Quote of the day :
There are always flowers for those who want to see them.
~ Henri Matisse
Picture of the day :
Rather than a picture I’ve chosen this cartoon I saw on Facebook (with apologies to the original illustrator, Genildo). Fits in with Henri Matisse’s quote – you see what you want to see. It’s a choice, though not always so easy. As we going into 2014, you have to decide which side of the window you’d like to look out of…
(The original cartoon reads :
As vezes só depende de nós! – Sometimes it just depends on us!)
Youtube video of the day :
Gone, but not forgotten, it was John Denver’s birthday today. Here’s ‘Annie’s Song’
Born on this day…
Born today :
- Actor, Sir Anthony Hopkins, CBE
- Actor, Sir Ben Kingsley, CBE
- Actor, Val Kilmer
- Actor and comedian, Michael McDonald
- Actress, Sarah Miles
- Actress and singer, Bebe Neuwirth
- Singer, guitarist and songwriter, John Denver
- Singer, Donna Summer
- Musician and songwriter, George Thorogood
- Singer and actor, Ricky Nelson
- Musician, author and photographer, Andy Summers
- Author and screenwriter, Nicholas Sparks
- Football player and coach, Sir Alex Ferguson, CBE
- Explorer, Jacques Cartier (b.1491)
He claimed what is now Canada for France. He was the first European to map around the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and gave Canada its name ‘The Country of Canadas’, after the Iroquois names for the two big settlements he saw at Stadacona (Quebec City) and at Hochelaga (Montreal Island).
Now you know why all the French-Canadians live around Quebec, eh.
- Artist, Henri Matisse
Also on this day in history
1695 : A window tax was imposed in England, under King William III. The idea was for it to be a ‘prosperity’ tax and not a hated (then as now) ‘income tax’. So, essentially is was just another stealth tax. We know all about those in the UK. Mr Brown when he was chancellor snuck in scores if not hundreds of these back door taxes. The people of the time, some at least, bricked up their windows in response. No window, no tax, but spend the same or more on candles…
See also :
The Telegraph Ten years of growing stealthy taxation,
The Daily Mail New Labour ‘sham’: 157 stealth tax rises
and the Mail again with The man who stole your old age: How Gordon Brown secretly imposed a ruinous tax that has wrecked the retirements of millions
1759 : Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease at £45 per annum and started brewing ‘Guinness’. You have to wonder if they still only pay £45 a year for the rented property. Pretty good gamble on his behalf if so as, worldwide, they now sell about 1.5 billion pints of the stuff a year, though I know a few Irish folk that say if the water for it doesn’t come from the Liffey it isn’t proper Guiness.
1853 : Sir Richard Owen hosted a dinner for 21 prominent scientists inside a hollow concrete Iguanodon, in the grounds of Crystal Palace.
1857 : Ottawa, at the time only a small logging town, was designated Canada’s capital by Queen Victoria.
1879 : Thomas Edison held a public demonstration of the first practical light bulb at Menlo Park, New Jersey. This wasn’t the first incandescent lamp – that had been produced 40 years earlier, years before Edison was even born, what he did, with a team of talented assistants with the mathematical and technical skills he lacked was take the idea and make it achievable, both in terms of the design of the bulb and the electrical system to run it. He also went on to build the world’s first power plant and invented the alkaline battery.
On the last invention though, he may get the credit, but there’s evidence that the ancient Romans, Egyptians and Indians may have invented batteries too, thought by some to have been used for electroplating jewelery. Still, makes you wonder if they had a form of electricity 2,000 years ago, eh! Just what did get lost in the sacking of the library of Alexandria? It should be noted that while fully acknowledging that the Baghdad or Parthian Batteries could work as a battery, generating one volt (more in sequence), they were obviously not used as batteries because it’s ludicrous to think that the ancient people had such knowledge. There again, archaeologists are supposedly (in)famous for debunking anything that doesn’t fit established theories. Don’t rock the boat? For the record, the first accepted date for a voltaic battery (of which type the parthian may have been) was invented in 1800 by Alessandro Volta.
Of course, if they had batteries, maybe they had computers too? OK, that would be silly, right? Enter the Antikythera Mechanism. It not quite in the scale of Babbage’s differential engine, but what it does is still astounding and took some of the brightest minds on the planet a century of research to work out – and 110 years after it’s discovery scientists in universities around the world are still working on it. I had heard of it a few times and there’s been documentaries about it since. The back of a matchbox version goes like this :
Fisherman find a corroded artifact, with bronze gears, that turns out to be well over 2,000 years old, is incredibly complex and has been described as ‘the first known analog computer’.
