On this date: November 20, 1945

On November 20, 1945, the judges at the first of the Nuremberg War Trials (known as the ‘Trial Of The Major War Criminals’) took their seats to hear the charges read out. Twenty-two of the leading figures of the Nazi regime were on trial. Martin Bormann had not been located, and was tried in absentia. The remaining twenty-one are shown in the photograph below. Front row, left to right: Hermann Göring, Rudolf Hess, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Wilhelm Keitel, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Alfred Rosenberg, Hans Frank, Wilhelm Frick, Julius Streicher, Walther Funk, Hjalmar Schacht. Back row, left to right: Karl Dönitz, Erich

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Wild driving!

I’ve always understood a gymkhana to be an equestrian event, and I’ve enjoyed several in South Africa and elsewhere. However, this video clip of Ken Block and a highly spiced-up Subaru illustrates a motorized form of what he calls ‘gymkhana’ that had me on the edge of my seat! It’s certainly the most remarkable display of precision driving skills I’ve seen in a long time. Amazing stuff! Something tells me I’d better not try that in my Ford F150 pickup, though . . . Peter

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Lessons learned from home repairs

As regular readers will know, I’ve been engaged in extensive home repairs after a small house fire in August, followed by further damage caused by Hurricane Gustav in early September. It’s been a long, exhausting process, but it’s finally complete. The place looks great in its new coat of paint, with new carpet, window blinds and ceiling tiles to brighten things up. I’ve learned a number of lessons about the aftermath of this sort of damage, and I thought you might like to hear about them. If (God forbid) you should end up with a similar problem, knowing about these

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First successful transplant of a cell-grown organ!

I’m very excited to read about a real medical breakthrough. For the first time, a patient has had one of her organs (well, in this case, more a body part than an organ) grown from her own bone-marrow stem cells, and transplanted into her. This is a huge advance, and hopefully the harbinger of things to come. A mother of two has become the first person in the world to undergo a whole organ transplant grown from her own stem cells. From being virtually bedridden after her windpipe became blocked, 30-year-old Claudia Castillo, above, is now able to resume the

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English as she is writted

[Sigh] I speak English fairly well, with the odd profanity thrown in here or there when things get a bit much. I grew up in a home where we were expected to speak properly, corrected if we didn’t, and punished if we ignored the correction. By the time I got to University, no errors in grammar, spelling or punctuation were tolerated by our lecturers. If we made any such mistakes, we lost marks for them (sometimes heavily). That was simply the way things were. It seems that things aren’t that way any more . . . Some people collect sports

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I get dizzy watching this!

OK, now this is extreme swinging! EDITED TO ADD, AT 8 A.M., TUESDAY MORNING, 11/18/08: I posted this last night. Checking Sitemeter this morning, I noticed a rather substantial uptick in visitors. Upon investigating, many of them got here as the result of an Internet search on the word ‘swinging’. My use of the phrase ‘extreme swinging’ seems to have brought them like moths to a flame – but I’m afraid they’re bound to be disappointed. You see, their searches have involved another type of swinging, to which the above video bears no relation whatsoever . . . Sorry, folks,

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Now that’s a motivated man!

I’m impressed by the dedication of a Maine man who wanted to join the Marines – but his weight of 330 pounds (!) meant he couldn’t meet their basic fitness requirements. Army and Navy recruiters took one look at 330-pound Ulysses Milana and told him to forget about joining. “‘You’ve got to lose weight,’” Milana remembers them saying. But Marine recruiters were willing to work with him as he began his weight-loss journey in December 2007. Now, 11 months later, Milana is 140 pounds lighter as he leaves Monday for Parris Island, S.C., to begin boot camp. It wasn’t easy,

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Cellphones, privacy and the law

I know that many of us have read about how cellphones can be tracked to a given location by triangulating their bearings from cellphone towers. However, information that’s recently been leaking out of the FBI shows that law enforcement agencies have another way to locate a phone – and, of course, the person using it. The first public indication of this technology, known as (a) ‘triggerfish’, came during the arrest of Kevin Mitnick, a computer hacker, in the 1990’s. While they did not have the phone number, they had the characteristics of the phone signal, known as a MIN. This

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On this day: November 18, 1978

On November 18, 1978, Jim Jones, the deeply flawed but charismatic leader of a religious cult, the Peoples Temple, ordered the murder of a US congressman, Rep. Leo Ryan, and his party (including several members of the cult who were trying to escape from its headquarters at Jonestown, Guyana). They were shot down while boarding their chartered aircraft. Jones then ordered his followers to drink cyanide-laced fruit juice. Those who refused or resisted were forced to drink it, or shot. 914 men, women and children died that day. Jones, shown below, shot himself shortly afterwards. Some of the victims were

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OK, this one’s a little unusual!

I’m still trying to figure out the attraction of participating in the annual race for men at a New Zealand venue. Gutsy contestants at the Shepherd’s Shemozzle in Hunterville, New Zealand, had to run 50 metres with a bull’s testicle in their mouth. The bizarre challenge was only part of the endurance competition, in which entrants also had to down dry Weetabix and a raw egg, washed down with a can of beer. Fifty-six competitors ran out of the Hunterville Town Hall last Saturday, racing to find and claim their dogs before heading to the nearest high hill for the

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