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Sunday, 24 November 2013


In 1795 Napoleon Bonaparte who at the time was in charge of the French army of the interior, offered a prize for a practical way of preserving food for his marching army. On hearing of this potential reward, Nicholas-Francois Appert, a French maker of conserves of fruit started experimenting with cooking food in open kettles, then sealing food into glass jars using waxed cork bungs, wired into place. The jars were then heated by submersion in boiling water for varying lengths of time. Using this method he succeeded in preserving dairy products, fruits, jellies, juices, marmalades and vegetables and claimed the 12, 000 franc prize.

Appert published a book, Art de Conserver which generously made his preservation process available to all.

In 1812 Nicholas-Francois Appert used the prize money he won to establish the first commercial cannery, the House of Appert, at Massy. He used jars and bottles as his containers.

Thomas Kensett established the first U.S. canning facility for oysters, meats, fruits and vegetables in New York in 1812

Around the same time, in England, Bryan Donkin, a versatile British industrialist set up a factory for preserved foods for the Royal Navy. He used the heat-sterilization process invented by Appert to produce tin canisters made of iron coated with tin to pack canned meats, soups and vegetables.

In 1825 Ezra Daggett and Thomas Kensett of New York City patented a canning process to preserve salmon, oysters and lobsters.

A can of food left by Sir John Franklin in the Arctic in 1845 was found to still be edible in 1939. Several of Franklin’s team were killed by lead poisoning caused by the canning process.

37 years after French Nicholas Appert developed canning, Henry Evans Jnr invented a pendulum press which, combined with a die device, could make a can in a single operation. His invention enabled the production of cans to be increased from 6 to 60 per hour.

Unfortunately no one had invented a device for prying off the lids off these early sealed food containers, so people had to use a hammer and chisel.

Ezra J. Warner of Waterbury, Connecticut patented the first U.S. can opener in January 1858, a cross between a bayonet and a sickle.

A Mason jar is a molded glass jar used in canning to preserve food. It was invented and patented in 1858 by Philadelphia tinsmith John Landis Mason. The easy and re-usable jars made home canning popular for mid 19th century Americans, but most Mason jars were manufactured by competitors after his patent expired in 1879.

The earliest use of the word ‘tinned’ to refer to food given by the Oxford English Dictionary is an 1861 reference by Mrs Beeton to “tinned turtle.”

By the mid 1860s, domestic can openers were being made in America. They were called Bull's Head tin openers, as they had a cast-iron handle shaped into a bull's head and tails and are sold with tins of beef.

French canned bouilli (boiled) beef was fed to the French army in the Franco-Prussian War. It was ideal for soldiers on the move; they could eat it cold straight from the can

The Gottfried Krueger Brewing  Company placed the first canned beer on sale, in Richmond, Virginia, on January 24, 1935.

Cliquot Club Ginger Ale was the first canned soft drink. It was introduced in America in 1938. A cone top can produced by Continental Can Company was used, but the sodas were beset by leakage and flavor absorption problems from the can liner.

Many customers were complaining that the current can coatings were not sufficiently developed and because the beer inside was exposed to the metal, it had a metallic taste. As a consequence Coors Brewing introduced in 1959 the first two-piece aluminium beverage can, which it hoped wouldl not only result in better tasting beer but would be more environmentally friendly. The company encouraged their customers to return the 7-ounce cans for recycling rather than just disposing of them, as was the case with the steel cans, which were littering the nation’s highways.

In 1963 Ermal “Ernie” Fraze, a Kettering, Ohio tool-maker and founder of the Dayton Reliable Tool Company, invented the pop-top can by weakening a section of metal at the top of a can. With a rivet to hold it in place, it could be torn open easily. He was inspired to develop a self-opening can after being forced to force open a drinks can on a car bumper at a family picnic because no one had brought along a can opener. The Alcoa and Pittsburgh Brewing Company was the first to use these easy opening pull-ring tabs.

In 1964 The American soft drink company Royal Crown started selling Diet-Rite Cola and RC Cola in all-aluminium cans. They were the first soft drink to be sold in such a way.

In 1974, samples of canned food from an 1865 steamboat wreck were tested by the National Food Processors Association. Although appearance, smell and vitamin content had deteriorated, there was no trace of microbial growth and the 109-year-old food was determined to be still safe to eat.

In Japan, beer cans have braille on them so blind people won't confuse alcoholic drinks with soft drinks.

Soda is so corrosive, that without BPA or equivalent liner, an aluminum can would break after three days.

The hole in the ring of a soft drinks can is not just meant to give you leverage while opening one, it is also meant to be spun around and hold your straw.

About 200 billion cans of food are produced worldwide every year.

Source Food For Thought: Extraordinary Little Chronicles Of The World by Ed Pearce

Albert Camus

Albert Camus was born on November 7, 1913  in Dréan (then known as Mondovi) in French Algeria.

Albert's father, Lucien, was a poor agricultural worker of Alsatian descent and his mother, an illiterate house cleaner of Spanish descent.

His father, was wounded in the Battle of the Marne in 1914 during World War I, while serving as a member of a Zouave infantry regiment. Lucien died later in the year from his wounds in a makeshift army hospital.

Albert and his mother lived without many basic material possessions during his childhood in the Belcourt section of Algiers.

Camus  played as goalkeeper for Racing Universitaire d'Alger until he contracted tuberculosis in 1930.(RUA won both the North African Champions Cup and the North African Cup twice each in the 1930s).

Tuberculosis also prevented Camus from attending university for two years, though after recovering he enrolled in the school of philosophy at the University of Algiers, financing his studies with a series of odd jobs.

