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Monday, 27 August 2012

Big Ben

Big Ben, the bell in the Palace of Westminster's clock tower in London, was cast on April 10, 1858 by Whitechapel Bell Foundry.after the original bell had cracked during testing.

The second "Big Ben" (centre) and the Quarter Bells from The Illustrated News of the World, 4 December 1858

The Whitechapel Bell Foundry company was established in 1570 making it, Britain's oldest manufacturing company - it also casted Philadelphia's Liberty Bell.

The clock tower at the Houses of Parliament, which houses Big Ben, started keeping time on May 31, 1859. Big Ben rang for the first time on July 11, 1859.

The 30,300 lb (13.76 tonne) bell is known as ‘Big Ben’ after Benjamin Hall, First Commissioner of Works at the time.

For two years during World War I, the bells were silenced and the clock face darkened at night to prevent attack by German Zeppelins.

Big Ben has been heard striking the hour before news bulletins on the BBC since December 31, 1923.

Although the bells continued to ring, the clock faces were darkened at night through World War II to prevent guiding Blitz pilots.

In 1979 starlings were in such large numbers in London that they stopped Big Ben by landing on the hands.

On April 1, 1980, the BBC reported that Big Ben was getting a digital display. It was of course an April fool.

By © User:Colin / Wikimedia Commons

In 2008 a survey of 2,000 people found that the tower was the most popular landmark in the United Kingdom.

The Big Ben name is often used to mean the tower as well. It is the third-tallest free-standing clock tower.

The Clock Tower was renamed the Elizabeth Tower in a tribute to Queen Elizabeth in her 2012 Diamond Jubilee Year.

By Diliff - Own work,Wikipedia Commons

Each of the four clock faces of Big Ben are 23 feet in diameter and are made up of 312 panes of glass.

Each of the copper sheet minute hands on Big Ben’s clock faces weigh 222lb (100kg). The end of the 13 foot (4.2m) long minute hands travel 120 miles (190 km) every year

Putting Big Ben’s hands forwards or back in spring or autumn, plus a maintenance check, takes 16 hours.

Pennies are used to keep Big Ben accurate if its losing time. Putting a coin on its pendulum speeds it by two-fifths of a second a day.

Those wishing to go up Big Ben must climb the 334 spiral steps to the top — there is no lift. It is only open to UK residents, who have to apply to their MP.

The 15-minute chimes on Big Ben have lyrics that are based on Psalm 37:23-24 : "All through this hour. Lord be my guide. And by Thy power. No foot shall slide."

The company which maintains Big Ben has staff on 24-hour call should something go wrong.

If Big Ben was built today, it would cost around $222,278.

Sources Wikipedia

Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber was born on March 1, 1994, in London, Ontario, at St Joseph's Hospital. Kurt Cobain shot himself exactly one month after Justin entered this world.

Justin is the son of Jeremy Jack Bieber and Patricia "Pattie" Mallette, who were both 18 when he was born.  His parents never got married and Pattie raised her son with the help of her mother Diane, and stepfather, Bruce. Justin paid tribute to his mom with his song "Turn to You (Mother's Day Dedication," which he explained is about, "the struggles she went through and how brave she was and I think the world needs to know that."

Justin Bieber was discovered by by chance. When he was 12 his mother uploaded a video to YouTube of him singing in a talent contest. It was intended just for his family, but music executive Scooter Braun clicked on one of his videos on YouTube. He was checking out another artist who was singing Aretha Franklin's Respect, and Bieber came up with a related video singing the same song. Braun clicked on it thinking it was the same artist, and realized that the 20-year-old he thought he was watching was a 12 year old.

His autobiography Justin Bieber: First Step 2 Forever was published when Justin was just 16. 

Bieber in 2010, By Daniel Ogren, CC BY 2.0, Wikipedia Commons

Justin Bieber fans call themselves "The Beliebers". They were named the greatest superfan community of the past 20 years by Rolling Stone Magazine.

To celebrate Justin Bieber’s 18th birthday, his fans set the Guinness World Record for most social-media messages sent over a 24-hour period with 300,000 tweets; at one point, Beliebers accounted for 3 percent of all activity on Twitter.

