A Confluence of Hate

Hey, kids! Can you count the things wrong with this?

Hot on the heels of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s report “Rage on the Right” comes the mechanized embodiment of that hatred. The license plate represents a missed opportunity on the part of the Virginia DMV, though to be fair, the symbology is rather obscure to normal people (and those who haven’t seen The West Wing):

The DMV agreed that the plate contains a coded message: The number 88 stands for the eighth letter of the alphabet, H, doubled to signify “Heil Hitler,” said CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper. “CV” stands for “Confederate veteran” — the plate was a special model embossed with a Confederate flag, which Virginia makes available for a $10 fee to card-carrying members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. And 14 is code for imprisoned white supremacist David Lane’s 14-word motto: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

Obviously one license plate on one pickup truck in one state of the Union is hardly emblematic of a coming tide of hate-based violence, but the brazenness with which it’s displayed is probably cause for concern. Hate and militia groups are on the rise, but unlike the paranoid groups of the Clinton years, these ones are openly carrying arms and declaring themselves in opposition to the United States government. The recent terrorism committed by Joe Stack and John Patrick Bedell are only the most obvious manifestations of the movement.

The DMV has since revoked the plates, but as one commenter asks, were they really the most inflammatory part?

Via Isegoria.

The Manliest Scooter Ever?

This Italian Vespa scooter was built under license in the 1950s by Ateliers de Construction de Motocycles et Automobiles (ACMA), fitted with the US-made M20 75mm recoilless rifle, and employed in some number by the French armed forces (about 800 were deployed in Algeria and Indochina).

The aim was to provide airborne forces (TAP stands for Troupes Aéroportées) with a lightweight, but effective anti-armour weapon. Each gun crew consisted of two men on Vespas – one mounting the gun itself, the other carrying the ammunition and other equipment. To fire, the gun was taken down and deployed on a tripod carried by the team – not, sadly, fired from the Vespa while moving [emphasis mine].

Via Osprey.

Attack of the Caspian Sea Monster!

The ekranoplan rusting in its berth, 2010.

If you’ve never heard of the Russian ekranoplan, here’s what you need to know. A ground effect plane that flies only a few yards above water (right, it’s also a water-plane, I forgot to mention), the one-off ekranoplan was an ingenious attempt by the Russians to solve… some problem they’d come up with, presumably. It was retired in the early 90s.

Recently, some intrepid photographer found the ekranoplan in drydock, and has taken a number of pictures (along with a photoessay in Russian) so you can see the magnificent beast in all its glory.

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Via War is Boring.

Tsarist Russia, in Color

"A. P. Kalganov poses with his son and granddaughter for a portrait in the industrial town of Zlatoust in the Ural Mountain region of Russia. The son and granddaughter are employed at the Zlatoust Arms Plant--a major supplier of armaments to the Russian military since the early 1800s. Kalganov displays traditional Russian dress and beard styles, while the two younger generations have more Westernized, modern dress and hair styles." 1910.

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii was a photographer in Russia born in 1863 and who lived until 1944. He invented his own camera, which in and of itself is impressive, but not only that – it was a color camera. The Library of Congress has used modern computing technology to recreate Produkin-Gorskii’s colorization technique, and the collection is available to view as “The Empire That Was Russia.”

These pictures provide a record of tsarist Russia in color, and the results are stunning. Transportation, ethnic diversity, and people at work are the themes of the exhibition. Make sure to check out the Austro-Hungarian prisoners-of-war in 1915. A land time might now remember.

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Via Eternal Remont.