Saturday, September 25, 2010

Akira Haraguchi

Akira Haraguchi, a retired Japanese engineer, currently working as a mental health counsellor and business consultant in Mobara City, is known for memorizing and reciting digits of Pi.

He set the current world record (100,000 digits) in 16 hours, starting at 9 a.m (16:28 GMT) on October 3, 2006 and having recited up to 83,431 digits by nightfall, stopping with digit number 100,000 at 1:28 a.m. on October 4, 2006. The event was filmed in a public hall in Kisarazu, east of Tokyo, where he had five-minute breaks every two hours to eat onigiri rice balls to keep up his energy levels. Even his trips to the toilet were filmed to prove that the exercise was legitimate. Haraguchi views the memorization of Pi as "the religion of the universe", and as an expression of his lifelong quest for eternal truth.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Schwerer Gustav

Schwerer Gustav (English: Heavy Gustaf, or Great Gustaf) is the name of one of two massive World War 2 German railway siege guns. In 1934 the German Army High Command (OKH) commissioned Krupp of Essen, Germany to design a gun to destroy the forts of the French Maginot Line which were then nearing completion. The gun's shells had to punch through seven meters of reinforced concrete or one full meter of steel armor plate, from beyond the range of French artillery. The cannons had barrels 30 meters long, weighed nearly 1,350 tons each, and could fire shells weighing seven tons to a range of 23 miles. The size and weight meant that to be at all movable it would need to be supported on twin sets of railway tracks. The train carrying the gun was of 25 cars, a total length of 1.5 kilometers. It was the largest caliber rifled weapon in the history of artillery to see actual combat, and fired the heaviest shells of any artillery piece.

Though the cannon was not ready for action when the Wehrmacht outflanked the line during the Battle of France, Gustav was used in the Soviet Union at the siege of Sevastopol during Operation Barbarossa. It was moved to Leningrad, and may have been intended for Warsaw. Gustav was captured by US troops and cut up.

Here’s a video of Gustav’s sister cannon, Dora, firing:


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dekotora Part II

Here are some more Dekotora pictures:


The Dekotora, an abbreviation for "Decoration Truck", is a kind of loudly decorated truck most commonly found in Japan. Dekotora commonly have neon or ultraviolet lights, extravagant paints, and shiny stainless or golden exterior parts. These decorations can be found on both the cab and the trailer, and not only on the exterior but also in the interior. Dekotora may be created by workers out of their work trucks for fun, or they may be designed by hobbyists for special events.

In 1975, Toei released the first entry in a series of 10 movies called Truck Guys that featured as the protagonist a costumed trucker who drove his garishly decorated truck all over Japan. This movie was a big hit with both old and young, and caused a wave of Dekotora popularity to sweep the country. While Dekotoras were present throughout the 1970s, before the movie they were restricted to the north-eastern fishing transport trucks. It is possible that the movie was an attempt to popularize these kinds of trucks. In those days, ready-made parts for trucks were not easily available, so these trucks freely utilized parts from sightseeing buses or US military vehicles.

Since the late 1990s, Dekotora have been heavily influenced by the art of Gundam (a popular animated cartoon / movies series). In addition to the Gundam-influenced designs, it is common to see decorations that are more akin to modern art, or even retro designs that closely resemble those found in the movie Trucker.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Heil Honey I'm Home!

Heil Honey I'm Home! is a controversial British television sitcom, produced in 1990, which was cancelled after one episode aired. The show centers on fictionalized versions of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun, who live next door to a Jewish couple, Arny and Rosa Goldenstein. The show's plot is centered on Hitler's inability to get along with his neighbors. A caption at the beginning of the episode presented the series as a 'lost' sitcom from the 50s, recently re-discovered. The show spoofed elements of 1950s and 1960s American sitcoms such as Leave It to Beaver and I Love Lucy, including the corny title, light (even vacuous) plots and dialogue, and unwarranted applause whenever a character appeared on screen.

The plot of episode 1 involved Adolf telling Eva of the impending arrival of Neville Chamberlain, and begging her not to tell the Goldensteins. Of course, Eva lets it slip to Rosa that Chamberlain ("the most important man in Europe!") is coming round and Rosa tells Arny. They then crash the dinner party the Hitlers have prepared for Chamberlain.

Only the pilot was ever screened, making it the only UK show cancelled after one episode, although eight episodes were planned and a number were recorded. Neither the pilot or other episodes have ever been aired since. The show has since become renowned as one of the most controversial programs ever to have been screened in the UK.

A note from Josh – This one aired episode has unsurprisingly made its way to YouTube. You can watch it here, though it is broken into three parts: