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How did St Paul’s survive the Blitz?
There was an unofficial lull in the Blitz attacks on London, for Christmas in 1940. But by 29 December, the German bomber planes had returned with renewed vigour. St Paul’s Cathedral famously survived, but how?
It became known as the Second Great Fire of London – the night 70 years ago that devastating air raids turned the capital into a conflagration.
29 December 1940
- London’s 114th night of the Blitz
- First bombs dropped at 1815 GMT, all-clear given just after midnight
- Bombers gave up due to fog in the Channel
It had been a Christmas underground for many people, who slept in Underground stations or festively-decorated air raid shelters. For two nights, the bomber planes had not come, and the anti-aircraft guns remained silent.
That peculiar silence had already been broken as dusk fell on 29 December. The enemy aircraft had returned, dropping incendiary devices and parachute mines in many tens of thousands. Their target? The City of London.
By 1830 GMT on that cold Sunday evening, the Square Mile was in flames. Banks, offices, churches and homes were under threat, in the same streets burnt to a cinder in 1666. A US war reporter based in the city cabled his office: “The second Great Fire of London has begun.”
Prime Minister Winston Churchill sent word that St Paul’s Cathedral should be protected at all costs – it would boost morale to save Christopher Wren’s masterpiece.
But there was a hitch – a major one. Water was in short supply. The mains were being bombed, and although hoses could be filled from the nearby Thames, it was at an unusually low ebb – and unexploded bombs lay in the mud.
Nor was that the only threat to life and limb. Bombs, embers and debris rained down on the streets as they raced to battle the flames.
Christmas in the Blitz
- Councils ran best-decorated shelter contests
- Demand high for very short Christmas trees, to fit inside cramped and low-roofed shelters
- Food was heavily rationed
- Gift-giving discouraged, and people urged to give to the war effort instead
Fireman Sam Chauveau was on duty that night. “By the time we finished tackling the fires on the roof of the [Stock] Exchange, the sky, which was ebony black when we first got up there, was now changing to a yellowy orange colour. It looked like there was an enormous circle of fire, including St Paul’s churchyard.”
Bombs rained down on the cathedral. Volunteer firewatchers patrolled its myriad corridors, armed with sandbags and water pumps to douse the flames.
At about 2100 GMT, an incendiary device lodged on the roof, and the burning mercury inside began to melt the lead of the iconic dome. But luck was on the side of the firewatchers. The bomb dislodged, fell to the floor of the stone gallery, and was smothered with a sandbag.
St Paul’s was saved.
But many more buildings were lost. Tram lines and water mains were destroyed, and the streets strewn with rubble. A dozen firemen died that night, and 162 civilians also perished. Those who survived firefighting duties suffered burns, eye problems and smoke inhalation.
The story goes that Air Marshall Arthur “Bomber” Harris, surveying the damage, remarked, “Well, they’re sowing the wind.” It was under his lead that RAF Bomber Command wreaked firestorms upon German cities. Before a 1,000-plane raid on Cologne, he told the newsreel cameras: “Now they are going to reap the whirlwind.”
What 's the name of the imaginary creatures?
grem·lin (grmln) (The Free dictionary)
They are called gremlins, gnomes, elves, goblins.
In our film, there is an opposition between “mogwai”: the pure, intact and innocent creature before its “fall” and “ gizmo”, the nickname given to “mogwai” by Billy’s father, the inventor of the American family.
A gizmo is an object, an artefact= un truc, un machin
Friends, let me introduce myself.
Peltzer's the name.
That's me there on the corner.
I'm an inventor.
And I have a story to tell.
Who hasn 't got a story?
Well, nobody's got a story like this one.
It all started here in Chinatown.
Where does the scene take place?
The first scene takes place in the streets of Chinatown, New York City in the USA.
Are the streets deserted?
No, they aren’t deserted. Quite the opposite!
Are there many people in the streets?
Yes, there are many people in the streets.
It is dark and the scene takes place during the night.
Who is the film-maker?
Joe Dante is the film-maker. He is very fond of horror and keen on suspense.
He likes shooting films with a lot of actions and suspense.
What is your first impression?
The beginning is mysterious, strange and scary because of the dark streets at night.
It is also strange because of the full moon.
Elements contributing to suspense:
- Actions and more particularly sudden actions
- Music: rhythmic music, classical music, music including strong and weak beats and rhythms
- Full moon, dark streets, night, silence
- Other elements: the beginning of the film when the narrator says that his story is different from other stories and that it is the best!