His first three tattoos are all reminders of his Christian faith. Bieber has a sizeable portrait of Jesus on his left calf, the Hebrew word for Jesus on his rib cage, and a dove on his stomach.

Justin Bieber biggest scandal to date is when 20-year-old Mariah Yeater falsely claimed that he impregnated her backstage at a concert when he was just 16. He wrote a song "Maria" about the incident.   

Bieber presented Ellen DeGeneres with one of his hairs after the talk show host said that all she wanted for her 53rd birthday was a bit of his trademark fringe, Justin presented her with her wish with the agreement that she sold it for charity. The luscious lock sold on eBay for $40,668, all of which was donated to the animal charity Gentle Barn Foundation.

Bieber has his initials, “J.B.,” spelled out in crystal studs on the dashboard of his Range Rover.

When Justin met with President Obama in the White House during Christmas 2011, he greeted him with, “What up, my dude!” instead of the standard “Pleasure to meet you, Mr. President.” Obama returned the love by replying, “What up, Biebs!”

Justin is the first singer to have seven singles from a debut album chart on the Billboard Hot 100.

His visual for "Baby" became the most-watched video ever on YouTube in mid July 2010, overtaking Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" clip.

When Believe Acoustic debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, Justin was still only 18. In doing so he became the youngest artist to top the album chart five times.

Bieber performing in October 2012. By Joe Bielawa. Uploaded by MyCanon - Wikipedia Commons

Justin overtook Lady Gaga in January 2013 as having the most popular celebrity Twitter account with over 33 million followers.

After 47 visits  to the Hot 100, Justin Bieber topped the tally for the first time on September 17, 2015 with "What Do You Mean?"

21-year-old Justin Bieber became the youngest male artist to debut at the top on the Billboard Hot 100 when "What Do You Mean?" bowed at #1 on the chart.

Justin Bieber's 2015 Purpose album set new worldwide and US records for the most streams for an album in its first week of release, with 205 million global streams and 77 million US streams. 

In the week that Purpose was released, Justin posted 17 songs on the Hot 100, the most that any artist has placed on the chart in a single week. The Canadian star's tally on the December 5, 2015 Hot 100, beat the 14 each that the Beatles managed on April 11, 1964 and Drake earned on the March 7 and October 17, 2015 tallies. 

Justin Bieber occupied the number 1, 2 and 3 spots on the UK singles chart dated January 10, 2016 with his songs - a feat never accomplished before. "Love Yourself" was at pole position, "Sorry" was one position below and "What Do You Mean?" was at #3.

Justin Bieber had eight different entries in the Guinness World Records 2017 Edition. They were for:
Most streamed track on Spotify in one week with 'What Do You Mean?'
Most streamed album on Spotify in one week with Purpose
Most simultaneous tracks on the US singles chart (the 17 he posted on the December 5, 2015 Hot 100)
The most simultaneous new entries on the US singles chart (13 songs).
The first act to occupy all top three positions simultaneously on the UK singles chart.
The most YouTube subscribers of any male
The most viewed music channel on YouTube.

The most Twitter followers of any guy on the planet.

Justin Bieber has more followers on Twitter than Canada has people.

He can complete the Rubik's Cube in under two minutes.

According to the US Census Bureau, there are 8 people named Justin Bieber.

Sources Entertainment Weekly, Artistfacts


The bidet was invented in France in the the late 17th century by Christophe des Rosiers. It got its name from a French word meaning ‘pony’ as it looked like an undersized horse.

Early bidets were long, low wooden cabinets, with a metal or china bowl inset in the middle. A lady would sit astride it and wash her nether regions.

The first written record of a bidet appears in a 1710 account of the Marquis d’Argenson, who noted that he had an audience with one Mademoiselle de Prie “as she sat astride her bidet.”

By the mid 18th century bidets were prized designer items in France. Madame La Pompadour possessed two particularly fancy examples. One had a rosewood cabinet decorated with a floral inlay; the other was in walnut, with a red leather backrest. Ladies received guests, both men and women, while sitting astride their bidets.

