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Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Netherlands

HISTORY

The Holy Roman Empire ruled much of the Low Countries between the ninth and eleventh centuries, but was not able to maintain political unity. In time, the local Dutch feudal lords, headed by the count of Holland and the bishop of Utrecht, became practically independent. Many Dutch towns during the Middle Ages were prosperous trading centres, usually ruled by small groups of merchants.

The Low Countries in the late 14th century. By Sir Iain - Wikipedia Commons

In the 15th century the Low Countries (The Netherlands, Belgium, Flanders) were systematically united by the dukes of Burgundy.

The Netherlands became part of Spain when in 1477 Mary I of Valois, Duchess of Burgundy married Maximilian I of Habsburg, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

In the 16th century many Dutch people became Protestant. This did not endear the province to Catholic Spain and everyone in the Netherlands was sentenced to death by the Spanish Inquisition in 1568.

The seven northern provinces of the Low Countries got together in 1579 to rebel against the Spanish beginning a war of independence known as The Eighty Years War. Two years later, the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands declared its independence from King Philip II of Spain on July 26, 1581 with the Act of Abjuration.

First page of the Act of Abjuration

The Eighty Years' War ended in 1648 with the Peace of Westphalia, with Spain formally recognizing the independence of the Dutch Republic.

In an early 17th century Europe that was being torn by religious intolerance, The Netherlands was the only country that embraced every variety of freedoms. Consequently Protestant and intellectual refugees poured into the Dutch cities fleeing from persecution. This influx bought many benefits, its universities were centers of excellence, literature and art flourished and trade bloomed.

Amsterdam's Dam Square in 1656

The Dutch Golden Age spanned much of the 17th century as the Dutch Empire grew to become one of the major seafaring and economic powers. By 1650, the Dutch owned 16,000 merchant ships.

The Kingdom of Holland was formed on June 5, 1806. Napoléon's brother Louis Bonaparte was installed as a puppet king.

Louis Bonaparte was known as and is still called The King of Rabbits because he mispronounced the Dutch phrase "I am your king" and instead said "I am your rabbit" when he took over the Netherlands.

Four years later, on July 9, 1810 Napoleon annexed the Kingdom of Holland as part of the First French Empire. The Netherlands remained part of the French Empire until the autumn of 1813, when Napoleon was defeated in the Battle of Leipzig. and the Netherlands became independent again.

A Royal Decree issued by Queen Wilhelmina on February 19, 1937 laid down the heraldic colors of bright vermilion, white and cobalt blue as the national flag.


In 1940 Netherlands was invaded and occupied by Germany.. During the five years of Nazi occupation, 250,000 Dutch people were killed.

In 2001, The Netherlands became the world's first country to legalize same-sex marriage.

FUN FACTS

What is the difference between Holland and the Netherlands? 'Holland' comprises two of the 12 provinces of the Netherlands: North and South Holland.

"The Netherlands" means "the low lands". The land only rises, on average, 1 meter above the sea level. 27% of The Netherlands lies below sea level.

Map illustrating areas of the Netherlands below sea level

If the Netherlands stopped all water management 40% of the country would be flooded within weeks.

The Dutch are the tallest people on Earth. The average height of a Dutch man is 6 feet or 184 centimeters.

With a population density of 408 people per km2 – 505 (July 2016) if water is excluded – the Netherlands is most densely populated European country. 90% of its 17 million inhabitants live in urban areas.

The Netherlands has 17 million people and 18 million bicycles.


The Netherlands is the world's second-largest exporter of food and agricultural products, after the United States. This is due in part to the fertility of the soil and the mild climate.

Rotterdam was the world's largest port between 1962 and 2004 and still is currently the largest port in Europe – as large as the next three largest combined.

The Port of Rotterdam is Europe's largest port.. By Joris - Wikipedia Commons

The Dutch village of Giethoorn has no roads; its buildings are connected entirely by canals and footbridges.

Source Daily Express

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Nestlé

During the 1860s, in Vevey, Switzerland, Henri Nestlé was working on a concentrated infant food formula, which required that he found a way to treat milk so that it would not spoil while in storage but could be quickly reconstituted for use. The result of his efforts was a nutritious sweetened condensed milk product for babies that could be used by mothers who were unable to breast-feed. Nestlé founded Société Farine Lactée Henri Nestlé to manufacture the product.

Henri Nestlé

Around the same time, the Swiss chocolate manufacturer, Daniel Peter, was working on creating a chocolate bar flavored with milk, to lessen the bittersweet taste, but was struggling to produce a smooth mixture of milk and chocolate. The answer laid with Henri Nestlé's sweetened condensed milk, which turned out to be perfect for Peter's purposes; the low water content made it possible to mix it with the pressed cocoa bean to create a chocolate bar that did not spoil and was less bittersweet.  In 1879 Farine Lactée Henri Nestlé merged with Daniel Peter's milk chocolate company.

Nestlé was formed in 1905 by the merger of the Anglo-Swiss Milk Company, established in 1866 by brothers George Page and Charles Page, and Farine Lactée Henri Nestlé.

In 1911, Nestlé constructed the world's largest condensed milk plant in Dennington, Victoria, Australia.

