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Tuesday, 31 May 2016



Minneapolis, nicknamed "City of Lakes" and the "Mill City", is the county seat of Hennepin County and the largest city in Minnesota.

Its name is attributed to the city's first schoolteacher, who combined mni, a Dakota Sioux word for water, and polis, the Greek word for city.

Fort Snelling, built in 1819 by the United States Army, was largely responsible for the establishment of the city of Minneapolis. In an effort to be self-sufficient, the soldiers of the fort built roads, planted crops, and built a grist mill and a sawmill at Saint Anthony Falls, the highest waterfall on the Mississippi River. The community of Saint Anthony sprung up around the east side of the falls and one of the employees, John H. Stevens, felt that land on the west side of the falls would make a good site for future mills. In 1850 he built the first house in Minneapolis on the site where the Minneapolis Post Office now sits.

Stevens' house, now located in Minnehaha Park. By McGhiever - Wikipedia Commons

The first bridge over the Mississippi River opened in what is now Minneapolis on January 23, 1855. The crossing is made today by the Hennepin Avenue Bridge .

The Minnesota Territorial Legislature authorized present-day Minneapolis as a town on the Mississippi's west bank in 1856.

Minneapolis was incorporated as a city in 1867, the year rail service began between Minneapolis and Chicago.

Minneapolis lies on both banks of the Mississippi River, just north of the river's confluence with the Minnesota River, and adjoins Saint Paul, the state's capital. The two cities are known as the Twin Cities, and comprise the USA's 16th-largest metropolitan area.

The cities enjoyed a rivalry during their early years, with Saint Paul being the capital city and Minneapolis becoming prominent through industry. The term "Twin Cities" was coined around 1872, after a newspaper editorial suggested that Minneapolis could absorb Saint Paul. Residents decided that the cities needed a separate identity, so people coined the phrase "Dual Cities", which later evolved into "Twin Cities."

As of 2015, Minneapolis is the largest city in the state of Minnesota and 46th-largest in the United States with a population of 410,939.

The city of Minneapolis has the lowest high school graduation rate among the 50 largest U.S. cities with less than 50% of students graduating

McGraw Electric Company of Minneapolis sold the world's first pop-up toasters. The Toastmaster. sold in Minneapolis at the retail price of $13.50.

Minneapolis is abundantly rich in water, with over twenty lakes and wetlands, the Mississippi River, creeks, and waterfalls, many of which are connected by parkways in the Chain of Lakes and the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway.

There are 13 lakes of at least five acres (0.020 km2) within the borders of Minneapolis,  which is known as the "City of Lakes".

Lake Harriet frozen and snow-covered in winter

Among cities of similar densities, Minneapolis has the most dedicated parkland.

Minneapolis was once the world's flour milling capital and a hub for timber, and today is the primary business center between Chicago and Seattle, with Minneapolis proper containing the fifth highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies.

The Minneapolis metropolitan area is the second largest economic center in the Midwest, behind Chicago. 

Monday, 30 May 2016


The gold mines of Nubia were among the largest and most extensive of any in Ancient Egypt. Fire-setting was one method used by the Egyptians to break down the hard rock holding the gold.

The silver mines of Laurium, which helped support the Greek city state of Athens. had over 20,000 slaves working in them. However, the technology was essentially identical to their Bronze Age predecessors.

The Romans developed large scale mining methods, especially the use of large volumes of water brought to the minehead by numerous aqueducts

The Great Bullion Famine was a severe shortage of precious metals - particularly silver - in fifteenth-century Europe. The reasons for the bullion famine lay in the depletion of silver mines located in what are now Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia..

The Hartley Colliery disaster was a coal mining accident in Northumberland, England that occurred on January 16. 1862. It resulted in the deaths of 240 men and boys and prompted a change in UK law which henceforth required all collieries to have at least two independent means of escape.

Hartley Colliery Disaster, the dead are brought up to their families (L'llustration, 1862, p 101)

Twin explosions at Oaks Colliery, near Barnsley, Yorkshire killed 383 victims on December 12, 1866. The deceased comprised miners some as young as ten, plus around 27 rescuers. It remains England’s worst mining disaster.

An engraving of the disaster

The Courrières mine disaster, Europe's worst ever, killed 1,099 miners in northern France in 1906.

The worst mining accident in the United Kingdom's history took place when an explosion took the lives of 439 people at the Universal Colliery in Senghenydd, Wales on October 14, 1913.

Crowds await news at the Universal Colliery, Senghenydd

Kimberley Mine located in Northern Cape, South Africa is the largest ever hand-dug excavation in the world. This 1097 meter deep mine opened in 1871 and yielded over three tonnes of diamonds before being closed on August 14, 1914 The amount of earth removed by workers is estimated to have totalled 22.5 million tonnes.

Open-pit diamond mine (known as the Big Hole or Kimberley Mine) . By Irene2005 - Wikipedia Commons

Retired miner Robert ‘Mountain Bob’ Leasure spent 226 days down a mine in Colorado in 1994, to try to set a world record for the longest time underground. But it turned out he hadn’t beaten that record, just the record for staying in a mine. Milutin Veljkovic spent 463 days in an underground cave in Serbia (then Yugoslavia) in 1970.

