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Sunday, 21 August 2011

Art School

In 1711 the Academy of Painting in Lincoln’s Inn Fields opened the first school in Britain for art and drawing from life under a leading painter of the time, Kneller.

Rudyard Kipling's father, John Kipling, was an artist and architect who on his marriage went to Bombay to take up a post of principal of a new Art school and was to have a great influence on Indian modern Art.

English critic and social theorist John Ruskin (1819-1900) was appointed Slade Professor at Oxford in 1870, the first professor of art in England.

Although Picasso attended art schools throughout his childhood, often those where his father taught, he never finished his college level course of study at the Royal Academy of San Fernando in Madrid, leaving after less than a year.

Art Exhibitions and Galleries

The first public art exhibition was held in the Palais Royale, Paris in 1667.

The most visited art museum in the world, The Louvre, officially opened in 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings.

In 1824 the British Parliament voted to spend £57,000 purchasing 38 pictures from insurance broker and patron of the arts, John Julius Angerstein, to establish a British national collection. The National Gallery opened in Angerstein's former townhouse on No. 100 Pall Mall later in the year on May 10, 1824. The present building in Trafalgar Square, the third to house the National Gallery, opened in 1838.

Inside the National Portrait Gallery, 2008. By Herry Lawford from London, 

London's Tate Gallery (now Tate Britain) was officially opened in London by the future Edward VII, then Prince of Wales on July 21, 1897. It was paid for by Henry Tate’s sugar fortune.

Georges Braque was the first to exhibit a Cubist work, at the Salon des Independants in 1908.

The Arts Club of Chicago hosted the opening of Pablo Picasso's first solo United States showing on March 20, 1923. Entitled Original Drawings by Pablo Picasso, the artist wrote to the organizers instructing them how to mount and display his work. The exhibition, which included 53 pieces made from 1907–21 was an early proponent of modern art in the United States. It ran until April 22, 1923.

1913–14, L'Homme aux cartes (Card Player) By Pablo Picasso - Museum of Modern Art, 

The world's largest art gallery is the Winter Palace and Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia. Visitors would have to walk 15 miles to see the 322 galleries which houses nearly 3 million works of art.

The National Gallery of Art was officially opened In Washington, D.C.,by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.on March 17, 1941. The Gallery's collection of paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculpture, medals, and decorative arts traces the development of Western Art from the Middle Ages to the present, including the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas.

By AgnosticPreachersKid -  Wikipedia Commons

Salvador Dali once arrived to an art exhibition in a limousine filled with turnips.

The Museum of Modern Art in New York City hung Matisse's Le Bateau upside-down for 47 days in 1961 before an art student noticed the error.

The largest art heist in history was completed in 1990 at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, totaling 13 paintings worth $500,000,000. To this day, all of the empty frames are still hanging, acting as placeholders until the pieces are returned.

The Museum of Bad Art in Boston, America, holds the record for ‘least valuable art collection in a public museum’, with 573 works worth a total of $1,197 (£912) .

The Louvre in Paris was the most visited art museum in 2011, according to the Art Newspaper. The publication's annual poll stated that nearly 8.9 million people visited the French institute, which was almost a 5% increase on last year. New York's Metropolitan Museum Of Art was the second most visited venue, with the British Museum in third place. The Louvre has topped the annual list since it began in 2007.

The average time spent looking at a painting in a gallery is 28 seconds.

Source Daily Mail



The earliest works of art are paleolithic animal paintings discovered in prehistoric caves in southern France and northern Spain

Engravings at Cresswell Crags on the Nottinghamshire-Derbyshire border are the oldest known examples of rock art in Britain.

Ancient Chinese artists would never paint pictures of women's feet.

The idea of mixing two paint colors to produce a third is credited to the Greek philosopher Plato.

The medieval church walls were covered in paintings, which, in a period of almost universal illiteracy were thought to be the poor man’s Bible. Later during the Reformation’s movement against icons they were covered in whitewash.

During the Renaissance era, artists could not show woman’s toes or bare feet in their paintings.

The Portrait of an African Man (see below) is a painting by Netherlands Renaissance painter Jan Mostaert. Mostaert done between circa 1520 and 1530. It was the first ever portrait of a black man in European painting.

The modern usage of the word “art” referring especially to painting, drawing, or sculpture emerged by c.1700.

Aquatint, a form of etching which gives a tonal effect like a wash drawing was perfected in France in 1768 by Jean-Baptiste Le Prince.

The genre of art known as Cubism derived its name from a belittling remark made by Matisse in reference to a Graque painting. Matisse said that the landscape looked as though it were wholly made up of little cubes.

Collage, a technique of picture-making in which pieces of paper, fabrics, or other materials are glued to the surface of the canvas collage, was introduced by the Cubists c.1912.

The famous French painting, Nude Descending a Staircase, by the French artist Marcel Duchamp, was displayed at an ‘Armory Show’ in New York City in 1913. The work was labelled as America’s first look at modern art. Critics called the work “scandalous” and “meaningless.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa was found in a hotel room in Florence on December 12, 1913, two years after being stolen from the Louvre in Paris by an Italian handyman.

Johannes Vermeer's painting The Concert was stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston in 1990 by thieves disguised as policeman.  To this day the painting has not resurfaced; it is thought to be the most valuable work currently unrecovered, with a value estimated at over $200 million (£ 148 million).

An estimated $100 million of art was lost in the 9/11 attacks, including works by Picasso.

A painting looted by the Nazis, Max Liebermann’s 1901 Two Riders On A Beach, was sold at Sotheby’s for £1.865 million ($2.92 million) in June 2015. It was the first of more than 1,200 works found in the Munich apartment of German recluse Cornelius Gurlitt to be sold. Gurlitt’s father was an art dealer tasked by Hitler to plunder artworks from museums and Jewish collectors.

The English artist Graham Sutherland (1903-1980) was commissioned to paint Sir Winston Churchill’s portrait as an 80th birthday gift from MPs and Lords. Churchill hated the portrait calling it "filthy." After the public presentation, the painting was taken to his country home at Chartwell but was not put on display. After the death of Lady Churchill in 1977, it became clear that her secretary, Grace Hamblin, had organised for it to be taken from Chartwell in dead of night and burned.


