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The Mojave phone booth was a lone telephone booth in what is now the Mojave National Preserve in California, which attracted online attention in 1997 due to its unusual location. Placed in the 1960s, the booth was eight miles (13 km) from the nearest paved road, fifteen miles (24 km) from the nearest numbered highway, and miles from any buildings. Its telephone number was originally (714) 733-9969, before the area code changed to 619 and then to 760. The original hand-cranked magneto phone was set up in the 1960s to provide telephone service to local volcanic cinder miners and others living in the area. The government of California mandated that a network of "policy stations" be placed to service residents of isolated parts of the state. The Mojave booth, located at the intersection of two remote dirt roads, probably replaced an earlier booth located 30 miles to the south. The original rotary phone was replaced with a touch-tone model in the 1970s. The phone was probably little-used for the next decades, until it became a sensation on the Internet in 1997. A Los Angeles man spotted a telephone icon on a map of the Mojave and decided to visit it. He wrote a letter about his adventure to an underground magazine, and included the booth's number. Godfrey Daniels, a local computer entrepreneur, read the letter and started the first of several websites devoted to the Mojave telephone booth. Soon, fans called the booth attempting to get a reply, and a few took trips to the booth to answer, often camping out at the site. Several callers kept recordings of their conversations. Over time, the booth became covered in graffiti, as many travelers would leave messages on it. In 1999 Los Angeles Times writer John Glionna reported on meeting a man at the booth who claimed the Holy Spirit had instructed him to answer the phone. The man spent 32 days there, answering more than 500 phone calls including repeated calls from someone who identified himself as "Sergeant Zeno from the Pentagon". The booth was removed by Pacific Bell on May 17, 2000, at the request of the National Park Service. Per Pacific Bell policy, the phone number was permanently retired. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]



The Dust Bowl or the Dirty Thirties was a period of severe dust storms causing major ecological and agricultural damage to American and Canadian prairie lands from 1930 to 1936 (in some areas until 1940). The phenomenon was caused by severe drought coupled with decades of extensive farming without crop rotation, fallow fields, cover crops and other techniques to prevent erosion. Deep plowing of the virgin topsoil of the Great Plains had killed the natural grasses that normally kept the soil in place and trapped moisture even during periods of drought and high winds. During the drought of the 1930s, with no natural anchors to keep the soil in place, it dried, turned to dust, and blew away eastward and southward in large dark clouds. At times the clouds blackened the sky reaching all the way to East Coast cities such as New York and Washington, D.C. Much of the soil ended up deposited in the Atlantic Ocean, carried by prevailing winds which were in part created by the dry and bare soil conditions itself. These immense dust storms–given names such as "Black Blizzards" and "Black Rollers"–often reduced visibility to a few feet (around a meter). The Dust Bowl affected 100,000,000 acres (400,000 km2), centered on the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, and adjacent parts of New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas.The Dust Bowl was an ecological and human disaster caused by misuse of land and years of sustained drought. Millions of acres of farmland became useless, and hundreds of thousands of people were forced to leave their homes; many of these families (often known as "Okies", since so many came from Oklahoma) traveled to California and other states, where they found economic conditions little better than those they had left. Owning no land, many traveled from farm to farm picking fruit and other crops at starvation wages. Author John Steinbeck later wrote The Grapes of Wrath, which won the Pulitzer Prize, and Of Mice and Men about such people. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]





The great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, also known as great white, white pointer, white shark, or white death, is a large lamniform shark found in coastal surface waters in all major oceans. The great white shark is very well known for its size, with the largest individuals known to have approached or exceeded 6 metres (20 ft) in length and 2,240 kilograms (4,938 lb) in weight. It reaches maturity at around 15 years of age and can have a life span of over 30 years. The great white shark is arguably the world's largest known extant macropredatory fish and is one of the primary predators of marine mammals. It is the only surviving species of its genus, Carcharodon. Great white sharks are carnivorous, and prey upon fish (tuna, rays, other sharks), cetaceans (dolphins, porpoises, whales), pinnipeds (seals, fur seals, and sea lions), sea turtles, sea otters, and seabirds. Great whites have also been known to eat objects that they are unable to digest. The great white shark has a robust large conical snout. The upper and lower lobes on the tail fin are approximately the same size (like most mackerel sharks, but unlike most others). Great whites display countershading, having a white underside and a grey dorsal area (sometimes in a brown or blue shade) that gives an overall "mottled" appearance. The coloration makes it difficult for prey to spot the shark because it breaks up the shark's outline when seen from the side. From above, the darker shade blends with the sea and from below it exposes a minimal silhouette against the sunlight. Great white sharks, like many other sharks, have rows of serrated teeth behind the main ones, ready to replace any that break off. When the shark bites it shakes its head side to side helping the teeth saw off large chunks of flesh. In 2008, a team of scientists led by Stephen Wroe conducted an experiment to determine great white shark's jaw power and findings indicated that specimen more than 6.1 m (20 ft) long could exert a bite force of over 18,000 newtons (4,000 lbf). The best selling novel Jaws and the subsequent blockbuster film by Steven Spielberg depicted the great white shark as a "ferocious man eater". In reality, humans are not the preferred prey item of great white shark. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]



Tirpitz was the second Bismarck class battleship of the German Kriegsmarine, sister ship of Bismarck, named after Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz. She only participated in one combat operation, which was the only time she fired against enemy targets. She never fired at an enemy ship, but spent most of World War II in various bases in German-occupied Norway, where her mere presence was a threat to the Allies, tying up significant naval forces. Due to her role and bases of operations she was dubbed the "Lonely Queen of the North" by the Norwegians. She was the largest battleship ever built in Europe, with dimensions slightly exceeding those of her sister ship. On 12 November 1944 Royal Air Force Avro Lancaster heavy bombers bombed and sank Tirpitz at her moorings. The Lancaster Specials used had had the mid-upper turret and some armor removed to save weight so they would have been highly vulnerable to fighter attack, but the Luftwaffe failed to intercept the bombers. The reasons cited for this failure are contradictory. The bombers approached from Sweden's air space; the route may have suggested an attack on the airfield at Bardufoss; and Luftwaffe responses to Tirpitz's calls for help claimed there were aircraft "overhead". The local air defence systems may have been inadequate and the German pilots had not yet been fully trained on their new Focke-Wulf 190 aircraft. Major Heinrich Ehrler, who both led the defensive sortie in the area of the Tirpitz and was also the commander of Luftwaffe fighter forces in Norway (Jagdgeschwader 5), was charged with negligence of duty following the sinking and sentenced to death, later reduced to three years of fortress imprisonment, loss of his command, and transfer to a fighter unit in Germany. The destruction of Tirpitz removed the last major surface threat to allied control of the north Atlantic. This freed the capital ships—battleships and aircraft carriers—that had been retained in the Home Fleet as a precaution, allowing Britain to reinforce the Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean, establish the British Pacific Fleet, and take a much more aggressive posture against the Japanese in the Far East. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]





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