Petike's thread of historical curiosities that seem like alternate history


This fine-looking World War I submarine is one of the French Brumaire class submarines, built just a few years before the war.

One of this class' subs, the Foucault, was the only French submarine successfully sunk during World War I by an aircraft of the Central Powers.

"Ah, that was definitely a German aircraft that sank it, no question...", you no doubt tell yourself.

LOL, nope !



Ironically, flying boats were some of the most successful aircraft of Austria-Hungary's military aviation during World War I.

This is a Lohner L flying boat, designed by the Lohner aircraft company of Austria-Hungary, the main domestic designer of military seaplanes.

That French submarine was sunk by this particular type of flying boat. Yes, an Austro-Hungarian seaplane sank a French submarine ! XD :cool:

The Lohner L crew scored a lucky bombing run on the Foucault on the 15th of September 1915, at sea not far from Kotor in Montenegro.

As for Austro-Hungarian naval aviation, that was one of the aviation branches of the A-H military that had less issues than the regular air force. I've occassionally joked in the past that Austria-Hungary should have built only floatplane fighters and they'd win the war with those on all fronts. XD :)

My mother, whom I've often talked with about WWI topics and WWI aviation, is often in disbelief that Austria-Hungary had such a pretty big air force, both terrestrial and naval. Maybe it's down to her gut-feeling impression since her youth that Austria-Hungary was backwards enough that they barely had any planes. Which ignores that some of the first cases of hostile aerial warfare happened in 1914 over the eastern fronts, including not far from where we live.



This is a German-designed Hansa-Brandenburg W.29 floatplane, the successor to the W.12 type floatplane. The Hansa-Brandenburg company supplied military seaplanes and a few other aircraft to Germany and Austria-Hungary. Of the W.29, Austria-Hungary built at least one specimen.

The W.29 in the photo above is also a license-built specimen. Of which country ? The Empire of Japan ! XD For the Imperial Japanese Navy.
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To close out the weird WWI aviation curios and trivia, here's one more entry: There was an early British military airship from before the First World War, an airship meant mainly for proof-of-concept trials by the British military, that was named after its sponsor, a British newspaper. Yes, a newspaper.



The Morning Post sponsored the construction of this semi-rigid airship, the Lebaudy Morning Post, built by the well-known Lebaudy Brothers company in Moissons France (which built a large number of these semi-rigids for France and many other countries).

If that sounds like alternate history, what is even more bizarre about it is that the airship was not ordered from the manufacturer by the British Army. Instead, The Morning Post newspaper raised funds and commissioned the airship from the French manufacturer, then had the finished airship transferred to the British Army as a sort of generous patriotic gift. Yes, there was one point in the early 20th century where the military procurement of a potential military airship was not handled by the armed forces, but by a newspaper patriotically shilling for the development of domestic military aviation. XD

The Lebaudy Morning Post served for a fairly short time, and was never renamed. Which makes this entire amusing case sounds like some tongue-in-cheek dieselpunk version of that perennial cyberpunk story cliché of the "evil megarcorporation more powerful than governments or militaries", LOL. :D "If you want mercenary airships to protect you, don't bet on our military, bet on the aero-mercenaries of The Morning Post. Your defence, our branding !" XD


In the late 1960s and during the 1970s, local people in the more neglected interior regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had a serious shortage of any good cheap vehicles for daily transport of various goods, supplies, crops and materials. Rather than carry it all on their backs or in bags and baskets, local tinkerers came up with an ingenious idea.

That idea are the chukudu, a local invention now used in the DRC and elsewhere in central Africa for over half a century.

What are chukudu ? You can't really describe them any other way than "giant wooden kick-scooters used for ferrying smaller cargo". :D :cool:



They're unique and simple man-powered freight and delivery vehicles, predominantly built of wood, with wooden wheels, sometimes with added rubber cover and shock absorbers for a somewhat more comfy ride. Though they don't have or need seats, they're oddly practical.

No cart or wagon handy, nor a bike or motorbike, nevermind a tractor or a car ?

