Sunday, 28 February 2010


Geologically, a fjord (pronounced /fjɔrd/ ( listen) or /fiːɔrd/) is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides, created in a valley carved by glacial activity.

Hardangerfjord in Hordaland, Norway

Fjords are formed when a glacier cuts a U-shaped valley by abrasion of the surrounding bedrock. Many such valleys were formed during the recent ice age. Glacial melting is accompanied by rebound of Earth's crust as the ice load and eroded sediment is removed (also called isostasy or glacial rebound). In some cases this rebound is faster than sea level rise. Most fjords are deeper than the adjacent sea; Sognefjord, Norway, reaches as much as 1,300 m (4,265 ft) below sea level. Fjords generally have a sill or rise at their mouth caused by the previous glacier's terminal moraine, in many cases causing extreme currents and large saltwater rapids (see skookumchuck). Saltstraumen in Norway is often described as the worlds strongest tidal
current. These characteristics distinguish fjords from rias (e.g. the Bay of Kotor), which are drowned valleys flooded by the rising sea.

A historic photograph of the Geirangerfjord in Norway

Fjord features and variations

Coral reefs
As late as 2000, some coral reefs were discovered along the bottoms of the Norwegian fjords. These reefs were found in fjords from the north of Norway to the south. The marine life on the reefs is believed to be one of the most important reasons why the Norwegian coastline is such a generous fishing ground. Since this discovery is fairly new, little research has been done. The reefs are host to thousands of lifeforms such as plankton, coral, anemones, fish, several species of shark, and many more. Most are specially adapted to life under the greater pressure of the water column above it, and the total darkness of the deep sea.
New Zealand's fjords are also host to deep sea corals, but a surface layer of dark fresh water allows these corals to grow in much shallower water than usual. An underwater observatory in Milford Sound allows tourists to view them without diving.
In some places near the seaward margins of areas with fjords, the ice-scoured channels are so numerous and varied in direction that the rocky coast is divided into thousands of island blocks, some large and mountainous while others are merely rocky points or rock reefs, menacing navigation. These are called skerries. The term skerry is derived from the Old Norse sker, which means a rock in the sea.
Skerries are most commonly formed at the outlet of fjords where submerged glacially formed valleys perpendicular to the coast join with other cross valleys in a complex array. The island fringe of Norway is such a group of skerries (called a skjærgård); many of the cross fjords are so arranged that they parallel the coast and provide a protected channel behind an almost unbroken succession of mountainous islands and skerries. By this channel one can travel through a protected passage almost the entire 1,601 km (995 mi) route from Stavanger to North Cape, Norway. The Blindliea is a skerry-protected waterway that starts near Kristiansand in southern Norway, and continues past Lillesand. The Swedish coast along Bohuslan is likewise skerry guarded. The Inside Passage provides a similar route from Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia to Skagway, Alaska. Yet another such skerry protected passage extends from the Straits of Magellan north for 800 km (500 mi).

Freshwater fjords
Some Norwegian freshwater lakes which have formed in long glacially carved valleys with terminal moraines blocking the outlet follow the Norwegian naming convention; they are named fjords. Outside of Norway, the three western arms of New Zealand's Lake Te Aneu are named North Fiord, Middle Fiord and South Fiord. Another freshwater "fjord" in a larger lake is Baie Fine, located on the northeastern coast of Georgian Bay of Lake Huron in Ontario. Western Brook Pond, in Newfoundland's Gros Morne sea, so is not a fjord in the English sense of the term. Such lakes are sometimes called "fjord lakes". Okanagan Lake was the first North American lake to be so described, in 1962. The bedrock there has been eroded up to 650 m (2,133 ft) below sea level, which is 2,000 m (6,562 ft) below the surrounding regional topography. Fjord lakes are common on the inland lea of the Coast Mountains and Cascade Range; notable ones include Lake
Chelan, Seton Lake, Chilko Lake, and Atlin Lake. ootenay Lake, Slocan Lake and others in the basin of the Columbia River are also fjord-like in nature, and created by glaciation in the same way. Along the British Columbia Coast a notable fjord-lake is Owikeno Lake, which is a freshwater extension of Rivers Inlet. Another area notable for fjord lakes is northern Italy and southern Switzerland - Lake Como and its neighbours.

Animal Crackers

Submit!! Submit!!

Rules For Ensemble Players

A wrong note played timidly is a wrong note. A wrong note played with authority is an interpretation.
When everyone else has finished playing, you should not play any notes you have left. If you have notes left over, please play them on the way home.
If you play a wrong note, give a nasty look to one of your partners.

Why Do We Say That?

A bushel was a container for measuring grain. In Matthew 15:15 Jesus said "Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel but on a candlestick."

This comes from the Saxon word moot or mote, which meant a meeting to discuss things. A moot point was one that needed to be discussed or debated.

Means cowardly. People once believed that your passions came from your liver. If you were lily livered your liver was white (because it did not contain any blood). So you were a coward.

In the Middle Ages people thought that bear cubs were born shapeless and their mother literally licked them into shape.

Today's Smile

Annual Golf Trip

Ron and his mates were in the pub planning their annual7-day golf trip to Spain in September.Unfortunately, he had to tell them that he couldn't go because his wife wouldn't let him go. After a lot of teasing and name calling, Ron headed home totally frustrated. In September when Ron's mates arrived at the golf resort, they were shocked to see Ron sitting in the lobby, drinking a beer, holding his putter!"How did you talk your wife into letting you go, Ron?""I didn't have to," Ron replied. "Last I night I slumped down in my chair with a beer to drown my sorrows. Then, my wife snuck up behind me and covered my eyes and said, 'Surprise.' When I peeled her hands back, she was standing there in a beautiful see-through negligee and said, 'Carry me into the bedroom and tie me to the bed, and you can do whatever you want'......SO HERE I AM!"

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Looking Back - Hindus Die In Train Fire

On this day in 2002, fifty-seven Hindu pilgrims died in a fire on a train in India.
The fire happened as the Sabarmati Express, bound for Ahmedabad, was pulling out of Godhra station in the western state of Gujarat at approximately 0630 hours.
The train was returning hundreds of Hindu activists from a pilgrimage to the disputed holy site of Ayodhya in the northern Indian state of Uttar P, which is claimed by both Muslims and Hindus.
A gang of Muslims are suspected of causing the fire and India's prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has appealed for calm amid fears of renewed religious tension in the country.
'Sad and unfortunate'
The dispute over Ayodhya has been ongoing for several years.
In 1992 the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), or World Hindu Council, organised a demonstration which resulted in the destruction of a 500-year-old Moghul mosque at Ayodhya.
The Hindus believe the mosque occupied the same spot where their god Ram was born.
The destruction of the mosque sparked the most widespread rioting India has seen since partition, and resulted in the deaths of more than 3,000 people.
More than 14,000 Hindus had gathered at Ayodhya in recent weeks to plan the construction of a temple. They have set a deadline of 15 March for work to begin.
According to the head of police in Godhra, Raju Bhargava, it appears this morning's train fire was started by a gang of Muslims who were angered by pro-Hindu chanting on the train.
Initial evidence suggests kerosene was poured into four of the carriages before they were set alight.
Local resident Rakesh Kimani, 18, witnessed the event: "I heard screams for help as I came out of my house.
"I saw a huge ball of fire... people putting out their hands and heads through the windows, trying to escape.
"It was a horrible sight."
Schools and shops have been shut in Godhra and a curfew has been imposed. Police in the town have been ordered to shoot troublemakers on sight.
Prime Minister Vajpayee, whose Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), allied to the VHP, came to power in the mid-1990s in a landslide victory, said: "This is a very sad and unfortunate incident.
"The Ayodhya dispute can be solved only by dialogue between Hindus and Muslims or resolved by the court. It cannot be resolved through violent means or agitation.
"I would appeal to the VHP to suspend their campaign and help government in maintaining peace and brotherhood in the country."
But the VHP has called for a state-wide strike to protest against the attack and the more militant members have vowed to continue with the temple's construction.
There have been scattered reports of clashes between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat after news of the train attack spread.

