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Dreadnought hoax (wikipedia.org)
98 points by playhard on Oct 28, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 41 comments

"During the visit to Dreadnought, the visitors had repeatedly shown amazement or appreciation by exclaiming "Bunga! Bunga!".[7] In 1915 during the First World War, HMS Dreadnought rammed and sank a German submarine—the only battleship ever to do so. Among the telegrams of congratulation was one that read "BUNGA BUNGA"."

Berlusconi does seem to have rather ruined (or improved!) that phrase for the rest of us, judging by the Bunga Bunga wikipedia page.

Haha, this got me too, BUNGA BUNGA became a meme.

Dreadnought by Robert K. Massie is a sprawling, fascinating read of the run up to the First World War from a naval/arms race perspective (it has a sequel too, covering the outbreak of war onwards). I highly recommend it.


> Stephen wanted to take command of a platoon of German soldiers and lead them across the French frontier to cause an incident.

I imagine the possible consequences if they went with that plan. That was the decade that eventually led to the first world war. Relations between France and Germany weren't at their best.

Alternatively, it could have served as a pressure relief valve.

Probably neither; critically, by then France on its own wasn't a match for Germany, no matter how much they lusted for revenge for the 1870 Franco-Prussian war and recapture of the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine.

As one book I'm reading notes, of the great powers, only France and Russia has a desire to upset the status quo (Russia was motivated, as always, by a desire for a secure warm water port, and this time, by Pan-Slavism WRT to the Balkans, recently freed from Ottoman bondage).

> of the great powers, only France and Russia has a desire to upset the status quo

That wasn't really the case, though; during this period Germany was very busy upsetting the status quo by expanding their navy, which directly challenged the UK's position as the world's pre-eminent naval power.

I count these differently. It comes down to intent vs. capability: was Germany intending anything more than becoming a greater power (I'm still reading up on this)? As a serious nation the UK of course had to react to the increased capability, but I view this as qualitatively different than France's crystal clear intent of taking back Alsace and Lorraine, which also was backed up by some serious capability.

Russia intended to help the Balkan nations stay out of the non-Slavic (in terms of rule) Austrian-Hungarian empire, however their capability to directly affect this was limited by geography (again, something I'm in the process of reading up on).

(There's also the forward looking detail: France was a declining nation (e.g. declining birthrate), Germany a growing nation. That put a time limit on their capability to carry out their intent.)

If you think that's impossible to do now a days see this: a Modernd day Hoax of a 20 y/o disguissed as a powerful politician, for months. http://elpais.com/m/elpais/2014/10/23/inenglish/1414066819_4...

This was discovered this October.

Of course, such a stunt today would result in criminal charges of "terrorism" and lengthy prison sentences, all the while politicians would excoriate the hoaxers as enemies of the state.

Probably not - or rather, such a stunt by anyone else would've resulted in criminal charges and lengthy prison sentences back then also.

Note that this stunt was performed by a group of young aristocrats who went to Cambridge. At least one of the participants was nobility, another whose father was a well-known politician.

Imagine the same happening in the US today - a group of wealthy Harvard kids execute an embarrassing prank, one of whom comes from a famous industrialist family and the other the son of a major Washington figure.

The whole thing would be declared "youthful indiscretions" and no punishment of any substance would be handed out.

The more things change the more they stay the same. If you are wealthy and well-connected you can get away with damn well anything, and everyone else gets screwed.

If you haven't seen this before, I highly recommend the 8 minutes of video involved as a group of Australian comedians pretend to be the Canadian motorcade (carrying a special guest) during the 2007 APEC forum in Sydney.


[Edit: I had misremembered and thought that Canada didn't have a delegation at APEC...Turns out they just didn't have a delegation that was taxiing bin Laden.]

Canada is part of APEC.

Canada hosted the APEC meeting in 1997. The highlight of the meeting was the RCMP pepper-spraying students who were protesting Indonesia's government:


If people didn't lie the world would be a much simpler place. Lies for material gain we are mostly prepared for; lies for amusement, much less so. The reaction to this sort of thing is less trust, more verification, less flexibility, and generally more difficulty for everyone, even those with legitimate call for resources (because now everyone must verify that they need a VIP car, and the systems used for verification can fail).

Of course, lamenting the cost of lying is similar to lamenting gravity's affect on the impulse to fly - it doesn't really do any good. FWIW I think a modest fine and a brief (overnight) jail term was in order for the prank. Think of it as a small reminder that a hoax is not complete unless you don't get caught.

