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Wednesday, 30 November 2016



Oxygen was discovered independently by Carl Scheele, Joseph Priestley and Antoine Lavoisier. Scheele was first to discover the chemical element, Priestley was first to publish his findings, while Lavoisier was first to isolate it and understand its true nature.

Priestley published his findings in 1775 in a paper titled "An Account of Further Discoveries in Air" which was included in the second volume of his book titled Experiments and Observations on Different Kinds of Air. Because he informed the world first, Priestley is usually given priority in the discovery of oxygen.

Pneumatic trough, glass collecting cylinders and other equipment used by Priestley in his experiments

Lavoiser named the chemical element from two Greek roots, “oxys” (acid) and “genes” (producer) as he thought mistakenly that all acids contained oxygen.

More than 200 years before oxy- was a prefix indicating a process involving oxygen, it was used to mean pertaining to an ox.

Besides isolating and naming oxygen in 1778 Lavoisier also gave hydrogen its name in 1783.

After the French Revolution, Lavoisier was accused of selling adulterated tobacco and of other crimes and died at the guillotine in 1794.

The first measurable quantity of liquid oxygen was produced by Polish professors Zygmunt Wróblewski and Karol Olszewski at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków on April 5, 1883.


By mass, oxygen is the third most abundant element, after hydrogen and helium.

About 21 per cent of the Earth’s atmosphere consists of oxygen.

It requires seven to eight trees to provide enough oxygen for just one person per year.

Oxygen accounts for about two-thirds of the weight of a human body.

Seventy per cent of the oxygen we breath is produced by plants such as seaweed in the oceans.


Oxygen gas is colorless, tasteless and odorless; however, the liquid and solid forms are a pale blue color.

Liquid oxygen is strongly paramagnetic; it can be suspended between the poles of a powerful horseshoe magnet.

Completion of a liquid oxygen delivery by truck. By Walter Baxter, Wikipedia

Breathing 100% oxygen—instead of the 21% in our atmosphere—can create tons of free radicals in our bodies and cause tissue damage.

When oxygen first developed on Earth, it wiped out nearly 99% of all life.

Tiny ocean plankton perform half of all photosynthesis and oxygen production on Earth.

Two atoms of the element can bind to form dioxygen, a colorless and odorless gas that constitutes 20.8% of the Earth's atmosphere, produced by photosynthesis from water and carbon dioxide.


The American scientist Robert H. Goddard was the first person to develop a rocket engine that burned liquid fuel; the engine used gasoline for fuel and liquid oxygen as the oxidizer. Goddard successfully flew a small liquid-fueled rocket 56 m at 97 km/h on March 16, 1926 in Auburn, Massachusetts.

Robert H. Goddard and a liquid oxygen-gasoline rocket

The oxygen masks on airlines have empty bags to catch the stream of oxygen in between your breaths so it isn’t wasted.

Smelting of iron ore into steel consumes 55% of commercially produced oxygen.


Oxford was first settled in Saxon times and was initially known as "Oxenaforda", meaning "Ford of the Oxen."

The University of Oxford is first mentioned in 12th century records. King Henry III granted the University a royal charter on June 20, 1248.

In the university's early days, students found their own lodgings and sought out individual teachers. The first residential colleges were established in the second half of the thirteenth century beginning with Merton in 1264.

Merton as seen from Broad Walk. By Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK 

A tavern dispute between Oxford University students and townsfolk on February 10, 1355 turned into a riot that left about 90 people dead.

The sweating sickness epidemic in 1517 was particularly devastating to Oxford where it killed half its population, including many students and dons.

Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and bishops Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were tried for heresy in 1555 and subsequently burnt at the stake, on what is now Broad Street, Oxford. The Martyrs' Memorial stands nearby, round the corner to the North on St. Giles.

In 1665 the worst outbreak of plague in England since the Black Death forced King Charles II to temporarily remove his court from London and relocate to Oxford.

Oxford was never bombed by the Germans as it was going to be the new capital once they won World War II and took over.


Notable Oxford University Alumni, or "Oxonians" as they are sometimes known, include Stephen Hawking, J. R. R. Tolkien, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, Bill Clinton and twenty-five British Prime Ministers.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016



There are around 200 different owl species.

The barn owl (Tyto alba) is the most widely distributed species of owl, and one of the most widespread of all birds. It is found in most parts of the world, with one major lineage in the New World, one in Australasia, and another in Eurasia and Africa.

Baby owls are called "owlettes."

A group of owls is called a parliament, wisdom, bazaar, or study because, traditionally, they were thought to have a wise disposition. In ancient Greece, owls represented Athena, the goddess of wisdom.


An owl's eyes are bigger than its brain.

An owl's eyes can weigh up to five percent of their body weight.

Owls are the only birds who can see the color blue.

Owls are far-sighted, meaning that anything within a few inches of their eyes can’t be seen properly.

An owl has three eyelids: one for blinking, one for sleeping and one for keeping the eye clean and healthy.

