Category Archives: War

July 2019: Weird So Far

A bunch of big strange stuff happened recently around the world and it’s only the 3rd of July.

On the 1st of July, up near the top of the world, 14 sailors died in a fire on a top secret Russian “nuclear powered” submarine in the Barents Sea.

On July 1, a fire onboard a secretive Russian nuclear submarine killed 14 sailors before it was extinguished. 

Via PopMech

On July 2nd was a huge NATO anti-submarine exercise according to the Moscow Times.

On Tuesday, NATO kicks off its annual anti-submarine exercise Dynamic Mongoose in the Norwegian Sea west of Andøya, northern Norway.

Via MoscowTimes

There was a fireball over Florida in the early morning July 3rd which was reported to be Chinese rocket debris.

July 3 (UPI) — The U.S. Air Force said a fireball that lit up the night sky over Florida was debris from a Chinese rocket.


Also on the 3rd, sink holes opened in Florida and swallowed some trucks.

Authorities in Florida said multiple trucks were swallowed up by a pair of sinkholes that opened up under a business early Wednesday.


Also today, July 3rd, a gazillion photos on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp disappeared for 7 hours due to a technical error. Many were replaced by text showing what AI had guessed the photos were of.

I watched coverage on Agenda Free TV of this massive social media outage on Periscope, which was still working.

Also today, some (reports say two) Army tanks arrived in Washington DC.

The tanks are part of planned 4th of July celebrations.

Another oddity for today, July 3rd, was a man claiming he was “God” being arrested and returned to Puerto Rico on a Delta Airlines flight.

Delta Air Lines flight attendants restrained a passenger on a flight from Puerto Rico to New York after he shouted “I am God!” and claimed he would save the world, forcing the plane to return to the airport in San Juan, Puerto Rican police and the airline said on Wednesday. … Puerto Rican police then took custody of a man identified as Carlos Ramirez, 30, and the case was taken over by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, police said in a statement.

Via Reuters

The suspect “was aggressive and shouted ‘I am God! San Juan is going to disappear tomorrow. I came to save the world and I am going to end terrorism,’ and he also tried to enter the main cabin,” the statement said.

Via BrisbaneTimes

As of last month US – Russian relations were at a historic low as an advanced 426 foot long Russian war ship arrived in Cuba near the end of June. Still there?

Russian guided missile frigate Admiral Gorshkov enters Havana’s bay, Cuba, on June 24, 2019.


That’s the latest strange news summary. Have an enjoyable, safe and sane 4th of July, 2019.

What was the Caspian Sea Monster?

Long ago and far away lived a unique large fast mechanical monster of which you may have never heard. The Caspian Sea Monster was a huge 311 mph hover jet built by the Soviet Union. In 1967 the USA, using a satellite, discovered what looked like an aircraft, but oddly, the wings were too short. It had a Soviet Navy logo on it as well. Officially called the Ekranoplan, it was a huge vehicle developed in the Cold War from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. Part plane and part hover boat, it could fly just above the sea surface, floating on the cushion of air created above the sea surface by its wings and downward facing forward jets. It had the ability to carry huge loads of personnel or weapons at high speed below radar and was immune to anti-submarine nets and mines.

The KM was the largest and heaviest aircraft in the world from 1966 to 1988, and its surprise discovery by the United States and the subsequent attempts to determine its purpose became a distinctive event of espionage during the Cold War.

Via TrueStrange

Soviet leadership changed, however, and the Ekranoplan was not approved for continued development. The large test model eventually sank in the Caspian Sea when an inexperienced pilot failed to fly it with sufficient power.

It is still interesting today in 2019 to watch this beast in action. This is a monster that really flew.

(Video) Flying Machines of the Future

A swarm of autonomous drones giving a light show in a building during a TED talk is mesmerizing and amazing to watch. It starts at around 8:18. Highly recommended.

Autonomous systems expert Raffaello D’Andrea develops flying machines, and his latest projects are pushing the boundaries of autonomous flight — from a flying wing that can hover and recover from disturbance to an eight-propeller craft that’s ambivalent to orientation … to a swarm of tiny coordinated micro-quadcopters. Prepare to be dazzled by a dreamy, swirling array of flying machines as they dance like fireflies above the TED stage.

This “athletic” drone can balance a pole and even hit a ball back. Crazy, right?

In a robot lab at TEDGlobal, Raffaello D’Andrea demos his flying quadcopters: robots that think like athletes, solving physical problems with algorithms that help them learn. In a series of nifty demos, D’Andrea show drones that play catch, balance and make decisions together — and watch out for an I-want-this-now demo of Kinect-controlled quads.

