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Sunday, 26 May 2013



The word breakfast was coined due to the fact that after sleeping for hours, we are "breaking our fast."

Breakfast for most Ancient Greeks was a hot porridge made from cereal.

The ancient Greeks served at breakfast watered down wine to a constituency of three parts of water to one part of wine. As it spoiled easily, often cheese, herbs, honey or other flavorings were added to enhance its taste and the Greeks often liked to dip their bread into the drink. Indeed the Greek term akratidzomai meaning “to breakfast,” literally translates as “to drink undiluted wine.”

For upper class Romans in Britain, the day began with a light breakfast of bread and fruit whilst wealthy citizens in Rome started the day with such items as bean meal mash and unleavened bread-cakes.

The wealthy section of the Roman population generally drank water for breakfast that was either warm or cooled with snow.

In Old English the word “disner” from which “dinner” derives meant "to have breakfast." The word “breakfast” only came into general use in the 15th century, by which time a later “dinner” was the main meal of the day.

Queen Elizabeth I of England disliked gluttony and retained a reasonably slim figure. Her regular breakfast was a biscuit and undercooked boiled beefsteaks with a half pint of strong ale.

Before his execution in 1649, Charles I of England had a condemned man’s breakfast of claret and swan pie.

Oliver Cromwell's family ate for breakfast toast topped with a variety of toppings such as hot honey, ginger and cinnamon. They drank a spiced hot drink made from ale, thickened with egg yolks and sweetened with honey.

In North America Colonial housewives served popcorn with sugar and cream for breakfast. The corn was popped by means of a cylinder of thin sheet-iron that revolved on an axle in front of the fireplace

Ten years after Dorothy Jones became America’s first coffee trader in 1660, the new drink had replaced beer as  the favorite breakfast beverage for many New England colonists.

Previously in England, when making such dishes as toasted cheese, the toast was generally moistened in wine. By the turn of the 18th century, the fashion was to butter it and hot buttered toast was being eaten at breakfast.

The great 18th century Italian lover Casanova recommended eating 50 oysters for breakfast.

The Scottish economist Adam Smith (1723-1790) was notoriously absent-minded. On one occasion falling into discourse with a certain Mr Damer during breakfast, Smith took a piece of bread and butter, and after rolling it round and round put in into the teapot and poured the water to brew it. Shortly after he poured out a cup, and on tasting it declared it was the worst tea he had ever met with.

A typical seaman’s breakfast in the British navy at the turn of the 19th century was burgoo, made of boiled oatmeal seasoned with salt, sugar and butter, and accompanied by ‘Scots coffee’ - made of hard-baked ships biscuits burnt to a charcoal, then crushed and mixed with hot water.

In 1824 Boarding house keepers in New York, responding to the high cost of living, voted to serve boarders only four prunes each for breakfast.

A 19th century breakfast for an American cowboy included salt pork or bacon, and eggs, which being shipped west for considerable distances, sometimes went bad.

A typical Victorian Royal breakfast consisted of five courses. There would be an egg dish, bacon, grilled trout or turbot, a meat dish, and woodcock, snipe or chicken. But Queen Victoria herself ate only a boiled egg-scooped with a gold spoon from a gold egg cup.

French novelist George Sand ate her breakfast from the same bowl as her cat Minou

Breakfast for England's King Edward VII was eggs followed by large thick slices of bacon then fish (turbot, lobster or salmon) with finally steak or chops with a little game or poultry.

Marmalade was the breakfast of choice for Sherlock Holmes, who ate the jam with prawns on toast, calling it ‘his brain food.’

U.S. President Calvin Coolidge liked to eat breakfast in bed while having his head rubbed with vaseline.

The saying "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" was originally coined in 1944 by a marketing campaign from General Foods, the manufacturer of Grape Nuts, to sell more cereal.

In 1975, Margaret Thatcher became the first woman to lead a major British political party. Before her first Shadow Cabinet meeting, she had a breakfast of grapefruit, poached egg and coffee.

On September 24, 1989, the French Health Education committee launched a campaign for healthier breakfasts, suggesting bacon and eggs.


38% of Americans eat breakfast everyday.

Photo: SymmetryBreakfast/Instagram

31 million Americans skip breakfast every day.

Eating breakfast will help you burn from 5-20% more calories throughout the day.

The proportion of Brtish families who eat marmalade from breakfast is down from 36per cent 40 years ago to just 7per cent today. Generations of kids have been put off by the bitter taste from the use of Seville oranges from Spain and the chewy bits of peel. The result is that the market has become limited to the over 45s.

Sources Daily Mail May 30, 2012, Daily Express,  Food For Thought: Extraordinary Little Chronicles of the World by Ed Pearce



Evidence that humans were grinding wild barley and grass seeds to make dough at least 22,000 years ago has been found on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

The first bread was made from acorns or beechnuts, or seeds of wild grains crushed, they were ground between stones, mixed with water, and cooked on flat hot stones heated directly in a fire.