The largest art theft in US history took place on March 18, 1990, when 12 paintings, collectively worth around $300 million, were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts.

Mark Rothko's Orange, Red, Yellow sold for $86.9 million (£53.8m) on May 3, 2012 - establishing a new record for post-war/contemporary art at a public auction, when ignoring inflation. The 1961 painting went under the hammer at Christie's in New York. The auction house's total takings - $388.5m (£240.5m) - exceeded the previous record for a contemporary art auction, set in 2007.

Orange, Red, Yellow Wikipedia Commons

An oil painting of two Tahitian girls, Nafea Faa Ipoipo, or When Will You Marry?, by the French artist Paul Gauguin was sold at auction by the family of Rudolf Staechelin in February 2015 for $300m (£197m), making it the most expensive work of art ever sold. The record was previously held by The Card Players, a work by Paul Cézanne that was sold privately in 2011 for between $250 and 300 million.

When Will You Marry?

Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait of Christ, Salvator Mundi, sold for a record-smashing $450.3 million (£341 million) on November 15, 2017 at Christie’s, New York more than double the old price for any work of art at auction. An unidentified buyer bought the work via telephone after a protracted contest of nearly 20 minutes at the New York auction house,

It beat a record set in May 2015 by Pablo Picasso’s Les Femmes D’Alger which sold for $179.4 million (£136.6 million).

The British Royal Family owns the largest private art collection in the world, spanning 13 residences and over one million works of art.

Sources Daily Mail, Huffington Post


The salute of uniform bodies (eg. army, police) originated from knights who lifted their visors to show their face to a royalty.

The Holy Roman state of Hesse-Kessel became a "mercenary state" renting out its army to other major powers. The state maintained strict neutrality, to the point that it would rent out soldiers to both sides of a conflict and the Hessian soldiers would end up fighting each other. 

The Honourable Artillery Company, the oldest surviving regiment in the British Army, and the second most senior, was formed on August 25, 1537. The word "artillery" does not have the current meaning that is generally associated with it, but dates from a time when in the English language that word meant any projectile, including for example arrows shot from a bow, or, to take a modern example from infantry units, mortar bombs.

HAC coat of arms supporter-a Pikeman of the Honorable Artillery Company in Sand.

Soon after the beginning of the Revolutionary War, it became clear that a serious armed conflict was at hand. The Second Continental Congress authorized a Continental Army with a unified command structure, to be led by Major General George Washington. The measure was passed on June 14, 1775, and is still celebrated as the Army’s birthday.

After the war the Continental Army was quickly given land certificates and disbanded in a reflection of the republican distrust of standing armies.

On September 29, 1789, the last day of its first session, the US Congress passed the bill that established the armed forces of the United States of America. It established a regular army with a strength of several hundred men.

The defense of New Orleans, the final major battle of the War of 1812

The first American army to have African American officers was the confederate Louisiana Native Guards. The Corps d'Afrique at Port Hudson was sworn into service on September 27, 1862.  The regiment was comprised at the time of 1,000 men, mainly African-Americans who had escaped from slavery to gain freedom.

Officers of Company C of the 1st Louisiana Native Guard at Fort Macomb, Louisiana

A baboon called Jackie became a private in the South African army in World War I.

Because of his exceptional leadership of the 10th Cavalry in the Mexican theater of war, then-Major Charles Young was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in September 1916, becoming the first African American to reach the rank of Colonel in the US Army.

When the United States entered World War I, there was widespread resistance among white officers, especially those from the segregated South, who did not want to be outranked by an African American, so Young was forcibly retired.  He took up a position at Wilberforce University as a professor of military science. On November 6, 1918, after Young had traveled by horseback from Wilberforce, Ohio, to Washington, D.C. to disprove rumors of his poor health, he was reinstated on active duty as a colonel.

The Canadian Automobile Machine Gun Brigade was the first fully mechanized Allied unit of the First World War. It was established on September 9, 1914 by Canadian Brigadier-General Raymond Brutinel, who initiated the program and was the unit's first commander. The unit played a significant part in halting the major German offensive of March 1918.

Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade April 1918

Nineteenth-century US Army uniforms were dark blue. The olive-drab color was adopted in 1902. In 1957 it was replaced by what is called Army green. One reason for the change was that many civilians were wearing parts of old uniforms for work clothes.

Three months before England declared war on Germany in 1939 the roughly 180,000-man U.S. Army ranked 19th in the world--smaller than Portugal's.

Sir William Robertson (January 29, 1860 – February 12, 1933) was the first and so far only private to rise to the rank of Field Marshal in the British Army.

Sir William Robert Robertson

Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. was named the first African American general in the United States Army on October 25, 1940. Davis's son, Benjamin O. Davis Jr., became the first black general officer of the United States Air Force in October 1954.

Brig. Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Sr. watches a Signal Corps crew erecting poles in 1944

In 1970 Elizabeth P. Hoisington became the first female general in the US armed forces. She was appointed to the post of director of the Women's Army Corps.

The highest rank in the U.S. military is the five-star general, although George Washington was granted a sixth star by Congress in 1976. This means by law, no United States officer can outrank George Washington.

Michael Humphreys, the actor who played young Forrest Gump, ended up enlisting in the U.S. Army and going into combat, just like his character.

The U.S. army packs Tabasco pepper sauce in every ration kit that they give to soldiers.

As of 2014, there were approximately 490,000 active duty soldiers in the US Army, 205,000 reserve soldiers, and 354,200 soldiers in the National Guard for a total of 1,049,200 members.

The modern British Army has more horses than tanks.


Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong was born on August 5, 1930, to Stephen Koenig Armstrong and Viola Louise Engel in Auglaize County, near Wapakoneta, Ohio.

When he was five, Neil experienced his first airplane flight in Warren, Ohio on July 20, 1936 when he and his father took a ride in a Ford Trimotor, also known as the "Tin Goose".

