Today in history – 2006-08-01

Complete text taken from The History Channel’s Today in History feature.

1966 An ex-Marine goes on a killing spree at the University of Texas

Charles Whitman takes a stockpile of guns and ammunition to the observatory platform atop a 300-foot tower at the University of Texas and proceeds to shoot 46 people, killing 16. Whitman, who had killed both his wife and mother the night before, was eventually shot to death after courageous Austin police officers, including Ramiro Martinez, charged up the stairs of the tower to subdue the attacker.

Whitman, a former Eagle Scout and Marine, began to suffer serious mental problems after his mother left his father in February 1966. On March 29, he told a psychiatrist that he was having uncontrollable fits of anger. He purportedly even told this doctor that he was thinking about going up to the tower with a rifle and shooting people. Unfortunately, the doctor didn’t follow up on this red flag.

On July 31, Whitman wrote a note about his violent impulses, saying, “After my death, I wish an autopsy on me be performed to see if there’s any mental disorder.” The note then described his hatred for his family and his intent to kill them. That night, Whitman went to his mother’s home, where he stabbed and shot her. Upon returning to his own home, he then stabbed his wife to death.

The following morning, Whitman headed for the tower with several pistols and a rifle after stopping off at a gun store to buy boxes of ammunition and a carbine. Packing food and other supplies, he proceeded to the observation platform, killing the receptionist and two tourists before unpacking his rifle and telescope and hunting the people below.

An expert marksman, Whitman was able to hit people as far away as 500 yards. For 90 minutes, he continued firing while officers searched for a chance to get a shot at him. By the end of his rampage, 16 people were dead and another 30 were injured.

The University of Texas tower remained closed for over 30 years before reopening in 1999.

[tags]Today in History, UT shootings, A marine and his rifle[/tags]

Springfield guide

(via Neatorama)

I’d heard of this in the past, but never looked it up nor posted about it any where. But recently, Neatorama linked to the map of Springfield site, and I finally decided it’s interesting enough that I need to post about it, too. For those not familiar with Springfield, it is the town where the Simpsons live (Bart, Marge, Homer, etc). The map of Springfield site has a huge, downloadable vector-based PDF Springfield map. Download this map if you want to search Springfield or print out an arbitrary sized map for your own use.

The mapping of Springfield began in the Spring of 2001 when we realized that no adequate map of Springfield existed either online or in print. Initially the content was collected from thespringfield-title.jpg City Profile and Springfield Vacation pages at The Simpsons Archive, but it has since been expanded by numerous viewings of most episodes of The Simpsons.

While the placement of most locations is arbitrary, many are placed according to where they appear in relationship to each other in specific episodes of The Simpsons. In some cases ‘one-time references’ to specific locations have been disregarded in favor of others more often repeated. Due to the many inconsistencies among episodes, the map will never be completely accurate.

Although we’d like our map to be as accurate as a map to any imaginary place can be, our main intent is to preserve the comic spirit of Springfield, document its unique identity, and to have some fun at the same time.

Thanks for visiting.

If you don’t want to download the full map and search it in Adobe Acrobat, you can hit the secondary map page which has Springfield divided into nine slices for easier online viewing.

[tags]Springfield, The Simpsons, Map of Springfield[/tags]

Remote air hockey

(via Engadget)
Sometimes, you need to play air hockey, and just can’t get anyone around you to play.  When that happens, you really need to make yourself a remote air hockey table and play it up with someone clear across the country.


Videoconferencing is designed for coworkers who have met in person and want to work together remotely. It falls short, however, in introducing people, and does not account for the complex interaction patterns humans engage in when they meet for the first time. Airhockey Over a Distance aims to introduce people over a distance by utilizing the social power of a quick, casual game that can be played in the social spaces like canteens of distributed enterprises.