A 1915 advertisement for "Nestlés Food", an early infant formula

In 1938, the Nestlé Company developed a freeze-dried coffee for retail. They were prompted to do this after being asked for help by Brazilian authorities to find a solution to their coffee surpluses. A glut of coffee beans had filled up all available storage space and more room was needed for the next harvest. Nestlé called its own freeze-dried coffee product Nescafé, and it quickly proved successful in Nestlé's home country of Switzerland.

By the turn of the 21st century Nestlé SA had been the world's largest food producer for several years. It is still the largest food company in the world measured by revenues.

By Nestlé - Aerial shot of Nestlé HQ in Switzerland Wikipedia
Perrier water and its competitor San Pellegrino are both owned by the Nestle corporation.

Most of Nestlé's bottled water is taken for free from freshwater lakes in British Columbia.

In Japan, Nestle has introduced sake-flavored Kit Kats that contain 0.8 percent alcohol.

Source Food For Thought by Ed Pearce

Nest

Bald eagles build the largest tree nests of any bird. They can weigh 2 tonnes (4,400 lb).

The Long-tailed Tit uses moss and the silk of spider egg cocoons as a natural form of Velcro for holding its nest together.

Birds that live in cities have learned to line their nests with cigarette butts. Nicotine is a powerful insecticide that wards off mites, lice and fleas.

Termite nests can be nearly 7 m (23 ft) tall.

Termite nest
The Oecophylla smaragdina species of arboreal ant make nests made of leaves stitched together using the silk produced by their larvae.

King Cobra females are the only snakes that build nests.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Nervous system

HUMAN

Wedding rings are worn on the fourth finger of the left hand because the Romans believed that a nerve led directly from there to the heart.

The first human nerve transplant was performed by Dr James Campbell at the New York University Medical Center on April 18, 1963.

There are 45 miles of nerves in the skin of a human being.

Nervous system.By Own work, CC BY 3.0, Wikipedia Commons

Nerve impulses to and from the brain can travel as fast as 170 miles an hour.

Scientists have figured out that the speed of nerve impulses within the brain is 275 miles per hour. 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.

Your spinal cord controls your entire central nervous system, and it's only between nearly .4 to almost .6 inches in diameter.

People don't sneeze when they are asleep because the nerves involved in the sneeze reflex are also resting.


If you have nerve damage in your hand it won't wrinkle when submerged in water.

ANIMAL

Deprived of sight and hearing, seals can still accurately pinpoint the locations of fish because they have 1,500 nerve endings in their whiskers.

A lobster's nervous system is located in its abdomen.

Uniquely, octopuses have more than half their nerves in their arms and even partially think with them.

Turtle and tortoise shells have nerve endings, so they can feel every scratch and rub.

The central nervous systems of the smallest spiders fill up almost 80 percent of their total body cavity, including about 25 percent of their legs.

Nerves

The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates prescribed celery as a nerve soother.

The Native Americans believed the cranberry had special powers to calm the nerves.


Frederick the Great was in the habit of having his veins opened in battle as it soothed his nerves.

William Gladstone used laudanum to settle his nerves before parliamentary speeches and once glugged down so much he was forced to go to the spa at Baden Baden to recuperate.

Sigmund Freud's 1895 Studies In Hysteria with Josef Breuer was a landmark in the history of Psychology as it revealed the existence of the unconscious mind, (the root of nervous illness.)

Britain's first escalator was installed in Harrods' London store in 1898. Bill Lancaster in The Department Store: a Social History noted, "customers unnerved by the experience were revived by shopmen dispensing free smelling salts and cognac."

The title of Tennessee William's play Cat On a Hot Tin Roof comes from the American expression "as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof". The "cat" is Maggie, Brick's wife, who had frayed nerves.

During the scandal when Monica Lewinsky was accused of having sexual relations with Bill Clinton, the young White House intern learned to knit to calm her nerves

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Nero

EARLY LIFE

Nero was born in December 15, 37 in Antium (modern Anzio and Nettuno), near Rome.

He was the only son of Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus and Agrippina the younger, sister and reputed lover of Caligula.

His full name at birth was not Nero but Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus.

Lucius came to the attention of his uncle Caligua soon after his birth. Agrippina reportedly asked her brother to name the child. This would be an act of favor and would mark the child as a possible heir to his uncle. However Caligula only offered to name his nephew Claudius after their lame and stuttering uncle, apparently implying that he was as unlikely to become Augustus as Claudius.

Lucius' father died of dropsy in 40. He was now effectively an orphan with an uncertain fate under the increasingly erratic Caligula.

Lucius' luck would change the following year, when on January 24, 41 Caligula was murdered. Agrippina was soon remarried to the wealthy Gaius Sallustius Crispus Passienus.

Passienus died in 47. Agrippina was reportedly suspected of poisoning her husband in order to inherit his fortune. Lucius was the only heir to his now wealthy mother.


Nero and Agrippina. Agrippina crowns her young son Nero with a laurel wreath

On January 1, 49 Agrippina became the fourth wife of Tiberius Claudius Nero Caesar Drusus. The marriage would last for five years.

The great stoic philosopher and playwright Seneca was Nero’s tutor. Seneca’s brother was Gallio the proconsul of Achaia mentioned in Acts 18 v11-12.

RISE TO POWER 

Early in year 50 the Roman Senate offered Agrippina the honorable title of Augusta, previously only held by Livia (14 - 29). On February 25, 50 Lucius was officially adopted by Claudius as Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus.