Very cool.

At the end of the talk, D’Andrea makes the point that drones can be abused (as weapons) and I agree that this is important to address. This awesome technology can be used for good or bad, it is up to us.

Finally, here are some eagles vs drones. There could be anti-drone eagle units. I’ve read that eagle talons do not get injured by the blades and they they are fast enough to avoid them in any case.

A Rare $204,000 Penny

A rare bronze penny sold for $204K recently, below the $1 million+ experts expected. This rare coin is the result of an accident, one of only about 10 to 20 minted in 1943 with copper metal amid US copper shortages that year. The U.S. Mint struck its first 100% copper one-cent coins—then the size of today’s half-dollars—in 1793, and there have been several changes to these coins since.

During World War II there were copper shortages because copper was being used for shell casings and wire for the war. Thus, pennies minted were switched to zinc coated low-grade steel. These “steelies,” pennies from 1943, are still around today, though they are only worth at most about 50 cents. In contrast, a few pennies that look normal from 1943 are quite valuable as they were accidental.

… rare 1943 bronze Lincoln penny has sold for more than $200,000 at a Florida auction.

Heritage Auctions says more than 30 people bid on the rare coin Thursday night. Only 10 to 15 of these pennies, mistakenly minted in bronze instead of steel, are believed to exist. They were made at a time when bronze and copper were being saved to fill metal shortages during World War II.

Via WRal

Previous news about this:

A rare Lincoln-head penny a Massachusetts teenager received in change for his school lunch is up for auction with a starting bid of $100,000.

Heritage Auctions said the 1943 penny, one of only about 20 to be pressed using bronze instead of the steel amid World War II shortages, came into the possession of 16-year-old coin collector Don Lutes, Jr., when he received it in change for his school lunch in 1947 …

Lutes, who had the coin authenticated in 1958 by expert Walter Breen during a New England Numismatic Association convention in Worcester, died in September of last year and the coin was given to Heritage to auction off. …

The auction, which ends Thursday, began with an opening bid of $100,000. A similar 1943 bronze penny sold for $1.7 million in 2010.

Read more:

Copper was a strategic metal in 1943 and a major component used in the manufacture of shell casings, telephone wire, and other wartime necessities. To conserve this important resource, the Treasury Department authorized the U.S. Mint to strike all 1943 Lincoln cents on zinc-coated steel planchets, rather than the familiar “copper” blanks of previous years. The white-colored “steelies” were produced in large numbers and were often seen in circulation until collectors culled out the survivors in the collecting boom of the 1950s and ’60s. However, rumors of extremely rare 1943 “copper pennies” began to circulate almost as soon as the wartime issues were released. 

via Ha

The copper content of U.S. pennies has declined over the years due to rising prices. The expensive metal makes up just 2.5 percent of one-cent pieces minted in 1982 or later; nickels, dimes and quarters, on the other hand, are mainly composed of copper. Still, today’s pennies cost more than their face value—an estimated 1.8 cents each—to produce.  …

In the 1980s, U.S. military bases overseas abolished the penny and began rounding all transactions up or down to the nearest five cents.

via History

Does it really cost more to make a penny than the value of the penny?

… yes, the coin’s face value is less than its actual value, because it actually costs 2.41¢ US ($0.0241 US Dollars (USD) to be exact) to make each penny. The face value of this coin was exceeded by it’s cost for the first time in 2006.  …The parts that are having the biggest impact on the final cost of making a penny are the materials that are used to make it. Pennies have that distinctive coppery color because they contain 2.5% copper. The other material used is zinc, 97.5% of a penny. The cost of metal extraction is much higher than in the past, because of all the new regulations of mining. This has made the prices of the metals used to make a penny rise dramatically in the early 21st century.

Here is why the 1943 copper penny is so valuable:

If your 1943 penny is made out copper, it is worth quite a bit of money, generally $10,000 or more! The reason is that the 1943 copper penny is an error coin. The United States Mint accidentally used the wrong kind of planchet metal when striking the coin. But very, very few of these left the U.S. Mint facilities. These error coins were not intentional. Some copper planchets left over from the previous year got stuck in the corners of the gigantic bins that moved the blank planchets around the mint.

via TheSpruce

1943 steel cents are U.S. one-cent coins that were struck in steel due to wartime shortages of copper. The Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco mints each produced these 1943 Lincoln cents. The unique composition of the coin (low-grade steel coated with zinc, instead of the previously 95%-copper-based bronze composition) has led to various nicknames, such as wartime cent, steel war penny, and steelie. The 1943 steel cent features the same Victor David Brenner design for the Lincoln cent which had been in use since 1909.

