I have no idea what it was like storming a Normandy beach, on June 6th 1944. I also don’t really know how they do weather forecasting, but in recent years, because of being an amateur photoer, I have acquired a profound respect for those who do know, and who do this for a living.
So, my D-Day blog posting does not feature warriors. I instead focus on this man:
That’s Group Captain James Stagg, Allied Supreme Commander Eisenhower’s D-Day weather man. Stagg it was who advised Ike that the landings should be postponed by twenty four hours, to avoid filthy weather on June 5th 1944 and to take advantage of what Stagg believed would be an interlude of surprisingly good weather on June 6th 1944. Stagg’s advice was taken. To say that “the rest is history” would be to suggest that Stagg’s superbly accurate forecast was not itself history. It very much was.
Such is the internet and such are modern times that if you now do an internet search for “James Stagg”, you get more pictures of the actor and writer David Haig than you do of Stagg himself. This is because Haig recently wrote a play, called Pressure, about the above-described historic episode, and then himself played the part of Stagg in his own play.
James Stagg, and WW2 weather forecasting in general, deserved and deserve to be made much of, so I don’t blame either Google or David Haig for the odd result of this particular internet search. In particular, on the image front, it seems very likely that quite a few more photos were taken of Haig playing Stagg than were ever taken of Stagg himself.
On June 13th 2008 I was wandering about in Quimper, photoing photos. Mostly the photos were of such things as Quimper Cathedral with its twin spires, photoers photoing Quimper Cathedral with its twin spires, that kind of thing.
But in among all those, and with no accompanying explanation (like a context photo with less zoom (memo to self: always photo a context photo if it might help)), this:
But, I have no idea who Jean-Francois Kanabeach is. And I am similarly baffled by the Nuclear Rabbits From Outta Space. Google’s basic reaction to that was, first off, to ask if I meant “Nuclear Rabbits From Outer Space”.
A rabbit was, so it says here, launched into space in 1959. And the Chinese did some stuff on the Moon in 2013, with something called the Jade Rabbit (aka Yutu). But Nuclear Rabbits, from Outta Space? Quesque c’est? Usually the Internet has something to say in answer to questions like this. But in this matter, rien.
It reminds me of the scene at the end of Starship Troopers (a scene which I may now be imagining (but I think it happened)) where the victorious Starship Troopers celebrate their capture of The Queen Bug.
Today a friend needed some rather dramatic medical attention, and I dropped by to provide what I hope was a little moral support. Outside the place where this was happening, I encountered this cute little vehicle:
Two interesting things about this little gizmo. First, there is the way that its door opens. The door on its right is open, in the above photos. Useful in a tight space, I should guess.
And second is what it does, there being a website on it which enables you to learn about this. It takes tissue or samples from sick people to a lab, where the lab decides its opinion about the nature of that sickness.
I like these little cars, which are so small they are almost motor bikes. I certainly prefer them to those huge Chelsea Tractors, which look like they’re for doing bank robbery getaways or off-roading or maybe both at once. Which, let’s face it, most Londoners do neither of, ever.
The summer of February 2019 has now ended, but I still have some photo-memories of it to stick up here.
These photos, for instance, of a man whom GodDaughter2 and I encountered in Hyde Park, back on February 15th. As I have already related, there was a lot of feeding of birds going on that day, but before all that bird frenzy, we had already encountered a guy who had taken the feeding of birds (and squirrels) to a whole new level. He wasn’t so much feeding these creatures as laying on a free canteen for them. And they obviously knew this, and greeted him like a long lost friend.
I photoed him and his friends (who included two green parrots), a lot:
You can see evolution taking a distinct turn towards something different, can’t you? The most trusting and friendly and fearless creatures are the ones who get best fed.
Different scientific models can have equivalent observational consequences. In statistics, this is known as statistical equivalence; in the philosophy of science, underdetermination of theory by data. This is often hard to explain and I know few good illustrations that go beyond Wittgenstein’s duckrabbit. This GIF is a really nice illustration – and beautiful too.