The incident sparked days of rioting in Gujarat state in which at least 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, died.
Vehicles and debris were set on fire in the streets of Gujarat's capital, Ahmadabad and rioting by Hindus was reported in several other cities in Gujarat state.
The final death toll in the train fire was 59.
In January 2005 an interim inquiry into the fire, led by Supreme Court judge Umesh Chandra Banerjee, found it had not been started by Muslims at all but had started accidentally.
The Hindu Nationalist opposition party the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) called the report "politically motivated".
Another inquiry, by the Justice Nanavati Commission is looking at the Gujarat riots and will have the power to recommend legal action.
A number of Muslims were arrested after the riots and are still being held on charges related to the trouble, but no trial has taken place.
The conflict over Ayodhya is ongoing with Muslims and Hindus campaigning for a mosque and a temple to be built on the site.

Global Warming

I'm all for saving water but
this is ridiculous!

Housing Complaints

And their 18 year old son is continually banging his balls against my fence.
My bush is really overgrown round the front and my back passage has fungus in it.
Please send a man with the right tool to finish the job and satisfy my wife.
The man next door has a large erection in the garden, which is unsightly and dangerous.

Funny Signs

So, that's why you never see a pliceman on the beat!

Thought For Today

Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn't be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn't know it so it goes on flying anyway.
Mary Kay Ash

Friday, 26 February 2010

The Beatles

The Beatles were an English rock band, formed in Liverpool in 1960 and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. From 1962 the group consisted of John Lennon (rhythm guitar, vocals), Paul McCartney (bass guitar, vocals), George Harrison (lead guitar, vocals) and Ringo Starr (drums, vocals). Rooted in skiffle and 1950s rock and roll, the group later worked in many genres ranging from folk rock to psychedelic pop, often incorporating classical and other elements in innovative ways. The nature of their enormous popularity, which first emerged as the "Beatlemania" fad, transformed as their songwriting grew in sophistication. The group came to be perceived as the embodiment of progressive ideals, seeing their influence extend into the social and cultural reolutions of the 1960s.
With an early five-piece line-up of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe (bass) and Pete Best (drums), The Beatles built their reputation in Liverpool and Hamburg clubs over a three-year period from 1960. Sutcliffe left the group in 1961, and Best was replaced by Starr the following year. Moulded into a professional outfit by music store owner Brian Epstein after he offered to act as the group's manager, and with their musical potential enhanced by the hands-on creativity of producer George Martin, The Beatles achieved UK mainstream success in late 1962 with their first single, "Love Me Do". Gaining international popularity over the course of the next year, they toured extensively until 1966, then retreated to the recording studio until their breakup in 1970. Each then found success in an independent musical career. McCartney and Starr remain active; Lennon was shot and killed in 1980, and Harrison died of cancer in 2001.
During their studio years, The Beatles produced what critics consider some of their finest material, including the album Sgt.Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), widely regarded as a masterpiece. Four decades after their breakup, The Beatles' music continues to be popular. The Beatles have had more number one albums on the UK charts, and held down the top spot longer, than any other musical act. According to RIAA certifications, they have sold more albums in the US than any other artist. In 2008, Billboard magazine released a list of the all-time top-selling Hot 100 artists to celebrate the US singles chart's fiftieth anniversary, with The Beatles at number one. They have been honoured with 7 Grammy Awards, and they have received 15 Ivor Novello Awards from the British Academy of Song Writers
, Composers and authors. The Beatles were collectively included in Time magazine's compilation of the 20th century's 100 most important and influential people.

Formation and early years (1957–1962)
Aged sixteen, singer and guitarist John Lennon formed the skiffle group The Quarrymen with some Liverpool schoolfriends in March 1957 Fifteen-year-old Paul McCartney joined as a guitarist after he and Lennon met that July. When McCartney in turn invited George Harrison to watch the group the following February, the fourteen-year-old joined as lead guitarist. By 1960, Lennon's schoolfriends had left the group, he had begun studies at the Liverpool College of Art and the three guitarists were playing rock and roll whenever they could get a drummer. Joining on bass in January, Lennon's fellow student Stuart Sutcliffe suggested changing the band name to "The Beetles" as a tribute to Buddy Holly and The Crickets, and they became "The Beatals" for the first few months of the year. After trying other names including "Johnny and the Moondogs", "Long John and The Beetles" and "The Silver Beatles", the band finally became "The Beatles" in August. The lack of a permanent drummer posed a problem when the group's unofficial manager, Allan Williams, arranged a resident band booking for them in Hamburg, Germany. Before the end of August they auditioned and hired drummer Pete Best, and the five-piece band left for Hamburg four days later, contracted to fairground showman Bruno Koschmider for a 48-night residency. "Hamburg in those days did not have rock'n'roll music clubs. It had strip clubs", says biographer Philip
Bruno had the idea of bringing in rock groups to play in various clubs. They had this formula. It was a huge nonstop show, hour after hour, with a lot of people lurching in and the other lot lurching out. And the bands would play all the time to catch the passing traffic. In an American red-light district, they would call it nonstop striptease.
Many of the bands that played in Hamburg were from Liverpool...It was an accident. Bruno went to London to look for bands. But he happened to meet a Liverpool entrepreneur in Soho, who was down in London by pure chance. And he arranged to send some bands over.
Harrison, only seventeen in August 1960, obtained permission to stay in Hamburg by lying to the German authorities about his age. Initially placing The Beatles at the Indra Club, Koschmider moved them to the Kaiserkeller in October after the Indra was closed down due to noise complaints. When they violated their contract by performing at the rival Top Ten Club, Koschmider reported the underage Harrison to the authorities, leading to his deportation in November. McCartney and Best were arrested for arson a week later when they set fire to a condom hung on a nail in their room; they too were deported. Lennon returned to Liverpool in mid-December, while Sutcliffe remained in Hamburg with his new German fiancée, Astrid
Kirchherr, for another month. Kirchherr took the first professional photos of the group and cut Sutcliffe's hair in the German "exi" (existentialist) style of the time, a look later adopted by the other Beatles.
During the next two years, the group were resident for further periods in Hamburg. They used Preludin both recreationally and to maintain their energy through all-night performances. Sutcliffe decided to leave the band in early 1961 and resume his art studies in Germany, so McCartney took up bass. German producer Bert Kaempfert contracted what was now a four-piece to act as Tony Sheridan's backing band on a series of recordings. Credited to "Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers", the single "My Bonnie", recorded in June and released four months later, reached number 32 in the Musikmarkt chart. The Beatles were also becoming more popular back home in Liverpool. During one of the band's frequent appearances there at The Cavern Club, they encountered Brian Epstein, a local record store owner and music columnist. When the band appointed Epstein manager in January 1962, Kaempfert agreed to release them from the German record contract. After Decca Records rejected the band with the comment "Guitar groups are on the way out, Mr. Epstein", producer George Martin signed the group to EMI label. News of a tragedy greeted them on their return to Hamburg in April. Meeting them at the airport, a stricken Kirchherr told them of Sutcliffe's death from a brain haemorrhage.