A devastating mining accident at Lake Peigneur Salt Mine in 1980 due to a "minor miscalculation" by Texaco, which resulted in an entire lake being drained into a salt mine. The vortex even reversed the current of the Gulf of Mexico for four days

The deepest mine in the world is TauTona gold mine in Carletonville, South Africa at 2.4 miles (3.9 kms).

Nearly half the gold ever mined has come from Witwatersrand in South Africa.

To reach 'rock bottom' means the lowest one can get, literally or metaphorically, and a person has nothing left to lose. Alcohol and drug abuse are often contributing factors. The expression is of mining origin, and alludes to the layers of bedrock that are reached when the mine is exhausted.

Sunday, 29 May 2016


The performance of mime originated in Ancient Greece; the name is taken from a single masked dancer called Pantomimus, although performances were not necessarily silent.

The first recorded mime was Telestēs in the play Seven Against Thebes, which was produced by Aeschylus in 467 BC. Tragic mime was developed by Puladēs of Kilikia; comic mime was developed by Bathullos of Alexandria.

In Ancient Rome mime became a spoken form of popular, farcical drama with music, which was played without masks.

Masked theatrical troupe around an aulos player (mosaic from the House of the Tragic Poet, Pompeii)

The popular mimes, which all but drove other forms of spoken drama from the stage under the Roman Empire, were sub-literary, unmetrical, and largely impromptu, with dialogue in prose which the chief actor was free to cut or expand at will.

The Roman tradition of mime was brought to Britain during the Roman occupation.

The distinctive costume of the Roman mime-player was a hood which could be drawn over the head or thrown back, a patchwork jacket, tights, and the phallus; the head was shaven and the feet bare.

The Roman tradition of mime was brought to Britain during the Roman occupation.

The sordid themes and startling indecency of the language, action, and near-nudity of the actors and actresses, meant that there was an outcry against the entertainment as the Roman empire became Christianized. In the fifth century the Church excommunicated all performers in Roman mime for burlesquing the sacraments and for their indecency.

In Medieval Europe, early forms of mime such as mummer plays and later dumbshows evolved

The work of Jean Deburau (1796-1846), which culminated in the famous mime-play L'Enfant prodigue, popularized mime in France in the 19th century and the vogue for it spread to Britain.

Mimes Jean Soubeyran and Brigitte Soubeyran in 1950.By Ronald - Inge Worringen, Cologne, Wikipedia Commons
Silent film comedians like Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton learned the craft of mime in the theatre, but through film, they would have a profound influence on mimes working in live theatre decades after their deaths. Indeed, Chaplin may be the most well-documented mime in history.

Marcel Marceau (March 22, 1923 – September 22, 2007) was a French mime. He first used mime during World War II to keep Jewish children quiet while he helped them escape from occupied France to neutral Switzerland

Marceau was most famous for his stage persona as "Bip the Clown," which he first played at the Théâtre de Poche in Paris in 1947. In his appearance he wore a striped pullover and a battered, beflowered silk opera hat. The outfit signified life's fragility and Bip became his alter ego, just as the "Little Tramp" became Charlie Chaplin's. Marceau referred to mime as the "art of silence," and he performed professionally worldwide for over 60 years. He was said to be single-handedly responsible for reviving the art of mime after World War II.

Marceau as Bip the Clown in 1974

In late 1968 David Bowie formed his own mime troupe, Turquoise, later renamed Feathers. The short lived group recited poetry and played some folk songs interspersed with mime routines on a meager circuit of university halls and folk clubs.

When the comedian Robin Williams was first starting out, he performed as a mime outside New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art to make money.

Between the years of 1995 and 2003 the mayor of Bogotá, Colombia hired mimes to ridicule traffic violators in the streets in an effort to reduce chaotic driving. Traffic fatalities decreased 50% as a result.

Source Comptons Encyclopedia

Saturday, 28 May 2016

John Milton

John Milton was born in Bread Street, London, on December 9, 1608, the son of John Milton senior and his wife, Sarah Jeffrey. The house was destroyed in the Great Fire of London.

His father John was a well-off Scrivener (a sort of attorney and financial agent) and composer of music. He’d made a fortune as a notary and money broker.

John jnr's grandfather was a wealthy landowner in Oxfordshire who, being a devout Roman Catholic, had disinherited Milton's father after finding an English Bible in his possession.

His mother Sarah Jeffrey was the daughter of a merchant sailor. She died in 1637.

John had five brothers and sisters but only two survived.

Milton's father—who contributed a collection of madrigals in honor of Elizabeth I—encouraged his son's ambitions; John jnr was writing poetry by the age of ten.

John Milton at age 10 by Cornelis Janssens van Ceulen

He was educated at home by Thomas Young, a Scottish Presbyterian, till the age of 12 when he entered St Paul's School as a day pupil.

John was a hard working student who rarely went to bed before midnight due to his studies. "When he was young," Christopher, his younger brother, recalled to an early biographer after John's death, "he studied very hard and sat up very late, commonly till twelve or one o'clock at night."

Milton attended Christ's College, Cambridge between the ages of 17 and 24, where he developed a reputation for poetic skill and general erudition. He gained a bachelor of arts degree in 1629 and master of arts in 1632.

The sober Milton despised the levity of his fellow students. and he was not liked. He complained that possibly half his audience of fellow students “bear malice towards him”.

