Was this really 42 years ago???

It still seems like yesterday that I heard Billy Joel’s ‘Piano Man‘ for the first time. I was pleased to come across this interview where he discusses the lyrics and their meaning. Dammit, that song can’t have been released 42 years ago!  I’m not that old . . . or am I? *Sigh* Peter

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A 70-year-old wartime mystery

I’ve just come across a 2012 report that the body of a long-missing pilot had been found in Egypt.  It may be a few years old, but it’s still of interest. THE body of a World War Two fighter pilot shot down 70 years ago has finally been discovered in the Egyptian desert, his family believe. The Pryor-Bennett family are praying that DNA tests confirm that the remains are those of Flight Sergeant Denis Copping. The young pilot has been missing for 70 years after he failed to return to base in his Curtiss Kittyhawk fighter in 1942. Curtiss P-40

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An exciting development in the fight against poaching

I’m very encouraged to hear that drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) have been deployed in the fight against rhino poachers in South Africa, with great success. Drones deployed in South Africa’s Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park have eliminated the killing of endangered rhinoceroses over the past six months, according to Air Shepherd, the nonprofit program that operates the machines. It’s a stunning statistic, given that poachers had been shooting between 12 and 19 rhinos a month. These aren’t just any drones. Guided by a supercomputer that predicts where poachers will appear, the flying robots show ranger teams where to apprehend the killers before

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How the holes in Swiss cheese got there

Here’s the scientific discovery of the week:  how the holes in Swiss cheese got there. Despite what you may have been told as a child, they are not caused by mice nibbling away inside cheese wheels. Experts from Agroscope, a state centre for agricultural research, said the phenomenon – which marks famous Swiss cheeses such as Emmental and Appenzell – was caused by tiny bits of hay present in the milk and not bacteria as previously thought. They found that the mystery holes in such cheeses became smaller or disappeared when milk used for cheese-making was extracted using modern methods.

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More on the cover redesign

Last week I asked for your help in figuring out whether to put a new cover on my latest book, ‘Forge A New Blade‘.  Feedback was generally in favor of the new cover image I proposed. I’ll be working with my buddy Oleg this weekend to produce the new cover, and I’ll take the opportunity to fix a couple of minor typos and other issues with the text.  (That week of illness prior to publication cut into my proof-reading time, and taught me a lesson.  In future I’m going to allow a clear ten days for proof-reading, cover to cover

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Forensics, 1880’s style

Massad Ayoob has an article on his blog, referring to his latest column in the current issue of American Handgunner magazine, about Elfego Baca, the famous (or should that be notorious?) New Mexico lawman, lawyer and all-round badass. Mas recounts an incident where – I’m sorry, I can’t resist putting it like this – “Baca used caca” to help convict a wanted man.  I won’t spoil the details by repeating them here.  Go read his article, and then his column.  Both are interesting and informative. Peter

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Doofus Of The Day #835

Today’s award goes to two drunken teens in Ukraine.  It seems they were part of a group clowning around on the roof of the Globe shopping center in Independence Square, Kiev.  Overcome by teenage foolishness (and alcohol), they decided to slide down the sloping roof. WARNING:  Serious injuries result. If you’re squeamish, you might prefer not to watch. It seems one broke his coccyx and the other was admitted to intensive care with concussion and a fractured skull.  It’s reported both will be OK, but their recovery will take some time.  Personally, I think they’re both damned lucky to be

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“War stuff cut in half”

That’s the title of a very interesting photo essay over at War History Online.  It has pictures of everything from a British .303 armor-piercing round (note the cordite propellant used instead of powder): to an entire German Leopard 1 main battle tank: (Click either image for a larger view.) There are many more images at the link.  Interesting viewing for military and firearms buffs. Peter

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Looks like I was right about Mad Max

A couple of weeks ago I wrote that ‘Feminism ruins Mad Max remake‘.  A number of commenters suggested that I give the film the benefit of the doubt, and wait and see.  Unfortunately, many reviews have since confirmed what I feared.  This one, from the Telegraph, can speak for all of them. A movie that was meant to be glorifying male recklessness and brute force turns out to be a celebration of female strength and resilience. The film’s true hero is not the eponymous Max (the wonderful Tom Hardy), but its female lead, Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron in a

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