The band had its first recording session under Martin's direction at Abbey Road Studios in London in June 1962. Martin complained to Epstein about Best's drumming and suggested the band use a session drummer in the studio. Instead, Best was replaced by Ringo Starr. Starr, who left Rory Storm and the Hurricanes to join The Beatles, had already performed with them occasionally when Best was ill. Martin still hired session drummer Andy White for one session, and White played on "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You". Released in October, "Love Me Do" was a top twenty UK hit, peaking at number seventeen on the chart. After a November studio session that yielded what would be their second single, "Please Please Me", they made their TV debut with a live performance on the regional news programme People and Places.
The band concluded their last Hamburg stint in December 1962. By now it had become the pattern that all four members contributed vocals, although Starr's restricted range meant he sang lead only rarely. Lennon and McCartney had established a songwriting partnership; as the band's success grew, their celebrated collaboration limited Harrison's opportunities as lead vocalist. Epstein, sensing The Beatles' commercial potential, encouraged the group to adopt a professional attitude to performing. Lennon recalled the manager saying, "Look, if you really want to get in these bigger places, you're going to have to change—stop eating on stage, stop swearing, stop smoking." Lennon said, "We used to dress how we liked, on and off stage. He'd tell us that jeans were not particularly smart and could we possibly manage to wear proper trousers, but he didn't want us suddenly looking square. He'd let us have our own sense of individuality ... it was a choice of making it or still eating chicken on stage."

Abbey Road, Let It Be and breakup
Apple Corps building at 3 Savile Row, site of the Let It Be rooftop concert
Although Let It Be was the band's final album release, most of it was recorded before Abbey Road. Initially titled Get Back, Let It Be originated from an idea Martin attributes to McCartney: to prepare new material and "perform it before a live audience for the very first time—on record and on film. In other words make a live album of new material, which no one had ever done before." In the event, much of the album's content came from studio work, many hours of which were captured on film by director Michael Lindsay-Hogg. Martin said that rehearsals and recording for the project, which occupied much of January 1969, were "not at all a happy ... experience. It was a time when relations between the Beatles were at their lowest ebb."Aggravated by both McCartney and Lennon, Harrison walked out for a week. He returned with keyboardist Billy Preston, who participated in the last ten days of sessions and was credited on the "Get Back" single—the only other musician to receive such acknowledgment on an official Beatles recording. The band members had reached an impasse on a concert location, rejecting among several concepts a boat at sea, the Tunisian desert desert and the Colosseum. Ultimately, the final live performance by The Beatles, accompanied by Preston, was filmed on the rooftop of the Apple Corps building at 3 Savile Row, London, on 30 January 1969.Engineer Glyn Johns worked for months assembling various iterations of a Get Back album, while the band turned to other concerns. Conflict arose regarding the appointment of a financial adviser, the need for which had become evident without Epstein to manage business affairs. Lennon favoured Allen Klein, who had negotiated contracts for The Rolling Stones and other UK bands during the British Invasion. McCartney's choice was John Eastman, brother of Linda Eastman, whom McCartney married on 12 March (eight days before Lennon and Ono wed). Agreement could not be reached, so both were appointed, but further conflict ensued and financial opportunities were lostMartin was surprised when McCartney contacted him and asked him to produce another album, as the Get Back sessions had been "a miserable experience" and he had "thought it was the end of the road for all of us... they were becoming unpleasant people—to themselves as well as to other people." Recording sessions for Abbey Road began in late February. Lennon rejected Martin's proposed format of "a continuously moving piece of music", and wanted his own and McCartney's songs to occupy separate sides of the album. The eventual format, with individually composed songs on the first side and the second largely comprising a medley, was McCartney's suggested compromise On 4 July, while work on the album was in progress, the first solo single by a member of The Beatles appeared: Lennon's "Give Peace A
Chance", credited to the Plastic Ono band. The completion of the Abbey Road track "I Want You(She's So Heavy)"on 20 August was the last time all four Beatles were together in the same studio. Lennon announced his departure to the rest of the group on 20 September, but agreed that no public announcement would be made until a number of legal matters were resolved.
Released six days after Lennon's declaration, Abbey Road sold four million copies within two months and topped the UK chart for eleven weeks. Its second track, the ballad "Something", was also issued as a single—the first and only song by Harrison to appear as a Beatles A side. Abbey Road received mixed reviews, although the medley met with general acclaim. Allmusic considers it "a fitting swan song for the group" containing "some of the greatest harmonies to be heard on any rock record". MacDonald calls it "erratic and often hollow": "Had it not been for McCartney's input as designer of the Long Medley... Abbey Road would lack the semblance of unity and coherence that makes it appear better than it is." Martin singled it out as his personal favourite of all the band's albums; Lennon said it was "competent" but had "no life in it", calling "Maxwell's
Silver Hammer" "more of Paul's granny music". Recording engineer Geoff Emerick noted that the replacement of the studio's valve mixing console with a transistorised one produced a less punchy sound, leaving the group frustrated at the thinner tone and lack of impact.
For the still uncompleted Get Back album, the final new Beatles song, Harrison's "I Me Mine", was recorded on 3 January 1970. Lennon, in Denmark at the time, did not participate. To complete the album, now retitled Let It Be, in March Klein gave the Get Back session tapes to American producer Phil Spector. Known for his Wall Of Sound approach, Spector had recently produced Lennon's solo single "Instant Karma
!" In addition to remixing the Get Back material, Spector edited, spliced and overdubbed several of the recordings that had been intended as "live". McCartney was unhappy with Spector's treatment of the material and particularly dissatisfied with the producer's orchestration of "The Long Winding Road", which involved a choir and thirty-four-piece instrumental ensemble. He unsuccessfully attempted to halt the release of Spector's version. McCartney publicly announced his departure from the band on 10 April, a week before the release of his first, self-titled solo album. Pre-release copies of McCartney's record included a press statement with a self-written interview, explaining the end of his involvement with The Beatles and his hopes for the future.
On 8 May, the Spector-produced Let It Be was released. The accompanying single, "The Long and Winding Road", was the band's last; it was released in the United States, but not Britain. The Let It Be documentary film followed later in the month; at the Academy Award ceremony the next year, it would win the Oscar for Best Original Song Score. The Sunday Telegraph called it "a very bad film and a touching one ... about the breaking apart of this reassuring, geometrically perfect, once apparently ageless family of siblings." More than one reviewer commented that some of the Let It Be tracks sounded better in the film than on the album. Observing that Let It Be is the "only Beatles album to occasion negative, even hostile reviews", Allmusic describes it as "on the whole underrated... McCartney in particular offers several gems: the gospel-ish 'Let It Be', which has some of his best lyrics; 'Get Back', one of his hardest rockers; and the melodic 'The Long and Winding Road', ruined by Spector's heavy-handed overdubs." McCartney filed a suit for the dissolution of The Beatles on 31 December 1970. Legal disputes continued long after the band's breakup, and the dissolution of the partnership did not take effect until 1975.

The Beatles' influence on popular culture was—and remains—immense. Former Rolling Stone associate editor Robert Greenfield said, "People are still looking at Picasso ... at artists who broke through the constraints of their time period to come up with something that was unique and original. In the form that they worked in, in the form of popular music, no one will ever be more revolutionary, more creative and more distinctive than The Beatles were." From the 1920s, the United States had dominated popular entertainment culture throughout much of the world, via Hollywood movies, jazz, the music of Broadway and Tin Pan Alley and, later, the rock and roll that first emerged in Memphis, Tennessee. Drawing on their rock and roll roots, The Beatles not only triggered the British Invasion of the US, but themselves became a globally influential phenomenon.
The Beatles' musical innovations, as well as their commercial success, inspired musicians worldwide. A large number of artists have acknowledged The Beatles as an influence or have had chart successes with covers of Beatle's songs. On radio, the arrival of The Beatles marked the beginning of a new era; program directors like RickSklar of New York's WABC went as far as forbidding DJs from playing any "pre-Beatles" music. The Beatles redefined the album as something more than just a few hits padded out with "filler". They were primary innovators of the music video The Shea Stadium date with which they opened their 1965 North American tour attracted what was then the largest audience in concert history and is seen as a "landmark event in the growth of the rock crowd." Emulation of their clothing and especially their hairstyles, which became a mark of rebellion, had a global impact on fashion.
More broadly, The Beatles changed the way people listened to popular music and experienced its role in their lives. From what began as the Beatlemania fad, the group grew to be perceived by their young fans across the industrialized world as the representatives, even the embodiment, of ideals associated with cultural transformation. As icons of the 1960s
counterculture, they became a catalyst for bohemianism and activism in various social and political arenas, fueling such movements as women's liberation, gay liberation and environmentalism.