Looking back, Milton referred to his old college as a "stony hearted stepmother."  He felt the Cambridge curriculum to be antiquated and the tutors to be mostly bores.


On leaving Cambridge, Milton adopted no profession, but embarked on a course of private study with a view of becoming a poet or clergyman, supported by his father.  His independent spirit led him to give up a potential ministerial career, and, he preferred "a blameless silence before the sacred office of speaking bought and begun with servitude and forswearing."

Milton's family rented Berkyn Manor, a house that belonged to Sir John Egerton, in the small village of Horton near Windsor, between 1632 and 1640. Milton spent five quiet years there, reading and writing.

In May 1638, Milton embarked upon a tour of France and Italy that lasted up to the summer of 1639. He particularly enjoyed Italy for its art, culture and music. Milton spent two months in Florence during which he visited Galileo. His plans to go onto Greece were thwarted because of rumors of impending civil war in England, so he returned home.

On his return to England, Milton launched a career as pamphleteer and publicist. He also became a private schoolmaster in 1639, educating his nephews and other children of the well-to-do. This experience, and discussions with educational reformer Samuel Hartlib, led him to write in 1644 his short tract, Of Education, urging a reform of the national universities.

With the parliamentary victory in the Civil War, Milton used his pen in defense of the republican principles represented by the Commonwealth. His political reputation got Milton appointed on March 15, 1649 as Secretary for Foreign Tongues by the Council of State, formed after Charles I's execution. at £288 p.a. Though Milton's main job description was to compose the English Republic's foreign correspondence in Latin, he also was called upon to produce propaganda for the regime and to serve as a censor.

After the death of Oliver Cromwell', Milton lost his job and fortune and returned to poetry. He was forced to go into hiding to escape the vengeance of the royalists after the Restoration and was accidentally caught and arrested. Milton only escaped prosecution because several influential people spoke on his behalf, including Andrew Marvell, his first assistant. Charles II decided to spare Milton, and he was released from prison.

Already one eyed, Milton began to go blind at the age of 43 as a result of glaucoma. After his sight completely failed him he habitually got up at 4.00 in the morning and silently composed in his mind. When his copier, often one of his daughters, arrived at mid morning his retentive memory allowed him to dictate his previous few hours compositions.

Milton Dictates the Lost Paradise to His Three Daughters, ca. 1826. Artist: Eugène Delacroix


While still at Cambridge, Milton he wrote some fine poems, among them the "Ode on the Morning of Christ's Nativity" and the octosyllabics "L'Allegro" and "Il Penseroso."

John Milton's musical masque, Comus, which was commissioned by the Earl of Bridgwater, had its premiere at in 1634 at Ludlow Castle. The English poet wrote the lyrics and Henry Lawes the music.

On November 23, 1644 Milton published Areopagitica, an address to Parliament that opposed a law, which suppressed the freedom of the press. His meeting with the imprisoned Galileo a few years earlier particularly inspired him. Areopagitica was named after the hill in Athens where the court applied laws and debated censorship questions.

Title page of the 1644 edition of Areopagitica

In 1649's The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, Milton became the first person to uphold the right of the people to execute a guilty sovereign. It is thought he probably attended King Charles’ execution.

After the Restoration as a noted defender of the Commonwealth, Milton's pamphlets were burned by the public hangman.

The now blind John Milton published Paradise Lost, written in 12 books in 1667.  Blind and impoverished, he sold his copyright for Paradise Lost on April 27, 1667 to Samuel Simmons, a London Bookseller, for a paltry £5, plus another £5 after three additions of 1500 copies had been sold.

Paradise Lost was the first great poem written in blank verse. Milton wrote in the preface "The troublesome and modern bondage of Rhyming."

Title page of Paradise Lost, London: 1667, by John Milton 

Milton coined the word "pandemonium" as the name of the main city in hell. In total he came up with more new words than any other writer (including Shakespeare). These totalled 630 and also included besottedly, debauchery, didactic, embellishing, fragrance, love-lorn, padlock, sensuous, stunning and terrific.

Milton wrote in Book 1 of Paradise Lost:
Likening his Maker to the grazed ox —
Jehovah, who, in one night, when he passed
From Egypt marching, equalled with one stroke
Both her first-born and all her bleating gods.
This contains a pangram (every letter in the alphabet) from the Z in 'grazed' to the b in 'Both.'

Dr Johnson said of this work "Paradise Lost is one of the books which the reader admires and lays down and forgets to take up again. Its perusal is a duty rather than a pleasure."

When asked why Milton could write such great literature as Paradise Lost, but such poor sonnets, Dr Johnson replied, "Milton, Madam, was a genius, that could cut a Colossus from a rock: but could not carve heads from cherry stones."

A pioneer of irregular, rather than regular stanza forms in his poetry., Milton's powerful prose and eloquent poetry had an immense influence on 18th century verse.


John Milton devoted his energies to the Puritan cause. Milton had a puritan morality, austere and conscientious but he was theologically unorthodox almost to the point of heresy.

Milton could have become a clergyman but he felt that “tyranny had invaded the church” so he became a poet instead.

Milton wanted to reform politics with his poetry before switching to writing political treatises advocating such things as divorce and freedom of the press. He wrote Areopagitica, the finest defence of freedom of the press ever written.