Claudius honoured his adoptive son in several ways. Nero was proclaimed an adult in 51 at the age of 14. He was appointed proconsul, entered and first addressed the Senate, made joint public appearances with Claudius, and was featured in coinage.

Coin issued under Claudius celebrating young Nero as the future emperor, c. 50.

Agrippina was determined to secure the Emperorship for her son despite Claudius' plans to name Nero's step brother Britannicus as his successor. She fed her husband poisonous mushrooms then his physician, Xenophon, shoved a feather down his throat to induce vomiting. Claudius died in agony choking to death without making his wishes known.

EMPEROR 

In 54 Nero succeeded his step-father, Claudius, as Emperor.

A plaster bust of Nero, Pushkin Museum, Moscow.

In the first months of Nero's reign, Agrippina controlled her son and the Roman Empire. She lost control over Nero when he began to have an affair with the freed woman Claudia Acte, which Agrippina strongly disapproved of and violently scolded him for. Agrippina began to support Nero's step brother Britannicus in an attempt to make him emperor.

Britannicus was secretly poisoned on Nero's orders during his own banquet in February 55. The power struggle between Agrippina and her son had begun.

For the first seven years of his reign Nero ruled with clemency and justice. He abolished excessive taxes and distributed money to the common people. However, his lust for power eventually got the better of him.

While his advisers took care of affairs of state, Nero surrounded himself with a circle of favorites. Roman historians report nights of drunken revelry and violence while more mundane matters of politics were neglected. Among his new favorites was Marcus Salvius Otho. By all accounts Otho was as dissolute as Nero but served as a good and intimate friend to him.

Nero liked to roam the streets of Rome at night in disguise with some of his friends beating up and even killing innocents. By 56 AD this was becoming a scandal.

Nero reportedly machinated the murder of Agrippina on March 23, 59. Seneca attempted to convince the Senate that she had been orchestrating a conspiracy against her son, but the reputation of the Emperor was damaged beyond repair by this case of matricide. His friend and adviser Otho was soon also removed from the imperial environment, and sent to Lusitania as governor.

Nero's tutor Seneca, later became his chief adviser. Nero's mistress Poppaea disliked Seneca's stoic ideals and as a result Seneca was named in a conspiracy. The frame was so lavish, Seneca was forced to commit suicide.

The Great Fire of Rome erupted on the night of July 18 to 19 July 64. For seven nights it burned and Nero watched from the Tower of Maecenas, enraptured by what he called, "The beauty of the flames". He hoped the Christians would be blamed, but many Romans believed Nero himself had started in order to clear land for his planned palatial complex, the Domus Aurea.

Artwork depicting the Great Fire of Rome.

After the Great Fire of Rome, Nero set up a relief program for the homeless and allowed them to temporary reside in his gardens.

PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS

After The Great Fire of Rome, Nero was intent on persecuting the Christians who were suspected of causing the blaze. Often he put on a public show in his own gardens, in which the Christians were killed by being covered in skins of wild animals and being torn to death by dogs, or by crucifixion.

Some of these early martyrs were covered in pitch, slung up on poles and set alight. These "on fire" Christians in the dark were like torches in the night. Instead of screaming for mercy and recanting, the early believers went to their death with dignity, singing hymns.

Nero's Torches by Henryk Siemiradzki - 

Among the Christians murdered by Nero was St Paul who was beheaded and St Peter who was crucified upside down.

The emperore put Christians to death in an area called "Nero's Circus". Today St Peters Cathedral stands on the site of this area.


A Christian Dirce, by Henryk Siemiradzki. A Christian woman is martyred in this re-enactment of the myth of Dirce.

People begun to feel sorry for the members of this sect, realizing they were being massacred to satisfy Nero's mania rather than the public good.

The letters of the name "Nero Caesar" written in Hebrew represents numbers together which make 666.

APPEARANCE 

Nero was red-headed with a chubby face.

Bust of Nero at the Musei Capitolini, Rome

He used make-up included powder, rouge kohl and blond wigs.

The near-sighted Nero used a form of glasses ( a jewel with curved facets) to get a closer view of gladiatorial exchanges.

RELATIONSHIPS

On June 9, 53 AD, when Nero was 16, he married Claudia Octavia, his father’s daughter from an earlier marriage.

Portrait head of Claudia Octavia, National Museum of Rome

Nero became bored of Octavia and tried to strangle her on several occasions.

Nero's good friend Marcus Salvius Otho was married to the auburn haired Poppaea Sabina, who was described as a woman of great beauty, charm, and wit. Gossip began to appear of Nero, Otho, and Poppaea being parts of a love triangle. By 58, Poppaea had been established in her position as the favorite mistress of Nero.

By the time he was twenty-five years old, Nero had yet to produce an heir. When Poppaea became pregnant, Nero finally decided to marry his mistress, but his marriage to Octavia had to be dissolved before doing so.

At first Nero resorted to accusing her of adultery. However, Nero had already gained a reputation for this offence while Octavia was reputed to be an example of virtue. Some testimony was needed against her, but torturing one of her slaves only produced the famous declaration of Pythias reporting the genitalia of Octavia to be cleaner than the mouth of Tigellinus. Nero proceeded to declare the divorce on grounds of infertility, leaving him free to marry Poppaea and wait for her to give birth.

Octavia was banished to the island of Pandateria (modern Ventotene) on a false charge of adultery with Nero's former tutor Anicetus. On June 8, 62, Octavia was suffocated in an exceedingly hot vapor bath. Her sudden death brought much sorrow to Rome and prompted incidents of public protest.