British Post Cards

Famous Scams - Eduardo de Valfierno

Eduardo de Valfierno, who referred to himself as Marqués (marquis), was an Argentine con man who allegedly masterminded the theft of the Mona Lisa. Valfierno paid several men to steal the work of art from the Louvre, including museum employee Vincenzo Peruggia. On August 21, 1911 Peruggia hid the Mona Lisa under his coat and simply walked out the door.
Before the heist took place, Valfierno commissioned French art restorer and forger Yves Chaudron to make six copies of the Mona Lisa. The forgeries were then shipped to various parts of the world, readying them for the buyers he had lined up. Valfierno knew once the Mona Lisa was stolen it would be harder to smuggle copies past customs. After the heist the copies were delivered to their buyers, each thinking they had the original which had just been stolen for them. Because Valfierno just wanted to sell forgeries, he only needed the original Mona Lisa to disappear and never contacted Peruggia again after the crime. Eventually Peruggia was caught trying to sell the painting and it was returned to the Louvre in 1913.
Peruggia denied he ever knew Valfierno other than a chance meeting at the Louvre.

Animal Crackers

Monkey Mania!

Brainteaser - Thursday's Answer

Here is the answer to Thursday's brainteaser. I am sure you all answered it correctly!

Charcoal, as it is used in barbecuing.

If you did answer it correctly. Well Done.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Looking Back - Khrushchev Lashes Out At Stalin

On this day in 1956, the Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, denounced Joseph Stalin as a brutal despot.
In a sensational speech to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party Mr Khrushchev painted a graphic picture of a regime of "suspicion, fear, and terror" built up under the former dictator who died three years ago.
He said he wanted to break the "Stalin cult" that has held Soviet citizens in its thrall for 30 years.
The prime minister described the purges during the period of 1936-38.
He implied that one of Stalin's most trusted aides Kirov had been assassinated in 1934 at the leader's behest.
Stalin then initiated a series of trials of members of the politburo and had some executed for Kirov's murder, including Zinoviev, Kamenev and Rykov.
Stalin meted out humiliation and persecution to those officers and members of the Politburo who fell from favour, said Mr Khrushchev.
He revealed that in 1937 and 1938, 98 out of the 139 members of the Central Committee were shot on Stalin's orders.
The leader also criticised Stalin's foreign policy during World War II. As an ally of Adolf Hitler, Stalin refused to believe Germany would invade Russia - despite warnings from Winston Churchill and Sir Stafford Cripps, the British Ambassador in Moscow, amongst others.
When the attack was launched, Stalin ordered the Red Army not to retaliate saying the raid was merely "indiscipline" on the part of some of Hitler's units.
'Odious book'
Mr Khrushchev also condemned Stalin's autobiography as an "odious book" in which Stalin refers to himself as "the workers' genius-leader" and a "shy and modest person".
He also accused Stalin of violent nationalism and anti-Semitism.
He revealed that in his last will and testament Lenin advised against the retention of Stalin as general secretary of the Communist Party.
He said the information he had just divulged should only be made known to the public by degrees.
"You understand, comrades, that we could not spread this information to the people at once," he said. "It could be done either suddenly or gradually, and I think it would be more correct to do it gradually."

Mr Khrushchev's "secret speech" was not made public until 18 March 1956 and then only in Belgrade and Washington. It had a dramatic effect in Eastern Europe where "de-stalinisation" raised expectations of change, especially in Poland and Hungary.
The text of the speech was not published in Russia until 1988, some 32 years later.
Lenin's last will and testament was published in The New York Times in 1926, though it was not made public in the Soviet Union until Khrushchev's announcement.
Party agitators (official propagandists) were sent to Georgia to disseminate revelations about Stalin, where opposition to the new information was anticipated.
In the wake of the denouncement, Mr Khrushchev's pictures were torn down in Georgia, Stalin's home state. Riots occurred for several days in Tbilisi as Georgians reacted angrily to the denunciation of their hero.

There's Always One Joker


For today's brainteaser we continue with our series of riddles. See how you get on with this one.

What is black when you buy it, red when you use it and grey when you throw it away?

Good luck! Answer in tomorrows journal.

More On Computers .....

Sex is like hacking. You get in, you get out, and you hope you didn't leave something behind that can be traced back to you.


Want to make $$$$ with your computer? No Risk! Simply press (shift-4) four times in a row.


My programs never have bugs, they just develop random features.

Today's Smile

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Emily Davison

Emily Wilding Davison (11 October 1872 – 08 June 1913) was an activist for women's suffrage in the United Kingdom. She died four days after she was struck by King George V's horse Anmer at the Epsom Derby on the 4th June 1913.

Davison was born in Blackheath, London. She was the daughter of Charles Davison (of Morpeth, Northumberland) and Margaret Davison (of Longhorsley, Northumberland), with two sisters and a brother, and many half-siblings (from her father's first marriage) including a half-brother, Capt. Henry Jocelyn Davison RN (ret'd) who gave evidence at her inquest. She was a good performer at school and had a university education, having studied first at Royal Holloway College in London. Unfortunately, she was forced to drop out because her recently-widowed mother couldn't afford the £20 term fees. She then became a school teacher in Edgbaston and Worthing, raising enough money to study English Language and Literature at St Hugh's College, Oxford, and obtained first-class honours in her final exams, though women were not at that time admitted to degrees at Oxford. She then obtained a post teaching the children of a family in Berkshire and then joined the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1906, and immediately involved herself in their more militant activities. She was arrested and imprisoned for various offences, including a violent attack on a man she mistook for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George. She went on hunger strike in Strangeways Prison and was force-fed. In Holloway
prison, she threw herself down an iron staircase as a protest. She landed on wire netting 30 feet (10 m) below, which saved her; however, she suffered some severe spinal damage.
On 2 April, the night of the 1911 census, Davison hid in a cupboard in the Palace of Westminster overnight so that on the census form she could legitimately give her place of residence that night as the "House of Commons" Tony Benn M.P. once unofficially placed a plaque there to commemorate the event. In 1913, she planted a bomb at David Lloyd George's newly built house in Surrey, damaging it severely.
Death at the Epsom Derby 1913
Davison's purpose in attending the Derby of 4 June 1913 is unclear. Much has been made of the fact that she purchased a return rail ticket and also a ticket to a Suffragette dance later that day, suggesting that suicide was not, on this occasion, her initial intention.
A possibility of her reason for entering the race track was that she was trying to attach a flag to the King's horse, so when the horse crossed the finishing line it would quite literally be flying the suffragettes flag. Evidence for this was that she had supposedly been seen in the weeks before stopping horses in the lane outside her house. However, this is only one of many theories.
Film of the incident shows her stepping out in front of the horse, Anmer, as it rounded Tattenham Corner, with Davison carrying the banner of the WSPU. But instead of stopping, Anmer smashed her to the ground, knocking her unconscious. Eyewitnesses at the time were divided as to her motivation, with many believing that she had simply intended to cross the track, believing that all horses had passed; while others reported that she had attempted to pull down the King's horse. She died four days later in Epsom Cottage Hospital, due to a fractured skull and internal injuries caused by the incident. Herbert Jones, the jockey who was riding the horse, suffered a mild concussion in the incident, but was 'haunted by that woman's face' much longer. Eleven years later, at Emmeline Pankhurst's funeral Jones laid a wreath 'to do honour to the memory of Mrs Pankhurst and Miss Emily Davison', and in 1951, he was found dead by his son in a gas filled kitchen. Anmer made a full recovery and made a return
to racing.
Emily Davison's Funeral (Pictured right)
Davison is buried in the church yard of St Mary the Virgin, Morpeth in a family plot, her father having predeceased her in 1893. Morpeth is not far from the village of Longhorsley, Northumberland where she lived with her mother. The funeral attracted a large crowd. Her gravestone bears the WSPU slogan, "Deeds not words". A funeral was held in London on 14 June 1913 and her coffin was brought by train to Morpeth for burial on 15 June 1913.
She is the subject of a song by American rock singer Greg Kihn
, whose elegy "Emily Davison" is included on his first album, 1976's Greg Kihn.

