew. The Mary Celeste was a small wooden merchant brigantine (a two masted ship) built in 1861, with an unremarkable prior history before her crew’s “mysterious’ disappearance earned her a place in the annals of history. The story was well known when I was a kid, at least among those with an interest in the bizarre and inexplicable. That was certainly me, still fascinated by same, now just a lot more grounded in reality. I hope.

The first thing to note about this mystery, like the STENDEC mystery,  is that it’s not really a mystery, just something unexplained. If the crew of the STENDEC airliner or the Mary Celeste had lived, no doubt a simple explanation would have been forthcoming. And the incident in question would be long forgotten. This is because in the case of the Mary Celeste, we know what happened. The crew abandoned ship, was unable to return to it, and were lost at sea in an open lifeboat. Why they abandoned ship is a mystery, but it’s a mystery with any number of perfectly prosaic potential explanations. Where’s the fun in that though?

Aside from the disappearance of the crew, the Mary Celeste story is a great example of how stories get embellished with fanciful details through the years by various authors writing about it. Why would authors make up fanciful details? The same reason authors now use clickbait titles to their Interwebs posts, to get more readers. Some things never change. The fact that the official inquiries who looked into the crew’s disappearance couldn’t find any smoking guns also added to the aura of mystery. It’s in fact been stated that the Mary Celeste fuelled the creation of ghost ship legends around the world.

The exaggerations started early. In 1883 the Los Angeles Times reported that the Mary Celeste was running under full sail, the galley fire going, nothing out of place, the ship’s log showing nothing wrong up to an hour before her discovery. Cue Twilight Zone music. In actuality the Mary Celeste’s crew had disappeared about ten days before she was discovered, and there was nothing remarkable about the state of the ship. Other than the crew (and lifeboat) being missing. I know I’ve read subsequent versions where food was intact on the table as if the crew had left mid meal, the lifeboat was still aboard, etc.

And then a young Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a story about the Mary celeste in 1884, renaming it the Marie Celeste and changing all sorts of other details to make the story more fantastic. And the floodgates were open, with ever more fanciful stories and speculation spreading ever outwards. Aliens, Bigfoot, Judge Crater, Obama and everything else have all been proposed as solutions to the mystery. I’m sure the gentle reader can come up with new ones, all it takes is a little imagination and an aversion to facts and logic, voila, Marie Celeste mystery solved.

The real solution is fairly straightforward. The captain had his wife and infant daughter aboard. Something startled him or even panicked him, and the ship was hastily abandoned. Tragic, but nothing otherworldly need apply. It’s highly unlikely their remains will ever be found, baring near magical scanning technology decades or more likely centuries from now. God rest their souls, it was not a good way to get into the history books.

I am going to write a post about the comment left on Monday’s post about Russia and Ukraine, it’s just that the Mary Celeste anniversary was too good an opportunity to miss. Possibly Friday unless some other exciting topic intervenes. Reality, it’s like the Universe is making stuff up as it goes along. Who knew?

I hope everyone is having a great week. Comments, questions, suggestions, and especially shares appreciated!

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A painting of the Mary Celeste in 1861, named the Amazon at the time. Credit:Unconfirmed, possibly Honore Pellegrin (1800–c.1870). Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

December 4, 2019 at 8:20 am

Posted in History, Paranormal


with 4 comments

As far as I can tell the mainstream news gets worse daily, it’s just the Democrat version of Fox News now. Granted I watch very little of it. Good thing too, the neighbours would complain about the screaming. Case in point, last night I overheard a snippet on one of the plethora of ‘news’ shows my housemate watches. There was a former Obama official talking about Ukraine. He said Ukraine is at war with Russia, and Russia is occupying Ukrainian territory. And at that point, I started screaming and my housemate asked me to leave his room.

I was screaming because the former is an outright lie, and the later completely ignores the context. Basically the Democrat propaganda line is that Russia is the aggressor against poor Ukraine. I even met a fellow who swore Russia is setting itself up to “retake” Ukraine. An incredibly complicated situated reduced to the status of a Risk game. When people’s knowledge of the world is based on utter falsehoods, it pretty much short circuits any possible debate. Note terrorism comments below.