Before becoming an astronaut, Neil Armstrong (1930-2012) was in the United States Navy and served in the Korean War. Armstrong flew 78 missions over Korea for a total of 121 hours in the air, most of which was in January 1952.

After the war, Neil Armstrong served as a test pilot at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) High-Speed Flight Station, now known as the Dryden Flight Research Center, where he flew over 900 flights in a variety of aircraft.

Armstrong, 26, as a test pilot

Armstrong joined the NASA Astronaut Corps in 1962 after participating in the U.S. Air Force's Man in Space Soonest and X-20 Dyna-Soar human spaceflight programs

His first spaceflight was the NASA Gemini 8 mission, for which he was the command pilot, becoming one of the first U.S. civilians to fly in space. On this mission, Armstrong performed the first manned docking of two spacecraft with pilot David Scott on March 16, 1966.

Neil Armstrong, 35, suiting up for Gemini 8 in March 1966

Neil Armstrong was the first human to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969.  He spent two and a half hours outside the spacecraft along with Buzz Aldrin,

There is just one blurry shot on the moon of Armstrong. Buzz Aldrin denied intentionally scuppering the photos, insisting it was because he put down the camera to answer a call from President Nixon.

The crew of Apollo 11 who put the first man on the moon had the same initials as the first men on earth. Armstrong : Adam Aldrin : Abel Collins : Cain.

Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon with his left foot first.

Photo of Neil Armstrong, July 1969, in space suit with the helmet off
Neil Armstrong wanted to take a football to the moon but NASA wouldn't permit it.

Armstrong refused all requests for autographs, after he found in 1994 that his signed items were selling for large amounts of money and that many forgeries are in circulation.

Armstrong hosted First Flights, a half-hour televised aviation history documentary series. First Flights debuted on September 25, 1991, on A&E Networks and ran for three seasons.

In May 2005 Armstrong became involved in an unusual legal battle with Marx Sizemore, his barber of 20 years. After cutting Armstrong's hair, Sizemore sold some of it to a collector for $3,000 without Armstrong's knowledge or permission.
Armstrong threatened legal action unless the barber returned the hair or donated the proceeds to a charity of Armstrong's choosing. Sizemore, unable to get the hair back, decided to donate the proceeds to the charity of Armstrong's choice.

On November 18, 2010 the 80-year-old Neil Armstrong said in a speech during the Science & Technology Summit in The Hague, Netherlands that he would offer his services as commander on a mission to Mars if he was asked.

Neil Armstrong died in a Cincinnati, Ohio, hospital on August 25, 2012, following bypass surgery to relieve blocked coronary arteries.

The widow of Neil Armstrong, Carol, found a bag full of equipment used by her husband during the moon landing in a closet after her husband's death. The mementos from the Apollo 11 mission, including a camera that filmed him walking on the moon.

Neil Armstrong photographed in the cabin of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module 

Neil Armstrong was the great-uncle of Billie Joe Armstrong, lead vocalist and guitarist of Green Day.

Neil A backwards spells 'Alien.'

Neil Armstrong's moon boots are still floating around in space.

Source Wikipedia

Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong was born into a very poor family on August 4, 1901 in New Orleans, Louisiana, the grandson of slaves.

He spent his adult life celebrating the wrong birthday—Louis believed it was July 4th, 1900, but it was actually August 4th, 1901.

Raised by his mother in extreme poverty, at the age of 12 Louis served a term for delinquency at the Colored Waifs Home, after celebrating the New Year by running out on the street and firing a pistol that belonged to the current man in his mother's life. The New Orleans Times-Democrat reported that “very few” juveniles had been arrested during the New Year revelry, though “the most serious case was that of Louis Armstrong, a 12 year old negro who discharged a pistol at Rampart and Perdido streets. Being an old offender he was sent to the negro Waif’s Home.”

It was at the Colored Waifs Home, where Louis Armstrong learned to play the the bugle and the clarinet. He eventually became the leader of the home's brass band.

He introduced scat when recording "Heebie Jeebies," supposedly because he dropped the sheet music. The song was recorded on February 26, 1926.

Armstrong was fond of smoking marijuana and wrote a song "Muggles" - a slang term for the substance - in 1928.

During a command performance for George V when touring Europe in 1932, Armstrong forgot he had been told that performers were not to refer to members of the Royal Family while playing for them. Just before picking up his trumpet for one particular number, he announced: "This one's for you, Rex."

He acquired his nickname of Satchmo during his 1932 Grand Tour of Europe. Up until that time Armstrong's nickname was Satchelmouth, but a London music magazine editor, unable to read his notes, wrote "Satchmo" in an article.

Louis Armstrong used laxatives to control his weight, even advocating the procedure in his book Lose Weight The Satchmo Way

The 62-year-old Armstrong became the oldest act to top the US charts when Hello Dolly reached #1 in 1964. Four years later Satchmo also became the oldest artist to record a UK #1, when What A Wonderful World hit the top spot.

He had four wives - Daisy Parker, a prostitute (1918); Lil(lian) Hardin, a jazz pianist who gave him some formal musical education (1924); Alpha Smith (1938); and Lucille Wilson, a showgirl (1942).

Before marrying his fourth wife, Lucille Wilson, Louis Armstrong made sure that she could cook a satisfactory plate of rice and beans.

Armstrong may have been bulimic as he believed that it didn't matter what you ate, as long as you purged yourself regularly afterwards. He would do that with the help of an herbal laxative called Swiss Kriss.

Armstrong's intuitive genius for improvisation single-handedly shaped the course of jazz, transforming it from an ensemble style to an art of solo improvisation.

His contagious humor and flamboyant style made him an ideal goodwill ambassador for American music. As Armstrong's non-jazz audience grew, he appeared frequently on television making him the most famous Jazz musician in the world.

Louis Armstrong once tricked Richard Nixon into carrying several of his bags, which contained drugs through customs for him. In 1958 when Nixon was America’s Vice President and Louis Armstrong was a “Goodwill Ambassador” for the U.S. State Department, Sacho persuaded Nixon to successfully transport bags containing three pounds of marijuana, making the Vice President an unintentional mule.