Animal Crackers

Don't push it little guy..... I'm not in the mood!

Signs Of Growing Old

You're a walking storeroom of facts - you've just lost the key to the storeroom door.
Everything either dries up or leaks.
You realize that aging is not for wimps.
You enjoy watching the news.
The phone rings and you hope it's not for you.

Funny Signs

Brainteaser - Tuesday's Answer

Below is the answer to Tuesday's brainteaser. Did you manage to solve the riddle?

The woman was a photographer. She shot a picture of her husband, developed it, and hung it up to dry (shot; held under water; and hung).

Well done if you came up with the correct answer!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

William Wilberforce

William Wilberforce (24 August 1759 – 29 July 1833) was a British politician, a philanthropist and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade. A native of Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire, he began his political career in 1780 and became the independent Member of Parliament for Yorkshire (1784–1812). (Pictured right: William Wilberforce by Karl Anton Hickel c.a. 1794). In 1785, he underwent a conversion experience and became an evangelical Christian, resulting in major changes to his lifestyle and a lifelong concern for reform. In 1787, he came into contact with Thomas Clarkson and a group of anti-slave-trade activists, including Granville Sharp, Hannah More and Charles Middleton. They persuaded Wilberforce to take on the cause of abolition, and he soon became one of the leading English abolitionists. He headed the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade for twenty-six years until the passage of the Slave Trade Act 1807.
Wilberforce was convinced of the importance of religion, morality, and education. He championed causes and campaigns such as the Society for Suppression of Vice, British missionary work in India, the creation of a free colony in Sierra Leone, the foundation of the Church Mission Society and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.. His underlying conservatism led him to support politically and socially repressive legislation, and resulted in criticism that he was ignoring injustices at home while campaigning for the enslaved abroad.
In later years, Wilberforce supported the campaign for the complete abolition of slavery, and continued his involvement after 1826, when he resigned from Parliament because of his failing health. That campaign led to the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, which abolished slavery in most of the British Empire; Wilberforce died just three days after hearing that the passage of the Act through Parliament was assured. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, close to his friend William Pitt.
Early life
William Wilberforce was born in Kingston upon Hull on 24 August 1759, the only son of Robert Wilberforce (1728–1768), a wealthy merchant, and his wife Elizabeth Bird (1730-1798). He was baptised at Seaton Ross on 29 September 1759. His grandfather William (1690–1776) had made the family for
tune in the maritime trade with Baltic countries, and had twice been elected mayor of Hull.
Wilberforce was a small, sickly and delicate child, with poor eyesight. In 1767 he began attending Hull Grammar School, at the time headed by a young, dynamic headmaster, Joseph Milner, who was to become a life-long friend. Wilberforce profited from the supportive atmosphere at the school until the death of his father in 1768. With his mother struggling to cope, the nine-year-old Wilberforce was sent to a prosperous uncle and aunt with houses in both St James' Place, London and Wimbledon, at that time a village 7 mi (11 km) south-west of London. He attended an "indifferent" boarding school in Putney for two years, spending his holidays in Wimbledon, where he grew extremely fond of his relatives. He became interested in evangelical Christianity because of their influence, especially that of his aunt Hannah, sister of the wealthy Christian merchant John Thornton and a supporter of the leading Methodist preacher George Whitefield.
Wilberforce's staunchly Church of England mother and grandfather, alarmed at these nonconformist influences and at his leanings towards evangelicalism, brought the 12-year-old boy back to Hull in 1771. (Pictured left: A statue of William Wilberforce outside Wilberforce House, his birthplace in Hull). Wilberforce was heartbroken to be separated from his aunt and uncle. His family opposed a return to Hull Grammar School because the headmaster had become a Methodist; Wilberforce therefore continued his education at nearby Pocklington School from 1771–76. Influenced by Methodist scruples, he initially resisted Hull's lively social life, but as his religious fervour diminished, he embraced theatre-going, attended balls and played cards.
In October 1776 at the age of seventeen, Wilberforce went up to St John's College Cambridge. The deaths of his grandfather and uncle in 1776 and 1777 respectively had left him independently wealthy, and as a result he had little inclination or need to apply himself to serious study. Instead, he immersed himself in the social round of student life, and pursued a hedonistic lifestyle enjoying cards, gambling and late-night drinking sessions–although he found the excesses of some of his fellow students distasteful. Witty, generous, and an excellent conversationalist, Wilberforce was a popular figure. He made many friends, including the more studious future Prime Minister, William Pitt. Despite his lifestyle and lack of interest in studying, he managed to pass his examinations, and was awarded a B.A. in 1781 and an M.A. in 1788.
Early parliamentary career
Wilberforce began to consider a political career while still at university, and during the winter of 1779–80 he and Pitt frequently watched House of Commons debates from the gallery. Pitt, already set on a political career, encouraged Wilberforce to join him in obtaining a parliamentary seat. In September 1780, at the age of twenty-one and while still a student, Wilberforce was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Kingston upon Hull, spending over £8,000 to ensure he received the necessary votes, as was the custom of the time. Free from financial pressures, Wilberforce sat as an independent, resolving to be "no party man". Criticised at times for inconsistency, he supported both Tory and Whig governments according to his conscience, working closely with the party in power, and voting on specific measures according to their merits. Wilberforce attended Parliament regularly, but he also maintained a lively social life, becoming an habitué of gentlemen's gambling clubs such as Goostree's and Boodle's in Pall Mall
, London. The writer and socialite, Madame de Stael, described him as the "wittiest man in England" and, according to Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, the Prince of Wales said that he would go anywhere to hear Wilberforce sing. Wilberforce used his speaking voice to great effect in political speeches; the diarist and author, James Boswell, witnessed Wilberforce's eloquence in the House of Commons and noted: "I saw what seemed a mere shrimp mount upon the table; but as I listened, he grew, and grew, until the shrimp became a whale." During the frequent government changes of 1781–84 Wilberforce supported his friend Pitt in parliamentary debates, and in autumn 1783 Pitt, Wilberforce and Edward Eliot (later to become Pitt's brother-in-law), travelled to France for a six-week holiday together. After a difficult start in Rheims, where their presence aroused police suspicion that they were English spies, they visited Paris, meeting Benjamin Franklin, General Lafayette, Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, and joined the French court at Fontainebleau.
Pitt became Prime Minister in December 1783, with Wilberforce a key supporter of his minority government. Despite their close friendship, there is no record that Pitt offered Wilberforce a ministerial position in this or future governments. This may have been due to Wilberforce's wish to remain an independent MP. Alternatively, Wilberforce's frequent tardiness and disorganisation, as well as the chronic eye problems that at times made reading impossible, may have convinced Pitt that his trusted friend was not ministerial material.
] When Parliament was dissolved in the spring of 1784, Wilberforce decided to stand as a candidate for the county of Yorkshire in the 1784 General Election. On 6 April, he was returned as MP for Yorkshire at the age of twenty-four.
Abolition of the slave trade
Initial decision
The British had initially become involved in the slave trade during the 16th century. By 1783, the triangular route that took British-made goods to Africa to buy slaves, transported the enslaved to the West Indies, and then brought slave-grown products such as sugar, tobacco, and cotton to Britain, represented about 80 per cent of Great Britain's foreign income. British ships dominated the trade, supplying French, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese and British colonies, and in peak years carried forty thousand enslaved men, women and children across the Atlantic in the horrific conditions of the middle passage. Of the estimated 11 million Africans transported into slavery, about 1.4 million died during the voyage.