Later in Europe bread was made from spelt, a type of primitive, tough grain with a tight-fitting husk that protected against pests & diseases but was hard to grind. Pounding stones were used to crush the grain, which was then moistened, compacted and cooked on a hot stone.

By 5000 BC hot stones were being covered with an inverted pot to contain the heat. Bread was being baked by this method in several areas including Bulgaria, Egypt and Mesopotamia.

The earliest form of leavening is a type of yeast, or breadmash, discovered accidentally approx 2600 BC by an Egyptian when a piece of dough had become sour. With dough made by mixing a type of flour made from ground nuts, salt, water and leaven the Egyptians were able to make over 50 types of a raised and coarse bread. They varied the shape and use such flavouring materials as poppyseed and sesame.

Moldy bread has been used to disinfect cuts as far back as ancient Egypt.

The Greeks and Romans both liked their bread white; and color was one of the main tests for quality. Pliny wrote, “The wheat of Cyprus is swarthy and produces a dark bread, for which reason it is generally mixed with the white wheat of Alexandria”.

Freed Roman slave Marcus Virgilius Euryasaces invented the first bread-maker in the first century AD. Powered by a donkey or horse walking in circles, it kneaded dough in a basin.

The Romans often flavoured their bread with cumin, parsley or poppy. There were certain miserly bakers who knead the meal with sea-water to save the price of salt. Pliny did not approve of this.

In medieval Western Europe, each citizen ate over 600 grams (just over 20 ounces) of bread each day, but the type of bread eaten by individuals depended on their income. The upper and middle classes preferred white wheaten bread. The poor for whom bread represented three-quarters of their budget had to be content with black or brown bread, made from bran, oats, rye, or barley.

In the 1500s bread was divided according to status.. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the upper crust.

Bread did not exist in Japan until 1543, when it was brought to the archipelago by Portuguese missionaries. The new food was initially popular, but disappeared once the country cut ties with the west. It would not be eaten again until the 19th century.

Bread has been used since the 17th century to clean the frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.

It was Napoleon who gave the baguette its long shape. His soldiers found it easier to carry their bread around on the battlefield in this shape and kept it down their trousers for ease when moving about, as they were short on backpack space.

The Ancient Egyptians used to pay workers in bread and beer but the use of “dough” in English as slang for “money” dates back only to 1851.

The year round availability of wheat bread in Britain only happened around 1850 after the repeal of the corn laws.

For the first time the cost of white bread in England dropped below brown bread in the mid 1860s. A contributing factor was white bread was frequently diluted with meal made from other cereals or vegetable seeds.

Hovis bread takes its name from the Latin phrase 'Hominis vis" literally translating as 'Strength of man.' The name was coined in 1890 by London student Herbert Grime in a national competition set by S. Fitton & Sons Ltd to find a trading name for their patent flour which was rich in wheat germ. The company became the Hovis Bread Flour Company Limited in 1898.

In 1928 Otto Frederick Rohwedder, a retired jeweller from Missouri came up with a machine that both wrapped and sliced bread. He had worked for many years on developing a bread slicer, starting 16 years previously. At first Rohwedder came up with the idea of a device that held the slices together with hat pins but bakers warned him that the sliced bread would quickly go stale. Eventually, Rohwedder designed a slicer that would also wrap the bread.

The photograph below depicts a "new electrical bread slicing machine" in use by an unnamed bakery in St. Louis in 1930.

Frank Bench, a personal friend of Rohwedder's, installed the bread slicing machine at the Chillicothe Baking Company in Missouri. The first ever pre-sliced loaf of bread using Rohwedder’s machine was sold to a customer on July 7, 1928. The pre-sliced bread was labeled “Sliced Kleen Maid Bread”.

By 1933 80% of all bread sold in the US was sliced and wrapped and the phrase “the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped” was coined. This led to the popular phrase “the best thing since sliced bread."

Not only did sales of sliced bread take off in the early 1930s, but also toasters became a popular vehicle for toasting sliced bread.

During World War II, bakers in the United States were ordered to stop selling sliced bread for the duration of the war on January 18, 1943. Only whole loaves were made available to the public. It was never explained how this action helped the war effort.

The first documented reference to the phrase, "best thing since sliced bread " is thought to be in a 1952 interview where the famous comedian Red Skelton “advised” the Salisbury Times to “not worry about television. It’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.”

Astronauts are not allowed to take bread into space. This is due to astronaut John Young smuggling a corned beef sandwich on Gemini III  in 1965. The sandwich crumbled apart and launched crumbs in all directions, creating a potential safety and equipment hazard.

Ciabatta bread was invented in 1982.

The record for the longest loaf of bread is 3,975 feet  0.7 inches set in Portugal in 2005.