The bidet seat came about in the 1960s and was improved in the 1980s with the creation of the “washlet.” Using remote-controlled wands that spout water jets and finish with a warm-air dryer, the washlet is especially popular in Japan.


Sunday, 26 August 2012



The bicycle evolved from a tiny wooden horse with a front wheel that was invented in France in the 1790s. The design was improved in 1817, by Baron Karl von Drais, who developed the steerable front wheel.

The world’s first pedal bicycle was made by a Scottish blacksmith Kirkpatrick Macmillan (d1878) of Keir Mill, Dumfriesshire in 1839. His novel design for the first time enabled cyclists to ride with both their feet continuously off the ground. The popular bicycle of the time, the Hobby Horse, only provided momentum through the swinging of the riders feet back and forth. Macmillan never patented his idea and it was therefore widely copied.

During the four years Macmillan was developing his new machine, he travelled through the country lanes of his home district. Macmillan, who was known locally as 'Daft Pate', was able to attain speeds up to 14 mph and, to the dismay of drivers and passengers, on many occasions he overtook the local stage-coach.

In June 1842 Macmillan decided to visit his brother in Glasgow on his bicycle, a distance of 68 miles. However when he reached the Gorbals he knocked down a little girl who ran across his path and he was fined 5 Scots shillings for speeding at 8 mph. The magistrate initially declared that the highways of Britain had to be kept free of speedsters of his kind but later modified his opinions after the young inventor had shown him his contraption and is said to have slipped him the money for the fine.

Further advance in the evolution of the cycle was made, once again, in France, when E. Michaux, of Paris began to construct the original "boneshaker" in 1865. This was designed by Pierre Lallement, a mechanic employed by Michaux's firm. Its main feature was that the front wheel (larger than the rear wheel) was driven by a crank, fixed on its axle. The wheels themselves were still made of wood, but had iron tyres.

The horsecycle was patented in 1869. It was a bicycle that looked like a horse; and supposedly it wouldn't scare horses that you met along the road.

The first US national bicycle society was formed in Newport, Rhode Island in 1880. It was known as the League of American Wheelman.

The Briton John Kemp Stanley’s Rover safety bicycle, which he patented in 1885, was the prototype of a design that survives with few modifications today. It turned cycling, which had been something of an extreme sport on the old penny-farthings, into a safe form of mass transportation.

The pneumatic tyre was first successfully applied to the bicycle in 1888. As a result bicycles are a lot cheaper and affordable to most people. The inventor, John Boyd Dunlop fought a legal battle against Robert William Thomson to patent the tyre. 

Between 1888-1930 UK cyclists were obliged by law to ring their bells non-stop on a public highway.

  Photo by Les Gosden

The renowned 19th-century US feminist Susan B Anthony said in an interview in 1896: "I think [the bicycle] has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world." 

Mark Twain first learned to ride a bicycle at the age of 55.

For his 11th birthday, Elvis Presley asked for a bicycle. Instead, his father bought him a guitar.


The longest “tandem” bike that's ever been built was over 20 meters long and seated 35 people.

The longest bicycle in the world was built by Santos and University of South Australia, who created a (135 ft 10.7 in (41.42 m) long bicycle in Adelaide, Australia in 2016.

In Tokyo, a bicycle is faster than a car for most trips of less than 50 minutes.

There are more bicycles in the world than motor cars.

About 400 million of the world’s one billion bicycles are in China.

Beijing is considered to the bicycle capital of the world as it has many parking lots dedicated to bikes alone. 

The Netherlands has 16.77 million people and 18 million bicycles.

There are bicycle hotels throughout Norway, where, for a small monthly fee, cyclists can safely store their bikes indoors while at work.

There are more than 96,000 bicycle-related patents at the European Patent Office. These include about 20 devices allowing a cyclist to exercise a dog while riding the bike.

Six percent of Americans don’t know how to ride a bike.

Here's a list of songs inspired by bicycles.

Sources Europress Family Encyclopedia 1999, Daily Express.

