Thursday, September 27, 2007

Odd picture collection

I am going off to another week-long writing conference, so am posting this collection of oddments from my files to help you keep your brains going while I'm gone. I have no idea where any of these came from anymore, but find them oddly intriguing. Bear with me until I get back (on the 7th)! Perhaps if you have any good ideas for captions...?

Elephants swimming

No idea whatever!

Steam carriage (note resemblance to the one in Golden Compass)

"Tubas of Doom", is what my daughter calls these; they are from Japan in the 1930s, that's all I can remember, and I never did find out what they really are.

Well, I know what this is, but I'm not saying.

Slave Pens from the American South; this is an amazing, shocking picture that I've been saving for something meaningful. Speaks volumes about things we don't talk about enough.

Daimler Steam Motorcycle

Crozier head

Train Galley


CyborgAbeLincoln said...

The "Tubas of Doom" are for locating aircraft. Since radar did not show up until WWII, this was one of the methods devised to detect aircraft before you could see them. All of those big horns fed down to a tube that the operator listened to... kind of like a phonograph in reverse. Because of the shape, this array was very directional, so the whole thing was rotated back and forth until the operator heard the sound of an engine and then knew in which direction and (I assume) about how far away the airplane was. I have seen pictures also of British or American versions of the same thing, but they are lacking the Dr. Seussian quality of the Japanese edition.

This is speculation, but I would guess the blue and red fembots are for men practicing ballroom dancing. Since they do not have legs as such (maybe there are casters underneath?), the open areas in the middle would be about where the man would need to put his feet while waltzing.

BTW, I very much enjoy your blog, and it has inspired me lately to go out and have the librarians dig up "Connections" from the vaults of the Buffalo, NY library, whence it had lain unread for quite some time, as there was not even a barcode for checking it out.

Jon-o said...

The tubas o' doom are actually a pre-radar listening device. I googled about looking for a page on these devices, and actually found that very picture
here, captioned 'the japanese war tuba'.

Deth said...

The things from japan that look like giant tubas are actually used to detect airplanes at a distance. Kind of like radar, but much less effective (as one might imagine).

annie said...

One for each day you'll be away? :) I'll miss the wonderment, but these will fuel me in the off-days.

Bart said...

But, what IS that orange picture showing??? You made me curious. Might be one for your list: I'll be as curious as i can be. ;-)

Anonymous said...

The orange picture reminds of a picture I took in Spain of a bath/pool underneath a castle. I don't think it's the same one though, as the color seems too uniform (like paint, whereas this one was stone), and I remember some sort of grate at the very rear.

Wood said...

I was gonna leave a comment about the Japanese war tubas, but since 3 persons already did, I'll only state that one of the 2 people on the photograph is Emperor Hiro-Hito. Or so it said on the site where I first saw that photograph.

Wood said...

Also : is the orange picture taken from a hammam, or turkish bath ? It certainly feels that way.

Heather McDougal said...

Okay, you're right. The orange picture is from the newly-renovated Hammam Banos Arabes, in Madrid, which I think is old, possibly dating back to the Moorish days of Spain (anyone know?). I was fascinated by this because of the way the different rooms did not contain baths, but actually were baths. Look at the floor: it is completely flooded. Very cool. I plan to go there if I ever get back to Madrid.

Wood said...

The no-idea-whatsoever picture seems to be of robots made for dancing with, as seen in this article :,23599,22578725-13762,00.html
Although they don't give much more explanations.

Wood said...

Okay, it IS a ballroom partner dancing robot :

Heather McDougal said...

Yay! Thanks for clearing it up, once and for all. How inordinately Japanese. Still can't decide if I preferred it to remain a mystery...Still, knowing that it is designed to respond to your touch is actually pretty interesting. Thanks!

Heather McDougal said...

Someone has written to me with the actual name of those devices:

"For your information, the tubas of doom that you have on your web site are hyper-binaural ear trumpets, used during the war by the Japanese to listen for enemy (i.e., U.S.) bombers. I think that's Emperor Hirohito inspecting them."

(Prof.) Michael Cohen, Ph.D.
Assistant Director, Software Dept.
Spatial Media Group, Computer Arts Lab.
University of Aizu, Japan

Thanks, Dr. Cohen!