In 2008, British chef Paul Hollywood created an almond and roquefort sourdough recipe that was said to be the most expensive bread in Britain, being sold for £15 per loaf at Harrods The roquefort was supplied from a specialist in France at £15 per kilo, while the flour for the bread was made by a miller in Wiltshire. Hollywood described it as a "Rolls-Royce of loafs".


There are more than 200 varieties of bread available in the UK today.

Bread is bought by 99% of British households.

The equivalent of over 12 million loaves are sold each day in the UK.

Approximately 75% of the bread eaten in the UK is white and sandwiches are thought to account for 50% of overall bread consumption.

It takes around 350 ears of wheat to make enough flour for one 800g loaf of bread.

A wheat crop will produce on average 7.5 tonnes of grain per hectare - that's enough to make 11,500 loaves of bread.

One acre of wheat can produce enough bread to feed a family of four people for about ten years.

Much of the bread marketed in the U.S. as "wheat" is actually white bread dyed brown with caramel food coloring.

Germany has the most diverse selection and production of bread in the world with 200 types of bread.

Hverabrauð, a traditional bread from Iceland, is baked by burying by a geothermal spring for 24 hours.

People in Turkey eat more bread than any other European country, averaging about 104kg (229lb) a year per person.

Scandinavian traditions hold that if a boy and girl eat from the same loaf, they are bound to fall in love.

Sources Food For Thought: Extraordinary Little Chronicles of the World by Ed Pearce, Daily Express



On April 22, 1500,  Portuguese explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral and his crew became the first Europeans to land in Brazil when they anchored at Monte Pascoal ("Easter Mount", it being the week of Easter).

Cabral (center-left, pointing) sights the Brazilian mainland for the first time on 22 April 1500.

On landing at the newly discovered land, Cabral built a wooden cross and together with his crew they knelt before it and kissed it. This was to demonstrate to the natives their veneration for the cross. Cabral named this new land, “Vera Cruz,” meaning “True Cross,” though it soon became known as ‘Brazil’ after the brazilwood found on the coast.

Although the official Portuguese discovery of Brazil was by Pedro Álvares Cabral, some historians believe that three months earlier Spanish navigator Vicente Yáñez Pinzón already had set anchor in a bay in Cabo de Santo Agostinho on January 26, 1500, which he named Cabo de Santa María de la Consolación.

The city of Salvador da Bahia was founded on March 29, 1549 by a fleet of Portuguese settlers headed by Thomé de Souza, the first Governor-General of Brazil,  Built on a high cliff overlooking All Saints bay as the first colonial capital of colonial Brazil, it quickly became its main sea port and an important center of the sugar industry and the slave trade. It is now the third largest city in the country, after São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Historic Center (Salvador) By Adam Jones Adam63 -Wikipedia Commons

The origins of the city of São Paulo lie in the founding of the Jesuit Colégio de São Paulo de Piratininga on January 25, 1554. The structure was located on top of a steep hill between the rivers Anhangabaú and Tamanduateí. The name of the college was chosen as it was founded on the celebration of the conversion of the Apostle Paul of Tarsus.

Founding of São Paulo, 1913 painting by Antonio Parreiras

It is estimated that about four million slaves were taken from Africa to Brazil during the slave trade, which was about forty-five percent of all slaves brought to the Americas.

In 1554 Jesuit missionaries José de Anchieta and Manoel da Nóbrega established a mission at São Paulo dos Campos de Piratininga, which grew to become São Paulo, Brazil.

In 1578 Jean De Léry published the first account of Brazilian music, Viagem à Terra do Brasil.

The Brazilian coffee industry began in 1727 with seedlings given as a gift from the wife of the governor of French Guiana to a Lt. Col. Francisco de Melo Palheta. The Brazilian Palheta was in French Guiana to mediate a border dispute between the French and Dutch only to find himself involved in an affair with the governor’s wife. When he returned to Brazil he passed the cuttings on to his emperor who was keen to obtain a share of the booming coffee market.

Today, Brazil accounts for almost 1/3 of the world's coffee production, producing over 3-1/3 billion pounds of coffee each year.

The Empire of Brazil was a 19th-century nation that broadly comprised the territories which form modern Brazil. Its government was a representative parliamentary constitutional monarchy under the rule of Emperors Dom Pedro I and his son Dom Pedro II. On September 7, 1822, Pedro declared the independence of Brazil from Portugal on the shores of the Ipiranga creek in São Paulo and, after waging a successful war against his father's kingdom, was acclaimed on October 12 as Pedro I, the first Emperor of Brazil.

Emperor Dom Pedro I at age 35, 1834

Despite his role in Brazilian independence, Pedro I became the king of Portugal in 1826.

The last King of Brazil was Pedro II who reigned from 1831 until he was overthrown in 1889.

Brazil abolished slavery on May 13, 1888 with the passage of the Lei Áurea ("Golden Law"),

Brazil's flag (see below) is decorated with an image of the night sky as it appeared over Rio de Janeiro on November 15, 1889, the day Brazil declared itself a federal republic.