In Paradise Lost, in which he attempted "to justify the ways of God to man." it was Abdul the Seraph who withstood Satan and other rebel spirits. In fact this religious masterwork is more like science fiction than orthodox Christianity.


Milton was rosy cheeked, wore his hair long and a bit effeminate looking. As a student he was known as “the lady of Christ's College” because of his handsome appearance and his general delicacy of manner,, an epithet perhaps applied with some degree of scorn.

Portrait of John Milton in National Portrait Gallery, London 


In June 1642, the 35-year-old Milton paid a visit to the manor house at Forest Hill, Oxfordshire, and returned with a pretty 16-year-old bride, Mary Powell  A month later, finding life difficult with the severe 35-year-old schoolmaster and pamphleteer, the bored Mary refused to return to him after visiting her royalist family.

In 1671 Milton wrote his last poem Samson Agonistes (Samson the Champion), In the work he compared his desertion by Mary Powell with the blinded Samson's abandonment into Philistine hands.
Mary did not return until 1645; in the meantime her desertion prompted Milton, over the next three years, to publish a series of pamphlets arguing for the legality and morality of divorce. The first entitled The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, found him attacking the English marriage law as it had been taken over almost unchanged from medieval Catholicism, sanctioning divorce on the ground of incompatibility or childlessness.

After three years Milton and Mary were reconciled. In 1646, her family, having been ejected from Oxford for supporting Charles I in the Civil War, moved in with the couple.

They had four children: Anne, Mary, John, and Deborah.

Mary died on May 5, 1652 from complications following Deborah's birth three days earlier. Her death affected Milton deeply, as evidenced by his 23rd sonnet.

In June 1652, John died at age 15 months; Milton's daughters survived to adulthood, but he had a strained relationship with them. They neglected their blind father in his old age and rebelled against reading to him and taking his dictation. The girls conspired to sell some of his books to “the dunghill woman”.

Though the date of Mary Jnr's death is not known, it is known that she married one John Maugridge. They became the parents of a daughter, Mary Milton Maugridge in 1669.

Milton's second wife, Katherine Woodcock was 28 when they married in November 1656. She was the daughter of a Captain Woodcock, of Hackney. Katherine died on February 3, 1658, less than four months after giving birth to their daughter, Katherine, who passed away on March 17th.

On February 24, 1663, Milton married Elizabeth Minshull, who was the niece of Thomas Mynshull, a wealthy apothecary and philanthropist in Manchester. 30 years his junior, pretty and golden-haired, according to John Aubrey's Brief Lives Elizabeth was,"A genteel person, a peaceful and agreeable woman."

Elizabeth enjoyed music and could talk at length about art and other things that interested Milton. She is said to have sung to his accompaniment on the organ

Elizabeth cared for her blind husband until his death. She survived him for over half a century.


For supper the blind writer habitually had "olives or some light thing" and a glass of wine.

Milton felt he was physically refreshed and strengthened by music. The puritan poet was a talented musician with a "tuneable voice" and he played the organ or viol for an hour or so daily.

In 1651 John Milton moved into a "pretty garden-house" in Petty France, a short street in the City of Westminster. He lived there until the Restoration. Later it became No. 19 York Street, belonged to Jeremy Bentham, was occupied successively by John Stuart Mill and William Hazlitt, and finally demolished in 1877.

The back of No. 19, York Street (1848). 

In 1665 John Milton fled to the 100 year old half-timbered building Milton's Cottage (the only surviving one among the houses he lived in), Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire to escape the plague. He arrived disillusioned having not been part of a general amnesty of Charles II and having spent time in prison. His wife, Elizabeth, was in poor health. His daughter, Deborah, from his first marriage, acted as housekeeper. It was there he completed Paradise Lost and started Paradise Regained.


Milton died of kidney failure on November 8, 1674. He passed away with so little pain or emotion that no one noticed him dying.

He was buried in the church of St Giles Cripplegate, Fore Street, London, next to his father

Memorial in St Giles-without-Cripplegate, London. By Edwardx - Wikipedis Commons

According to an early biographer, Milton's funeral was attended by “his learned and great Friends in London, not without a friendly concourse of the Vulgar."

Gravedigger Elizabeth Grant was later found to be charging visitors sixpence a time for viewing of Milton’s teeth and part of his leg.

After Milton's death Elizabeth sold the remaining copyright for Paradise Lost for £8.

Friday, 27 May 2016


The term "millionaire" was first used in French in 1719 by Steven Fentimen. It was first recorded in English (millionaire, as a French term) in a letter of Lord Byron of 1816, then in print in Benjamin Disraeli's 1826 novel Vivian Grey.

The first time the word "millionaire" was used in America to describe an individual whose net worth or wealth is equal to or exceeds one million units of currency is believed to be in the 1843 obituary of tobacco manufacturer Pierre Lorillard II.

Born in Germany, John Jacob Astor (July 17, 1763 – March 29, 1848)  moved to the United States after the American Revolutionary War. He entered the fur trade and built a monopoly, managing a business empire that extended to the Great Lakes region and Canada, and later expanded into the American West and Pacific coast, becoming America's first multi-millionaire Seeing the decline of demand, he got out of the fur trade in 1830, diversifying by investing in New York City real estate. At the time of his death in 1848, Astor was the wealthiest person in the United States, leaving an estate estimated to be worth at least $20 million.

