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Save Movie Madness by Hollywood Theatre — Kickstarter

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Movie Madness is a Portland institution. Known for its vast collection, knowledgeable staff, and display cases full of legendary film props, the iconic Belmont storefront has a deserved reputation as one of the best video stores in the country.

But now Movie Madness is in danger of closing forever. The Hollywood Theatre has the chance to purchase Movie Madness and fold it into our nonprofit, ensuring that this invaluable collection remains available to Oregonians for years to come. We must raise $250,000 by November 10 or Movie Madness will close and the collection will be sold.

With your help, we can save this important piece of Portland’s culture and ensure its collection of 80,000+ titles remains accessible to movie lovers everywhere.

Movie Madness was founded in 1991 by Mike Clark. Mike is now ready to retire - and he’s offered the Hollywood Theatre the chance to acquire his beloved business for $250,000. (The collection alone was recently appraised at $585,000.)

If we succeed in raising our goal, the Hollywood Theatre will buy Movie Madness - the business and the 80,000+ title collection - and transition it into our nonprofit. We will continue to rent the Belmont storefront for the foreseeable future, and Mike will continue to display his remarkable collection of film props in the store’s film museum. We will also retain the store’s current employees.

The Hollywood is the right organization to buy Movie Madness and ensure its long-term survival. We’ve lovingly restored our 1926 movie palace, and opened our new microcinema at Portland International Airport. We brought 70mm film presentation back to Portland. And we’re a thriving nonprofit with 3,200+ members who believe in our mission of preserving and promoting the art of film.

By acquiring Movie Madness, we’re not trying to save a dying business model - we’re going to help it evolve by rethinking the role it plays in the community.

  • We’ll expand our popular membership program to include benefits at Movie Madness. 
  • We’ll explore community engagement opportunities through construction of a new screening room and the development of new partnerships. 
  • We’ll partner with Free Geek to provide affordable access to VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray players. 
  • We’ll continue to preserve and grow the collection, adding new releases and found treasures to ensure that Movie Madness remains a “living collection” that reflects the diverse interests and perspectives of the community it serves.

We’ve already secured a $90,000 grant from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation to provide two years of operating support for the project, contingent on this campaign succeeding. We are prepared to invest time, energy, and money into this project to ensure the long-term viability of Movie Madness.

The single most important reason for acquiring Movie Madness is to keep its extensive collection accessible to the public. A collection of this size is an irreplaceable cultural resource.

There are 80,000+ titles in the Movie Madness collection. In 2016, according to Variety, Amazon had 18,405 movies and 1,981 TV shows; Netflix had 4,563 movies and 2,445 TV shows; and Hulu had 6,656 films and 3,588 television shows. (Read more about Netflix’s “abominable selection of classic cinema” in this recent Newsweek article.) Movie Madness has twice as many titles available as all three platforms combined.

Streaming services offer only the illusion of choice. In reality, their constantly shifting lineup is dictated by studio licenses and distributor contracts, with titles subject to vanishing without notice.

Additionally, plenty of movies never make it to these services in the first place. Whenever there is an industry transition to a new format, movies are left behind - obscure and cult titles rarely make the cut.

These movies are not just entertainment - they represent diverse perspectives in a time when diverse voices are sorely needed in public discourse, and provide snapshots into our cultural history that can enlighten our present. By acquiring the Movie Madness collection, we’ll keep these titles available to the public, and we’ll make sure that the rare and one-of-a-kind titles in the collection are preserved.

Pledge today, and help us keep this irreplaceable community resource alive.

We're excited to offer some unique rewards in return for your support!

For $25, you can get your hands on a wool felt pennant in either the Movie Madness or Hollywood Theatre design. For $35, we've got some beautiful enamel pins, designed exclusively for this Kickstarter project. For $40, you can wear your support with pride with our Movie Madness “VHS” tee, and for $50, our glow-in-the-dark "Frankie" tee.

For $80, you’ll get two tickets to A Night With Todd Haynes, an exclusive double feature of BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS and a newly restored, doll-themed rarity (the title of which we’re not at liberty to mention). Both films will be presented in 35mm and the evening will be hosted by director Todd Haynes! We’ll even throw in popcorn and two beverages per person.

