Saturday, April 9

When New York was taken over by the plants

Sometimes bravery can be like unbelievable...imagine flying through this?

So here's the story I read. It is about this pilot who managed to successfully torpedo the most ferociously defended target and got a VC. 

His citation read

Flying Officer Kenneth Campbell, 22 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.In recognition of most conspicuous bravery. This officer was the pilot of a Beaufort aircraft of Coastal Command which was detailed to attack an enemy battle cruiser in Brest Harbour at first light on the morning of 6th April 1941. The aircraft did not return but it is known that a torpedo attack was carried out with the utmost daring. The battle cruiser was secured alongside the wall on the north shore of the harbour, protected by a stone mole bending around it from the west. On rising ground behind the ship stood protective batteries of guns. Other batteries were clustered thickly round the two arms of land which encircle the outer harbour. In this outer harbour near the mole were moored three heavily armed anti-aircraft ships, guarding the battle cruiser. Even if an aircraft succeeded in penetrating these formidable defences, it would be almost impossible, after delivering a low-level attack, to avoid crashing into the rising ground beyond.This was well known to Flying Officer Campbell who, despising the heavy odds, went cheerfully and resolutely to the task. He ran the gauntlet of the defences. Coming in at almost sea level, he passed the anti-aircraft ships at less than mast-height in the very mouths of their guns and skimming over the mole launched a torpedo at point-blank range.The battle cruiser was severely damaged below the water-line and was obliged to return to the dock whence she had come only the day before. By pressing home his attack at close quarters in the face of withering fire on a course fraught with extreme peril, Flying Officer Campbell displayed valour of the highest order.- See more at:*+%29#sthash.rNyGiDWr.dpuf

But this photograph blew my mind

This is a vertical photograph of the flak over this area few nights before. These are tracers. And you know that only one in say 10 bullets is a tracer. So the actual amount of lead and exploding shells is actually 10 times of this photograph. And you have to fly through this insane multiple curtains of death, whilst your bombardier is begging you to fly steady and straight because his norton bombsights cannot handle movements. 

I dont think I can even comprehend the levels of bravery involved. And then we have bloody students demanding safe spaces. The mind boggles. 

Friday, April 8

A Gentleman's Library

On one of the auction sites that I lurk, I came across this fascinating auction, entitled, A Gentleman's Library: collectibles, Books, Paintings and Curiosities.

And then I saw these 126 objects and sat back to imagine what kind of a library would this be? what kind of a gentleman would that be? it would obviously be a large airy room, with tall wooden bookcases with glass doors somewhere or other, with loads of shelves filled with fascinating curios and objects.

the gentleman is obviously fairly rich, very well educated and very widely read across a variety of subjects, topics, ages and locations. He also has an active imagination and has an eye for the interesting and curious.

As part of my research into spices, I am also checking probate records of spice merchants, and I think what you leave behind is a fascinating indication of what you are. What a fascinating exercise to look at what you leave behind and then try to think about what you were...

btw, didnt buy anything, far too expensive for my taste..

Thursday, April 7

A first folio of Shakespears book has been found

This article goes into some wonderful details about how books are validated and how this particular antiquarian book of Shakespears work was found. Totally amazing

Shakespeare First Folio discovered on Scottish island

I found the sentence, he introduced kangaroos to the island and it was killed by the first car on the island. Now there's coming together. Funny. 

The Bankrupt Irishman Who Created the Dollar Sign by Accident

This was such a fascinating story kids. But I have a sneaky admiration for the man. He did his bit hugely. And despite him being declared bankrupt, he kept on working. Without him, the USA or the dollar sign wouldn't have happened. 
Such an interesting episode and historical factoid. 

The Bankrupt Irishman Who Created the Dollar Sign by Accident
(via Instapaper)

The only known depiction of Oliver Pollock, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo: Richard Cummins/Alamy)

Wars cost money. So when the Revolutionary War broke out, the Colonies turned to a number of sources for backing. The top contributors to America's Independence: The Kingdoms of France and Spain, the Dutch banking conglomerate, and a single Irish merchant based in New Orleans. His name was Oliver Pollock, and he was the "Financier of the Revolution in the West."
Pollock saw opportunity in war– the chance for a young but wealthy immigrant to stand as a symbol of success and greatness. He desired to carve out a place for himself in America's financial landscape and perhaps even leave a mark in the nation's history. He achieved all those things. Just not in the way he expected.