John Jacob Astor

Sarah Breedlove (December 23, 1867 – May 25, 1919), known as Madam C. J. Walker, was an American entrepreneur and philanthropist, regarded as the first female self-made millionaire in America. She made her fortune by developing and marketing a successful line of beauty and hair products for black women under the company she founded, Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company.

Madame CJ Walker

In the year 1900, there were only 5,000 millionaires in the United States. In 2000, there were more than five million.

Robert Sengstacke Abbott became the first male millionaire of African-American descent after he founded the weekly newspaper, the Chicago Defender, in 1905. It grew to have the highest circulation of any black-owned newspaper in the country.

There were an estimated 57 millionaires travelling in the Titanic’s first class in 1912.

Long after becoming a millionaire, Charlie Chaplin continued to live in a shabby hotel room, and kept his studio checks in a trunk for months

The most common occupation for the wife of a millionaire is teacher.

Millie Bush, America's First Dog during George Bush's presidency, became a millionaire as royalties from Millie's Book, her tome about a dog's life in the White House reached $1.1-million. The English Springer Spaniel gave the money to First Lady Barbara Bush's family literacy foundation.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

John Stuart Mill


John Stuart Mill was born on Rodney Street in the Pentonville area of London on May 20, 1806. He was the eldest son of James Mill, and Harriet Burrow. John Stuart was brought up at 40 Queen Anne's Gate, London.

His Scottish philosopher, historian and economist father was a lower middle class radical who worked for the India office. James Mill wrote a pioneering book History of India, which changed people's attitude towards the British colony and was the spark that led to reform.

His mother, Harriet Burrow, ran an establishment for lunatics.

John Stuart was educated by his father, with the advice and assistance of Jeremy Bentham and Francis Place. He was given an extremely rigorous upbringing, and was deliberately shielded from association with children his own age other than his siblings. His father, a follower of Bentham and an adherent of associationism, had as his explicit aim to create a genius intellect that would carry on the cause of utilitarianism and its implementation after he and Bentham had died.

John Stuart was a notably precocious child.  At the age of three, he was taught the Greek alphabet and long lists of Greek words with their English equivalents. By the age of eight, he had read Aesop's Fables, Xenophon's Anabasis,  the whole of Herodotus and other great Greek and Roman authors, By the age of ten he could read Plato and Demosthenes with ease. At about the age of twelve, John began a thorough study of the scholastic logic, at the same time reading Aristotle's logical treatises in the original language. In the following year he was introduced to political economy and studied Adam Smith and David Ricardo with his father--ultimately completing their classical economic view of factors of production.


At the age of eight Mill was appointed schoolmaster to the younger children of the family.

Between 1822 and 1858, Mill worked at East India Company following in his father's footsteps.

Mill was a Member of Parliament for City and Westminster, sitting for the Liberal Party between 1865 and 1868. During the election he had refused to canvass for votes or have anything to do with the local business of his constituency, but he was still elected for three years.

John Stuart Mill

Mill was one of the founders of the original Woman's suffrage society. As a Radical MP, he became in 1866 the first person in the history of Parliament to call for women to be given the right to vote, vigorously defending this position in subsequent debates.


A child prodigy who became a philosopher and economist, Mill reacted to the lack of normal childhood in his twenties and suffered accordingly. He asked himself the question, "suppose that all your objects in life were realized; that all the changes in institutions and opinions which you are looking forward to could be completely effected at this very instant: would this be a great joy and happiness to you." When he realized the answer was no, Mill sank into a deep depression for a year questioning life's purpose. He was rescued by Wordsworth's poetry.

Mill believed that the only way by which actions can be judged right or wrong is on their propensity to further personal or social happiness thus throwing out a basic ethical guide and tearing up much of the Christian message. He wrote, "It is conceivable that religion may be morally useful without being intellectually sustainable."

Nietzsche abhorred Mill's philosophy of the happiness for the greatest number describing him as a blockhead, ignoramus and cretin.

His libertarianism threatened the moral doctrine of Victorian England. Apart from some pioneering work on woman's suffrage, Mill and his humanistic followers achieved little compared to the Evangelicals in bringing social reform to 19th century England.

"A Feminine Philosopher". Caricature by Spy published in Vanity Fair in 1873.


Mill's Principles of Political Economy, first published in 1848 established his reputation as a leading public intellectual. One of the most widely read of all books on economics in the period, Mill's Principles dominated economics teaching for many decades. In the case of Oxford University it was the standard text until 1919, when it was replaced by Marshall's Principles of Economics.

John Stuart Mill, Principles of Political Economy with some of their Applications to Social Philosophy, London, 1848

Mill's book Utilitarianism argued that actions are right if they bring happiness and wrong if they bring sadness and despair.  The essay first appeared as a series of three articles published in Fraser's Magazine in 1861; the articles were collected and reprinted as a single book in 1863.

Mill's 1873 Autobiography of John Stuart Mill was arguably the leading autobiography of the 19th century.

Mill's maid burnt the manuscript of his friend, Thomas Carlyle's History of the French Revolution which had taken him five months to write. Mill had borrowed it to read it but the maid thought it was waste paper. It was the only copy of the manuscript.