Louis Armstrong died of a heart attack in his sleep on July 6, 1971, a month before his 70th birthday. 

Sources Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc

Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong (b1971) was named after Lance Rentzel, a Dallas Cowboys wide receiver.

His three children were conceived with sperm that Armstrong banked before he began chemotherapy for testicular cancer.

Armstrong won the tour De France  a record seven consecutive times between 1999-2005. 

In 2012 Armstrong was disqualified from all his results since August 1998 for using and distributing performance-enhancing drugs and was banned from professional cycling for life.

His heart is one-third larger than normal. 

In 1997, Armstrong founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which supports people affected by cancer. The foundation has become one of the top 10 groups funding cancer research in the U.S., raising more than $325 million from the sale of yellow "Live Strong" bracelets.


The word "armour" came into use in the Middle Ages as a borrowing from the French. It is dated from 1297, as a "mail, defensive covering worn in combat" from Old French armeure, itself derived from the Latin armatura "arms and/or equipment" with the root arma "arms or gear".

Alexander the Great's army conquered the world while wearing armor made of linen that could stop any arrow made at the time.

Chainmail made of interlocking iron rings is believed to have first appeared some time after 300 BC. Its invention is credited to the Celts, the Romans were thought to have adopted their design.

The craft of the armourer in Europe reached its height in design in the 15th century, when knights were completely encased in plate armour that still allowed freedom of movement.

The full plate armor of a medieval knight was about the same as the weight of the gear of a modern infantry soldier (30-50 pounds).

Medieval Japanese armour was articulated, made of iron, gilded metal, leather, and silk.

Soldiers in the American Civil War bought iron and steel vests from peddlers (both sides had considered but rejected body armour for standard issue).

Stephanie Louise Kwolek (July 31, 1923 – June 18, 2014) was an American chemist, whose career at the chemical company DuPont spanned over forty years. She is best known for inventing the first of a family of synthetic fibers of exceptional strength and stiffness, Kevlar, which is used in bullet-proof vests.

The Kevlar Survivors Club, founded by police officers whose lives were saved by Kevlar body armour, has more than 3,000 members.

Suits of armour in the Tower of London were studied by US designers of astronaut wear.

All of the chainmail in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy were made by hand, link by link.

It is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament in a suit of armour.

Sources Hutchinson Encyclopedia © RM 2011. Helicon Publishing is division of RM, Wikipedia


Armenia lies in the highlands surrounding the Biblical mountains of Ararat, upon which Noah's Ark came to rest after the Great Flood.

Recent archaeological studies have found the earliest leather shoe, skirt and wine-producing facility in Armenia, dated to about 4000 B.C. The shoe and wine making cave was found in the same cave.

Yerevan, the modern capital of Armenia, was founded in 782 BC by king Argishti I.

"Armenians" were first mentioned by Hecataeus of Miletus (476 BC). Xenophon, a Greek general serving in some of the Persian expeditions, describes many aspects of Armenian village life and hospitality. He relates that the people spoke a language that to his ear sounded like the language of the Persians.

According to tradition, the Armenian Church was founded by two of Jesus' twelve apostles – Thaddaeus and Bartholomew – who preached Christianity in Armenia between AD 40–60

Through the apostolic work of Gregory the Illuminator, Tiridates III, the King of Armenia (AD 238–314)  became the first state leader to convert to Christianity. Members of his court became Christians as well and Armenia was the first country to recognize Christianity as it’s official religion in 301 AD.

Across the country, idols were destroyed, pagan temples cleansed and then consecrated as churches, and thousands of people were baptized. However, after a decade as a Christian nation, the Armenians lost their long-term protector, the Roman empire, when in 311 the Romans went to war against the Armenians because of their new Christian identity.

Armenians have their own distinctive alphabet and language. The alphabet was invented in AD 405 by Saint Mesrob Mashtots and consists of thirty-eight letters, two of which were added during the Cilician period

Between 1915–16 up to 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or deported by the Turks. These events are traditionally commemorated yearly on 24th April, the Armenian Martyr Day, or the Day of the Armenian Genocide.

Talaat Pasha, mastermind of Armenian Genocide, was assassinated by an Armenian revolutionary and genocide survivor. Despite the assassination occurring in broad daylight, and with the assassin pleading guilty, he was acquitted by reason of temporary insanity. He is a national hero in Armenia.

During Joseph Stalin's Great Purge in the 1930s thousands of Armenians were deported or executed.

Hitler gave a speech to military officers a week before the German invasion of Poland with the line "Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?" regarding the plan for his genocide of the Poles.

 "Mer Hayrenik", the national anthem of the First Republic of Armenia, became a protest song when it was banned during the Soviet era.

An earthquake struck the Spitak region of Armenia on December 7, 1988. The quake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale, devastated the country killing more than 25,000, injuring 30,000 and leaving 500,000 homeless out of a population of 3,500,000.

Severely damaged masonry buildings in Spitak

The national flag of Armenia, the Armenian Tricolor, was adopted on August 24, 1990. The orange on the Armenian flag is the color of apricots, which are a national symbol.

In a referendum held in September 1991, shortly after the failed anti-Gorbachev coup in Moscow, 94% of Armenians voted for secession from the USSR.

In April 2011 a 75-year-old woman deprived the whole of Armenia of its internet access when she sliced through a buried cable with her garden spade.

A constitutional referendum was held in Armenia on 6 December 2015, proposing changing the Armenia's constitution from a semi-presidential system to a parliamentary republic. The referendum was passed with 66.2% of voters supporting it.

Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, Armenia is considered a European country by the European Union.

Zorats Karer, the Armenian Stonehenge, includes 223 stones, some weighing up to ten tons.

Playing musical instruments or singing loudly at night is a public order offence in Armenia.

Chess has been a compulsory subject in Armenian schools since 2011.

Sources Wikipedia, Daily Express, Hutchinson Encyclopedia © RM 2011. Helicon Publishing is division of RM.

