The Soviet Plan to Thaw the Arctic

These days, we worry the Arctic is getting too hot. Half a century ago, the Soviets wished it was warmer — and they thought of a way to thaw the frigid North.

Popular Mechanics reported in June 1956 that Soviet authorities were considering building a 55-mile dam between Alaska and Siberia. The barrier would keep icebergs and arctic currents out of the Pacific, allowing warm southern currents to sweep unchecked up the eastern shore of Siberia and down the western coast of North America. Warm water from the Pacific Ocean would be pumped back into the Arctic and transform the once-frozen region into a “blossoming landscape”.

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The Art of Sandor Leidenfrost

Alexander Leydenfrost was born Sandor Leidenfrost in Debrecen in 1888, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was from a noble family and studied at the Royal Academy of Fine and Applied Arts of Budapest.

The First World War and the subsequent collapse of the monarchy convinced Leydenfrost to emigrate to the United States in 1923. He changed his name to Alexander, which was easier to pronounce for Americans, and found employment as an industrial illustrator.

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Norman Bel Geddes’ Fantastical Airliner

Norman Bel Geddes was an American industrial designer and futurist who had a major influence on the streamlined Art Deco design of the 1930s and 40s.

Few of Geddes’ designs came to fruition. A notable exception was the General Motors Pavilion at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, called Futurama.

One of his unrealized designs was “Airliner Number 4,” a nine-deck amphibian airliner that he sketched in 1929.

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Niemals Oder-Neisse: The Border Germany Refused to Accept for 45 Years

After World War II, the Allied powers ceded the German lands east of the Order and Lusatian Neisse rivers to Poland, creating a border dispute that would last through the entire Cold War.

It were the Soviets who insisted on the change. Joseph Stalin wanted to annex the Eastern Borderlands of the former Polish Republic — which were only lightly populated by ethnic Poles — to Russia proper while still putting a strong Polish buffer state in between it and Germany. Hence the need to add Germany’s eastern provinces to the new Poland.

The north of East Prussia, around the city of Königsberg, was sliced off to create Kaliningrad for Russia, giving it the warm-water port on the Baltic Sea it had long coveted.

The Americans and British felt this dismemberment of Germany went too far, but they eventually relented at Potsdam in the summer of 1945 under a combination of Soviet intransigence and pressure from the Soviet-aligned Polish government.

The Western Allies were also led to believe there were only around one million Germans still living in East Prussia, Eastern Pomerania and Silesia. In fact, there were millions. Up to 31 million ethnic Germans and German citizens were cleansed from Eastern Europe after the war. Between 12 and 14 million resettled in Austria and West Germany. Recent studies suggest around half a million died in the expulsion.

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MCM Comic Con Belgium

MCM Comic Con Belgium Brussels
The author at MCM Comic Con Belgium, Brussels, November 6 (Hilde Heyvaert)

MCM Com Con has built up quite a lot of fame with its conventions in the United Kingdom, in particular the one in London. They are now expanding to mainland Europe and slowly building up that same reputation here. If the first edition of MCM Comic Con Belgium is anything to go by, they’re on the right track. Continue reading “MCM Comic Con Belgium”

Dr DOA

Dr Doa

Dr DOA is the latest installment in Simon R. Green’s Secret History series. Once again, we find Eddie Drood and Molly Metcalf on a mission that seems hopeless.

Of course, that doesn’t stop our intrepid heroes from fighting the good fight, beating clues out of bad people and doing what they can to guarantee the outcome of the story.

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Deutschland 83

Deutschland 83

Deutschland 83 is Germany’s answer to the highly successful American television drama The Americans. Whereas the latter follows two well-trained KGB “illegals” in the United States, Deutschland 83 centers on a young East German border guard who is unwillingly thrust into the middle of a nuclear standoff.

The two series have a powerful theme in common: the way in which the extreme polarization of the Cold War could tear families apart.

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