We're also excited to offer new ways for our community to get involved with Movie Madness. For $100, you can select a film from their 80,000+ collection to be sponsored under a name of your choosing (availability permitting). For $150, choose five movies to be featured in Movie Madness’ Community Picks section - with recommendations provided by you. Your selection will be featured for one month.

We're also offering unlimited rentals at Movie Madness (three months for $150 and six months for $300). Two movies at a time, and late fees still apply. For true movie fans, we're offering a combo of unlimited rentals, Hollywood Theatre passes, and our exclusive Kickstarter merch (six months for $600, and one year for $1,000).

For 25 lucky backers who pledge $500, we're handing over our marquee for you to display a personalized message. Why not use our marquee to surprise a friend and grab a photo! We'll choose a date together, and display your message from 11pm through 2pm the following day.

For $1,000 we're offering two tickets to a backers-only movie-themed dinner with award-winning local chef Naomi Pomeroy at her restaurant, Beast.

For $2,500, we'll walk you and 16 friends through airport security and screen a movie of your choosing at our PDX microcinema (schedule permitting). For $5,000, we'll screen your favorite movie for you and your friends at the Hollywood Theatre (schedule permitting).

And if that's not enough, for $10,000, we'll screen 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, or WEST SIDE STORY in 70mm for you and 383 of your friends at the Hollywood Theatre (schedule permitting).

We'd like to thank Mike Clark for bringing this unique opportunity to us, for his all his generosity and hard work, and for his trust in the team at the Hollywood Theatre. We'd also like to thank the staff at Movie Madness (our future co-workers, we hope!) for their collaboration and enthusiasm for this project.

Thanks also to Todd Haynes for agreeing to host our very special double feature, Naomi Pomeroy and the staff at Beast for offering to host our backer dinner, Blue Chalk for our incredible project video (featuring Joaquin Lopez and Anahelena Goodman-Flood—thank you!), Scarecrow Video for their advice and insights, Nate Ashley for his tireless work designing our campaign reward materials, and Andy McMillan for assisting with this Kickstarter project and managing our reward fulfillment.

Thank you also to Alison Hallett and Kristy Conrad for their extra effort on this Kickstarter campaign, and the rest of our office and theatre staff for their hard work day in and day out, our board for their steadfast guidance, and all 3,200+ Hollywood Theatre members for their support.

“Movie Madness is a place where a love of movies is completely and totally evident. An entire consummate encyclopedic collection of rare and obscure titles goes away if Movie Madness goes away. It would be not just the loss of an extraordinary collection, but a loss of a place that is a real, breathing tribute to the love of movies. It keeps you excited about the world to discover places like this.”

— Todd Haynes, Film Director & Hollywood Theatre Board Member 

“The Movie Madness library that the Hollywood Theatre would like to absorb is one of the most amazing collections of cinema archaeology that I have ever seen and it is very important that it be saved. This is a very worthy endeavor - give money to this project!”

— Gus Van Sant, Film Director

“I can’t imagine better bastions of film and TV history combining forces to create a whole new entertainment future for Portland than the Hollywood Theatre and Movie Madness. It’s going to be tough to decide which one to spend more time in!” 

— Tim Williams, Executive Director, Oregon Film

“Unparalleled in its breadth, depth, and genuine quirkiness, Movie Madness is the keeper of an important legacy. So much of the classic cinema behind its doors just isn’t available anywhere else. Like a library, Movie Madness looks to enhance the future by preserving the past. I offer my full support to Hollywood Theatre and its effort to serve Portlanders, now and into the future, by preserving Movie Madness as a treasure for everyone to enjoy.” 

— Vailey Oehlke, Director of Libraries, Multnomah County Library

“Truly great independent video stores with a collection of this size are an incredible asset for cinephile research and study. We can’t tell you how many films have slipped into a copyright and/or distribution morass - there are many instances where a collection of early commercial releases like this is your only chance to see something exceptionally rare and unique. To lose such an incredible community resource would be heartbreaking.” 