James Mill once lived at 19 York Street, Marylebone, the same house as where John Milton lived during Cronwell's Commonwealth of England.. Later it belonged to Jeremy Bentham, and was occupied successively by James Mill and William Hazlitt, and finally demolished in 1877.

The back of No. 19, York Street (1848). 

In 1851 Mill married the charming, wise, dark eyed Mrs Harriet Taylor, They had originally met at a dinner party 20 years earlier when she was unhappily married to John Taylor, a wholesale druggist. Until the death of her husband Harriet and John Stuart had a deep friendship, but being sensitive to gossip they kept their relationship platonic. After a while (divorce being out of the question) she split her time between the two men seeing Mill during the weekends.

Though it was a marriage of intellects, the modest John Stuart regarded Harriet as his intellectual superior. She was a significant influence on Mills's work and ideas during both friendship and marriage. Their relationship inspired Mill's advocacy of women's rights.

Harriet Taylor Mill

After Taylor developed consumption they lived in the country and she died on November 3, 1858  at the Hotel de l’Europe in Avignon, France after seven years of happy marriage.

A few months after Harriet's death, John bought a small white house in Avignon. He installed the furniture from the hotel room in which she'd died.

Mill's stepdaughter, Helen, from Harriet's first marriage became John Stuart's constant companion She helped Mill continue his and Harriet’s reforming work.

John Stuart Mill and Helen Taylor. 

A few months before Mill died, he became godfather to the newly born Bertrand Russell in May 1872.


Much of the last five years of Mill’s life were much spent at his Avignon home, often with Harriet’s daughter Helen Taylor,

Mill suddenly died on May 8, 1873  at his Avignon home aged 66. The cause of death was erysipelas, a skin infection caught a few days earlier, which caused his face to swell.

Mill was buried with his beloved wife at the Cimetiere Saint-Veron, Avignon.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Milky Way

The Milky Way is the galaxy that contains our Solar System.

The name 'Milky Way' is derived from its Latin name: Via Lactea. Translated, that means "the road of milk." The Romans actually got the name from the Greeks, who called our galaxy "galaxias kyklos" or "milky circle."

The Greek "Galaxias kyklos" came from goddess Hera's breast milk. When Hercules was born, Zeus wanted him to have godlike qualities so he let him suck his wife Hera's milk when she was sleeping. When she woke, she pushed him off, and spilled milk all over the sky.

In Sanskrit, the Milky Way is called Akash Ganga, or “Ganges of the heavens.”


Galileo was the first to prove in 1610 that the Milky Way was composed of many stars when he used an early telescope to discover a huge number of faint stars

Edwin Hubble was first to confirm in the early 1920s that the Milky Way was just one of many galaxies.


The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy, shaped like a spiral with a bar across its center. It rotates about 560,000 MPH and completes a full revolution about every 200 million years.

Artist's conception of the spiral structure of the Milky Way with two major stellar arms and a bar

A galactic year — the length of time it takes our Solar System to travel once around the center of Milky Way — lasts 225 million years.

The Earth has an equatorial diameter of 7,926 miles, while the Milky Way's is about 621,000,000,000,000,000 miles.

If the Sun were the size of a white blood cell, then the Milky Way Galaxy would be the size of the United States.

It would take light 100,000 years to travel from one end of the Milky Way galaxy to the other.

Earth is located in one of the spiral arms of the Milky Way (called the Orion Arm) which is about two-thirds of the way out from the center.

Visiting every star in the Milky Way would take at least 420 billion years.

Estimates of the number of stars in the Milky Way vary between 100 billion and 400 billion.

The Milky Way gives birth to a new star every 50 days.

The Milky Way contains two billion Earth-like planets – There are other planets with a sustainable ecosystem elsewhere in our galaxy.

The entire Milky Way is estimated to be 210 billion times the mass of the Sun.

Diagram of the Sun’s location in the Milky Way. The angles represent longitudes in the galactic coordinate system

There are two geysers at the heart of the Milky Way that contain the energy equivalent of a million exploding stars. These geysers contain a hundred million times the Sun’s entire lifetime supply of energy.

The Milky Way's nearest neighbor is the Andromeda Galaxy which is about 2.5 million light years (that's 15 million trillion miles) away.

Source Daily Express

Milk packaging


Before milk bottles arrived, milkmen used to fill customers' own jugs with milk.

The earliest mention of a "milk bottle" in the Oxford Dictionary dates back to 1831.

The first milk bottle in the United States is normally credited to Hervey D. Thatcher, of Potsdam, New York. Thatcher developed his idea after watching a milkman dip from a can into which a child’s toy had dropped.

George Henry Lester was the first person to patent the idea the idea of a glass container for milk, which he did with his Lester Milk Jar on January 29, 1878. The bottle had a lid which was held in place as a screw cap.

Echo Farms Dairy introduced the first purpose-made milk bottles in New York City on April 8, 1879 delivering the milk from Litchfield, Connecticut.

These first bottles used a porcelain stopper top held on by wire. Lewis Whiteman patented the glass milk bottle with a glass lid.

Another patent is for a milk bottle with a dome type tin cap was granted September 23, 1884 to Whitemen's brother, Abram V. Whiteman. The Whiteman brothers produced milk bottles based on these specifications at the Warren Glass Works Company in Cumberland, Maryland and sold them through their New York sales office.

Examples of milk bottles from the late 19th century made by the Warren Glass Works Company.

