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Friday, 30 September 2016



Thousands of years ago the Hebrew farmer Noah was the only person left who remembered God and his creation. The world was flooded with evil and God's response to the severe situation was to have Noah and his family build an ark that enabled them to survive a widespread flood over the Earth. The rest of humanity was wiped out.

According to Book of Genesis, the Ark was 450ft by 75ft and 45ft high- that is taller than a three-storey building and with a deck size of 36 tennis courts.

Noah was the first great ship builder and his ark was constructed out of cypress wood.

The Building of Noah's Ark (painting by a French master of 1675).

On board his ark Noah included at least one pair of every kind of animal, (seven pairs of every type of clean animal, which was used for sacrifice.) Noah needed around 40,000 animals to represent every kind of creature.

Biblical scholars have long asserted November 25, 2348 to be the day of the Great Deluge, or Flood.

After the Great Flood the Hebrew Noah landed his ark on the summit of the Ararat mountain range - the highest part of the Caucasus, where grapes originated. He alighted from the ark, planted a vineyard and got drunk on some of its wine.

After the great flood it is said that Noah makes a pudding with all the food remaining on board: beans, chickpeas, dried fruits, nuts, rice and wheat.

The name Noah means 'rest'.

A group of fourth year master's students from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leicester calculated that Noah's ark, built to accommodate at least two of every animal species, would have floated using the dimensions ordained in the Bible.

Various replicas of the Ark exist. The one at Johan's Ark in Dordrecht, Netherlands is the only full-scale Ark interpretation that is actually floating and mobile.

Replica of Noah's Ark in Dordrecht, Netherlands. By Ceinturion - Wikipedia


Other people groups recount similar stories such as the Babylonian flood tale from the Epic of Gilgameash.

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.

Noah, or Nug, is one of the main prophets of Islam. In the Quran, his wife is said to drown in the flood.

An Islamic depiction of Noah in a 16th-century Mughal miniature.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Richard Nixon


Richard Nixon was born on January 9, 1913 in Yorba Linda, California to Francis "Frank" Anthony Nixon and Hannah Milhous Nixon.

He was named after the medieval English king Richard the Lionheart.

The Nixon family ranch failed in 1922, and the family moved to Whittier, California where Frank Nixon opened a grocery store and gas station.

His mother was a devout Quaker and Richard's upbringing was marked by Quaker observances of the time, such as refraining from alcohol, dancing, and swearing.

Herbert Hoover was the only other United States President to belong to the Quaker faith.

Richard had four brothers: Harold (1909–33), Donald (1914–87), Arthur (1918–25), and Edward (born 1930).

Two of his brothers died of tuberculosis and at the age of twelve, Richard was found to have a spot on his lung. Eventually, the spot was found to be scar tissue from an early bout of pneumonia.

He went to local public schools. Richard graduated from Whittier High third in his class of 207 students in 1930.

Nixon at Whittier High School in 1930.

He attended Whittier College from 1930-34 and graduated with a history degree.

Nixon graduated from Duke University School of Law in 1937, returning to California to practice law.


Nixon began practicing law in 1937. He tried his hand at owning a business which failed.

He served in the United States Navy during World War II, rising to become a lieutenant commander before resigning in March 1946.


Richard Nixon first entered politics after  answering a newspaper ad from a wealthy Republican group of businessmen seeking a new inexperienced candidate to finance and support.

In 1947, Nixon was elected a U.S. Representative. Then, in 1950 he became a U.S. Senator.

Nixon campaigns for the Senate in 1950

When in the House, he was a member of House Un-American Activities Commission, a group of Congressmen that tried to expose people in the United States who might have been Communists.

Nixon's pursuit of the Hiss Case established his reputation as a leading anti-communist, and elevated him to national prominence.

He served in that capacity until being elected Vice President under Dwight Eisenhower in 1953.

People accused Nixon of receiving illegal money contributions to his Republican vice-presidency campaign. On September 23, 1952, in one of the first political uses of television to appeal directly to the populace, Richard Nixon delivered the "Checkers speech", refuting accusations of improprieties with contributions to his campaign. Nixon said the family Cocker Spaniel, Checkers ,was the only gift he'd received "The kids love that dog, and I want to say right now that regardless of what they say, we're going to keep it," he declared.

Nixon served for eight years as vice president, from 1953 to 1961.

Nixon waged an unsuccessful presidential campaign in 1960, narrowly losing to John F. Kennedy.
Nixon's presidential campaign wasn't helped by his appearance during their TV debates. Whilst Kennedy looked tanned and good-looking, Nixon unwisely refused to use any TV make up and looked tired and haggard in comparison, which didn't help his cause.

 In 1962, Nixon lost the election for governor of California to Pat Brown. After losing, Nixon said "You won't have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore", leading many experts to say that Nixon's political career was over.


In 1968, Richard Nixon became the Republican candidate for President with Spiro Agnew as his Vice President. He defeated Democrat Hubert Humphrey and American Independent George Wallace. Nixon received 43% of the popular vote and 301 electoral votes.

Richard Nixon chose the Wilson desk as his Oval Office desk because he believed it was used by Woodrow Wilson, but it was actually used by Henry Wilson, Vice President under Ulysses S. Grant.

Richard M. Nixon

Nixon's visit to the People's Republic of China in 1972 opened diplomatic relations between the two nations.

Nixon initially escalated the Vietnam War, but ended US involvement in 1973.

Richard Nixon was the first person to make a phone call to the moon, when he spoke with Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

Though he presided over Apollo 11, he scaled back manned space exploration.