In 62 Nero married his mistress, Poppaea. She loved the lavish lifestyle of being an emperor's wife and always traveled with 500 nursing asses so she could take milk baths to keep her skin smooth and supple. She used depilatory creams to remove unwanted body hair on a daily bonus.

Bust of Poppaea Sabina at Palazzo Massimi alle Terme

Claudia Augusta was born on January 21, 63. At the birth of Claudia, Nero honored mother and child with the title of Augusta. However, the child died three months later, meaning Nero was still with no heir. Her father was devastated and many believe this was the event that unhinged the emperor.

Poppaea was killed by a kick from Nero when pregnant with her second child in the summer of 65. She had criticized him for coming home late from the races.

Around 65, Statilia Messalina became Nero's mistress. After the death of the emperor's second wife Poppaea Sabina, Statilia's consul husband Vestinus was forced to commit suicide in 66, so Nero could marry her.

In 67 Nero married the castrated male slave Sporus in a public ceremony. Sporus was a male lookalike of his dead wife Poppaea Sabrina, whom he even called by her name. During their marriage, Nero had Sporus appear in public as his wife wearing the regalia that was customary for Rome.

FOOD AND DRINK

Nero had leek soup served to him every day, as he believed the leek made his speech honeyed and thus gives him a clear and sonorous voice for delivering his orations.

Due to his inordinate appetite for leeks some people nicknamed Nero "Porrophagus" ("porrum" meaning leek in Latin.)

Nero sent slaves to the tops of the Apennines Mountains to bring fresh snow down to the royal kitchens where the snow was then flavored with fruit pulp and honey or nectar.

On February 11, 55 Nero was hosting a dinner when his 13-year-old stepbrother and rival Britannicus keeled over and died as the water used to cool his wine had been poisoned (his taster forgot to taste it). The other dinner guests faced a dilemma. Should they take no notice and carry on tucking into their meal or should they call a doctor and risk offending the paranoid emperor. Nero dismissed the murder by claiming that the boy suffered from epilepsy.

Nero liked to drink a traditional charioteer's potion of dried boar dung in water in the belief that it gave him strength.

Nero, painting of Abraham Janssens van Nuyssen, 

On one occasion when the unstable emperor heard of a battle being lost, he became so upset that he smashed a crystal glass, crying that he would punish the world by making sure that no one would be able to drink from such a glass again.

SPORT AND ARTS 

Nero had more faith in his artistic abilities than anyone else. He grew intensely jealous of his rival poets and musicians.

His first public stage performance was at Naples in 64AD where he recited poetry and sang and played music with the lyre. It is said there was an earth tremor in the theater as he sang.

He continued to perform publicly as an actor and singer. It is said none left the building during his performances mainly because the emperor locked the audience in so they couldn't leave.

In the 2nd century AD, Suetonius described Nero as a player of the tibia utricularis, an early form of bagpipe.

Nero once wrote a song about his second wife Poppaea's beautiful long auburn hair.

During The Great Fire of Rome, Nero put on his tragedians costume and sang "The Fall of Ilium" from the beginning to the end.

At the 67AD Olympic Games in Greece, Nero entered the singing contest and was judged the winner even though according to Suetonius, some male listeners fell off the wall and feigned death in order to remove themselves from earshot without causing imperial offence.

A drunken Nero also competed in the Greeks Olympics at chariot racing-no one else took part. The Roman Emperor fell off but he was put back on in his chariot, restarted, failed to complete the course and was still awarded the crown.

Nero won a number of Olympic titles for horse riding, tragedy and harp, singing competitions and declamation. In all these cases the competition finished with a crown adorning his head, a "feat" probably achieved by bribing the judges.
.



Nero awarded his favorite horses pensions when they grew old and dressed them in costumes.

HOMES 

The Domus Aurea was a large landscaped portico villa built by Nero in the heart of ancient Rome, after the Great Fire in 64 AD had cleared away the aristocratic dwellings on the slopes of the Palatine Hill

The Emperor Caesar Augustus had lived there in a purposely modest house only set apart from his neighbors by the two laurel trees planted to flank the front door as a sign of triumph granted by the Senate. However, Nero enlarged the house and grounds over and over until it took up the hill top.

The Emperor issued orders that all other private homes situated there should be razed. The edifice, the sole residence on Palatine Hill, soon was identified with that name and became known as the Palātium or palace. That is how, ever since a royal abode, is called by this name.

In his golden palace Nero possessed a spectacular dining room in which there was a revolving ceiling which turned day and night, in time with the sky. When slid back, a rain of fragrant waters, or rose leaves was showered on the heads of the diners.

DEATH 

Following a military revolt, the Senate condemned Nero to death. He fled Rome and took refuge in a villa a few miles outside the city. On June 9, 68 Nero drove his dagger into his throat rather than being taken alive. As Nero's four faithful servants prepared his funeral pyre, the Emperor muttered through his tears: "Qualis artifex Pereo", ("How great an Artist dies here".)

The alleged Tomb of Nero.

The Coliseum received its name not for its size, but for a colossal statue of Nero that stood close by. It was placed there after the destruction of his palace.

Sources Food for Thought by Ed Pearce, The Faber Book Of Anecdotes, Europress Family Encyclopedia 1999.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Neptune

HISTORY

Galileo Galilei was the first astronomer to observe the planet Neptune on January 28, 1613, although he mistakenly cataloged it as a fixed star.