An owl's neck has 14 vertebrae-twice as many as human's. As a result, owls can turn their heads by 270 degrees, or three-quarters of a complete circle. If a human tried that, circulation to the brain would be entirely cut off.

The great grey owl, sometimes called Phantom of the North, is known as the world's largest species of owl by length.

Great grey owl Wikipedia

The barn owl's secret weapon is its exceptional hearing, which enables it to locate its prey in pitch darkness. Its face feathers create a disc, which traps and focuses sound.

The barn owl is fully grown at just ten weeks, and stands ten inches tall.

The Elf Owl is the smallest owl with many documented as weighing just under one ounce.

Elf Owl at nest hole. Madera Canyon Arizona. By BBODO -  Wikipedia


Tawny owls typically live for around five years, but a female breeding tawny owl in Yorkshire, England broke the record in 2009 when she died aged 21 years and five months.

Owls aren't that wise—in fact, they are significantly worse at problem solving than other big-brained birds like crows and parrots.

10,000 voles must be caught by a pair of barn owls each year to feed their hungry young.

The great horned owl is the only animal that will eat a skunk.

The elf owl is known to feign death in any dangerous situation, especially when a threatening animal comes inside the Saguaro cactus in which they make their homes

Owls make almost no noise from flying, even when tested in a room with multiple microphones

The owl's distinctive 'tu-whit tu-woo' call is actually a duet between a pair. The female makes a 'tu-whit' sound and the male responds with a 'hooo'.

The barn owl's nest is in a hollow tree, old building or cliff; the female does all the incubation, and she and the young chicks rely on the male for food.

Barn owls are usually monogamous and mate with only one owl, but 23.5% of barn owls are "divorced."

Owls and crows instinctively hate one another, even if they've had no prior exposure.


In Roman legend, tawny owls were depicted as harbingers of bad luck and were thought to feast on human flesh.

Many farmers love to attract barn owls as they are often better at reducing rodent populations than traps, poison or cats.

NASA places owls on their spaceships to ward off woodpeckers that poke holes.

There are Owl Cafés in Japan, where you can pet and play with live owls while enjoying a nice meal.

Source Daily Mail

Monday, 28 November 2016

Jesse Owens

James Cleveland Owens was born in Danville, Alabama. on September 12, 1913 to sharecropper Henry Cleveland Owens and Mary Emma Fitzgerald.

He was the youngest of ten children, three girls and seven boys.

He was called "J. C. ", but due to his strong southern accent people thought his name was Jesse.

J.C. was nine years old when the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, for better opportunities, as part of the Great Migration, when 1.5 million African Americans left the segregated South.

J.C. set his first track record by running the 100-yard dash in l0 seconds as a pupil at Cleveland's Fairview Junior High School in 1932.

Owens first came to national attention when he as a high school student he won three National Interscholastic Championships in 1933 in Chicago. In the 100-yard dash he equaled the world record of 9.4 seconds.

He enrolled at Ohio State University in 1934 and had a remarkable track and field career there. On one day, May 25, 1935, during a Big Ten meet at the University of Michigan, Owens set three world records and tied a fourth. He equaled the world record for the 100-yard dash (9.4 seconds) and set new world records for the 220-yard dash (20.3 seconds), the 220-yard low hurdles (22.6 seconds), and the long jump (26 feet 8 1/4 inches, or 8.13 meters).

The Olympic Games of 1936 were held in Berlin, Germany, under the auspices of Adolf Hitler's new Nazi regime. It was Hitler's intent to use the games to demonstrate what he believed to be the superiority of the Aryan, or white, race. On August 3, 1936 Jesse Owens won the 100 metre dash, the first of his four gold medals, dashing the Nazi leader's hopes of Aryan domination. Hitler stormed out of the stadium rather than present the awards to the African American athlete.

Jesse Owens at start of record breaking 200 meter race during the Olympic games 1936 in Berlin

In Berlin, Owens set a long jump record of just over 317 in (26 ft 5 in). that lasted for 25 years. He also set a new world record in the 200-meter race (20.7 seconds).

A ticker-tape parade was held to celebrate his Olympic medals. However,  Jesse Owens was not permitted to enter through the main doors of the Waldorf Astoria and instead forced to travel up to the event in a freight elevator to reach the reception honoring him.

After his Olympic triumph, Owens graduated in 1937 and found various jobs to support his family.
One of his jobs involved racing against dogs or horses during the half-time intermission of local soccer and baseball games. He also worked for a number of years for the Illinois Athletic Commission.

Jesse Owens on the podium after winning the long jump at the 1936 Summer Olympics

He left the commission in 1955 and made goodwill trips to India and the Far East for the State Department.

Owens also served as a running coach for the New York Mets in 1965. However, his time there was unsuccessful, with the team only stealing 28 bases that year.

Owens died of lung cancer in Phoenix, Arizona, on March 31, 1980.

President George H. W. Bush posthumously awarded Jesse Owens the Congressional Gold Medal on March 28, 1990.

The Jesse Owens Award is USA Track and Field's highest accolade for the year's best track and field athlete.