The year 1937 saw the publication of Camus' first book, an essay collection called The Wrong Side and the Right Side.

He was active within the French Resistance to the German occupation of France during World War II, even directing the famous Resistance journal, Combat.

Camus's criticism of communism in L'Homme révolté/The Rebel (1951) led to a protracted quarrel with the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.

Camus was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. He was the second-youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, after Rudyard Kipling.

The prize was awarded largely for Camus' extended essay Reflections on the Guillotine, which argued against capital punishment.

Photograph by United Press International

A keen smoker, Camus named his cat Cigarette.

He had intense Motorphobia (fear of automobiles), and thus avoided riding in cars as much as possible. Camus instead, took trains everywhere, as much as possible. Ironically, he died in a car accident on January 4, 1960 aged 46, with return train ticket in his coat pocket, after a friend persuaded him to ride in his car.

Source India Today

Camp Meetings

At the beginning of the nineteenth century in the vast wilderness of the American Frontier, there were few places of worship. in Presbyterians and Methodists joined together in an area called Cane Ridge in Bourbon County, Kentucky to hold a ‘camp meeting’ whereby believers spread across the mid west trekked days before setting up camp to hear a series of circuit preachers expound the Gospel.

A Methodist lay Preacher stood on a fallen tree before 15,000 people, taking his text from 2 Corinthians 5:10 - "We must all stand before the judgement seat of Christ to give an account of things done in the body whether good or bad." As he spoke hundreds fell to the ground by the power of the Holy Spirit

So popular was this gathering that similar camp meetings were held throughout the century and when word spread that a religious meeting was to be held, both believers and non believers would attend, (the latter being glad of a break in routine and hearing the Gospel many would consequently be converted.)  


The peacock flounder fish is so skilled at camouflage that it can imitate a chessboard if rested on top of it.

Some species of chameleons can change the color of their skins for camouflage, or to signal mood to other chameleons. This is caused by stress and changes in the intensity of light and temperature, which alter the dispersal of pigment granules in the layers of cells beneath the outer skin.

 Wearing camouflage clothing on safari in Tanzania is illegal.


The area was first visited by Europeans in 1472, when the Portuguese began slave trading in the area.

When Portuguese sailors first reached the coast of Cameroon, they noticed the large amount of shrimp in the Wouri River, promptly naming the area “Rio dos Camarões”, meaning “river of shrimp." It was later adapted by the English who changed it to "Cameroon".

In 1884 Cameroon became a German protectorate, known as Kamerun.

After World War I, France governed about 80% of the area under a League of Nations mandate, with Britain administering the remainder, from neighboring Nigeria. In 1946 both areas became United Nations trust territories.

On October 1, 1961 the southern portion of British Cameroons merged with Cameroon to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon.

The national flag of Cameroon was adopted in its present form on May 20, 1975 after Cameroon became a unitary state. The center stripe stands for unity (red is the color of unity), and the star is referred to as "the star of unity". The yellow stands for the sun, and the savannas in the northern part of the country, while the green is for the forests in the southern part of Cameroon.

There is an entire tribe of pygmies that live in Cameroon. They are reputed to be the earliest inhabitants of the country, and have lived in the rain forests of Cameroon for centuries.

The Bakossi people of the Mungo River in Cameroon have a legend that their ancestor Ngoe built an ark to save his family and many animals from a great flood.

The famous medical missionary and theologian Albert Schweitzer served for thirty-five years as a doctor in the Cameroons where for many years he pleaded for world peace and warned against the atom bomb.

There are over 250 languages spoken within the borders of the Cameroon

The country is called "Africa in miniature" for its geological and cultural diversity. Natural features include beaches, deserts, mountains, rainforests, and savannas.

Sources, Hutchinson Enyclopedia RM 2013. Helicon Publishing is division of RM.

David Cameron

David Cameron was born on October 9, 1966 in Marylebone, London. He is a lineal descendant of William IV by his paternal grandmother, Enid Agnes Maud Levita, through the king's mistress Dorothea Jordan.

His father was Ian Donald Cameron (1932–2010) a stockbroker, and his mother is Mary Fleur (née Mount; born 1934), a retired Justice of the Peace.

Six weeks before taking his O-Levels at Eton, Cameron was caught smoking cannabis. He admitted the offence and had not been involved in selling drugs, so he was not expelled, but was fined, prevented from leaving school grounds, and given a "Georgic" (a punishment which involved copying 500 lines of Latin text).

Cameron married Samantha Gwendoline Sheffield, the daughter of Sir Reginald Adrian Berkeley Sheffield, 8th Baronet on June 1, 1996 at the Church of St. Augustine of Canterbury, East Hendred, Oxfordshire. She was a Marlborough College school friend of Cameron's sister Clare and had been invited on a Cameron family holiday in Tuscany, Italy, where the couple's romance started.

When he was the Leader of The Opposition, Cameron drunk a cup of tea with up to 10 spoonfuls of sugar in it before Prime Minister’s Questions. He said that it helped his larynx.

The Camerons have had four children. Their first child, Ivan Reginald Ian, was born on 8 April 2002 in Hammersmith and Fulham, London, with a rare combination of cerebral palsy and a form of severe epilepsy called Ohtahara syndrome, requiring round-the-clock care. Ivan died at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, London, on February 25, 2009, aged six.

The British Prime Minister Gordon Brown received a Christmas card from David Cameron saying "Merry Christmas from me and 'the props'" after Brown accused Cameron of using his children as props in his 2008 conference speech.

David Cameron took office as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on May 11, 2010, as the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats formed the country's first coalition government since the Second World War.

The 43-year-old Cameron was the youngest British Prime Minister since the Earl of Liverpool 198 years earlier.