A manichean view of the world or a film in black and white: the goodies and the baddies
Who are the goodies?
Billy and his girlfriend, Gizmo, the wise Chinese grand-father
Who are the baddies?
The gremlins (but not really their fault)
I underline the correct words or expressions describing the gremlins in red and in green the words describing Gizmo:
strange- bizarre- nice and beautiful-scary and frightening - they give me the creeps!-cute and affectionate- smiling and friendly- devilish, cruel and vampire-like-creepy!- innocent and pure- wicked
Il faut deviner de quelle scène il s’agit et reporter le nom des personnages qui parlent: Honey, this is the gentleman who sold me the mogwai.
"Sold. " An interesting choice of words.
Conflicting eyewitness reports concerning "little green men".. You teach him to watch television? There was, I believe, a box.
Rand, your scarf.
I warned you. With mogwai comes much responsibility.But you didn't listen.
And you see what happens.
I didn't mean it.
You do with mogwai what your society...has done with all of nature's gifts.
You do not understand.
You are not ready.
He has something to say to you.
You understand what he says when he speaks to you? To hear, one has only to listen. Bye, Billy.
Perhaps someday you may be ready. Until then, mogwai...will be waiting.
Excuse me, sir.
Before you go, I wanted to tell you...that I am truly sorry for what's happened.
And if you would accept it, I'd like to...give you this small token.
There's one other one. This is an invention of mine.
How did you know?
Man at gas station tried to sell me.
Latest word in technology.
Very generous of you.
I'm sure it will come in handy
Well, that's the story.
So if your air conditioner goes on the fritz, your washing machine blows up...
...or your video recorder conks out....before you call the repairman ...turn on the lights, check the closets and cupboard and... look under all the beds. Because you never can tell.
There just might be a gremlin in your house.
Gremlin Naughtynaughty by Dorine
« I am Naughtynaughty !»
« I am very old with very ugly features! »
« I have got sharp long ears and spiky teeth!
” I can bite!”
« My skin is full of wrinkles! »
« My eyes are red! »
« I am very strong and everybody is afraid of me! »
« I am like the devil and like a monster! »
« People are afraid of me and they run when they see me! »
« In fact, I am very kind and sentimental! »
« I am very romantic! »
« I am the most romantic person in the world! »
« My heart is full of golden flowers and colourful roses! »
« My real name is Heartyhearty Georgygeorgy! »
The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, first published in 1954
They possessed the art of disappearing swiftly and silently.[...]
For they are a little people, smaller than Dwarves[...]. Their height is variable, ranging between two and four feet of our measure. [...] All hobbits had originally lived in holes in the ground.
- Plusieurs extraits de films sont visibles à divers moments du film. Il s'agit de :
- Blanche-Neige et les Sept Nains (1937) : le dessin animé que regardent les Gremlins au cinéma.
- L'Invasion des profanateurs de sépultures (1956) : Billy et Gizmo regardent ce film dans la chambre pendant que les mauvais mogwaïs s'empiffrent. Gizmo semble être assez effrayé par le film !
- La vie est belle (1946) : la mère de Billy regarde ce film à la télé tout en faisant la cuisine (elle affirme que ce dernier est triste), juste avant que le père ne revienne avec le Mogwai.
- Pour plaire à sa belle (1950) : Gizmo est très ému par ce film lorsqu'il le regarde à la télé dans la chambre de Billy. À la fin du film, il y repense lorsqu'il parcourt le magasin de jouets en voiture.
- Parmi les références à d'autres films, on peut noter :
- L'Empire contre-attaque (1980) : lorsque Stripe qui envoie tout ce qui lui tombe sous la main sur Billy, référence à la scène entre Dark Vador et Luke à la fin de l'épisode V de Star Wars.
- Hurlements (1981) : lorsque Billy descend à la cuisine afin de chercher de la nourriture pour les Gremlins affamés, on aperçoit un "souriard" sur la porte du frigo. Celui-ci annonçait la venue du loup-garou dans Hurlements du même réalisateur. Plus tard, des photos du film sont affichées dans le cinéma où les Gremlins regardent « Blanche-Neige ».
- La Machine à explorer le temps (1960) : lorsque Rand appelle sa femme depuis le congrès des inventeurs, on aperçoit derrière lui la machine à explorer le temps en train de monter en puissance. Puis on voit les cocons, et lorsque la caméra revient au congrès, la machine a disparu, laissant des visiteurs perplexes.