The Bible


The word Bible comes from the Greek word for "papyrus plant" (biblos), since the leaves of that plant were used for paper.

The New Testament canon originated when due to many false gospels being produced. The church leaders of about AD200 decided to get together in one book all the known writings of the original apostles. This was also done as a true statement of faith to refute the criticisms of those who misunderstood Christianity. Around this time Tertullian was writing of the ‘New Testament’ which he placed on a level with the Old as regards divine inspiration.

The oldest surviving copy of the four Gospels date back to 350. Cynics would need to move forward 500 years to approximately 850 to find the date of the oldest surviving copy of the supposedly more historically sound Caesar’s account of the Gallic War.

The first evidence for a canonical list which completely matches that widely accepted for the New Testament today is the 39th Easter letter of Athanasius written in 367, which designated 27 books of the New Testament alongside the canon of the Old Testament.

In 397 At the Council of Carthage the western church agreed on the same New Testament canon as the Eastern church.

The Goths in Germany were introduced to Christianity by Roman prisoners, whom they had taken captive during raids into the Empire. In 375AD Ulfilas, a missionary bishop to the Goths, translated the Bible into their everyday speech, a monumental task as in order to achieve this task, he had to first of all devise a Gothic alphabet. He omitted the books of Kings as he was concerned the accounts of the military campaigns of the Hebrews in those books would urge the warlike Gothic tribes to acts of war. This was the first barbarian translation of the Bible and the first done specifically for missionary purposes.

Rather than copying from any one source, The Venerable Bede researched from several sources to create single volume bibles, a practice which was highly unusual for the time: previously, the bible had circulated as separate books.

It was Stephen Langton, a professor in Paris, who the first person to divide the Bible into defined chapters. In the early 13th century he inserted chapter divisions into a Vulgate edition of the Bible. Langton later became the Archbishop of Canterbury.

During the Middle Ages the medieval church walls were covered in paintings of Biblical scenes, which, in a period of almost universal illiteracy were thought to be the poor man’s Bible. Though reformers such as John Wycliffe and Jan Hus advocated the importance of the Bible, throughout the Middle Ages the clergy were afraid to let the common people have any knowledge of the Scriptures and in most of Europe it was dangerous to possess or even to be found reading the Bible. In England, for instance, in 1399 the death penalty became the punishment for heresy and many Lollards were burnt alive with their Bibles around their necks.

In the 1490s, Oxford Professor John Colet began a public reading of the New Testament in Greek, translating it into English, in St. Paul's Cathedral in London. People were so hungry to hear the Word of God in the language they could understand, that within six months the cathedral was filled with 20,000 standing packed inside and another 20,000 outside. Colet only avoided execution for this crime because he had powerful friends in high places.

Around the same time an Oxford professor, Thomas Linacre, learnt Greek in order to compare the original Greek text with the many, many corrupted manuscripts of the church's Latin translations. When he read the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles in the original Greek, Linacre was so shocked with what he found, he wrote in his diary, "Either this (the original Greek) is not the gospel or we are not Christians!" What he meant was if the church is right, then the Greek New Testament was a lie! If the Greek New Testament is right, then the church is wrong. That was an incredible statement, but the church's teaching at the time of the reformation was so far from the scripture. 

The first section of the Complutensian Polyglot (the world's first multi-language Bible) was printed at Alcala, Spain in 1514. (The complete translation was published in 6 volumes in 1517.)

William Tyndale's English New Testament was the first complete translation from the original Hebrew and Greek text. After being forced to flee, he completed it clandestinely in Worms in 1526. When it was read in English churches its popular reception was the 16th century equivalent of the popular soaps of today. The common people flocked to hear the humor, violence and suspense of the Biblical stories. Despite its popularity the Bishop of London ordered all copies to be seized and burned but those were soon replaced and copies continued to circulate.

William Tyndale's translation of the New Testament introduced some of the most familiar phrases to the English language, such as ‘filthy lucre’, and ‘God forbid.’