You can still use a chukudu to deliver crop supplies or various goods. :cool:
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Video Killed the Radio Star is the most well-known song of The Buggles, itself something of a high-concept band. Though the fact it was one of the first music videos shown on MTV some forty years ago (!) is famously ironic, given how it mourns the passing of an era when bands could do without music videos, there are some other unusual things about it as well.

No, not the fact that it's our @Grey Wolf's favourite song. See that keyboard player at 2:51 ? That's a young Hans Zimmer.

Hans Zimmer in Video Killed the Radio Star.jpg

Yes, that same Hans Zimmer. XD

He was only active for about four or five years by that point, barely a quarter century old. With no idea he'd one day be a film composer, in addition to other musical work. One of many weird details connected to that song and its music video.
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The Havasupai people are one of the native nationalities of the modern day state of Arizona. They live in the Havasu Creek valley in the Grand Canyon. Though the local climate is arid and desert-like, the valley is a bit of an oasis, and home to places like the Havasu Falls.

If you ever wondered what's the most authentically "Western" town in the US, in terms of how you get there and what transport technology you can use, the town of Supai (a.k.a. Supai Village) might be the best candidate, surprisingly enough. Why ? Already decades ago, the Havasupai people rather presciently rejected the idea of having paved roads to the town, owning cars and having car traffic. They decided to rely on mules, horses, bicycles, carts and maybe a tractor or two, at most. This has helped Supai preserve its peaceful and quiet character and avoid it becoming a place easily overrun by tourists. Quite honestly, though this is one of the few towns in the entire US where you literally cannot travel to by car, I think the locals made the right call all those years ago.

To quote Wikipedia:
"Located within the Grand Canyon, Supai is only accessible by foot, pack animal or helicopter. It is the only place in the United States where mules still carry the mail, most of which is food."


The hard-working mules used by the local post office and shops to deliver mail and other goods. :)

You can listen to a podcast episode on the Havasupai Mule Train and on the history of the US Postal Service and post offices in general.

The unusual result of all of these intentionally low-tech measures (no motorcars, packmule trains) is a majority-native little town in the Grand Canyon that is best accessible through on-foot hiking, cargo-carrying packmules, bicycles and carts, and which has a surprisingly Western-like atmosphere, despite plenty of modern conveniences. :)


The church in the town of Supai. If you ignore a few modern features, it looks almost like out of an old Western, doesn't it ? ;)


The local post office and shopping centre (or general store, if you like). There's also an elementary school (the historical one looked like this).


You can get a nice postmark on every postcard, letter or package delivered by the Havasupai Mule Train and tourist stamp at the post office. :)


Local semi-arid farming in the unusual desert oasis of the Havasu Creek canyon. Note the gravity-fed elevated water tanks up on that cliff.


The air-conditioned local accomodation for hikers and other tourists, Havasupai Lodge.

Just be ready to book early and get used to off-the-beaten-path hiker-friendly coziness instead of luxury.

Hikes to and through the Havasu Creek valley, the town of Supai, and the Havasu Falls.

Interview with Loren, one of the locals.


Remember that brief mention of access by helicopter ? Every now and then, in December just before Christmas, members of the Californian US Marine Corps and several volunteers fly all the way to Arizona in a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter (or similar heavy-lift helicopter) and deliver some holiday supplies and goodies to the locals. It's been a tradition for some two or three decades now. :) Given the Advent and Christmas time nature of these rare helicopter deliveries, they sometimes even bring along someone dressed as Santa Claus ! :D

Here's an old documentary short on Supai Village and the Havasupai from 1946, by Coronet Instructional Films. Obviously, it's a bit dated in some of its attitudes, could sound condescending at times by today's standards, but fairly even-handed in depicting the locals and their valley.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic was not kind to local tourism, the town's council had to essentially restrict all tourist arrivals until the worst of the pandemic wanes, just to be on the safe side. Hopefully the number of hikers in the valley will slowly recover. Another major issue they've been dealing with in more recent years is the reopening of an old mine over a small uranium deposit south of the canyon. Unsurprisingly, both them and various Arizona and Colorado conservationists have spoken out very decisively on the risk of water source contamination. Havasu Falls is a protected area, as well as plenty of others in the valley, and the local lakes, rivers and falls are some of the best sources of water far and wide. If those water sources became endangered, it would have major impacts not only on the locals (drinking water, health, agriculture), but also the hikers that have frequented the area for decades, bringing in income and spreading the word on the beauty of local nature, and obviously, also biodiversity damage... Let's wish the locals all the best.
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The previous post touched upon the modern day US being extremely car-centric, making locations in the US that exclude car traffic entirely very rare and very unusual. Well, besides Supai in the Havasupai lands, there is at least one more location in the continental United States that excludes car traffic entirely. That location is a big lake island at the other end of the US, in the northern US on one of the Great Lakes, not too far from the Canadian border.


Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Mackinac Island (pronounced "Mackinaw") in the state of Michigan, on Lake Huron. Its native name is Mishimikinaak in Ojibwe, which the French of New France borrowed as Île Mackinac, and anglophone North Americans borrowed the French name directly, even keeping the French pronunciation. The island was long settled by the Odawa people, with trappers and fur traders arriving in the 17th century and the island becoming militarily contested in the War of 1812. Fort Holmes, a wooden blockhouse fort at the island's highest point, and Fort Mackinac in the main town of the island are remnants of that once important military history. Over 80 % of the island is a protected area, the Mackinac Island State Park, one of Michigan's state parks.

In the late 19th century, the locals on Mackinac adopted bans on the import and use of motor vehicles, which were still a rarity at the time, even in the US. However, throughout the entire 20th century and up until the present day, unlike elsehwere in the US (and much of the world), the local government on Mackinac has never relaxed these restrictions (aside from a handful of emergency vehicles). Mackinac Island has greatly bucked the trend of the US getting ever more car-centric with each passing decade. To no one's surprise, this unusual local policy has led to Mackinac becoming an even greater tourist attraction in Michigan and the US as a whole than it otherwise would have been, had it not banned motorcars early on. While it's obvious Mackinac can't be a model for all modern transport (cars are needed, at least in some capacity), it offers a good look at how a community could function pretty well without an overwhelming focus on cars and car-centric development. And if nothing else, it's a real haven for anyone who enjoys peaceful bike rides, without having to worry about careless drivers.


The main street in the town. Note the complete absence of any motorcars. Only bikes, horse carriages and horse-drawn wagons.


The M-185 highway sign of the State of Michigan, the entire highway located completely on Mackinac Island.

According to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), M-185 is "the only state highway in the nation where motor vehicles are banned".


Cyclists are the only real major traffic on the island, and on its scenic M-185 highway that encircles the entirety of Mackinac.

A bicycle tour around the entire island, in real time, in less than an hour. :cool: It's a fairly big island, but not that big.

A real paradise for casual cyclists and cycling tourists. One can only imagine how much fun owners of various velomobiles would have. ;)

1944 US travel documentary about Mackinac Island. Even back then, eighty years ago, with the car-building and car ownership boom in full swing, Mackinac Island's car-skepticism and rejection of motorcars was seen as unusual.

A tour of various sites on Mackinac Island. There are no passenger cars on Mackinac at all. Just boats, a few planes at the local airport, one or two fire trucks and ambulances, and a handful of snowmobiles for the winter. Everything else is horse-drawn or bicycle-based. If you're annoyed by the sheer levels of traffic in many parts of the US, Mackinac seems like a really ideal retreat from all the road rage. :)
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Speaking of Mackinac Island in the previous post, I've mentioned the historical Fort Holmes, the smaller and more inland of the two historical fortresses on the island. While the main fortress above the town, closer to the coastline, is built from stone, the smaller Fort Holmes was built mainly from wood and earthworks.

Fort Holmes' central building represents a concept that was used in colonial frontier fort building since the 16th to the late 19th century, by a number of (mostly European) colonial empires. The concept of the blockhouse. This is as close to a typical North American blockhouse of the 17th and especially 18th and 19th century as it gets.


Fort Edward in Canada's Nova Scotia, established in 1750. The oldest continuously standing and preserved blockhouse in North America.

But blockhouses weren't introduced to and used in the colonial possessions of North America alone. Far from it.

"Hey, Petike ! I've played Age of Empires III a while back and I noticed the euro-nations there all had their own unique takes on blockhouses !"

Oh, you don't know the half of it... ;)

The blockhouse-style tower of a reconstructed ostrog fort, Taltsy Museum, Irkutsk, Russia.


