Chubby Bunny, turkey bowling, safety coffins, sexsomnia, the Cornfield Bomber, Nazi Christmas, and North Korean haircuts

Today's post will examine the celebration of Christmas in Nazi Germany, having sex whilst asleep, the F-106 that landed without a pilot, the games of chubby bunny and turkey bowling, and coffins that protect against being buried alive.

In this day and age, we take unmanned vehicles (aerial, ground, or even maritime) as a matter of course. First born in the early days of military flight as a way to provide targets (and later adapted for reconnaissance after the U-2 shootdown in 1960), they are almost always still piloted by a human remotely, even today. Lieutenant Gary Foust proved in a cold 1970 flight that it was possible for an aircraft to land itself. The F-106 Delta Dart was about in the middle of its operational history, and was designed as a supercharged F-102, serving as the interceptor of the "century series" aircraft (the incident's name, "Cornfield Bomber" is a bit of misnomer in that the aircraft wasn't a bomber). On a routine training flight on February 2nd, Lt. Foust was assigned to the 71st Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (based at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana). When his aircraft entered a flat spin, he couldn't regain control, and after deploying his drag chute failed, he ejected at 15,000 feet (4,600 m). And odd combination of an altered center of gravity (an ejection seat weighs quite a bit) and the aircraft coincidentally being throttled at idle and trimmed for takeoff allowed it to recover itself automatically and descend gradually into a snow-covered cornfield. Before his fighter landed gently (relatively) and skidded to a halt, his flight lead advised the parachuting Foust that "you'd better get back in it!". The aircraft was recovered quickly with so little damage that one officer wanted to try taking off from the site (it was instead recovered by rail and was one of the last F-106s to be retired from Air Force service).
Aircraft 58-0787 in Big Sandy, Montana, note the melted snow from engine heat.

We all know that medicine of the past was primitive enough to scare anyone in a day and age with plastic surgery, Viagra, and artificial hearts. The cholera epidemics of the 18th and 19th centuries led to fears of being buried alive (taphophobia)--supposedly, cholera had a habit of putting people into states that resembled death, from which they could later recover. This fear caused a surge of interest in the safety coffin, a device where the interred, if living, could survive and escape or signal for help. Most had some type of rope or cord which could ring a bell, though others had features such as viewing windows, signal flags, tubes to check for the odor of putrefaction, and the like to check on false positives. Other featured air supplies and escape routes. A German "portable death chambers" of the 1820s would let the night watchman check on a body each day, and open it quickly if life was detected, but if decomposition began, he would instead throw a lever and the body would fall to it's final resting place below (the chamber would be recovered and reused). Occasionally, modern examples pop up, using technology such as lights, breathing apparatus, intercoms, and the like. Some people misattribute the terms "saved by the bell", "dead ringer" and "graveyard shift" to these devices.
This patent application features a bell, viewing window, and air tube.

사회주의적 생활양식에 맞게 머리단장을 하자, translated loosely to "Let's trim our hair in accordance with the socialist lifestyle", was a North Korean propaganda campaign in 2004 and 2005 that promoted conservative dress and grooming. Fearing the influence of a capitalist lifestyle in western culture, fashion trends were just one victim of government restrictions. Not only did they claim that long hair and western clothing was untidy, but that such hairstyles could actually affect your health and intelligence by draining nutrients from your body. Kim Jong-Il was famous in Korea in his younger days for a crew cut he called the Speed Battle Cut", but reverted to his current coarse bouffant when he took over his father's role. The TV spots encouraged men to have short cuts less than two inches (5cm) and conservative attire (though older men weren't ostracized for having comb-overs). For example, one episode featured Ko Gwang Hyun, whose unkempt hair covered his ears, as a negative role model, with voice over commentary: "We cannot help questioning the cultural taste of this comrade, who is incapable of feeling ashamed of his hair style. Can we expect a man with this disheveled mind-set to perform his duty well?"
A screenshot from a Korean Central News Agency episode.

I've been catching up on my Law & Order: Special Victims Unit on Netflix, and while watching season 9, saw the episode "Avatar". Aside from utterly butchering the concept of video gaming, I was intrigued by the idea of sexsomnia. A type of parasomnia (most people think of sleepwalking), the afflicted perform sexual acts while in REM sleep, and generally don't recall the act upon waking. It could be anything as simple as a wet dream accompanied by a bit of masturbation, to full-on coitus with a bed partner, to a few cases of rape (in fact, several Commonwealth rape charges have been dropped when sexsomnia was proven). It was first written about by a trip of Canadian doctors in 1996, and while it has gained acceptance in some nations (hence the acquittals), it's not yet part of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (and not scheduled to be included in DSM-5 in the next few years).

I don't believe I've mentioned before my Boy Scouting youth. One of my fondest memories was the fraternity and camaraderie we shared, staying up late at night to tell stories, make up jokes, and play games. While we tended towards card games (yes, even Magic cards), we played a lot of other simple games of physical skill that were probably reminiscent of the 1950s. One of my favorites always came out when we started roasting marshmallows on the camp fire: Chubby Bunny. In turns, we would add a marshmallow to our mouths, and have to say "chubby bunny" clearly enough for a judge or be eliminated. The process repeats, and contestants are not allowed to swallow or spit up the marshmallows. The person who can say it with the most in their mouth at one time is the winner, and celebrated by spitting them into the fire. Apparently, there have been the occasional death from choking or suffocating, but for me, the only danger was when we'd start arguing about whose unintelligible muffles were better, or the cavities that formed when the marshmallows dissolved into a sugary syrup in your mouth.
Oh, and a tip: don't try to use Peeps. Trust me.
Another fun game to play with your food is turkey bowling. Like the name implies, you slide a turkey (frozen, obviously) down a lane into a set of pins (often as not something improvised, like beer bottles). The origin was a 1988 accident in a California grocery store, which clerk Derrick Johnson turned into a formal event soon after. While it's still most popular in the grocery store aisles, sometimes you see it at hockey games or other ice-based activities as a pre-, mid- or post-game diversion. The first time I ever played it was at MCAS Cherry Point's annual Special Olympics competition at the base commissary a few years ago.
Special Olympian Edward Harrison bowls his turkey at Cherry Point in 2010.
Christianity wasn't always well-accepted in Nazi Germany, ranging from tolerance of Protestants to the outright persecution of Catholic priests. Hitler himself had some confused views, and official Nazi policy and attitudes shifted negatively as time went on (probably seeing them as a threat to his own cult of personality and some of the mysticism and pagan traditions he ascribed as Germanic). This is a generalization, of course, as each individual German's beliefs were his or her own, and many simply held them privately to avoid persecution, but church attendance dwindled from 227,000 in 1932 to 23,000 in 1944 (with a brief upswing in the late 1930s as Germany conquered more nations). That said, there were a number of Christian traditions that were attributed as distinctly Germanic, such as the Yuletide winter festival that became Christmas. Nazi ideology denounced the birth of Jesus, and instead made the holiday about the winter solstice, with the swastika as a symbol for the sun. Santa was replaced by Odin, Christmas trees were kept (as they were first decorated in 16th century Germany anyway) but modified into "jule trees" decorated with Nazi and German symbols, Christmas carol lyrics were altered to remove references to God, while yule lanterns and decorated candlesticks became prevalent. There were even attempts to remove the association of the coming of Jesus and replace it with the coming of Hitler, referred to as the "Saviour Führer". However, by 1944, the government had other issues on its mind, like the Battle of the Bulge.
Volkssturm militia in 1944.

That will be it for today. Happy reading!

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