Sources Comptons Encyclopedia, HowThey Play

Sunday, 27 November 2016



Ovid was born in Sulmo (modern Sulmona), in an Apennine valley 90 miles east of Rome, to a wealthy family, on March 20, 43 BC.

A statue of Ovid by Ettore Ferrari in the Piazza XX Settembre, Sulmona, Italy. Wikipedia

Ovid's full name was Publius Ovidius Naso. The cognomen Naso means "the one with the nose" (i.e. "Big nose") in Latin. Ovid habitually referred to himself by his nickname.

Ovid was educated in rhetoric toward the practice of law in Rome under the teachers Arellius Fuscus and Porcius Latro with his brother who excelled at oratory.

After the death of his brother at 20 years of age, Ovid renounced law and began travelling to Athens, Asia Minor, and Sicily.

He held minor public posts, as a member of the Centumviral (chancery) court and as one of the decemviri litibus iudicandis ("the ten men who judge lawsuits") but resigned to pursue poetry probably around 29–25 BC.


Ovid was a poetical writer of "The art of love" which had a cumulative effect upon the gay young people of Rome.

By Photo: Georges Jansoone (JoJan)Artwork:Luca Signorelli (1450–1523) Wikipedia

His Ars Amatoria (Art of Love) is a guide to seduction. The first two books of the three book series advise how men may win and retain a woman, the third how women may win and retain a man.

His Metamorphoses were a 15 book of continuous mythical stories concerning miraculous transformations, written in the meter of epic. They were penned about 1 AD to 8 AD.

Metamorphoses starts with the formation of the worlds and ends in praise of the emperor Augustus and Ovid's belief that his poem has earned him immortality.

The theory behind his work was the decline of man from an early golden age to the corrupt age of his time.

From his own time until the end of Antiquity Ovid was among the most widely read and imitated of Latin poets; his greatest work, the Metamorphoses, also seems to have enjoyed the largest popularity.

Ovid was the most widely read classical author in medieval times and the Renaissance. He was at the peak of his in popularity in the 12th and 13th century.

The first major literary work in America was George Sandys' 1626 translation of Metamorphoses.

Engraved frontispiece of George Sandys’s 1632 London edition of Ovid's Metamorphoses Englished.


Ovid had three wives, the first of whom he married when little more than a boy. He was divorced twice by the time he was thirty years old. His last wife was connected in some way to the influential gens Fabia and would help him during his exile in Tomis.

Ovid had one daughter, who eventually bore him grandchildren.

Ovid rejected carnivorism and was repulsed by those who ate the animals entrusted to their care. He wrote in Metamorphosis. "And so in the midst of the wealth of food which Earth, the best of mothers has produced. It is your pleasure to chew the piteous flesh of slaughtered animals."

He enjoyed music. Ovid wrote in Remedia Amoris: "The music of the zither, flute and the lyre enervates the mind."


Augustus regarded Ovid as the corrupter of Rome. He was banished to the Barbaric town of Tomis by Augustus near the mouth of the Danube on the Black Sea. Tomis was then located in Scythia and is now the town of Constanza in south east Romania.

It unclear why Augustus exiled Ovid. Reasons suggested are some connection with Julia, daughter of Augustus or the eroticism of his verses.

During his eight years in exile, Ovid suffered at the hands of the Barbarians, the severe weather separation from his family and boredom.  He was never able to return to Rome.

Eugene Delacroix, Ovid among the Scythians, 1859. 

Ovid died in exile in 17AD in Tomis. His epitaph was "Many excelled me! I know it yet I am quoted as much as they."

Ovid's last line in Metamorphoses was: "But through this work, I will live on and lift myself high above the stars. And my name will be indestructible."


Ovaltine, the well- known bedtime beverage was first manufactured in Berne, Switzerland. It was invented in 1865 by Dr. George Wander, a Swiss chemist who established the high nutritional value of barley malt. He then began to manufacture malt extract and launched the food drink, ‘Ovomaltine.’

The original name Ovomaltine was derived from two of its two main ingredients, ovum, Latin for egg, and malt. It also contains milk.

Ovaltine arrived in Britain from Switzerland as Ovomaltine in 1909, but was re-launched with the now-familiar brand name as a health drink.

Ovaltine advertisement in a medical journal, 1909

A factory was set up four years later at Kings Langley, Hertfordshire with its own egg and dairy farms close to the site. Barley was produced by local independent farmers.

By 1915, Ovaltine was being manufactured in Villa Park, Illinois, for the U.S. market.

The drink spawned The Ovaltineys, which started life in 1935 as a family show on Radio Luxembourg, with one of its earliest stars being a young Leslie Crowther. The Ovaltineys' advertising jingle was regarded as one of the most successful jingles of the era and featured the iconic English singing trio The Beverley Sisters.

Ovaltine was owned by the Wander family until 1996 when they merged with CIBA and the new firm became known as Novartis. Five years later, Novartis sold out to Associated British Foods, but although the Ovaltine product is now in British ownership, it continues to be manufactured in Switzerland.