- Flashdance (1983) Dans la scène du bar, on peut voir un Gremlins en tenue de danseuse imiter la chorégraphie de l'héroïne de Flashdance.
- Planète interdite (1956) : on aperçoit Robby le robot au congrès des inventeurs, notamment dans une conversation téléphonique où il parle avec un chapeau sur la tête. Ses paroles sont tirées de la fin de Planète interdite lorsqu'il discute de production d'alcool avec le cuistot du C57-D.
- Le Magicien d'Oz (1939) : le personnage de Mme Deagle est très proche d'Almira Gulch, la voisine acariâtre de Dorothy. Elle vient d'ailleurs à la banque pour chercher le chien de Billy qu'elle accuse d'avoir démoli son bonhomme de neige importé de Bavière. La mort du dernier gremlins est une référence à la mort de la vilaine sorcière de l'ouest ( la sorcière reçoit de l'eau sur elle et commence à fondre = le gremlin sort de l'eau et frappé par le soleil,fond).
- Les Aventuriers de l'arche perdue (1981) : le panneau publicitaire géant de la radio « Rockn' Ricky Rialto » est fortement inspiré de l'affiche des Aventuriers de l'Arche perdue, comme de celle de Indiana Jones et le temple maudit sorti en 1984, deux semaines avant Gremlins.
- James Bond : Chez Dorry, Gérald le vice-président commande une vodka martini au shaker et non à la cuillère, qui est la boisson préféré du célèbre agent secret.
- Poltergeist : Lorsque Steven Spielberg fait son apparition sur un chariot avec la jambe plâtrée, il visionne une scène de Poltergeist.
- E.T. l'extra-terrestre : Quand le gremlin débranche la ligne téléphonique, il dit "téléphone maison". On peut aussi distinguer une figurine de E.T. dans le magasin de jouet lorsque le gremlin est caché dans les rayons.
Could another Icelandic volcano erupt soon?
By Victoria Gill
Science reporter, BBC News
As scientists and air travellers alike keep a close eye on Iceland’s ongoing volcanic eruption, some reports suggest that another, much bigger, volcano could stir in the near future.
Katla is Eyjafjallajokull’s more active neighbour, and scientists believe that there may be a link between the two volcanoes.
This link has not been physically proven, explains Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson a geophysicist from the University of Iceland. A circumstantial, historical connection “is putting people’s eyes on Katla,” he says.
“We know of four Eyjafjallajokull eruptions in the past [dating back to AD 500] and in three out of these four cases, there has been a Katla eruption either at the same time or shortly after.
“By shortly, I mean timescales of months to a year.
“We consider that the probability of Katla erupting in the near future has increased since Eyjafjallajokull went.”
Kathryn Goodenough from the British Geological Survey points out that, as yet, there is no physical explanation for this apparent link.
It seems that when Eyjafjallajokull goes off, Katla tends to follow.
British Geological Survey
“Scientists don’t yet know what the connection is,” she says.
“But we know there are fissures running between the two volcanoes. And they’re quite close to each other.
“They’re also being subjected to the same tectonic forces. So the chances are that if magma can find a pathway to rise beneath one of them, it can find its way to rise beneath the other.”
Researchers do know that the two volcanoes have separate magma chambers, but many suspect that these chambers are physically linked in some way, deep beneath the surface of the Earth.
“But this is only speculative,” says Dr Goodenough. “We don’t have geophysical evidence that makes that clear.”
Katla’s last eruption was in 1918. It lasted for three weeks and up to a cubic kilometre of material exploded through its vent.
“It’s a much more active volcano than Eyjafjallajokull – it has had about 20 eruptions in the last 1,000 years, so it erupts about once every 50 years on average,” says Professor Gudmundsson.
The combination of ice and magma makes for an explosive eruption
“At first glance people would say it’s now long overdue. But the larger the eruption, the longer the pause (in) time that follows it, and that 1918 eruption was large.”
At the moment, there is no seismic activity detectable underneath Katla that would indicate that magma is moving upward underneath it.
Scientists from the Icelandic Meteorological Office are looking at such signals and updating their website regularly with the seismic data that is being produced.
But Dr Goodenough points out that, with Eyjafjallajokull “we only had a few hours warning”.
“Seismic monitoring does not necessarily give you advance notice of an eruption.”
But it remains a case of watch, wait and look for signs of activity, because it is almost impossible to draw clear conclusions from the historical record, which is simply too short.
