Tuesday, 19 June 2018

The Kome Cave Houses And Cannibalism

 These smooth walled, well maintained, igloo-shaped mud houses near the village of Mateka, in Lesotho, belie their age. Although they appear very recently built, these houses are nearly two hundred years old and have been continuously inhabited, generation after generation, by the descendants of the original people who built them in the early 19th century.
The Ha Kome Cave Village lies a bit off the beaten track, which is true for pretty much any place in the landlocked country of Lesotho that is completely surrounded by South Africa.
What is now Lesotho was originally inhabited by the Sotho–Tswana people when the Zulus started attacking villages and encroaching on their land, forcing the Sothos to flee up into the mountains. Here, continuous attacks from the Zulus forced local tribes to join together for protection, and by 1824, King Moeshoeshoe had established himself as king. This difficult time of widespread chaos and warfare is known as Difaqane or Mfecane, and is one of the darkest periods in the history of Lesotho. It was during Difaqane the ghastly practice of cannibalism arose.
The plundering raids, compounded by drought brought famine so severe that groups of people in several parts of Lesotho began to eat each other. What originally started out of hunger eventually became a habit as the cannibals took a liking for human flesh. Cannibals were said to form themselves into hunting parties and set off daily in search of victims. D.F. Ellenberger, a missionary who arrived in Lesotho in the 1860s, estimated that there were about 4,000 active cannibals in Lesotho between 1822 and 1828, who each ate, on an average, one person a month. Extrapolating these figures, one arrives at a staggering figure of 288,000 people who fell victim to cannibalism. Overall, between one to two million people lost their lives due to warfare during a ten year period.

To escape the gruesome slaughtering and cannibalism, a handful of tribesmen fled to what is now the Ha Kome Cave Village, and built the mud houses inside the cave. The mud houses lie under a huge overhanging rock with the rock wall serving as the back of the houses.
King Moeshoeshoe himself was personally affected by cannibalism—his own grandfather was abducted and devoured when they were passing through a cannibal-infested area. When the King learned about the tragedy, instead of wreaking revenge, he decided to make peace with the cannibals. The story goes that Moshoeshoe instructed his warriors to capture the cannibals but not harm them. The captured cannibals were then given a sumptuous feast at the end of which Moshoeshoe offered each one a cow and a plot of land on which to build a house, saying, “You are the graves of my ancestors, you belong among us.”
King Moeshoeshoe
Moshoeshoe was an astute, benevolent leader whose tact was way ahead of his time. It has been suggested that Moshoshoe’s diplomacy may have influenced modern South African leaders, and the example of Moshoeshoe forgiving the cannibals who ate his grandfather is compared to Nelson Mandela’ act of reconciliation in taking tea with Betsy Verwoerd, the wife of South African Prime Minister and the “the architect of apartheid” Hendrik Verwoerd.
Cannibalism died out by the late 1830s, but these stories survived both in oral tradition and songs, as well as in literary works and history texts. The stories are complemented by the existence of cave houses such as the Ha Kome Cave Village and other sites associated with cannibalism in the landscape.



How The British Fought Fog With Runways of Fire

During the Second World War, British pilots were fighting more than the German Messerschmitts. They were also fighting against the weather—more specifically, with fog.
Fog was responsible for a large number of losses of RAF aircraft returning from bombing missions over Germany. Since most of these raids took place at night, fog would often obscure large areas of the ground making it difficult for the pilots to see the airfields and the runways. In these cases, the pilot would point his airplane towards the sea and then, while still over land, the crew would bail out by parachute leaving the aircraft to harmlessly crash into the ocean. With bombing raids involving several hundred aircraft, a significant number of bombers were lost to fog this way.
An Avro Lancaster of the RAF’s No 35 Squadron takes off with FIDO petrol burners on either side of the runway at Graveley, Huntingdonshire in May 1945.
Fog has always been and continue to be a serious hazard in aviation. Fog leads to poor visibility, and visibility is crucial for making a safe landing. Henry Garrett Houghton, an electrical engineer at MIT, the United States, considered fog “the greatest hindrance to the development of aviation.” He believed that combatting fog would be the first breakthrough for humans trying to use science to modify weather, and a stepping stone to controlling it.
In 1934, Houghton demonstrated that fog could be removed appreciably by spraying the air with calcium chloride. For his demonstration, Houghton built an apparatus consisting of a 100-foot long pipe fitted with downward spraying nozzles that he suspended 30 feet in the air. When the fog rolled through, he sprayed the misty cloud with 2.5 gallons of calcium chloride solution per second. In just three minutes, Houghton’s machine turned an area with visibility of less than 500 feet into one where “buildings more than a quarter-mile away were visible.”
Houghton’s methods, though successful, was less than practical for commercial use in airports because of the vast quantities of calcium chloride required. Besides, calcium chloride is corrosive against the aluminum-alloy bodies of airplanes. Houghton’s research in fog dissipation, however, didn’t go to waste. It morphed into a new research field called cloud physics, which explores atmospheric condensation and precipitation.
Image credit: Popular Science Aug 1945
By the 1940s, it became apparent that the only proven method of dispersing fog on a massive scale is by heating. So Prime Minister Churchill called the Petroleum Warfare department, an organization originally tasked with developing various creative uses of fire to thwart enemy invasion, and instructed them to develop a tool to defeat fog. The weapon that bore out of it was called FIDO—”Fog Investigation Dispersal Operations". When the apparatus proved a brilliant success, it was renamed “Fog Intensive Dispersal Of,” retaining the original code name.
FIDO consisted of two parallel pipelines running along either side of the runway through which fuel was pumped and sprayed out of burner jets positioned at regular intervals along the pipeline. Before an aircraft was due to land, a ground personnel with a flaming torch would run or drive along the pipes lighting the gasoline or kerosene vapors. Flames would shoot up all along the pipes burning with a fierce white-yellow glare, and the heat they generated would evaporate the suspended fog droplets in a matter of minutes. The first successful trial of the FIDO system was in 1942 in Hampshire, when a dense fog of 50 yards' visibility was cleared by petroleum burners in an area about 200 yards square to a height of 80 feet. Before long large-scale FIDO systems were routinely clearing the air to a height of several hundred feet. The glow of the burners could be seen from a hundred kilometers away.
A member of staff at Blackbushe airport, Surrey ignites burners in preparation for aircraft to take off in fog in November 1952
The first operational use of FIDO took place in November 1943, after a little over a year of experimenting. Four Halifaxes landed successfully after a bombing expedition to the Ruhr, on a night when the visibility was only 100 yards prior to the lighting of the FIDO system. The FIDO revolutionized the war. It enabled more than 2,500 Allied aircraft to operate from more than 15 fog-covered airfields throughout Britain, made possible the bombing of Berlin thirty-six nights in succession, and enabled Allied bombers to take to the air during the Battle of the Bulge in December when the entire Europe was enveloped in dense fog.
After the war, there was a plan to install FIDO at Heathrow airport, but the idea was dropped because of the high operating costs—FIDO used huge quantities of fuel, as much as 450,000 liters per hour, while longer airfields used twice as much. Today, a modern aircraft can land in practically zero visibility, thanks to onboard computers and modern inventions such as radar and GPS.