Belo Horizonte, the first planned modern city in Brazil, was founded on December 12, 1897. It was planned and constructed to replace Ouro Preto as the capital of Minas Gerais, which was felt to be a symbol of the monarchic Brazilian Empire. Now Brazil was a republic, it was agreed that a new state capital, in tune with a modern and prosperous Minas Gerais, had to be set. The downtown street plan for Belo Horizonte included a symmetrical array of perpendicular and diagonal streets named after Brazilian states and Brazilian indigenous tribes.

Founding of the city in 1897

Brasília, a planned city primarily designed by architect and urban planner Lúcio Costa, was officially inaugurated on April 21, 1960, replacing Rio de Janeiro as the capital of Brazil.

The Monumental Axis By Governo do Brasil - Portal da Copa, Wikipedia Commons


Brazil's president. Dilma Rousseff, is half Bulgarian, but only visited the birthplace of her father for the first time in 2011.

Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world by landmass with 5.35 million square miles (behind Russia, Canada, China and the United States). Its only 300,000 square miles smaller than the US.

Brazil is the longest country in the world, and spans approximately 2800 miles from north to south via land.

Brazil covers 47.3 percent of South America. It has borders with every country in that continent except Ecuador and Chile.

Brazil is the sixth-largest country in the world by population with 200 million inhabitants.

The largest Japanese community outside Japan is in Brazil.

Brazil boasts the largest population of Catholics in the world at 66% of its population, about 130 million of the country’s total population.

Brazil is the location of the world's widest road. 160 cars can drive side by side.

Brazil is the only country to have played in every World Cup soccer tournament. It has won the World Cup five times, more than any other nation.

Of all the countries, Brazil has the most plant species, with over 56,000. It also has the most species of freshwater fish and mammals.

The weight of coffee produced in Brazil is twice the weight of tea produced in India.

Brazil became 100% energy independent in 2006, making a full turn around from years past when imported oil was as high as 70% of the country's needs.

193 is the fire emergency number in Brazil.


Brass Band

The instruments of a brass band usually include (in descending order of pitch) the cornet, flugelhorn, tenor horn, B flat baritone, euphonium, trombone, and bombardon (bass tuba), as well as drums and other percussion as needed. While they are usually made of brass today, in the past they were made of wood, horn, and glass.

Many countries have brass bands (which differ from military bands in having no woodwind instruments), but it was in Britain that a particularly strong tradition developed of amateur bands linked with places of work, particularly in Lancashire and Yorkshire. In England the brass band began to replace the earlier bands of the town waits (public musicians) and of village churches at the beginning of the 19th century. Employers in industrial areas encouraged the formation of such bands, in an apparent effort to distract workers from politics in their leisure time.

The Stalybridge Old Band, established by 1814, is usually quoted as the first brass band.

The development of the cornopean, a predecessor of the cornet, and of a family of brass instruments with similar fingering invented by the French instrument builder Adolphe Sax facilitated the adoption of brass instruments by amateur players and the growth of brass bands in northern England.

In Salisbury, England, Charles Fry of the Salvation Army and his three sons formed a brass quartet in 1878, which proved to be a great attraction at meetings. It also was a good way of dealing with hecklers.

By 1900 in England, band concerts were regular events in village life. Many factories organized employees' bands. An employee would work at a job in the factory and then "double in brass" in the company band.

Louis Armstrong was 13 when he celebrated the New Year by running out on the street and firing a pistol that belonged to the current man in his mother's life. At the Colored Waifs Home for Boys, he learned to play the bugle and the clarinet and joined the home's brass band.

Some classical composers have written for the brass bands, including Edward Elgar in his Severn Suite (1930) and Grimethorpe Aria (1973) by Harrison Birtwistle.

"The Floral Dance" famously featured in the 1996 film Brassed Off. The original piece was written by Katie Moss, a classically trained musician and singer who studied at the Royal Academy Of Music,  and was first recorded in 1912, by the Australian classical singer Peter Dawson. The best known recording is probably the instrumental version recorded by the Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band.

Souces Hutchinson, Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc.

Richard Branson

Richard Branson was born in Blackheath, London on July 18, 1950.

He was the eldest of three children of Eve Branson, a former ballet dancer and air hostess, and Edward James Branson, a barrister.

From the age of seven to about ten Branson's schoolfriends called him "Letsgo" because he was always saying "let’s go" to get everyone on to the next thing.

Branson says that the worst job he ever had was trying to breed budgies as a business aged 11 during the summer holidays. He recalled to Event magazine: "They multiplied faster than I could sell them and my mother had to let them fly away."

The dyslexic Richard Branson dropped out of school at the age of 15.

Despite being dyslexic,  he started a magazine called Student whilst at school, which was relatively successful at selling ads.