In 1972, Nixon was the obvious choice for renomination with Agnew as his running mate again. He was opposed by Democrat George McGovern. He won with 61% of the vote and 520 electoral votes.

Richard Nixon is the only person in US history to be elected Vice President twice and President twice.

A scandal called "Watergate" in which Nixon attempted to protect men ordered to burglarize the Democratic National Headquarters cost him much of his political support in his second term. On August 8, 1974, Richard Nixon announced he was resigning — the first USA President to do so — in the wake of the Watergate scandal.

Nixon announces the release of edited transcripts of the Watergate tapes, April 29, 1974.

Richard Nixon was the first President to visit all 50 states.

Richard Millhouse Nixon was the first US president whose name contains all the letters from the word "criminal." The second was William Jefferson Clinton.


Richard Nixon was an excellent poker player. He was so good that his first campaign for the House of Representatives was mostly funded by $,6,000 poker winnings from his time in the navy.

Nixon was an accomplished pianist. He wrote his own concerto, aptly titled "Richard Nixon Piano Concerto #1," which he played on primetime TV's Jack Paar Program in 1963.

Nixon showcased his pianist skills at other various events including playing "God Bless America" on the Grand Ole Opry stage and accompanying singer Pearl Bailey in a performance at the White House.

Richard Nixon first became acquainted with red haired Pat Ryan at a Little Theater group when they were cast together in The Dark Tower. He asked Pat Ryan to marry him the first night they went out.

Nixon courted the redhead he called his "wild Irish Gypsy" for two years and they married at the Mission Inn in Riverside, California, on June 21, 1940.

They had two daughters, Patricia, known as Tricia, and Julie.

Nixon was very fond of his wife's home-made meatloaf and had a liking for the curious combination of cottage cheese and ketchup.

Although Pat Nixon was a Methodist and Richard Nixon was a Quaker, they attended whichever Protestant Church was nearest to their home, especially after moving to Washington.

Photo of First Lady Pat Nixon

During his time at the White House Nixon had as pets Vicky, a French poodle, Pasha a terrier, and King Timahoe, an Irish setter.


After Richard Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974, he retired to San Clemente, California.

In 1974, Nixon was pardoned by President Gerald Ford.

After his downfall, Nixon submitted to a series of interviews by David Frost, which later became a play and movie, Frost/Nixon.

In retirement, Nixon's work as an elder statesman, authoring several books and undertaking many foreign trips, helped to rehabilitate his public image.

Nixon died of a stroke on April 22, 1994 ten months after his wife Pat passed away.

Nixon's funeral took place on April 27, 1994 in Yorba Linda, California. In attendance were current President Bill Clinton and former Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush,  all with their wives.

Five U.S. presidents  attend the funeral of Richard Nixon

Wednesday, 28 September 2016


Nitrogen is a common element in the universe, estimated at about seventh in total abundance in the Milky Way and the Solar System.

Only one-fifth of the Earth's air is oxygen. Most of the rest is nitrogen.

Nitrogen was discovered by Scottish physician Daniel Rutherford (November 3, 1749 – December 15, 1819) in 1772, who called it noxious gas or fixed gas.

Scan of an old picture of Daniel Rutherford

Rutherford was the uncle of the novelist Sir Walter Scott.

The English word nitrogen entered the language in 1794. from the French nitrogène, coined in 1790 by French chemist Jean-Antoine Chaptal from the French nitre (potassium nitrate) and gène, (producing). Chaptal's meaning was that nitrogen gas is the essential part of nitric acid, which in turn was produced from niter.

In 1910, English physicist Lord Rayleigh found out that when a spark was passed through nitrogen, it made a reactive form of the element. This nitrogen reacted with many metals and compounds, and produced explosive mercury nitride when reacted with quicksilver.

The extra air in potato chip bags that we whine about, really serves a purpose. It's nitrogen and avoids the chips from breaking.

Nitrogen becomes liquid at -197c (-323f). Liquid nitrogen has long been used to treat verrucas and warts but scientists recently discovered that covering them with duct tape for two months is more effective than six freezing treatments.

Liquid Nitrogen By Cory Doctorow aka gruntzoki on Flickr Wikipedia

It's okay to urinate in the ocean, since 95% of urine is water and the nitrogen in urea is used to feed ocean plants.

We cannot breathe pure nitrogen by itself, because it does not have the oxygen that we need to live. Anyone that inhales pure nitrogen will just pass out.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016


Nintendo Koppai (Later Nintendo Company, Limited) was founded on September 23 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi to produce and market the playing card game Hanafuda.

No one, including late Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi, knows what the name "Nintendo" means.

Former headquarters plate, from when Nintendo was solely a playing card company

Nintendo's first electronic product was a children's walkie-talkie set, which they sold in the mid 1960s. Built in conjunction with Sharp, the package included two handsets. The Nintendo Companion wasn't produced in large numbers, making it very rare today.

The Love Tester, created in 1969, was the first product by Nintendo to use real electronic components.

Nintendo's first venture into the video gaming industry was securing rights to distribute the Magnavox Odyssey video game console in Japan in 1974.

Nintendo began to produce its own hardware in 1977, with the Color TV-Game home video game consoles. Four versions of these consoles were produced, each including several variations of a single game.

The first Nintendo console had over twice the computing power of the first lunar lander.

Game & Watch was a line of handheld electronic games produced by Nintendo from 1980 to 1991. Each Game & Watch featured a single game to be played on an LCD screen in addition to a clock, an alarm, or both. It was the earliest Nintendo product to garner major success.