— Todd Wiener, Motion Picture Archivist, UCLA Film & Television Archive

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9 days ago
Portland, OR
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The Secret World of Tiny Phones That Go Inside Your Butt


In the early-2000s, mobile manufacturers tried to make handsets as small as possible. In the 2010s, smartphones were sold on how big their screens were. In 2016, the tide might now be turning once again: Apple's newest phone model, the iPhone SE, boasts a relatively minuscule 4-inch screen. But Apple have some distance to go before they can match the Zanco Fly.

With a 0.66-inch screen, the Fly is apparently the world's smallest mobile phone. It's not the only nanophone in existence, but they're all made by companies you've never heard of, and you won't find them in major electrical retailers. You might, however, find them stuffed among chargers for Nokia 3210s at your local phone unlocking booth, and they're all over Amazon and eBay. They cost about $40.

Some features—like three-day standby—seem rather good. But if you're really wondering what edge these phones have over the latest touchscreen smartphones, try getting a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 up your ass.

Yes: if you hadn't guessed already, these phones are going up prisoners' butt holes.

If you think this sounds like wild extrapolation—after all, lipsticks are around the same size, and you don't get articles about whacking those up your nether regions—have a look at how some of these phones are sold. Many, for instance, claim to be 100 percent plastic, or come with a "beat the BOSS" tagline, which is to say they claim to be undetectable by body orifice scanners.

The full range of Xekü BOSS scanners, screengrab via

Amazon customer reviews for various brown-phones range from the subtle to the straightforward. One reviewer reports that the phone is "very small and easy/painless to hide," but is concerned that this model isn't 100 percent plastic, so won't necessarily beat the BOSS. They give the phone just one star, "as I imagine that most people will want a phone like this for a certain purpose."

Another user, Sean, is more blunt. In a five star review deemed "helpful" by 23 people, he notes: "No anal problems!!! Didn't hurt my bum at all thanks guys :)"

Similar phones were in the news back in 2013 when handsets shaped like BMW key fobs—also largely plastic, and in a convenient pellet shape—appeared. Those keyfob phones are apparently illegal now—if only due to trademark infringement of that BMW logo—but phones in prisons remain a big problem. In January it was reported that seizures of mobile phones had hit a new high in England and Wales: almost 10,000 phones or SIMs had been confiscated in one 12-month period, significantly outnumbering drugs confiscations.

"Phones are everywhere," says former inmate Carl Cattermole, whose prison survival guide at provides a fascinating insight into life behind bars. "Staff bring them in, or you could buy one from another inmate by doing them a favor or giving them something, or you phone up someone outside and they pay cash to someone else. People normally use them in their cell with people looking out, but it gets to the point where people are just using them in the changing rooms for the gym like it's the outside world."

Carl adds that cavity searches do occur on your way into prison, so bumphones might not be practical when you're on your way in, but there are plenty of other ways to get things into prisons. Having stuff chucked over a wall is one spectacularly basic method; going fishing is another—last year someone was given two-and-a-half years for tying drugs, a knife, and a McMuffin to fishing line that a prisoner was hanging out of a window. But regardless of how they get in, once phones are inside the prison, they need to stay hidden.

Phones up butts are frequently reported in the news. Last summer, for instance, a guy beginning a 16-month stretch for fraud was found with a phone, plus charger, up his ass. This February, a triple killer in a New South Wales maximum security prison went on hunger strike for 12 days in an attempt not to eject a phone detected by a BOSS unit (the phone eventually emerged on February 25). A year before that, the butthole of a guy being admitted to HMP Manchester was found to contain four mobiles, four sim cards, and four chargers. Then there's André Silva, whose anus was the portal to an Aladdin's Cave of contraband: according to one report, Silva's back passage contained "two mobile phones, two batteries, pliers, two drills, eight pieces of a hacksaw, five nails, and three SIM cards."