A mug of ovaltine made with hot milk, and a tablespoon of the powder. By J.P.Lon 

In 2011, Ovaltine was banned in Denmark under legislation forbidding the sale of food products with added vitamins.

Sources Daily Mail, Radio Times

Saturday, 26 November 2016


The ancient monotheistic religion Zoroastrianism had strict rules forbidding the killing of otters. They believed that the creatures helped keep water purified by eating already dead animals that might contaminate the water source if they were allowed to rot.

Male Otters are called boars, females are sows, and the offspring are pups.

A group of otters is called a romp, because they play together and are energetic.

Otters live on every continent except for Australia and Antarctica.

Giant 6ft otters still exist in three remote river systems of South America. They hunt in packs and can even take on crocodiles.

They have very soft, insulated underfur, which is protected by an outer layer of long guard hair. The fur is the thickest of any mammal in the animal kingdom at up to one million hairs per square inch.

Otters are active hunters, chasing prey in the water or searching the beds of rivers, lakes or the seas. However, with the exception is the Sea Otter, they spend the majority of their time on land to avoid their fur becoming waterlogged.

An Otter can remain under water for up to 4 minutes. They can also dive up to 300 feet in search of food.

Baby otters can't swim at first, but their buoyancy makes it possible for the mother to wrap the pup in (sea) weeds to prevent it from drifting away when she needs to hunt.

Otters will often use rocks to help crack open shelled animals, such as clams, which they like to eat for dinner.

Otters have a pouch in their fur to store their favorite rock.

They communicate with whistles, growls, chuckles and screams, as well as chirps, squeals, and some kinds of otters might even purr. Otters also leave their scent on plants to mark their territory.

Otters live 8 to 9 years in the wilderness, and as many as 21 years in captivity.

For centuries, Bangladesh fisherman have been training otters to act as herders and chase large schools of fish into the nets.


Friday, 25 November 2016

Lee Harvey Oswald

Lee Harvey Oswald was born in New Orleans on October 18, 1939, two months after his father died.

At age 17 in October 1956, Oswald joined the U.S. Marines, as had his brother Robert. Oswald received a hardship discharge (for mother's health) in 1959 to quit the Marines, but defected to the Soviet Union for nearly three years.

Lee Harvey Oswald. Photo taken in Minsk. Commission Exhibit No. 2892

Having married Marina, the daughter of a Soviet security official, Oswald defected back to the U.S. with her and their daughter, in June 1962.

After a sniper assassinated John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, Oswald was arrested for the murder of police officer J. D. Tippit who had been shot on a Dallas street shortly after the president was killed.

He quickly became the prime suspect in the murder of President Kennedy, but denied shooting anyone. Oswald claimed he was a "patsy" as he'd lived in the Soviet Union.

Oswald being led from the Texas Theatre following his arrest

The FBI was investigating Marina Oswald at the time as a possible Soviet spy.

On November 24, 1963, Oswald was fatally shot by nightclub owner Jack Ruby, while being moved from police headquarters to the county jail.

Due to a lack of family and friends in attendance at his funeral, the pallbearer's of Lee Harvey Oswald's casket were reporters.

In 1964, the Warren Commission concluded that Oswald acted alone in killing Kennedy, a conclusion reached previously by the FBI and Dallas Police.

Lee Harvey Oswald still owes an overdue bookThe Shark and the Sardines by Juan José Arévalo – to Dallas public library.



Ostrich eggs were much admired by the ancient Persians, who sent them as tributes to the emperors of China.

Diodorus of Sicily, a historian of the first century BC, believed the ostrich was the missing link between birds and camels.

The Romans liked roast ostrich, particularly the wings.

The Roman emperor Heliogabalus (reigned AD218-222) once served 600 ostrich heads at a banquet.


The ostrich lays the largest eggs of any living bird (extinct elephant birds of Madagascar and the giant moa of New Zealand laid larger eggs).

Ostrich egg By Klaus Rassinger und Gerhard Cammerer, Museum Wiesbaden 

The largest egg is laid by the ostrich, typically 8in tall and weighing 3lb.

It takes four hours to hard boil an ostrich egg: it weighs 30 pounds.

An omelette made from one ostrich egg will feed about eight hungry people.


Ostriches are zero-rated for VAT but feathers and other inedible parts are taxed as normal.

The ostrich is the largest living species of bird. Adult male ostriches weigh as much as 345lb (156kg) and can be 9ft tall.

An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.

An ostrich's intestinal track is up to 45 feet long.

The Libyan ostrich and the hornbill are the only birds with eyelashes.

The African ostrich is the only two-toed bird (most other birds have three or four toes.) The adaptation to two toes is a running advantage.

The ostrich is the largest and fastest-running of all birds and can move at speeds up to 45mph. It is also the fastest of all creatures on two legs.

An ostrich could run the London Marathon in 45 minutes.

Ostriches normally spend the winter months in pairs or alone. Only 16 percent of ostrich sightings were of more than two birds.

During breeding season and sometimes during long periods without rain ostriches live in nomadic groups of five to 100 birds.

In a survey of 200 thousand ostriches over eighty years, not one tried to bury its head in the sand.