According to one source, in 1944 they went back to copper pennies, so if you find a 1944 penny that is steel, it could be worth something. Another source says pennies went back to their pre-war composition in 1946. People were getting them confused with dimes, for one.

What are pennies made of today? Mostly copper coated zinc.

All pennies minted after 1983 have a zinc core covered by copper. – vrcc

Here’s how the US penny composition has changed over time:

1793-1837 – Pure copper.

1837-1857 – Bronze (95% copper, 5% mixture of tin and zinc).

1857-1863 – 88% copper, 12% nickel.

1864-1962 – 95% copper, 5% zinc (Trace amounts of tin).*

1962-part of 1982 – 95% copper, 5% zinc (No tin).

part of 1982-present – 97.5% zinc, 2.5% copper (Copper plated: Inclusive of bicentennial 2009 cent and Union Shield cent).**

Watch out for fake 1943 copper pennies, however, of which there are thousands.

… it is also worth noting that because of the worth of these coins, there are thousands of fakes. Disreputable dealers are taking a 1948 copper penny and filing the 8 down to make a 3.

… zinc-plated steel coins of 1943 tarnished in damp conditions, so public complaints led to the quick discontinuation of that composition.

The pennies went back to their pre-World War II composition in 1946, so some may try to file down the ‘8’ in 1948 minted coins to make it look like a ‘3.’

via DailyMail

All in all, is it worth your time to check your US pennies for the possible copper 1943 $200,000 winner? Highly unlikely, but possible.

There are a “few hundred billion” pennies in circulation with 4 to 8 billion new cents struck each year. You’d have much better odds of winning that much at a casino.

Here’s an example of how to win $100K gambling: Bet $163.27 on a single number at a roulette wheel and let it ride if you win. If you win twice in a row you will have just over $200,000. (163.27*35*35= 200,005.75 with the payout at 1 to 35 in the US and UK.)

The odds of winning this way are 1 : 1444 (38*38) if the wheel is fair. Hitting the same number twice at an active table happens usually at least once per day, according to the Wizard of Vegas. In case you were curious, it would cost $235,761.88 to bet $163.27 the 1,444 times to probably win $200,005.75. Finding a copper 1943 penny is less likely, but it costs nothing to look if you have pennies.

US Army Seeks Biodegradable Bullets to Sprout Plants

While I’m on a California farm retreat from technology, I’m still scanning the airwaves a few times a week for the super weird stuff that you should know about. Here’s one I couldn’t pass up: bullets that sprout plants… after a few months.

Not only are bullets a physical hazard, but they’re an environmental hazard, too. At US Army training facilities around the world, hundreds of thousands of spent shells litter proving grounds. Because there is no efficient way to clean up the shells, they’re left where they fall.

But that’s a problem. The shells, which contain metal and other chemicals, can rust and pollute soils and groundwater.

The DoD wants to do something about it, though. They’re soliciting proposals for biodegradable bullets “loaded with specialized seeds to grow environmentally beneficial plants that eliminate ammunition debris and contaminants.”

Such materials best suited for these bullets could include the same biodegradable plastics used to make water bottles or plastic containers. Or it could be some other material altogether.

According to the request for proposal, the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory has already developed and tested seeds that can be embedded into a biodegradable composite. They’ve been bioengineered to germinate only after they’ve been in the ground for several months.

Read the rest on Seeker

My thought: The US Army could save a lot of fuss and mess if they just skipped a few steps and made all of their guns shoot actual plants in the first place. Imagine the broccoli bunch bazooka, the angry asparagus assault rifle, and the cantankerous curried cauliflower cannon. The next war could be 100% edible.

Putin: Russia Has Unstoppable Nuclear Powered Missiles

I’ve been trying to ignore world politics, but this post from March 1, 2018 on NPR is a bit too strange to pass up. Putin says Russia has nuclear powered missiles. The US has nuclear powered submarines and aircraft carriers, but not aircraft or missiles. The idea seems crazy because aren’t properly shielded reactors much too heavy to get off the ground? And what about accidents?

Here are some details of the claim:

In his annual state of the nation address on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled a nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed cruise missile that he claimed could fly indefinitely and deliver a warhead to any point on the earth’s surface.

The weapon seems so fantastical that some analysts simply didn’t believe the initial reports of the missile that appeared on social media early Thursday.

“I had my doubts,” says Pavel Podvig, who runs the Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces blog.

Podvig thought that perhaps something was lost in translation. But after watching the speech for himself on YouTube, he realized Putin had really made the claim: “Apparently, that’s what he said.”

