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The Myasishchev M-4 Molot is a four-engined strategic bomber designed by Vladimir Myasishchev and manufactured by the Soviet Union in the 1950s to provide a bomber capable of attacking targets in North America. The Myasishchev design bureau was formed to build such a bomber. First flying soon after the first flight of the B-52 Stratofortress, the M-4 initially impressed Soviet officials, however, it soon became clear that the bomber had an insufficient range to attack the United States and still return to the Soviet Union. Only a few of the original production M-4s were actually put into service. The M-4 was first displayed to the public in Red Square, on May Day, 1954. To remedy this problem, the Myasishchev design bureau introduced the 3M, known to the West as the 'Bison-B', which was considerably more powerful than the previous version. This new model first flew in 1955. Among other things, two of the five original gun barbettes were removed to lighten the aircraft. This time, it was not the Soviet Air Force (VVS) that wanted the 3M, but rather Naval Aviation (AV-MF). Though it could still not bomb Washington, D.C., the 3M had a sufficient range to fulfill the need for a long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft. In 1959, the 3M broke numerous world records; however, it was thought by the West (and would continue to be thought so until 1961) that the 3M was the original M-4, meaning that the capability of the M-4 was vastly overestimated by Western intelligence agencies. In the early 1960s, the 'Bison-C', with a specialized search radar, was introduced. By this time, many of the original M-4s had been converted to M-4-2 fuel tankers for aerial refueling. Later, 3Ms were converted to 3MS-2 and 3MN-2 tankers as well. Neither the M-4 nor the 3M ever saw combat, and none were ever converted for low altitude attack, as many American B-52s were, nor were any ever exported to the Soviet Union's allies. Production of the Bison aircraft stopped in 1963, by which time 93 of them had been built. The last aircraft, an M-4-2 fuel tanker, was withdrawn from service in 1994. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]

Krampus is a mythical creature recognized in Alpine countries. According to legend, Krampus accompanies St. Nicholas (Santa Claus) during the Christmas season, warning and punishing bad children, in contrast to St. Nicholas, who gives gifts to good children. When the Krampus finds a particularly naughty child, it stuffs the child in its sack and carries the frightened child away to its lair, presumably to devour for its Christmas dinner. In the Alpine regions, Krampus is represented as a beast like creature, generally demonic in appearance. Traditionally young men dress up as the Krampus in Austria, southern Bavaria and South Tyrol during the first week of December, particularly on the evening of 5 December, and roam the streets frightening children with rusty chains and bells. The history of the Krampus figure stretches back to pre-Christian Germanic traditions. He also shares characteristics with the satyrs of Greek mythology. The early Catholic Church discouraged celebrations based around the wild goat-like creatures, and during the Inquisition efforts were made to stamp them out. However, Krampus figures persisted, and by the 17th century Krampus had been incorporated into Christian winter celebrations by pairing him with St. Nicholas. In the 20th century, Austrian governments discouraged the practice. In the aftermath of the 1934 Austrian Civil War, the Krampus tradition was prohibited by the Dollfuss regime under the the Fatherland Front (Vaterlandische Front) and the Christian Social Party. Towards the end of the century, a popular resurgence of Krampus celebrations occurred and continues today. Although Krampus appears in many variations, most share some common physical characteristics. He is hairy, usually brown or black, and has the cloven hooves and horns of a goat. His long pointed tongue lolls out. Krampus carries chains, thought to symbolize the binding of the Devil by the Christian Church. He thrashes the chains for dramatic effect. The chains are sometimes accompanied with bells of various sizes. Of more pagan origins are the ruten, bundles of birch branches that Krampus carries and occasionally swats children with. Sometimes Krampus appears with a sack or a washtub strapped to his back; this is to cart off evil children for drowning, eating, or transport to Hell. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]

A flamethrower is a mechanical device designed to project a long controllable stream of fire. Some flamethrowers project a stream of ignited flammable liquid; some project a long gas flame. Most military flamethrowers use liquids, but commercial flamethrowers tend to use high-pressure propane and natural gas, which is considered safer. They are used by the military and by people needing controlled burning capacity, such as in agriculture (e.g. sugar cane plantations) or other such land management tasks. Modern flamethrowers were first used during the trench warfare conditions of World War I; their use greatly increased in World War II. They can be vehicle mounted, as on a tank, or hand-carried by infantry. The flamethrower consists of two elements: backpack and gun. The backpack element usually consists of two or three cylinders. One cylinder holds compressed, inert propellant gas (usually nitrogen), and the other two hold inflammable liquid - typically petrol with some form of fuel thickener added to it. A three-cylinder system often has two outer cylinders of inflammable liquid and a central cylinder of propellant gas to improve the balance of the soldier who carried it. The gas propels the fuel liquid out of the cylinder through a flexible pipe and then into the gun element of the flamethrower system. The gun consists of a small reservoir, a spring-loaded valve, and an ignition system; depressing a trigger opens the valve, allowing pressurized inflammable liquid to flow and pass over the igniter and out the gun nozzle. The igniter can be one of several ignition systems: A simple type is an electrically-heated wire coil; another used a small pilot flame, fueled with pressurized gas from the system. The flamethrower is a potent weapon with great psychological impact upon unprepared soldiers, inflicting a particularly horrific death i.e. being burnt alive. This has led to some calls for the weapon to be banned. It is primarily used against battlefield fortifications, bunkers, and other protected emplacements. A flamethrower projects a stream of flammable liquid, rather than flame, which allows bouncing the stream off walls and ceilings to project the fire into blind and unseen spaces, such as inside bunkers or pillboxes. Typically, popular visual media depict the flamethrower as short-ranged, of a few effective meters (due to the common use of propane gas as the fuel in flamethrowers in movies, for the safety of the actors), but contemporary flamethrowers can incinerate targets at 5080 meters (165270 feet) distance from the gunner; moreover, an unignited stream of flammable liquid can be fired and afterwards ignited, possibly by a lamp or other flame inside the bunker. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]

Crocs, Inc. is a shoe manufacturer founded by entrepreneur George B. Boedecker, Jr. to produce and distribute a plastic clog originally acquired from a Canadian company. Originally developed as a spa shoe, the first model, the Crocs Beach, was unveiled in 2002 at the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show, selling out the 200 pairs produced at that time. The product line has remained popular, and has the characteristics of a sustained fad, with both ardent support and disapproval. While some regard Crocs shoes as comfortable and colorfully decorated, others see them as a fashion disaster, and a subculture has emerged of people who vocally oppose the shoes. A Washington Post article described the phenomenon: "Nor is the fashion world enamored of Crocs. Though their maker touts their 'ultra-hip Italian styling,' lots of folks find them hideous." A blog named "I Hate Crocs dot com." follows Croc opponents periodically. There is a group on Facebook, which has over 1.4 million members, that is dedicated to eliminating the shoes. The shoes have been targets of satire: on Real Time with Bill Maher, Maher called for a "New rule: stop wearing plastic shoes," over a photo of Crocs, and The Daily Show "Senior Public Restroom Correspondent" Rob Corddry, following up on the Senator Larry Craig June 2007 lewd conduct arrest, "reported" that anyone wearing Crocs is signalling "anything goes." Commentators have noted that social networking sites are collectively allowing individuals to share their distaste for Crocs. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE] is not affiliated with or endorsed by wikipedia. wikipedia and the wikipedia globe are registered trademarks of
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