Replica of Yakutsk's original blockhouse fort (reconstructed after fire damage in 2002), Yakutsk, Siberia, Russia.


Preserved Upper Hutt Blockhouse in New Zealand - yes, New Zealand ! - at the town of Wallacevile, Upper Hutt.

Built in the 1860s, during the era of the New Zealand Land Wars.


Note the built-in loopholes and their covers in the walls of this blockhouse.


Cameron Blockhouse, another rare still preserved blockhouse in New Zealand, also built during the 19th century wars.


One of many South African blockhouses from the era of the Anglo-Boer Wars. Many of the South African examples were masoned, following a more European blockhouse pattern, and taking into account local raw materials (South Africa is less densely forested, stone was abundant).
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Speaking of fortifications, New Zealand and the history of the New Zealand Land Wars of the 19th century...

One of the most fascinating things I've found out about the New Zealand Land Wars of the 19th century is that some extra-resourceful Maori chieftains invented their own style of counter-artillery fortifications. These were the so-called gunfighter , a new derivative of the classic hill forts built by the Maori. They were built with a ground plan and stockade layout deliberately designed to withstand artillery and small arms fire more efficiently.


Here's an actual ground plan of the Taurangaika gunfighter from a 19th century document. :eek: Ruapekapeka is another example, apparently the largest ever constructed of this particular newer type of gunpowder age Maori forts.

All of this sounds like something out of Thande's Look to the West, with its badass, tech-savvy, empire-building Maori. :D But even in OTL, despite their lower overall tech level, the natives showed plenty of inventiveness and learned fast when it came to countering European settler tactics. :cool: Obscure, but rather amazing stuff.

On the European side of things, you can take a look at the photos of surviving 19th century New Zealand blockhouses in the previous post. Notice the loopholes on the middle photo. I find it interesting how the same basic style of mini-fort was perfectly usable in a variety of colonial environments worldwide, not just in North America (where the blockhouse is the most iconic, though it's certainly not the only place where it was used).


Though it wasn't a conventional gunfighter , the siege of Gate Pā by British forces, and how they lost to clever Maori trench-building, dugout-building and ambush/defence tactics, is remarkable. When an otherwise Neolithic culture, whose strongest weapons are only acquired muskets, bests a whole group of professionally trained 19th century soldiers, you know the Maori had very smart noggins and weren't going to take crap from Europeans. Hilariously, though Gate Pā was a simple earthwork fort, its construction patterns are remarkably similar to what the British and other Europeans would be figuring out anew decades later, during WWI. So yeah, Maori not only invented their own native star fort equivalent, they even predicted shockingly accurately how a good fortification consisting of trenches and dugouts would be built.

Just goes to show that cultures at a Neolithic level of technology are far from "unadvanced" and do not deserve the moniker "primitive". ;)
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"In a hole in a volcanic tuff hillside, there lived an early modern Slovak or Hungarian peasant. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: It was a tuff-house, and that means comfort." :)




Houses and other dwellings carved into the volcanic tuff hillsides at Brhlovce, Slovakia.






Houses and other dwellings carved into the volcanic tuff hillsides at Egerszalók, Hungary.







Houses and other dwellings carved into the volcanic tuff hillsides at Budafok, Hungary.


All of these might look like something out of a fantastical or exotic environment, but it's just a rare type of rural central European architecture. One of the many ingenious expressions of peasants' DIY approach to housing construction, from our shared history.

(Tellingly, I included this style of architecture in my fantasy setting already a while ago. As I have an equivalent of hobbits/halflings in my setting, and the region I focus on is based on central Europe, take a wild guess what real architecture some of their houses take inspiration from... ;))
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Many regions of Europe have their own wooden church building traditions and these tend to be regionally unique vernacular architecture.

The medieval Norwegian wooden churches are known commonly as stave churches. The one seen above is the Vang stave church, from Vang.

So, it's in Norway, right ? Wrong !

This is the only Norwegian stave church in central Europe. Specifically, in Poland, the spa town and mountain resort of Karpacz in Silesia.

What happened ? Some excentric tried to imitate stave churches in Poland ? It gets weirder !