Neptune was officially discovered 233 years later on September 23, 1846 when using mathematical predictions by French mathematician Urbain Le Verrier and Cornwall-born astronomer John Couch Adams, German astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle became the first person to observe Neptune and recognize it as a hitherto unknown planet.

Neptune

Neptune was the first planet to be discovered by mathematical calculations before it was actually seen by a telescope.

The planet Neptune has barely completed one orbit since it was discovered in 1846.

Neptune has a faint and fragmented ring system, which was first detected in 1968 by a team led by Edward Guinan. On August 25, 1989 the Voyager 2 spacecraft made its closest approach to Neptune and provided definitive proof of the existence of the planet's rings.

Neptune's rings

THE PLANET

Summer lasts 40 years as the planet takes nearly 165 years to orbit the Sun. Even so, the average temperature on the planet is minus 328f (minus 200c).

The strongest winds found on any planet in our solar system are found on Neptune. Wind speeds there reach up to 1,340 miles per hour. They are so fast they break the sound barrier.

Even though it is only a small part of the atmosphere, methane gas is what gives Neptune its blue hue. Methane absorbs red light, so when we look at Neptune, all we see is the blue that is not absorbed.


Neptune is the only planet not visible to the naked eye. This is due to the planet's extreme distance from the Earth.

Neptune is so far from the sun that high noon on the big blue planet would seem like dim twilight to us. The warm light we see here on our home planet is roughly 900 times as bright as sunlight on Neptune.

The planet Neptune emits more light than it receives from the Sun.

One year on Neptune is equal to about 165 Earth years. This fact makes Neptune the planet with the longest year.

MOONS

Neptune has 14 known moons. Triton is the largest Neptunian moon, comprising more than 99.5% of the mass in orbit around Neptune, and it is the only one massive enough to be spheroidal.

Triton's surface temperature is at least −237.6 °C, making it the coldest place in our solar system. Its cold temperature is because the moon's nitrogen ice is in the warmer, hexagonal crystalline state, and the phase transition between hexagonal and cubic nitrogen ice occurs at that temperature.

A Voyager 2 mosaic of Triton

Triton has a weird, backward orbit that has it inching closer to Neptune each year. When the two finally collide, the moon will be shredded into beautiful rings that may rival those of Saturn. The collision won't occur for another 10 million to 100 million years.


Friday, 26 August 2016

Nepal

The name Nepal is first recorded in texts from the Vedic Age (c. 1500 – c. 500 BC), the era that founded Hinduism, the country's predominant religion. It was first mentioned in the late Vedic Atharvaveda Pariśiṣṭa as a place exporting blankets.

Prince Gautama Siddhartha (563BC- 483BC) known to us as Buddha was born in Lumbini, SW Nepal at the foot of the mountains. A sacred garden and shrine was established in Lumbini by the Nepalese government in 1970.

Lumbini, birthplace of Gautama Buddha By  Dharma from Penang, Malaysia - Wikipedia 
From 1768, when it became a unified country, until 2008, Nepal was a kingdom.

Nepal and the United Kingdom signed a treaty on December 21, 1923, the first to define the international status of Nepal as an independent and a sovereign nation.

Crown Prince Dipendra shot dead his father, King Birendra, his mother Queen Aishwarya and eight other members of the royal family on June 1, 2001. Dipendra then shot himself but was crowned king while in a coma before he died three days later. Official reports state that the massacre was caused by Dipendra's anger at being denied his choice of bride.


On December 23, 2007 an agreement was made for the Kingdom of Nepal to be abolished and the country to become a federal republic with the Prime Minister becoming head of state.

12 of the world's 18 highest mountain peaks are in Nepal. including Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth.

New Zealand mountaineer Edmund Hillary and Nepali-Indian Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first persons to summit Mt Everest in Nepal in 1953.

Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay 

After climbing Everest Edmund Hillary devoted his life to digging wells and building schools and hospitals for the Sherpas in Nepal.

The Nepalese call Mount Everest “Sagarmatha” which means “forehead of the sky”.

Nepal is the only country in the world to have non-quadrilateral flag – it has two triangular pennants, one on top of the other.

The flag of Nepal is so complicated that the constitution of Nepal includes 24-step instructions on how to create it.

Flag of Nepal

The capital city of Nepal is Kathmandu which has a population of over two million people.

The Republic of Nepal has given no names to its seven provinces, only serial numbers.

Nepal was the first country in Asia to introduce gay marriage.


In Nepal, there are trained birds that will fly with you as you go parahawking.

Source Daily Express

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson

EARLY LIFE 

Horatio Nelson was born on September 29, 1758 in a rectory in Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, England, the sixth of eleven children of the Reverend Edmund Nelson and his wife Catherine Suckling.

His father Edmund Nelson was a simple country parson. The Nelsons were genteel, scholarly, and poor.

His mother, Catherine, was a grandniece of Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, the de facto first Prime Minister of Great Britain.

Horatio lost his adored mother when he was 9. He remembered her with fondness, recalling a line from Shakespeare's Henry V when he did so and said that his love for her could be seen in the tears in his eyes.

He attended Paston Grammar School, North Walsham, until he was 12 years old, and also attended King Edward VI’s Grammar School in Norwich as a boarding pupil from 1768 to 1769.