Ball, the first title of the Game & Watch series.By ThePViana -Wikipedia

Nintendo released the arcade game Donkey Kong on July 9, 1981 which featured the debut of Mario, one of the most famous characters in video game history.

Japanese video game designer and producer Shigeru Miyamoto believed "donkey" meant "stupid" in English, and assumed the name Donkey Kong would convey the sense "stupid ape" to an American audience. When he suggested this name to Nintendo of America, he was laughed at, but the name stuck.

Nintendo trademarked the phrase, "It's on like Donkey Kong."

In 1982, Universal Studios sued Nintendo on the grounds that Donkey Kong was an exact copy of Universal-alleged owned King Kong. The judge ruled that Universal acted in bad faith by threatening Nintendo's licensees and it had no right over King Kong due to being in public domain.

By original photo: Joshua Driggs (ZapWizard Wikipedia)

Mario was named after the Italian landlord of Nintendo’s U.S. office, Mario Segale, to whom he bore a striking resemblance.

Nintendo's Mario has held at least 20 different jobs besides plumber, including Olympic athlete, and typing instructor. In Mario's first appearance in Donkey Kong, he was portrayed as a carpenter.

The Thwomps and Whomps of the Mario universe were inspired by Japanese nurikabe spirits that are said to appear to block a traveler’s way.

Shigeru Miyamoto—maker of Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong—is not allowed to cycle to work because his safety is too important to Nintendo.

Gameplay of Donkey Kong in the first level, with Mario holding a hammer.Wikipedia

The 8-bit handheld video game Game Boy device was developed and manufactured by Nintendo. It was first released in Japan on April 21, 1989 and in the rest of the world later in the year.

The Nintendo character Kirby first appeared in 1992 in Kirby's Dream Land for the Game Boy. He was named after John Kirby, a lawyer who successfully defended Nintendo when Universal sued them for stealing the idea of Donkey Kong from the King Kong franchise.

While developing the 1994 hit game Donkey Kong Country, programmers found that real-life gorillas moved too slow for a fast-paced game. Instead, Donkey Kong's movements were based off a horse's gallop.

The GameCube was released in 2001, in Japan and North America, and in 2002 worldwide. The sixth-generation console it was the successor to the Nintendo 64.

The GameCube was Nintendo's first home console to use optical discs as a primary storage medium.

The Gamecube was the first major console in Nintendo's history to not launch with a game where Mario is the protagonist.
The GameCube 
The Wii home video game console released was first released by Nintendo in North America on November 19, 2006. It sold at $249.99.

It uses a controller, called the Wii Remote, that is very different from the controllers of other video game consoles. It can be held with just one hand, and uses technology that senses the player's movements.

Nintendo's stock skyrocketed when Pokémon Go was released in July 2016, until investors realized Nintendo didn't make the game. Stock plummeted resulting in $6.4 billion loss in value.

Nintendo's spelling of "Wii" (with two lower-case "i" characters) is intended to resemble two people standing side-by-side.

Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom is a big fan of Wii. After watching her grandson play it during Christmas one year, she asked if she could have a go. Apparently she was a "natural" at Wii Bowling, and she became quite fond of the console.

As of 31 March 2016, Nintendo reports sales of 101.63 million Wii hardware units and 914.28 million Wii software units worldwide, making it Nintendo's best-selling home video game console.
Wii with Wii Remote

Nintendo banked so much money during its successful run that it could lose $250 million every year and still survive until 2052.

Nintendo coats their Switch game cartridges with denatonium benzoate (a non-toxic agent) to cause a bitter taste as a deterrent for children putting the games in their mouth.

Nintendo's head office is located in Minami-ku, Kyoto, Japan.

Monday, 26 September 2016


At 4,145 miles, the Nile River is the longest in the world.

The Nile got its name from the Greek word ‘Neilos’, which means ‘valley’.

The River Nile has fed waterways to maintain life in Egypt since the earliest times. By 3000 BC aided by advances in irrigation techniques, the Nile's floodwaters were ensuring that the land along its banks was very fertile. The Ancient Egyptians cultivated and traded wheat, flax, papyrus and other crops around the river.

Ancient Egyptians believed that the Nile was a causeway from life to death to afterlife as they thought people’s spirit traveled down the Nile after they perished.

In Ancient Egypt, the tax system was linked to water levels of the River Nile. It was used to predict farmers' wealth each year.

Despite many years of speculation, the source of the river still remains a mystery. Burundi, Uganda and Rwanda have been touted as possible sources.

The River Nile flows north.

The river and its basin supports half of Egypt's 80 million population as it is heavily used for irrigation for farming and fishing.

Rover Nile at Aswan, Egypt

It is popular with white water rafters and adventure travelers in Uganda where the Nile becomes a roaring rush of water.

People who live near the River Nile consider flooding to be a blessing as the flooding of the river means that crops and riverbeds can finally be cultivated after a long dry spell.


Sunday, 25 September 2016

Nike, Inc.


Nike was founded on January 25, 1964 by University of Oregon track athlete Phil Knight and his celebrated track and field coach Bill Bowerman.

When Nike was founded, it was known as Blue Ribbon Sports and operated as a distributor for Japanese shoe maker Onitsuka Tiger (now ASICS),

The first Nike store opened under the moniker Blue Ribbon Sports in Santa Monica, California, in 1967.

In 1971 Blue Ribbon decided it wanted a name change. Knight wanted to call the company Dimension 6, while others favored Bengal. Employee Jeff Johnson preferred Nike, a name which had come to him in his sleep.