Wednesday, April 6

The strange case of a Nazi who became an Israeli hitman

This made me gape. Such an amazing story. While I read commando comics when I was a boy about world war 2 special forces soldiers, Otto was a real life special forces man. And I knew about his exploits in that theatre. 
But his exploits after the war not so much. And when I read this article I was gobsmacked. What a fascinating man. Totally walking beyond  where normal soldiers walk. So amazing. And also the related story is about how Mossad protected Israel. You need the 007's. Wet work is required. Some acts are done by the state which can be plausibly denied. 
Fascinating story kids. 

The strange case of a Nazi who became an Israeli hitman - Israel News
(via Instapaper)

On September 11, 1962, a German scientist vanished. The basic facts were simple: Heinz Krug had been at his office, and he never came home.
The only other salient detail known to police in Munich was that Krug commuted to Cairo frequently. He was one of dozens of Nazi rocket experts who had been hired by Egypt to develop advanced weapons for that country.
HaBoker, a now defunct Israeli newspaper, surprisingly claimed to have the explanation: The Egyptians kidnapped Krug to prevent him from doing business with Israel.
But that somewhat clumsy leak was an attempt by Israel to divert investigators from digging too deeply into the case — not that they ever would have found the 49-year-old scientist.
We can now report — based on interviews with former Mossad officers and with Israelis who have access to the Mossad's archived secrets from half a century ago — that Krug was murdered as part of an Israeli espionage plot to intimidate the German scientists working for Egypt.
Moreover, the most astounding revelation is the Mossad agent who fired the fatal gunshots: Otto Skorzeny, one of the Israeli spy agency's most valuable assets, was a former lieutenant colonel in Nazi Germany's Waffen-SS and one of Adolf Hitler's personal favorites among the party's commando leaders. The Führer, in fact, awarded Skorzeny the army's most prestigious medal, the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, for leading the rescue operation that plucked his friend Benito Mussolini out from the hands of his captors.

But that was then. By 1962, according to our sources — who spoke only on the promise that they not be identified — Skorzeny had a different employer. The story of how that came to be is one of the most important untold tales in the archives of the Mossad, the agency whose full name, translated from Hebrew, is "The Institute for Intelligence and Special Missions."
Otto Skorzeny with the liberated Mussolini – 12 September 1943.Wikimedia Commons /Toni Schneiders

Tuesday, April 5

Cradle of democracy: When Pondicherry fought for the right to vote in 1789

This was such an interesting article. If there is one thing which people get excited about, it's unfair discrimination. Whether it's on racial grounds or national origin or gender, this is a constant fight. The right to form groups is way gets in the way. That's why clubs and situations like the below happen. Religion kids, is one of the biggest sources of discrimination and that's why I hate it. 
Still a fascinating article on how the good fight for equal rights was fought in a little corner of India. Against the country which will end up doing the greatest for the rights of man. Kannu I'm referring to the Thomas Paine rights of man argument. :) 
Don't forget to book the fat crab today Kannu. 
Love both of you. 

Cradle of democracy: When Pondicherry fought for the right to vote in 1789
(via Instapaper)

As Pondicherry prepares for legislative assembly elections this spring, it brings to mind a neglected anniversary: over 225 years have passed since residents of this former French colony first sought the right to vote.
Pondicherry is full of signs of France's colonial presence, which lasted from 1674 to 1954. Streets named after French officials, monuments to Indians who fought for France in the First World War, and the accents of French tourists who lounge in cafés all show that the heritage lives on.

A monument commemorates Pondicherrians who died in the First World War. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

But no monument acknowledges that Pondicherry was a cradle of Indian democracy, where Indians, facing off against an openly racist empire, first tried to participate in elections.
In the summer of 1789, the power of the French king collapsed and democratically-elected local governments sprouted across the French empire, including in Pondicherry. The white inhabitants of the colony, numbering only a few hundred (less than 2% of its total population), elected their own town government and excluded Indians from the elections. They claimed that the right to vote would be wasted on Indians, whom they described as too obsessed with caste prejudice to understand democracy. The French meant to have democracy all to themselves, while continuing to impose colonial rule on their Indian subjects.
Pondicherrians, however, not only understood the idea of equality, but were eager to put it into practice. Several communities pursued different kinds of political action to pressure the French government to recognise that Indians deserved the rights of citizenship.