Extract from wikipedia :
On the back, two spiral scales (made of half-circles with two centers) with sliding pointers indicated the state of two further important astronomical cycles: the Saros cycle, the period of approximately 18 years separating the return of the Sun, Moon and Earth to the same relative positions and the more accurate exeligmos cycle of 54 years and one day (essential in eclipse prediction, see Eclipse cycle). It also contains another spiral scale for the Metonic cycle (19 years, equal to 235 lunar months) and the Callippic cycle with a period of 1016 lunar orbits in approximately 76 years.
Bearing in mind we aren’t talking about some quack ‘ancient aliens amongst us’ blog but a massively documented museum artifact, a clockwork device, with gear ratios as fine as 13.368 down to 0.018 that could measure the movement of planets (possibly) and solar and lunar eclipses over 75 years ahead – precisely.
1955 : General Motors becomes the first American company to make over US$1 billion in a year and helped build Detroit into the automotive center of the world. In more recent years had to be saved from bankruptcy because ‘it was too big to fail’.
As a result of that and other changes in America over the past decade, a quarter of the population of Detroit has fled the city which is, as of Dec 3rd 2013, officially declared bankrupt, owing over 18.5 billion dollars.
1960 : The farthing coin ceased to be legal tender in the UK.
A farthing was ¼ of a penny, of 1/960th of an old, pre-decimal pound sterling.
‘Old money’ – Lsd: libra (pound), shilling and denarius (pennies) (i.e £1.3s.4d) – lasted from medieval times to decimalisation on 15th February 1971. While the new stuff is a lot easier for computers I still miss the old system and am quite convinced the treasury, certain shops and others took full advantage of the confusion during the changeover. (i.e. a lot of people were ripped off).
- A guinea was 21 shilling. (It was a value, not an actual coin after 1799)
- A pound or a ‘quid’ or a ‘nicker’ was 20 shilling or 260d. In coin form it was a sovereign.
- Between the pound and the penny were
- 10 bob note, 10 shillings (withdrawn 1962)
- Crowns, worth 5 shilling (rarely issued)
- Half Crowns, worth 2 shilling and sixpence
- Florins were 2 shilling or a 2 bob bit
- Shillings, or a ‘bob’ was worth 12d and written as 1s/-
- Sixpences, or a ‘tanner’ was worth 6d
- Threepences, a joey or thrup’ney bit was worth 3d
- Then we had the old pennies
and below that…
Half-penny, ha’penny (half a penny)
and farthings (quarter penny)
See also : British banknotes and coins
Before you throw out those old coins your granny left you…
Depending on the condition and year, a florin might get you as much as £80, a half-crown goes about £20 to over £700 while full crown is worth anywhere from £1 to over £4,500 each. As for the sovereigns, they were gold and are still issued as bullion. From my school days, there was also a VERY rare penny from around 1940, maybe 1942, I vaguely recall only 6 were ever made that year for some reason. If you have one of those you don’t want, well, I’ll give you a quid for it!
First one I came to, so Predecimal was used for the values above, as opposed to say E-bay. There are a lot of places to buy or sell old coins, so shop around. Looking on another site, Coins of the UK, the humble penny is worth anything from, well pennies to £6,000 or more. The extremely rare one I recalled was actually 1933, so you know. 1882 was extremely rare as well. I did glance of e-bay for the 1933 and there were loads, all shiny, typically £80 which is strange, but so either I was wrong about the years or… – small print – ‘RARE COPY coin’ – they are fakes. Is that even legal to reproduce (once) legal tender?
Hah! Googled a bit more (Sad, but I’m OCD like that) and found this article on the Daily Mail from 2010 Mystery of 1933 penny: Coin valued at £80,000 offered on eBay then suddenly withdrawn. I was close, it was 1933, only 7 ever pressed and worth a cool £80 to 100,000 each. I remembered the story from my childhood because after I read about it I spent forever looking for one. Plus, strangely, it came up in a primary class quiz one year and I was the only person that knew it. Go me!
Trending at this moment:
Not a clue why, but on-line MMO games are trending on Yahoo, while on Twitter it’s the list of this years OBE, MBE winners. I’d go look but given the past few decades they seem to be awarded more for who you know and how much you’ve donated to government parties rather than actually doing anything notable, or am I just being jaded?
I glanced at the Telegraph and read, New Year Honours 2014: Three MPs criticised over expenses given knighthoods. Says it’s all, really.
Yep, like I said, it’s about rewarding ‘mates’ in preference to genuine people. New Year Honours 2014: David Cameron ‘cronies’ rewarded