Horatio learnt to sail on Barton Broad on the Norfolk Broads,

After the death of Horatio's mother, Horatio's father begun to call in favors with relatives to ensure that educations and positions could be found for his sons. Maurice Suckling, Edmund's brother-in-law, promised to do what he could for Horatio, using the patronage available to him as a naval captain.This saw the start of Horatio's successful career in the Royal Navy.

A weak, sickly child, when he was sent to sea at the age of 12 as a midshipman on the Raisonnable Horatio was so lonely and homesick, he was nicknamed "Poor Horace Captain."



EARLY NAVAL CAREER 

Nelson's naval career began on January 1, 1771, when he reported to the third-rate Raisonnable as an ordinary seaman and coxswain. The vessel was commanded by Nelson's maternal uncle and, shortly after reporting aboard, Nelson was appointed a midshipman and began officer training.

In 1773 Nelson was a midshipman on Constantine Phipps naval expedition to Arctic Canada.

Still only 20-years-old, Nelson took command of the 28-gun frigate HMS Hinchinbrook, newly captured from the French on September 1, 1779.

Nelson took part in Major-General John Dalling's attempt to capture the Spanish colonies in Central America. In 1780 he engaged in an assault on the Castillo Viejo, on the San Juan River in Nicaragua.
Nelson, with some one thousand men and four small cannon, obtained the surrender of Castillo Viejo and its 160 Spanish defenders after a two-week siege. He was praised for his efforts - it was considered his most notable achievement to date.

Captain Horatio Nelson, painted by John Francis Rigaud in 1781, with Fort San Juan in the background

In 1784 Nelson received command of the frigate HMS Boreas with the assignment to enforce the Navigation Acts in the vicinity of Antigua.

In 18 months commanding the HMS Boreas Nelson flogged 54 of his 122 seamen and 12 of his 20 marines.

During the late 1880s and early 1890s, Nelson spent five years at home on half pay as there was no war to fight.

The Admiralty recalled Nelson to service and gave him command of the 64-gun HMS Agamemnon in January 1793. France declared war the following month. The Agamemnon was said to be his favorite of all the ships he commanded.

Whilst on active service in the Mediterranean in 1794, Horatio Nelson lost the sight of his right eye at Calvi.

Nelson distinguished himself while in command of HMS Captain at the Battle of Cape St Vincent, which was fought on February 14, 1797. One of the opening battles of the Anglo-Spanish War, 15 British ships were fighting. 22 Spanish, when Nelson in his ship Captain sighted a gap in the Spanish line. Without orders he moved in to prevent it closing and captured two ships, San Josef of 112 guns and San Nicholas, 80 guns. The victory ensured British influence again in Mediterranean. The then Commodore Nelson's share in the victory made him a national hero.

Nelson receives the surrender of the San Nicholas, an 1806 portrait by Richard Westall

On February 20, 1797, Nelson was promoted to Rear Admiral of the Blue. It was a standard promotion according to his seniority and unrelated to the Battle of Cape St Vincent.

ADMIRALTY 

In 1798 Near Admiral Lord Nelson totally crushed the French General Napoleon's French fleet at the Battle of the Nile thus preventing his conquest of the East. He became known as the Hero of the Nile and ladies honored him with bonnets embroidered with "the hero of the Nile" in sequins.

The Battle of the Nile, depicted in an 1801 painting by Thomas Luny

After his victory over the French fleet at the Nile, Nelson was given by the Sultan of Turkey a huge diamond-encrusted cockade. It contained a clockwork mechanism that made it spin and sparkle like a Catherine wheel.

Between 1798-99, Nelson helped crush a democratic uprising in Naples. In 1799 Nelson violated a treaty ensuring safe conduct for the defeated Neapolitan Republicans. As a result vast numbers were tortured then executed by the merciless King Ferdinand. Afterwards the royalists played ball with the decapitated heads of these unfortunates.

The Battle of Copenhagen was fought on April 2, 1801 during the War of the Second Coalition. A British naval fleet under the command of Admiral Sir Hyde Parker engaged in battle with a Danish fleet anchored just off Copenhagen. Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson led the main attack. After three hours bombardment which Nelson described as, " warm work, but mark you, I would not be elsewhere for thousands!" Nelson's commander, Sir Hyde Parker sent him the signal "to disengage" and again "to discontinue action". Clapping his telescope to his blind eye, Nelson said that he didn't see the signal despite his officers seeing it clearly. He went onto a splendid victory, obtaining the surrender of the entire Danish fleet. This victory enabled the British to break the Northern League of Russia, Denmark, Sweden and Prussia which had attempted to keep British shipping out of the Baltic.

Nicholas Pocock's Battle of Copenhagen

As a reward for the victory, he was created Viscount Nelson of the Nile and of Burnham Thorpe in the County of Norfolk, on May 19, 1801.

In the summer of 1803, Nelson was appointed commander-in-chief of the Mediterranean Fleet and given the HMS Victory as his flagship. The HMS Victory first launched in 1765 and carried a crew of 850.

By the time of the Battle of Trafalgar, Nelson's annual salary was approx. £600pa.

Despite being a war hero, Lord Nelson's inability to shoot was a family joke.

Nelson claimed the secret of his success was due to constantly being a quarter of an hour ahead of his time.

BELIEFS 

As a Norfolk Parson's son, Nelson was in the practice of putting up a notice in the churches to interest the prayers of all good people before embarking on a voyage.