Those, of course, are just the phones that have been found, and perhaps that's where these $40 buttphones come in; they're not only hard to detect, they're quick and easy to get hidden, too. Obviously it's possible to get reasonably large items up your bottom, otherwise fisting wouldn't be such a popular hobby, but for the purposes of easy storage and retrieval, you're going to want to go as small as possible. "Things like iPhones are rare in prison," Cattermole says. "Most phones go up a bum at some point or another, so fuck an iPhone 6 Plus, or, rather, don't. You'd look like Spongebob Squarepants: a rectangle with limbs hanging off. Having said that, I knew a dwarf who plugged a Blackberry."

And yes, on one hand it's all very amusing that some fella's doing his best not to shit out the latest Samsung. Equally, if someone told you that you couldn't speak to your loved ones whenever you wanted, you'd probably do the same. Christ—considering the blind panic most of us experience when our battery drops below 30 percent, we'd probably be eyeing up the lube if we were facing a single day without Facebook. "I think this is something you don't understand unless you've been to jail," says Carl. "It's the emotional segregation. I'd find a way to put a phonebox up my bum if it meant staying in contact with my loved ones."

Some of the uses may be innocent—last year, two prisoners at HMP Birmingham were given an extra nine months each for shooting a rap video while inside—but it'd be naive to think there's nothing dodgy going on. "Predictably, people also organize crime on the outside," says Carl. "Just like El Chapo still ran the biggest drug cartel in the world from his prison cell, Phil from Gartree will use a mobile to organize his mates to carry on doing whatever it is they do."

One remaining question is whether buttphones actually work properly. My first step is to buy one off Amazon—the phone works on all networks except 3, and considering 3's main pull is free international roaming that'll probably be fine for all but the most ambitious prisoner.

The logical next step would be an unsavory hands-on, phone-in personal odyssey, but nothing of note's been up my butthole for the best part of a decade and things aren't about to change now, so it's off to the grocery store.

As you can see, a chocolate ring donut allows ample room for maneuver:

And how about the cavity test? Well, the guy at the Sainsbury's meat counter couldn't help with "the nearest thing to a human bottom," so I just had to go for a chicken. In many ways, this is the classic of the cavity world. In went the phone.

GREAT NEWS: I'm pleased to report that having been left overnight, the butth still worked the following morning.

But are these phones explicitly made for anal retention, or are they just like aluminum foil: made for one thing, occasionally used for another?

I tried to track down the company that made my phone, but given the subtle phrasing—or explicit claims—made by some resellers, it's perhaps unsurprising that the people behind these phones are hard to track down. My model, the Zanco Fly phone, is apparently made by Zini Mobiles Ltd, a company established in the UK in 2013, but struck off and dissolved last summer. It was registered to a forwarding address with just one director, who still appears to be selling the phone through online trading site Alibaba (minimum order: 3,000), where Zini is listed as a British company whose purported total annual revenue exceeds $100 million. Other online sources claim Zini employ, or employed, over 300 people.

Eventually I manage to speak with a Adam, a guy in Birmingham who started flogging these phones on eBay, then built the website He's dealt with Zini, and is keen to point out that his own website contains "nothing about prisons and nothing about arseholes." But does he know how the phones are being used?

"We don't say nothing to nobody about that," he tells me. "If that's what they want to do, they can, but we've never tested the phones to see if they set off those scanners; some of them are mainly plastic, but they're not going to be 100 percent plastic—they still need to have a circuit board."

Adam's endearingly frank about some of the phones: while the Zini phone's pretty good, one of the others is "not very good, to be honest," and when it comes to batteries, he adds that some manufacturers "don't exactly put the best stuff in there." For that reason, he urges caution on the butt front.

"Mate," he laughs. "If someone rang me and said, 'I'm going to put one of these up my arsehole,' I'd say don't. I've heard of people saying they've had some of these small phones on charge and they've blown up." He adds, by way of comfort: "But it won't make a big explosion."

I don't know how to break it to Adam that one of my unwritten—until now—life rules is that it's best to avoid any sort of explosion, big or otherwise, in the ass area. I'd say that's a fairly straightforward rule to live by. That said, I might keep my buttphone within easy reach: I illegally downloaded a lot of music back in the day, and you never know how things might pan out.