Http:// Wikipedia Commons

After the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, David Cameron announced he would resign as Prime Minister. He was succeeded by Theresa May on July 13, 2016.

At a Q&A in August 2013 Cameron described himself as a practising Christian and an active member of the Church of England.

Source Wikipedia


Joseph Nicéphore Niépce produced the earliest surviving photograph on a pewter plate in 1826.

The British polymath William Talbot, inventor of one of the earliest cameras was inspired by his inability to draw. He described one of his sketches as "melancholy to behold", wishing for a way to fix on paper the fleeting photographic images that had been observed for centuries using camera obscura.

It was Talbot who invented the negative/positive process, helping photography to pass from novelty into ubiquity.

To have your picture taken by the very first camera you would have had to sit still for 8 hours.

The word “camera” originally meant a judicial or legislative chamber. Its modern use came from “camera obscura” a darkened room or box used as a pinhole camera.

The photographic single-lens reflex camera (SLR) was invented in 1861 by Thomas Sutton, a photography author and camera inventor who ran a photography related company together with Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard on Jersey. Only a few of his SLR's were made.

George Eastman registered the trademark Kodak and received a patent for his roll film camera on September 4, 1888.

George Eastman hated having his picture taken.

The Brownie box camera, introduced by Eastman Kodak, sold for $1.00 in 1900. The camera's 6-exposure film sold for 15 cents.

The Brownie box camera captured the imagination of Edwardian England, with over half of the first-year sales of 100,000 made in the UK. Queen Alexandra was among the early adopters and the photo albums she compiled of friends and family are still in Windsor Castle today.

The Reverend Hannibal Goodwin, the inventor of celluloid photographic film was an Episcopal priest at the House of Prayer in Newark, New Jersey. He was motivated to search for a non-breakable, and clear substance on which he could place the images he utilized in his Biblical teachings. On May 2, 1887, the Reverend Goodwin filed his patent for a method of making transparent, flexible roll film out of nitrocellulose film base, but the patent was not granted until September 13, 1888.  In the meantime, George Eastman had already started production of roll-film using his own process.

Goodwin's transparent, flexible roll film was used in Thomas Edison's Kinetoscope, an early machine for viewing animation.

At the turn of the 20th century, people said "prunes" instead of "cheese" for the camera because a small mouth was considered beautiful.

Edwin Land demonstrated the first "instant camera", the Polaroid Land Camera, to a meeting of the Optical Society of America on February 21, 1947 in New York City. Land was inspired by his daughter, Jennifer, who asked why she had to wait so long to see her holiday snaps.

The first instant Polaroid cameras went on sale in a Boston department store for $89.75 ($900 in today’s money) on November 26, 1948. All 57 had sold by the end of the day.

Kodak engineer Steven Sasson built the first digital camera in 1975. It resembled a toaster.

The first photo Sasson took with his digital camera was of a female lab assistant. It boasted just 0.01 megapixels and took almost a minute to record and display.

Digital cameras have outsold cameras using film since 2003.

When glass breaks, the cracks move faster than 3,000 miles per hour. To photograph the event, a camera must shoot at a millionth of a second.

Wearing yellow makes you look bigger on camera; green, smaller.

Camera shutter speed "B" stands for bulb.

The CIA has made a disk camera that is as big as a quarter. This gadget can take many pictures at a time when the disk is opened.

Sources Independent 3/11/07, Radio Times 14-20th Apr 2007, Daily Express



Camels were domesticated around 4,000 years ago. Ever since, they have provided meat, milk, wool, and hides to various desert- and mountain-dwelling peoples of the Eastern and Western Hemispheres.

Camel is considered unclean meat in the Bible.

In about 1000 BC a significant revolution took place in Arabian trade, when the undemanding single-humped Arabian dromedary camel was first used for local and long-distance land transportation. Plodding along at two miles an hour and carrying burdens up to five hundred pounds, the camel could cover twenty-five miles a day, required very little food and water, and thus (since larger loads were possible) cut down the costs of the caravan.

The world’s first commercial dromedary dairy opened in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 1986, selling camel milk at £1.90 a litre.

‘Miss Dromedary’, a beauty contest for camels, was first held in Saudi Arabia on April 22, 1995. Emir Sultan ibn Mohammad ibn Saud al-Kebir donated the $500,000 prize money.

A United Arab Emirates man paid $390,000 in Oman for the "Daughter of Hamloul" in 1996. The Daughter of Hamloul was Oman’s fastest racing camel.

1,108 Mongolian jockeys took to their saddles in March 2016 for a history-making race. The track in Dalanzadgad city was just over 15 km long, with the fastest animal finishing in 35 min 12 sec. It broke the world record for the largest ever camel race.


Camel milk does not curdle.

Camels have three eyelids to protect themselves from blowing sand.

Two of a camel's eyelids have lashes and the third eyelid comes from the corner of the eye.

Camels have big, flat footpads, which allow them to walk on the sand without sinking.

Camels can run up to 40 miles per hour.

A camel can travel up to 100 desert miles without water, and even the moisture gained from a desert plant is enough to allow a camel to live without water for several weeks.

A thirsty camel can drink as many as 30 gallons of water in about 13 minutes.

Giraffes and rats can last longer without water than camels.

Camels chew in a figure 8 pattern.

Camels do not store water in their humps, as it is commonly believed. The humps are actually reservoirs of fatty tissue.

Despite the hump, a camel's spine is straight.

Camels can open and close their nostrils.

A camel can lose up to 30 percent of its body weight in perspiration and continue to cross the desert. A human would die of heat shock after sweating away only 12 percent of body weight.