Airhockey Over a Distance is played like a conventional airhockey game. However, the table is split in half and the two ends are connected via a network. The players can see and hear each other at all times. They shoot a real puck back and forth, trying to score a goal. Once the puck passes the midway-line, its location is detected, and a corresponding physical puck is shot out at the other table.

[tags]Air Hockey, Remote gaming[/tags]

Worth1000 beta games photochop

If you are a gamer with a sense of humor, you really need to check out the latest Worth1000 Beta Busts photochopping contest.  I’m still working my way through all the entries, but this contest looks to have the highest ratio of good to meh submissions I’ve seen yet on the site.  Such entries and Mario Kombat, Final Fantasy XXX (a must see cover), Ratchet and Frank (Zappa’s got your back), Super Mario Bloodlust, and more.  There are pages and pages of entries, and most are worth seeing.

The beta version is the test version of the video game….the way it was intended by the video game designers before the big studio calls for changes.

The rules of this game are thus:
You are to take a still, box or ad from a video game and edit it so as to represent a version of the game that never made it to the consumer. It might be helpful to briefly discuss the original game in your author’s comments for people who never heard of it. As always, quality is a must. We will remove poor entries no matter how much we like you. You’ll have 48 hours for this contest, so make your submissions count.

And here are a couple of the entries.  Check out the full contest to see the other great games.



[tags]Worth1000, Beta Busts, Photochopping, Photochops[/tags]

Astronomy picture of the day.

I meant to post this last night/this morning when I got home from work, and forgot to do so. So, here it is, a few hours late – the astronomy picture of the day.


The Milky Way over Utah

Credit & Copyright: Wally Pacholka (

Explanation: If sometimes it appears that the entire Milky Way Galaxy is raining down on your head, do not despair. It happens twice a day. As the Sun rises in the East, wonders of the night sky become less bright than the sunlight scattered by our own Earth’s atmosphere, and so fade from view. They will only rotate back into view when the Earth again eclipses our bright Sun at dusk. This battle between heaven and Earth was captured dramatically over a rock formation at Capitol Reef National Park Utah, USA in 2003 May. Dark dust, millions of stars, and bright glowing red gas highlight the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy, which lies on average thousands of light years behind Earth’s mountains.

Click the image for the full size view. It’s really quit an awesome sight.

[tags]Astronomy picture of the day, POTD, picture of the day, Milky Way,[/tags]

Jeep turns 65

Today marks the 65th year since the first Jeep was made.  I’m a big fan of Jeeps, now on my 3rd.  I’ve had 2 Cherokees and now have a Grand Cherokee.  They are easy to work on, easy to learn about, and have lots of room to reach around and through spots to work.  The only change I wish for my Jeep would be better gas mileage, but that’s a problem with most SUVs, now, isn’t it?  I’m hoping for a hybrid model when I next go shopping for a new Jeep.

So happy birthday, Jeep.

Learn to play saw

(via Modern Mechanix)

Since I’m sure you’ve already purchased and mastered your cowboy guitar and hawaiian guitar lessons, it’s probably time to move on to a new instrument all together. How about learning to play the saw, now? This advertisement from the March 1948 issue of Popular Science.


Quickly produce saw music of amazing, voicelike beauty. Without knowing one note from another, without using music, soon play such songs as “Long, Long Trail”, “Till we Meet Again,” and other favorites old and new. No notes to read, no dreary practice — success guaranteed.

Since 1921, thousands of our students have amazed themselves and friends…many have starred in shows and broadcasting orchestras. This is your opportunity to gain quick popularity, and to make money entertaining at parties, dances, lodges, clubs, church entertainments, everywhere.

You Play or NO PAY!


If you can sing, whistle or hum a tune then you can play the Musical Saw. To prove how quickly and easily you can learn, we allow you
FIVE DAYS TRIAL. Play at the nest party!

Write TODAY for details to . . .
Novelty Musical Instruments—Est. 1021
33 Fort Street Fort Atkinson, Wis.

[tags]Modern Mechanix, Learn to play saw[/tags]