In the late 1830s, a history-conscious local Norwegian artist and scholar, Johan Christian Dahl, took pity on the church. Vang had built a newer church and the wooden stave church was planned for demolition. He started an effort to buy it off or have it moved elsewhere or find some rich patron who could buy it and preserve it. And find he did ! King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia took an interest in the church and bought it.

The church was subsequently taken apart, parts labelled accordingly, then shipped overseas and finally transported bit by bit to Silesia. It was rebuilt and opened in Silesia in 1842, and though it had a few additions in later times, it has stayed mostly the same. Yes, to this day, an original Norwegian stave church stands in Polish Silesia, and has been standing there for 178 years, ever since it was transported there. Quaint little wooden church ir might be, this is one of the most AH-sounding churches in Europe. :) :cool:

So, if you ever ask "Why does this particular church look so very different to the other wooden churches of Poland ?", here's your answer. :D


Memorial to the Vang stave church in Vang, Norway, erected in 1932
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Welsh language use in films, television and (occassional) dubbing of non-Welsh media

I was recently interested in whether there had been any Welsh dubbing of already established English-language series or even non-English language series. I was curious whether any of the notable British-produced Sherlock Holmes series were ever dubbed into the Welsh language.

I found the video above, from the Welsh film and TV archives, showing excerpts from an experiment done by HTV (Harlech TV, the then Welsh branch of the major British private broadcaster ITV) back in 1978. A simple idea: They made Welsh dubs of three different films - the well-known Western Shane (with Alan Ladd), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (with Peter Cushing) and The Sin of Father Mouret - and broadcast them.

As you can see in the public poll excerpts in the video, many Welsh citizens liked the idea, they just felt that the dubbing was not of a good enough, convincing enough quality. I can't say I'm surprised, what with the lack of a tradition of dubbing foreign live-action works in the UK, especially back in the 1970s, and especially for non-English minority languages of the UK. (Granted, back in the 1960s and 1970s, even Slovakia's dubbing tradition was still pretty new and fledgling, despite some early successes, e.g the dub of The Magnificent Seven in 1966 ! The real diversification and birth of a semi-industry only came in the 1990s, making dubbing commonplace these days. One would wonder what it would be like if Wales was allowed a similar route.)

Interestingly enough, that public poll was likely done on the streets of Cardiff or another strongly anglophone Welsh area, so many of the respondents also mentioned that they didn't understand the dubbed Welsh anyway, as they are not everyday Welsh speakers, and English was their mother tongue on a day to day basis.

Bear in mind, though Welsh had thankfully never declined to an endangered language (thanks to a tradition of Welsh literature and religious preaching/singing), the modern Welsh language revival - in terms of official support in public signs, language education in schools and official government documents - only started after the second world war. It's also only become more mainstream and seen as a regular and ordinary thing in the last forty to fifty years. More Welsh in TV and radio broadcasting was still a relative novelty back in the 1970s, so the reactions to the haphazard 1970s dubs aren't that surprising. People still found it novel they're getting regular Welsh broadcasting, the beginnings of specialist Welsh-language broadcasters, etc., so attempts at Welsh film dubs would seem all the more unusual.

Personally, I'm most in agreement with the lady who says she liked the dubbing of the Cushing film the best. It seemed the most natural to me as well, at least on the level I'd expect from a good 70s, 80s or early 90s Czech or Slovak TV dub. I also agreed with the greying gentleman who praised it as a neat experiment to give Welsh more exposure in the mainstream media, and with the two ladies who both stated that it would be better to just create a separate and dedicated Welsh-language TV channel, rather than trying to sheer off time from the mostly English-language TV broadcasts in Wales. Guess what happened by the early 1980s, just a few years later ? 1982 saw the establishment of SC4 (Sianel Pedwar Cymru, "Channel Four Wales"), the main Welsh-language TV network of the UK. It celebrates its 40th birthday this year.


Though efforts at British dubbing of live-action films and television have been rather rare to date, including dubs into minority languages of the British Isles, some Welsh series have been filmed both in Welsh and in English simultaneously. Several recent Welsh detective series and drama series have followed this pattern. The same scenes were shot at the same angles et al, with the actors first playing out the scene purely in Welsh, then in another set of takes, purely in English. The editing room people could then assemble edits where the series was all-Welsh or all-English. In the case of a few series, there was even a third variant, where some of the dialogue and lines were in Welsh, some in English, usually in a manner that made sense in context.


