Home News

A Second World War Luftwaffe pilot who last saw the city of Bath from the cockpit of a Dornier bomber is to return for the first time in 66 years next month to apologise.

Willi Schludecker, now 87, took part in three raids on the city that killed 400 and destroyed scores of Georgian buildings in April 1942.

The damage done by those bombing raids (it was a legitimate target though: much of the Admiralty was based there during the war) was as nothing to that done by the City Council in the years after it.

One of the bombs actually fell about 100 yards from the parentals (now) house. Got redeveloped at The Bear pub after the war….just gone bust as a result of the smoking ban too.

Another snippet: a bomb or two fell on the south side of Queen Square, destroying the Gerogian terrace there. Rebuilt after the war though (as the Francis Hotel), to complete the square again. You can still see the shrapnel damage on the other side of the square though.

It has been known for German exchage students to have this all pointed out to them.


What goes around comes around.

The artist\’s impression looks like something out of a science fiction film. But a hypersonic passenger plane that could fly to Australia from northern Europe in less than five hours has been designed in Britain. With funding from the European Space Agency, a team of engineers and scientists has come up with the A2, a plane they believe could carry 300 passengers at a top speed of more than 3,000mph.

This looks to me like a retread of the HOTOL concept: it\’s even got the same person designing the engines, Alan Bond. The thing is though that we now know that hypersonic engines do indeed work: we\’ve even supplied bits for a US military version of one that has been tested. Whether they are economic is of couse another matter.

Have to admit I don\’t get this:

A spin-off is that liquid hydrogen is potentially much greener than conventional fuel – rather than producing vast amounts of carbon emissions it gives off water vapour and nitrous oxide.

Given that NOx has a carbon equivalenteffect 296 times greater than CO2 I\’m not sure that\’s much of an advance. But, umm, how does burning H2 in O2 from the atmosphere create NOx?

Any chemists out there?


Leave aside that Winston Churchill nationalised BP

When did that happen?

I know there was a large shareholding, but nationalisation? Did I miss something?

Silly Question About George Orwell

OK, I know George Orwell died of TB. Looking it up it was in 1950.

I\’ve also been aware that although penicillin had been discovered in the late 20s (? That right?) it wasn\’t in anything like regular supply until after WWII. Looking around I see that he first antibiotic for TB treatment was Streptomycin

The first randomized controlled trial to be completed and, therefore, the first to be published, it was run by England\’s Medical Research Council and pitted streptomycin and bed rest against bed rest alone, which was then the standard TB therapy. It accrued its first patients in January 1947.

So Orwell was alive at around the time that the first effective treatment became available…..at least, available to some.

So, does anyone know whether he was treated with it? Or was it just one of these things, he died while the treatment was still in testing, not in general use: a little like if Freddie Mercury had kept going another year or two he would probably still be with us?

Not hugely important, I know, just be interesting to find out.

Donald Rumsfeld

I agree, I\’m not as knowledgeable about the minutiae of American politics as some others, but thi really did surprise me:

The invitees included two young anti-draft Congressmen, Robert Kastenmeier (D-Wisconsin) and Donald Rumsfeld (R-Illinois), and one pro-draft Senator, Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts).

Don Rumsfeld? That Don Rumsfeld? Unknown Unknowns Rumsfeld? Was anti-draft in the 1960s?

That Kennedy would have been pro-, hateful statist creep that he is, doesn\’t surprise me.

Humans and Harems

News that a close relative of Homo Sapiens had harems, rather like the modern gorilla:

An ancient human relative may have had a love life much like the modern gorilla, with single dominant males keeping “harems” of females, research has suggested.

A study of 35 fossilised specimens of Paranthropus robustus – a hominin that lived between 1.5 million and 2 million years ago – has revealed large differences between male and female growth that shed light on its probable mating habits. Paranthropus males continued growing for much longer than do modern human beings, well into adulthood, and eventually reached sizes that made them very much larger than females, according to the analysis led by British and Italian scientists. Most would still have been growing long after their female contemporaries had started to breed.

Such disparities in size between males and females, known as sexual dimorphism, is usually associated throughout the animal kingdom with mating structures in which a single dominant male secures access to plenty of females, while smaller, subordinate males have few opportunities to breed. The gorilla has just such a sex life, with males growing for many years before they develop into fully mature “silverbacks” that start to dominate and acquire a troop of females.

But, er, no, this is not an excuse for you all to go out and get a harem (which, in our long lived species, also means a multiplicity of mothers in law, a somewhat unfortunate side effect).

Paranthropus robustus was not a direct ancestor of modern Man but lay on a separate branch of the human family tree that is now extinct.

Evolutionary dead end, you see?


We adjusting for inflation here or not?

Cotton is trading at 53 cents a pound. It fetched 30 cents in 1860.

1860 New York prices appear to be around 12-13 cents a pound, another estimate is 15 cents for 1857.

Given the inflation rate over the past 150 years it\’s difficult to see it coming out at 30 cents in any way at all. Then again, if we\’re not adjusting fo inflation, it does show that cotton is extremely cheap compared to what it was: as you would expect, given the mechanisation and increase in yields over the time period.

Walter Williams

Very nice indeed:

Whereas, Europeans kept my forebears in bondage some three centuries toiling without pay,

Whereas, Europeans ignored the human rights pledges of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution,

Whereas, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments meant little more than empty words,

Therefore, Americans of European ancestry are guilty of great crimes against my ancestors and their progeny.

But, in the recognition Europeans themselves have been victims of various and sundry human rights violations to wit: the Norman Conquest, the Irish Potato Famine, Decline of the Hapsburg Dynasty, Napoleonic and Czarist adventurism, and gratuitous insults and speculations about the intelligence of Europeans of Polish descent,

I, Walter E. Williams, do declare full and general amnesty and pardon to all persons of European ancestry, for both their own grievances, and those of their forebears, against my people.

Therefore, from this day forward Americans of European ancestry can stand straight and proud knowing they are without guilt and thus obliged not to act like damn fools in their relationships with Americans of African ancestry.