Blue Ribbon officially became Nike, Inc. on May 30, 1971. They decided on their new name in honor of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, either in war or in an athletic contest. She is the frequent subject of sculpture, often shown as a winged figure, as in Nike of Samothrace.

The Nike "swoosh" logo was created in 1971 by a graphic design student Carolyn Davidson and was purchased by Blue Ribbon for $35. The intention was to convey motion in its design. The Swoosh was first used by Nike on June 18, 1971.

A waffle iron was behind Nike's first major innovation; the soles on one of Nike's first shoes were made using Bowerman's wife's waffle iron in 1974, after Bowerman was inspired at the breakfast table.

Nike has been criticized for contracting with factories (known as Nike sweatshops) in countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Pakistan. A 1997 report from America revealed that factories in Vietnam making Nike brand shoes paid their workers an average of only $US1.60 per day and that working conditions are appalling.

During the 1990s, Nike faced criticism for the use of child labor in Cambodia and Pakistan in factories it contracted to manufacture soccer balls.

In 1998 a group of Californian lawyers filed a lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court accusing Nike of wilfully misleading the American public about working conditions in the Asian factories producing the footwear. Responding to charges that it exploits its Asian employees, Nike Inc., announced improved working conditions for the 500,000 people who at the time made its products. Nike added it would  raise the minimum age of footwear and clothing workers to 18 and 16 respectively.

Nike's first "Just Do It" advertisement debuted on July 1, 1988. Nike ad agency executive Dan Wieden credits the inspiration for the slogan as being the last words spoken by convicted murderer Gary Gilmore before being shot to death by a firing squad in Utah in 1977.


Nike is the world's biggest brand of sports shoes, clothes and equipment.

Nike has approximately 62,600 employees worldwide as of 2015.

Nike's World Headquarters are in Beaverton, Oregon.

Nike sells its products under its own name as well as Nike Golf, Nike Pro, Nike+, Air Jordan, and Team Starter.

Michael Jordan makes more money from Nike annually than all of the Nike factory workers in Malaysia combined.

A pair of Nike Air Jordan I basketball shoes. By Trios2007 - Wikipedia

Nike also owns the brands Bauer, Cole Haan, Hurley International, and Converse.

The world's largest Nike store is in Oxford Street, London; it's got three floors of athletic apparel and measures about 42,000 square feet.

Sources Europress Encyclopedia,,

Saturday, 24 September 2016


Nihilism is a negative existentialist philosophy that believes in ultimate nothingness –life having no intrinsic meaning or value

The term was coined by Obereit in 1787 and popularized by the German theologian Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (January 25, 1743 – March 10, 1819), who promoted it as the prime fault of Enlightenment thought.

Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi

Nihilism was the basis of much revolutionary terrorism in 19th century Russia. Dostoyevsky was a member of a nihilist group in his 20s and served ten years in exile as a consequence.

 Its widespread usage began with the 1862 novel Fathers and Sons by the Russian author Ivan Turgenev. Bazarov, the hero of his story, was a nihilist.

The term was subsequently adopted in Russia by the Nihilist anarchist movement who protested against conventional and established values. According to the Online Etymological Dictionary, they called themselves nihilists because" nothing that then existed found favor in their eyes".

Czar Alexander II was assassinated on March 13, 1881 by bombs thrown beneath his carriage in St Petersburg by Nihilists. His death resulted in the crushing of the nihilist movement.

The assassination of Alexander II, drawing by G. Broling, 1881

Nihilism is often associated with the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche because he said that morals were invented. But in his writings, Nietzsche said that people needed to create their own morals to get over nihilism.

The Joker is portrayed as a nihilist in the Batman movie The Dark Knight, describing himself as "an Agent of Chaos"


Friday, 23 September 2016

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820 into a rich, upper-class, well-connected British family at the Villa Colombaia, near the Porta Romana, in Florence, Italy. She was named after the city of her birth.

Her elder sister, Frances Parthenope Nightingale, was born in Parthenopolis, a region of Naples.

Florence's parents were William Edward Nightingale, born William Edward Shore (1794–1874) and Frances ("Fanny") Nightingale née Smith (1789–1880).

In 1821 The Nightingale family returned to England and tried to settle down in Florence's father's inherited property in Derbyshire. The Derby county property had an active lead smelter (1760-1935) which her father managed and owned.

William Nightingale had a new house built for the family in the village of Lea near Cromford, Derbyshire and the family lived there until 1823. The home was called Lea Hurst and served as a summer home to the Nightingales for the rest of Florence's life.

In 1825 The Nightingales moved to a 14 bedroomed mansion named Embley Park in the parish of Wellow, in Hampshire. It came in a 3,700-acre estate. This became the family's main home with Lea Hurst as a summer home.

Florence was educated largely by her father. She had exhibited a gift for mathematics from an early age, and excelled in the subject under the tutorship of her father.


Florence had a strong desire to devote her life to the service of others from her late teens but at first she was respectful of her family's opposition to her working as a nurse, only announcing her decision to enter the field in 1844.

Young Florence Nightingale

When Florence announced that she wanted to work and train at nearby Salisbury Infirmary her parents were horrified, as a respectable lady did not enter in hospital work. However Florence was determined, she felt she was called by God to serve him in this manner.

After her parents refused her request to study nursing at a hospital, Florence was persuaded to study parliamentary reports. Within three years she was an expert on public health and hospitals.

In 1847 Florence helped to nurse victims of a cholera epidemic at a Middlesex hospital.

At the age of 30 she went first to Paris, then to the Kaiserwerth Institute, near Dusseldorf, a hospital in Germany to learn nursing.