The Coverdale Bible, compiled by Myles Coverdale, was published on October 4, 1535. It was the first complete translation of the Bible and the Apocrypha to be printed in English. When Henry VIII, at Archbishop Cranmer’s request, authorized that it can be bought and read by all his subjects there was a tremendous widespread excitement. So much the English King was forced to draw back and issue new regulations restricting the reading of the Bible to wealthy merchants and aristocrats.

Title page of Coverdale Bible

John Marbeck, an English theologian, published the first English Concordance in 1550. Seven years previously an earlier version, which he’d been working on, was confiscated and destroyed after he’d been arrested for heresy.

Whilst Jewish Masoretes divided the Old Testament Hebrew text into verses, the New Testament was not divided into verse numbers until Robert Stephens’ Greek and Latin versions in 1557.

The 1560 Geneva Testament was the first English Bible to be divided into chapter and verses. The Geneva Bible was the Bible taken to America by the Pilgrim Fathers.

The King James Bible was published for the first time in London, on May 2, 1611 by printer Robert Barker.

Many common expressions were taken from the King James Bible. These include:
Casting pearls before swine (Matthew 7.v6)
Pride goes before a fall (Proverbs 16 v 18)
Go from strength to strngth (Psalm 84 v 7)
In the twinkling of an eye (1 Corinthians 15 v51-52)
The eleventh hour (Matthew 20 v 6)

One thousand bibles printed in 1631 left the "not" out of "Thou shall not commit adultery"—most were burned, but a handful still exist.

In 1646 The Massachusetts Bay Colony passed a law making it a capital offence to deny that the Bible is the Word of God. Any person convicted of the offence was liable to the death penalty.

The ‘Unrighteous’ Cambridge Bible is published in England in 1653. It included the following two mistakes: 1 Corinthians 6 v 9 “know yet not that the unrighteous shall inherit the kingdom of God”. And Romans 6 v 13 “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of righteousness unto sin.”

John Eliot (1604-1690), an American who was called the "Apostle to the Indians," was the first translator of the Bible into an Indian tongue — the first Bible to be printed in America.

The Robert Aitken Bible was printed by Philadelphian Printer, Robert Aitken in 1782. This first ever published English language Bible in America was printed due the lack of new Bibles available in the United States. The supply of English language Bibles has been cut off as a result of the Revolutionary War.

The British and Foreign Bible Society was formed on March 7, 1804 when a group of Christians sought to address the problem of a lack of affordable Bibles in Welsh for Welsh-speaking Christians.
It was to be the first of many similar organizations throughout the world.

The Pennsylvania Bible Society, the oldest in the United States, was founded in 1808. 

The American Standard Version, a revision of the Revised Version was published in 1901. It was the first ever major Bible to be written in American English.

The Gideon organization was founded in 1898 by three travelling businessman in Boscobel, Wisconsin, as an interdenominational group dedicated to evangelism. Ten years later, they begun distributing free Bibles with the aim of placing a Bible in every hotel room on the planet. The first Gideon Bible was placed in a room in the Superior Hotel in Iron Mountain, Montana.

The Revised Standard Version New Testament was published on February 11, 1946.  It was intended to be a readable and literally accurate modern English translation and was the first serious challenge to the popularity of the Authorized King James Version. The Old Testament (and thus the full Protestant Bible) was completed six years later.

Title page to the first edition of the RSV Bible

In 1965 a group of academics met at Palos Heights, Illinois and agreed on the need for a trustworthy and readable translation in modern English. Over one hundred scholars from English-speaking countries were enlisted on the project. On  October 27, 1978 the complete New International Version (NIV) of the Bible was published by Zondervan of Grand Rapids Michigan. It became one of the most popular and widely used translations in the English language.


Paul McCartney’s song “Uncle Albert” was about a real uncle of his, who when drunk would quote and read from the Bible, but when sober would not be seen near one.

In the Authorised version of the Bible there are 66 books, 1189 chapters, 31173 verses, 774746 words and 3566480 letters.

The middle verse in the Old Testament is 2 Chronicles 10 v17 and in the New Testament is Acts 17 v17.

