Today, June 5, would be the 70th anniversary of D-Day if not for the last-minute prognostication of British meteorologist James Stagg. The planners of the Normandy landings originally designated June 5, 1944 as D-Day, basing their decision on a favorable combination of tide patterns and a full moon, which would help with pilot visibility. On the evening of June 4, however, Royal Air Force meteorologist Captain James Stagg met with Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower with a dire last-minute warning: a large storm brewing just north of Scotland would bring heavy winds, turbulent seas, and thick cloud cover over the English Channel. Ike's decision to change the invasion to June 6, on the advice of a lone meteorologist practicing an emergent and unreliable science, may have been the turning point of the war. Historian John Ross, author of The Forecast for D-Day and the Weatherman Behind Ike’s Greatest Gamble, contends, "Had Ike listened to his countrymen's predictions and launched D-day on June 5, it would have failed with catastrophic consequences for the Western Allies and world history."
In seven minutes, you can see the evolution of London, as seen in its road network, from the Roman port city of Londonium through the Anglo-Saxon, Tudor, Stuart, Early Georgian and Late Georgian, Early Victorian and Late Victorian, Early 20th Century and Postwar London, set to the scale of the 600 square miles of modern London, though the original city core is a very dense square mile. [more inside]
At first sight the search for peace and stability in Iraq, and the search for physical and mental fitness in the extreme contortions of modern Yoga seem to have absolutely nothing in common. But curiously they do. Both the terrible structural problems and distortions that underly Iraqi society today, and the strange, contorted poses that millions of people perform every day in things like Bikram's Hot Yoga, actually come from the fevered imagination of the British ruling class one hundred years ago. As they felt Britain's power declining they wanted desperately to go back into the past and create a purer and more innocent world, uncorrupted by the messiness of the modern industrial world - a new Eden forged both by strengthening and purifying the human body and by inventing new model countries round the world. And we are still suffering from the consequences of that terrible nostalgia. BODYBUILDING AND NATION-BUILDING
In 1931, Gladys Maud Cockburn-Lange, presented some amazing photos from her deceased husband's days as an RAF pilot in World War I. They were hailed as "the most vividly realistic of all the air records that came out of the war," as they were taken from a camera that was mounted on the plane (example photos). The photos were published in British newspapers in 1932 and years to come, and bound with the diary of the pilot in the book Death in the Air: The War Diary and Photographs of a Flying Corps Pilot. Except it was all a hoax. [more inside]
The truth about the gunshot that changed Germany. On June 2, 1967, a West Berlin police officer named Karl-Heinz Kurras killed a leftist protester named Benno Ohnesorg. This killing galvanized the West German student movement, and led to a decade of protesting and actual armed conflict (notably by the Red Army Faction, aka the Baader-Meinhof gang [previously]). It turns out that the police officer was a member of the Stasi, the infamous East German secret police. [more inside]
That was too close. RAF Tornado comes within 30ft of mid-air collision.
"I can clearly remember people shouting: 'What the hell is that?' I got to a console and people were loudly telling me to look to the east of Salisbury Plain. Twenty miles east of the eastern extremity was a series of returns, or radar blips, which were appearing in that position. There were five of them initially. Then six and then seven all following the same track." Wing Commander Alan Turner MBE was sworn to secrecy after he tracked a series of unidentified objects soaring over southern England at incredible speeds. This is Wing Commanders Turner's account of what he personally observed at RAF Sopley in the summer of l971.
One Solidier free but a second in jail for having a "very informed conscience". Interesting views on motivations later in the interview.