British milk bottles were first produced by the Express Dairy Company in 1880. They were delivered by horse-drawn carts and distributed four times a day until 1894, when the advent of pasteurization enabled milk to last longer and deliveries to therefore be reduced to one time a day..

In 1915 John Van Wormer of Toledo, Ohio, was granted the first patent for the first "paper bottle," which was the first folded blank box for holding milk. He called it the "Pure-Pak."

In 1928 New York, Sheffield Farms began using wax cartons for their milk deliveries, but the glass milk bottle continued to be the main container of retail distribution for many decades.  However by the end of the century milk was mainly being purchased in plastic jugs or waxed paper cartons.

Getting milk at the back door ~ 1940

In 1975, 94 per cent of UK milk was put into glass bottles. By 2012, this was down to 4 per cent.


After six-year-old Etan Patz disappeared on his way to school in 1979, he became the first missing child to have his picture featured on milk cartons.

The European Patent Office lists about 1,700 patents worldwide with "milk bottle" in their title.

A modern British milk bottle owned by Dairy Crest. By Unisouth - Wikipedia Commons

In the US, the National Association of Milk Bottle Collectors ( has a newsletter called The Milk Route.

The world record for carrying a milk bottle on one's head is an astonishing 24 miles.

Daily Express



Cow's milk first became part of the human diet in the west 10,000 years ago in what is now Afghanistan and Iran. However it was an unreliable source of drink as cattle roamed wild and had to be caught before they could be milked.

Girl milking a cow by hand. By Jonathunder - Wikipedia Commons
The people of Mesopotamia, who dwelled in the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys, began rearing their own goats around 8000 BC, which provided a source of milk for them to drink.

By 6000 BC, domesticated cows could be found in Greece and Crete after wild cattle were attracted to the fields of grain and robbed the locals of their food. Captured and bred they are were farmed both for their meat and their milk.

Drinking milk used to be considered a luxury by the ancient Greeks and by the Romans.

Roman Emperor Nero's second wife, Poppaea, kept 500 asses to provide milk for her bath.

Louis Pasteur developed pasteurization for beer more than 20 years before he did it for milk.

In 1900 more than half of London's dairies were owned by Welsh people, and much of the milk supply set off from Wales each morning by train - hence the nickname for an early train, the 'milk train.'

Henry Ford once proposed that milk be made synthetically. The American businessman believed that dairy cows are inefficient and unsanitary, which probably harked back to his childhood milking cows on his fathers farm.

Drinking milk in Germany in 1932 By Bundesarchiv, Wikipedia Commons

Electric milk floats first went into service in London in 1932. Built by T H Lewis for Express Dairies they served the Highgate and Kenton depots.

A court ruling in 1973 barred the UK dairy company Unigate from delivering beer along with milk.

In the U.S the FDA approved bovine growth hormone, a controversial additive used to boost milk production in 1993 However in the European Union, a moratorium was placed on its sale. Injected into dairy cattle, the product could increase milk production by anywhere from an average of 10% up to 40%.


Cows produce 90 per cent of the world's milk needs.

Saudi Arabia opened the world's first commercial dromedary dairy in Riyadh in 1986, selling camel milk at £1.20 a litre.

Whale milk is so fatty that it has the consistency of toothpaste.

Hippo milk is pink.

Steamed milk's hydrophobic molecules—the proteins and fats that don't interact with water—are what create latte foam.

Buttermilk doesn't contain any butter. It's usually a simple recipe containing lemon juice, white vinegar and milk.

Chocolate milk was invented in Jamaica.

The fattiest milk in the world is produced by the hooded seal, which is about 60% fat. For comparison, cow's milk is about 3.5% fat.

The skimmest milk in the world comes from the black rhinoceros, with a fat content of about 0.2%.


Scientists have discovered from 8,000-year-old skeletons that our European forefathers had no lactase, the enzyme which makes milk tolerable to humans. Drinking it would have caused them to develop rashes, flatulence and violent diarrhea. Yet some Europeans rapidly became lactose-tolerant, a huge advantage at the time as water was rank. Today 90% of Northern Europeans have the enzyme, but 80% of Southern Europeans still do not.

Today the ability of humans to digest milk as an adult, is only common among North Europeans and those of North European ancestry, as a unique mutation. Most of the global population, including 90% of Asians and 100% of Native Americans, have some degree of lactose intolerance.

In almost all mammals, milk is fed to infants through breastfeeding,. The early milk from mammals is called colostrum and it contains antibodies that provide protection to the newborn baby as well as nutrients and growth factors. The makeup of the colostrum and the period of secretion varies from species to species.

A goat kid feeding on its mother's milk. By Fir0002 - Wikipedia Commons

Milk can relieve a spicy mouth because milk contains casein, which pulls capsaicin molecules off of flavor receptors and dissolves them.

Buffalo milk has 25 per cent more protein than cow's milk.

Greece is the only country in Europe that has legislation to determine the permitted shelf life for milk, which is five days.


A cow can produce 25 gallons of milk per week.

More than 600 million tons of milk are produced each year worldwide, which is about equal to the mass of hydrogen burnt by the Sun every second.

Due to overproduction, American dairy farmers dumped more than 43 million gallons of milk into their fields in the first eight months of 2016. That is enough to fill 66 Olympic swimming pools.