Follow Peter on Twitter.

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18 days ago
Portland, OR
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Coming Home to a Shipping Container

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Building with shipping containers isn’t exactly new, but until recently it hasn’t been exactly mainstream either. Now, though, it is becoming a lot more popular, as eco-friendly practices begin to influence market trends. Containers are loved by the hip and the practical, artisans and DIY-ers, engineers and construction foremen, as they are both sustainable and affordable. And used 20- or 40-foot containers can be obtained for as little as several hundred dollars apiece, so it’s not surprising that some industry professionals consider them the future of home building.

“More of the population has been educated on sustainability and ecological principles,” said Paul Galvin, the chairman, chief executive and a founder of SG Blocks, a publicly traded company that repurposes maritime-grade cargo shipping containers that can hold as much as 64,000 pounds. Mr. Galvin’s biggest client is the military — which turns those containers into housing, mess halls, computer server storage and commissaries, among other structures — but he believes shipping containers work just as well on a small scale.

“It’s a legitimately green option for the consumer,” he said. “And it’s not going to cost them more; this isn’t a green solution that requires government subsidy.”

In March, his company received commendation from the ICC Evaluation Service, a subsidiary of the international code council that evaluates and certifies building products, for its “quality control process for selecting shipping containers” for use in construction.

“Anything that’s seaworthy is construction-worthy,” said Mr. Galvin, whose company gets its material from ConGlobal Industries, which sells shipping containers of varied age and quality. All containers are subject to strict international standards, he pointed out, but even so, his team carefully inspects each one before using it in a project: “We’ve established that they perform as good as, or better than, code requires.”

Shipping containers, as we know them today, are the brainchild of Malcom Purcell McLean, a trucker from North Carolina credited with revolutionizing the shipping industry. Dubbed the Father of Containerization, Mr. McLean came up with the idea for shipping large cargo boxes one day in 1937, as he waited to unload his truck carrying tobacco barrels. It took him years to convince others that his idea made sense, but in 1956 he oversaw the implementation of a rigged container system, when a tanker loaded 56 containers from Port Newark.

CreditPreston Schlebusch for The New York Times

Most containers are now a standard size: about eight feet wide, or two feet wider than a California king mattress; eight and a half feet high; and either 20 or 40 feet long. And containerization — also referred to as intermodal freight transportation — is seen as the innovation that has made services like next-day delivery and Amazon Prime possible.

It might also be the innovation that makes construction easier and more affordable, as suggested by the growing number of shipping-container structures around the world.

In Anyang, South Korea, there is a 2,600-square-foot school made of shipping containers. Johannesburg has a 75,000-square-foot live-work high-rise made of them. Wilmington, N.C., has an entire community of shipping containers, a project known as the Cargo District, which completed its first phase in August. And countless single-family homes in this country and others make use of containers.

New York, alone, has many examples: In Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, for example, there is a townhouse on Irving Place bisected by shipping containers. In Williamsburg, 21 steel containers were used to create a three-container-high house on a 20-by-40-foot lot. In Manhattan, a container serves as a master bedroom for a penthouse with Empire State Building views. And upstate, there are many more such structures.

Mr. Steele, who works in Manhattan but lives in the Catskills, has built four container homes in that area in the last seven years. Sims Foster, 41, and his wife, Kirsten Harlow Foster, 37, own one of them, in Youngsville. Made from two 40-foot containers set side-by-side, the 640-square-foot, one-bedroom house has a linear kitchen, a living-and-dining area with a fireplace and cedar facing on the exterior.

“I think people are drawn to it, not away,” said Mr. Foster, who founded Foster Supply and Hospitality, a group of hotels in the Catskills, with Ms. Foster. “There’s something comforting about the soul of the house, a comfort and ease.”

Farther west, in Callicoon Center, is another of Mr. Steele’s houses: a 1,760-square-foot home with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, built out of four containers lined up in a row.

The house, which resembles a wood-framed barn, isn’t any louder than a conventional home, said Terry Maxedon, 60, who shares it with his wife, Amy Fisch, 63. In fact, there is only one thing about it that reminds them they are living in a shipping container: Instead of hanging pictures on the wall with nails, they use magnets. “I think that’s a nice feature,” Mr. Steele said.