Giorgio Armani

Giorgio Armani was born on July 11, 1934 in the northern Italian town of Piacenza to a humble family.

Giorgio was curious about the human form from an early age. He recalled to The Guardian that as a child, he would "make dolls out of mud with a coffee bean hidden inside."

Armani originally decided to pursue a medical career after reading A.J. Cronin's The Citadel, He enrolled at the University of Milan to study medicine.

After attending the University of Milan for two years, Armani pursued a career in photography before going to work at La Rinascente department store in Milan in the mid-1950s.

Giorgio Armani, in September 1997

He pioneered the ‘unstructured jacket’ and the ‘power suit’ for both men and women during the 1980s.

Armani was the first designer to ban models with a body mass index of under 18, after models Luisel Ramos and Ana Carolina Reston starved themselves to death due to anorexia nervosa in 2006.

Armani was the first fashion designer to be honored with an exhibition at London's Royal Academy.

He has designed many stage outfits for pop superstar Lady Gaga, including those worn on her record breaking Monster Ball and Born This Way tours.

Armani is largely responsible for making Milan into a major world center of fashion.



The Glyptodont, an ice age relative of the armadillo, was the size of a small car.  The Glyptodont became extinct about 10,000 years ago.

The Aztecs called armadillos āyōtōchtli, meaning "turtle-rabbits."

During the Great Depression, people ate armadillos and called it "Poor Man's Pork."  The Texans called it the “Hoover hog,” in homage to then-president Herbert Hoover.

The official mascot for World Cup 2014 was an armadillo named Fuleco.

Other than humans, only armadillos can contract leprosy.

Armadillos are the only living mammals that have shells.

Predators give up on eating an armadillo when they cannot breach its scaled armor or grasp its tapered tail.

While digging, an Armadillo can hold its breath for up to six minutes.

An armadillo can walk under water.

Armadillos can jump 3-4 feet in the air when startled 

Armadillos feed on insects, snakes, fruit, and rotting flesh of dead animals.

The large hairy armadillo is the world’s sleepiest animal, averaging 20 hours of sleep a day. The koala seems to sleep around 22 hours a day, but five hours of that is just resting while they digest eucalyptus leaves.

The armadillo is among the most prolific dreamers, judging from their REM sleep patterns.

Armadillos of the genus Dasypus (the only ones found in the US)  nearly always give birth to quadruplets of the same sex; they are the only known vertebrate animals to exhibit this "polyembryony."

Young armadillos are called armadiglets.

An armadillo can be trained to be housebroken.

In South America, it is considered taboo to consume the meat of a six-banded armadillo.

Friday, 19 August 2011


Arkansas became the 25th state to enter the Union on June 15, 1836.

In 1932 Hattie Caraway, a Democrat from Arkansas, became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate.

Wal-Mart was founded in 1962 by Sam and Bud Walton in Rogers, Arkansas.

Paul McCartney wrote the Beatles song "Blackbird" about the civil rights struggle for blacks after reading about race riots in the US. He penned it in his kitchen in Scotland not long after the federal courts forced the racial desegregation of the Arkansas capital Little Rock's school system.

Bill Clinton was known as the “Boy Governor” when he won election as governor of Arkansas in 1978 at the age of just 32. He served as governor of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981 and again from 1983 to 1993.

Arkansas is currently the only U.S. state in which diamonds are mined. This is done by members of the public with primitive digging tools for a small daily fee, not by commercial interests.

It is technically illegal to mispronounce “Arkansas” while in Arkansas. In 1947, in an effort to preserve the heritage upon which it was founded, the state decreed “The only true pronunciation of the name of the state … is that received by the French from the native Indians and committed to writing in the French word representing the sound. It should be pronounced in three syllables, with the final ‘s’ silent,"

The tomato is both the state fruit and state vegetable of Arkansas.

The world’s largest can of spinach is on display in Alma, Arkansas, the ‘Spinach Capital of the World’. It contains a million gallons of spinach.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Ark of the Covenant

The Ark of the Covenant is described in the Bible as a holy container where the Ten Commandments and other holy Israelite objects are held.

The Bible describes the Ark as made of acacia or shittah-tree wood. It was about 4.29 × 2.57 × 2.57 feet long  and was covered all over with the purest gold.

The Ark of the Covenant was last seen in 586 BC.

One time King Lalibela of Ethiopia  (reign early 13th century) fell ill and whilst in a coma, he was visited by God in a vision. When he awoke he begun at once to carry out the order he received: to build a spectacular group of churches, hewn out of the rock of this mountainous region. It is speculated that the lost Ark of the Covenant can be found here.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011


The United States Army established Fort Buchanan on the Sonoita River in present-day southern Arizona on November 17, 1856. This was in order to help control new land acquired in the Gadsden Purchase, a 29,640-square-mile (76,800 km2) region of present-day southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico that was purchased by the US in a 1853 treaty. After the Apaches attacked and forced the small garrison to retreat in 1865 it was abandoned and Fort Crittenden was established half a mile east on the flats two years later.

The ruins of Fort Buchanan in 1914

Arizona became the 48th US state on February 14, 1912. It was the last of the contiguous states to be admitted. It was previously part of the territory of Alta California in New Spain before being passed down to independent Mexico and later ceded to the United States after the Mexican–American War.

Phoenix originated in 1866 as a hay camp to supply Camp McDowell.

The saguaro cactus blossom is the official state flower. The white flower blooms on the tips of the saguaro cactus during May and June. The saguaro is the largest American cactus.

Arizona's most abundant mineral is copper.  Arizona leads the nation in copper production.

Bisbee, located in Tombstone Canyon, is known as the Queen of the Copper Mines. During its mining history the town was the largest city between Saint Louis and San Francisco.

The amount of copper on the roof of the Capitol building is equivalent to 4,800,000 pennies.

The Palo verde is the official state tree. Its name means green stick and it blooms a brilliant yellow-gold in April or May.