The British campaign to abolish the slave trade is generally considered to have begun in the 1780s with the establishment of the Quakers' antislavery committees, and their presentation to Parliament of the first slave trade petition in 1783. The same year, Wilberforce, while dining with his old Cambridge friend Gerard Edwards, met Rev. James Ramsay, a ships surgeon who had become a clergyman on the island of St Christopher (later St Kitts) in the Leeward Islands, and a medical supervisor of the plantations there. What Ramsay had witnessed of the conditions endured by the slaves, both at sea and on the plantations, horrified him. Returning to England after fifteen years, he accepted the living of Teston, Kent in 1781, and there met Sir Charles Middleton, Lady Middleton, Thomas Clarkson, Hannah More and others, a group that later became known as the Testonites. Interested in promoting Christianity and moral improvement in Britain and overseas, they were appalled by Ramsay's reports of the depraved lifestyles of slave owners, the cruel treatment meted out to the enslaved, and the lack of Christian instruction provided to the slaves. With their encouragement and help, Ramsay spent three years writing An essay on the treatment and conversion of African slaves in the British sugar colonies, which was highly critical of slavery in the West Indies. The book, published in 1784, was to have an important impact in raising public awareness and interest, and it excited the ire of West Indian planters who in the coming years attacked both Ramsay and his ideas in a series of pro-slavery tracts.
Wilberforce apparently did not follow up on his meeting with Ramsay. However, three years later, and inspired by his new faith, Wilberforce was growing interested in humanitarian reform. In November 1786 he received a letter from Sir Charles Middleton that re-opened his interest in the slave trade. At the urging of Lady Middleton, Sir Charles suggested that Wilberforce bring forward the abolition of the slave trade in Parliament. Wilberforce responded that "he felt the great importance of the subject, and thought himself unequal to the task allotted to him, but yet would not positively decline it". He began to read widely on the subject, and met with the Testonites at Middleton’s home at Barham Court in Teston in the early winter of 1786–87. (Pictured right: William Wilberforce by John Rising, 1790 pictured at the age of 29).
In early 1787, Thomas Clarkson, a fellow graduate of St John's, Cambridge, who had become convinced of the need to end the slave trade after writing a prize-winning essay on the subject while at Cambridge, called upon Wilberforce at Old Palace Yard with a published copy of the work. This was the first time the two men had met; their collaboration would last nearly fifty years. Clarkson began to visit Wilberforce on a weekly basis, bringing first-hand evidence he had obtained about the slave trade. The Quakers, already working for abolition, also recognised the need for influence within Parliament, and urged Clarkson to secure a commitment from Wilberforce to bring forward the case for abolition in the House of Commons.
It was arranged that Bennet Langton, a Lincolnshire landowner and mutual acquaintance of Wilberforce and Clarkson, would organise a dinner party in order to ask Wilberforce formally to lead the parliamentary campaign. The dinner took place on 13 March 1787; other guests included Charles Middleton, Sir Joshua Reynolds, William Windham, MP, James Boswell and Isaac Hawkins Browne, MP. By the end of the evening, Wilberforce had agreed in general terms that he would bring forward the abolition of the slave trade in Parliament, "provided that no person more proper could be found".
The same spring, on 12 May 1787, the still hesitant Wilberforce held a conversation with William Pitt and the future Prime Minister William Grenville as they sat under a large oak tree on Pitt's estate in Kent. Under what came to be known as the "Wilberforce Oak" at Holwood, Pitt challenged his friend: "Wilberforce, why don’t you give notice of a motion on the subject of the Slave Trade? You have already taken great pains to collect evidence, and are therefore fully entitled to the credit which doing so will ensure you. Do not lose time, or the ground will be occupied by another." Wilberforce’s response is not recorded, but he later declared in old age that he could "distinctly remember the very knoll on which I was sitting near Pitt and Grenville" where he made his decision.
Wilberforce's involvement in the abolition movement was motivated by a desire to put his Christian principles into action and to serve God in public life.
] He and other Evangelicals were horrified by what they perceived was a depraved and unchristian trade, and the greed and avarice of the owners and traders. Wilberforce sensed a call from God, writing in a journal entry in 1787 that "God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the Slave Trade and the Reformation of Manners [moral values]". The conspicuous involvement of Evangelicals in the highly popular anti-slavery movement served to improve the status of a group otherwise associated with the less popular campaigns against vice and immorality.]
Last years
Wilberforce's health was continuing to fail, and he suffered further illnesses in 1824 and 1825. With his family concerned that his life was endangered, he declined a peerage and resigned his seat in Parliament, leaving the campaign in the hands of others. Thomas Clarkson continued to travel, visiting anti-slavery groups throughout Britain, motivating activists and acting as an ambassador for the anti-slavery cause to other countries, while Buxton pursued the cause of reform in Parliament. Public meetings and petitions demanding emancipation continued, with an increasing number supporting immediate abolition rather than the gradual approach favoured by Wilberforce, Clarkson and their colleagues.
Wilberforce was buried in Westminster Abbey next to Pitt. This memorial statue was erected in 1840 in the north choir aisle.
In 1826, Wilberforce moved from his large house in Kensington Gore to Highwood Hill, a more modest property in the countryside of Mill Hill, north of London, where he was soon joined by his son William and family. William had attempted a series of educational and career paths, and a venture into farming in 1830 led to huge losses, which his father repaid in full, despite offers from others to assist. This left Wilberforce with little income, and he was obliged to let his home and spend the rest of his life visiting family members and friends. He continued his support for the anti-
slavery cause, including attending and chairing meetings of the Anti-Slavery Society. (Pictured left: The House of Commons in Wilberforce's day by Augustus Pugin and Thomas Rowlandson 1808-1811).
Wilberforce approved of the 1830 election victory of the more progressive Whigs, though he was concerned about the implications of their Reform Bill which proposed the redistribution of parliamentary seats towards newer towns and cities and an extension of the franchise. In the event, the Reform
Act 1832 was to bring more abolitionist MPs into Parliament as a result of intense and increasing public agitation against slavery. In addition, the 1832 slave review in Jamaica convinced government ministers that abolition was essential to avoid further rebellion. In 1833, Wilberforce's health declined further and he suffered a severe attack of influenza from which he never fully recovered He made a final anti-slavery speech in April 1833 at a public meeting in Maidstone, Kent. The following month, the Whig government introduced the Bill for the Abolitionof Slavery, formally saluting Wilberforce in the process. On 26 July 1833, Wilberforce heard of government concessions that guaranteed the passing of the Bill for the Abolition of Slavery. The following day he grew much weaker, and he died early on the morning of 29 July at his cousin's house in Cadogan Place, London.
One month later, the House of Lords passed the Slavery Abolition Act, which abolished slavery in most of the British Empire from August 1834. They voted plantation owners £20 million in compensation, giving full emancipation to children younger than six, and instituting a system of Apprenticeship requiring other enslaved peoples to work for their former masters for four to six years in the British West Indies, South Africa, Mauritius, British Honduras and Canada. Nearly 800,000 African slaves were freed, the vast majority in the Caribbean.
Wilberforce had left instructions that he was to be buried with his sister and daughter at Stoke
Newington, just north of London. However, the leading members of both Houses of Parliament urged that he be honoured with a burial in Westminster Abbey. The family agreed and, on 3 August 1833, Wilberforce was buried in the north transept, close to his friend William Pitt. The funeral was attended by many Members of Parliament, as well as by members of the public. The pallbearers included the Duke of Gloucester, the Lord Chancellor Henry Brougham and the Speaker of the House of Commons Charles Manners-Sutton. While tributes were paid and Wilberforce was laid to rest, both Houses of Parliament suspended their business as a mark of respect.