Of course, not all container homes are so elaborate.

When Pamela Reed, 33, and Matthew Rader, 34, virtual reality directors in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, decided they needed to escape the city, they were content with the plain, unmodified container they put on seven acres they bought in Hobart, N.Y. “We always kind of liked the aesthetic — the raw, modern boxiness of it,” Mr. Rader said.

“We’ve seen online other people converting them into ultramodern, sleek-looking things, and giving them new life,” he added, while theirs is more of a “glorified tent.” (Ms. Reed chronicled the build on her blog, Brooklyn Farm Girl.) Still, the cost of buying the container and having it installed on their property was only about $3,000.

“We want to raise our kid in the city,” said Mr. Rader, who has a newborn daughter. “And the plan is to have it as a getaway place, a good small farm.” Already, they are producing large quantities of tomatoes, corn, beans, peas, carrots and pumpkins, he said, and as far as the container goes, “We’re not finished by any means.”

Back in Brooklyn, mobility is sometimes the biggest appeal.

Vedat Ulgen, the 28-year-old founder of Thislexik, a design studio in Red Hook currently housed in a structure made out of five containers, is in the process of moving his company into a more permanent space and taking the shipping containers upstate, to a site near Woodstock.

“That is the reason we preferred a modular design,” he said. “So we can easily take it apart and relocate it to another location, with the possibility of expansion. The containers will be a retreat for myself, and I’ll rent it out on Airbnb.”

In Carolina Beach, N.C., Jennifer Godbold, 46, and Abbie-Stuart Sinclair, 50, operate the Conchs, two shipping containers marketed as beach rental properties.

“We just saw a possibility for a unique beach rental,” Ms. Sinclair said. “We’re also from a port city, so there were containers everywhere. It wasn’t some obscure idea.”

Even so, their rentals were so controversial when they were being built, Ms. Godbold said, that a nearby community made it illegal to build container homes there. “The local newspaper would run a picture of them looking as horrible as possible,” she said. “For six weeks straight.”

She and Ms. Sinclair worked with Jeremy Hardison, senior planner with the town of Carolina Beach, to bring their idea to life. Mr. Hardison said he saw it as an exciting opportunity for something new in a place that favors unique design.

And despite the initial resistance, he believes the area will see more container homes in the future. “We’re open to the idea,” he said. “We like the idea of alternate and sustainable construction methods.”

Finally, there’s the instant-gratification factor.

Container homes are fabricated elsewhere, noted Giuseppe Ligano, a partner of the construction and design firm LOT-EK, which means that “by the time you’re done with the foundation, you can erect the whole structure — boom! — in a couple of days.”

Mr. Ligano and his partner, Ada Tolla, have been working with shipping containers since the early 1990s, in the United States, the United Kingdom, Chile, Australia, South Korea and South Africa, among other countries. Many of the designs, he said, have been “very high-end, in the direction of a contemporary, conceptual, gritty style.”

One project currently in the works is the Water Hub, in Staten Island, a structure commissioned by the Rebuild By Design organization (in partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Municipal Art Society, the Regional Plan Association, the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University, the Van Alen Institute, and the Rockefeller Foundation) to encourage the protection of marine life along the shoreline.

The 5,000-square-foot building, slated for completion next year, will include a kayak-launching site and classroom space for the New York Harbor School. Equally notable, however, is that it will be built to withstand the effects of future storms like Hurricane Sandy.

And if there’s anything that can do that, it’s a shipping container.

Correction: September 22, 2017

An earlier version of this article misstated the location of a shipping container home in Sullivan County, N.Y. It is two hours northwest of New York City, not two hours northeast.

Correction: September 25, 2017

An earlier version of this article misstated the occupation and birthplace of Malcom Purcell McLean, the man who came up with the idea of shipping containers. Mr. McLean was a trucker from North Carolina, not a longshoreman from New Jersey.