Y Gwyll ("The Dusk", also Hinterland), a Welsh neo-noir detective drama from the 2010s I enjoyed a few years ago, used that three-variant approach while filming and later editing. This made for more work, but the results are pretty impressive. I am most familiar with the "alternating" cut of the series, with both English and Welsh, rather than just Welsh or just English.

(On a sidenote, the original broadcaster and one of the main investors in the series was S4C. The non-Welsh-only versions were also broadcast by BBC One and some non-UK anglophone channels overseas, including in North America.)

Promo of the Welsh-only version of the series (here's a TV spot that also mentions the broadcast with English subtitles)

First episode scene from and promo for the English-only version and the bilingual version

In the context of the series' story, this bilingual "alternating cut" portrays the main character (a detective chief inspector in Aberystwyth) speaking chiefly in English, after having spent years or decades living and working in England, while his local colleagues also speak in Welsh, especially while interviewing locals. The implication is clear: The DCI, though a local, has gotten really rusty in his Welsh, forgotten most of it over the many years he hadn't had a chance to practice it regularly, while his colleagues have continued to live in the area their whole lives and can use Welsh just as easily as English.

The interesting thing is that this implication is dropped completely in the Welsh-only version (the series being filmed and cut in a way that the script doesn't force the implication to be spelled out) and it is also not present in the English-only version (where everyone speaks English anyway, even in cases where Welsh would make more sense).

Funnily enough, I find the third, bilingual version of the series to be the most realistic. Even in strong Welsh-speaking areas, there's still plenty of English, and it's easy to converse in both languages. Modern Wales essentially is a truly bilingual country, so the bilingual cut also feels the most like actual OTL reality. The other two, strangely enough, feel a bit ATL.

The Welsh-only language version of the series and the English-only language of the series give the impression they're set in some alternate history version of contemporary Wales. Either one where the Welsh language went extinct even in Ceredigion and elsewhere in west Wales (English-only version), or one where Wales is seemingly an independent country with Welsh as the primary language of virtually everyone (Welsh-only version). :)

Ed Thomas, one of the creators of and writers for the series, talked quite a bit about the bilingual nature of the series in this interview.

You might remember how I brought up that Irish Northern series set in the Klondike Gold Rush, on page one of this thread. That series was filmed by an Irish equivalent of Wales's primarily-Welsh broadcaster, but for the sake of realism, also featured plenty of English and even some native Tlingit in additon to Irish (or Irish Gaelic, if you want). I doubt they made several language cuts of that Irish Northern, but all of these series make for interesting case studies in the use of languages (including more marginal and minority languages) in major film and TV media of the present day world.

I've actually pondered whether S4C and some Welsh production companies couldn't do a similar historical series, focused on the history and society of Welsh immigrants in Patagonia, in the Y Wladfa ("The Colony"), a.k.a. Welsh Patagonia. Given the fact that Patagonian Welsh had developed since the 19th century to have a slightly different vocabulary from mainstream Welsh, and that its alterations even influenced the original British Welsh during the course of the 20th century, I think it would be a fascinating premise for a historical drama. Not just story-wise/history-wise, but also in terms of the Welsh (and non-Welsh) linguistics on display.
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@Petike I guess I could mention that in the early 1980's, Finland received an invitation to participate in the Interkosmos program as well. There was practically no interest, as doing so would have damaged the image of Finland as a neutral country and drained resources that could be spent on more practical test pilot activities, and the Soviets eventually dropped the matter. As for who would have gone to space from Finland, I've read a few mentions of test pilot Jyrki Laukkanen being considered for the gig. Interesting that there still has not been a Finnish astronaut/cosmonaut to date.
I’m planning to use him in Gift of Apollo,but instead he goes up on a Shuttle mission in 1986.
I have been neglecting this thread for far too long, so I'm finally returning to posting in it once again. The frequency won't be too high, because I don't want this to become an overly fast going thread, but every now and then, I will share something. So here's another of my older posts.
Some Native Hawaiian people have strange ties to the history of the western United States during the 19th century.