According to Putin’s prepared remarks to the Russian Federal Assembly, he said that “in late 2017, Russia successfully launched its latest nuclear-powered missile at the Central training ground. During its flight, the nuclear-powered engine reached its design capacity and provided the necessary propulsion.”

An accompanying video appears to show a cruise missile launching into the sky and hurtling through the air. An animation then shows how such a weapon could dodge terrain and missile defenses while flying for thousands of miles around the tip of South America and toward the U.S. West Coast.

“I’m still kind of in shock,” says Edward Geist, a researcher specializing in Russia at the Rand Corp. “My guess is they’re not bluffing, that they’ve flight-tested this thing. But that’s incredible.”

Nuclear propulsion is used on large ships like aircraft carriers and submarines. It allows these vessels to operate for years without refueling, dramatically extending their range and endurance.

In the early days of the Cold War, both the U.S. and the Soviet Union looked into nuclear-powered aircraft as well. Both nations tried installing a nuclear reactor into a strategic bomber. But the reactors were heavy, and the crews faced risks from radiation exposure. Both countries quickly gave up on the idea.

The U.S. did go on to investigate the idea of a nuclear-powered missile, Geist says. Known as the Supersonic Low Altitude Missile, the idea was more like a nuclear-powered drone aircraft. “It was actually supposed to fly around autonomously and drop nuclear gravity bombs,” Geist says.

The nuclear reactor that would keep SLAM aloft would also spew radioactive exhaust, Geist says. At the time, that was advertised as a feature, not a bug, because it would have had the added benefit of polluting the Soviet countryside.

“It was supposed to be really, really dirty,” Geist says.

The U.S. got as far as actually building the nuclear engine for Project Pluto, a development project at the Nevada Test Site. The reactor was tested a number of times in the early 1960s, and it performed well. But by that point, awareness had grown about the dangers of nuclear fallout, and arms control treaties were coming into place, Geist says. Those concerns were among the reasons the project died in 1964.

Here’s an old video promoting nuclear powered rockets.

The type of reactor used in Project Pluto was particularly messy because it exposed the nuclear fuel directly to the outside air. Geist says the new Russian missile may use a different system that keeps the fuel somewhat isolated from the air. But, he quickly adds, that wouldn’t make it safe.

“There are a bunch of different ways to do it, and frankly, they’re all terrible,” Geist says.

He suspects that the Russian design would involve what’s known as a “fast reactor,” which is more efficient, but also less safe, than most nuclear reactors. If the missile crashed or the reactor failed, it would trigger a major incident.

“It’s just crazy they field-tested this thing,” he says.

The test is just one of several unconventional systems Putin mentioned in his Thursday speech. The Russian president also discussed “hypersonic” weapons that could maneuver through missile defenses and a nuclear-powered underwater torpedo, which some believe could be used as a doomsday weapon.

The strategic value of all these new nukes is somewhat questionable, says James Acton, a nuclear expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“Russia, even without these weapons, has the capability to reduce the U.S. into a pile of radioactive soot,” he says.

Acton says he believes the new missile is designed to send a message that Russia is a strong, technologically capable country. Russia has also been worried about the development of U.S. missile defenses. While American officials say the U.S. system is mainly designed to protect against a limited attack from North Korea, the Russians believe it could be used against them as well.

“They think our missile defenses are much more effective than we think our missile defenses are,” Acton says.

President Trump’s budget is requesting $12.9 billion for missile defense programs in the coming year. That money will go toward new radars and additional interceptors. Geist says he expects Russia’s provocations to continue. “They’re sending us a message that they are not OK with our U.S. missile defense posture,” he says.


Other sites say the US has been watching Russia develop these an that we have seen them all crash and burn, raising more questions about nuclear pollution.

The most eye-catching of the announcements is clearly the as yet unnamed nuclear-powered cruise missile. The basic concept is hardly new, but depending on how functional and reliable the final design might be, it could be a potentially game-changing development.

Though we  don’t know how the Russians plan to configure this missile, in the 1960s, the U.S. Air Force explored a similar idea with the Supersonic Low Altitude Missile, or SLAM. This weapon employed a nuclear-powered ramjet along with conventional rocket boosters to kickstart the system. Once at the appropriate speed, the engine would blow air over the reactor, which could have enough fuel to operate for weeks or months on end, and then force it out of an exhaust nozzle to produce thrust.

In theory, this system allows for almost unlimited range. A computer generated graphic accompanying Putin’s announcement showed the missile plotting a course from Russia into the Atlantic, flying around South America’s Cape Horn, and then continuing on to strike what appeared to be a target in Hawaii.