Richard Branson is the founder of Virgin. He chose the company name after it was suggested by one of his friends that they were all 'virgins' in business.

When he started his record label, the first artist Richard Branson signed was his school friend Mike Oldfield. His album length composition Tubular Bells became a multi- million seller after it was used as the theme to the film The Exorcist (1973).

Richard Branson started Virgin Atlantic Airways after a flight he was scheduled for was cancelled. Upon hearing of the cancellation, he quickly had a charter jet liner secured, and invited the passengers of the cancelled flight to fly for free. He jokingly posted a hand-lettered sign above the entryway, reading, "Virgin Atlantic Airways - Flight 1." Several of the passengers of that flight became investors of the airline.

His businesses include the Virgin Music label (launched 1973, sold to Thorn-EMI for $1 billion in 1992), Virgin Atlantic Airways (launched 1984), Virgin Direct personal finance services (launched 1995), Virgin Trains (launched 1997), and Virgin Mobile (launched 1999).

Richard Branson wakes up at 5.30 am and goes to bed at 11 pm.

Richard Branson 2015. By Chatham House -,

Richard Branson bought Necker Island when he was 28-years-old. It was on sale for $6 million; he negotiated the price down to $180,000.

Richard Branson dislikes the formality of neck ties so much that he often carries around a pair of scissors with him, ready to cut the ties off of unsuspecting tie wearers. He even has a cushion that he keeps at his Necker Island home made up from the ties of some of his victims.

Branson is also known for his attempts to break records of distance, in both boats and hot-air balloons.

He often drinks more than 20 cups of tea a day.

He was knighted in 1999 for services to entrepreneurship.


In 1305 Arnaldus de Ulla Nova, a professor at the medical school of Montpelier, distilled the first brandy to be thought of as a drink. Previous similar distilled wines were used for medical purposes only. 

Brandy gets its name from the Dutch “brandewijn”, meaning ”burnt wine” as it is derived by boiling the wine.

Dating back to the 1600's, thermometers were filled with brandy instead of mercury.

Queen Anne’s chronic brandy addiction is said to have contributed to her chronic losses of children in pregnancy. The Queen  suffered from a condition known as “sticky blood” and none of her 17 children made it into their teens.

A fine brandy has been distilled from wine in the region around Cognac in the Charente region of France since the mid 17th century. The name “cognac” came to be applied to this quality brandy by 1783.

King George IV of England was partial to cherry brandy, which he liked to sit up late at night drinking. A heavy drinker, the phrase "drunk as a Lord” is said to have originally referred to him.

In 1829, when Mrs. Lydia Child wrote The Frugal Housewife, hair care was quite different from what it is now. New England rum was considered to be excellent for cleaning the hair and keeping it healthy; brandy was supposed to strengthen the roots.

Daniel Webster spent nearly three decades in one federal office or another. As he approached the end of his distinguished career he grew increasingly dependent on alcohol, regularly drinking brandy and water while speaking. In 1851 this practice caused him trouble at a ceremony marking the completion of the Boston-Montreal Railroad. Then secretary of state, Webster ignored the point of the ceremony and delivered a rambling speech on American history. The governor general of Canada, one of the honoured guests , was so enraged by the performance that he almost stormed off the platform.

Winston Churchill had a seemingly enormous capacity for brandy. Such was his passion for it that the Nazi Goebbels caricatured him as a drunk. Churchill's marathon drinking sessions, usually started late and went onto the early hours of the following day. "When I was younger I made it a rule never to take strong drink before lunch. It is now my rule never to do so before breakfast." he once quipped to King George VI

In 1943, during World War II, German bombs struck the Vatican wine cellar and broke about a hundred bottles of fine cognac. There was a pool of liquor six inches deep, and the Swiss soldier who discovered the damage fetched his fellow soldiers to make good use of what might have been a tragic waste.

By Harold Wilson's second term as the British Prime Minister, his dependence on brandy was becoming increasingly evident. He was prone to rambling in cabinet meetings and sometimes forgets to sum up.

St. Bernard dogs have never carried small casks of brandy around their necks on rescues, as popularly believed. Sometimes, however, they are posed with casks to please tourists.

On a bottle of brandy VSOP stand for "Very Special Old Pale."

A popular drink in Cambodia is a Tarantula Brandy. The concoction includes rice liquor and freshly dead tarantulas.

Source Book Of Lists 3, Christianity Today

Marlon Brando

Marlon Brando was born on April 3, 1924, in Omaha, Nebraska, to Marlon Brando, Sr., a pesticide and chemical feed manufacturer, and Dorothy Julia (née Pennebaker)

Marlon Brando was expelled from two different high schools—the first expulsion was for allegedly riding a motorcycle down the hallway.

Marlon Brando’s mother gave him an odd pet; a racoon he named Russell.