For example, in the modern day state of Utah, there's the Owyhee River, a tributary of the Snake River. The Owyhee River was actually named after three trappers who frequented and worked in the area, employed by the North West Company, all three of them of Native Hawaiian origin. Owyhee was an older, variant spelling of Hawaii in the 19th century, already falling out of favour for the spelling we know and still use today.

So yes, there were Native Hawaiians, born on Hawaii, working as trappers in 19th century Utah. Oh, but it gets better.

Since the 1850s, there were also missionaries of the Church of Latter-Day Saints on the Sandwich Islands, the Hawaii islands, and they managed to convert a fair few Native Hawaiians to the Church of Latter-Day Saints. That's already rather unusual, but things get even more unusual once you look back to North America...





In the 1870s, the Kingdom of Hawaii relaxed its restrictions on its native people emigrating abroad due to work or other interests, if they so wishes.

Here's a town in the Utah desert founded by Native Hawaiin converts to Mormonism, the oddly-named town of Iosepa, in the not-exactly-cheerily-named Skull Valley of Utah.

It was founded already in 1889, surprisingly early when you take into account the Hawaiian converts to the LDS church.

Most surprising of all, their descendents or members of the LDS church from Hawaii and the Pacific territory still flock to Iosepa each year, for an annual commemoration and luau at the town, in the middle of Utah. As much as people like to make jokes about Deseret and Mormon clichés in North American alternate history, this is one of the more unusual and intriguing chapters in Hawaiian history and LDS church related North American history.

Also... Could this be one of the only attempts by Hawaiians to colonize North America ? :D :)
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One more post for today, this time without images, because they are not necessary in this case....


In the Baining and Pomio areas of East New Britain in Papua New Guinea, there is a new religious movement crossed with a social movement, known as Pomio Kivung (kivung meaning "meeting").

"Cargo cults" are common in Melanesian countries since the late 19th century and early 20th century, as a local coping mechanism for transition into an uncertain and modern world, right ? This case would be a run-of-the-mill cargo cult like any other, right ?

Well, not quite. Pomio Kivung really takes the cake in terms of traditions that might seem unintentionally amusing to us Westerners.

I will quote Wikipedia on the belief system of the Pomio Kivung movement:

"The Pomio Kivung movement incorporates narratives of sovereignty and economic development, syncretic Christianity, and traditional Papuan ancestor worship into a single religious system. Its adherents believe in a coming millennium, during which the ancestors of Pomio-Baining people will return as "Western scientists and industrialists"[4] to transform East New Britain into a vast urban metropolis, politically and economically independent from Papua New Guinea. During this period - referred to as the 'Period of the Companies' (Tok Pisin Taim bilong Kampani), every material need will be provided for. However, those who do not indulge themselves in this time and instead devote themselves to the movement will enter a second millennium, the paradisaical 'Period of Government' (Taim bilong Gavman) free of death, disease, reproduction, work and warfare. During the Period of Government, the living Baining will be able to remove their brown skin to find healthy white skin underneath.[5] Those who give into hedonism during the Period of the Companies will instead find themselves in Hell or 'jail' (kalibus).

This millenarian vision is accompanied by a mystical belief in the present existence of 'government' (Gavman) on a spiritual plane. God and virtuous ancestors reside on this plane, referred to as the 'Ancestral Council' (Kaunsel Tumbuna) or 'Village Government' (Vilij Gavman), and devotees look forward to joining it after death. Ancestors on this plane also take part in voting during elections, providing success to Pomio Kivung candidates over their opponents.[6] Unlike the Christian Heaven, this plane is conceptually located underground, as part of a web of metaphors contrasting the material surface or 'skin' (patuna) with underlying spiritual reality or 'food' (kaikai). Devotion to this spiritual plane is described in the language of government (a request for ancestral intercession, for example, is often called a 'report', and its recipients are called 'secretaries'), partly as a kind of anti-language to disguise its meaning from Melanesian authorities and partly as a real spiritual expression of material needs.[7]