FIDO pumps at RAF Graveley May 1945

Friday, 15 June 2018

Post Apocalyptic Illustrations of Tokyo

Tokyo Genso paints vivid and fantastic illustrations of Tokyo devoid of human habitation, probably long extinct after an apocalypse, and taken over by ruins and nature. He takes photos around Tokyo and using his Photoshop skills to age the city through various natural disasters. His work reminds me a lot of Steve McGhee.

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Sculptures for Giants by Robert Therrien

Robert Therrien recreates everyday objects true to their original material and colour, but on an enlarged scale. In a recent exhibition held at Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, Scotland he featured oversized objects such as chairs and tables.
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Robert Therrien was born in Chicago in 1947 and currently lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, among other venues.
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Thursday, 14 June 2018

Evolution of The World Cup FootBall Since 1930

In the book Evolution of football photographer Jens Haylmann collects photograph of the balls used at the FIFA World Cup since 1930. The gallery below, taken from the author's website, shows how the ball evolved from what looked like a disgusting lump of leather in 1930 to a shining Adidas designed JABULANI ball used in South Africa in 2010.
Adidas started to make soccer balls in 1963 but made the first official FIFA World Cup ball in 1970. The first ball used in the World Cup to use the Buckminster type of design - ball with 32 black and white panels. The TELSTAR was more visible on black and white televisions (1970 FIFA World Cup Mexico was the first to be broadcast live on television).
Adidas introduced a new ball in 1982 which had rubber inlaid over the seams to prevent water from seeping through. The first ball with water-resistant qualities. General wear from kicking however meant the rubber began to wear after a short time and needed to be replaced during the game. The last genuine leather world cup ball.
The FIFA World Cup Mexico in 1986, saw the introduction of the first polyurethane coated ball which was rain-resistant. The first synthetic match ball, with good qualities on hard and wet surfaces.
The ETRVSCO was the first ball with an internal layer of black polyurethane foam.
FIFA World Cup USA, 1994, official ball which was enveloped in a layer of polystyrene foam. This not only made it more waterproof but allowed the ball greater acceleration when kicked. The new game ball felt softer to the touch. Improved ball control and higher velocity during play.
By 1998, FIFA World Cup France was played with a ball which sported the French red-white-blue tri-color. A complete departure from the old traditional black and white pattern.  The first official World Cup colored soccer ball.  The TRICOLORE used underglass print technology with a thin layer of syntactic foam.
For FIFA World Cup Korea Japan, 2002, Adidas created a new ball made up of thicker inner layers to increase the accuracy of the ball in flight.


The Artificial Beaches of Paris

A section of the pedestrian bank along the river Seine in the centre of Paris, has been designated the "Paris Beach" and has become a summer attraction in the city. Thousands of tons of sand are imported along with full size palm trees, beach chairs and chaise-lounges to create what may be the only artificial "beach" in Europe. It's bizarre, but the French love it.
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Initially there was a single beach on the Rive Droite in 2002. In 2006 a second beach was added on the Rive Gauche. The third beach was added this summer on the River Seine. The scheme has proven a major success -  the number of visitors has grown each year and topped four million in 2007. Every season, new features are added which include a shuttle ferry linking the two riverbanks, a floating swimming pool, and another beach area at La Villette, in the northeast corner of the city.
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