In Qatar there is a sport called Robot Camel Racing where robots are placed on top of the camels are operated by a joystick, using the right hand to crack whips and the left to pull on the reins. by law they are the only jockeys allowed in Qatar.

Camels are very social and like to greet each other by blowing in each other's faces.

Camels are called "ships of the desert" because of the way they move, not because of their transport capabilities.

The world camel population is 19,627,000.

There are more wild camels in Australia than in any other country. There are about 750,000 roaming wild in the outback.

The longest recorded life span of a camel was 35 years, 5 months.

In Idaho, You may not fish on a camel's back.

In Nevada it is illegal to ride a camel on the highway.


Sunday, 17 November 2013

Cambridge (USA)

Cambridge was first settled as New Towne in 1630 and renamed Cambridge (after the university town in England) in 1638; it was incorporated as a city in 1846.

In 1640 Pilgrim settlers in Cambridge published the first book in America: the Bay Psalm Book, which included English translations of the Bible's Psalms for singing.

When John Harvard bequeathed $3,500 and a small library to Cambridge College, its name was changed to Harvard University.

Cambridge is the seat of several important colleges: Harvard University (1636), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1861), and Radcliffe College (1879). One quarter of the residents are students and one sixth of the workforce is employed in higher education.

The first college orchestra was founded at Harvard University in 1808.

The Cambridge Chronicle, America's oldest surviving weekly newspaper, was published for the first time in Cambridge in 1846.

Source Hutchinson Encyclopedia © RM 2013. Helicon Publishing is division of RM.

Cambridge (England)

The Saxons called Cambridge ‘Grantabrycge’ (bridge over the river Granta). The name of the town gradually changed to Cambridge.  The name of the river then changed to Cam, so it may be said that the river is named after the town, not the town after the river.

The precise beginnings of Cambridge University are obscure, but it is known that in 1209 a party of students arrived from Oxford, where there had been disturbances. At this time students made their own arrangements with individual masters and lived in whatever lodgings they could find.

The first residential college was Peterhouse, which was founded in 1284.

The saintly King Henry VI of England founded Kings College at Cambridge University in 1441. He left instructions for a choir of six lay clerks and 16 boys to be trained at the college school and to sing at daily services.

Sir Christopher Wren's first architectural design was the chapel at Pembroke College, Cambridge, which he was commissioned to do by his uncle the Bishop of Ely.

Written exams were first used at Cambridge University by the professor of chemistry in 1792..

England’s first football club was formed by a group of Cambridge University old boys who met up in Sheffield in 1857.

The most overdue book in the world was borrowed from Sidney Sussex College in Cambridge, England and was returned 288 years later.

The university library (built 1931–34) is a copyright library, and is entitled to a copy of every book published in the UK.

According to research in 2009, residents of Cambridge spend more per head on takeaway meals than any other town or city in Britain.

In Cambridge, 29 per cent of working people cycle to work. This is the highest figure of any local authority in the UK.

Sources Hutchinson Encyclopedia © RM 2013. Helicon Publishing is division of RM, Daily Express



The country was named after Cambu Svayambhuva, an ancient sage from whom the country’s kings claim to be descended.

The area now known as Cambodia was once occupied by the Khmer empire, an ancient civilization that flourished during the 6th–15th centuries.

Warriors of the Khmer Empire, found in Cambodia from 800-1400 AD, rode elephants into battle. The sight of the trumpeting elephants caused panic in the enemy’s ranks and won the Khmers many battles.

The Khmer Rouge were a Stalinist, Maoist militant group who took over the capital, Phnom Penh, on April 17, 1975. Led by Pol Pot,  they immediately forced everyone out of the cities, effectively turning the whole country into a giant labor camp.

Over the next four years between 1.7 million and 2 million people were killed (20–30% of the population) in a genocide comparable to the Holocaust.

On February 7, 1979 the Vietnam People's Army captured the Cambodian capital city Phnom Penh, deposing Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, which marked the end of large-scale fighting in the Cambodian–Vietnamese War.

The Cambodian monarchy was restored on September 24, 1993, with Norodom Sihanouk as king.

On December 29, 1998 leaders of the Khmer Rouge apologized for the deaths of nearly a quarter of the country's then population, during the "Killing Fields" era between 1975-1979.

The price of rat meat was reported to have quadrupled in Cambodia in 2008 as inflation put other meat beyond the reach of poor people.

In 2014 two Khmer Rouge leaders, Nuon Chea and Kheiu Samphan, were jailed by a UN backed court for life, which found them guilty of crimes against humanity and responsible for the deaths of up to two million Cambodians during the 1970s genocide.

Photos of the victims of the Khmer Rouge


The first McDonald’s restaurant in Cambodia opened in the city of Battambang in June 2016.

One of the most popular drinks in Cambodia is Tarantula Brandy; a concoction that includes rice liquor and freshly dead tarantulas.

The Tonle Sap River in Cambodia flows north for almost half the year and then south for the rest of the year.

There are 1.3 million mopeds in Cambodia, which is almost as many as the number of people there.

Ninety-five per cent of Cambodians are Buddhists. Women may not touch the monks.

The biggest religious building in the world is a Hindu Temple, Angkor Wat, located in Cambodia. It was built at the end of the 11th century from 5 million tons of sandstone that had to be carried from a quarry 25 miles away. It covers more than 0.6 of a square mile.

The Angkor Wat also features on the flag of Cambodia, the only actual building to feature on any national flag.

Cambodians do not celebrate their birthdays. Many older people do not even know their age.

Angelina Jolie was awarded Cambodian citizenship after turning one of the country's overly-poached areas into a nature reserve.