If I knew how to post a GIF here, I would. But I couldn’t make that work.
For me, the the star with seven points is the most remarkable aspect of this.
Wittgenstein’s duckrabbit is presumably that creature that looks like both a duck and a rabbit, depending.
Yesterday I found myself in Duke of York Square, which is just along the King’s Road from Sloane Square. So, what with the Duke of York being one of Britain’s most under-rated military leaders, at any rate according to this book, I thought that, this might be a statue of the Duke himself.
But a closer look at the plinth told me different:
Wikipedia tells us more about this, the original Sloane, from whom, of course, Sloane Square took its name, and because of whom Sloanes are called Sloanes. Sir Hans Sloane, it seems, was the collector of scientific specimens who first got the British Museum started. Plus, this:
He is credited with creating drinking chocolate.
Blog and learn. Here is a rather more artistic close-up of this same statue:
This statue is a recreation by Simon Smith of a statue carved in 1737 by John Rysbrack. Smith’s new statue was unveiled in 2007:
The original statue, now deteriorated, is housed in the British Museum, with a cast in the Chelsea Physic Garden. The sculptor, Simon Smith, said: “`I wanted the sculpture to show Sir Hans Sloane as a kind man with a sharp intellect and an enquiring mind. An approachable man of principle and logic, who’s morals and philanthropy are still of benefit to us today.”
The light yesterday was very dim, even early in the afternoon. But whereas buildings often respond well to bright sunlight, I find that statue photos are often deranged if sunlight is unimpeded, and better when the light is more spread around and is coming from lots of different directions, as happens under cloud. Less light, but of the right sort, does the job.
This Great Pagoda, London’s very first Big Thing, was built by Sir William Chambers in 1762. The dragons were a feature of the original Pagoda, but in 1784 they were removed. Being made of wood, and following a burst of wet weather, they had started to rot.
Wikipedia says that Kew Gardens was adopted as a national botanical garden in 1840. Would that be when the Pagoda was opened to the general public? Whenever exactly that was, Kew Gardens and the Great Pagoda have been what we now call visitor attractions for quite a while now.
During World War 2, the Great Pagoda was used to test bombs. You can still see one of the holes they made in all the floors, to allow the bombs to fall. Keeping that for everyone to see now is a nice touch, I think.
Kew Gardens contains lots of greenery, and green stuff on sticks. What do they call those things? Trees. Kew Gardens has lots and lots of trees, of many different brands.
So, on the left here, the hole in the floor. On the right there, the seat made from many trees:
And in the middle, the seat, seen through the hole.
But back to those dragons. The old rotting dragons have now been almost entirely replaced by 3D printed dragons, which look solid but which are actually far lighter than the old-time originals.
On the lowest roof, right near the ground, there was a different sort of dragon, which looked like this:
I wonder what the story was of that one, for there did indeed seem to be only one such blue dragon. Had the original plan been to make all the dragons like that one? But did its structural weakness cause them to abandon that plan, and go with the other darker green dragon with its scary red tongue, and with its rather more solid wings? Don’t know, but whatever the story is, the winning dragon design is pretty good also.
Everything about how the Great Pagoda looks, inside as well as its exterior, says: class. This is a visitor attraction that I warmly recommend. There is no lift, not originally of course, and not now, but the steps, although quite numerous, are at a comfortably mild angle – rather than, say, like the ones in the Monument. Even better, each flight of steps you go up causes you to reach another actual floor, of the sort you can stand on, with windows looking outwards. So, oldies like me can go up two floors, say, and then have a comfortable breather, without blocking anyone else on the stairs. If we are on the right floor, we can even use that multi-treed seat (see above).
The weather on the day that GD2 and I visited Kew Gardens was not perfect. The dragons look rather dark and menacing in my photos. But that look works, I think. And as days out go, this day out was pretty much perfect.