In 1853 Florence went into residence in her first "situation" as superintendent of An Establishment for Gentlewomen During Illness at no. 1 Upper Harley Street, London.

That same year, Florence's father gives her a yearly allowance of £500 ($40,000-50,000 by today's standards.)


In 1854 Florence Nightingale took a team of nurses to Scutari in the Crimea, as a result of Times' War Correspondent, William Russell's scaving reports of the conditions. There she worked up to twenty hours a day; and succeeded, despite the opposition of the military leadership, in radically improving the hospital's condition. She brought the death rate down twenty times within a space of a few months.

Florence spent £30,000 raised by the Times in the Constantinople bazaars on clothes and food for the British army.

When she first arrived in the Crimea, Florence traveled on horseback to make her inspections, she then transferred to a mule cart, and was reported to have escaped serious injury when it was toppled in an accident. Following this episode she used a solid Russian-built carriage, with waterproof hood and curtains.

Her nurses, in addition to their pay of 12 shillings, get a pint of port for dinner and a glass of sherry for supper.

Florence Nightingale's own trademark "look" was a simple black bodice and matching skirt with non-matching cuffs and collar of white lace.

Florence walked around with a linen Turkish army lantern, which was a candle inside a collapsible shade, crinkled like a Chinese lantern.

The Lady with the Lamp. Reproduction of a painting of Nightingale by Henrietta Rae, 1891.

By 1856 The Crimean War had ended and 19,600 Britons had died of which 15,700 were due to disease. The British Army lost ten times more troops to dysentery than to battle wounds. However by the end of the war, Florence Nightingale had succeeded in reducing the Crimean War Hospital death rate from 42% to 2%.

Florence was a heroine to the troops and public back home. She was the subject of songs and poems including the famous poem in which Henry Wadsworth Longfellow coined the term "lady with the lamp".


On returning home Florence threw herself into a campaign to improve British army health and living conditions.

Florence was fascinated by statistics, mortality rates and other data relevant to her works. She included a lot of statistical input in her reports and was a pioneer in the visual presentation of information.

"Diagram of the causes of mortality in the army in the East" by Florence Nightingale.
The nursing pioneer invented a graph that she called the coxcomb or polar area chart to depict changing patient outcomes in the military field hospital she managed. Florence made extensive use of this predecessor to the pie chart to present reports on the nature and magnitude of the conditions of medical care in the Crimean War to MPs and civil servants who would have been unlikely to read or understand traditional statistical reports. This had never been done before and is common practice now. As such, she was a pioneer in the visual presentation of information.

Florence eventually became a member of the Institute of Statisticians.

By 1859, Florence had £45,000 at her disposal from the Nightingale Fund to set up the Nightingale Training School (now called the Nightingale School of Nursing) at St Thomas' Hospital.

Nightingale Training School for Nurses opened at St. Thomas Infirmary on July 9, 1860 with Mrs. Wardroper as its head. Florence paid very close attention to every detail

Florence Nightingale (middle) in 1886 with her graduating class of nurses from St Thomas'

Three years after Crimea, her Notes on Nursing was published in 1859. A slim 136-page book that served as the cornerstone of the curriculum at the Nightingale School and other nursing schools established, Notes on Nursing also sold well to the general reading public and is considered as a classic introduction to nursing.

Notes on Nursing was expanded and published again in 1860 and in 1861.

The only "wage" she ever earned in her life was the many royalties she received from her Notes on Nursing.

In her life time Florence never kept within her budget and relied on her father and others helped pay for her very expensive projects and good works.

Florence disliked the fame her work bought her. She never made a public statement and was never seen in public.

"Once or twice a year perhaps but nobody could be quite certain, in deadly secrecy, she went out for a drive in the park, unrecognised, the living legend flitted for a moment before the public gaze." (Lytton Strachey Eminent Victorians)


Florence was tall, with  chestnut colored hair. As a young woman, Nightingale was described as attractive, slender and graceful.

Three Quarter length portrait of Florence Nightingale

She gave her name to a flannel scarf with sleeves for the benefit of invalids sitting up in bed, known as a Nightingale.

Florence was rousing, warm and private .While her demeanor was often severe, she was said to be very charming and possess a radiant smile.

The Times said in her 1910 obituary: “Her zeal, her devotion and her perseverance would yield to no rebuff and to no difficulty”.


Florence was raised as a Unitarian and was a devout Christian. On February 7, 1837 the 16-year-old heard the voice of God telling her that she had a mission. Quite what that mission entailed at that stage she didn't know.

Florence came to realize that God was calling her to devote her life to the service of others. She came to realize it was to be in the form of nursing, but acknowledged the difficulties this entailed in the climate of her era where the respectable lady's place was thought to be at home.

Painting of Nightingale by Augustus Egg, c. 1840s

In 1850, she visited the Lutheran religious community at Kaiserswerth-am-Rhein in Germany, where she observed Pastor Theodor Fliedner and the deaconesses working for the sick and the deprived.


In 1837, the 17-year-old Florence Nightingale met and fell in love with her first cousin, John Smithurst. However, their parents forbid them to marry due to their family connection. The heartbroken Smithurst, (a devout Christian) mooched off to Canada to be a missionary to the Indians.

12 years later Smithurst returned and proposed but both sets of parents again refused so he returned to Canada frustrated.

Her most persistent suitor was the politician and poet Richard Monckton Milnes, 1st Baron Houghton, but after a nine-year courtship she rejected him against her mother's wishes. Florence concluded that she could not have "work" of her own if she chose to follow her heart into this society marriage. Marriage would destroy her chance of serving God's call.