The ringtail is the official state mammal. The ringtail is a small fox-like animal about two and one-half feet long and is a shy, nocturnal creature.

The battleship USS Arizona was named in honor of the state. It was commissioned in 1913 and launched in 1915 from the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

The Castilian and Burgundian flags of Spain, the Mexican flag, the Confederate flag, and the flag of the United States have all flown over the land area that has become Arizona.

The geographic center of Arizona is 55 miles (89 kilometers) southeast of Prescott.

The original London Bridge was shipped stone-by-stone and reconstructed in Lake Havasu City.

Located in Fountain Hills is a fountain believed to be the tallest in the world.

The city of Surprise in Arizona was named by its founder who stated she "would be surprised if the town ever amounted to much."

Four Corners is noted as the spot in the United States where a person can stand in four states at the same time.

Supai Village, Arizona is only accessible by helicopter or eight mile hike—it's one of the only spots in the U.S. where mail comes via mule.

Arizona, among all the states, has the largest percentage of its land set aside and designated as Indian lands.

Oraibi is the oldest Native American settlement in the United States. The Hopis Indians founded it.

Despite its "Sunshine State" nickname, Florida is not the sunniest US state—Arizona is, closely followed by California.

Yuma is the sunniest city in the United States, with the sun shining an average of 90 percent of the time. This Arizona desert city also has the distinction of being the least humid and having fewer days of precipitation than any other US city.

Arizona contains at least 170 miles of earth fissures, created by the voids left behind by used-up groundwater.

Despite being commonly thought as being nothing but a desert, Arizona has the largest contiguous pine tree forest in the world.

Source Arizona Fast Facts and Trivia, Hungry For Heaven 


In ancient China, Egypt, Babylon, and early civilizations generally, arithmetic was used for commercial purposes, records of taxation, and astronomy.

During the Dark Ages in Europe, knowledge of arithmetic was preserved in India and later among the Arabs.

It wasn't until about 500AD that some Indian mathematicians suggested the use of the symbol “0” meaning zero or nothing.

With the development of trade and overseas exploration in Europe. Hindu-Arabic numerals replaced Roman numerals, allowing calculations to be made on paper, instead of by the abacus.

The invention of logarithms by Scottish mathematician John Napier in 1614 and of the slide rule ten years later helped make the manipulation of the arithmetic processes easier.

A number is divisible by 3 if the sum of the digits is divisible by 3. We know the number 627, for instance, is divisible by 3 because 6+2+7=15, which is divisible by 3.


Aristotle was born in 384 BC in Stagira, Chalcidice, about 55 km (34 miles) east of modern-day Thessalonika.

His name means "the best purpose".

Aristotle's father, Nichomachus, was a physician to King Amyntas III of Macedonia (the grandfather to Alexander the Great).

At the age of 18, Aristotle went to Athens, where he was taught by Plato at his school. There he had a reputation for his keen intellect and was recognized by Plato as the "Mind of the School".

Plato (left) and Aristotle (right), a detail of The School of Athens, a fresco by Raphael

Whilst studying under Plato, Aristotle acquired a reputation as a dandy wearing rings on his fingers and cutting his hair reasonably.

Very little is known about Aristotle's personal appearance except from hostile sources. According to the sculptures and busts of him, Aristotle was somewhat below the average height. He had a full flock of hair, a neat beard, which got straggly and long in his older age and a long straight nose.

In later years Aristotle was losing his hair and he studied the causes of baldness to no great effect.

Aristotle was fond of pickles and he thought camel meat was the most delicate of all.

In 335BC Aristotle opened his own school, The Lyceum, where he taught, whilst pacing up and down. Because much of the discussion in his educational establishment took place while teachers and students were walking about the Lyceum grounds, it came to be known as the Peripatetic ("walking" or "strolling") school.

In 342BC Aristotle was called to Macedonia by Philip II to undertake the tuition of his then 14-year-old son Alexander. Plutarch wrote that Aristotle not only imparted to the future conqueror a knowledge of ethics and politics, but also of the most profound secrets of philosophy.

Alexander the Great sent Aristotle back flowers from his travels in Asia, but don't worry, the Macedonian conqueror sent Aristotle many other souvenirs from his travels apart from flowers such as information on the animals he encountered, he knew how much his former tutor liked classifying and listing things.

Aristotle taught that music had such an emotional effect on people that it should be censured. In Poetics he penned, "The flute is not an instrument with a good moral effect. It is too exciting."

Aristotle was the first man to own a huge personal library, which included the manuscripts of his works. He argued that literature was superior to history, because it imitates not what it is but what it ought to be. According to legend, Aristotle's private library was left to his successor Theophrastus and was later hidden to avoid confiscation or destruction.

"Aristotle" by Francesco Hayez (1791–1882)

Aristotle pioneered the study of zoology and was really in his element when he was classifying and listing all creatures great and small. His book Historia Animalium was a record of the behaviour and habits of animals.

Aristotle wasn't always right. He taught that flies had four legs and his fellow Greeks had such a high regard for him that no one corrected the great man.

Aristotle considered the brain to be a device for cooling the blood and intelligence and sensation emits from the heart. Why? Its all Greek to me.

Aristotle thought heavy objects fall faster than lighter ones. He also believed that the moon didn't fall to the ground as it was made of a very light substance called ether.

Because Aristotle didn't believe that all matter consisted of tiny particles, atomic theory remained dormant through ancient and medieval times. He criticized Democritus who'd formulated an atomic theory of the universe,

Aristotle's theory that stars move around a stationary Earth was held for centuries.

Aristotle defined space by the things inside it; according to his theories, if one removes the things then the space doesn’t exist.

All his life, Aristotle, believed men have more teeth than women. I guess he never counted Mrs Aristotle's teeth.

Aristotle was the first western man to argue that the universe owes its existence to an intelligent being eg God.

Aristotle was a believer in the Hebdomadal rule that everything goes in seven. Man has seven ages each seven years long etc. Interestingly in the Bible, seven represents the 'perfect' number and the Greek word that is used in the New Testament, 'Hepta,' generally expresses completeness.