In 1944 Marlon Brando enrolled in Erwin Piscator's Dramatic Workshop at New York's New School, and was mentored by Stella Adler, a member of a famous Yiddish Theatre acting family. Adler helped introduce to the New York stage the "emotional memory" technique of Russian theatrical actor, director and impresario Constantin Stanislavsky, whose motto was "Think of your own experiences and use them truthfully." The results of this meeting between an actor and the teacher preparing him for a life in the theatre would mark a watershed in American acting and culture. 

A 24-year-old Marlon Brando on the set of the Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire,

During an acting class, when the students were told to act out "a chicken hearing an air-raid siren," most of the students clucked and flapped their arms in a panic, while Brando stood stock-still, staring up at the ceiling. When asked to explain himself, Brando replied, "I'm a chicken - I don't know what an air-raid siren is." 

Brando made his debut on the boards of Broadway on October 19, 1944, in I Remember Mama. It was a great success. 

Marlon Brando was a fan of Afro-Caribbean music and changed from being a drummer to the congas after becoming enthralled by the music in New York City in the 1940s. 

He befriended the author James Baldwin in 1944 and the two were roommates for a time. They would remain friends for more than 20 years.

Marlon Brando tried to join the army during World War II but was rejected due to a knee injury he had sustained while playing football at Shattuck Military Academy. After he made The Men (1950), the Korean War broke out, and he was ordered by the draft board to report for a physical prior to induction. As his knee was better due to an operation, he initially was reclassified from 4-F to 1-A, but the military again rejected him, this time for mental problems, as he was under psychoanalysis. 

When Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire premiered at a  New York theatre, Marlon Brando took to the stage wearing a bright white capped-sleeve T-shirt. It was the first time it had appeared in public as anything but an undergarment. It was not because of prior stage direction, but because Brando had worn one to rehearsals.

Marlon Brando’s signature was considered so valuable to collectors, that many personal checks he wrote were never cashed because his signature was usually worth more than the amount on the check.

Marlon Brando in The Wild One

Marlon Brando won his first Oscar in 1954 for On The Waterfront. When filming On The Waterfront, Brando had it written into his contract that he could leave at 4pm every day to see his therapist.

One of the innovators of the Method acting technique in American film. Brando didn't like the term "The Method," which quickly became the prominent paradigm taught by such acting gurus as Lee Strasberg at the Actor's Studio. It was this period of 1951-54 that revolutionised American acting, spawning such imitators as James Dean, who modelled his acting and even his lifestyle on his hero Brando, the young Paul Newman, and Steve McQueen. 

The decision to cast Marlon Brando in Guys And Dolls was hotly contested, largely by Frank Sinatra, who wanted the part of Sky Masterson himself. Later in his career, the crooner made Sky's big number "Luck Be A Lady" part of his stage act.

Brando's musical numbers in Guys And Dolls had to be patched together from multiple audio takes - Sinatra's nickname for him was "Mumbles."

Marlon Brando was the first actor to break $1 million threshold for a movie role. He commanded a $1 million salary for his services playing Fletcher Christian in the 1962 film Mutiny On The Bounty.

Brando was notorious for refusing to memorize his lines. For his long speeches in the Godfather and Apocalypse Now, other actors had Brando's lines taped to their bodies. In Superman: The Movie, Brando read his lines off the baby's diaper as he was putting him in the escape pod.

Marlon Brand'so first wife was Miss Anna Kashfi, an Indian actress from Darjeeling. India. Before their wedding on October 12, 1957, Brando was regarded as Hollywood’s most eligible bachelor. Brando and Kashfi had a son, Christian Brando, on May 11, 1958; they divorced in 1959.

In 1960, Brando married Movita Castaneda, a Mexican-American actress seven years his senior; they were divorced in 1962.

Tahitian actress Tarita Teriipaia, who played Brando's love interest in Mutiny on the Bounty, became his third wife on August 10, 1962. She was 20 years old, 18 years younger than Brando. Because Teriipaia was a native French speaker, Brando became fluent in the language and gave numerous interviews in French.

Brando had a long-term relationship with his housekeeper Maria Cristina Ruiz, by whom he had three children:

Brando was an activist for many causes, notably the African-American Civil Rights Movement and various Native American movements. In 1973, he famously rejected his Oscar award for The Godfather in a protest over the portrayal of Native Americans in film.

Marlon Brando tithed a tenth of his income to various Black organisations such as, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Brando received more money ($4 million) for his short appearance as Jor-El in Superman (1978) than Christopher Reeve did in the title role. Brando later sued for a percentage of the film's profits.

He loved ice cream. In the 1980s, Brando was routinely spotted at a Beverly Hills ice cream parlor buying five gallon containers of ice cream- which he would eat all himself.

He may be famous for his acting — but it was his bongo drumming hobby that turned Brando into an inventor. In 2002, he created an electronic device that stretches the surface of a drum correctly, so it makes the right sound. The contraption pulls four tension points at the same time, uniformly tightening or slackening the surface at the touch of a button. It has since been used in many drum products.