Source Daily Express

Sunday, 10 November 2013


Calypso music is the folk music of Trinidad. It generally has simple melodies and the words are often about persons prominent in current events.

Calypso music was developed in Trinidad in the 17th century from the music brought by African slaves imported to that Caribbean island to work on sugar plantations.

The first recorded use of the word "calypso" in Trinidad was in 1900.

In 1912 Lovey's String Band travelled to New York City to make the first calypso recordings

Calypso music became popular as form of jazz music in U.S in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The Andrews Sisters 1942 cover of "Rum and Coca Cola" (by Lord Invader) was the first American hit for calypso

Mighty Sparrow's 1956 recording "Jean and Dinah" is the last hit for classical calypso. The song became a hit and led to a new interest in pop-calypso, heralded by another major hit, Harry Belafonte's "Banana Boat Song", which came from the album Calypso, the first of any kind to sell more than a million copies.

Rolf Harris' single "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" was inspired by the Harry Belafonte calypso craze, which was big at the time. He wrote it as an Australian calypso. 


In 1536 John Calvin published his The Institutes of the Christian Religion, his personal testament of faith written to put a finish to the divisions within the expanding Protestant movement. This introduced Calvin's doctrine of predestination under which God predestines certain souls (the elect) through the sacrifice of Jesus to salvation, and the others whose fate is damnation. He emphazised the utter sinfulness of mankind that cannot be saved unless they are one of the elect, one of the chosen ones to be saved.

Calvin believed there are three tests that constitute a good yardstick by which to judge who is God's chosen, the elect and therefore saved. Firstly participation in baptism and the Lord's Supper, secondly, a public declaration of one's faith and lastly a righteous moral life.

Calvinism was adopted in Scotland, parts of Switzerland, and the Netherlands; by the Puritans in England and New England, USA; and by the subsequent Congregational and Presbyterian churches in the USA.

Although Calvinism is rarely accepted today in its strictest interpretation, the 20th century has seen a neo-Calvinist revival through the work of Karl Barth.

Source Encyclopedia of Trivia © RM 2013. Helicon Publishing is division of RM.

John Calvin

John Calvin (1509-1564) was born Place Aristide, Briand, Noyon, Picardie, France (60 miles NE of Paris.)

His father, Gerard, was an attorney and Procurator Fiscal (a church administrator )of the Noyon District and Secretary of the diocese.

Calvin's mother, Jeanne le Franc, was the daughter of an innkeeper from Cambrai. She died a few years after John's birth from an unknown cause.

John was particularly precocious; by age 12, he was employed by the bishop as a clerk and received the tonsure, cutting his hair to symbolise his dedication to the Church.

Initially, he received formal instruction for the priesthood at the Collège de la Marche and the Collège de Montaigue, branches of the University of Paris. However, Calvin was encouraged by his father to study law at the University of Orléans instead of theology, because Gérard believed his son would earn more money as a lawyer than as a priest.

After a few years of quiet study, Calvin entered the University of Bourges in 1529 where he continued his studies. Along with several friends he grew to appreciate the humanistic and reforming movements, and during his 18-month stay in Bourges, Calvin learned Greek, a necessity for studying the New Testament. By 1532, he was a Doctor of Law.

Portrait of Young John Calvin from the collection of the Library of Geneva.

By the early 1530s, the youthful Calvin had grown unsettled in his religious experiences and turned from studying law to the priesthood. He was converted from Catholicism and underwent a personal religious experience adopting a simpler form of Christianity after hearing a homily on the sovereignty of the Scriptures by the Rector of the Sorbonne, Nicholas Cop.

His first published work was an edition of the Roman philosopher Seneca's De clementia, accompanied by a thorough commentary.

His 1536 Institutes of the Christian Religion was Calvin's personal testament of faith written to put a finish to the divisions within the expanding Protestant movement. In it, he expounded his theological belief that God in his divine wisdom had already chosen the elect, those whose place in eternity with their father and those who would be damned to everlasting damnation and hellfire. The book thrust him into the forefront of Protestantism as a thinker and spokesman.

The Protestant Reformation reached the Swiss city of Geneva in the 1530s. John Calvin arrived in the city in July 1536.

Calvin’s association with the Swiss city of Geneva was not part of his plans. He visited the city only because of a detour to avoid the hostilities of a war raging between the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, and the King of France, Francis I. Calvin had intended to remain in Geneva a single night before resuming his travel to Strasbourg.

Calvin demanded that every Geneva citizen swear to the Confession of Faith on pain of banishment. The Geneva Council rejected this reform and banned the would-be-bannee and his followers from the city on May 26, 1538. Calvin lived in exile in Strasbourg for the next three years, returning to Geneva on September 13, 1541.

Calvim married Idelette de Bure, a widow in August 1540. They had one child who died in infancy. Idelette died in 1549 when he was 40 years old, and he called her "my life's best companion."  Calvin did not remarry.

In 1541 Calvin was appointed pastor of Geneva's Cathedral of St Pierre with a decent salary, a fine house and 250 gallons of wine a year.

Calvin preached at St. Pierre Cathedral, the main church in Geneva.

On returning to Geneva he began his first sermon with the chapter and verse of the Bible where he had left three years earlier.

Calvin was influential in establishing a rigorous theocracy ( a government by Priests) in Geneva. His religious and political authority was gradually reinforced by the arrival of a large number of French refugees.

Calvin felt the most important part of the church service was the sermon when the congregation would be made to think very seriously about their faith. "I am given to understand that your very full sermons are giving some ground for complaint. I beg you earnestly to restrict yourself, enforcing, if necessary, rather than offer Satan any handle which he will be able to seize."