Add to that the ever increasing number of things Russia is purported to have done to undermine our democracy. It was ridiculous long ago, but that doesn’t stop huge numbers of people from believing it. It’s all basically crazy. Ukraine is about as unimportant to the US as it’s possible to get, the US meddling there serves no purpose. (Is Ukraine slavic for Vietnam?) And selling Ukraine advanced weapons is just adding fuel to the fire, if Ukraine gets into a real war with Russia, they will lose. And the idea of the US fighting a nuclear war to defend Ukraine is bat shit crazy.

Speaking of bat shit crazy, Trump recently floated the idea of using the US military to destroy the drug cartels in Mexico. And a move is afoot to designate these criminal gangs as ‘terrorist organizations.’ Both are really bad ideas. The USA has not been able to halt the flow of drugs into the USA, nor the flow of money and guns into Mexico. All of which occur right here in the USA. And somehow marching into Mexico is going to make a difference? It’s not like the cartel members wear uniforms and have military bases, how the hell is the military going to be any better at finding them than the Mexican military?

And of course sending the US military into Mexico would cause anti-American resentment throughout Latin America, and make American civilians marked targets for cartel retaliation everywhere, including in the United States. Like sending advanced weapons to Ukraine, it would be the equivalent of using a flamethrower to put out a fire. People, like Trump apparently, who think the military is the solution to every problem have watched too many Hollywood movies and not paid any attention to the litany of failed interventions that has been the “War on Terror” the past few decades. Fortunately the government of Mexico has said “No!” to the idea. Hopefully Trump isn’t unstable enough to send troops into Mexico without their blessing, knock on wood.

And declaring criminal gangs to be “terrorist organizations’ just highlights the stupidity of declaring any organization a terrorist organization. It’s simply a propaganda label used to avoid any actual debate about America’s interventionist foreign policy. And if Trump gets the cartels so designated, refugees from that part of the world would then be able to claim they were fleeing terrorism. As people have pointed out, it would open a whole can of legal worms, likely driving more refugees to try and cross the border. Something Trump is against, so I suspect Trump didn’t really think this through. Granted thinking things through does not appear to be one of Trump’s strong points.

We’ll see what happens. The picture above is from Ukraine’s varied history, no implications meant. It’s a parade in Ukraine after Hitler’s legions rolled in in 1941. At first the Nazis were welcomed as liberators, Stalin’s rule of Ukraine being brutal. The Germans quickly showed they could out brutal Stalin any day, and Ukrainian collaboration with Hiter’s Nazis quickly waned. 4.5 million Ukrainians ultimately fought for Stalin, the devil you know I guess.

Have a great week everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Parade in Stanislav (Ivano-Frankivsk) in honor of the visit of the Governor-General of Poland Reichsleiter Hans Frank Credit: Unknown, Public Domain under Russian Copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

December 2, 2019 at 4:19 am


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I just watched “This Island Earth,” a 1955 Science fiction movie. I never saw it before, or if I did, it was in my youth and I completely forgot it. Nothing in it twigged the “Wait, I’ve seen this before” reaction. It’s free to watch on Youtube, spoilers ahead in case one wants to watch the movie first.

The movie was interesting on multiple layers. It was about a studly handsome scientist (he can fly a jet plane!) who is abducted by aliens to participate in a research project the aliens are running in a last ditch attempt to save their homeworld from evil aliens. Lots of adventure, the aliens do bad things to humans in their project, the scientist and his cute co-scientist love interest visit the alien world, but it’s too late to help, and they are able to escape back to Earth.

A thinking movie for its day, and some of the questions it explores are still unresolved. How much collateral damage is acceptable if one’s cause is just? Would it be OK to sacrifice one person to save the life of everyone on Earth? Most of us would say yes I am guessing. How about if one could sacrifice everyone on Earth to save one’s own life? Is that OK? Most of us would say no I suspect.  Where is the boundary between the two extremes? Beats me, I hope I never have to decide.

The special effects were cutting edge for the time. Which means means hoakier than 1960s Star Trek, but still impressive for 1955. I tried to imagine I was watching it in a movie theatre from a 1950s perspective, and it was pretty cool. One could see how a lot of the special effects were harbingers of effects to come. And this was when one was still expected to use one’s imagination to fill in the details. It was a play put to film so to speak, hyper realism not required.

The movie was lily white of course, as was all of America in the 1950s. Snort. At least the racism was invisible, black people didn’t exist in this world, see, no racism ma! Casual sexism and misogyny, yes, that was there. Just peppered throughout the movie, a sign of the times. And yes, the men all wore suits and the women dresses.