Source Daily Express

Thursday, 24 November 2016

George Orwell


George Orwell was born Eric Arthur Blair on June 25, 1903, in Motihari, Bengal Presidency (present-day Bihar), in the then British colony of India.

Eric was the second child of Richard and Ida Blair. His father worked in India for the Opium Department of the Civil Service. 

Eric had an older sister named Marjorie and a younger sister named Avril. With his characteristic humor, he would later describe his family's background as "lower-upper-middle class."

Eric's mother brought him to England at the age of one. He did not see his father again until 1907, when Richard visited England for three months before leaving again. 

As a child he was bullied and called "Little Eric", partly because of his snobbish tendencies.

At the age of six, Blair was sent to a small Anglican parish school in Henley, which his sister had attended before him. 

Two years later he was recommended to the headmaster of one of the most successful preparatory schools in England at the time: St Cyprian's School, in Eastbourne, Sussex. Cecil Beaton, the photographer, was one of his contemporaries there. 

Young Eric attended St Cyprian's on a scholarship that allowed his parents to pay only half of the usual fees. He was distinguished there by his poverty and intelligence. Blair's time at the school inspired his essay Such, Such Were the Joys.

His first piece of work was a poem, which appeared in the Henley paper in 1914.

After a term at Wellington, Eric moved to Eton, where he was a King's Scholar from 1917 to 1921

Aldous Huxley was Orwell's French teacher for a semester early in his Eton career. Huxley apparently had difficulty in maintaining discipline in his classrooms. 

After finishing his studies at Eton, having no prospect of gaining a university scholarship and his family's means being insufficient to pay his tuition, Eric joined the Indian Imperial Police in Burma.


The young Eric Blair spent five years in Burma as an officer in the Indian Imperial Police fighting crime in the jungle. He quit in 1927 to become a writer after suffering a bout of dengue fever.

Blair pictured in a passport photo during his Burma years

While in the Indian Imperial Police force, Blair was compelled to shoot an elephant which greatly upset him & helped seed his later anti-establishment rebellion.

The whipping, jailing and hanging of prisoners that Orwell had to witness as an officer in the Burma Police force induced life-long self-loathing.

In late 1927 Blair moved into rooms in Portobello Road, London. For a while he dressed like a tramp, adopting the name P. S. Burton.

Blair's 1927 lodgings in Portobello Road, London

During the late 1920s and early 1930s, Orwell had a succession of ill paid jobs such as a dishwasher in Paris. He also had some success as a journalist there. Orwell's first article as a professional writer, "La Censure en Angleterre", appeared in Monde, a political/literary journal edited by Henri Barbusse, on October 6, 1928.

In December 1929, after nearly two years in Paris, Blair returned to England and went directly to his parents' house at 31 High Street, Southwold, Suffolk, which remained his base for the next five years.
Blair had a temporary job as a teacher at The Hawthorns High School, a school for boys in Hayes, West London during the summer term of 1932.

Blair's parents lived at 31 High Street, Southwold, Suffolk in the 1920s, and he returned there at intervals whilst living rough in Notting Hill Gate and Paris.

Blair adopted the nom de plume George Orwell in 1932 because, as he told Eleanor Jacques, "It is a good round English name." The pen surname was inspired by the River Orwell in the English county of Suffolk. He also changed to George as he thought Eric was not sufficiently masculine.


Orwell married 29 year old Eileen O'Shaughnessy on June 9, 1936, at St Mary's Church, Wallington, Hertfordshire. A teacher and trainee educational psychologist, Eileen was sophisticated, intelligent with large blue eyes.

Eileen was once a student of J.R.R. Tolkien.

During the Second World War Eileen worked at the Ministry of Food preparing "Kitchen Front" broadcasts. She supervised BBC broadcasts to India every week and wrote regularly for the Tribune.

They tried to have children, but Eileen did not become pregnant and they learnt later that Orwell was sterile.

In June 1944 Eileen and Eric adopted a three-week-old boy they named Richard Horatio.

Eileen died under anesthetic on March 29, 1945 after she'd gone into hospital for a hysterectomy.
Orwell took on bringing up Richard, who was still a baby.

In mid-1949, Orwell started courting the tough, outspoken and beautiful Sonia Brownell. They married on October 13, 1949 only three months before his death from tuberculosis.


George Orwell's first full length work, Down and Out in Paris and London, was published in 1933. A semi-autobiographical based on his experiences living in poverty in the two cities,

In 1934, just after he had published Down And Out In Paris And London, Orwell moved to Pond Street in Hampstead. He took a part time job as an assistant at a second hand bookshop at the nearby Booklovers Corner, while he worked on his next novel.

Orwell moved shortly afterwards to 50 Lawford Road, Kentish Town where he shared three rooms on the top floor with the writers Michael Sayers and Rayner Heppenstall.

Orwell moved to a very small 16th-century cottage called the "Stores" at No 2 Kits Lane, Wallington, Hertfordshire on April 2, 1936. The house was a death-trap, freezing, insanitary and vermin ridden.