The widespread notion that Calvin was an enemy of the arts, and limited the role of music in church for that reason, is simply nonsense. When Calvin came to Geneva, no music could be heard in the churches at all, and he was the one who actually reintroduced it in the form of singing in unison rather than in harmony as it was only logical to begin again without complicated harmonies.

A typical day involved writing letters, a lecture, a sermon, and attending to visitors. Sometimes he was needed for settilng disputes. Towards the end Calvin said to his friends who were worried about his daily regimen of work, "What! Would you have the Lord find me idle when He comes?"

John Calvin by Holbein

During the course of his ministry in Geneva, which lasted nearly 25 years, Calvin lectured to theological students and preached an average of five sermons a week. This was in addition to writing a commentary on nearly every book of the Bible as well as numerous treatises on theological topics. His correspondence fills eleven volumes.

Calvin would spend his private moments on Lake Geneva and read scripture while drinking red wine.

Throughout his life Calvin's health was never robust. He suffered from stomach trouble, chronic migraines, chronic asthma, lung haemorrhages, bouts of malaria, ulcerated piles, gout, kidney stones and insomnia.  By the 1560s he had reached the stage where he was unable to walk, but insisted on being carried to the pulpit to preach.

In 1559 Calvin originated the Geneva Academy as a centre of instruction for the best students making it the centre of theological studies in the French language.

Following several years of illness, John Calvin died on May 27, 1564. He gave strict instructions that he be buried in the common cemetery with no tombstone. Calvin wished to give no encouragement to those who might make it a Protestant shrine. His reputed tomb is at Plais Palais Cemetery, Geneva.

The last moments of Calvin (Barcelona: Montaner y Simón, 1880–1883)

Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes, a comic character created by Bill Watterson, was named after John Calvin. It is thought that this reflects the young male character's belief in predestination (as justification for his behaviour), while his stuffed tiger Hobbes shares Thomas Hobbes's dim view of human nature.

Calvin systematised the reformed tradition in Protestantism. He provided a pattern for churches in Holland, Scotland and much of Germany. His teachings today are the basis of the Presbyterian and Reformed churches.



The calorie was first defined by Nicolas Clément in 1824 as a unit of heat, and entered French and English dictionaries between 1841 and 1867. The word comes from Latin calor meaning "heat".

Medieval peasants ate twice as many calories as we do today.

Values are measured experimentally with a bomb calorimeter.

In more primitive times most individuals burned up the calories gained from the food they consumed through the rigors of their daily activities. This is no longer true for most people, particularly those living in industrialized nations.

Americans consume 3,800 calories on average daily. The recommended daily intake is 2,000 calories.

Because 3,500 calories equals about 1 pound (0.45 kilogram) of fat, you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose 1 pound.

Walking briskly for one mile in 15 minutes burns approximately the same amount of calories as does jogging an equal distance in 8.5 minutes.

Over 90% of the calories you burn are used to maintain your body temperature. A good way to lose weight is, therefore, to expose your body to the cold.

At its height, Elvis Presley's daily food intake was an estimated 94,000 calories, nearly twice that of an Asian elephant.

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

According to Yahoo! Shine, the average American eats between 3,000 to 5,000 calories at their Thanksgiving dinner. It turns out the item that does the most damage to your waistline is pecan pie. Each piece is said to be worth 503 calories.

Over 20% of all calories collectively consumed by humanity are from a single food: rice.

There are about 3500 calories in 1 pound of fat, so you would have to burn about 500 per gym session for a week to lose it.

Whale blubber contains more calories per pound than any other food found in nature.

20% of all calories collectively consumed by humanity are from rice.

Standing burns about 50 more calories an hour than sitting.

You burn more calories sleeping than you do watching television.

Doiug mental exercises, such as crosswords, sudokus and puzzles, is claimed to burn as many as 90 calories per hour.

Each time you laugh you burn up, on average, 3.5 calories.

You burn about 0.17 calories for every step you climb, so you burn roughly a calorie and a half for every 10 upward steps.

Banging your head against a wall uses 150 calories an hour.

It takes more calories to eat a piece of celery than the celery has in it to begin with.

Ice-cold water is the only negative calorie beverage. Drinking one such glass a day, it would take a person over a year to lose a single pound of weight.

Two handfuls of walnuts contain 650 calories

A whole melon contains around 600 calories, 100 more than a Big Mac.

There’s a one-calorie difference between a bowl of Frosties and a bowl of Special K. (The extra calorie is in Special K).

According to a Chinese newspaper article, kissing burns off three calories per smooch.

Maria Callas

Maria Callas was born Sophia Cecelia Kalos at Flower Hospital (now the Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center), at 1249 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, on December 2, 1923 to Greek parents. Blessed with a soprano voice of fine range and a gift for dramatic expression, Callas was one of the most renowned and influential opera singers of the 20th century.

In the early years of her career, Callas was a heavy and full-figured woman; in her own words, "Heavy—one can say—yes I was; but I'm also a tall woman, 5' 8½" and I used to weigh no more than 200 pounds [91 kilograms]." During 1953 and early 1954, she lost almost 80 pounds (36 kg), by eating a sensible low-calorie diet of mainly salads and chicken.

She made her debut in Verona, Italy, in 1947 and at New York's Metropolitan Opera in 1956.

Maria Callas as Violetta in La traviata, 1958

In 1957, after a performance in Donizetti's Anna Bolena, Maria was introduced to Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis at a party given in her honor by Elsa Maxwell. She eventually left her husband for him. Onassis would break off their relationship to marry Jacqueline Kennedy, leaving Callas devastated.

She waged an infamous feud with her mother Evangelia. Callas felt compelled to inform the Press in 1971: "I know my mother wrote a book about me, but I have never read it."