The star of the movie was one Rex Reason (1928-2015), this was the peak of his career and what he is most remembered for today. Rex Reason was his real name, and it took him awhile to be able to use it in Hollywood, since it sounded like a screen name. His earlier movies were made under the screen name Bart Roberts. The whole screen name thing is weird. Heard about a guy who had a great sounding real name, but he couldn’t use it as his screen name, because someone else had already used it. OK then.

His co-star, Faith Domergue, was an early “scream queen” in 1950s and 1960s horror/scifi films. This movie for her too was pretty much peak career, afterwards reduced to B-movies and guest appearances on TV. She was discovered at age sixteen by Howard Hughs, and while her career peaked in 1955, she did have a long and varied Hollywood career. She guest starred on Bonanza, I mean, is that cool or what? She passed in 1999, aged 73-74, sources vary.

The other actors in the film were all similar, none are household names, all had modest acting careers, none ever achieved big name status. Such is Hollywood, many play, only a few achieve greatness. As far as I can tell none of the other people involved in the film achieved greatness either. The director had a few other 1950s scifi hits, but that’s about it. A good movie for its time, still remembered by those who appreciate the history of movies, but nothing to write home about.

Still, there is one aspect of this movie that has flown under the radar. One of the minor actors in this movie went on to have a wildly successful Hollywood career, winning Oscar level awards twice. An actor who achieved great success despite a reputation for biting co-stars. None of the other actors in this movie would ever have guessed it, but the goddamn cat in the movie went on to fame and two PATSY awards, the Oscar of Hollywood animal awards. Boy, that must have rankled the cast. Did they get together in bars in later years to badmouth Orangey, for that was the cat’s name. He went on to star with Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” while they were reduced to B-movies and guest star appearances on 60s TV shows. Fate and fame are such fickle things.

Hope everyone is rounding out a good holiday weekend. Three days of ‘diet, schmiet’ and now I’m back on starvation rations. Six pounds from my goal, four weeks from Christmas feasting. The race is on.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: A mutant alien servant from This Island Earth. Credit: Universal Pictures. I’m assuming that since it’s free to watch on youtube that it’s Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

December 1, 2019 at 11:34 am

Posted in Cats, Entertainment, Movies


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Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that were better when I was a kid. Better in the sense that as a kid I was blissfully unaware that Indians don’t regard the landing of the Mayflower as something to celebrate. It would be like Russians celebrating the first day Hitler’s legions marched into Russia. Now that I know better, it’s not quite the shallow family food orgy of my youth. On the other hand, I can celebrate Turkey Day as a gathering of friends and family and appreciation of the good things that have happened this year. No God, genocidal European invaders, or infantilized Indians required. Separating the good from the bad is one of those adulting things. We will have a toast to the people fighting the colonial mindset that is poisoning the west to this day.

I limit my fighting to words, it’s what I do best. Well, that and playing Tetris, but the later skill set rarely comes into play and is highly unlikely to ever make much of a positive influence in the world. Packing a moving van though, I’m the guy. In any event, that’s the obligatory part. Now some fun, a break from my usual dark humor. 27 November 1809, London, England. A certain wag, one Theodore Hook, bet a friend that he could make a random address in London the talk of the town for a week. The good Mr Hook (1788-1841) is mostly remembered for his practical jokes, though he did receive the world’s first postcard (which he probably mailed himself.)

I digress. London, 1809. No bicycles, trains, or cars. All foot and horse drawn vehicles. The first steam powered boats and vehicles were around, but they were still largely a novelty item. None were in regular use. So, the random address, on 54 Berner Street. Basically at 5am a dozen chimney sweeps showed up, none of whom were expected, and they were turned away. Then followed coal deliveries. And soon tradesmen of all sorts, doctors summoned, vicars to give last rites, VIPs, thousands all told, started to arrive at said address on Berner Street all day until early evening. It was complete chaos, every policemen that could be spared was sent, but a large part of London was shut down for the better part of a day. Mr Hook and a friend watched it all from a nearby house, after which he slipped away.

And slip away is right, a great hue and cry went up to find the perpetrator of the hoax. Hook was never publicly identified, but his friends suspected. And I guess somehow it became known to history that he was the perpetrator. It’s his biggest claim to fame, but it was enough. He’ll be in the history books as long as there are history books. Nowadays, I guess people are in history until a solar flare erases all of our computer memory.