Aristotle died at Chalcis on March 7, 322 BC one year after fleeing there. His cause of death was a gastric system disorder, from which he had long suffered. The story that his death was due to hemlock poisoning, as well as the legend that he threw himself into the sea "because he could not explain the tides," is without historical foundation.

Aristotle worked out a way of thinking at problems step by step, thereby introducing logic.

Aristotle's writing provided a framework for the discussion of biology, mathematics, logic, literary criticism, aesthetics, ethics and politics.

Aristotle was one of the first men to believe the Earth is round.

Aristotle was called "Father of Science" from his teachings that a theory was only valid if derived logically from observations of the real world.

Portrait bust of Aristotle; an Imperial Roman (1st or 2nd century AD) copy of a lost bronze sculpture made by Lysippos.

It has been suggested that Aristotle was probably the last person to know everything there was to be known in his own time.

As well as our five senses, English people in Tudor times believed we had five wits: common sense, imagination, estimation or judgment, fantasy and memory. They were derived from Aristotle’s writings and Shakespeare featured them in his plays including Romeo And Juliet and King Lear.

Readers Digest Did You Know?
Novels and Novelists
edited by Martin Seymour Smith
A History of Food by Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat
A Lifetime's of Reading by Philip Ward
The Oxford Companion To English Literature edited by Margaret Drabble
Hutchinson Encyclopedia © RM 2009. Helicon Publishing is division of RM


"Argentum” is the Latin for silver and Argentina's name means "Land of Silver." However, there is actually very little of the metal there. It was misnamed by explorers who thought they saw silver there.

Originally inhabited by American Indian peoples, the population of Argentina numbered about 300,000 at the time of the first visit by Europeans in the early 16th century.

In 1526 Sebastian Cabot, the pilot-major of Charles V, Holy Roman emperor and king of Spain landed at Rio De La Plata. On hearing of mineral wealth in the interior, he explored up the rivers Paraná and Paraguay, built a fort on the River Uruguay, and founded a settlement a little further on, north of the River Caracarañá, which he called San Espiritu.

Sancti Spiritu, the first European settlement in Argentina, was destroyed by local natives on September 1, 1529.

Destruction of the Sancti Spiritu fort

The population rose against Spanish rule in 1810. On May 25, 1810 The Primera Junta, the first independent government in Argentina, was established in an open cabildo in Buenos Aires, marking the end of the May revolution.

May 25th is celebrated each year as the National Day of Argentina, a public holiday remembering the First National Government of Argentina.

On July 9, 1816 a congress of deputies meeting at San Miguel de Tucumán declared the country's independence and elected Don Martin Pueyrredon supreme dictator.

The Argentine flag was raised at the city of Rosario on February 27, 1812,  It was the Congress of Tucumán which finally designated it as the national flag in 1816.

Argentine National flag 

Between 1860 and 1930, exploitation of the rich land of the pampas strongly pushed economic growth. During the first three decades of the 20th century, Argentina outgrew Canada and Australia in per capita income By 1913, Argentina was the world's tenth wealthiest nation on a par with Germany.

After a financial crisis in 2001, Argentina had five presidents in less than two weeks.

Most Argentines are descendants of the 19th and 20th century immigrants, with about 97% of the population being of European, or of partial European descent.

Both the highest and lowest temperatures in South America were recorded in Argentina. The highest temperature ever recorded in South America was 48.9 °C (120.0 °F) in Rivadavia, Salta Province on December 11, 1905. The lowest temperature ever recorded in South America at low elevation was −32.8 °C (−27.0 °F) in Sarmiento, Chubut Province on June 1, 1907.

The Petrified Forest near Sarmiento
The highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere is Mount Aconcagua in Argentina. It rises 22,834 feet above sea level.

The soil in Argentina's Pampas is among the best in the world.

Argentina has had five different currencies since the 1960s—because of massive inflation, one modern peso equals ten trillion 1960s pesos.

Cristina Kirchner is Argentina's first elected female president, and the widow of a former president, Nestor Kirchner.

The official national sport of Argentina is pato, in which teams on horseback compete for possession of a ball with handles.

Hutchinson Encyclopedia © RM 2011. Helicon Publishing


An "Arena" actually refers the special ultra-fine sand that was used in gladiatorial coliseums to soak up blood quicker. The Romans used the term 'arena' to describe the site for an enclosed area in which some public entertainment was staged as after each event, slaves would sprinkle sand over the gore, and the Latin word for sand was arena.

The Hippodrome of Constantinople was an arena that was capable of seating 100,000 people. Byzantines gathered there to sit under silk awnings to watch chariot races, jugglers, circus acts, and fights between wild animals.

Henry VIII oversaw the building of four of the great sporting arenas of the age:
1. Greenwich Palace: Tiltyard for jousting, tennis court, indoor bowling alley and cockpit.
2. Whitehall Palace Gravel: Tiltyard, two tennis courts, two indoor bowling alleys and cockpit
3. Whitehall Palace Park: Outdoor stalking and hawking
4. Hampton Court: Two bowling alleys, tiltyard with exceptional viewing towers and tennis court.

The oldest existing indoor ice hockey arena still used for the sport in the 21st century, the Boston Arena, opened for the first time in 1910.

The first indoor arena was Madison Square Garden in New York City. It was completed in 1890 to replace a converted railroad terminal that had been used for public events since 1874. The 1890 arena was replaced in 1925.

The New Orleans Superdome is called like that for a reason – with a total floor area of 269,000 square feet it is the largest enclosed arena in the world.

The Philippine Arena is a multipurpose indoor arena at Ciudad de Victoria, a 140-hectare tourism enterprise zone in Bocaue and Santa Maria, Bulacan, Philippines. With a maximum capacity of 55,000 people, it is the world's largest indoor arena.

Soource Observer 2/1/00 article on History of Sport

Elizabeth Arden

Elizabeth Arden was born in Canada on December 31, 1878 where her parents had emigrated from Cornwall.

Her real name was Florence Nightingale Graham. She adopted the personal and business name of ‘Elizabeth Arden’ after opening her first beauty salon on Fifth Avenue in 1910.