The shortest verse in the Old Testament is 1 Chronicles 1 Chronicles 1 v25 (Eber, Peleg, Reu) and in the New Testament is John 11 v35 (Jesus Wept).

Ezra 7 v 21 “And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily.” (King James), contains all the letters of the Bible except J.

The word ‘and’ occurs 35,543 times in the Old Testament and 10,684 times in the New Testament.

There are 8,674 different Hebrew words in the Bible and 5,624 different Greek words translated into 12,143 different English words in the King James version.

If you disregard words that are articles, conjunctions and prepositions such as "the", "and", "a" etc, the most common is "Lord". It occurs somewhere between 7,000 and 8,000 times depending on the translation.

Esther is the only book in the Bible that does not mention the name of God.

An American linguist spent six months translating the New Testament into Klingon, the language created for Star Trek movies.

The most-shoplifted book in the United States is the Bible.

The Bible was translated at the beginning of the 21st century into Hawaiian pidgin English. Da Jesus book features characters such as “da bad guy” (Satan) and renders verses such as “Our Father who art in Heaven” as “God you our Fadda You stay inside da sky.”

Among the plethora of market-serving "versions" of the Bible made to please sub-groups and consumerist niche markets are the following: . A magazine-style Bible for teenage girls, Revolve, which has tips on cosmetics and boys and it counterpoint, the Refuel edition for boys, the African-American Woman's Study Bible, the Promise Keeper's Bible for Men, the Twelve-Step Bible. and the Green Bible with its green-inked verses having to do with the environment.

Monday, 20 August 2012


The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is a mountainous, landlocked country in southeast Asia, bounded north and west by Tibet  and to the south and east by India.

Bhutan has the world’s highest unclimbed peak, Gangkhar Puensum. The mountain is sacred and the Bhutanese government has banned mountaineering on any peak above 6,000 metres (19,685 feet).

Ugyen Wangchuck was crowned the first Druk Gyalpo (King of Bhutan) on December 17, 1907. During his reign between 1907–1926 Ugyen Wangchuck made great efforts to unite the country and gain the trust of the people.

King Ugyen Wangchuck — in Punakha, the old capital of Bhutan, in 1905.

In 1972, Bhutan declared Gross National Happiness to be more important that Gross National Product.

Bhutan issued a stamp in 1973 that looked like a record and actually would play the Bhutanese national anthem if placed on a turntable.

As at 1980, Bhutan was the only country in the world with no telephones.

Bhutan ended its status as the only country in the world to prohibit television on June 2, 1999 when the state-run Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) came on the air. It started broadcasting on the night of the silver jubilee of Bhutan's king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck.

Bhutan Broadcasting Service logo

In Bhutan, marijuana plants were historically used as pig food—until the country got television in 1999 and learned cannabis was a drug.

Until 2005 no one knew how many people lived in Bhutan. A national census was carried out in that year and it turned out that the population was 672,425.

Bhutan officially became a democracy, with its first ever general election on March 24, 2008. The Bhutan Peace and Prosperity Party, led by Jigme Thinley, won 45 out of 47 seats in the country's National Assembly.

All citizens of Bhutan officially become one year older on New Year's Day.

Less than 16 per cent of Bhutan is arable but 94 per cent of the population are dependent on agriculture, the highest proportion in the world. 

Bhutan is the only country in the world to have exclusively banned the use of tobacco.

Bhutan is the world’s only carbon sink – it absorbs more CO2 than it gives out – and the only country whose largest export is renewable energy: they sell hydroelectric power. 

In keeping with the Buddhist idea that humans and nature form a symbiotic relationship, 72 per cent of the country is forested, and it is in their constitution that 60 per cent always will be, making it a sink of over four million tonnes of CO2 per year..

Bhutan is the only country that has archery as its national sport.

Source and my knowledge


Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) was a mathematician who is chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage's early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. She is often regarded as the first computer programmer. Lovelace tried to raise funds by devising a fool-proof system of betting on the horses. However, she once lost £3,200 betting on the wrong horse at the Epsom Derby..