After years of naval successes, Lord Nelson assumed he was God's instrument. Before the Battle of Trafalgar on October 21, 1805, he prayed the following: "May the great God, whom I worship, grant to my country and for the benefit of Europe in general, a great and glorious victory: and may no misconduct in any one tarnish it: and may humanity after victory be the predominant feature in the British fleet. For myself individually, I commit my life to him who made me, and may his blessing light upon my endeavors for serving my country faithfully and to him I resign myself and the just cause which is entrusted to me to defend. Amen, amen, amen."

APPEARANCE AND CHARACTER 

Nelson was a small man, just 5' 5.5" (1.66 m) tall, of slight build. He had an expressive, pasty face, huge blue eyes, lightly colored hair and was hollow cheeked with a stern stare.

A lock of Lord Nelson's hair sold at an auction for a record $8,096 in 1997.

Nelson cared deeply about medals and honors and made himself a nuisance pleading for them. During his lifetime he drew crowds to see him in his medalled finery.

Nelson vainly wore all his medals all the time, including some suspect ones, which led to a great deal of mockery.

Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson, by Lemuel Francis Abbott

Nelson was noted for his bravery, he often took up his position on the quarter deck making him the most exposed man in the action. He was adored by his fleet as his men knew their leader would be in the hottest place of the fire.

Nelson talked to his crew in a friendly and not haughty manner in a high Norfolk accent. On the other hand he was self-regarding, petulant, humorless, taciturn, intense and vain. He was nicknamed the "Magnet".

Earl St Vincent, Nelson's commanding officer wrote after his death: “Animal courage was the sole merit of Lord Nelson, his private character most disgraceful in every sense of the word.”

RELATIONSHIPS 

During his time serving in Antigua, Nelson met Frances "Fanny" Nisbet, a young widow from a plantation family on the nearby island of Nevis. They were married at Nevis' Montpelier Estate on March 11, 1787, shortly before the end of his tour of duty in the Caribbean.

Lady Nelson, Nelson's wife, circa 1800

Their wedding certificate is displayed in St Johns Figtree, Anglican Church on the island. Nelson returned to England in July, with Fanny following later.

Fanny established a household and cared for her husband's elderly father while he was at sea. She was a devoted wife, but in time Horatio met Lady Emma Hamilton while serving in the Mediterranean and the two embarked in a highly public affair. Heartbroken, Fanny often wrote letters begging her husband to end his relationship with Lady Hamilton and return to her. Nelson, however, returned them unopened. Nelson continued to refuse all contact with Fanny through to his death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

Lady Hamilton gave birth to Nelson's daughter Horatia, on January 29, 1801 at her husband Sir William's rented home in Clarges Street, 23 Piccadilly, London.

Horatia Nelson kneeling before her father's tomb, by William Owen.

Nelson had no legitimate children; his illegitimate daughter, Horatia, subsequently married the Rev. Philip Ward and died in 1881.

After Lord Nelson made his maiden speech in the House of Lords, Lady Hamilton fainted.

Nelson wrote three letters a day to Lady Hamilton; in total he wrote up to 20 letters a day. When at sea there was often nothing else to do.

Emma Hamilton, in a 1782–84 portrait by George Romney

HOMES 

Nelson once lived at 3 Savile Row, London which later was the Apple Corporation building where the Beatles played their sign off rooftop concert in January 1969.

In the autumn of 1801, Nelson bought Merton Place, a small ramshackle house on the outskirts of modern-day Wimbledon. There he lived openly with Emma, her husband Sir William Hamilton, and Emma's mother, in a ménage à trois that fascinated the public.

FOOD AND DRINK 

Six weeks before the Battle of Trafalgar Nelson spent an exorbitant £308 (about $550) on port as he was planning a monumental party to mark his forthcoming victory.

His favorite tipple was sweet Sicilian Marsala wine.

HEALTH 

Nelson had a near encounter with death at the age of 16 when he contacted malaria on a voyage to India and was invalided home.

Five years later, Nelson was invalided home again this time from Nicaragua when he was among 88 members of his crew who went down with yellow fever and less than ten survived.

Nelson also suffered from recurrent malaria, temporary paralysis, depression and he never overcome seasickness.

On July 12, 1794, while engaging in a bombardment at Calvi, Nelson was struck by debris in his right eye. Although his wound was soon bandaged, his eye was irreparably damaged and he eventually lost all sight in it.

Afterwards Nelson wore a green shade attached to his hat over his good eye to protect it.

Nelson lost his right arm on July 25 1797. He was hit by a musket ball after stepping ashore on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. His right arm was amputated without anesthetics on board the Theseus. After his arm had been removed, Nelson was left alone to recover with an opium pill and a shot of rum. He was back in command in 30 minutes after surgeons amputated his arm.

Nelson wounded during the battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife; 1806 painting by Richard Westall

The unlucky Nelson score of 111 is named thus as one arm, one eye, one backside.

BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR 

The Battle of Trafalgar was fought off Cape Trafalgar on October 21, 1805 during which, 27 British ships led by Admiral Nelson defeated 33 French and Spanish ships. The French and Spaniards lost 22 ships in the battle; all the British ships survived.

The "Nelson touch" was to strike at the enemy center and rear before they could turn and engage and to trust each captain to engage closely without orders. Nelson used this phrase before the Battle of Trafalgar, when he said "I am anxious to join the fleet, for it would add to my grief if any other man was to give them the Nelson touch."