With her rival Helena Rubinstein, Arden made makeup acceptable to "respectable" American women, to whom Arden introduced eyeshadow, mascara, and lipstick tinted to match their outfits.

By 1929 she owned 150 upscale salons across the United States and Europe. She was the sole owner, and at the peak of her career,  Arden was one of the wealthiest women in the world.

Elizabeth Arden / photo by Alan Fisher.

Convinced that pink was the most flattering color, she made it her trademark whether it be clothes, diamond rings or lipstick.

She was the first to sell travel-size beauty products and to incorporate a founder’s name into a product name.

Arden hated glasses so much she wouldn’t employ anyone who wore them.

Elizabeth Arden operated Maine Chance Stables in Kentucky, where the 1947 Kentucky Derby winner was bred.

Arden died at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan on October 18, 1966 aged 87; she was interred in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York, under the name Elizabeth N. Graham.

The Arctic

Arctic comes from the Greek word "Arktos," which means bear, so the Arctic is the land of the bears, and Antarctica is the land without bears.

The Arctic Ocean is the world's smallest ocean and the shallowest. It is mostly covered by solid ice, ice floes, and icebergs.

Sound carries so well in the Arctic that on a calm day, a conversation can be heard from 1.8 miles away.

The reason why the Canadian Arctic is called the "Land of the Midnight Sun" is because during the summer many communities have light 24 hours of the day.

An Arctic expedition led by Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen reached 86°13.6'N, almost three degrees beyond the previous Farthest North mark on April 7, 1896.

Artist's impression of Nansen and Johansen's northernmost camp, 86°13.6′N 

A Soviet station, North Pole-1, became the first scientific research settlement to operate on the drift ice of the Arctic Ocean in 1937.

The lowest temperature recorded in the Arctic is –68C (–90.4F) in Siberia.


Construction only became a basic factor in architectural thought during the Roman era at the time of the birth of Christ. Before then architecture had been almost exclusively symbolic in form and decoration.

The emperor Augustus was a lover of architectural splendour. He claimed "I found Rome brick and left it marble", referring to improvements to Rome during his emperorship. Augustus imposed a height limit of 80ft on tower blocks within Rome.

Augustus built his mansion on Palatine Hill, from which came the word, "palace".

The actual function of gargoyles is to protect the roof of a structure from rainfall. Rain falls on the backs and slides out the mouth.

In 1696 the window tax was introduced in England. This had an effect on English architecture way into the next century.

Catherine the Great of Russia asked her favourite architect to construct the world's most expensive palace. When he had finished the Winter Palace in Leningrad, the Queen took her husband riding and led him past the new building. Her husband enquired whom it belonged to. Catherine replied "you, darling."

One of the most ever influential books on architecture was French architect Le Corbusier 1923 publication Towards a New Architecture.  He proposed a contemporary city for three million inhabitants with low residential blocks separated by large areas of park. This idea has since been adapted many times for housing projects.

Source Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc


Early Egypt recorded the names of the architects who built the great pyramids. The first great architect, Imhotep, who lived almost 5,000 years ago, is also the first scientist known by name today.

Roman emperor Hadrian was a fine architect. He organised the rebuilding of the Pantheon which had been destroyed by fire, reconstructing the accustomed temple facade, with columns and pediment, but attached it to a drum which was surmounted by a coffered dome. The latter was pierced by an oculus nine meters in diameter, which was the main source of illumination. The height and diameter were identical, 43.3 meters.

Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446) won the commission to engineer the dome of Florence's Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral after winning a competition in which architects attempted to stand an egg upright on a piece of marble. He used more than  four million bricks in the dome's construction and invented a new hoisting machine for raising the masonry needed.  Its success resulted in Brunelleschi becoming the world's first superstar architect.

Leonardo Da Vinci was for a time the architect and Engineer to Cesare Borgia.

Michelangelo's design for the dome of St Peters in Rome became the model for domes all over the western world including the majority of American state buildings.

Michelangelo did architectural plans for the Church of Santa Maria Delgi Angeli at the age of 88.

Christopher Wren, the designer of St Pauls Cathedrial in London, studied Mathematics and had only six months architectural training in Paris.

Nine days after the Great Fire of London in 1666 Wren prepared a plan for rebuilding the city which he presented King Charles II with. In it he removed the crowded alleyways which were a fire and health hazard. All new streets would have one of three widths- 90,60 or 30 feet.

King Charles II rejected Wren's first plan for St Pauls, it was deemed too modest and Wren was so upset he wept. The king accepted his third scheme.

In February 1770 Thomas Jefferson's family house at Shadwell, Virginia burnt down. An Architect, Interior Designer, Builder and Furniture Maker, he designed his 35 roomed replacement home in Monticello. It had only two very narrow staircases as he considered them a waste of space. He also installed a small, innovative shelved elevator to carry wine from his wine cellar to his dining room.

Thomas Hardy trained as a Church Architect. He was articled to Dorchester Architect John Hicks and habitually got up at 4.00 in the summer and 5.00 in the winter to study

As a youngster Adolf Hitler was told he should become an architect, since he had some flair for painting buildings. However, he failed the entrance exam at the architectural school in Vienna.

The Catalan architect Gaudi spent his last 15 years living as a hermit beneath the unfinished structure of his great church in Barcelona. In 1926 he was run over by a tram and looked so bedraggled that bystanders took him for a tramp and were slow in getting him to hospital, where he died.

The actor Anthony Quinn (1915-2001) studied architecture under Frank Lloyd Wright who advised him communication was an important part of the job — so Quinn joined an acting group, and ended up preferring that.

The architect Zaha Mohammad Hadid was born on October 31, 1950 in Baghdad, Iraq, to an upper-class Iraqi family. The designer of the London Olympics 2012 Aquatics Centre, she was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize regarded as the ‘Nobel Prize for architecture’ eight years earlier. However, for the first 20 years of her career, despite living in the UK, she didn’t receive a single British commission.
Zaha hadid