President Calvin Coolidge, was so famous for saying so little that a White House dinner guest made a bet that she could get him to say more than two words. She told the president of her wager. His reply: "You lose."

While drinking at his London club, Squire Fuller bet a friend that he could see seven church spires from his country house. On his return home, however, he realized there were only six. Undaunted, he had a seventh spire built on a nearby hill.

Mark Twain: "There are two times in a man's life when he shouldn't bet. When he can't afford it and when he can."


Bethlehem was occupied by Israel in 1967 and came under control of the Palestine National Authority on December 21, 1995.

Bethlehem (see below) is a city on the west bank of the River Jordan, five miles south of Jerusalem. Its population in 2007 was 25,266.

Jesus Christ was born inauspiciously in a cave in Bethlehem thus fulfilling a prophecy in the Jewish sacred book of Micah and laid in an animal's feeding trough. King David was also born in the same town.

In 326 the Church of the Nativity was built over the grotto said to be the birthplace of Jesus.

On Christmas Eve 1865, a young minister stood on the hill overlooking Bethlehem where the shepherds had watched their flocks on the night Jesus was born. The impression of that starry night never left Phillips Brooks. Three years later he was asked to write a hymn for the children of his Philadelphia parish for their Christmas service. The words "O Little Town Of Bethlehem" were already in his mind. Brook’s church organist, Lewis Redner, set the words to music, declaring that the tune was "a gift from heaven." Brooks became an outstanding preacher and possibly the most highly esteemed American clergyman of his day. His deep earnestness, eloquence and poetic insight, made a strong impression on his listeners.

Once In Royal David's City was also written about Bethlehem.

Sources Songfacts, Hutchinson Encyclopedia © RM 2012. Helicon Publishing is division of RM.

Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 18, 1926, the fourth child in a family of six. His father, Henry, was a contractor and deacon of a nearby Baptist church, his mother Martha a certified public school principal. 

He gave his first public performance in 1941 while still at Sumner High School. 

Berry has a degree in cosmetology from the Gibbs Beauty College.

Chuck Berry served three jail terms: Carjacking in the 1940s, transporting a 14-year-old girlacross state lines in the late 50s and tax evasion in the 70s.

"Johnny B Goode" was chosen as part of a sample of Earth music carried on the Voyager space probes in 1977. It was  part of a package that was meant to represent the best in American culture.

Though Berry wrote many rock and roll classics, the novelty song, "My Ding A Ling" was Berry's biggest selling song and only #1 hit.

Publicity photo of Chuck Berry. 1971

Berry was very mathematical, and came up with his own way of notating music using numbers instead of letters.

Chuck Berry aspired to be a professional photographer and only performed music to buy photography equipment.

Chuck Berry owned a warehouse full of old Cadillacs, one from every three or four model-years, all the way back to the mid-fifties. He claimed he was trying to get rid of them, but said that nobody will give him a fair price, so he just stores them away. 

Chuck Berry was found dead at his house in St. Charles County, Missouri on March 18, 2017. He was aged 90.

Berry's funeral was held on April 9, 2017, at The Pageant, in the rock 'n' roll legend's hometown of St. Louis, Missouri.

Source Artistfacts

Sunday, 19 August 2012


The Himalayan goji berry has more iron that steak, more vitamin C than oranges and more beta carotene than carrots.

Oranges are a berry, as are bananas. Strawberries however are not technically berries, they are aggregate fruits.

There's a berry called "Miracle Fruit" that, when eaten, causes your taste buds to not detect sour flavor for about half an hour, causing sour foods to taste sweet. In West Africa, where the species originates, it is known as agbayun, taami, asaa, and ledidi.

If a cardinal can't find berries to eat, its red hue will gradually start fading due to a lack of pigment in its bloodstream.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Yogi Berra

Yogi Berra (1925 - 2015) played with the New York Yankees (1946–63), including 14 World Series (a record). He also set the record for most World Series hits (71), and for most home runs by a catcher in the American League (313).

His real name is Lawrence Peter Berra. He picked up his famous nickname from his friend Bobby Hofman who said he resembled a Hindu yogi whenever he sat around with arms and legs crossed waiting to bat or while looking sad after a losing game.