Baron Houghton

Milnes remained one of  Florence's staunchest supporters throughout her career.

By 1847, Florence was approaching a mental breakdown precipitated by a continuing crisis of her relationship with Milnes. Her friends, the Bracebridges took her to Rome with them.

While in Rome, Florence met Sidney Herbert, a brilliant politician who had been Secretary at War (1845-46), a position he would hold again (1852-1854) during the Crimean War. Herbert was already married but he and Nightingale were immediately attracted to each other and they became life-long close friends. Herbert was instrumental in facilitating her pioneering work in Crimea and in the field of nursing, and Nightingale became a key adviser to Herbert in his political career.

In 1857 Sir Harry Verney 2nd Baronet, an MP for Buckingham, proposed to Florence, but she declined. He then proposed to Parthenope, who accepted, and they married on June 24, 1858.


Florence Nightingale advised nurses that a little light music soothed the sick and restored the soul. In her Notes On Nursing Florence wrote that the human voice can be therapeutic on its own, but when a patient is unable to speak, frightened, or injured, music can make an immediate connection with the emotions they cannot put into words.

A recording of Florence Nightingale speaking was made on July 30, 1890 to raise money for the impoverished veterans of the Charge of the Light Brigade.

During the early 1950s Florence had a pet owl called "Athena" who she carried in her apron pocket.

Athena, can be seen today at London’s Florence Nightingale Museum.

In her life time Florence owned around 60 cats including large Persian moggies called Bismarck, Disraeli and Gladstone, and she refused to travel without taking them.


On her return from the Crimea Florence  took an hotel room in London which became the centre for her campaigning.

At the time of the 1861 census she was living at the Burlington hotel in Piccadilly, London.

In 1865 Florence Nightingale moved to 10 South Street, Park Lane where she lived for the rest of her life.


In the Crimea, Florence suffered from Crimean fever which she possibly contacted from drinking contaminated goat's milk. She nearly died, but refused to return to England.

On returning home the "lady of the lamp" was convinced that she had terminal heart disease. Prostate and apparently helpless on a couch in her London home, she conducted a huge correspondence and received many dignities, ambassadors and politicians. In reality she probably had been weakened by the Crimean fever she'd contacted.

By 1896 Florence was confined to her bedroom permanently.


Florence died of heart failure on August 13, 1910. The offer of burial in Westminster Abbey was declined by her relatives, and she is buried in the graveyard at St. Margaret Church in East Wellow, England, next to her parents.

The grave of Florence Nightingale in the churchyard of St Margaret's Church. By,

Six British army sergeants bore her coffin to the family group grave in St Margaret's churchyard.

'Florence Nightingale' is an anagram of 'Flit on, cheering angel' or 'Going? Then clean rifle.' or ‘Reflecting on healing’ or ‘No lice, filth, gangrene’.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Night of the Long Knives

The Night of the Long Knives is a descriptive phrase that was applied to the night of June 30 - July 1, 1934 when Hitler, assisted by Heinrich Himmler's SS, carried out a series of political murders, executing at least 85 people. Many of those killed were leaders of the SA, the paramilitary Brownshirts. The best-known victim was Ernst Röhm, the SA's leader and one of Hitler's longtime supporters and allies.

Ernst Röhm with Kurt Daluege and Himmler

The term has its antecedents. The apocryphal treacherous killing of native British chieftains by Anglo-Saxon mercenaries on Salisbury Plain in AD 472 was named "The Treachery of the Long Knives" by Geoffrey of Monmouth and became a prominent symbol of Saxon betrayal.

The term Night of the Long Knives is now applied to any treacherous massacre or betrayal. For instance, in July 1962 UK Prime Minister Harold Macmillan shocked the nation by sacking seven ministers in what became known as the 'Night of the Long Knives'.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016



In the 16th century, Spanish and Portuguese explorers were the first Europeans to begin significant, direct trade with peoples of the land now called Nigeria, at the port they named Lagos.

Coastal trade with Europeans also marked the beginnings of the Atlantic slave trade. Many people from modern-day Nigeria were taken away and turned into slaves by Europeans, and sent to work in the Americas.

With rising anti-slavery sentiment at home and changing economic realities, Great Britain outlawed the international slave trade in 1807.

In Nigeria the Reverend Samuel Crowther, a former slave, became the first black Anglican bishop in 1865. Crowther was also leader of the Niger Mission whose employees were all African as he believed that the evangelization of inland Africa must be carried out by Africans rather than Europeans.

The British conquest of Nigeria was completed in 1904. 500,000 square miles was controlled by the U.K.

Nigeria gained independence from the United Kingdom as a Commonwealth Realm on October 1, 1960.

The flag of Nigeria was first officially hoisted on October 1, 1960. The two green stripes represent Nigeria's natural wealth, while the white band represents peace.

The former flag of Nigeria features a Jewish Star of David.

Former UK Prime Minister Sir John Major lost one of his kneecaps in the late Sixties during a car crash in Nigeria, where he was working for the Standard Chartered bank.

Nigeria was plunged into a civil war for 30 months between 1967 and 1970. The conflict was caused by the attempted secession of the southeastern provinces of Nigeria as the self-proclaimed Republic of Biafra by the Christian Igbo people.

The Republic of Biafra in June 1967, when it declared its independence. By Eric Gaba 
The Civil War kicked off when the official Nigerian government attacked Biafra on July 6, 1967 at Garkem. The conflict, with a long siege of Biafra and its isolation from trade and supplies, ended on January 15, 1970.