Funny Signs

I'm glad I'm not the bus prefect!


Another riddle for today's brainteaser. Think about this carefully and see if you can come up with the right answer.

A woman shoots her husband. Then she holds him under water for over 5 minutes. Finally, she hangs him. But 5 minutes later they both go out together and enjoy a wonderful dinner together. How can this be?

Good luck! Answer in tomorrow's Journal.

A Matter Of Convenience

SSh ... IT Department

Questions You Just Can't Answer

If money doesn't make us happy, then what does it do?
Before they invented drawing boards, what did they go back to?
If ours is a man made world, why can't we remake it?
If people from Poland are called Poles, why aren't people from Holland called holes?
When people say "I woke up on the wrong side of the bed," What is the right side?

Monday, 22 February 2010

Looking Back - Dolly The Sheep Is Cloned

On this day in 1997, Scientists in Scotland announced the birth of the world's first successfully cloned mammal, Dolly the sheep.
Dolly, who was created at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, was actually born on 5 July 1996 although her arrival has only just been revealed.
Dolly is the first mammal to have been successfully cloned from an adult cell. Previous clonings have been from embryo cells.
The sheep's birth has been heralded as one of the most significant scientific breakthroughs of the decade although it is likely to spark ethical controversy.
Scientists in Scotland cloned a ewe by inserting DNA from a single sheep cell into an egg and implanted it in a surrogate mother.
They now have a healthy seven-month-old sheep - Dolly - who is an exact genetic duplicate of the animal from which the single cell was taken.
DNA tests have revealed that Dolly is identical to the ewe who donated the udder cell and is unrelated to the surrogate mother.

Embryologist Dr Ian Wilmut, from the Roslin Institute, said: "It will enable us to study genetic diseases for which there is presently no cure and track down the mechanisms that are involved."
The research, published in Nature magazine, follows the Edinburgh team's success in cloning sheep embryos. Last year they produced two identical sheep, which were clones of an original embryo.
The company which has bought the rights to the research, PPL Therapeutics, said Dolly would help to improve understanding of ageing and genetics and lead to the production of cheaper medicines.
US President Bill Clinton has set up a special task force to investigate cloning in order to examine the legal and ethical implications.

The cloning of Dolly the sheep raised moral dilemmas amid fears that the technique could be used to clone humans.
Dr Ian Wilmut, who led the team of Scottish scientists who were behind the birth of Dolly, described human cloning as both "repugnant" and illegal.
The news about Dolly's birth enraged animal rights activists and the Church of Scotland said while it was "fascinating" research work, it had reservations.
Dr Wilmut also revealed the thinking behind the sheep's name: "Dolly is derived from a mammary gland cell and we couldn't think of a more impressive pair of glands than Dolly Parton's."
A decision was taken in 2003 to put down Dolly after a veterinary examination showed she had a progressive lung disease. Her preserved body went on display at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Time For Prayers

One of these is praying for a bike, the
other for a big meat bone. Can you
guess which is which?

Orient Express

The Orient Express was the name of a long-distance passenger train originally operated by Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits. Its route has changed many times, and several routes have in the past concurrently used the name, or slight variants thereof. (Pictured right: Poster advertising the Winter 1888-1889 timetable for the Orient Express). Although the original Orient Express was simply a normal international railway service, the name has become synonymous with intrigue and luxury travel. The two city names most intimately associated with the Orient Express are Paris and Istanbul, the original endpoints of the service.
Since 1977, the Orient Express ceased to serve to Istanbul. Its immediate successor, a through overnight service from Paris to Vienna ran for the very last time from Paris on Friday, June 8, 2007. Since then, the route, still called the "Orient Express", has been shortened to start from Strasbourg instead, occasioned by the inauguration of the LGV Est which affords much faster travel times from Paris to Strasbourg. The new curtailed service left Strasbourg at 22.20 daily, shortly after the arrival of a TGV from Paris, and is attached at Karlsruhe to the overnight sleeper service from Amsterdam to Vienna.
On 14 December 2009, the Orient Express ceased to operate and the route disappeared from European railway timetables, reportedly a "victim of high-speed trains and cut-rate airlines."

Train Eclair de luxe (the 'test' train)
Georges Nagelmackers invited guests to a railway trip of 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) on his 'Train Eclair de luxe' (lightning luxury train). The train left Paris (Gare de Strasbourg) on Tuesday, October 10, 1882, just after 18:30 and arrived in Vienna the next day at 23:20. The return trip left Vienna on Friday, October 13, 1882, at 16:40 and as planned entered Paris (Gare de Strasbourg) at 20:00 on Saturday October 14, 1882.
The train was composed of: 1. Baggage car, 2. Sleeping coach with 16 beds (with bogies), 3. Sleeping coach with 14 beds (3 axles), 4. Restaurant coach (nr. 107), 5. Sleeping coach with 14 beds (3 axles), 6. Sleeping coach with 14 beds (3 axles), 7. Baggage car (complete 101 ton). The first menu on board (October 10, 1882): oysters, soup with Italian pasta, turbot with green sauce, chicken ‘à la chasseur’, fillet of beef with ‘château’ potatoes, ‘chaud-froid’ of Game animals, lettuce, chocolate pudding, buffet of desserts.