Maria Callas spent her last years living largely in isolation in Paris and died aged 53 on September 16, 1977, of a heart attack. She was cremated at the Père Lachaise Cemetery and her ashes were placed in the columbarium there. After being stolen and later recovered, in the spring of 1979 they were scattered over the Aegean Sea, off the coast of Greece, according to her wish.

Anna Calvi's song “Sing To Me” is a homage to Maria Callas, whose music the singer discovered as a child through her Italian father's record collection.

Sunday, 3 November 2013


Caligula was born in Antium (modern day Anzio) on August 31, 12AD. His father, Germanicus Caesar (15BC-19AD), was the stepson and great nephew of Tiberius a Roman general. His mother, Agrippina was a granddaughter of Caesar Augustus and Scribonia. She was considered a model of the perfect Roman woman.

His real name was Gaius Caesar. As a baby, Gaius travelled with his parents among the legions of Rome and when he was two or three years of age,  he became the mascot of his father's army in Germany. The soldiers were amused whenever Agrippina would put a miniature soldier costume on young Gaius, and he was soon given his nickname "Caligula" (or Caligulae), meaning "Little Soldier('s boots)" in Latin, after the small boots he wore as part of his costume.

He hated being called Caligua,, but he also hated the name "Gaius". ("Caligula" is formed from the Latin word "caliga", meaning soldier's boot, and the suffix "ula" indicating inferiority.)

In AD 14, when news of Augustus' death made its way across the Empire, the soldiers of Germanicus's camp almost started a mutiny against Tiberius because they wanted Germanicus as Emperor. Germanicus sent Agrippina and Caligula away from the mess that was soon to brew and tried to calm his men down. The superstitious men became horrified at the prospect of losing their favorite mascot. They promised to amend their ways and so Caligula was returned

In 33AD his mother Agrippina who had been banished to island of Pandatena by Emperor Tiberius committed suicide by starving herself after the loss of two sons.

Caligua was tall with a massive, hairy body, bald head, thin legs and neck.

Emperor Caligula, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. By Louis le Grand - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, $3

Caligua traveled with his wife and parents among the legions of Rome and was widely popular. On March 18, 37AD the senate disinherited his cousin Gernellus and appointed Caligua as emperor.

On becoming Emperor, Caligula performed a spectacular stunt. He ordered a temporary floating bridge to be built using ships as pontoons, stretching for over two miles from the resort of Baiae to the neighbouring port of Puteoli. He then proceeded to ride his horse across, wearing the breastplate of Alexander the Great. This act was in defiance of an astrologer's prediction that he had "no more chance of becoming Emperor than of riding a horse across the Gulf of Baiae".

Caligua went prematurely bald and was so sensitive about his lack of hair that he made it a capital crime for anyone to look down from a high place as he passed by.

Caligua had his mind weakened by a serious illness, allegedly caused by his depraved lifestyle. The illness was possibly encephalitis combined with the toxic effect of lead poisoning on his nervous system.

He decided that he was the reincarnation of Jupiter, so Caligua grew a long tangled beard like the King of the Gods.

Because he thought he was the reincarnation of Jupiter Caligua threw jagged pieces of iron at unfortunate passers by. (He was unable to hurl thunderbolts like his predecessor.)

In his first year as emperor, Caligua either banished or murdered most of his rivals. After that had rivals sawn in half, fed criminals to cattle and murdered people for trivial reasons.

A marble bust of Caligula restored to its original colours

Caligua's favorite horse, Incitatus, was housed in a marble stall and had a gold drinking goblet, furniture and slaves. Caligua even threw parties at which Incitatus was host.  Later on he appointed his horse as a Roman consul.

He loved gladiatorial games. Caligua once entered the arena as a gladiator and whilst his opponents had wooden swords, he had a real one. He also staged a large scale battle pitting 400 bears against large dogs and gladiators and liked to watch fights between cripples or dwarfs.

Caligua never learnt to swim.

An early alchemist, Caligua instituted experiments for producing gold from orpiment (a sullfide of arsenic.)

When he heard of the imageless worship of the Temple of Jerusalem, Caligua decided to set up his own life sized statue in the Holy Place. His advisors besought him not to so fearing a bloody civil war but Caligua would not budge. Fortunately he died before he could carry out his plan of desecration.

On one occasion, Caligua ordered one of his troops of highly trained Roman soldiers to collect shells on a beach.

Caligua was so upset by death of his sister Drusila that he imposed a year of mourning. During this time everyone in the empire was forbidden to dine with his family laugh, or take a bath. The penalty for transgression was death.

He had a boat on Lake Nemi, which he used for every sensual pleasure. Inside were baths, dining rooms, vines and fruit bearing trees.

Caligua was assassinated on January 24, 41AD when one of his guards ran a sword through his midriff while another murdered his wife and dashed out the brains of his baby daughter against a wall.

As Caligua was being transported to his burial ground in his hearse he was succeeded by his Uncle Claudius.

Source  Book of Lists


Historically home to the Kumeyaay people, San Diego was the first site visited by Europeans on what is now the West Coast of the United States. Upon landing in San Diego Bay in 1542, Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo claimed the area for Spain, forming the basis for the settlement of Alta California 200 years later. (Alta California had an area comprising the modern state of California and other states to the east.)

Explorer Francis Drake landed in 1579 in a region of present-day California, naming it New Albion and claiming it for England. Technically, this means the West Coast was "New England" before the East as John Smith didn't use the name to describe Massachusetts until 1616.

In May 1769, Gaspar de Portolà established the Fort Presidio of San Diego on a hill near the San Diego River. It was the first settlement by Europeans in what is now the state of California.