Sources IMDB, The Daily Mail


Cattle branding was practiced 4,000 years ago. Old tomb paintings show Egyptians branding their fat, spotted cattle.

In the Roman Empire, tattooing was a degrading practice used to brand slaves and criminals, and was also sometimes used in pagan religious rites whereby someone became the "slave" of a god.

The earliest evidence of Coptic tattooing goes back to the eighth-century, when Egyptian monks began to brand their hands with Christian symbols. Some scholars believe they learned the practice from Ethiopian Christians, who branded crosses on their foreheads, temples, and wrists.

Cortés introduced branding to North America. He marked his cattle and horses with three crosses.

U.S. patent #200,358 was issued to Frederick Thayer for his baseball catcher's mask in 1878. It was similar to one worn by cowboys to keep from being kicked in the face while branding cattle.

The word "maverick" came into use after Samuel Maverick, a Texan refused to brand his cattle. Eventually any unbranded calf became known as a Maverick. 


The first ever packaged branded product to be sold in England was Dr Robert James Fever-Powder” in a box, which he introduced in 1746.

In 1748 Yardley of London began selling one of the world’s first branded products, their famous lavender water in glass bottles.

Lyle's Golden Syrup has been named by the Guinness Book of Records as Britain's oldest brand, with its green and gold packaging having remained almost unchanged since 1885.

Cow is a Japanese brand of shaving foam.

The three most valuable brand names on earth are Marlboro, Coca Cola, and Budweiser, in that order.

M&M's chocolate stands for the initials for its inventors Mars and Murrie.

Fast food restaurants like McDonalds, Wimpy and Burger King use yellow, red, and orange as part of their branding because those are the colors that stimulate hunger.

The Australian aircraft carrier QANTAS stands for Queensland And Northern Territories Aerial Service.

The brand Nokia is named after a place in Southern Finland.

The same creative company, Lexicon Branding. came up with the names ‘PowerBook’, ‘BlackBerry’ and ‘Pentium.'


American entrepreneur and engineer George Westinghouse, patented the compressed-air brake on March 5, 1872. .Before his invention, there was no easy way to quickly stop the extremely heavy freight trains that transported goods over land. Brakemen scrambled over the tops of moving cars to activate hand brakes on each one. The system was unreliable, resulting in frequent derailments, and many brakemen were killed or maimed after falling from trains. The air brake solved all of those problems.

Control handle and valve for a Westinghouse Air Brake

The first production car with hydraulic brakes (ie using pipes and fluid rather than cables to activate the brakes) was the 1920 Duesenberg, an American luxury car with a "straight eight" engine. Chrysler brought the now universal feature to mass-produced cars in 1924.

Formula One racing is where the most advanced brakes are found. During 1997, German driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen recorded a force of 5.99G under braking. This is around six times the braking performance of a conventional road car and meant that Heinz-Harald’s 65kg body momentarily weighed nearly 390kg. To achieve this deceleration he had to push the brake pedal of his Williams-Renault with a pressure of 150kg.

In 1950 Dunlop announced the disc brake. They helped Jaguar to win the Le Mans 24 Hour race in 1953 were referred to in the press of the time as "plate brakes". The term "discs" came later.

The 1967 Porsche 911S was the first production car to feature ventilated disc brake rotors. Now common, these rotors have cooling channels running between the two friction surfaces to give better cooling and therefore better resistance to brake fade during heavy applications.

If a car is travelling at 55 miles per hour it will travel 56 feet before the driver can shift his foot from the accelerator to the brake

The power generated by the braking system of even a modest family car can exceed 500bhp (375kW), outstripping the engine output of virtually everything on the road.


Sunday, 19 May 2013



Neanderthal man had a brain capacity 100cc larger than modern man's.

Alcmaeon of Croton in the 6th century BC was probably the first to claim that we think with our brains.

Aristotle believed that the heart was the source of intelligence and the main function of the brain was to cool our blood.

Beethoven used to pour cold water over his head to stimulate his brain before sitting down to compose.

In 1848 Vermont railroad worker Phineas Gage survived a 3-foot (0.91 m)-plus iron rod being driven through his head. The resulting medical case was the first to indicate that damage to certain regions of the brain could affect personality and behavior.

Albert Einstein's brain was removed and sent around America to be studied by specialists after he died. The remains were found in the 1970s inside an old cider carton in a doctor's office.

The first brain-scan using x-ray computed tomography (CT scan) was performed at Atkinson Morley Hospital in Wimbledon, London on October 1, 1971. The original 1971 CT Scan took 160 parallel readings with each scan taking a little over 5 minutes. The images from these scans took 2.5 hours to be processed on a large computer.

Historic EMI Scanner


The average weight of a human brain is about three pounds, which is about 2% of your body weight.

The brain matures back to front, with the frontal cortex (used for decision making) maturing last.