It was the first modern war between black Africans and left the Nigerian economy greatly weakened.

In 1969, Brazilian soccer star Pelé’s visit to Nigeria caused a 48-hour ceasefire in their civil war.

John Lennon returned his MBE to Buckingham Palace in November 1969, partly in protest at Britain’s involvement in the Biafran war in Nigeria.

Since 2002, Nigeria has seen sectarian violence by Boko Haram, an Islamist movement that seeks to abolish the secular system of government and establish Sharia law in the country.

276 schoolgirls were abducted by Islamists Boko Haram (meaning ‘Western education is forbidden’) in Chibok, Nigeria on April 14, 2014.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan estimated in May 2014 that Boko Haram attacks left at least 12,000 people dead and 8,000 people crippled.

In May 2014 Benin, CameroonChad and Niger joined Nigeria in a united effort to combat Boko Haram in the aftermath of the 2014 Chibok kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls. However, despite the international campaign, by January 2018 13 girls were presumed dead and 112 were still missing

Nigerian states that implement some form of sharia law (in green) By Bohr -

As many as 737,000 Nigerians were forced to flee their homes because of Boko Haram in 2015 alone.


Nigeria has a population of 182,202,000, which is more than any other country in Africa and the seventh most populous country in the world.

On current trends, by 2050 Nigeria will account for almost 10% of all births in the world, and its population would have overtaken that of the US, despite being one-tenth the size of America.

Nigeria has the highest rate of twin births in the world.

Nigeria is viewed as a multinational state, as it is inhabited by over 500 ethnic groups, of which the three largest are the Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba

In Nigeria, there are almost equal amounts of Muslims and Christians. Most of the Christians live in the south, and most of the Muslims live in the north.

A goat was arrested in Nigeria in 2009 after being taken to the police and accused of being an armed robber who used black magic to transform himself into a goat after trying to steal a car.

It is estimated that the entire power supply of Nigeria generates only enough electricity to power a single toaster for every 44 people.

Association football is Nigeria's national sport. The national team won the African Cup of Nations in 1980, 1994 and 2013. The country also won the gold medal for football in the 1996 Summer Olympics.

Nigeria has had a huge role in the development of various genres of African music, including Afrobeat, which fuses native rhythms with jazz, highlife music and chanted vocals.

The most famous Afro-beat performer was the controversial Nigerian singer-saxophonist Fela Anikulapo Kuti, whose huge band sometimes included his 27 wives. His political songs led to his spending much time in jail.

The Nigerian film industry, or Nollywood, is second largest in the world in terms of numbers of movies produced.

Cassava is the third largest source of food carbohydrates in the tropics, after rice and maize. Nigeria is the world's largest producer of cassava.

About 60% of Nigerians work in the agricultural sector.

A farmers market in Nigeria.
Cocoa is the leading non-oil foreign exchange earner. Rubber is the second-largest non-oil foreign exchange earner.

The largest Internet café is ChamsCity Digital Mall in Abuja, Nigeria, offering 1,027 computer terminals.


Niger was part of ancient and medieval African empires. The nomadic Tauregs and other groups established themselves in this area.

European explorers reached the area in the late 19th century. French military efforts to colonize Niger was intensified in the first two decades of the 20th century after the defeat of Tuareg fighters. By 1922, all resistance to colonial rule was eliminated and Niger became a French colony.

Niger officially gained independence from France on August 3, 1960 as part of the decolonization of the French Community.

The flag of Niger has been the national symbol of the West African Republic of Niger since November 23, 1959, eight and a half months prior to its formal independence from France. It uses the national colors of orange, white and green, in equal horizontal bands, with an orange rondel in the center.

Colonel Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara deposed the first democratically elected president of Niger, Mahamane Ousmane, in a military coup on January 27, 1996. Ousmane continued to run for president in each election after his ouster, and was president of the National Assembly from December 1999 to May 2009.

Boxer Issake Dabore was the first Nigerien person to compete at the Olympics and the first Nigerien to win an Olympic medal. On 1972 Dabore won a bronze medal in the men's light-welterweight contest.

Niger gets its name from the Niger River.

Niger covers a land area of 489,678 square miles (almost 1,270,000 km2), making it the largest country in West Africa, with over 80 percent of its land area covered by the Sahara Desert.

A map of Niger

The highest point is Mont Idoukal-n-Taghès in the Aïr Mountains at 2,022 m (6,634 ft).

Niger is consistently one of the lowest-ranked in the United Nations' Human Development Index (HDI); it was ranked last at 188th for 2014.

French, inherited from the colonial period, is the official language. It is spoken mainly as a second language by people who have received a formal western education and serves as the administrative language.

According to the CIA World Factbook, Niger has the lowest adult literacy rate at only 19.1 per cent.

A primary classroom in Niger.

Islam is the most dominant religion, practiced by 80% of the population.

Worldwide, the highest fertility rate is in Niger, where women give birth to an average of 7.58 children.

Niger had most reduced HIV incidence between 2001 and 2013 in Africa, with a 95% cut.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Friedrich Nietzsche


Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was born on October 15, 1844 at Röcken (near Lützen), Saxony, Prussia.

He was born on the 49th birthday of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia and was thus named after him.

Friedrich's father was a country Lutheran clergyman and his family came from a long line of Protestant pastors.

His father died when Friedrich was four of softening of the brain.

In 1850 Friedrich's mother moved the family to Naumburg, where he lived for the next eight years before heading off to school. Friedrich was now the only male in the house, living with his mother, his grandmother, two paternal aunts, and his sister Elisabeth.