He and Eileen kept a small village store in Wallington to subsidize his writing income.

No 2 Kits Lane, Wallington, Hertfordshire. By Dennis3333 - Wikipedia

The Road to Wigan Pier was published in 1937. Orwell wrote the book after being given an advance of £500 by publisher Victor Gollancz to look at the lives of industrial workers in the north. During his time researching the book, Orwell had unbelievably squalid digs over a tripe shop in Wigan.

In 1939 there was a Customs and Excise raid on Orwell's Hertfordshire cottage in search of contraband literature.

In August 1941, Orwell was taken on full-time by the BBC's Eastern Service as a propagandist. He resigned from the BBC post two years later in order to concentrate on writing Animal Farm.

Orwell was inspired to write the satirical novel after seeing a boy whipping a carthorse. He said: "It struck me that if only such animals became aware of their strength, we should have no power over them, and that men exploit animals in much the same way as the rich exploit the proletariat."

Orwell lived at 10A Mortimer Crescent, Hampstead during the 1940s until it was bombed by the Nazis and flattened. The completed manuscript of Animal Farm was picked out of the rubble. He subsequently moved to 27 Canonbury Square, Islington.

Orwell wrote Animal Farm at a time when the UK was in its wartime alliance with the Soviet Union and the British people and intelligentsia held Stalin in high esteem. An allegory of Marxist analysis of capitalism, Orwell had great difficulties in publishing the novel, as many were afraid that it would offend Britain's Russian war allies.

Animal Farm was first published in England on August 17, 1945 and within two weeks it had sold out.

Cover to first edition of Animal Farm by George Orwell

The C.I.A. purchased the film rights to Animal Farm and changed its ending to be more anti-communist.

From 1942, Orwell had been contributing articles to The Observer. In February 1945 he was invited to become a war correspondent for the newspaper. Orwell went to Paris after the liberation of France and to Cologne once it had been occupied by the Allies.

In 1947 Orwell moved to the Scottish island of Jura in the Outer Hebrides, where he tried to support himself by growing vegetables. Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four there away from the phone and other distractions. It was published June 8, 1949.

The first-edition front cover of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

He originally wanted to call it "Nineteen Forty Eight" to show it was a contemporary warning rather than a prophecy.

Many of the sadistic details of Room 101 were developed from Orwell's conversations with an ex Japanese Prisoner of war neighbor.

The Julia character was based on his second wife Sonia.

On October 21, 1949, a few months after the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell received a letter from his former teacher Aldous Huxley, whose Brave New World had been published 17 years earlier.  Huxley commended the book and contrasted it with his own futuristic novel. He wrote:  "I feel that the nightmare of Nineteen Eighty-Four is destined to modulate into the nightmare of a world having more resemblance to that which I imagined in Brave New World."

In the 1970s Orwell’s widow, Sonia, stopped David Bowie’s planned musical based on Nineteen Eighty-Four. Some of the songs he wrote for it appeared on his LP Diamond Dogs.


The 11-year-old Orwell wrote about the Great War
"Awake, oh you young men of England
For if, when your country's in need
You do not enlist in your thousands
You truly are cowards indeed."

Orwell fought for the Republican cause in the Spanish Civil War. He was part of a small dissident Trotskyist militia group known as POUM, and led infantry charges across open terrain under intensive fire.

After sustaining a bullet in his throat by a sniper, Orwell was forced to go into hiding in Barcelona. The bullet had missed his main artery by the barest margin and his voice was barely audible for a time.

Orwell's bad lungs kept him out of the army during the Second World War, so he fought with the Home Guard.

In August 1941, Orwell obtained "war work" when he was taken on full-time by the BBC's Eastern Service as a propagandist.

Orwell at the BBC in 1941


Orwell returned from service in the police force in Burma as an earnest socialist with a social conscience and hatred of imperialism.

Orwell experiences in Spain during the 30s instilled in him a bitter hatred of the Marxist ideology, and his Animal Farm and  Nineteen Eighty-Four novels were both attacks on Communism, Stalinism in particular.

Cyril Connolly said of him: "George Orwell was the sort of man who couldn't blow his nose without lamenting on the demise of the Lancashire cotton industry."

A High Churchman, Orwell once likened Heaven to "choir practice in a jeweller's shop." However he became increasingly scornful of religion and was reproved for suggesting that the "belief in personal immortality" is decaying.


Orwell grew a lot in his teenage years; he was 6ft 3 when he left Eton.

Orwell was painfully thin, gaunt and gloomy looking with a pencil thin mustache across his upper lip.

Orwell's press card portrait, 1943

He had a monotonous, rasping voice; Orwell's conversation consisted of proletarian rants delivered in his public school drawl.

Orwell had a gruff, offhand exterior with a pessimist, bleak and bitter personality. He had a dry, sardonic humor.

Orwell detested the Scots; it is said he would cross the road if he heard a Scottish accent, yet he went there to write his greatest book.


Orwell loved the countryside. On his farm he grew vegetables and kept chickens and goats, which he could milk. He refused to keep pigs as they were the only animal he disliked.