I don't get it, why is this on HN? I would like to understand how some irrelevant posts get traction? Please explain? Is it that the poster has 2K+ Karma?

If I wanted to stretch it, I'd say that these young fellas "hacked" the English to achieve their goal, but, really, isn't life a little more interesting when things don't always go according to script, e.g. not every post on HN is another "Powder and Diaper Your Baby with Rust"-esque post?

>but, really, isn't life a little more interesting when things don't always go according to script, e.g. not every post on HN is another "Powder and Diaper Your Baby with Rust"-esque post?

If I wanted to read about random factoids, I'd go to /r/TIL. I come here for Rust. I flagged the OP FWIW because it's not related to hacking and it's not even news.

It's merely supposed to be 'of interest' to hackers. Clearly it was, for some at least. Should we flag articles about space telescopes, or medical devices? Just because they're not strictly about computers?

Typically the space telescopes and medical devices articles are related to startups. Those are okay. Startups and tech, that's the bread and butter of hacker news. Anything else is just weird and I don't see why anyone would post about it or read it. What does it matter what some british kids did in the 1850s or whenever? It doesn't help anyone become a better entrepreneur or hacker.

> It doesn't help anyone become a better entrepreneur or hacker.

I disagree. Such stunts are well-known tradition in hacker culture as well.

The number of non-hacking/non-news articles on HN that I've ended up enjoying is much, much higher than the number of times I've agreed with an HN comment complaining about a non-hacking/non news article.

Yes indeed.

Downvote it and move on.

...you can't downvote posts. I flagged it, which is similar. I came to the comments to see why it was posted, and responded to the comment I did to elucidate the viewpoint of people who don't like this being posted.

Why comment at all? Just downvote/upvote and move on.

Stay calm and Wave

I would add that anything that stimulates interest in WWI is good. While WWII and on are more studied, so much of the 20th century is founded in WWI and its genesis I think its essential to get a good understanding of it (if you're into this sort of thing, of course).

Somewhat coincidentally, I recently started my serious, systematic study of it. E.g. right now I'm working through the English book that's the single, detailed history of all naval actions in what was truly a world war: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0870212664/

It's an interesting post that appeals to our inquisitive nature.

Posted this a few months back, it never got the attention the 'hoax' got. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondragon_Corporation So all the reasons stated for this post apply to this earlier one, yet some HN posts get 'flushed' down as soon as they appear ... why? How?

Interesting in which sense? Even if I liked it, it is only humor and does not have nothing to do with "hackers". I'm not a better developper or I do not know what will help to launch a startup after reading this. Hacker News is not the Huffington Post.

I'd say it's a fascinating social manipulation, but mostly it just satisfies my own intellectual curiosity.

The HN guidelines on what to submit:

> On-Topic: Anything that good hackers would find interesting. That includes more than hacking and startups. If you had to reduce it to a sentence, the answer might be: anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity.

The HN guidelines on asking why something was posted:

> Please don't submit comments complaining that a submission is inappropriate for the site. If you think something is spam or offtopic, flag it by going to its page and clicking on the "flag" link. (Not all users will see this; there is a karma threshold.) If you flag something, please don't also comment that you did.

It might be worth reading through the HN Guidelines. They're pretty concise: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

I can't find a guideline that's meta enough to tell me not to mention the guidelines, but I've blundered in worse ways before.

It's an excellent example of hacking a social system, merely as a prank and with no damage to any individual, and follows a long history that goes back to MIT hacking (http://hacks.mit.edu/ and http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/meaning-of-hack.html).

In other words, it has a lot to do with "hackers" and is a very interesting and relevant piece of history. I agree it won't help you start your startup though; get back to building things and talking to people! :-)

Precisely I think that it shows you in a funny way, how far talking to people can take you.

Hacker news is not developer news or startup news. I'm a hacker, and I liked this, therefore it should be here. Read the site's mission statement.

Of course hackers all like the same things, and you represent them perfectly? Therefore what you judge relevant is also hacker relevant ... nice.

I'm telling you why I upvoted it. If I don't represent hackers perfectly, why are you asking me?

It actually is a hack in a sense. It's a social engineering attack, for fun.

HN is great because of the people that lurk here, not because it is great resource for anything.

There is reason why in Western Europe WWI is still known as The Great War. The only thing that rivals the Western Front in its scale is the Eastern Front in WWII.

Interesting. Saw this on Reddit few mins back.

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