February 12, 2018

The Browning High Power pistol finally ends production after 82 years

Filed under: Cancon, History, Military, Technology, WW2 — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Kyle Mizokami reported on this last week:

Small arms manufacturer Browning has ended production of the Browning Hi Power semiautomatic handgun. The legendary pistol served in armies worldwide, from Nationalist China to the British Special Air Service and was one of the first high capacity pistols ever invented. An invention of prolific arms designer John Moses Browning, the Hi Power was the inventor’s last pistol design.

As noticed by The Firearm Blog, the pistol‘s product page was quietly changed to include the words, “no longer in production” and the prices were removed. The Hi Power pistol was in continuous production for 82 years.

The Hi Power was the brainchild of American small arms legend John Moses Browning, a prolific inventor who also created the M2 .50 caliber machine gun, still in use with U.S. military forces today. He also invented the M1911 handgun, the U.S. military’s standard sidearm for nearly 70 years, and literally dozens of other pistols, shotguns, rifles, machine guns, and even a cannon. Browning was working on the Hi Power when he died in 1926, and the gun was eventually finished and sold by his manufacturing partners in Belgium in 1935.

The Hi Power had little in the form of commercial success before World War II, but was used by both sides during the war. Belgium’s surrender to Nazi Germany saw plans for the gun smuggled out of the country to Canada, where they were built for Nationalist Chinese forces and British and Canadian paratroopers and special forces. The tooling left behind in occupied Belgium went on to produce handguns for German military forces, particularly paratroopers and the Waffen SS. After the war the gun was sold to civilians and armed forces, particularly those belonging to NATO, and eventually more than 50 armies and 93 nations adopted the Hi Power as their standard sidearm. More than a million Hi Powers were eventually produced.

Australia’s unique contribution to hamburger culture – beetroot

Filed under: Australia, History, USA, WW2 — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 03:00

On one of my mailing lists, an Australian member made a bit of a to-do about the only “proper” burger having “beetroot” on it, along with other (one assumes lesser) condiments. Having been pranked more than once by Aussie friends, I was sure he was just doing his bit to wind up the American burger purists on the list. Yet, a very cursory search produced this article from back in 2014 that appears to fully back the original assertion:

Australian hamburger sightings started during the ’30s: a by-product, no doubt, of our blossoming post-first world war relationship with America, but it wasn’t until the 1940s that beetroot began regularly appearing alongside tomato, lettuce and onion on burgers. That was thanks largely to the openings of the Edgell and Golden Circle canneries in 1926 and 1947 respectively – but one of the more interesting theories, however, suggests the trend has its origins in pranking US troops ashore on R&R.

“Maybe it was our desire not to be Americanised?” ponders Warren Fahey, Australian folklore collector and author of Australian food history compendium, Tucker Track. “For some reason the idea of hamburger wrapping stained by beetroot juice was accepted as the sign of a great hamburger. People get quite emotional over the subject of Australian hamburgers. Some say a real hamburger must have slices of canned beetroot and others still declare its inclusion as a travesty.”

According to Fahey, beetroot on burgers had its heyday in the ’50s and ’60s. Following the simultaneous 1971 arrival of fast food’s big two – the first McDonald’s opened in the Sydney suburb of Yagoona, while Hungry Jacks, the Aussie nom de plume of Burger King, began its Aussie campaign in Innaloo, just north of Perth – the combination’s popularity began to wane, as did that of milk bars, beachside kiosks and other traditional hamburger vendors.

Despite the sustained growth of American franchises, however, Australia’s burger-with-beetroot population remains stable. Even once the big players pull their seasonal go-Aussie burgers after 26 January, the odds of finding a beetroot-enriched specimen at a neighbourhood lunch bar or new-wave “gourmet” hamburger chain remain good.

[…] the country’s last Australian-owned cannery shut in 2013. Fortunately, the signs are promising that farmers in Queensland’s Lockyer Valley might soon have a processing facility to call their own. It’s a cause we can all get behind, not just for the sake of a rural Australian community, but in the name of national pride: an Aussie hamburger made using beetroot processed overseas just doesn’t seem fair dinkum.

A New Zealand member of the list also chimed in, saying that beetroot was an essential component of Kiwi hamburgers as well. While it might sound weird, it’s probably no more so than pickles or relish as a burger topping, once you get used to it.

Update: In 2017, New Zealand McDonald’s re-introduced the Kiwiburger, including beetroot:

So, you can get your beetroot burger fix in both Australia and New Zealand (for a limited time, anyway).

Is glass really made from sand? – James May’s Q&A (Ep 11) – Head Squeeze

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

BBC Earth Lab
Published on 14 Mar 2013

James May delves into what glass is actually made from. Is it really made from sand?

QotD: Science on the brink

Filed under: Quotations, Science — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Present reality is that science is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. That’s the not-so-tongue-in-cheek message in Science on the Verge, a new book by European scientist Andrea Saltelli and seven other contributors. Science on the Verge is a 200-page indictment of what to the lay reader appears to be a monumental deterioration across all fields, from climate science to health research to economics. The mere idea that “most published research results are false” should be cause for alarm. But it is worse than that. The crisis runs through just about everything we take for granted in modern science, from the use of big data to computer models of major parts of our social, economic and natural environment and on to the often absurd uses of statistical methods to fish for predetermined conclusions.

Terence Corcoran, “Science is on the verge of a nervous breakdown”, Financial Post, 2016-06-13.

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