As a child, Orwell was totally dis-interested in sport. After the visit of the Moscow Dynamo football team to London he commented: "Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting." – From the essay The Sporting Spirit (1945)


Orwell suffered a tubercular hemorrhage in February 1946 but disguised his illness. His tuberculosis was probably contracted during the period described in Down and Out in Paris and London.

Orwell was in and out of hospitals for the last three years of his life.


In the last years of his life Orwell lived a self-sufficient life style at Barnhill, a remote smallholding on the Scottish island of Jura in the Outer Hebrides. Barnhill was an empty, isolated farmhouse, eight miles from the nearest road, where he could fight his tuberculous.

Barnhill By Ken Craig, Wikipedia Commons

In 1947 after moving to Jura, Orwell took his son, nephew and nieces on a boat trip but he totally misjudged the tides and nearly drowned them all in the notorious Corryurechan Whirlpool.

Shortly after Nineteen Eighty-Four was completed Orwell became bedridden and he never recovered. He was removed to University College Hospital in London. Sonia took charge of Orwell's affairs and attended him diligently in the hospital.

George Orwell died early in the morning on January 21, 1950 at the age of 46 after an artery burst in his lungs.

Having requested burial in accordance with the Anglican rite, he was interred in All Saints' Churchyard, Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire with the simple epitaph: "Here lies Eric Arthur Blair, born June 25th 1903, died January 21st 1950."

By Brian Robert Marshall,  Wikipedia Commons

Wednesday, 23 November 2016


Origen was born in the city of Alexandria in c. 185 to Christian parents.

He was educated by his father, Leonides of Alexandria, who gave him a standard Hellenistic education, but also had him study the Christian scriptures. Origen also reportedly studied under Clement of Alexandria and was influenced by his teachings.

In 202, Origen's father was martyred in the outbreak of the persecution during the reign of Septimius Severus. The teenager had to be restrained from following him into martyrdom by his mother hiding his clothes.


Origen left Alexandria in 231–2, and made his permanent home in Caesarea in Palestine, where his friend Theoctistus was bishop. There he founded a school of literature, philosophy and theology.

Origen was judged by many to be the most accomplished scholar of his day. He developed an allegorical interpretation of the Bible, including the idea of Christ as the Logos, or incarnate Word, who is with his Father for eternity. Controversially, he also taught that the Son is subordinate to the Father in power and dignity.

Origen, Illustration from "Les Vrais Portraits Et Vies Des Hommes Illustres" by André Thévet

Origen's last treatise, Contra Celsum, (Against Celsus) was written about 248. A long, closely reasoned apologetic work, it refuted arguments advanced by Celsus, an influential Plato influenced philosopher from the previous century who was perhaps the first serious critic of Christianity.

Origen went to extremes in his asceticism. He was constantly fasting, refused wine and all luxury foods and slept on the bare floor.

Origen died in c. 254 after being tortured during the Decian persecution of Christians.

In his lifetime Origen toiled incessantly writing around 6,000 works in Greek, including books, letters and pamphlets. Controversially he entertained some questionable speculations such as a belief in the pre-existence of souls, who from the day of creation he claimed to have existed in a series of created worlds.

His writings are included in the general collection of early Church Fathers. However, unlike many church fathers, Origen was never canonized by the Catholic Church, as some of his teachings directly contradicted the teachings attributed to the apostles, notably the Apostles Paul and John.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016



The earliest organ, the hydraulis, was developed by the Greek engineer Ctesibius, who lived in the 3rd century BC in Alexandria.

The small organ worked by means of a chamber partly filled with water. The wide mouth of a funnel-like extension from the wind chest was set in the top of the water; as air pressure in the wind chest fell, water rose in the funnel and compressed the air, thus keeping the air pressure constant.

The water organ (or hydraulis). CC BY-SA 2.0 Wikipedia Commons

The Romans used the water organ for such public entertainments as circuses and gladiator combats because they were loud.

During the Renaissance many Italian gardens had water organs. The most famous water organ of the 16th century was at the Villa d'Este in Tivoli. It was about six metres high and was powered by a beautiful waterfall.


The Spaniards first introduced the use of the organ in churches in the fifth century. The more wide spread use of church organ music is traditionally believed to date from the time of Vitalian's papacy between July 30, 657 and January 27, 672.

Aldhelm built the first pipe organ in England around 700. It was described as a "mighty instrument with innumerable tones, blown with bellows, and enclosed in a gilded case."

A pipe organ with "great leaden pipes" was sent from Constantinople to the West by the Byzantine emperor Constantine V as a gift to Pepin the Short King of the Franks in 757.

Pepin's son Charlemagne requested a similar organ for his chapel in Aachen in 812, which sealed its establishment in Western church music.

The pipe organ in Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois, Paris

The pipe organ that Bishop Aelfeg installed at Winchester Cathedral around 950 AD was possibly the most elaborate machine in the world at the time. It had 400 pipes and 26 bellows operated by 70 men.

Instruments such as the large 10th-century organ at Winchester appear to have produced a general roar, with all the pipes for any one key sounding all the time.