His comment that ‘It ain't over ’til it's over’ has become part of the game's legend.

1953 Bowman Color Yogi Berra #121

Berra was known for reading comic books.

Two of Berra's sons also played professional sports. His son Dale Berra played shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Yankees, and Houston Astros, and his son Tim Berra played pro football for the Baltimore Colts in 1974.

The cartoon character Yogi Bear is named after him.

Yogi Berra died of natural causes during his sleep at his New Jersey home on September 22, 2015 at the age of 90, the same day as his MLB debut 69 years before.

Source Wikipedia

Leonard Bernstein

As a sickly infant, Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) sometimes turned blue from asthma. He became a prodigious pianist, conductor, composer, and lecturer, although he suffered from asthma throughout his life. Audiences often heard him wheezing above the orchestra.

His grandmother insisted that his first name be Louis, but his parents always called him Leonard, which they preferred. He officially changed his name to Leonard when he was fifteen, shortly after his grandmother's death. To his friends and many others he was simply known as "Lenny."

Bernstein was not related to film composer Elmer Bernstein, but the two men were friends, and even shared a certain physical similarity.

Bernstein had worked with the choreographer Jerome Robbins and the wqriter Arthur Laurents on the musical West Side Story intermittently since Robbins first suggested the idea in 1949. Finally, with the addition of lyricist Stephen Sondheim to the team and a period of concentrated effort, it received its Broadway premiere in 1957. 

Bernstein and Sondheim took longer than planned to complete West Side Story because every Thursday they downed pens to solve fiendishly difficult crosswords from the BBC magazine The Listener.

A longtime heavy smoker, Bernstein battled emphysema from his mid-50s.

Iin 1976 Bernstein took the decision that he could no longer repress his homosexuality and he left his wife Felicia for a period to live with the writer Tom Cothran. The next year she was diagnosed with lung cancer and eventually Bernstein moved back in with her and cared for her until she died on June 16, 1978.

In total Bernstein was awarded 16 Grammys for his recordings in various categories including several for recordings released after his death. He was also awarded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 1985.

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Sarah Bernhardt

Sarah Bernhardt was born in Paris as Rosine Bernardt on October 22, 1844, the daughter of Julie Bernardt and an unknown father.

She made her name in 1869 at the Odéon in the breeches part of Zanetto in Francois Francois Coppée's The Passer-by.

Bernhardt photographed by Félix Nadar 1865

After her film debut in Le Duel d'Hamlet (1900), Sarah Bernhardt declared she detested the medium; yet she consented to appear in another film, La Tosca, (1909). Upon seeing the results, she reportedly recoiled in horror, demanding that the negative be destroyed.

As a result of an accident in February 1905, while playing the title role in Victorien Sardou’s drama La Tosca, the 70-year-old Sarah Bernhardt had one of her legs amputated. While she was recovering, the manager of an exhibition in San Francisco offered her $100,000 to exhibit her leg. The redoubtable actress cabled two words in reply: “Which leg?” Despite her disability, Bernhardt returned to the stage, still playing romantic roles.

Sarah Bernhardt made Les Amours de la reine Élisabeth, (1912) in Britain. The receipts from this film's distribution in the US provided Adolph Zukor with the funds to found Paramount Studios.

Bernhardt was fond of wild animals and had at home a lion and six chameleons. According to some biographies (probably more fanciful than reliable) she asked a surgeon to fasten her a tiger tail but that man replied it was impossible.

Another of Bernhardt's strange tastes was collecting chairs, that she used to buy everywhere filling all the homes she lived in. 

After a flight on a balloon Bernhardt wrote a book entitled Dans les nuages, impressions d'une chaise (In clouds, impressions of a chair).

Bernhardt, it seems, was a little worried by thoughts of death. At the age of 15 she bought a coffin in which sometimes she slept. On stage she preferred characters that died at the drama's end.

Sarah Bernhardt died from uremia following kidney failure on March 26, 1923. La Voyante (The Clairvoyant) was being filmed in her Paris home at the time.