Before the Battle of Trafalgar, Nelson was discussing their chances with Thomas Masterman Hardy, his captain. "I shall not be satisfied with anything less than the capture of 20 ships" said Nelson. He then sent his last signal "England expects every man will do his duty".

As the Victory neared the enemy at Trafalgar, the men were jumping over one anothers’ heads to amuse themselves until they were ready to fire.

The Battle of Trafalgar by William Clarkson Stanfield 

Nelson was in the midst of defeating Napoleon's combined French and Spanish fleets when a musket ball that hit his left shoulder fatally wounded him. As he was carried injured to the surgeon, Nelson spread a handkerchief over his face so his men wouldn't recognize him.

The doctors told him the wound was fatal. Nelson accepted this with resignation and sent an officer to Admiral Collingwood, his second in command with instructions for the continuation of battle.

A little later he sent for Captain Hardy and inquired how many of the enemy's ships had been struck. The captain replied around 15. Nelson thanked God for the encouraging news and whispered to Captain Hardy, "I know I'm dying. I could have wished to survive to breathe my last upon British ground, but the will of God be done." A few moments later he was dead.

Nelson is shot on the quarterdeck, painted by Denis Dighton, c. 1825

The admiral's body was returned home in a barrel of rum which sailors subsequently discovered and consumed.

Nelson's state funeral at St Paul's Cathedral on January 9, 1806 was a male only affair, thus excluding Lady Nelson and Emma Hamilton. 18 of the admirals invited to his funeral refused to attend such was the dislike of him.

After a four-hour service Nelson was interred within a sarcophagus originally carved for Cardinal Wolsey.

Nelson had chosen to be buried at St Paul's rather than Westminster Abbey as he'd heard Westminster was sinking into the Thames.

Nelson's coffin in the crossing of St Paul's during the funeral service

After his triumphant death, Nelson's family were presented with Trafalgar House at Alderbury, Wiltshire.

In the centre of London's Trafalgar Square stands a column topped by a statue of Admiral Nelson. Nelson's Column was built in 1840 cost £46,000. It is a copy of one in the Temple of Mars at Rome with four bronze reliefs depicting the Battle of Cape St Vincent, Battle of Nice, Battle of Copenhagen and his death at Trafalgar.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Nebraska

HISTORY

In the early eighteenth century, France developed a regular trade with the native peoples along the Missouri River in Nebraska, and by 1719 had signed treaties with several of these peoples.

Nebraska in 1718, Guillaume de L'Isle map, with the approximate area of the future state highlighted.
In 1803, the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France for $15 million, including present day Nebraska.

In 1819, the United States established Fort Atkinson, just east of present-day Fort Calhoun, Nebraska as the first US Army post west of the Missouri River. The army abandoned the fort eight years later as migration moved further west.

The 1848-55 California Gold Rush brought the first large numbers of non-indigenous settlers to the Nebraska area.

Omaha, Nebraska's largest city, was founded in 1854, by speculators from neighboring Council Bluffs, Iowa. The settlement was founded along the Missouri River, and a crossing called Lone Tree Ferry earned the city its nickname, the "Gateway to the West".

The Kansas–Nebraska Act became law in 1854 establishing the U.S. territories of Nebraska and Kansas, and allowing settlers in those territories to determine if they would permit slavery within their boundaries.

In the 1860s, many people moved to Nebraska to take free land from the government.



Nebraska became the 37th U.S. state on March 1, 1867. On the same day, the city of Lancaster was renamed Lincoln and became the state capital.

In 1882 a rodeo sponsored by William "Buffalo Bill" Cody (1846-1917) at North Platte, Nebraska., attracted 1,000 contestants. Its success prompted Cody to open his traveling Wild West show, "Buffalo Bill's Wild West" , the following year. It was a circus-like attraction that toured annually with real cowboys and Indians.

The flag of the state of Nebraska is a blue rectangular cloth charged with the Nebraskan state seal. The current design was adopted in 1925.

Nebraska flag

Charles Lindbergh enrolled as a student at the Nebraska Aircraft Corporation's flying school in Lincoln in March 1922 and flew for the first time in his life the following month, when he took to the air as a passenger in a two-seat Lincoln Standard "Tourabout" biplane trainer piloted by Otto Timm.

In May 2004, Hallam, Nebraska was struck by an F4 tornado, (part of the May 2004 tornado outbreak sequence) that broke a width record at an astounding 2.5 miles (4.0 km) wide. It killed one resident. and destroyed most of the town.

FUN NEBRASKA FACTS

Nebraska has a large agriculture sector, and is a major producer of beef, pork, corn (maize), and soybeans.

Nebraska grain bins and elevator

Most of the world's popcorn is grown in the Midwest, with Nebraska ranked number one.

As of April 2015, Nebraska's unemployment rate was 2.5%, the lowest in the United States.

Nebraska is a triply landlocked state: it touches no ocean, the states it borders touch no ocean, and the states they border touch no ocean.

Despite being a landlocked state, Nebraska does have a Navy—its honorary admirals include Queen Elizabeth II, Bill Murray and Big Bird.

In Nebraska, It is illegal for bar owners to sell beer unless they are simultaneously brewing a kettle of soup.

Barbers are not allowed to eat onions between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. in Waterloo, Nebraska.