A bright and timid child, he was particularly pious and prim. For instance because the rules forbade children to run to school or jump on the way home, young Friedrich would walk sedately back to his house even when it was raining.

Friedrich was offered a scholarship to study at the internationally recognized Schulpforta in 1858. A boarding school run on strict lines, boys were given intensive tuition in Greek and Latin there and taught self-sacrifice to the community.

Nietzsche in 1861

A brilliant Bible student, in his youth Friedich was intent on following his father’s footsteps as a Lutheran pastor. His adolescent classmates had even ridiculed him as “little pastor”.

After graduating from Schulpforta in September 1864, Nietzsche commenced studies in theology and classical philology at the University of Bonn with hope of becoming a minister.

Nietzsche subsequently concentrated on studying philology under Professor Friedrich Wilhelm Ritschl, whom he followed to the University of Leipzig in 1865. He was later awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Leipzig with Ritschl's support.


A brilliant student, Nietzsche received an offer to become professor of classical philology at the University of Basel in Switzerland. He was only 24 years old and had not yet received a teaching certificate.

When the Franco-Prussian war erupted in 1870, Nietzsche left Basel and, being disqualified for other services due to his citizenship status, volunteered as a medical orderly on active duty.

In 1879, Nietzsche retired from his position at Basel due to his continued poor health.

Friedrich Nietzsche (circa 1875).


Despite many of his ancestors having been Protestant clergyman, and having had a "vision of God in his Glory" at the age of 12, Nietzsche completely lost his faith. He regarded himself as a prophet of the death of God and spokesman for the liberated man. All values and morals based on Christian thought, he claimed, must be reappraised and if necessary thrown out. His strong writing and radical ideas caused much outrage.

Nietzsche wrote: "I call Christianity the one great curse, the one enormous and inner most perversion, the one great instinct of revenge for which no means are too venomous, too underhand, too underground and too petty- I call it the one immortal blemish of mankind."

Nietzsche prophesied the 20th Century would be the bloodiest of all centuries and a universal madness would break out.


In 1883 Friedrich Nietzsche wrote a philosophical text Thus Sprake Zarathustra, in which he outlined the doctrines of "superman". In this controversial work, Nietzsche showed his disdain for such Christian virtues as selflessness and compassion and stressed the importance of living for now rather than an 'imaginary' afterlife.

Nietzsche invented the term "Ubermensch" meaning "Superman". This later developed into compounds such as superwoman super tax etc.

Richard Strauss' symphonic poem "Also Sprach Zarathustra," which was famously used in 2001 Space Odyssey, was based on Nietzsche s work.


Nietzsche never married and was loveless most of his life. On one occasion he persuaded a friend to propose for him for a ladies hand... she turned him down.

Nietzsche fell for the 21-year-old Lou Salomé in 1882. He proposed to her three times and was rejected each time. He ended up as a platonic partner of a ménage à trois with Lou Salomé and his friend Paul Rée. When the menage dissolved he left in a rage.

Lou Salomé, Paul Ree and Friedrich Nietzsche.

Nietzsche was once a friend of Richard Wagner and his writing was influenced by Wagner's music. He lent his name to formation of Wagner societies throughout Germany to raise money to build the Wagner opera house at Bayreuth. Later there was a deep enmity between the two Germans and he claimed "Wagner's art is diseased: he has made music sick."


Nietzsche enjoyed the music of Georges Bizet. He said: "Bizet's music seems to me perfect. It comes forward lightly, gracefully, stylishly."

The German philosopher composed music himself. "What trifles constitute happiness! The sound of a bagpipe. Without music life would be a mistake!" he said.

Nietzsche disliked German beer. He referred to beer and Christianity as the two great European narcotics.

Nietzsche admired the German-Jewish poet, Heinrich Heine with an unflagging passion.


When the Franco-Prussian war erupted in 1870, Nietzsche volunteered as a medical orderly on active duty. His time in the military was short, but he experienced much, witnessing the traumatic effects of battle and taking close care of wounded soldiers. He soon contracted diphtheria and dysentery and subsequently experienced a painful variety of health difficulties for the remainder of his life.

In 1879 ill-health regarding his eyes and brain caused Nietzsche to resign his professorship. Ten years later, he saw a cab horse being ill-treated by its driver. Nietzsche flung his arms round the animal's neck, burst into tears and fell unconscious to the ground. He was taken back to his room and spent several days in a state of ecstasy writing letters to various friends, signing them Dionysus. He gradually became less coherent and almost entirely uncommunicative and never recovered.

The house Nietzsche stayed in while in Turin (background, right), By DWRZ David Wen Riccardi-Zhu - 

By 1890 the secular prophet was residing in a mental hospital where his sister Elisabeth Forster- Nietzsche cared for him. He spent the last ten years of his life insane. The cause is undetermined; doctors later said they were not so sure about the initial diagnosis of syphilis because he lacked the typical symptoms.

His friend and secretary Peter Gast observed that Nietzsche retained the ability to improvise beautifully on the piano for some months after his breakdown, but this too eventually left him.


Nietzsche suffered at least two strokes in the late 1890s. This partially paralyzed him, leaving him unable to speak or walk. After contracting pneumonia in mid-August 1900, he then had another stroke and died at about midday on August 25, 1900.

Drawing by Hans Olde from the photographic series, The Ill Nietzsche, late-1899.

Elisabeth had her brother buried beside his father at the church in Röcken bei Lützen. Peter Gast gave his funeral oration, proclaiming: "Holy be your name to all future generations."