The first Alta California mission and presidio were established by the Franciscan friar Junípero Serra on July 16, 1769.

Mission San Diego de Alcalá. By Bernard Gagnon - Own work,

California's first mission would become the city of San Diego. The mission and the surrounding area were named for the Catholic Didacus of Alcalá, a Spaniard more commonly known as San Diego.

Between 1530 and 1750, a large portion of the world whole-heartedly believed that California was, in fact, a massive island. Popular opinion slowly shifted to the area being a Peninsula, but many maps continued to show it as an island to the mid-1700s.

Mission Santa Clara de Asís, a Spanish mission that formed the basis of both the city of Santa Clara, California and Santa Clara University, was established on January 12, 1777.  It was named for Saint Clare of Assisi, the foundress of the order of the Poor Clares and was the first California mission to be named in honor of a woman.

Mission Santa Clara de Asís. By JaGa - 

On July 9, 1846 an American naval captain occupied the settlement of Yerba Buena, The following January the town was renamed San Francisco.

In 1846 Californian settlers rebelled against Mexican rule during the Bear Flag Revolt. Afterwards, rebels raised the Bear Flag (featuring a bear, a star, a red stripe and the words "California Republic") at Sonoma. The Republic's only president was William B. Ide,

The California Republic was short lived; the same year marked the outbreak of the Mexican-American War. When Commodore John D. Sloat of the United States Navy sailed into Monterey Bay and began the military occupation of California by the United States, Northern California capitulated in less than a month to the US forces. After a series of defensive battles in Southern California, the Treaty of Cahuenga was signed by the Californios on January 13, 1847, securing American control in California.

Campo de Cahuenga, scene of the signing of the Treaty of Cahuenga

California was admitted as the thirty-first US state on September 9, 1850.

While establishing a sawmill for John Sutter, on January 24, 1848 James W. Marshall discovered gold and touched off the California gold rush.

During the California gold rush, miners sent their laundry to Honolulu for washing and pressing.

California’s state flag has a Brown Bear. The last Brown Bear in California was shot in 1922.

California is the 6th largest economy in the world behind USA, China, Japan, Germany and the UK.

From 70 to 80 percent of all ripe olives are grown in California's approximately 35,000 acres.

In California you may not set a mouse trap without a hunting license.

In California, animals are banned from mating publicly within 1,500 feet of a tavern, school, or place of worship.

California is the world's fifth largest supplier of food.

If all the strawberries produced in California annually were put side by side, they would wrap around the Earth fifteen times

Richard Nixon left instructions for "California, here I come" to be the last piece of music played (slowly and softly) were he to die in office.

The oldest living thing in existence is not a giant redwood, but a bristlecone pine in the White Mountains of California, dated to be aged 4600 years old.

California holds 12% of the US population and produces 6.9% of the country's total emissions.

Reno, Nevada is actually west of Los Angeles, California.

The snowiest city in the USA is: Blue Canyon, California..

The music for California’s state anthem, "I Love You California," was written by A.F. Frankenstein.

Here's a list of songs about California.



The Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, used by several pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations, notably the Mayans, begun on August 11, 3114 BC.

All Mesoamerican cultures used a 260-day ritual calendar that had no confirmed correlation to astronomical or agricultural cycles. These were used in combination with a separate 365-day calendar to create a 52-year cycle known as a calendar round.

Image of an ancient Mexican calendar

The Ancient Egyptians used 12 months of exactly 30 days, with 5 days of festivities at the end to add up to 365.

The ancient Greek calendar was based on the Olympiad, the four-year period between the Olympic games.

The original ancient Roman calendar began in March and ended in December and totaled 304 days. January and February were not given names. Around 713 BC, the semi-mythical successor of Romulus, King Numa Pompilius, is supposed to have added the months of January and February, allowing the calendar to equal a standard lunar year (354 days).

The Julian calendar took effect as the civil calendar of the Roman Empire in 43BC, establishing January 1 as the new date of the new year.

Ukrainian monk, Dionysius Exiguus, created the modern day Christian calendar in His new calendar originated from Christ’s birth which he assumed was 48 years after the death of Caesar. Unfortunately he made a mistake in his calculations, and it is now felt the birth of Christ was around 4BC.

The Sun Stone, or Aztec calendar stone, was carved some time early in the sixteenth century. Shortly after the Spanish conquest, the monolithic sculpture was buried in the main square of Mexico City. It was rediscovered on December 17, 1790 during repairs on the Mexico City Cathedral.

The Gregorian calendar was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII. It was implemented in Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain on October 4, 1582, the day being followed directly by October 15.

Two centuries later, the Gregorian calendar was adopted by Great Britain and the English colonies on September 14, 1752, skipping eleven days (the previous day was September 2nd).

March was the first month of the year until the Gregorian calendar began to be used. This meant that March 25th was the official New Year's Day in the UK and US until they switched to the Gregorian calendar in 1752.

The Gregorian calendar isn't perfect—its dates become one day off from Earth's seasons every 3,216 years.

According to tradition, the Advent calendar was created in the 19th century by a Munich housewife who tired of having to answer endlessly when Christmas would come. The first commercial calendars were printed in Germany in 1851.

In 1908 the Russian team turned up 12 days late to the London Olympics because they were still using the Julian calendar instead of the Gregorian calendar.

To conserve paper, the production of advent calendars ceased in the UK during World War II.

Traditional Japanese calendars have 24 15-day seasons split into 72 five-day microseasons.

It takes the Earth 365.25 days to make this trip around the sun. In other words, for every year we gain one-fourth of a day and every four years we gain an extra day hence the Leap year.