While both volcanoes have been repeatedly erupting for millions of years, the earliest eruptions on scientists’ records occurred less than 2,000 years ago.
“We haven’t established any physical link [between the volcanoes] – we only have this circumstantial evidence,” says Professor Gudmundsson. “And we simply don’t have enough data to be able to work out what the probability of a Katla eruption is.”
Katla is much larger than Eyjafjallajokull, with a magma chamber about 10 times the size.
If and when it does go off, the combination of the magma and the large ice sheet covering the volcano could lead to explosive activity for a long time, says Dr Goodenough.
It is the explosive nature of the current volcanic eruption, which caused an ash plume to be sent high into the atmosphere and affect flights in the UK and Europe.
More worryingly for the people of Iceland, an eruption at Katla would probably cause major flooding. The volcano’s ice sheet is 600-700m thick and all of this ice would quickly melt on to the surrounding area, which is primarily agricultural land.
But Professor Gudmundsson says there are “no signs yet” of an impending eruption. “Our eyes are not glued to Katla, we are thinking about the eruption that is happening now.”
But Dr Goodenough adds that “substantial amounts of magma” are rising underneath both volcanoes.
“And it seems that when Eyjafjallajokull goes off, Katla tends to follow.”
October 12, 2009, 3:31 pm
The Web’s Inventor Regrets One Small Thing
By STEVE LOHR
Any conversation with Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the Web’s bedrock software standards, tends to be fast-paced and nonlinear. When he worked at the CERN physics laboratory in Geneva, colleagues tried to get him to speak French instead of English, in hopes of slowing him down.
No surprise, then, that a half-hour dialogue with Mr. Berners-Lee, director of the World Wide Web Consortium and these days a professor at M.I.T., at a symposium on the future of technology last Thursday, fit that mold. I started, just for fun, with a historical question. If he were do it over again today, would he do anything differently? Any regrets?
Mr. Berners-Lee smiled and admitted he might make one change — a small one. He would get rid of the double slash “//” after the “http:” in Web addresses.
The double slash, though a programming convention at the time, turned out to not be really necessary, Mr. Berners-Lee explained. Look at all the paper and trees, he said, that could have been saved if people had not had to write or type out those slashes on paper over the years — not to mention the human labor and time spent typing those two keystrokes countless millions of times in browser address boxes. (Today’s browsers, of course, automatically fill in the “http://” preamble when a user types a Web address.)
With history dispatched, Mr. Berners-Lee focused on his current enthusiasm — getting more government data on the Web, in the interest of openness, transparency and efficiency. Mr. Berners-Lee is working with the British government in its efforts to do so, and at the symposium he cited some favorite examples of benefits of simple mash-ups like combining roadway maps with bicycle accident reports. The result, he said, helps bikers know which roads to avoid to reduce their chances of being hit by a car.
In a separate interview at the symposium in Washington, sponsored by the Finnish government and the Technology Academy Foundation, Mr. Berners-Lee said this was the year when governments around the world, led by Britain and the United States, are beginning to put vast amounts of information they collect on the Web. It is often seemingly mundane data in raw form, he said, including traffic, local weather, public safety and health data.
But the lesson of the Web, Mr. Berners-Lee said, is that making information and simple online tools freely available inevitably fuels innovation. If you liberate the data, he asked, who knows what applications people will create?
“Innovation is serendipity, so you don’t know what people will make,” he said. “But the openness, transparency and new uses of the data will make government run better, and that will make business run better as well.”
New Zealand girl, 14, uses body-board to fend off shark
A teenager from New Zealand has saved herself from the jaws of a shark by using her body-board to defend herself.
Fourteen-year-old Lydia Ward said she was at a beach near the southern city of Invercargill when the shark struck.
The shark, about 1.5m (4.9ft) in length, is reported to have lunged at her and tried to bite her hip.
Standing in water that only reached up to her waist at Oreti Beach, she said she hit the "big, grey, slippery thing" repeatedly with her body-board.
"I showed Dad and he didn't really believe me but then I showed him my wetsuit with all the blood coming out and he believed me," Lydia told Radio New Zealand.
Although not seriously injured, Lydia required hospital treatment for two of the deeper wounds.
Her mother told a local newspaper that Lydia thought she had accidentally stood on the shark before it had attacked her.
She said neither Lydia nor her 15-year-old brother, also in the water at the time of the attack, planned to go back into the sea in the very near future.
Shark attacks are very rare. Researchers say that more people die from bee stings and lightning strikes than shark attacks.