Original train
On June 5, 1883 the first 'Express d'Orient' left Paris for Vienna. Vienna remained the terminus until October 4, 1883. The train was officially renamed Orient Express in 1891.
The original route, which first ran on October 4, 1883, was from Paris, Gare de l'Est, to Giurgiu in Romania via Munich and Vienna. At Giurgiu, passengers were ferried across the Danube to Rousse in Bulgaria to pick up another train to Varna, from where they completed their journey to Istanbul (then called Constantinople) by ferry. In 1885, another route began operations, this time reaching Istanbul via rail from Vienna to Belgrade and Nis, carriage to P
lovdiv and rail again to Istanbul. (Pictured left: The Istanbul Gar bell).
In 1889, the train's eastern terminus became Varna in Bulgaria, where passengers could take a ship to Istanbul. On June 1, 1889, the first non-stop train to Istanbul left Paris (Gare de l'Est). Istanbul remained its easternmost stop until May 19, 1977. The eastern terminus was the Sirkeci Terminal by the Golden Horn. Ferry service from piers next to the terminal would take passengers across the Bosporus Strait to Haydarpasa Terminal, the terminus of the Asian lines of the Ottoman railways.
The onset of World War I in 1914 saw Orient Express services suspended. They resumed at the end of hostilities in 1918, and in 1919 the opening of the Simplon Tunnel allowed the introduction of a more southerly route via Milan, Venice and Trieste. The service on this route was known as the Simplon Orient Express, and it ran in addition to continuing services on the old route. The Treaty of Saint-Germain contained a clause requiring Austria to accept this train: formerly, Austria allowed international services to pass through Austrian territory (which included Trieste at the time) only if they ran via Vienna. The Simplon Orient Express soon became the most important rail route between Paris and Istanbul.
The 1930s saw the zenith of Orient Express services, with three parallel services running: the Orient Express, the Simplon Orient Express, and also the Arlberg Orient Express, which ran via Zurich and Innsbruck to Budapest, with sleeper cars running onwards from there to Bucharest and Athens. During this time, the Orient Express acquired its reputation for comfort and luxury, carrying sleeping-cars with permanent service and restaurant cars known for the quality of their cuisine. Royalty, nobles, diplomats, business people and the bourgeoisie in general patronized it. Each of the Orient Express services also incorporated sleeping cars which had run from Calais to Paris, thus extending the service right from one edge of continental Europe to the other.
The start of the Second World War in 1939 again interrupted the service, which did not resume until 1945. During the war, the German Mitropa company had run some services on the route through the Balkans, but partisans frequently sabotaged the track, forcing a stop to this service.
Following the end of the war, normal services resumed except on the Athens leg, where the closure of the border between Yugoslavia and Greece prevented services from running. That border re-opened in 1951, but the closure of the Bulgaria-Turkey border from 1951 to 1952 prevented services running to Istanbul during that time. As the Iron Curtain fell across Europe, the service continued to run, but the Communist nations increasingly replaced the Wagon-Lits cars with carriages run by their own railway services.
By 1962, the Orient Express and Arlberg Orient Express had stopped running, leaving only the Simplon Orient Express. This was replaced in 1962 by a slower service called the Direct Orient Express, which ran daily cars from Paris to Belgrade, and twice weekly services from Paris to Istanbul and Athens.
In 1971, the Wagon-Lits company stopped running carriages itself and making revenues from a ticket supplement. Instead, it sold or leased all its carriages to the various national railway companies, but continued to provide staff for the carriages. 1976 saw the withdrawal of the Paris-Athens direct service, and in 1977, the Direct Orient Express was withdrawn completely, with the last Paris-Istanbul service running on May 19 of that year.
The withdrawal of the Direct Orient Express was thought by many to signal the end of Orient Express as a whole, but in fact a service under this name continued to run from Paris to Budapest and Bucharest as before (via Strasbourg, Munich, and Budapest). This
continued until 2001, when the service was cut back to just Paris-Vienna, the coaches for which were attached to the Paris-Strasbourg express. (Pictured right: A modern ÖBB sleeper car). This service continued daily, listed in the timetables under the name Orient Express, until June 8, 2007. However, with the opening of the Paris-Strasbourg high speed rail line on June 10, 2007, the Orient Express service was further cut back to Strasbourg-Vienna, departing nightly at 22:20 from Strasbourg, and still bearing the name.
It provides a convenient connection from the TGV arrival from Paris. Before December 14, 2008, this service provided an efficient connection between Paris and Vienna: departure from Paris at 19.24, arrival in Vienna at 8.35, in the other direction departure from Vienna at 20.34, arrival in Paris at 9.34.

Today's Smile

The mother of a 17-year-old girl was concerned that her daughter was having sex. Worried the girl might become pregnant and adversely impact the family's status, she consulted the family doctor.The doctor told her that teenagers today were very willful and any attempt to stop the girl would probably result in rebellion. He then told her to arrange for her daughter to be put on birth control and until then, talk to her and give her a box of condoms. Later that evening, as her daughter was preparing for a date, the woman told her about the situation and handed her a box of condoms. The girl burst out laughing and reached over to hug her mother, saying, 'Oh Mom! You don't have to worry about that! I'm dating Susan!'

Brainteaser - Sunday's Answer

The third room. Lions that haven't eaten in three years are dead. That one was easy, right?

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Looking Back - Black Nationalist Leader Shot Dead

On this day in 1965, controversial black leader Malcolm X, (Pictured right) who once called for a "blacks-only" state in the US, was assassinated.
He was shot several times as he began a speech to 400 of his followers at the Audubon Ballroom just outside the district of Harlem in New York.
Malcolm X, who was 39, was taken to a nearby hospital but was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.
Two men believed to have carried out the shooting were cornered outside the ballroom by a crowd and badly beaten.
It took 10 police officers several minutes to rescue them.
One of the arrested men, Thomas Hagan, 22, had a bullet wound to his leg and was taken to hospital.
It is believed the men are members of the black Muslim group, the Nation of Islam (NoI).
Malcolm X had long been tipped to take over from the NoI's ageing leader, Elijah Muhammad.
He gave up his "slave" family name of Little when he joined the black Muslim group while serving a jail term.
But he broke away from the NoI acrimoniously two years ago to set up his own organisation which he said was for "Negro intellectuals who favoured racial separation but could not accept the Muslim religion".
However, after a recent trip to Mecca he appeared to be taking a more conciliatory approach to white people.
Sanford Garelick, assistant chief of New York police said Malcolm X's death could most probably be put down to rivalry between the two groups.
"This is the result, it would seem, of a long-standing feud," he said.
Only last week Malcolm X and his family survived the firebombing of their home in the Queen's district of New York.
Malcolm X's lawyer, Percy Sutton, said he was aware his life was in danger.
"Malcolm knew he would be killed," Mr Sutton said.
Police said they were investigating reports that some of Malcolm X's followers were planning a revenge attack.
In March 1966 three men, two of whom admitted being members of the Nation of Islam, were found guilty of Malcolm X's murder.
They were sentenced to life imprisonment.
In May 2000 Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan appeared on television with one of Malcolm X's daughters.
He had long been blamed by Malcolm X's family and supporters for inciting his murder.
Mr Farrakhan expressed regret that "any word that I have said caused the loss of life of a human being".
However, he denied he had had any role in the actual killing.

Animal Crackers

People may call you an ass, but I still love you!


Saturnalia is an Ancient Roman festival that was held in honour of the god Saturn.
Saturnalia became one of the most popular Roman festivals. It was marked by tomfoolery and reversal of social roles, in which slaves and masters ostensibly switched places.
Saturnalia was introduced around 217 BCE to raise citizen morale after a crushing military defeat at the hands of the Carthaginians. Originally celebrated for a day, on December 17, its popularity saw it grow until it became a week long extravaganza, ending on the 23rd. Efforts to shorten the celebration were unsuccessful. Augustus tried to reduce it to three days, and Caligula to five. These attempts caused uproar and massive revolts among the Roman citizens.
Saturnalia involved the conventional sacrifices, a couch (lectisturnium) set out in front of the temple of Saturn and the untying of the ropes that bound the statue of Saturn during the rest of the year. A Saturnalicius princeps was elected master of ceremonies for the proceedings. Besides the public rites there were a series of holidays and customs celebrated privately. The celebrations included a school holiday, the making and giving of small presents (saturnalia et sigillaricia) and a special market (sigillaria). Gambling was allowed for all, even slaves; however, although it was officially condoned only during this period, one should not assume that it was rare or much remarked upon during the rest of the year. It was a time to eat, drink, and be merry. The toga was not worn, but rather the synthesis, i.e. colorful, informal "dinner clothes"; and the pileus (freedman's hat) was worn by everyone. Slaves were exempt from punishment, and treated their masters with (a pretense of) disrespect. The slaves celebrated a banquet: before, with, or served by the masters. Yet the reversal of the social order was mostly superficial; the banquet, for example, would often be prepared by the slaves, and they would prepare their masters' dinner as well. It was license within careful boundaries; it reversed the social order without subverting it.The customary greeting for the occasion is a "Io, Saturnalia!" — Io (pronounced "e-o") being a Latin interjection related to "ho" (as in "Ho, praise to Saturn").