A Turk called Ilker Yilmaz holds the world record for squirting milk the farthest distance from his eyes, managing a distance of 9ft 2in (279 cm). He does this by breathing milk through the nose and relies on a duct that links the eyes and nose.

A pint of milk in a supermarket can contain milk from over a thousand different cows.

Bagged milk is a real thing that is commonly found in the grocery stores of Quebec and the Maritimes, in Canada.

The American Sign Language for "pasteurized milk" is the sign for "milk" while moving your hand past your eyes .

Source Daily Express, Daily Mail

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Military academy

The Royal Danish Naval Academy was set up on February 26, 1701. It's purpose was to train  young men in seamanship, military tactics, and navigation for the purpose of becoming naval officers. It is the oldest still-existing officers' academy in the world.
Danish naval academy. By heb@Wikimedia Commons (mail) - 

Inspiration for the Royal Danish Naval Academy was found in the Netherlands and France, where systematic training of naval officers had begun as early as the 16th century.

The Royal Military Academy was founded at Woolwich, London on April 13, 1741 to train gentlemen cadets entering the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers.

Photograph of the former Royal Military Academy, Woolwich

Congress authorized the establishment and funding of the United States Military Academy at West Point  with the Military Peace Establishment Act of 1802, which Jefferson signed on March 16, 1802.

Norwich University – The Military College of Vermont was founded in 1819 in Northfield, Vermont. It is the oldest private military college in the United States.

The Eggnog Riot occurred at the United States Military Academy between December 24-25 1826. Whiskey was smuggled into the barracks to make eggnog for a Christmas Day party. The incident resulted in the court-martialing of twenty cadets and one enlisted soldier.

A painting  of the 1826 Eggnog Riot

The Virginia Military Institute founded in 1839 in Lexington, Virginia is the oldest state military college in the United States.

Engraving of VMI ca. 1863

Poet/writer Edgar Allan Poe was expelled from West Point, the United States Military Academy, because he showed up for a parade in his birthday suit.

Major General Charles George Gordon was educated at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. Charles and his fellow cadets there, took pride in bathing outdoors in the winter. He passed out with high marks for mapmaking and surveying but little else.

General Custer was ranked 35th out of 35 in his West Point United States military Academy graduating class.

Henry Ossian Flipper, born a slave, became the first African American cadet to graduate from an US Military academy on June 15, 1877.

Giovanni Agnelli studied at a military academy, and became a cavalry officer before founding Fiat in 1899.

Tarzan author Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950) attended the Michigan Military Academy. He was a mediocre student and flunked his examination for West Point.

Dwight D. Eisenhower took the entrance examination for the Military Academy at West Point in 1911. He ranked second in the tests but obtained the appointment when the top candidate failed to pass the physical examination.

The West Point Class of 1915 became known as "the class the stars fell on". Of the 164 members of the class, 59 attained the rank of general, including Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley.

Marlon Brando tried to join the Army during World War II but was rejected due to a knee injury he had sustained while playing football at Shattuck Military Academy.

Rebecca Marier became the first woman to graduate 'top of the class' at West Point, the US Military Academy in 1995. The rankings are based on academic, military and physical accomplishments.

Prince Harry entered the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst on May 8, 2005, where he was known as Officer Cadet Wales.

Only three Presidents graduated from the military academies: Ulysses S. Grant, Dwight Eisenhower (West Point) and Jimmy Carter (Annapolis).


At least 4,000 species of bird are regular migrants, which is about 40 percent of the total number of birds in the world.

When Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic Ocean, he remembered that the Portuguese had discovered the Azores by studying migrating birds. So the crafty captain decided to follow the birds' flight line.

For millennia, Europeans didn't really understand where birds went in the winter. Scientists finally solved the mystery in 1822 when a stork impaled by Central African spear was discovered by a hunter near Mecklenburg, Germany.

A female shorebird was tracked by satellite tag and found to fly 7,145 miles in nine days from Alaska to New Zealand without stopping - the longest non stop bird migration ever recorded.

Arctic terns take the prize for the longest migration of any bird. It can fly a round trip from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back, which can be as long as twenty thousand miles per year.

Arctic Terns

Migratory species of crane can fly at heights of up to 32,000 feet, a record among birds.

In ancient times it was thought that swallows hibernated in winter. In fact they migrate, flying 12,000 miles to southern Africa and back, covering 200 miles a day and crossing two continents and 14 countries.

The Serengeti 'great migration' is an annual circular pattern of movement with some 1.7 million wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of other large game animals including gazelles and zebra.  It begins and ends in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area of the southern Serengeti in Tanzania and is a natural phenomenon determined by the availability of grazing.

Wildebeests crossing the river during the Serengeti migration

Monarch butterflies migrate more than 3,000 miles from Canada to Mexico in autumn. The following spring, their descendants three generations on make the trip back.

The grey whale migrates 12,500 miles from the Arctic to Mexico and back every year.

Many species in the sea have a daily migration. Plankton go up for the day where there is light, and down at night, where they are less easy to find.

An estimated 2.91 billion trips are made during the 40-day Chinese Lunar New Year holiday season between January 21 and March 3, 2016 as migrant workers in the cities grabbed the chance to return home to see their families. The official extended travel period for the Spring Festival has been described as the world’s largest human migration.