Pomio Kivung is also characterised by a strong reverence for an altered version of the Ten Commandments (Tenpela Lo), which are represented by a decorative pole inscribed with the Roman numerals I to X placed in every Pomio Kivung village. These Commandments, followers believe, were taught to Koriam by a white man named 'brother' (Brata). Those who break the Commandments are required to perform penance in the form of silent contemplation, called a 'Check' (Sek), in front of a money jar called 'Television'. The spiritual essence of money raised through 'Televisions' is believed to go to the Gavman under the earth, while its 'skin' (material existence) is sent to 'buy government' (Baim gavman) around the world to hasten the arrival of the millennium.[8]"

Notice the extremely high number of terms that are essentially government and corporate bureaucratic lingo. :eek: Seems almost like something out of a dystopian science fiction novel, with people creating some sort of consumer ersatz-religion. Now, let's not laugh at the Papuans. The infamous multi-level marketing schemes and other similar scams here in highly developed countries also have a rituatlistic and cult-like treatment of people who get enrolled with them, right down to MLMS buzzwords. In light of that, this lingo seems less weird. :p There is a bit of an unfortunate and unintentional racist element to this movement, since its belief system states that the only way to achieve "western" style prosperity for the locals is essentially being "reborn" as white-skinned westerners, or some approximation thereof. As much as I don't mind these people's faith, I don't like that it encourages them to cringe at their own skin colour.



The Austrian Tyrolean village of Serfaus decided to get rid of car traffic a few decades back, exluding it from the municipality. They still needed some public transport, though, so they constructed their own public transport network for the village in the mid-1980s. Specifically, an air cushion underground funicular railroad ! Sounds really wacky, but it's been a working system for the fourth decade now.

The first photo shows the Seilbahn stop, located at the local cable car station of the village. There are four stops in total throughout the village. The second photo shows passengers/tourists waiting at the entry doors to the car, once the funicular arrives. The third photo shows you the interior of the humble funicular car of the system. I love the fact that the whole system is caled the Dorfbahn, literally "the village line" or "the village railway".

The United States as a whole has a long-standing post-WWII reputation for neglecting public transit or approaching it in outdated ways.

West Virginia is a state that is similarly stereotyped as being a very mountainous and very rural state with humble, unsophisticated country yokels, waxing nostalgic about coal mines, home-made crossbows and humming to the tune of Country Roads Take Me Home, right ? Right ?








In 1975, Morgantown in West Virginia, a university town, opened up a rapid transit system consisting of automated cars riding on a rail track 3.6 miles (5.8 kilometres) long, with as many as 5 stops. It continues to operate to this day, though it had to gradually undergo maintenance and modernization. The daily ridership is around 16.000 people, mostly students !

You can take a video ride on the Morgantown PRT right here. :cool:

This isn't as AH-sounding as that Austrian village with a skiing resort that has its own automated underground railway (as possibly the only village in the world, LOL), but it's still an interesting piece of engineering. Especially in a country often neglectful of public transit like the US.
The "Carey Mulligan looks like Duchess Sophie" fact will come in handy for a potential future casting of a series about the July Crisis...

Whoever made this 1860 Belgian "revolving sabre" had to be a time-travelling Final Fantasy fan.

Sometimes, I just love the wackiness of combination weapons, especially the "gun+something" ideas.

I still remember the Ottoman pistol-mace I saw in a museum years ago. It was in the East Slovak Museum, in a now-cancelled permanent exhibit in the main building (which underwent reconstrution and some restructuring in 2008-2013, I saw the pistol-mace in one of the display cases a decade and a half ago).

I never took a photo, so I can't show you directly.


That said, this specimen is remarkably similar. Half of the mace shaft acts as a barrel. Also notice the two pistol axes to the lower right. has a detailed article on all manner of combination weapon madness from centuries ago.

Skall has made some videos on these lovely bits of weirdness.


As a consolation prize, here's my videoreport from the 2017 temporary exhibition of restored historical weapons and furnishings loaned from the Krásna Hôrka Castle Museum to the East Slovak Museum. Plenty of the weapons from the historical arms exhibit of the castle were damaged by a fire in 2012 and this particular sample was shown to the public post-restoration (restoration work was done by our museum staff and their Brno colleagues). The castle and the museum will be opening again to the public in the early 2020s.