And that’s it for this post. Swamped in food preparations for the fest on Thursday. And six inches of the atmosphere froze and fell to the ground last night. Inconvenient at best, we may need a dogsled to go pick up our turkey. Someday the American Midwest will be abandoned as it’s not really fit for human life. Another post before Monday between feast preparations, I’ve saved up some interesting links to share. And stuff just keeps on happening in the real world. And then the circus news from Washington. Have a safe Thanksgiving everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Berner Street Hoax caricature, 1810 Credit: William Heath, Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

November 27, 2019 at 5:58 am

Posted in History


with 3 comments

Friday morning I woke up sick again. Seems like the same sickness I had a few weeks back. An encore performance? Can germs do that? I managed to get Friday’s blog up, but then pretty much lost it afterwards. So my plans for Monday’s blog dissolved like so many overused tissues. Instead, random ramblings. It’s Sunday now and I feel a bit better today. It could pass though, isn’t that a famous tombstone epitaph? “But I was feeling better today!” On the plus side, no one I know has died in nearly a week.

Tesla announced a new cybertruck with less than stellar success. While demonstrating its ‘bulletproof’ windows … the windows broke. Oops. One would think that it would have been a simple matter for the staff to get that right, how hard could it be to test the vehicle’s windows repeatedly beforehand? It’s stuff like this that makes me chuckle when people believe that thousands of people could secretly work together for decades to do things like say, flawlessly hoax the Moon landings. The cybertruck also got a lot of criticism for its styling, which is unconventional at best. Not surprising, America is one of the most conformist societies on Earth, and American car styles generally reflect that. Hell, even our car colours are insanely conformist. I kinda like the cybertruck though, and if advance orders are any indication, plenty of other people do too. Order one here.

A Korean pop star, Goo Hara, has been found dead in her home, 28 years old. RIP. Suicide, drugs, likely a little of both. One certainly hears a lot of stories like this, I’m about as far from plugged into popular culture as it gets, and I can think of a number of stars who died before their time. Before going into a rant, I thought, better see how real this is. Do stars often die young?

Yes. Pop stars are twice as likely to die young, especially in the years following fame. Not too surprising, instant fame and fortune must be mind-numbingly stressful. Just for starters, one can’t go out in public anymore. And virtually everyone one meets will have expectations, not to mention there are a whole coterie of people expert at taking advantage of the newly rich and famous. Add to that the insane amount of cyber stalking and harassment one would get, one couldn’t even be on Facebook. It would be tough for most people I expect.

The rant is actually pretty short. More of an observation. If becoming rich and famous dramatically increases one’s chances of dying young … maybe we as a people are doing something wrong? It certainly doesn’t seem like a sign of a healthy culture. Or this that I just stumbled upon, about a fifth of Americans over 65 live in poverty. A rate that compares very unfavorably with the rest of the developed world. It’s somewhere between embarrassing and shameful, since the USA is the richest damn country the world has ever seen. It’s a safe bet that most of those people worked their entire lives, yet somehow the rich have all the money? I know, I know, I’m not supposed to complain if I don’t have a solution. That’s called deflection, one of the many tactics the rich use to avoid even discussing the problem. That’s the whole point of pointing out and acknowledging a problem, to come up with better ways of doing things. Not pretend it will go away or simply defending the status quo.

Another day though. I will be spending three days a week writing from now on. ‘Content is King’ as a friend recently said. We’ll end today with a depressing ‘on this date’ story. 25 November, 1941. The HMS Barham, a World War One era British battleship was sunk by a German U-boat off the coast of Egypt. I believe it was the only battleship sunk in the open sea by a submarine during World War Two. Basically the U-boat got lucky as an escort destroyer misread a sonar contact, and it was able to fire four torpedoes at point blank range. Three of them struck amidships, the Barham was mortally damaged, rolled over on her side, and four minutes later a magazine exploded and she sank. Amazingly enough, a cameraman on a nearby ship was able to capture it on film. More than 800 people died, one can see many of them in the footage. God rest their souls. Watch at one’s own recognizance.

I think that’s the first time I ever used the word recognizance in a sentence. Have a great week everyone.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: The new Tesla cybertruck. Credit: Tesla, used without permission. However since it’s a publicity shot and I’m plugging their vehicle, I hope I can be forgiven)

Written by unitedcats

November 25, 2019 at 5:44 am

Posted in History, World War Two