Cruising at high speed on a circuitous route at extremely low altitude, the missile could potentially avoid surface- and space-based early warning systems and missile defense interceptors. With a two-way data link, operators could potentially modify its course in flight to further confuse an opponent or actively counter any attempts to shoot the weapon down. The American SLAM concept also involved a design carrying multiple nuclear warheads that it could drop on different targets along the way, but it is not clear whether the Russian system includes any features that allow it to strike at more than one location.

Via TheDrive

I had a recurring dream where I worked at a military base and nukes were going off once, it was the end of the world scene. In one there was a jet with a terrifying thick black exhaust and that dream image was recalled when I read about this new Russian threat.

What if that dream really happened and now this is just a simulation, a chance to live in a world were it did not? Anyone else have that dream and thought? I hope not.

Entire Internet: Real-Time Network Overview

Strange but true, did you know there are web sites where you can see the overall status of the worldwide Internet? If you like the big picture, could be useful for monitoring alien invasions, asteriod strikes, solar flare attacks and other large events that cause outages.


Another tool for the overview is by Akamai. This one shows where the action is, where most of the Internet traffic is currently going on. This one could be useful for aliens who are invading the Earth and would like to take out our major communications.


It is quite interesting to switch back and forth between the traffic map and the attack maps at this site.

If WordPress allows widgets in frames, you will see the awesome interactive real-time attack map from Kaspersky appear below. This may show current conflicts in the world when those conflicts are between waring technological nations.

Wild, and this is just what we can see as citizens. Imagine the tools at the disposal of Nation State Intelligence Agencies.

As a reminder, speaking of attacks, use strong encryption and strong passwords, different passwords for each account, always change default passwords and change all of your passwords from time to time, enable two-factor authentication and consider getting a password manager if you have many passwords to keep track of. A password manager lets you store and access crazy strong 23 character passwords like “aR5MrnaCH,SS2PN]zh@4JA?” which may be overkill but remember that guessing passwords is one of the major types of attacks going on even today.

Stay safe and do good stuff,


Ballistic Missile Emergency Alert To People In Hawaii, 1/13/2018, 8:08 AM

It is nice to know there would be a warning in a missile attack, but what a doozy of false alarm, if it was that. Perhaps there really was a missile headed for Hawaii and we secretly shot it down?

Hawaii residents and visitors received shocking mobile push alerts Saturda morning warning of an approaching missile and instructing people to seek shelter, but Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency quickly stated the message was sent in error.


Shortly after, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency informed Twitter followers there was no missile threat to Hawaii.

“NO missile threat to Hawaii.”

— @Hawaii EMA (@Hawaii_EMA)

Honolulu mayor Kirk Caldwell and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) also said the message was a “false alarm.”


— @Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard)

“The ballistic missile warning that was issued is a FALSE alarm. Repeat FALSE alarm.”

— @Mayor Kirk Caldwell (@MayorKirkHNL)


A second alert was sent out at around 8:45 a.m. local time, letting residents know it was a false alarm.


There was a test ballistic missile shoot down about a month ago:

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) said a U.S. warship successfully shot down a medium-range ballistic missile in a test off Hawaii on Wednesday, as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to press ahead with more missile tests in the Pacific.


Some were scared, but many just accepted it and carried on calmly. This is a great story:

Stay tuned. I’ll post any interesting further developments here.

Amazing Dancing Jet, Is It Real? Not Exactly.

In this impressive video you can see that the aerodynamic properties of this jet are irrelevant in hover mode. The wings are not being used to create lift.

From this, it is clear that one could have any shape for a jet powered flying object. But is this what it seems? No. The caption for this on YouTube is incorrect in its claims:

Published on Jul 20, 2016 Russian fighter plane doing a delicate solo dance at ground level. It is even more amazing when one realizes this is a deadly plane capable of supersonic speeds and dropping nuclear bombs and shooting down almost any fighter plane…..

This supposed “Russian fighter” is a remote controlled scale model of a Chinese PLAAF J10AY fighter. It would not hold a full sized human pilot, shoot anyone or drop any nukes. Here is the real J10 jet:

Model in dancing jet videos:

Here you can see its relative size better:

Here’s another:

Dec 20, 2014 Waleed Salah and Jamal Al-Mazrouei hovering their RC Jets in the UAE top jet 2014 event in Al-Ain Sportplex – YouTube

Here’s video of real J10s in flight.

Can they hover and dance like this model J10? I think not, but if you find evidence to the contrary, post a link.