THE human brain reaches its maximum weight (around 1.5kg or 3.3lb) at the age of 19 — and gradually loses small amounts of mass after the age of 50.

The brain shrinks over the course of the day, ending up smaller in the evening – before returning to its full size the next morning.

About 60 per cent of your brain is fat,

The human brain is about 85% water.

Although the cerebellum is only 10% of the brain's volume, it holds over 50% of your brain's total neurons.

From all the oxygen that a human breathes, twenty percent goes to the brain.

There are about 100 billion neurons in a human brain, which is about the same as the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

Scientists have figured out that the speed of nerve impulses in the brain is 404 feet per second. If an idea is complex enough to take 100 nerve messages from one side of the brain to the other, the thought could be completed in less than a tenth of a second.

It takes our brains 80 milliseconds to process information. That means we are all living ever so slightly in the past.

The power generated by electrical impulses in the human brain would light a 20-watt bulb.

You only use about 10% of your brain even if you're "thinking hard."

The human brain is much more active at night than during the day.

Every time you open your eyes, your brain activity changes drastically.

The human brain is very soft and has a consistency similar to tofu.

The brain cannot feel pain, despite its billions of neurons.even if you stick a knife in it.

The left side of your brain controls the right side of your body and vice versa.

The storage capacity of the human brain exceeds 4 Terrabytes.

Experts estimate that in a lifetime, a human brain may retain one quadrillion separate bits of information.

The male brain is 10% larger than the female's but the female brain works more efficiently.

The typical brain uses 20% of the body's total energy and oxygen intake.

Your brain uses one fifth of a calorie per minute.

Half the brain of an eight-year-old child can be removed with no ill-effects

Once a human reaches the age of 35, he/she will start losing approximately 7000 brain cells a day.


The animal whose brain accounts for the largest share of its body weight is the squirrel monkey. It's brain makes up about 5% of its total weight.

Spider brains are so large, that in smaller species they spill into their legs.

A cat's brain is more similar to a human brain than it is to a dog's brain. Humans and cats have identical regions responsible for emotion.

Cat's brain

A hummingbird’s brain makes up 4.2% of its weight—proportionally, that’s the largest of any bird’s.

The animal with the largest brain in proportion to its size is the ant.

A koala's brain is only 0.2% of its body weight.

A manatee has the smallest brain of all mammals in relation to its body mass.

Starfish have no brains.

Source Daily Express


Braille was invented by Louis Braille, a Frenchman who lost his sight at the age of three when he injured himself playing. Despite having been warned not to play with his father's tools, young Louis had  picked up a sharp knife and tried to cut a piece of leather. The blade slipped, gouging one of his eyes. The wound became dangerously infected. Then the infection spread to his good eye leaving him blind.

At a school for blind boys, Louis came across books whose words consisted of raised letters of the alphabet; the drawback was, they took a long time to decipher. In 1821 an artillery captain, Charles Barbier, visited the school, visited the school, bringing a 12-dot code he'd devised to help Napoleon’s soldiers communicate at night without light. The captain was reluctant to accept suggestions from a boy, so Louis began to experiment at night.  Using an awl, he reduced the number of dots from 12 to 6 which, arranged in different positions, represented the letters of the alphabet, thus enabling the blind to both read and write.

Louis Braille had always been a sickly child, and his condition worsened in adulthood. He developed tuberculosis as a young adult and by the age of forty, he was forced to relinquish his position as a teacher. When his condition reached mortal danger, he was taken back to his family home in Coupvray.

As he lay dying Louis said, "God was pleased to hold before my eyes the dazzling splendors of eternal hope. After that, doesn't it seem that nothing more could keep me bound to the earth?" He asked for final communion about midday on January 6, 1852. After three and a half hours of agony late that afternoon, he died at seven-thirty in the evening.

Louis Braille was also a talented organist who played at churches in France.

Bust of Louis Braille (1809-1852) by Étienne Leroux (1836-1906

Through the overwhelming insistence of the blind pupils, Braille's system was finally adopted by the Institute in 1854, two years after his death. In the Netherlands, braille was already taught having been introduced at the institute for the blind in Amsterdam at least as early as 1846. Braille was officially adopted by schools for the blind in the United States in 1916, and a universal braille code for English was formalized in 1932.

Braille’s original system omitted the letter W which was not part of the French alphabet.

Braille was based on a tactile military code called night writing, developed in response to Napoleon's demand for a means for soldiers to communicate silently at night and without a light source. It proved to be too difficult for soldiers to recognize by touch, and was rejected by the military

The average person reads about 250 words per minute, while Braille readers discern around 115 words per minute.

Only 8.5 percent of blind people use braille as their main reading medium.

The braille paperback of the first Harry Potter book costs $61 and weighs 5.4 pounds.

The Bible in Braille takes up 45 volumes.

In Japan, there is braille on beer cans.

Source Daily Express