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22 days ago
Portland, OR
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Site of a Japanese Balloon Bomb Explosion in Omaha, Nebraska

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Completed Japanese balloon is inflated for laboratory tests at a California base, recovered in 1945.

In the closing months of World War II, a Japanese balloon bomb exploded in the quiet of the evening sky in the Dundee neighborhood of Omaha, Nebraska. These so-called "fire balloons" were filled with hydrogen and carrying bombs varying from 11 to 33 pounds, and were part of an experimental Japanese military offensive.

The bomb that exploded in Omaha on April 18, 1945, was one of more than 9,000 balloons launched during a six-month period at the end of the war, and one of the nearly 300 that were found or observed in the United States.  

These experimental weapons brought the Second World War closer to home than most Americans realized. But the Dundee explosion, and the larger plan it was a part of, are one of the many little-known incidents marking our time at war.

Few people knew a bomb had gone off. Some saw a flash of light and others heard noises they thought were fireworks. But by the next morning, nearly everyone in the neighborhood knew something had happened. Some residents heard the explosion and several others saw it flash as it ignited, according to newspaper reports at the time. One witness described “a ring of fire” in the sky. The plaque commemorating the incident notes: "the incendiary device flared brightly in the night, but caused no damage."

Japanese military leaders deployed these balloon bombs with the hopes of creating panic and widespread media attention, which would allow them to chart courses for future attacks. There were a few reports of explosions published in various outlets, however the U.S. Office of Censorship—a wartime agency set up to censor communications coming in or out of the U.S.—sent messages to all media outlets asking them not to publish news of the balloon bombs. The Dundee explosion, as well as several others, was not reported until after the war had ended.

Beyond Nebraska, Japanese balloon bombs were dropped in 26 other states and Mexico. Most of the attacks caused no severe damage or injuries, but one explosion in Oregon two weeks after Dundee resulted in the deaths of a woman and five children when they discovered an unexploded bomb in the woods. Remains of the fire balloons continued to be found after the war, with the most recent discovery made in 2014 in Canada.

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23 days ago
One of my favorite Radiolab episodes was about the Japanese Balloon Bombs:
Portland, OR
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Mud bricks

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I made a brick mold that makes bricks 25 x 12.5 x 7.5 cm from wood. A log was split and mortise and tenon joints were carved using a stone chisel and sharp rocks. The mold was lashed together with cane to prevent it from coming apart when used.

Next, I made a mixture of mud and palm fiber to make the bricks. This was then placed into the mold to be shaped and taken to a drying area. 140 bricks were made.
When dry, the bricks were then assembled into a kiln. 32 roof tiles were then made of mud and fired in the kiln. It only took 3 hours to fire the tiles sufficiently. The mud bricks and tiles were a bit weaker than objects made from my regular clay source because of the silt, sand and gravel content of the soil. Because of this, I will look at refining mud into clay in future projects instead of just using mud.

Interestingly, the kiln got hot enough so that iron oxide containing stones began to melt out of the tiles. This is not metallic iron, but only slag (iron oxide and silica) and the temperature was probably not very high, but only enough to slowly melt or soften the stones when heated for 3 hours.

The kiln performed as well as the monolithic ones I’ve built in the past and has a good volume. It can also be taken down and transported to other areas. But the bricks are very brittle and next time I’d use better clay devoid of sand/silt, and use grog instead of temper made of plant fiber which burns out in firing. The mold works satisfactorily and I aim to make better quality bricks for use in furnaces and buildings in future.

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27 days ago
Portland, OR
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Beautiful 30-day time lapse of a cargo ship’s voyage


Jeffrey Tsang is a sailor on a cargo ship. On a recent voyage from the Red Sea to Sri Lanka to Singapore to Hong Kong, he set up a camera facing the bow of the ship to record the month-long journey. From ~80,000 photos taken, he constructed a 10-minute time lapse that somehow manages to be both meditative and informative. You get to see cargo operations at a few different ports, sunrises, thunderstorms, and the clearest night skies you’ve ever seen. Highly recommended viewing. (via colossal)

Tags: time lapse   video
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31 days ago
Portland, OR
32 days ago
The Haight in San Francisco
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