The reed organ was developed in Germany in about 1810. The reed organ is more properly called a harmonium, and its American counterpart a melodeon.

The harmonium's reeds consist of metal tongues screwed over slots in metal frames. They are sounded by an inward air current produced by exhaust bellows.

A harmonium. Operation of the two large pedals at the bottom of the case supplies wind to the reeds.

Harmoniums reached the height of their popularity in the West in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They were especially popular in small churches and chapels where a pipe organ would be too large or too expensive until the electronic organ started to replace it after the 1930s.


The calliope is a steam organ patented by J C Stoddard of Worcester, Massachusetts, on October 9, 1855.

Most calliopes had about 15-30 whistles, operated by a keyboard, but some had many more.

The noisy musical instrument was quickly added to the circus world. At the end of a circus procession marching down the main street would be a screaming steam calliope, telling everyone the circus had come to town.

"Calliope, the wonderful operonicon or steam car of the muses" – advertising poster, 1874

Callopes were fitted to the top decks of river showboats, and could be heard for miles around playing popular tunes. They were also heard as part of some merry-go-rounds in amusement parks.


The Hammond organ was invented in 1934 by American inventor and entrepreneur Laurens Hammond. He utilized electrical circuits and amplifiers to produce and enlarge the organ's sound.

Laurens Hammond also came up with an early incarnation of 3D films using glasses, through a system he called Teleview.

The Hammond organ's mournful sound made it the instrument of choice for military chapels, but then in the 1960s the rockers got wind of it and the device became a standard keyboard instrument for jazz, blues, rock and gospel music.

Jazzman Jimmy Smith playing the Hammond organ in the 1950s. By Hammondite - Wikipedia


An organ was played at a baseball stadium for the first time in Chicago in 1941.

The phrase "Pull out all the stops" refers to using all the pipes of a pipe organ by pulling all the knobs (stops) that control which pipes are used.

The world’s largest organ is in the auditorium of the Atlantic City Convention Hall. It has seven keyboards and over 33,000 pipes.

The largest church organ is at First Congregational Church, Los Angeles.

The world's oldest organ is generally agreed to be the one built at Sion, Switzerland in the late 14th century.

The Grand Organ of Sydney Opera House has 10,154 pipes. It took one year longer to build than the Sydney Harbor Bridge.

There is a 230 foot long sea organ on the coast of Croatia. The organ, designed by architect Nikola Basic has 35 tubes that make music whenever the waves crash into them.

Here is a list of popular songs with an organ.

Sources Comptons Encyclopedia, Europress Encyclopedia

Monday, 21 November 2016



The Oreo sandwich cookie was first developed and produced by the National Biscuit Company (today known as Nabisco) in 1912.

Oreo was launched as an imitation of the original cream-filled chocolate cookie, Hydrox, which was introduced by the Sunshine Company four years earlier.

Oreo cookies were first made in a New York bakery. They sold for 30 cents per pound in what is now Chelsea Market.

The first Oreo was sold on March 6, 1912 to a grocer in Hoboken, New Jersey.

The name Oreo was first trademarked on March 14, 1912. Although the origin of the name "Oreo" is unknown, there are many theories. According to one Oreo executive, the name mimics the two O-shaped cookies that make the sandwich. Others claim the "re" comes from the "cream."

The filling used in Oreo cookies was originally made from pork fat.

In 1997, Oreos became kosher when the lard was removed.

A giant Oreo cookie weighing 73.4 kg (161 lb 13 oz) was produced on April 16, 2018. Baked in Manama, Bahrain, the supersize snack was made with the real dough and cream used in regular-sized Oreos. With a normal Oreo weighing 11.3 g, this it was 6,495 times bigger than what you find in a standard packet and blitzed the previous world record of 28.24 kg (62 lb 4 oz) set Hoppe Food Group & Midden Brabant College for the largest cream-filled cookie set in The Netherlands back in 2011.


Oreos have a 71 percent to 29 percent cookie-to-cream-ratio.

Oreos are vegan-friendly since the cream doesn’t contain any dairy products.

Because the Oreo filling contains no dairy, the FDA didn't allow it to be called 'cream'. Therefore, it was named 'creme' instead.

The two-bar cross on an Oreo cookie is a medieval European symbol for quality. Monks used it on manuscripts they copied to say they did the best they could.

There are seven flavors of Oreos: original, berry, chocolate, chocolate golden, lemon golden, mint and peanut butter.

When the Oreo was made it 1912, there was also a lemon meringue flavor. It was discontinued in 1920.

Oreo's first unusual flavor was Birthday Cake, released in 2012 for its centennial celebration.

Double stuffed Oreos are actually only stuffed 1.86 times more than regular Oreos.

It takes 59 minutes to make an Oreo.


Oreos are the best-selling cookie in the world.

More than 450 billion Oreo cookies have been sold since they were created.

They can be found in 100 countries.

Oreo O's is a breakfast cereal only available in South Korea.

The United States, China, Venezuela, Canada, and Indonesia are the top five countries in terms of sales.